Hi everyone, and welcome back to the monthly journey through the construction of a multiplayer cube. It’s only fitting that we hit red and green as we enter the festive season! Today we’ll be looking at my own cube’s red section as an example. Let’s go!
As per usual, you can catch up on all of our previous work by reading the white, blue and black articles.
The Red Section
Firstly, here’s what my multiplayer cube’s red section currently looks like:
Red clearly has some dragon action going on here. It can manage Dragon Tribal thanks to Utvara Hellkite, Thunderbreak Regent and Sarkhan’s Triumph. This is also the reason we see Dragonmaster Outcast, Backdraft Hellkite, Glorybringer, Thundermaw Hellkite and Balefire Dragon.There are also several artifact-centric themes in the cube, mostly in Izzet. Feldon of the Third Path, Daretti, Scrap Savant, Goblin Welder, Pia and Kiran Nalaar and Combustible Gearhulk all play into this theme in different ways.
Izzet also has a strong Spells Matter archetype, and it is for this reason that you see Young Pyromancer and Guttersnipe here. A lot of the instants and sorceries are here because they work well with this archetype as well, but most are strong enough that they’d be here anyway (so we’ll talk about them below instead). Backdraft Hellkite obviously sits quite comfortably in this archetpye as well as Dragon Tribal.
Finally, Rakdos is beginning to acquire a Griefer archetype by sheer chance. It’s beginning to gain a critical mass of cards that punish opponents for the simplest of actions. In red, this includes Impact Tremors, Rampaging Ferocidon and Harsh Mentor.
So clearly our red section is really in touch with the cube’s major archetypes! We’ve talked about 18 of the 45 cards above already. Let’s look at the remaining 27 below, and why you should consider them in your own cube.
Dire Fleet Daredevil is a recent and entertaining addition. In practise, it often behaves like a Shriekmaw or Nekrataal, fishing a removal spell out of an opponent’s graveyard and using it to remove the nastiest threat on the other side of the table. It ends up punishing the Izzet Spells Matter archetype, and makes opponents think twice about playing removal if they know you have this card up your sleeve.
Hanweir Garrison is a serviceable red token producer that starts to go next-level with Impact Tremors, Panharmonicon and/or Anointed Procession. In truth, I’ve had his buddy Hanweir Battlements out in our secret Lore Seeker booster for a while – they were melded for the first time ever in November. It’s a two-card party trick that you shouldn’t rely on actually occuring, but when they do meld… oh my!
Taurean Mauler has been here for a long time, and is mostly a throwback to this cube’s tribal beginnings. That said, it’s still a threat that can grow out of control very quickly. I find you often blink and it’s 10/10 and needing to be dealt with in a multiplayer setting.
Viashino Heretic was placed in here very early on to counter the rising threat of artifacts… and has never left. While obviously being good at artifact removal, it also turns out to be a half-decent griefer card that punishes people for daring to play equipment or mana rocks.
Flametongue Kavu is a Limited classic, and is good even in here. Four damage will kill the vast majority of creatures in the cube, and the body is not to be sneezed at either. Start blinking it or recurring it, and things get dangerous fast.
Hero of Oxid Ridge was in here at first due to his Knightliness, but has managed to stay. Every time we thinking of removing it, it hoses a token deck somewhere – last time around it was Thopters, the time before Elves… the evasiveness is not to be sneezed at. Add the haste and the battle cry, and it usually adds up to one very uncomfortable combat phase for an opponent.
Shaman of the Great Hunt is another creature in a similar mold to Hero of Oxid Ridge – angry, hasty body that leads to an uncomfortable combat phase, and a secondary ability that can easily be slept on. It’s probably not quite as angry as the Hero, but if it sticks around, it will draw you cards. Its ability to hand out +1/+1 counters also plays very nicely with a lot of other cards (in this cube’s green section, Rishkar, Peema Renegade and Kalonian Hydra are both pretty fond of it going off, for one).
