Commander Legends Set Review - Red

(Jeska, Thrice Reborn | Art by Yongjae Choi)

Painting the Town Red

Hello, and welcome to the Commander Legends set review for the color red! Today I'll be covering every red card that needs discussing, both new cards and reprints. Red got a ton of fun, exciting cards, so let's get to it!


Jeska, Thrice Reborn

If Fiery Emancipation wasn't enough, Jeska really hammers home the fact that tripling is the new doubling. She can be an incredibly powerful commander if built around, using Partners such as Dargo, the Shipwrecker, Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder, or Akiri Line-Slinger that can take advantage of her 0 ability.

While she can be the commander, I see her contributing more in the 99 of decks that want to absolutely obliterate life totals. Looking at the decks that play cards like Furnace of Rath, Dictate of the Twin Gods, and Gratuitous Violence will give us a good idea where Jeska could see significant amount of play. Also, if you enjoy math, play her with Repeated Reverberation and watch as damage easily soars into the triple digits.

Hellkite Courser

Sneak Attack for your commanders is absurdly powerful. The most likely home for this is The Ur-Dragon, but I could also see this being a snap inclusion in Atarka, World Render, Morophon, the Boundless, Bladewing the Risen, Drakuseth, Maw of Flames, and Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund.

Outside of Dragon-led decks, this goes incredibly well in decks that play expensive commanders that can virtually lock up the game in a single combat step, like Moraug, Fury of Akoum, Etali, Primal Storm, or Gisela, Blade of Goldnight.

This will only get better as more commanders are released, and it's one of the splashiest cards in all of Commander Legends. Expect to see it often moving forward.

Soulfire Eruption

I think this (and the entire cycle of nine-CMC mythics) are some of the most difficult to evaluate, and their efficacy will depend on the power level of your games. If you're playing at a power level that allows you to regularly cast nine-CMC bombs, then this will be utterly fantastic. It can act as a psuedo board wipe, deal damage to your opponents, and (basically) draw an obscene number of cards that you keep until the end of your NEXT turn. That being said, without a large cost reduction or Storm-style ramp, this is still a nine-CMC card, and there will absolutely be games where this is in your opening hand and it rots there while you get bludgeoned to death by the rest of the table. If you aren't playing in a game that is battlecruiser-friendly, this is almost certainly going to be too slow.

If I were looking to slot this into a deck, I'd look at spellslinger decks, most notably Mizzix of the Izmagnus since she's able to reduce the cost of this so effectively. For other ideas on how and where to play this spell, I'd look at the page of Apex of Power. It's a similarly costed spell that threatens to virtually end the game on the spot, just like Soulfire Eruption.

Port Razer

We finally found a way to go infinite with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker! We did it! It's been a long, hard day folks. Let's pack it in.

Wait, everything goes infinite with Kiki-Jiki? Oh. Well, l suppose we should find some other homes for this card, then.

The easiest way to find the decks that will want this card is probably to look at Combat Celebrant's page and mentally weed out the Warrior tribal decks. Specifically, I'd look at Ilharg, the Raze-Boar, Moraug, Fury of Akoum, or Etali, Primal Storm. Xenagos, God of Revels also seems like a hilarious home for this card, growing your Port Razer larger and larger each combat. Neheb, the Eternal and Ghired, Conclave Exile also seem like they want to try out this card. We haven't even mentioned Pirate tribal decks, where this seems like an easy inclusion.

Port Razer is the sort of card that can be used for fun, ridiculous interactions, but can also be used in more cutthroat combos, so I'd get used to this Orc Pirate popping up in your games.


Krark, the Thumbless

Not everyone loves flipping coins, but people are likely to make an exception for Krark. Copying spells is one of the more powerful things you can do in EDH, and this allows you to copy spells with impunity. Is it reliable? No. Is it repeatable, two mana, and able to be in your command zone? Yep. Even better, if you lose the flip, you don't lose the spell. Instead, it returns to your hand and you get another shot at it. If you are willing to embrace the chaos of this card, you'll be rewarded with the sort of zany stories that have made EDH the most popular format in all of Magic.

Flamekin Herald

I think this card is a trap, albeit a fun trap. Giving your commanders Cascade sounds powerful, but for this to be good, you need to be able to cast your commander multiple times. This is likely only going to happen if your commander is cheap, but if your commander is cheap, you aren't going to Cascade into anything of real value. If you are playing a higher CMC commander, you are liable to get a single trigger off this, if that. If you're able to get more than that, you were likely winning that game anyways. Admittedly, the value of this goes up slightly if you are running Partners, but not enough for me to justify a slot. If you're running Cascade tribal, this will likely make the cut, but other than that, I'd leave this at home.

