Fiery Confluence | Illustration by Kieran Yanner
Red often has spellslinger strategies within its share of the color pie, making it the perfect color for powerful and explosive instants and sorceries. That explosiveness is literal thanks to red’s inclination towards burn spells.
But red’s sorceries have much more to offer players than fire and brimstone. There are fantastic card draw, tutors, and even some ways to smash your opponents into the ground with extra combats. But which red sorceries are the best?
What Are Red Sorceries in Magic?
Seize the Day | Illustration by Greg Staples
Red sorceries are cards with red in their color identity and the sorcery card type. While there are multicolored sorceries, this list focuses on mono-red cards. Any commander with red in their color identity can play the cards on this list.
When looking for the best red sorceries, efficiency is one of the most important criteria. You can do anything you like if you have enough mana to throw at the problem, but the difference between paying 4 or 8 mana is game-changing.
Strength also matters. For many effects on this list, there are similar cards that do the thing a little worse. The best example is Strangle versus Flame Slash, with the latter making the list simply because dealing 4 damage kills considerably more creatures than dealing 3.
Uniqueness also plays a big role in making sorceries stand out. Unique effects the color wouldn’t normally do can have a big impact. This gives color pie breaks an edge over cards that are technically in color, as it gives red decks an angle of attack they wouldn’t otherwise have.
#35. Volcanic Torrent
Asymmetrical board wipes are powerful, especially for Commander; that’s part of why Cyclonic Rift has been such a powerful staple for years. Volcanic Torrent offers a ton of value. Board wipes are already inherently card advantage, so the extra spell off cascade leaves you swimming in value. Cascading is better than ever thanks to cards like Prosper, Tome-Bound and Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald that reward you for casting spells from exile.
#34. Magmatic Insight
Magmatic Insight isn’t quite Ancestral Recall, but effects that let you draw more than one card for a single mana always have a place. This card works especially well with cards that want lands in your graveyard, either to fuel cards like The Gitrog Monster or to make your Wrenn and Six that much stronger.
#33. Seize the Day
Taking multiple combats gives red decks a great way to extend their lead. Seize the Day only lets one creature get in for some extra attacks, but that can be plenty with the right creature, like Ancient Copper Dragon or an Eldrazi with annihilator. It still lets you stack extra combat effects, like Halana and Alena, Partners, so you can extract plenty of value from this sorcery.
#32. Strike It Rich
Strike It Rich is a great way for red decks to store mana, generate artifacts, and cast a mana-neutral noncreature spell that fixes your mana. It’s at its best alongside cards like Birgi, God of Storytelling that make it into a ritual, but you can find a surprising number of uses for a card like this. For example, it’s strong for Thousand-Year Storm decks that can copy it a bunch.
#31. Tribal Flames
Domain decks have terrorized their opponents for years with Tribal Flames. It’s got a steep deckbuilding requirement since this is practically unplayable in any list that can't put all five basic land types in play, but 5 damage for 2 mana is worth it. The introduction of triomes has only made this card stronger.
#30. Flame Slash
Flame Slash offers red decks clean, simply removal. Four damage for 1 mana is a lot; we often see 2 or 3 for this cost. It’s never burning your opponent out, but it does the removal job when you need it.
#29. Star of Extinction
Star of Extinction is an incredibly powerful wrath. This is practically a white or black card; so few creatures survive 20 damage that it might as well say “destroy all creatures.” Because it doesn’t, you can exploit it further with Stuffy Doll effects to burn out your opponents or Firesong and Sunspeaker to gain more life than your opponents can deal with.
#28. Kuldotha Rebirth
A Pauper staple, Kuldotha Rebirth gives lots of board presence to decks with spare artifacts. It’s the heart of some mono-red Pauper decks, turning Blood tokens or Experimental Synthesizers into goblins, but other decks can leverage three bodies for a single mana.
#27. Fury of the Horde
Red decks love extra combats, so why not get it for free? Exiling two cards from your hand is a steep cost, but Fury of the Horde can give you a win from nowhere, even if you’re tapped out. The biggest weakness is the inherent tension of this card; you need to hold two spells to cast it for free but also want to dump your hand onto the board to maximize the impact of the extra combat.
#26. Disrupt Decorum
Goad is a fantastic mechanic, though it doesn’t do much outside Commander. Disrupt Decorum usually takes at least one player out of the game, assuming you cast it during later turns. It’s a great way to break through a board stall, forcing players to make attacks and blocks they might not have wanted to while leaving you unscathed and able to finish off one of your opponents since they’ll have tapped all their creatures.
Wish is a fascinating tutor that’s spawned many interesting Constructed decks. Drawing cards from your sideboard gives Wish decks a ton of flexibility. Who needs to sideboard when you can fetch your Blood Moon to deal with the lands player? It can be a bit slow, but it’s one of red’s best tutors.
