Welcome to the red segment of our Gladiator Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set review! Let’s get to it!
Battle Cry Goblin
Adding to the list of Goblin tribal payoffs, Battle Cry Goblin also comes in as a strong incentive to play more Goblins in Mono Red Aggro decks. Pack Tactics will be difficult to trigger unless you’re already significantly ahead, but is easier if you control Goblins to pump with the activated ability. The anthem and haste enabling is strong with effects that put multiple Goblins out at once, like Dragon Fodder or Goblin Instigator.
Boots of Speed
Boots of Speed is a Crystal Slipper at a one mana discount, making it extremely efficient. The ability to grant relevant buffs as well as come down early makes it a card that could see play in Aggro variants that don’t have a lot of inherent haste, as well as Boros Equipment.
Burning Hands is another in a series of color hate spells that still have a weaker effect against other colors. Despite that, Burning Hands is only playable in a meta where you expect to see a lot of green decks, as two damage is below rate for two mana burn spells. Additionally, Mono Red Aggro often has other tools to fight green decks like Kari Zev’s Expertise, Purphoros’s Intervention, and effects like Ahn-Crop Crasher. Ultimately, Burning Hands will be a meta choice and not much outside of that.
Critical Hit will have exactly one home in Gladiator: Blitz. Blitz is always on the lookout for cheap effects that can give double strike, and Critical Hit does exactly that. Rolling a 20 isn’t important to this card, Blitz decks would play this card even if it couldn’t return to your hand. Outside of Blitz, Gladiator decks aren’t looking for this effect.
Delina, Wild Mage
Delina has a powerful ability that gets significantly better with a high roll. Unfortunately, her body is very below rate and she offers no evasion, so multiple attacks will be unlikely. Delina notably can copy herself, so she can attack for at least six every turn.
Delina also combos with Pixie Guide to make pseudo-infinite attacking faerie tokens. Each roll you succeed gives you a higher and higher chance of winning the next roll.
A new potential top end evasive threat for Mono Red Aggro, Flameskull is most easily comparable to Phoenix of Ash and Lightning Phoenix as another threat that continues to come back unless exiled. While Flameskull lacks haste, it has three power and still has the flying that the other Phoenixes have. Notably, Flameskull forces you to pay full cost to recur it within a very specific timeframe, though it does give you an option to cast other spells.
Mono Red Aggro is always on the lookout for more one drops, especially those with haste. Goblin Javelineer also has the capability to take down bigger creatures with it’s triggered ability, which synergizes well with burn spells and effects like Torbran, Thane of Red Fell because it’s ability triggers before combat damage. Additionally, this is another card for Goblin tribal decks.
A low equip cost and entering the battlefield with a token body nullifies the common weakness in most Equipment. Additionally, Goblin Morningstar granting trample works well with the higher power creatures found in red.
This card is relevant for Boros Equipment decks, as it comes with a body, negating the archetype’s biggest inherent problem: drawing the wrong half of your deck. This card also works well with Goblin tribal synergies.
Hobgoblin Bandit Leader
Hobgoblin Bandit Leader is a top-notch card for Goblin decks, and Goblin decks only. The +1/+1 buff that Bandit Leader provides to your board, along with the ability to deal targeted burn for midgame reach, is powerful.
Though Gladiator already has Brazen Scourge, this card is an upgrade to its creature type. In this set, as well as Dominaria, Core Set 2020 and Jumpstart, rewards for playing Goblins have only gone up.Though a 3/3 with haste for three is above rate, Mono Red Aggro is likely not looking to play Hulking Bugbear over its other three drops, though Goblins certainly wants this card.
Inferno of the Star Mounts
Inferno of the Star Mounts is a heavy beater whose power lies in his uncounterability and haste. Inferno of the Star Mounts will be a strong threat against Tempo decks, and he can punish Control decks for tapping out. The 20 power ability will almost never be relevant, though the pump can help close out a game faster. Expect Inferno of the Star Mounts to see play in Dragon tribal decks, as well as Ramp decks that want to tech against blue.
The clear comparison with Magic Missile is Flames of the Firebrand. Magic Missile is uncounterable, but that doesn’t change that it’s below rate- you typically want to be paying two for this effect with cards like Arc Trail, which admittedly does not exist in Gladiator currently. Additionally, at three mana, you have access to effects like Anger of the Gods or Sweltering Suns, which do Magic Missile’s job better. Therefore, Magic Missile won’t see play in Gladiator.
Orb of Dragonkind
Orb of Dragonkind is another strong effect for Dragon tribal decks. Because the mana Orb of Dragonkind produces can only be used for Dragons, you need a pretty high density of them, which eliminates Orb from being played in any decks that aren’t dedicated Dragon decks.
In Dragons, however, expect Orb of Dragonkind to see a lot of play as a manarock that can sacrifice itself late game to find another threat.
A somewhat underwhelming card compared to Siege-Gang Commander, Swarming Goblins may still see play in Goblin tribal decks because Swarming it’s on an important spot on the curve, being a five drop that can help you Pyre of Heroes into Muxus, Goblin Grandee. Expect Swarming Goblins to see play in Goblins, at least until we get a better five drop Goblin.
As treasure production stapled to card draw, Unexpected Windfall will likely be a strong addition to Thousand-Year Storm decks, where the additional cost won’t matter if the spell is copied. Don’t expect to see Unexpected Windfall anywhere else.
You Find Some Prisoners
You Find Some Prisoners is a unique effect that red Control decks may want. Often, it will be an Anticipate, likely helping you find removal. A much smaller portion of the time, it will function as a two mana Shatter, perhaps blowing up a Torrential Gearhulk or a Stonecoil Serpent. You Find Some Prisoners may end up in Temur, Izzet, and Grixis control decks.
You See a Pair of Goblins
You See a Pair of Goblins is another obvious Goblins card, though it may also see some play in some builds of Mono Red Aggro due to its versatility in both creating bodies and pushing through extra points of damage on wide boards. Expect to see You See a Pair of Goblins in Goblin tribal decks and versions of Mono Red Aggro that aim to go wider.
Xorn appears to be a powerful enabler for Treasure decks with an on-rate body to boot. The question will be whether there’s enough density for a Grixis Treasures deck, but if there is, Xorn is going to be a part of it.
Zariel, Archduke of Avriel
Zariel, Archduke of Avernus may start off weak on the first turn it’s played, but an anthem and haste can be strong with a wide board or a follow up threat. The ultimate is achievable and powerful, though not outright game winning. In most cases, Zariel will end up worse than Chandra, Pyromaster and Chandra, Torch of Defiance, but may find a home in red decks that aim to go wider.
Interested in Reading More?
Gladiator enthusiast, constant brewer, and self-proclaimed premier UG tempo and blitz pilot of the format.