Welcome to the Red section of the NEO Set Review! Here you’ll see Dragons, Goblins, and cool new weapons to attach to your creatures. Let’s get started with the review!
Atsushi, the Blazing Sky
The red member of the cycle of legendary Dragons, Atsushi is an on-rate creature with two powerful forms of evasion. Very few flyers in the format can beat him in combat, but even if they do you get to choose one of two powerful death triggers, whichever is best for your situation. The Treasures can be used to cast multiple spells or one big spell, accelerating your game plan faster than your opponent can answer. Or you can choose to impulse draw two cards, and you get two turns to play them, making it very hard to whiff. The only time Atsushi is bad is if he is exiled the turn he comes into play, but that’s true of most creatures. Expect to see this Dragon in both Tribal decks and red Midrange decks.
This experiment is sure to have positive results, drawing you up to two cards and making a creature to boot! While most powerful in synergistic artifact strategies, the Synthesizer may also find a home in slower red strategies looking for a source of card advantage. Be careful to cast or activate it before playing your land for turn, otherwise you may exile a land and whiff. I want to cast a Deadly Dispute to sacrifice this, but even outside of that dream situation I expect this card will be quite good in the right lists.
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
Multiple threats, card filtering, and ramp all on one enchantment? Wow, this card does a lot. The question is, does it do it fast enough? The first ability is a worse Captain Lannery Storm and the second is a worse Faithless Looting, but the third ability is a relatively new effect for red in Gladiator, seen previously only on Delina, Wild Mage. This card seems too slow for Aggro, but could do quite well in a Midrange deck that wants all of these effects. The decks most primed to take advantage of this card are Goblin Tribal and Jeskai Blink. Goblin tribal can make use of both Goblin bodies, and also has many creatures like Munitions Expert and Siege-Gang Commander that are begging to be copied. Jeskai Control can both make use of blinking the Saga to recur the first two chapter abilities and provide many juicy targets for the Reflection’s activated ability.
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Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei
Another legendary creature for Gruul Legends, Goro-Goro is a powerful mana sink for decks that run a high density of Modified creatures. The downside of this card is that many times it will be a vanilla 2/2. Additionally, to take advantage of his first ability you must play your threats slightly off curve. Thus, unless you feel you can consistently activate the third ability, this card does not go in your deck. One thing to note is that Goro-Goro himself does not need to be attacking to create the 5/5 Dragon token, so you can keep pumping out Dragons without risking the weak Goblin.
Kumano Faces Kakkazan
This Saga has an incredibly low mana value, but packs a punch far above its weight class. Curving this into a creature the following turn is great value, and that is before you get the 2/2 haste on the flip side. I like this card a lot as incidental graveyard hate as it causes all your opponent’s creatures that die to damage to be exiled, no matter what type of source the damage came from. This card will certainly see play in Mono-Red Aggro and other Red-X Aggro decks, and potentially a new Modified list would want it.
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Fencing Ace is now a red card, and with quite a powerful upside. Reconfigure allows this Lizard to serve double duty as both a threat and an Equipment. This means that if your opponent wraths while this is an Equipment, you’ll untap with a threat that is ready to attack straight away. Additionally, Lizard Blades carries Equipment well and is an artifact, so I expect it to see play in both Equipment decks and Battlebots. I cannot wait to have my creatures dual wield Lizards that are also swords!
Rabbit Battery? More like Rabid Battery, as this Rabbit is ready to enter the red zone the turn it comes into play. The best one mana 1/1 haste since Bomat Courier, this Rabbit makes sure that all your future creatures can have haste if you play off curve. Unlike Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei, this Equipment makes up for playing off curve by giving the equipped creature +1/+1. Just like Lizard Blades, this creature resists wraths. Expect this to see play in every red creature-based deck, regardless if it can also take advantage of the artifact type and Equipment synergy.
Though not quite Hellrider, Thundering Raiju can make a good impression of it in the right Modified deck. This card grows itself or another creature by adding a +1/+1 counter on attack, meaning that it can attack as a 4/4 or help another creature make a profitable attack. Additionally, it has haste meaning it applies pressure the turn it comes into play, and it also damages the opponent directly. This will see play in Equipment and Counters decks that enable its direct damage ability, and any red deck that wants a higher density of haste creatures.
That’s all the new Red cards from NEO. While my favorite cards are the Reconfigure creatures, what card(s) are you most excited about from the set? Feel free to ping me, WreckDeck#4901, with your thoughts in #new card discussion or new brews in #brewers-corner!
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I am an avid Gladiator player who wants to support the community! I’ve been playing Magic since 2007, and Gladiator since Season One of the AM League. My favorite Gladiator deck is Green Aggro.