MTGA – Top 10 Card Advantage cards in Red

Since the release of Ravnica Allegiance, the Ranked ladder has seen some new and interesting changes lots of strange decks coming out of the new cards, like Four Colour Gates, and so many three color decks now being very viable (Jund, Esper, Temur), but the thing that surprised me the most, is that there are thousands of people playing their Mono Red Aggro deck, just with +4 skewer the Critics. (That’s me. I’m the Critic), and haven’t really examined any other cards in the set, or considered other options. Now I set out to make a Rakdos aggro list, that had really consistent card draw, and I found that I could consistently play 16 lands (Statistically 1 in 3 chance of drawing one, average mulligan should have 1-2) whilst playing 4x Light up the Stage and 4x Flame of Keld. Which meant that when playing against Experimental Frenzy decks that see 12 lands in a game, I was drawing threats constantly. This made me want to take a closer examination at the different kind of Card Advantage Options available to us in red.  

  1. Pirate’s Pillage

Pirate’s pillage is a card I’ve only seen play in one deck, and that is the Thousand-Year Storm combo deck, as the multiple copies generated from Thousand-Year Storm give you a tonne of extra treasure tokens and card draw. Is it good in a mono red aggro list? Not really, unless you’re playing some kind of big red midrange list with Demanding Dragon and Banefire, Tormenting Voice does the exact same thing but two turns earlier.

  1. Shake the Foundations

Shake the foundations is really only marginally playable, this feels more like a sideboard card against Selesnya tokens, or Saprolings both decks that didn’t really get new cards from Allegiance, and will probably slowly fade from the meta. Maybe if the new cards Tin-street Dodger, and goblin gathering could make Goblins a scary enough deck to play this. Fiery cannonade is almost always better except that it doesn’t draw a card, and Shake the Foundations doesn’t kill your Ghitu Lavarunners.

  1. Warlord’s Fury

Both warlord’s fury, and crash through feel like they do the same thing, the difference being I’ve seen mono red goblin lists run Warlord’s Fury as a cycling card, or during a big fight to protect their attackers, when faced against white weenie or selesnya. I don’t think this will see much play, however the synergy with runaway Stean-kin, crash through and Arclight phoenix is worth mentioning.

  1. Crash Through

In mono red aggro, Warlord’s Fury is strictly better, as few creatures have power greater than 1 and trample isn’t super useful, but crash through in Izzet drakes is crazy lethal, especially now that afterlife spirits, can block drakes for weeks, this card is almost essential in that list.

  1. Tormenting Voice

Tormenting Voice is a strict upgrade to pirate’s pillage, as it’s faster, but with Goblin Electromancer this can cost a single red, which you see in a lot of Arclight Phoenix decks, where the discard a specific card from hand can be very useful. In a mono red aggro list, if you’re using it to discard excess lands, to draw more threats it isn’t terrible, but you’re let down by it’s sorcery speed. If you’re going sorcery speed, Flame of Keld might be a better pick.

  1. Rix Maadi Reveler

Rix Maadi is the only creature based draw that makes it into this list, but it’s only most effective in Rakdos Aggro. Having a body on a cycling effect isn’t terrible, as you can discard lands to draw threats, or fill up your hand on turn 4, which a body that can attack, is pretty solid.

  1. Flame of Keld

Flame of Keld is one of the more interesting ones, I think, and probably one of the ones I’ve played a bit before RNA’s release. What is does is pretty solid, but it takes a while to get started, usually on turn 4 this will be the last card from my hand played to discard nothing, so I can then untap and draw 3 cards, the third mode doesn’t often impact a game as much as I’d like, it just comes into effect much too late. The other huge glaring weakness is that you give your opponent a whole turn to find sorcery speed removal to stop you drawing cards, which is bad considering how popular enchantment hate is in the format right now (et tu, mortify?) .

  1. Experimental Frenzy

Experimental frenzy has seen a lot of play pre- Ravnica Allegiance release, but now that there’s so much enchantment hate in the format, and if you don’t have runaway steam-kin in play, this card feels like hot garbage. Mono Red aggro is fast enough that you should be winning on turn 4, not looking at the lands on top of your deck. It’s time to move on, and it’s time to upgrade to:

  1. Risk Factor

Risk factor is easily an amazing card in red as it does the two things you need it to do, draw cards and damage opponents. On top of this, you can discard a mountain to do it a whole second time! Being instant speed gives us a lot of value too, as you can slam it down whenever a control player is tapped out (to dodge syncopate, yuck), the only downside is you have to give your opponent a choice, which if you’re lucky the only option is to lose!

  1. Light up the Stage

Our number 1 best card draw in red is Light up the stage, by a landslide! It can cost only one mana with spectacle, it gives you two playable cards, for that turn, your opponents turn, and your next turn, plenty of time to always play both of them. Those cards can’t be thought erasured, or discarded to a flame of kled, you can play them while you have experimental frenzy out, and you can play lands off it, which lets you keep greedy one land hands on the play. What’s not to love?

I hope this helps you look at the kind of options you have when constructing a deck, as card advantage is so important, you need to find the cards that suit your deck’s speed and style the best.

Good luck in your MTGA grind!