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Ferret's Retro Corner #4: Alpha/Beta/Unl Red
By David McKenzie
Welcome to day four of Ferret’s Retro Corner. For those that have joined us late, we’re looking at the early days of Magic and the cards from the Limited and Unlimited printings. So far we’ve covered Black, Blue, and Green. Next up is Red. Red had lots of burn, as they’ve always had, but the burn spells had more bang for the buck. It wasn’t as land destruction oriented as Black or Green, but made up for it by affecting what happened when you tapped those lands for mana. They also had the cards that ruled the skies: Dragons. Blue may have had the quantity, but Red had the quality. This was also the introduction of the dumbest race of creatures to ever overpopulate the game: Goblins.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

Card Title: Burrowing
Color: Red
Card Type: Enchant Creature
Cost: R
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Target creature gains mountainwalk.

One thing most Red creatures lacked was evasion. Sure, some could fly, but most had to just try to bust their way through. This enchantment actually helped when you were facing another Red player, but for the most part was left out in favour of more burn or creature spells.

Card Title: Chaoslace
Color: Red
Card Type: Interrupt
Cost: R
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Changes the color of one card either being played or already
in play to red. Cost to cast, tap, maintain, or use a special
ability of target card remains entirely unchanged.

Yup, it’s another lace. The only reason to put this in a deck is if you were playing Blue and wanted to use Blue Elemental Blast to remove/counter anything. Yup, that’s the only real reason….

Card Title: Disintegrate
Color: Red
Card Type: Card Type: Sorcery
Cost: XR
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Disintegrate does X damage to one target. If target dies this
turn, it is removed from game entirely and cannot be
regenerated. Return target to its owner's deck only when
game is over.

Good direct damage against players, but also the ultimate creature removal. Why just bury a creature when you can get rid of it permanently. It was also a handy tactic to cast it on a creature for zero damage just before combat. If the creature took lethal damage in combat, it also got removed. Neat, huh?

Card Title: Dragon Whelp
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Dragon
Cost: 2RR
Pow/Tgh: 2/3
Card Text: Flying
R: +1/+0 until end of turn; if more than RRR is spent in
this way, Dragon Whelp is destroyed at end of turn.

My first thought when I saw this card is “Awwww…how cute!” Then I read the card itself and thought “Awwww….how cute – and powerful!”

Card Title: Dwarven Demolition Team
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Dwarves
Cost: 2R
Pow/Tgh: 1/1
Card Text: Tap to destroy a wall.

Well, I guess when this set was printed there were a lot of walls around and this card might help w/ that, but otherwise it was just more chaff.

Card Title: Dwarven Warriors
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Dwarves
Cost: 2R
Pow/Tgh: 1/1
Card Text: Tap to make a creature of power no greater than 2
unblockable until end of turn. Other cards may later be used
to increase target creature's power beyond 2 after defense is
chosen.

Well, okay each critter didn’t have that much evasion on their own, but this guy could help any little critter through – It also worked great on Dragon Whelps.

Card Title: Earth Elemental
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Elemental
Cost: 3RR
Pow/Tgh: 4/5
Card Text: n/a
When Red does vanilla critters they make ‘em big.

Card Title: Earthbind
Color: Red
Card Type: Enchant Creature
Cost: R
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: If cast on a flying creature, Earthbind removes flying ability
and does 2 damage to target creature; this damage occurs
only once, at the time Earthbind is cast. If another spell or
effect later gives target creature flying ability, Earthbind
does not affect this. Earthbind has no effect on non-flying
creatures.

Everyone remembers the artwork on this card, don’t they? It’s why it wasn’t reprinted. Still, this card was a great way to deal w/ annoying flyers that were getting in the way of your Dragons.

Card Title: Earthquake
Color: Red
Card Type: Card Type: Sorcery
Cost: XR
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Does X damage to each player and each non-flying creature
in play.

Have more life than your opponent and enough mana to do him in? This works. Tired of that weenie horde that keeps hitting you for a bunch of damage every turn? This works. Real fun in multiplayer.

Card Title: False Orders
Color: Red
Card Type: Instant
Cost: R
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: You decide whether and how one defending creature blocks,
though you can't make a choice the defender couldn't legally
make. Play after defender has chosen defense but before
damage is dealt.
Card Title: False Orders
Color: Red
Card Type: Instant
Cost: R
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: You decide whether and how one defending creature blocks,
though you can't make a choice the defender couldn't legally
make. Play after defender has chosen defense but before
damage is dealt.

Ummm…okay, I guess this would be good. It’s kind of like Sorrow’s Path, but without all the cool special effects.

Card Title: Fire Elemental
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Elemental
Cost: 3RR
Pow/Tgh: 5/4
Card Text: n/a

Another beefy vanilla critter.

Card Title: Fireball
Color: Red
Card Type: Sorcery
Cost: XR
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Fireball does X damage total, divided evenly (round down)
among any number of targets. Pay 1 extra mana for each
target beyond the first.

This card is really good at doing in players or one creature, but requires a lot of mana (and the ability do math really well in your head) to work on more than one target.