Neheb, the Eternal was a card that caught my eye when Hour of Devastation was released, and he turns out to be an absolutely ridiculous piece of cardboard. For starters, he’s a 4/6 for five mana that is guaranteed to do damage in some form when he attacks (and he’s surprisingly let through quite often – people would rather take one more damage than lose a blocker). But it’s the mana generation that makes things get ridiculous. Sure, you can just play all those angry, hasty guys we’ve mentioned above, mash someone’s face and get a bunch of mana – that’s easy. But think about all those griefer cards we’ve got in here. Impact Tremors + Siege-Gang Commander with Neheb out = four mana for each opponent you have. That level of mana generation will often see you ending the game in a fairly non-interactive way in your postcombat main phase, usually via something with an X in it.
Siege-Gang Commander obviously loves hanging around Impact Tremors, as mentioned above. It’s also great to blink, and can remove small threats in a pinch – if you’re really struggling for damage, it can also throw Goblin Welder, Guttersnipe and Taurean Mauler overboard!
Zealous Conscripts is an Act of Treason on legs that your opponent rarely expects. It’s also able to gain control of any permanent, not just creatures. That Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx that can ramp you an extra 10 mana? Grab it. That planeswalker that is about to ultimate? You bet. That Nevinyrral’s Disk that your teammate just played but can’t untap? Let’s do it! It gets even worse when you start blinking it with Deadeye Navigator or Eldrazi Displacer. It’s even got a surprisingly useful body once you make it to combat phase – a hasty 3/3 will often surprise people, especially when you’ve just stolen their best blocker to start with.
Inferno Titan remains another very angry creature to play – it’s usually killing at least two creatures as it enters the battlefield, and it clears the way even more as it attacks. As per Flametongue Kavu, it only gets worse if you start blinking it or recurring it.
Molten Primordial is the biggest non-Dragon here, and often an absolute blowout. It’s obviously stealing a pile of things for the turn and behaving like an Insurrection on legs, but it gets even worse when you recur it. This cube has seen it pitched into the yard early, and then recurred every turn from Turn 4 onwards using Feldon of the Third Path. That’s when things start getting really bad for your opponents.
Enchanter’s Bane was a card we thought we would try out, and it’s turned out to be much nastier than it appears. In practise, it’s a griefer card when facing decks laden with enchantments (usually the Selesnya Enchantress archetype, or decks running heavily in green, white or blue). It dares the green player across the table to sacrifice their Asceticism or risk losing five life a turn. I’ve also watched it force a blue player to throw their Rhystic Study overboard. It’s usually underrated until it starts handing out punishment, so it leads to a classic money-or-the-gun scenario for your opponent.
Goblin Bombardment, along with Impact Tremors, is the kill card for token strategies. It has been in this cube since its inception and has never left, which is a mark of its usefulness. It also makes for a handy sacrifice outlet, should you require one.
Wheel of Fortune is Wheel of Fortune. It has obviously snuck over the $100 mark per copy, and I’m fortunate to have one. In essence, this is red’s method of card draw once it has emptied its hand. There are plenty of alternatives to this, as we’ll discuss below in budget considerations.
Chandra, Torch of Defiance is probably the best red planeswalker available, and that holds in multiplayer as well. The -3 ability is good enough to remove most things. Apart from that, Chandra is just going to give you ramp and pseudo-card draw until she gets removed (and you shouldn’t ever sneeze at either of those things, especially in red).
Fiery Confluence is obnoxiously good in most places, but especially so here, where it is dealing six damage to each opponent for four mana. Throw that into a deck full of griefer material, and it’s going to leave your opponents walking on eggshells. Toss in the fact that it can sweep token decks and remove artifacts, and its utility is just too good to ignore.
Outpost Siege has a running joke here – if you choose “Dragons”, you’re doing it wrong. This is here solely for its “Khans” mode, acting as red pseudo-card advantage. When you’ve got Impact Tremors for half the casting cost dealing blanket damage instead of one targeted point, you can see why this only ever gets resolved in one mode.
