Commander Staples – Utility Lands – Red

Ah, the mistakes of the past.

There’s a big part of me that will always gravitate towards red decks. Red exemplifies the business of Magic (not the commerce business, the gettin’ it done business) in its most direct form: to the face! Red’s single most powerful spell can be paid for in a single mountain activation.

How about another shout out to the late Christopher Rush!

Red might have a few more ‘powerful’ spells, even some with the pedigree of Lightning Bolt here, but the 3 damage instant is probably in the running for most creatures killed all time, most mana birds killed all time, most player kills via spell damage, and most cast spell overall. It might have all of those titles, in fact. What other spell would even be in the running? I can’t imagine Magic without Lightning Bolt. It has always felt right, even though it is clearly powerful. Would making it rare help get it back into Standard, or is that a departed dream?

This is a Commander card now.

There’s another spell that’s been big news for a while, and while the axe fell, Faithless Looting dominated for the cost of a single red mana (or R, or prawn). Modern has had to ban this spell, and also banned Rite of Flame ages ago for making too many spicy prawns too fast. All the spicy prawn makers have been banned in Modern. It’s good to make prawns. So that’s where we are today. Here are the red lands that make prawns, or want prawns, or help you with skulls and drips and suns and trees when all you can make is prawns. Hopefully it’ll be spicy!

The New

Hot stuff!

We start with spicy! Oh Castle Embereth you look so innocent, with your little war anthem there. I can imagine attacking with a few creatures, and getting a bit of a bonus, and making for some troublesome blocks. Ha ha! And we could stop there, because that’s actually fairly awesome for a land that’s mostly one of the Mountains. But this isn’t just a derpy way to mess with blockers or squeak through extra points of damage, this is a potential killing machine. What if I said this could tap to deal 5 damage to an opponent? Or 10? Or 20? Well, if you’re built to go wide, that’s not out of the question. Any red decks do that? Oh yeah, Goblins. Krenkos. Krenkos make Goblins, and Goblins are generally 1/1s and this doubles their power. I have a red deck that makes thopters. Guess what? 1/1s! Double power! Hey Locust God…! Of course you have to have a lot of tokens to make that big swing happen, but this is on a land you’re playing to mostly use for mana. Since the effect is at instant speed and has no actual connection to combat, you can find other ways to use the power boost. How about to enable Ferocious, or Mosswort Bridge? How about in response to Mob Rule, to change the math?

Mob rule? Did you mean Mandrill attack?

The best thing about these Castles is the open canvas of possibilities regarding their usage. The second best thing is how easy it is to slot them into decks. Try Castle Embereth. You may just love this pseudo-Mountain’s ‘range.’

I can’t look at mines like this these days without thinking Mario Kart.

Dwarven Mine is not a pseudo-Mountain, it’s an actual Mountain. Over the last few days I’ve talked about how lands with basic types and some sort of upside offer all sorts of toolkit-style utility to your decks. Well you want a toolkit? How about a Dwarf toolkit? Probably all pickaxes and gemstone magnifiers. It’s implied your 1/1 token is bringing something like that. But like all tokens, your Dwarf chumps and wears Equipment, and does other creature stuff. In Dwarf decks, this token happily pilots vehicles like Smuggler’s Copter.

Taking Snow White to the southern territories probably saved her life.

Dwarves don’t have a ton of support. But there were huge Dwarf upgrades in both Kaladesh and Eldraine. This token has a type. That’s not insignificant. I’ll mention chumping one more time, because fetchlands and such allow you to grab Mountains from your deck at instant speed. Getting a surprise 1/1 blocker can save your life, and can’t be countered by much. Dwarven Mine is good now, and will only get better.

The Red Hots

Mmm BBQ Prawns!

Starting at the peak, we have the Mountain payoff Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. Valakut loves to see things like Dwarven Mine get printed. Valakut is the killing engine in a Modern deck that uses Scapeshift to get this out with a bunch of Mountains and rain molten doom on the 20 measly life points those poor souls are cursed with. 18-19 if they cracked fetches.

