There’s still a whole day left of Return to Ravnica prereleases, and excitement over the new set doesn’t show any signs of dying down. With that in mind, I’m going to take as sober a look as possible at the cards, in alphabetical order by color. This is the first half of Return to Ravnica red in perspective. Allow me to begin with environment-appropriate removal:
Annihilating Fire – Yes, it’s Incinerate, but it’s so much more! Just like approximately 75% of the cards in this set, this is effective graveyard hosing that gets around both undying and scavenge, and as such is certainly a thing to consider putting in your sideboard in Standard Constructed.
Ash Zealot – This is the bluntest and most obvious and also the best hate-bear ever, ever printed, in my humble opinion. It’s a big middle finger to flashback and it’s got two abilities that in all likelihood should not be on a red 2/2 two-drop and I respect that. But yes, this is gonna sell for $30.
Batterhorn – Artifacts good. Artifacts good in this format. Hoser artifacts great in Modern. Batterhorn get rid of hoser problems. Any questions? This is a weird thing for combo decks to play, but sometimes your insanely complex infinite recursion engine needs something to defend you at midrange, and if it can take out the Pithing Needle that’s putting a crimp in your plans then so much the better.
Bellows Lizard – Red has gotten some great one-drops in the past: I’m thinking of things like Goblin Lackey and Jackal Pup. This is assuredly not one of those; I can’t really think of a time to use +1/+0 for two mana unless you have made such bad draws that you have no two-drops or late-game if you have a ton of mana to sink. Still, one-drops are one-drops in Limited, so playing this might be a necessity, and it might surprise you in a tight spot.
Bloodfray Giant – This is a 5/4 for four in red for no extra effort on your part when it enters the battlefield. If that isn’t appealing to you then perhaps you should not play aggro. In all seriousness, this makes such a good blocker that there are, unbelievably, situations where you might not unleash it, but trample sends a pretty clear ATTACK WITH ME message.
Chaos Imps – Wooooo, this is the unleash game-ender. Two distinct forms of evasion when it has a counter on it, and did I mention the 7 power? I raved about this card when I originally previewed it and my feelings about it have not changed.
Cobblebrute – 5/2 for four is a surprisingly rare power and toughness ratio. This is the fragile vanilla beater that red always gets, and among that category of creatures it’s a relatively efficient one, although Bloodfray Giant does beat it out in many respects (but not the ability to block with 5 power).
Dynacharge – The Izzet, as you have seen and will see, get a surprising amount of amazing combat tricks. The mass-pump mode of this kicks butt really hard, especially when you’ve got evasive creatures (and if you’re playing Izzet I’m sure you do).
Electrickery – And here is yet another insane Izzet instant for two in a row. Two mana to wipe out any weenie deck’s whole army while leaving yours untouched?! Yeah, Selesnya players perhaps ought to splash blue for Dispel in view of the likelihood of red dropping this bomb early game.
Explosive Impact – This is the rare removal spell that’s also often going to be a player-killing spell. I would happily fill my six-mana slots in any given red deck with four of these, simply because I have this weird soft spot for Lava Axe.
Goblin Rally – Whatta way to clog up the board, make combat math a real pain, and get your opponents to call you dirty names in Limited! Fun with mass pump! Funner with Krenko, Mob Boss!
Gore-House Chainwalker – I appreciate that this guy has a more traditionally-Rakdos-feeling power and toughness ratio. He is, of course, very mean when unleashed; red 3-power two-drops are a thing to be feared. The name, flavor text, and art make this a flavor home run too.
Guild Feud – Yes, chaotic red bad rare enchantment. We’ve heard it all before. The thing is, you have way more control over this than you know. Experiment with it, you might like it.
Guttersnipe – Izzet a good card? I’ll argue that point until my eyes are red and I’m blue in the face. Play this card in Izzet and you won’t regret it, okay? Especially in multiples.
Lobber Crew – It’s hard-to-remove, it makes the kill clock tick by faster, it’s good in multiplayer, it synergizes with multicolor cards… this is the odd common that is total Commander bait. That is not to say it’s not great in RtR Limited, because it is, given that it’s effectively unblockable, often will shoot off multiple times per turn, and in a pinch is a hard to kill chump blocker.