Cube Roster- Red
I am going through my reasoning by what I consider the best cards in Magic (that I have access to). Some people may disagree with some of my choices, and if I disagree with one of the choices, I will simply label it -placeholder. This is not a powered cube, meaning that I am not running the Alpha/Beta/Unlimited Duals, the Power 9, and no Sol Ring, as it is simply unfair in this format. I refuse to run proxies for any card that I don’t have even if it would make the cube more complete. That said, lets dive into the 60 best red cards in my collection.
1. Flame Slash – This may seem like an odd choice, but I have found that 1 mana for 4 damage, even at sorcery speed is unbelievably powerful.
2. Pillage – A red mage playing aggro will often have his creatures outclassed in short order, so the best way to avoid that is to blow up some lands. Pillage is nice because it can target problem artifacts as well.
3. Manic Vandal – This card I have mixed feelings about. Red has very few 2 for 1s, and this certainly is a 2 for 1. At worst it is a Grey Ogre that you must sacrifice an artifact to, (which is terrible), at best, it is a Grey Ogre that eats their artifact (which is awesome), and in the middle, its is a Grey Ogre. This card is on the cutting list. If only it was a ‘may’ ability.
4. Goblin Bushwhacker – This guy ends games. 2 mana to say I win is something that every aggro player should be able to say. That said, it makes me ANGRY to see this guy come down on turn 1.
6. Arc Trail – Sweet Sweet 2 for 1s. Kill that and that, or kill that and burn you. Delicious options.
7. Mogg War Marshal -Red has a goblin subtheme, and this guy is just plain good. Bringing a buddy when he arrives, and another when he leaves is just straight up value.
8. Ruination – Punish those greedy multicolor mana bases! The red mage needs only red mana.
9. Firebolt – 4 damage for 6 mana at sorcery speed seems bad, but you can feel no guilt about turn 1- shock your dude. Turn 5 shock you, and you’re dead. I have seen this card kill me so many times, except the player forgot it was in their yard.
10. Goblin Lackey– Well, if there is a goblin theme, you cant really leave one of the stars of legacy goblins off the list. Take a point, and I get some friends.
11. Cunning Sparkmage – Pingers are always good, and hasty ones are such a sneak attack- I block your dude, okay, post combat kill your thing. Also really likes to wear a basilisk collar.
12. Goblin King – Lets make these goblins scary dudes and toss in some lords! The mountain walk ability isnt terribly relevant, but I do love me some Phil Foglio art.
13. Blood Ogre – One of the three new M12 Cards that made it. This guy is such a beast- a turn 3 3/3 first striker will just put away games very often. Delicious.
14. Stigma Lasher – Lifegain is one of the biggest threats to red’s beatdown strategy. This guy straight up says no to that. Lovely hatebear (read: 2/2 for 2 that hates on a certain part of the game) for red. His wither ability makes him an excellent blocker in games gone long after he has gotten through with his ability.
15. Siege-Gang Commander – May as well read Siege Bang Commander, because he enters play and ruins someone’s day. I still want to live the dream and drop him off of Goblin Lackey on turn 2 leaving up 2 mana to shock whatever they play.
16. Goblin Wardriver – Goblin Bushwhacker is fine and all, but this guy says Bushwhack every turn, and that is just gravy. He stacks up the damage very very quickly and needs an answer whenever he hits the table.
17. Searing Blaze – Red 2 for 1. There’s a theme. Also makes me want to run fetch lands in the cube. One day.
18. Splinter Twin – Whats better than an enter the battlefield trigger? Getting one every turn. Also, this is an infinite combo piece with other cards in the cube. But that’s a surprise for later.
19. Comet Storm – For years, people have said: “Always splash for Fireball.” This is fireball’s bigger, meaner, slightly less splashable, celestial brother.
20. Grim Lavamancer – What if every burn spell in your deck said: exile me from your graveyard, deal 1 damage to target creature or player. This card is gives you some serious late game fuel and recycles all of your one time use cards for some serious damage. (Off Topic: 1/3 done, whoo hoo.)
21. Arc Lightning – Remember Arc Trail? This is it’s big brother. 3 for 1s are just ridiculous.
22. Stormblood Berserker – Remember what I said about Blood Ogre? This 3/3 for 2 with a blocking restriction is way more bonkers than a measly 3/3 first striker for 3. Another M12 original.