Imagine if your dog could fetch like this.

Valakut doesn’t look like the sort of thing that could do enough damage to threaten a Commander table, right?

Tomb of who now?

Oops, I’ve been killed by this beside Valakut. It was nasty! It was a Lord Windgrace deck, and it got into endgame and the table was floored. Then Mountained. It’s lucky there aren’t many way to copy permanents in red, because for some weird reason, Valakut isn’t legendary. It’s also not cheap. There’s a fun promo printing in foil, but all copies will probably be at least $20-25. This is a Modern ‘staple’ despite not really figuring in the format recently, so we’ll probably see a reprint. Plus we’re headed back to Zendikar soon, so we may even see a new interpretation of the location. If you’re playing a lot of Mountains, this is a great source of incidental damage, or even a mass kill machine. As more Mountains like Dwarven Mine get printed, this gets better, and adds a Lightning Bolt feature to your toolbox. All the red trope creatures would approve.

Why is this not more popular? Is it just my area?

Red has a pair of completely under the radar lands that I can’t believe don’t see more play. Flamekin Village is the first of these. I don’t want to have to go into too much detail about how good Haste is, but what it really comes down to is this: your opponents have 3 turns between them to respond to your stuff. 3 to your 1. 3 draw steps, 3 untaps (at least), etc. If your creature needs to attack or use an activated ability to be relevant, and it’s a target, you need Haste. You also need Lightning Greaves and/or Swiftfoot Boots, but that’s a whole other post. But Haste is flat out amazing. Having an untap clause is equally cool here. Elementals are an increasingly supported tribe, and so are Changelings. Plenty of decks run Taurean Mauler, and have at least one creature to trigger this. This has only been printed in Commander products, so no foils, but we should see a reprint at some point. You should be able to grab these for under $5, until the community at large figures out these are amazing.

Oh hey, cool battlements!
And there’s some dudes on the battlement. Pretty heroic dudes!
Oh, and now things have gone wrong. Dudes, battlements, heroism, all just a bunch of writhing.

The horror of Hanweir, the Writhing Township! The horror, the horror. For me, the horror of this was discovering Hanweir couldn’t be used in an all-colourless deck. I think poor Hanweir really suffers from being less than the sum of 2 very good parts. Hanweir Garrison terrorized draft tables, creating too many dudes too quickly if not answered. It’s not bad in Commander, either, with a low CMC, and solid potential if left alone. Hanweir Battlements is the real deal. Where is this card? Why don’t I play it more? I find I have a natural aversion to the flippy cards. Part of it is because when the Shadows over Innistrad Block came out, I was using plain red sleeves a lot for things like drafting and Commander, and the backs showed through. I don’t want to know what’s on top of my deck unless I have a card that lets me look. Cheating is stupid. I had to get new sleeves. I could use the checklist cards, and I do, but they’re so darn ugly, and in drafts, weren’t always available. Now they’re packed in with the flippy cards, but I guess damage was done. I’m going to try and make a point of playing this card the next time I’m in red, no matter what else I’m doing. Haste is amazing. Like Flamekin Village, this also doesn’t specify your creature, so you can be political with your Haste, if that’s your thing.

What will break this card? Only time will tell!

One final note about Meld. Meld asks for a creature by name, but the above card allows you to get around that. Meld can and will trigger, however, or at least attempt to do so. The exile part of the transform will happen, but since one of the cards has no ‘other side,’ the Meld can’t resolve. You don’t get half, even if it’s the half with all the text. I wholeheartedly recommend grabbing a copy of Hanweir Battlements if you don’t have one already. It’s very hard to reprint, for a number of reasons. Maybe in an Eldrazi-specific Commander precon, which is not out of the question. That does leave foils, though, and they can be had for less than $5. Non foils are about a dollar or so. Get yours.

Would not be bloodsoaked in a more rainy climate.

Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep is a terrific card. While this may seem limited, the best thing you can do is point it out to your opponents. First Strike is a real combat ability, and quite strong by itself. This helps Commanders, mostly, keeping them alive when they would otherwise trade. But the rattlesnake potential is the thing to leverage here. Shinka and a legendary blocker tells an opponent to turn their attack elsewhere or lose one of their own. You might only take out a chump, but the other player to your left without any rattlesnakes is suddenly a much more appealing to target. You have to survive 3 opposing attack phases for each one you get in a typical Commander game. Navigating the midrange attacks can be a major difference to lategame survival. Shinka also doesn’t target your creatures only. Keeping an opponent’s Commander alive in combat might behoove you in some way, especially if it’s the Xantcha or Karona you just gave them. Shinka, despite the single printing, isn’t too hard on the wallet. $5 or less. Foils are upwards of $20. A reprint seems likely, as these cards seldom see play outside Commander. Increasing the supply would sell packs and make a lot of people happy. In the meantime, like many cards on this list, this is available and extremely playable.

It’s mostly a dry heat. Dress for near-constant lightning strikes.

Ramunap Ruins was banned in Standard for being too good. For real. Now that it has rotated, and mostly filtered into Commander decks, we can see that it’s still pretty good. Giving red lands a damage ability has been a mixed blessing in Magic. They’re mostly pretty rough, but this shines for a couple of reasons. Desert type matters now, and might matter more in future. This comes in untapped, provides colourless mana, deals 1 damage to you, if that matters….

I love how there’s no symmetry to the visuals in this card at all. (You double this guy’s trigger, BTW)

…And does what it did in Standard. It reaches. Not the block flyers reach, the close games reach. This can sacrifice itself, but does better with a bunch of Deserts to turn it into a repeat damage machine. I sometimes think of my opponents as a block of lifepoints, and the Ruins here as not a damage for 2, but a damage for 6. If I only play the cycling Desert, that still adds 12 damage potential to my deck. From a land. It may look red, but it’s still colourless, and tough to counter. This was briefly expensive while it burned up Standard, but it’s cheap now, and foils aren’t bad. Maybe $3.

Pretend there’s no cycles.

In isolation, Shivan Gorge is pretty great. I just talked about the reach on Ramunap Ruins, and while this is half the reach, this is cheaper to do, and costs you nothing more than mana. I recommend this of course. But some context is in order, just so you know the big picture here.

But cycles do exist. They do. Eep.

Shivan Gorge is part of a cycle. If you don’t know what the others are, brace yourself.

Oh this must be the best of the cycle, it’s so good! No?!
Ok, no this one! This is the best. What’s better than this?
Oh dear. We aren’t even at the best one yet, are we?
Your winner!

This is a cycle. I’ll repeat: this is a cycle. And Shivan Gorge is a pretty good card. Somehow Shivan Gorge (and Phyrexian Tower) dodged the Reserved List, and we have a couple options for copies. Both are pictured above, actually, and can both be had for around a dollar or two. Reprints are pretty likely, too. There’s minimal demand, and this probably won’t help sell packs, so who knows when. You probably have time to get a cheap copy.

Where Snorlax hangs out.

Hideaway cards want you to do a little work for a free payoff. Except for the red one. The picture in Spinerock Knoll shows a rocky knoll with spines that looks a lot like a sleeping Dragon. Sleeping is the operative word. This card is super lazy. See that Hideaway condition? See where it says you have to do the 7 damage? Nope, not there. Anyone can do the 7 damage. It just has to happen to an opponent. Super lazy. And if that wasn’t enough, you’re in the damage colour. So you should be able to figure out 7 in one blow, like the brave little tailor. How great is this card, then? It doesn’t sacrifice itself or anything, and even plays lands, which is something red needs help with sometimes. It doesn’t give you an extra land drop, or the ability to play a land on an opposing turn, but it’s a good ability, and Spinerock Knoll offers possibly the most opportunities to activate among the Hiderawayers. One drawback is that red is often the colour of X-spells, and X from Hideaway is 0. But even a 0 point Earthquake is a 2 point Earthquake with Torbran.

Loves every card in this post.

Spinerock Knoll foils are about $10, and non-foils are $1-2. This has been printed in Commander precons twice already, and should be reprinted again. A total staple, even outside of mono-red.

