Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Red Enchantments in Magic
Similarly to artifacts, enchantment cards in Magic: The Gathering are permanent effects that typically give you a dramatic buff or hinder your opponents. In exchange for requiring specific mana colors (unlike most artifacts), enchantments provide incredible effects that often make or break your duel. This applies even to the red camp, whose arsenal consists more of creatures, sorceries, and instants than long-lasting enchantments. However, don't let this tendency fool you—monored builds still enjoy access to a variety of potent regular (non-creature and non-aura) enchantments.
But with many hundreds of cards to choose from, which units reign supreme? These are the ten best normal red enchantment cards in Magic!
- Berserkers' Onslaught
- Sunbird's Invocation
- An-Zerrin Ruins
- Flameshadow Conjuring
- Honden of Infinite Rage
- Trove of Temptation
- Oath of Chandra
- Dragon Tempest
- Braid of Fire
10. Berserkers' Onslaught
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 5
Like many red enchantments, Berserkers' Onslaught lends a benefit to your creatures in battle. For a healthy chunk of mana, all your attacking monsters gain the rare double-strike ability. This lets them deal both first-strike and regular combat damage, essentially doubling the amount of hurt they each inflict! Plus, if the first strike damage is enough to slay a blocker, your unit will defeat them before they hit back.
Double-strike on each and every unit can quickly devastate opponents unprepared to face a boosted army, but remember that the ability only applies when you're attacking—your blockers are unaffected.
9. Sunbird's Invocation
For a hefty six mana, Sunbird's Invocation offers a great way to access spells from your deck similar to the cascade ability. Once out, whenever you cast a spell, you reveal X cards from the top of your deck, where X equals the spell's CMC, and you can cast a card with CMC X or less for free!
Free spells without lowering your hand work wonders in matches, and since only one of Invocation's mana needs to be red, this rare card fits well in multicolor builds. Despite searching through and playing from a portion of your library, the effect never actually draws a card, meaning it circumvents draw-limiters like Leovold, Emissary of Trest.
8. An-Zerrin Ruins
One of the common disadvantages of red spells is that several detriment you as well as your opponent, forcing you to suffer the same ill effects they do. However, An-Zerrin Ruins follows this trend but also bypasses it. You see, once played, Ruins lets you choose any creature type; creatures of that type won't untap during the untap step.
While this affects all players, simply choose a creature type your opponent uses and you don't to avoid any penalty. And since most decks mainly utilize only one or two creature types, shutting just one down will drastically hinder your opponent. Creature lockdown: something to remember when utilizing a red deck builder.
Red knows it plays for a quick win rather than the long haul, and one key way to achieve a fast victory is with haste, the trait that lets creatures avoid summoning sickness and tap or attack the turn they hit the field. Enter Fervor, an enchantment that simply gives all your creatures (and not your opponent's) haste!
That's a great benefit for a low price, and since Fervor only needs one red mana, I especially enjoy using it in multicolor decks to grant non-red creatures, who typically lack haste, the ability to act on their first turn. But speaking of a low price, Fervor is one of today's most inexpensive cards; you can usually grab one for under $3.
6. Flameshadow Conjuring
Flameshadow Conjuring provides a great way to spend leftover mana. Once out, whenever a nontoken creature enters the field under your control, you can pay one red mana. If you do, you create a token that's a copy of the creature onto the field and it gains haste, but it's exiled at the end of the turn, so be sure to make good use of it while you can.
Doubled monsters for just one extra mana can really improve your swinging capabilities, but be wary of the legend rule; you'll want to avoid using the effect on legendary creatures or you'll be forced to immediately sacrifice the clone.
5. Honden of Infinite Rage
Speaking of legendaries, Honden of Infinite Rage counts as a legendary enchantment, so don't field multiple at a time or you'll have to sacrifice one. However, at the beginning of your upkeep (the start of your turn), you get to inflict to target creature or player equal to the number of shrines you control!
Infinite Rage itself is a shrine, so you'll always be inflicting at least one damage, but if you incorporate other shrines into your deck, the ongoing pain will dramatically increase. The option to target either your opponent's life points or one of their creatures is a nice touch that helps you focus on defeating whatever foe the situation calls for.
4. Trove of Temptation
One of the best cards from the Ixalan set, Trove of Temptation offers some much-needed mana ramping to red. Once fielded, you add a treasure artifact token at the end of your turns; these can tap and sacrifice themselves to add one mana of any color. Acquiring a few of these lets your play your game-changing (and expensive) cards much sooner, and their status as artifacts strengthens artifact-dependent effects.
In addition, Trove forces your opponents to attack you or one of your planeswalkers every turn they're able to, helping lure out stall-happy creatures and forcing them into unwanted combat, and since the effect doesn't target, even having hexproof won't save your rivals. Two great effects for the price of one!
3. Oath of Chandra
Oath of Chandra is an inexpensive way to do what red does best—pile on the hurt. When it first enters the field, you deal three damage to a target opposing creature, similar to the famed Lightning Bolt instant. Then, Chandra rests dormant until any end step where a planeswalker entered the field under your control, at which point each of your opponents suffers two damage to their health.
If you continuously summon planeswalkers during your turns, this latter effect will activate multiple times (once per turn) and swiftly diminish your opponent's precious life for a sweet combo to add insult to injury.
2. Dragon Tempest
Not surprisingly, Dragon Tempest greatly supports dragon-themed decks; luckily, red contains some of the best dragon-type cards. Tempest's first effect gives haste to any creature with flying (not just dragons) that enters the field under your control, basically serving as a cheaper Fervor as long as you rely on airborne creatures! Then, whenever a dragon enters the field under your control, it deals X damage to a target creature or player where X is the number of dragons you control.
In dragon-focused decks, the damage from this ability can soon decimate any foe (especially with dragon-swarming cards like Utvara Hellkite), and the ability to target both your opponent or their creatures adds even more function.
1. Braid of Fire
Normally, cards with cumulative upkeeps are hard to maintain since they continuously gain age counters, requiring more and more mana to keep out. However, Braid of Fire bucks the trend by having a cumulative upkeep that actually gains you mana during each of your upkeeps. It starts at one red, but as turns pass and you acquire more age counters, you'll soon be getting three, four, five, or more!
Now, remember that unused mana normally empties from your pool as phases end, so you won't have access to the mana at your main phase, but the extra resources can be immediately spent using instants or mana abilities. Luckily, red contains many potent quick-play cards to ensure your incredible mana engine doesn't go to waste, cementing Braid of Fire as one of red's most powerful cards.
Future of Red
Red has always been a competitive color in standard formats, and with newer and lower life limitations in commander, it remains surprisingly potent in EDH as well. Whenever building your perfect crimson deck, be sure to stock your deck with these often-forgotten red enchantments.
But for now, as we eagerly await future red-containing Magic booster sets, vote for your favorite entry, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
Questions & Answers
Question: What about Sneak Attack as an excellent red mana enchantment in MTG?
Answer: A good suggestion, definitely a useful card.
© 2018 Jeremy Gill