Card Title: Firebreathing
Color: Red
Card Type: Enchant Creature
Cost: R
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: R: +1/+0

Why should Dragons have the monopoly on pumping out extra damage? Turn anything into a Dragon w/ this card. “Behold the power of my Firebreathing Treefolk!”

Card Title: Flashfires
Color: Red
Card Type: Card Type: Sorcery
Cost: 3R
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: All plains in play are destroyed.

We all know that Red and White are supposed to be opposed to each other in the game. Well, this card proves it. Nasty.

Card Title: Fork
Color: Red
Card Type: Interrupt
Cost: RR
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Any one sorcery or instant spell just cast is duplicated. Treat
Fork as an exact copy of target spell except that Fork remains
red. Caster of Fork chooses the copy's target.

Okay, this card was so handy they had to restrict it. Just think of what you could do with it (aside from doubling all those nifty burn spells): Opponent casts Time Walk – well, you get one too!. Someone Giant Growths their creature as they block yours – well, you Giant Growth your creature. Opponent plays Ancestral Recall, well you can draw three cards as well. Also, under current rules, it can be used to counter your opponent’s counterspells. More uses than a Ginsu Knife collection.

Card Title: Goblin Balloon Brigade
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Goblins
Cost: R
Pow/Tgh: 1/1
Card Text: R: Goblins gain flying ability until end of turn. Controller
may not choose to make Goblins fly after they have been
blocked.

This card seemed harmless enough when printed. You give it a little evasion and it hits you for a point of damage. What harm is that? Well, since it was taken out of print, we’ll assume that WotC thought that it was too powerful for a one drop critter. Still, a fan favourite of Goblin decks.

Card Title: Goblin King
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Lord
Cost: 1RR
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Card Text: Goblins in play gain mountainwalk and +1/+1 while this
card remains in play.

Speaking of Goblins, this card was actually more useful when this set was printed than its friends Zombie Master and Lord of Atlantis because Red actually had two, count them, two Goblin cards – of course, there are a LOT more than that these days…

Card Title: Granite Gargoyle
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Gargoyle
Cost: 2R
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Card Text: Flying; R: +0/+1

It’s easy to see why this might have been taken out of print. It was as cheap as some of Blue’s flyers and had a great ability. Blue wouldn’t be able to attack w/ impunity while this was in the sky.

Card Title: Gray Ogre
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Ogre
Cost: 2R
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Card Text: n/a

Vanilla and overcosted.

Card Title: Hill Giant
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Giant
Cost: 3R
Pow/Tgh: 3/3

More vanilla.

Card Title: Hurloon Minotaur
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Minotaur
Cost: 1RR
Pow/Tgh: 2/3

And even MORE vanilla.

Card Title: Ironclaw Orcs
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Orcs
Cost: 1R
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Card Text: Cannot be used to block any creature of power more than 1.

Now this isn’t too bad. Two drop that can’t block bigger critters? Who cares? You want to attack w/ these bad boys!

Card Title: Keldon Warlord
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Lord
Cost: 2RR
Pow/Tgh: X/X
Card Text: The Xs below are the number of non-wall creatures on your
side, including Warlord. Thus if you have 2 other non-wall
creatures, Warlord is 3/3. If one of those creatures is killed
during the turn, Warlord immediately becomes 2/2.

Okay, this card has potential to be good if you have enough critters in play, but otherwise you’re shelling out four mana for something that’s still ‘Bolt Bait. What does ‘Bolt Bat mean? Good question.

Card Title: Lightning Bolt
Color: Red
Card Type: Instant
Cost: R
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Lightning Bolt does 3 damage to one target.

The card that was considered too powerful for its own good. It was the perfect way to deal w/ all those annoying first turn critters. Worried about losing life (and cards) to that Hypnotic Specter! That War Mammoth looking like it might hurt you too much? Afraid that Dragon Whelp might be too much to take? No problem. Zap them w/ this and your problems are over. Fortunately, this card was common as dirt back then so anyone that was around back then probably has about 100 of them.

Card Title: Mana Flare
Color: Red
Card Type: Enchantment
Cost: 2R
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Whenever either player taps land for mana, each land
produces 1 extra mana of the appropriate type.

A definite crowd pleaser in multiplayer. People might resist killing you because they like the free mana they’re getting from you.

Card Title: Manabarbs
Color: Red
Card Type: Enchantment
Cost: 3R
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Whenever any land is tapped, Manabarbs does 1 damage to
the land's controller.

Of course, if you want to be mean to players you want to speed up a multiplayer game this is a good way to do it. Of course, it might cause you problems as well if you like Burn spells with X in their casting cost.

Card Title: Mons's Goblin Raiders
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Goblins
Cost: R
Pow/Tgh: 1/1

Red’s other Goblin spell. Vanilla. Hardly got any use after other Goblin spells were printed.

Card Title: Orcish Artillery
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Orcs
Cost: (Beta/Unlimited) 1RR, (alpha) 1R
Pow/Tgh: 1/3
Card Text: Tap to do 2 damage to any target, but you suffer 3 damage
as well.

Good spell, but it’s good to have a CoP Red in play as well – unless you can handle the damage.