The Other Red Meat

You can’t counter land, Teferi, that’s your real issue here.

I love that I get to look into the stinky stank that is Kher Keep and talk about Kobolds. Yeah, this makes a very specifically-named token that’s also a real card.

The pink party dress and bow on the left one is priceless.

Kobolds are real cards. There are two others, plus some terrible lords, and a semi-payoff. You want to see them, don’t you. Alright. they’re hilarious.

Did the name in the flavour text look like a misprint of ‘Bear and the Bold’ to you, too?
Is he in soup?
The flavour implies that two million Kobolds isn’t much.
A toughness boost and trample? Yeah, baby. Summon Drill Sergeant!
Does lord translate to Noble, now that that’s a thing?
Love the subtlety of ‘Strike First’ in the flavour text.
A corny pun in the flavour text? How could you be so Kobold, Magic!
Taskmaster could be good for ‘Spin Class Tribal.’
Yeah, this design… and wording…. Yikes. I did like him in the Phantom Menace, though.

So yeah, Kobolds. That’s the bunch. Will Wizards ever give this tribe some support? Rohgahh and the Overlord are both on the Reserved List, taking away easy access to half the ‘payoffs.’ Who knows. Who knew that Magic would get 25 years in? So far, the only unique thing that Kobolds do is cost nothing but the card slot. Ornithopter and Memnite play in Modern, so a reprint and some support might make trouble. I doubt it, but 0-cost stuff is a recurring problem. I think there’s a card in here somewhere I wanted to say a few things about, and that’s Kher Keep itself. Making a reliable chump is an easy value play, and the cost is good. Unlike a Dwarf token, you’re unlikely to find synergy now or in future, but that’s good enough. This is a must if your Commander is Rohgahh, but you both probably have your copies already. Since this was in Time Spiral, it actually has a foil, which is maybe a squeak under $20. The non-foils are about $3-5, depending. Could be reprinted, but if it wasn’t in the Populate precon, it’s tough to say where that would be. If Kher Keep made red mana, it would be a staple. Totally worth playing.

I bet a Burt’s Frogurt Yurt would clean up in a place like this.

Since Burt’s Frogurt Yurt isn’t real, I have to focus on Ghitu Encampment. Which is hardly a bad thing. This is a great card. The cycle it’s in is actually really solid all around, but this one has some standout characteristics. I mentioned above how Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep can act as a rattlesnake, to keep some attacks off you. This does that too. First Strike blocks really well. 2 power helps. First Strike also attacks well, too, forcing decisions. Put some Equipment on this and you’re doing so much better than your standard R producing land, it’s staggering. And it just so happens to be a very relevant creature type in Warrior. I play this in a couple of decks, and it’s been happily performing in those decks a while now. It does work. Non-foils are really cheap, and there’s a few options. Foils run from equally cheap with the Premium Deck Series: Fire vs. Lightning, to more than $5 for the Urza’s Legacy version. It was also in Tenth Edition.

Great! In my comic, Phyrexian Dad, Yawgmoth’s buddy Brasky works here.

Why do I rank Great Furnace so high? It would probably be happy in a niche. But as you can see, there’s a recent Commander deck printing. This is actually printed a lot, including in Duel Decks: Merfolk vs. Goblins, and Planechase. Red interacts well with artifacts, but Commander offers 3 major standouts that want this all the time. Two are Planeswalkers, Daretti and Saheeli. I haven’t seen much of Daretti, but I see a lot of Saheeli.

Planeswalker immortality is the only reason any Gob welder has lived long enough to become a Savant.
It’s common to see that middle ability reduce a spell’s cost by 20 or more.

The third isn’t a Commander, but the biggest bonus here it that our Great Furnace casts this guy….

Some of the best plays in red only cost you a prawn.