23. Smash to Smithereens – One of my favorite spells from Shadowmoor. Its like Searing Blaze for artifacts. Strictly better than Shatter, which was a good card. I still want to cast this at Precursor Golem.
24. Molten Rain – Blow up some more lands AND punish non-basics.
25. Dead/Gone – I just like split cards for their utility. And the fact that they exist. Remember, its one or the other, but not both.
26. Stone Rain – Destroy target land. Beautiful in its simplicity.
28. Flame Rift – I have often said, and… Flame Rift for lethal?
29. Puncture Bolt – Stops Persist creatures dead. That’s about it for this one- definitely on my cutting list.
30. Staggershock – Shock that, then that too. Or you then you again. I love this card.
31. Inferno Titan – Burninating the countryside, burninating all your creatures. TITAN. Yeah, so an Arc Lightning every turn seems okay.
32. Keldon Marauders – 5 damage for 2 mana is so, so delicious.
33. Burst Lightning – Another direct damage spell, also on the cutting block. It has hung around because of its flexibility. Remove an early threat or a late one, or just get in for the final 4. Cards that are versatile deserve more of a shot than those not. Puncture Bolt will be tossed long before this guy.
34. Plated Geopede – 3/3 first striker for 2 is pretty decent. I have seen this guy close out games all by himself.
35. Ember Hauler – Its Siege Gang Commander’s little buddy. Still good, but I really wish that damage still used the stack. Alas.
37. Lightning Bolt – Classic toasted something. What would my red selection be without the best burn spell ever printed?
38. Moltensteel Dragon – Big, dumb, cheap, and fragile. On the chopping block.
39. Tuktuk the Explorer – Because I can. Also, I just really like this guy in Limited. He gets in there early and blocks late. Or he just keeps getting in there.
40. Chandra’s Outrage – Its decent, but I am looking for something more efficient in the near future. Probably another creature.
41. Akroma, Angel of Fury– red will never play this. Its here so that reanimate can look at something.
43. Chain Reaction– This is going to be a creature in the future. My aggro Color doesn’t need more ways to kill enemy creatures, and it usually ends up killing far more red ones. I would much rather this be a Ball Lightning or something.
44. Kargan Dragonlord – As big and scary as you have mana for. Great creature. Not actually a Dragon.
45. Goblin Ruinblaster – So, its a goblin… and land destruction? Sign me up.
46. Carbonize – More burn. This one exiles! As a note, there is a lot of burn in this color because red’s creatures are easily outclassed, and I didnt really want a whole lot of red’s pretty bad midrange creatures. These spells give the aggro player reach so that he can keep battling even if he didn’t turn 5 kill his opponent.
47. Browbeat – Many people love this card, and many hate it. I think that this is the proper place to run it. 5 life is a whole lot, but so is three cards. It puts a big question to the opponent, “How would you like to die?” Early in the game, its often 3 mana for 5 damage. Later, it could be lethal unless they gamble on allowing you to draw 3.
48. Banefire – My favorite red win condition- uncounterable, unpreventable dead.
50. Goblin Chieftain – The haste granted by this guy is far more useful than the mountainwalk from the king. I wish I knew where my Warchiefs were though.
51. Goblin Recruiter – Go get all my goblins.
52. Kiki-Jiki, Mirrorbreaker – See Splinter Twin.
53. Gorehorn Minotaurs – Big Bad Bloodthirsty Guy. This guy is a house.
54. Skirk Prospector – I thought I took this guy out already…
55. Slagstorm – Now this is a good red sweeper. Clears out the little guys and lets your dragon get through. Also good for finishing off the other guy.
56. Ravenous Baboons – see Goblin Ruinblaster.
57. Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician – Are you SURE you want to block that 1/1? Also has a reasonably sized body by himself.
58. Goblin Guide – Best red 1 drop of all time.
59. Red Sun’s Zenith – Reusable Disintegrate.
60. Hell’s Thunder – Last, but certainly not least, the thunder. This card is just awesome.
Well, that’s all for red. Coming soon: Choose a color. Please leave any feedback or suggestions for the cards I mentioned that I wasn’t thrilled with.