Card Title: Orcish Oriflamme
Color: Red
Card Type: Enchantment
Cost: (Beta/Unlimited) 3R, (alpha) 1R
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: When attacking, all of your attacking creatures gain +1/+0.

Just the thing to give your Gobilins (or Dragons!) extra punch when they attack.

Card Title: Power Surge
Color: Red
Card Type: Enchantment
Cost: RR
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Before untapping lands at the start of a turn, each player
takes 1 damage for each land he or she controls but did not
tap during the previous turn.

This card is Red’s answer to Blue. Sure, they can keep those two Islands untapped, but they better be ready to take the damage. Meanwhile, you can use cards like Dragons, Walls of Fire, or Granite Gargoyles to act as mana sinks for yourself.

Card Title: Raging River
Color: Red
Card Type: Enchantment
Cost: RR
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: When you attack, non-flying defending creatures must be
divided as opponent wishes between the left and right sides
of the River. You then choose on which side of the River
to place each attacking creature, and attacking creatures can
only be blocked by flying creatures or those on the same side
as the river.

Ummm…okay. Unless your opponent has a horde coming on the other side, this card is about useless. It’s better to save the space for a card like Earthquake.

Card Title: Red Elemental Blast
Color: Red
Card Type: Interrupt (Beta/Unlimited) , Card Type: Instant (alpha)
Cost: R
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Counters a blue spell being cast or destroys a blue card in
play.

Red’s other answer to Blue. A perfect way to deal w/ their counterspells – or flyers, or Tims, or….


Card Title: Roc of Kher Ridges
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Roc
Cost: 3R
Pow/Tgh: 3/3

Red’s answer to Phantom Monster. Never made it past Revised because, I guess Blue didn’t like the competition.

Card Title: Rock Hydra
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Hydra
Cost: XRR
Pow/Tgh: 0/0
Card Text: Put X +1/+1 counters (heads) on Hydra. Each point of
damage Hydra suffers kills one head unless controller spends
R per head. During controller's upkeep, new heads may be
grown for RRR apiece.

Kind of confusing to figure out, but once you do this card was amazing to have out.

Card Title: Sedge Troll
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Troll
Cost: 2R
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Card Text: B: Regenerates.
While controller has swamps in play, Sedge Troll gains
+1/+1.

One of the first cards that encouraged you to play w/ “allied” colours.

Card Title: Shatter
Color: Red
Card Type: Instant
Cost: 1R
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Shatter destroys target artifact.

Simple artifact removal. Efficient and clean.

Card Title: Shivan Dragon
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Dragon
Cost: 4RR
Pow/Tgh: 5/5
Card Text: Flying, R: +1/+0

The King of the Air. Six man for this powerhouse was the ultimate bargain. It only took a couple of turns to take out your opponent when this guy hit the board.

Card Title: Smoke
Color: Red
Card Type: Enchantment
Cost: RR
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Each player can only untap one creature during his or her
untap phase.

Another nice way to slow things down in multiplayer.

Card Title: Stone Giant
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Giant
Cost: 2RR
Pow/Tgh: 3/4
Card Text: Tap to make one of your own creatures a flying creature
until end of turn. Target creature, which must have
toughness less than Stone Giant's power at the time it gains
flying ability, is destroyed at end of turn.

This card was fun because you could take all those Red Weenie cards you have and literally throw them at your opponent – worked great with Uthden Troll.

Card Title: Stone Rain
Color: Red
Card Type: Sorcery
Cost: 2R
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Destroys any one land.

A Red staple. While the other land destruction card were getting taken out of print this one stuck around.

Card Title: Two-Headed Giant of Foriys
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Giant
Cost: 4R
Pow/Tgh: 4/4
Card Text: Trample
May block two attacking creatures; divide damage between
them however controller likes.

Not a bad creature. Good power/toughness for its casting cost and the ability block two critters at once was good for defense – however, it usually spent more time attacking.

Card Title: Uthden Troll
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Troll
Cost: 2R
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Card Text: R: Regenerates.

See Stone Giant.

Card Title: Wall of Fire
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Wall
Cost: 1RR
Pow/Tgh: 0/5
Card Text: R: +1/+0

Red’s answer to Wall of Water. Good way to deal w/ anything that walks your way.

Card Title: Wall of Stone
Color: Red
Card Type: Summon Wall
Cost: 1RR
Pow/Tgh: 0/8
Card Text: n/a

Not as effective as Wall of Fire, but still able to block everything short of a Force of Nature and still be alive at the end of combat.

Card Title: Wheel of Fortune
Color: Red
Card Type: Card Type: Sorcery
Cost: 2R
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Both players must discard their hands and draw seven
new cards.

Now, this card is always popular in multiplayer – of course, it can also annoy people that were holding a lot of cards that they would rather have been able to cast.

So, that takes care of Red. An extremely powerful colour and lots of fun to play when splashed w/ other colours.

Coming up, we’ll be taking a look at the last of Magic’s colours which had loads of creatures w/ Banding (or ‘Bands with’), first strike, and one of the best flyers. But the one thing that they were known for was protection. They had LOTS of that.

Read More Articles by David McKenzie!

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