The Goblin Welder wants to do something really sneaky, and having a ready-to-sac Artifact in play for him is amazing. Great Furnace on turn one casts Welder, turn two you Entomb the Platinum Emperion with a black land drop, and Welder with the reshuffle on the stack, oh and since we’re at Christmasland already, let’s first use our Furnace mana to cast Sol Ring and then Lightning Greaves so we can also attack with the Emperion right away. I know, I know, we can sac the Sol Ring with the Welder, but there’s a turn three, people! You can’t do this with Blightsteel Colossus. As the only Foil, Mirrodin foils are $25+. Non foils, as I said, are plentiful, but you still might pay a dollar or two.

If the Facebook group gets its way, War will be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame eventually.

Not all land destruction has to happen with the clean, surgical precision of a Strip Mine. Memorial to War is very costly to use, but a good thing to consider. Land destruction in Commander is a risky business. If you’re looking for a general rule of thumb as to what makes casual players salty, it’s the inability to play their cards. You can do that by winning too fast, or with Stax, or discard, or land destruction. Mass Land Destruction (MLD) like Armageddon is particularly groan-inducing. That being said, there are a handful of lands worth destroying, and having the ability to do that is pretty handy. Maze of Ith, Glacial Chasm, Gaea’s Cradle, Cabal Coffers and anything stacked up with Enchantments like Wild Growth are great targets, and can come up frequently. I generally gauge my decks and see if there’s a singe, widely played land that totally wrecks me. If I’m voltron, the Maze of Ith is up there. I’ve also been held off for turns by a Glacial Chasm, and I’ve watched as plenty of lands made too much mana for their own good. Strip Mine, Wasteland and most of the other land destruction lands can be pretty expensive, but Memorial to War is not. Considering the cost of usage, and knowing you put it in your deck as a hedge is going to keep me from hating you too much for killing my Maze. Solid card.

If this place had eyes, it would be on the cover of Teen Beat magazine.

I don’t know that I can advocate playing one of the terrible red spells that prevents a creature from blocking. Those even clog up Limited. Yet I rank Smoldering Spires pretty high for a teeny effect. Why? Well, this isn’t a red card, it’s a colourless card. Protection is a thing. Sometimes one blocker can wreck your day, and it can be because of Protection from red. People who play Swords tend to stack them up on one creature, and this card can take out a crazy monster blocker for long enough for you to dart through. Smoldering Spires is a great play both for and against Voltron and Go-Tall strategies. It may be the difference, that’s why it’s here. Good card. Not many printings, but very cheap, including foils.

Madblind = conditions to attempt the climb.

Madblind Mountain is an associate of Valakut. Not all red decks play with a ton of permanents, so this isn’t always easy to use, but it’s pretty functional. Shuffling your own pile is a pain, but sometimes you know what’s on top, and drawing it would be worse. That’s the crux of what this does, although it also helps get things that have been put specifically on the bottom of your deck closer back to the top. Do we have a topdeck Commander in red? Mayael, the Anima qualifies, I guess.

This was off the top of my head. I’m sure there are better examples.

I don’t know if Madblind Mountain has an obvious best home, but maybe it will someday. Non foils are very cheap, but foils are pushing $5. Probably in line for a reprint, especially if a new Commander comes along that really jives with this.

A Necropolis is a ‘red’ card?

Keldon Necropolis, despite having a name that seems more skull than prawn, is deceptively low-impact. This is part of a cycle, sort of, with four other lands across the Weatherlight Saga: Volrath’s Stronghold, Yavimaya Hollow, Teferi’s Isle, which I covered already, and Kor Haven (covered tomorrow). Other than weirdo Teferi’s Isle, this is a very strong cycle, and unfortunately, red got the least impact card. Keldon Necropolis still does a lot of cool things, despite that. We do have a nasty drawback in the activation cost, which in hindsight, seems a little out of proportion. A Shock is a Shock, though, and costing 6 mana (including tapping the ‘Polis), is made for the late-game. What really makes this good is being a sacrifice outlet at instant speed, high cost or not. Losing a creature to do 2 damage can be a game-changing play, obviously, but using a sacrifice effect is sometimes about saving a creature from theft or exile, in which case the 2 damage is incidental upside. Red is also a theft colour, and if you need to dispose of your spoils, this works. This doesn’t come in tapped, and makes colourless mana. It’s a good land. It has only been printed once, in Invasion. You’re probably in for a dollar or two on non-foils, and maybe 5 in foil. This might be overlooked, and in some damage or 25 cent bins, although those days are swiftly passing.