Sneak Attack is one of the original bonkers red cards, and is obviously an expensive piece of cardboard I’m fortunate to have. Here, it’s flopping out dragons and other large, angry creatures early and often for the win. In this cube, it helps build some truly wonderful Dragon Tribal decks, putting Utvara Hellkite, Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury and a couple of other cards that boost attacking creatures. It usually leaves quite the mark, along with a lot of Dragon tokens that you wouldn’t have otherwise had! It also helps you pitch things like Combustible Gearhulk and Molten Primordial into the graveyard early so that Feldon of the Third Path can have his wicked way with them (or, similarly, Wurmcoil Engine, so that Goblin Welder can retrieve it)… it’s a surprising mix of aggression and utility nowadays.
Savage Beating is one of those cards that works exactly like the name says. When entwined, this is a savage beating by most measures. If you have a way of copying it once you’ve cast it, look out below!
Volcanic Offering is a highly-political card that is mostly here to give red a way of dealing with the Blast Zones and Rogue’s Passages of this world. That said, seven damage is a lot, and it is removing just about anything that could be on the other side of the table.
Red Sun’s Zenith has been our Red X spell of choice for a while now, mostly due to its ability to shuffle itself back into your deck. This turns out to matter sometimes when you’re playing 40-card decks, and especially if you have a card advantage engine. We’ve seen a Rakdos deck pick the entire library up before using Yawgmoth’s Bargain (and obviously a bit of lifegain!), resolving RSZ and being able to draw it and recast it each turn.
Comet Storm is another Red X spell, but this one is here more because of its efficiency – while it’s usually a card that inspires fast maths calculations once drawn, it is usually capable of removing four or five targets off the board and giving an opponent an incidental amount to the face in the process.
Electrodominance is our third and final Red X spell, and this one has the potential to be the swingiest of the three. If you resolve this for 6+, you’re removing the biggest threat on the table and playing one of your own in the process.
Insurrection flat out wins the game. It is one of the few cards that meets my house rule regarding cards with triple-color casting costs (if you have one, you should go close to winning the game when you resolve). Sure, it’s not the most interactive way of winning… but it’s eleven mana. If people let the red player last that long, they have to know that this is a chance of resolving. Fair play if you do, I say!
Blasphemous Act will often sweep the board for a single red mana, and in that respect is one of the best multiplayer wrath effects available. You can even attempt to make this a little more one-sided by valuing things with indestructible or protection from red (e.g. Paladin en-Vec, Sword of War and Peace).
Starting with a Budget
Red is usually not the worst of colors for budgets, and it mostly holds here too, with a couple of obvious exceptions when it comes to cards over the $10-per-copy mark. There are four as of time of writing, with Fiery Confluence just over, and Balefire Dragon just under.
Wheel of Fortune is here mostly because it’s a Reserved List card, let’s be honest. But there are plenty of decent alternatives. We’ve already mentioned Reforge the Soul above, but you can also use Wheel of Fate or Winds of Change.
Sneak Attack really is its own card, and you’re probably not replicating the wreckage that it inflicts on people. Flameshadow Conjuring is a step down from Sneak Attack, but still really, really good (and, like a lot of things, utterly ridiculous with Anointed Procession).
Chandra, Torch of Defiance is still over the $10 mark at the moment. If you had to choose another red planeswalker to go in here, you’d probably have to consider Sarkhan, Fireblood, given the dragons we have here. But Chandra, the Firebrand is another one not to be slept on in this environment – Chandra the Forkmaster is dangerous when left alone.
Fiery Confluence is mostly here due to the blanket damage it can hand out. If you want something similar, Sizzle gets it done cheaply. If it’s the utility you’re after, you may want to consider a card like Collective Defiance.
Wrapping Things Up
I hope that gives you a starting point for a decent and somewhat budget red section for a multiplayer cube. Here’s to Santa bringing our cubes more toys in a few weeks time! I’ll be back early in the new year to talk green. Until then, have a fantastic holiday season!
Martin first caught the Magic: the Gathering bug at university in Australia in 1995, just as Fourth Edition was released (naturally just missing the era of opening dual lands in booster packs). One degree, career, marriage and two kids later, he is still slinging cards across a kitchen table with friends and is spreading the infection to the next generation via cube, EDH and multiplayer formats.