Court of Ire

I've cooled on this card a bit since I first read it. If you're playing a group slug deck, you are going to be hard pressed to find a good reason to ignore Court of Ire, even if it's not the most powerful card in your deck. Five mana to draw a card and then dome anything for two damage at your upkeep is a middling rate, but if you can manage to protect the Monarch and get the opportunity to start blasting things for seven, that frown gets turned upside down in a hurry. I'd look to pair this with Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, Mogis, God of Slaughter, or Zo-Zu, the Punisher, but my favorite interaction with this may actually be with Obosh, the Preypiercer who turns the seven damage into fourteen.

Wheel of Misfortune

Wheel of Fortune's price only continues to rise, but thankfully, this is looks to be a nice replacement. Since it creates a bit of a mini-game, this will likely be a bit confusing the first time you attempt to resolve it, so make sure you fully understand how it works and have an idea of how everyone can write down a number in secret. Phones will likely do the trick. This will likely do more damage than you'd think as there are few things as enjoyable as drawing seven cards and people will be willing to pay life to make sure they aren't missing out on the fun.

Jeska's Will

*screeches in Mizzix of the Izmagnus*

The most obvious home for this is in Storm decks. Given all of the ridiculous card draw engines we've been gifted of late, you can be certain one of your opponents will have enough cards for Jeska's Will to make a load of mana. There are certainly times when you'll use the second mode to dig for an answer, but this likely isn't being included in your deck for the second mode. If you manage to cast this with your commander out, your opponents are likely in for a rough time as this will act a bit like a Seething Song or a Pyretic Ritual that also draws you three cards.

Aurora Phoenix

They can't all be winners. If you're playing Phoenix tribal or a deck built around Cascade, you'll likely include this, but otherwise, I'm having a difficult time imagining a deck that wants this.

Emberwilde Captain

Monarch is one of the best multiplayer mechanics that Wizards has ever come up with. Red is arguably the color that benefits from it the most, but previously, Monarch wasn't much of an option in red. You had Crown-Hunter Hireling, Skyline Despot, and Queen Marchesa (long may she reign). That's it. So, Emberwilde Captain is exciting because it gives more Monarch options for red, but it's also exciting because of how it punishes players for trying to steal the Monarch from you. If a player at the table has gone card-draw crazy, they may simply be unable to attack you because of the damage that they would take. It's also a Pirate and as such is an easy inclusion in any sort of Pirate tribal deck.

Coercive Recruiter

If you've ever wished for another Zealous Conscripts for your deck built around Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Splinter Twin, congratulations, your wish has been granted. Coercive Recruiter not only allows you to make infinite creatures, but it also allows you to Insurrection the rest of the table since it triggers when other Pirates enter the battlefield.

But wait, there's more! If you are playing Pirate tribal, which is sure to see a boost from all of the new toys it's getting in Commander Legends, this is a fantastic inclusion. Coercive Recruiter is an exemplar of what Commander Legends is giving the format. It's not a new red auto-include/staple, but the decks that want it are going to be ecstatic to add it.

Uncommons & Commons

Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith

Another over-the-top flavorful legend, Toggo rewards diligently playing lands with... literal rocks. You Equip rocks to your creatures and throw them at your opponents and their creatures for small amounts of damage. These rocks also count as artifacts for cards like Reckless Fireweaver and Akiri Line-Slinger. If you like janky combos, you can partner this with Kodama of the East Tree. Simply play a Gruul Turf to create infinite rocks and then use a Ghirapur Aether Grid to burn everyone out of the game.

Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh

Finally! We have access to a legendary Kobold! Rejoice! Since it has 0 power but a bevy of relevant keywords, this is most likely to get paired with a Partner that cares about artifacts or Equipment (Akiri Line-Slinger and Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist spring to mind). For maximum meme, use this with Colossus Hammer and Resolute Strike and eliminate an opponent as early as turn 3.

Dargo, the Shipwrecker

A strange sacrifice outlet, this pairs well with decks that make cheap artifacts (i.e. Treasures or Clues), or in decks that steal creatures. While I see him mostly being played in decks like Greven, Predator Captain or Daretti, Scrap Savant, a 7/5 trampler for a single mana is nothing to sneeze at, especially if you decide to pair him with....

Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar

Voltron decks will love this adorable little fella. A two-mana damage-doubler is shockingly efficient, even if it only applies to your commander(s). If you're looking to play it as a Partner, I'd start by looking at Akiri Line-Slinger, Dargo, the Shipwrecker, Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker, or Tana, the Bloodsower, which are all Partners that either have the ability to deal obscene amounts of damage for a fairly cheap mana cost, or that take advantage of her damage-doubling in other ways.

I think this will end up more in the 99 of red-inclusive Voltron and Equipment decks than anything else.

Breeches, Brazen Plunderer

A tribal Stolen Strategy is quite the card. If you have a few Pirates on the board, you can be a bit selective about which opponent you are hoping to steal cards from. While this could see play Partnered with Ghost of Ramirez DePietro, Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator's ability seems more generically useful, so I'd expect to see that pair much more often.

Overall, I think this will see the most play in the 99 of Pirate tribal decks helmed by Admiral Beckett Brass or in decks themed around stealing opponents' cards lead by Zara, Renegade Recruiter.

Alena, Kessig Trapper

This pairs incredibly well with Halana, Kessig Ranger, allowing you to play large creatures, make lots of mana, and to Prey Upon your opponents' creatures at will. Because of its mana cost, I don't know if I would think of Alena as ramp, but I'd look to include this in decks like Ilharg, the Raze-Boar, Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded, and Feldon of the Third Path, and I'd consider testing her in decks that include cards like Sneak Attack or Malignus.

Coastline Marauders

Players love ramping, and this gives you a way to punish them for it in a small way. If you play this early, it's likely to be a 5/3 trampler that will eventually require some sort of answer. Its Encore ability has the potential to output a lot of damage out of nowhere, and the ability is fairly aggressively costed at six mana. Also, this is a Pirate and will likely be included in all of the aforementioned Pirate decks, but this is also a Human and I could easily see this slotting in to Human tribal decks like Jirina Kudro, Winota, Joiner of Forces, or Queen Marchesa. This won't get much love when compared to the rest of the set, but I think it will be sneaky effective, especially in decks that are more concerned with budget restrictions.

Meteoric Mace

This is likely to be a bit too expensive (both to cast and to Equip) for most Equipment decks to justify playing it, but the Cascade may allow it to see some play in decks like Maelstrom Wanderer or Averna, the Chaos Bloom. +4/+0 and trample are certainly decent stats, but overall, I'm pretty low on this card.

Explosion of Riches

I'm going to let a little bit of my personal bias show here: this is absolutely my favorite card in the set. It is expensive. Yes, it's like Lava Axe and a bad cantrip ran off to Vegas and after a night full of poor decisions, they made one more to top it all off and got hitched. I know this, and I don't care. Red is full of ways to double-cast this (Reverberate, Double Vision, Increasing Vengeance) or ways to amplify the damage (Fiery Emancipation,Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, Dictate of the Twin Gods), and if we know anything about Magic players, a significant number of us are degenerate gamblers. Drawing a card for the 66.67% chance to blast an opponent for five damage is the exact sort of bet they are liable to say yes to, and if one does, you can be sure that others aren't going to want to miss the party.

Fathom Fleet Swordjack

Everything I've said about most of the Pirates previously also applies here, but this could also see additional play as it gives a way for artifact decks to burn players out of the game. If you've played with or against an Akiri Line-Slinger deck, you've experienced firsthand exactly how trivial it is to acquire a large number of artifacts. This would likely see a small amount of play in red-inclusive artifact decks, even without the Encore ability, but with it, I expect that number will be quite a bit larger.

Frenzied Saddlebrute

This is probably a snap inclusion in decks that want to force combat like Thantis, the Warweaver, Marisi, Breaker of the Coil, or Grenzo, Havoc Raiser, but outside of that specific archetype, I don't see this getting too much attention.

Impulsive Pilferer

Aristocrat decks that use cards like Disciple of the Vault and Marionette Master just found a perfectly acceptable one-drop. I could see Pirate decks using this, and can even imagine some Goblin decks giving it a try, though there are so many great options in Goblins that this might not make the cut in more tuned lists.

End Step

What do you think of the cards that red got? Is there anything that you're excited for? Is there anything you think I'm wrong about? What about the reprints; is there something else that you wanted to see? Let me know below! Until next time!

Andrew is a life-long gamer and has been playing Magic since 2013. He works as an ASL interpreter, enjoys running, and sitting on his porch reading, while simultaneously silently judging his neighbors. He lives in Joplin, MO with his wife.