The Niche Players

Lovely quote and artwork that schemes beautifully with the card frame. Classic.
Not to split hairs (I am) but azure is in the blue spectrum.

Hammerheim isn’t on the Reserved List! Hooray! Sometimes it’s easy to assume with old cards that cost a chunk of money. Hammerheim isn’t so cheap. It’s over $5 and heading towards 10. I assume things like casual appeal, and Dwarf tribal, and a renewed commitment towards red sucking less in Commander. Because there isn’t a ton of Landwalk out there, and Wizards says they won’t do it anymore. I bet they do it in next Zendikar, and in one Commander precon in the next 3 years. When they do, or for the times someone tries to run this on you….

Clean soles?

…Hammerheim can be there. Hammerheim gets through a lot of Protection effects, which might be stacked up on a Landwalker, but it doesn’t address go-wide Landwalk strategies that Zombies and Merfolk can embrace. Best thing is to keep off the Islands and Swamps. A very cool card, but in a niche for sure. Considering how strong Valakut can be, this may not make the cut as a non-Mountain.

Oddly, less good than the Kobold land.

Goblin Burrows favours one of the most supported tribes in Magic’s history, Goblins. But it occupies a niche role, unfortunately. The reality of most Goblin decks is that having lots of Gobs matters, and the strong individuals usually hang back and do their thing without going into combat. Even the attack-forward Grenzo, Havoc Raiser doesn’t care about quantity of damage from any individual attacker, just that they connect. Yes, you speed up your clock, but Grenzo might be angling for a bigger play than 3 damage from an unblocked Goblin every turn.

One of the most fun cards ever printed.

We do have the recently-printed Krenko, Tin Street Warden.

Which Krenko is better? Each probably runs the other!

This Gob wants to have high power, and wants Goblin Burrows for sure. Outside of that, it’s niche for now. I should mention that it’s a type-based buff, and that means Changelings, too. Morophon voltron? Goblin Burrows is really cheap, but foils will probably be around $5. Totally reprintable, although likely in another supplement without foils.

Look Gerald, the Spires are Looming again.

Can Looming Spires crack any decks? Well, it’s a bit of a long shot. This is by no means a bad effect, it’s just best when you can choose the timing, like a combat trick. Having to have it stapled to a land drop means this will probably be wasted, or just chip in another point of damage. Not terrible, but can be frustrating, and skew your plays as you try and use this for value and not waste it. I’ve been there. I’ve run this in Xenagos, because I want to stack power precombat, and First Strike is a bonus. Having a ‘free spell’ on a land like this might be wonky, but in the late game, turns a land into a valuable topdeck play. I usually try to give my Xenagos troopers Double Strike, too. +1/+1 with Xenagos and Double Strike is like +4/+4. From your land drop. Another place I play this is Vaevictus Asmadi, the Dire. I’m doing a thing with Tsabo’s Web and lands with no activation other than mana. It’s derpy, but when it works, wow. Sucker punch.

I’ve seen this shut down entire manabases of sneaky value lands. Like many on this list!

Vaevictus likes permanents, and sometimes you topdeck a land from his trigger. Looming Spires makes him bigger and more survivable for a combat he’s already in, and may stop a block or a trade. Again, on a land. It’s great for the budget, too. Cheap all around.

They could be twins.

Teetering Peaks plays into some of the same strategies Looming Spires does. I cut Looming Spires from Xenagos, but this is still in there. With just big X out, playing this adds 4 power to my chosen creature for making my land drop. I prefer a Hexproof creature for my Revels, and having virtually uncounterable buffs for them fights through all sorts of weird hate.

One of my original Commanders.

Teetering peaks has not one, but two weird foilings. Premium Series: Thunder and Lightning, and an FNM foil. The art on all of them is really cool, and all can be had for about a dollar.

