Examining Rise of the Eldrazi for Cube – Red

Red in Rise of the Eldrazi has some interesting cards for us to consider. From arguably the best leveler in the set to some new takes on Anarchist and Act of Treason, there’s some stuff that will do well in a cube. Let’s get started.

Brimstone Mage

Brimstone Mage felt a bit underwhelming when I first saw it. Honestly I think it, like most levelers, proved to be more powerful than most people realized. That said, his level up cost is one of the highest. You’ll need to sink fifteen mana, given it’s over several turns, into his skin to start bringing the real pain. I’d rather invest that mana over several turns into other things that will do more to further my board position. That being said, this card is another that would do well in a pauper cube.

Verdict: No

Conquering Manticore

This is one of those creatures that is awesome in limited, but falls just short of making it in constructed. The effect is a great one. I imagine that stealing your opponent’s Baneslayer Angel and smacking them over the head with it would be awesome fun. However, by the time he gets to attack he’s likely going to have to go face to face with the same creature he stole, unless you had a convenient sacrifice outlet. This card is almost there for me. I may sub him in if some of my other Rise of the Eldrazi picks don’t pan out.

Verdict: Maybe

Devastating Summons

This is an all-in card if I ever saw one. I sense that you either need to cast it early game, or hope it will allow you to dump your land for two large fatties in the late game to punch through the damage you need. I’m tempted to try it as it works well in constructed, however I feel it’s too swingy to really be consistently good enough for the cube. For now I’m going to pass on putting it into the rotation.

Verdict: No

Flame Slash

While this is a perfect addition to the Standard environment right now, I don’t think it holds up under scrutiny in my cube. In a pauper cube, this is an auto-include. If this was instant I would be adding this to my cube yesterday. As it is, I won’t.

Verdict: No

Kargan Dragonlord

I believe this is the best leveler in the set. His top level may be eight, but at that point he’s a Hellkite Overlord minus the regeneration. This guy is going in for sure.

Verdict: Add

Kiln Fiend

I’ll be honest. When I was at the Rise of the Eldrazi prerelease I had one of these in my pool and completely overlooked it. Seeing it in action changed my mind. I like the interaction it has with instant speed removal or effects like Distortion Strike and it can put enormous pressure on your opponent end game or even late game. I’m adding this and I hope it lives up to the potential I think it has.

Verdict: Add

Lord of Shatterskull Pass

This guy is a house if he gets to max level in a limited environment. I’m only concerned that his power level will be hampered a bit by just how good all the cards in the cube are. I’m wondering if he will be simply outclassed before he can get to max level where he will make a difference.

Verdict: Add


Magmaw isn’t a terrible card. I don’t think he’ll cut the mustard in standard. In limited he can be awesome, or he can just be a quick sacrifice outlet to losing. He does offer a decent level of skill in playing with him, but he’s no Arc-Slogger. Trading potential, as in the case of Arc-Slogger, for damage is one thing, but trading board position for damage, which Magmaw does,  is another. Red usually holds its board position by burning out the opposing creatures and there are simply much better cards for that than Magmaw.

Verdict: Maybe

Splinter Twin

This is one of the abilities red was granted back when Wizards really started concentrating on ironing out the color wheel and making sure each color had some themes that played particularly well with the flavor of the color. Please correct me if I’m wrong here. Cards like Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Heat Shimmer came out of that as red’s theme of the short-lived, hasty copy was reinforced. Splinter Twin seems like it would be along the lines of Kiki-Jiki, though admittedly less powerful. It’s major weakness is that it’s an aura, but if unchecked could lead to some crazy shenanigans. Just think what fun you could have if you attached it to an Angel of Despair or an Avenger of Zendikar. I’m sure there are many other more tasty targets and the obligatory broken combo involving Pestermite, so this card is going in to bolster some of the other themes in red outside of burn.

Verdict: Add


I think this is one of the better rebound spells. It also has nice interaction with cards like Kiln Fiend, Mnemonic Wall, Surreal Memoir and Nucklavee which I think puts it slightly above your normal one shot burn spell as each time you cast it, you get a freebie, barring counterspells of course.

Verdict: Add

Surreal Memoir

This card falls in a class of one of my favorite themes. I’ve got a few cards that support this theme of reuse in the cube, and I feel that this card is great because it will return two instants over two turns. Jacob Van Lunen recently posted a deck he titled Surreal Ascension on the Mothership, combining Surreal Memoir with Pyromancer Ascension and Naya Charm for some whacky hijinks which included infinite turns with Time Warp and an active Ascension. I’m going to be looking to draft a blue or red based deck to abuse this card and others like it in my cube, especially as I’m trying to become better at spotting combos.

Verdict: Add

Traitorous Instinct

I’d say that this is slightly better than Mark of Mutiny in that you don’t return the opponent’s creature to them in a better state than you originally borrowed it in, as the power bonus only lasts during your turn. That being said I don’t really have many of these effects in my cube. I may consider adding this one, as it seems to be slightly better than the other ones like it in standard; Mark of Mutiny and Act of Treason, but it’s not as good as say [card]Conquering Manticore[card].

Verdict: Maybe

Tuktuk the Explorer

Every time I look at this card, I think of Dora the Explorer. I will likely solve this by just calling this little guy Dora. This card has a decent rattlesnake element to it. Your opponent will likely let you slip some damage through with him as they wouldn’t want to give you a 5/5 creature to replace it. It’s a neat card and I’m tempted to run him, but ultimately I’m concerned his power level doesn’t compare to cards that currently occupy a slot he’d take in my cube.

Verdict: Maybe

Final Conclusions

Red provided more options to consider than I originally thought it would. Rise of the Eldrazi has brought a very powerful set of cards to not only the standard environment, but to Magic: The Gathering in general. I have to say that the last couple of years has really seen a rise in quality of cards and I believe that’s partially the cause of the rise in popularity that the game is currently enjoying. We’ll see how long some of the Rise cards I add to my cube stay there, but I have a feeling that at least a few will stay long term.




Father, husband, programmer, gamer. Magic: The Gathering enthusiast who enjoys playing and discussing the game with anyone who is willing.

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