I’ll trade you your attack for damage on your creature. Trading!

Balduvian Trading Post isn’t really about any trading. Maybe that’s the in-joke. You don’t just walk into a Balduvian Trading Post, you have to attack it, and no matter what you intended to buy, you come away with damage. Ha ha? Well we do have some upside and downside here. The biggest upside is that this is a Sol land. It makes 2 mana. It costs us a Mountain (untapped) which is going to sting, so it’s not really so much ramp unless we’re partnered with Green and can easily recur it. But it makes 2 mana, and that can be leveraged. The other upside is the ability to damage an attacker. While it’s not free with tap, like with a Desert, it can apply any time after attackers are announced, so you can kill something with 1 toughness, or change the combat math. Or even Enrage your Dinosaur. Desert only works after damage is done to the player. In that case this is good enough, and can be a rattlesnake of sorts. Downsides include the sacrifice, and the fact that it’s on the Reserved List. It’s not too expensive, but the impact is fairly low. About $5.

Conan’s wedding pledge.

Barbarian Ring falls under the heading of red lands that deal damage, but since it requires a self sacrifice, and includes a use restriction, I have to put this in the niche pile. Some Commanders want you to do damage to yourself for terrible, terrible reasons. Many happen to be red. This is played in Legacy Lands sometimes as a grindy finisher. It has a Premium Deck Series Fire and Lightning foil for about a dollar or so, but both the Odyssey foil and non foil are climbing a bit. Let Legacy have this unless you’re a deep dive on Lord Windgrace.

By gorge! I think he’s got it!

Blighted Gorge might not be the worst of the Blighted cycle, but it’s in the running. Note that this is not a bad card, but it’s just a 6 mana Shock that’s stapled to a land in a colour that wants that land to be a Mountain. You can run this in budget mono-red decks and be happy. It’ll be the odd kill or timely bit of removal, and it is very cheap to buy.

Megaliths means ‘huge stones,’ roughly, which it takes to go Hellbent.

Keldon Megaliths really pushes the niche envelope when it comes to red lands that do damage. Sure, you’re red, so you run yourself out of cards sometimes. Yes, you’re in a Madness and Hellbent colour, so you can make those things happen. But this deals 1 damage. Even Madness and Hellbent appreciate 1 damage, but they’ve often got bigger fish to fry. Why be Madness or Hellbent otherwise, if not for some crazy payoff? This card will have a time and a place and an opponent at 1 life. And that damage is repeatable, so it’s not nothing. Non foils are cheap, with several printings. Foils are Future Sight only, and will be a couple of dollars or so.

Is this Stronghold outside or in a giant cave?

Mountain Stronghold isn’t a Mountain. If it was, instant playability. But it doesn’t tap for prawns, sadly, and it occupies a weird niche from older times. For Banding to have very specific applications is rare, but we do have 2 Goblin Commanders mentioned above in Krenko, Tin-Street Kingpin, and Grenzo, Havoc Raiser, that want to attack and are both fairly fragile. I don’t know if there are other legends to automatically team up with, but there’s your niche. This looks great as a Dwarf or Lord of the Rings theme card, and for a lot of other ‘Adventurer’ themes, too. You might spend as much as $5 for one of these, but that’s high for now.

Under pressure? Underpowered.

The best thing about land creatures is, well, that they’re lands. Lands are good. Lands that turn into creatures are usually good, but we do kind of want them to turn back. Absolutely a 4/4 token with a strange type can be your path to victory, and if that type becomes a thing, who knows. For now, Hellion Crucible is super clunky, and hard to justify as a payoff. The best thing about it is coming in untapped. Because of the name of the counter, I play this in my Counter Culture deck. The foil is a couple of dollars and the non is probably under a dollar. A real reach for red, but a budget option that might give you a cool story to tell.

The Cyclers

The survivors of the Hours ended up here.

Desert of the Fervent is great to slot in beside Ramunap Ruins as an easy sacrifice choice. Beyond that, this and the other red cyclers address a much-needed problem in red’s game plan: late game fizzle/flood. While red is a mana-hungry colour, topdecking yet another land is the worst when you don’t need it. That being said, none of these are Mountains, so if you’re banking on Valakut synergy, you might have to sacrifice your lategame cycling. These are cheap including in foil.

A good place to think Grinchy thoughts.

I used Forgotten Cave as the Grinch’s lair in my Grinch deck. It’s a good cycler, too. Onslaught foils are up in the $20 range, and Modern Horizon foils are climbing. Nons are all cheap, with lots of printings.

Did I use my smoldering joke already? Teen Beat Magazine? Rats.

Smoldering Crater has an awesome 7 printings with no foil. None are expensive.

The Questionable Mana Producers

You wish you could be Valakut someday.

Dormant Volcano isn’t a doormat volcano, but these bounce lands that need to bounce an untapped type-specific land can be a sequencing nightmare in the early going. What this has going for it is pseudo ramp in a colour that desperately needs it, and bounce of a mountain for an extra Valakut trigger. Not great, and probably limited to mono-red, but an okay card. I’ve run this in mono-red. It was okay. No foils, but three cheap printings.

Hold off.

With renewed interest in Dwarf decks comes demand for stuff like Dwarven Hold. It’s a storage land, so that sucks. I want these to be good, but they aren’t. If you’re playing seven copies of Seven Dwarves in a Commander deck this probably looks pretty appealing. It’s about a dollar, maybe two, with no foils, but a classy white bordered fifth edition option. Nice.

It was the gold what did it.

Since mono-red is often some variety of all-in, Dwarven Ruins might be worth a look. As a budget Sol-land, your one-turn burn-frenzy might not care about tomorrow. In which case, this works, and can do work. Another Dwarven theme card, but really cheap. No foils.

Ooh, can I wear my masque?

Mercadian Bazaar. Great for Mercadia decks, Bazaar decks, and decks that show off the work of Terese Nielsen. Otherwise this is a storage land. Red rarely proliferates. Almost unplayable until something makes these lands better. The right Commander could.

I wonder what happened here?

Ravaged Highlands helps with theft strategies, like Grenzo, Havoc Raiser and Etali, Primal Storm. It’s tough to advocate playing this outside of mono-red, but I’ve seen those decks whiff on things like useful activation costs on things they stole. Are you running a pile of basic Mountains in your Etali or Granzo deck, with no Valakut? Maybe throw one of these in. They’re cheap, even in foil.

The symbol of red’s stability.

Like several of the above examples, Sandstone Needle does an okay enough impression of a Sol land in all-in red to be worth considering. The foil is pushing $10, otherwise it’s cheap. This is probably a very reprintable cycle in Nostalgic Masters 2020 or whatever Commander-not-Commander product they’ll try at some point.

I really see the Crag!

At the bottom of red’s Mountain of utility lands is Vivid Crag. Considering this doesn’t sacrifice itself to make any mana, and can happily just make prawns, this is a must for Etali, Grenzo and the other mono-red thieves. Especially if you budget. Lorwyn foils might be a little pricey, but otherwise there are lots of options to get this at or below a dollar.

This deserves to be on a wall in a high class restaurant. Maybe in Phyrexia somewhere…

If you pushed me to decide what my favourite art pieces from Magic are, I bet a lot of them would be mountains. Like the one above. One of my favourites. I live in sight of some exquisite Mountains, and they inspire me daily. A Mountain is really just a huge rock, or an offshoot of a really, really huge rock, but the perspective of relative size can set the mind whirring. Sometimes it’s the simple things, like turning a Mountain sideways, and going to the face with some damage. I guess that’s simple.

Simple? Red? Simply red? Not here.

Red is also known for chaos, as well as Mountains, and while that’s a lot of fun and games, I’m turning my attention now to white and the plain old Plains. Tune in again tomorrow for the order to red’s chaos. As always, thanks for reading!

Black, Blue, Green, White, Multicolour Identity, Rainbow, and Colourless lands can be reached by clicking that colour.


Leave a Reply