Vandalblast has been a Commander staple for years, with good reason. Destroying a single artifact for is a fine rate that often gives you a positive mana exchange. It’s great at slowing an aggressive ramp start or dealing with a problematic piece of equipment. But what if you dealt with all of them? Overloading this card puts you well ahead and is a death sentence for some decks.
#23. Reckless Impulse + Wrenn’s Resolve
Blue decks like to think they have the best card draw, but those suckers pay 3 mana for their Divination. To utilize Reckless Impulse and Wrenn's Resolve, you want a low curve and plenty of mana generation. These are fantastic draw spells and some of the best card advantage red has gotten in some time.
#22. Mizzix’s Mastery
You haven’t Cubed until you’ve cast Magma Opus on turn 3 with Mizzix's Mastery. Outside that example, Mastery offers a ton of value for spell decks in the late game. You can use it to chain an extra turn spell or two, and overloading this leads to a quick win.
#21. Chandra’s Ignition
Chandra's Ignition is a blowout, as long as you’re running large creatures. This decimates an opponent’s board while dealing a bunch of damage to them so they can’t stabilize afterwards. It’s especially potent in Commander, where massive monsters run rampant, and this can deal an easy 15 damage to your opponents.
#20. Crackle with Power
Crackle with Power is an expensive X spell, but one of red’s best finishers for decks that focus on generating a ton of mana. XXX is daunting, but it scales well. Five mana for 5 damage to any one target is roughly on rate; 8 mana to deal 10 to two targets is game winning; and it can only get better.
#19. World at War
If you’re in an aggressive deck utilizing combat effects and attack triggers, World at War is practically Time Warp with rebound. It represents four combats across two turns, which equals a lot of Hellrider triggers, permanents sacrificed through annihilator, or any other shenanigans you want to get up to.
#18. Burn Down the House
Burn Down the House is a powerful red wrath thanks to its flexibility. You’ll rarely make the Devil tokens, but having the option to build a board presence is always nice. Five damage is the perfect number to blow up almost anything you need to deal with. This card’s greatest strength is that it also damages planeswalkers, making it pretty unique as well as powerful.
Wildfire is often game-winning if you can put in a little work. It resets the board and cripples your opponent’s mana base for a one-two punch that can put you far ahead. You need to be able to break the symmetry. You can do this with a deck that runs a ton of artifact mana, which often helps accelerate this out as well, or by pairing it with cards like World Shaper and Lord Windgrace that help you rebuild after the fire while your opponents get left in ashes.
#16. Goblin Grenade
Goblin decks excel at churning out large numbers of tokens so they have plenty of fodder for Goblin Grenade. This burn spell is susceptible to countermagic, but the upside outweighs the risk. Five damage is a game-ending burning spell; if your deck can support four copies of this card, you can kill your opponent without attacking.
#15. Ignite the Future
Impulse draws are better than ever, given all the support given to casting spells from exile and the sheer card advantage those cards offer. Ignite the Future is a powerful top-end for a deck that wants to cast spells from exile, drawing a total of six cards and giving you a mana advantage by playing half of them for free. This card gets extra spicy with cards like Mizzix's Mastery since it only needs to be cast from a graveyard to cast the spells for free, not specifically cast via its flashback cost.
Blood Moon is a fine way to punish your opponents for not running basics, but why give them any mana? Ruination is basically a mono-red card. The more colors your deck has, the harder it is to run all basics. It’s also pretty feast or famine. A 5-color deck won’t walk away from this, but mono-color or even some two-color decks can shrug this off. It’s all about matchups and timing.
#13. Chain Lightning
Sometimes, simplicity is king. Chain Lightning is a really interesting Lightning Bolt variant, giving your opponents a chance to throw the spell back at you. Of course, you can then send it their way once more. In reality, this card rarely gets chained; you’ll often reserve it for an opponent without red mana or cast it on a turn they aren’t holding . Still, 3 damage to anything for a single mana is an amazing rate.
#12. Anger of the Gods
Anger of the Gods is a powerful way to stabilize against an aggressive deck, sweeping aside small creatures much faster than some other wraths. Exiling your opponent’s creatures adds another layer of value, making this especially useful against sticky threats like Bloodghast and Arclight Pheonix.
Meltdown offers decks that want to destroy artifacts a ton of flexibility. This lets you play your artifacts while blowing up smaller ones. Depending on the mana value of the artifacts you want to destroy, this can also be incredibly mana efficient. If you’re just blowing up small mana rocks, this costs 3 or 4 mana to Vandalblast’s 5.
#10. Indomitable Creativity
Indomitable Creativity is a powerhouse card that’s spawned decks in Modern and Pioneer dedicated to exploiting its power. These decks use tokens produced by cards like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker or Dwarven Mine for the target. As for hits, the only creatures in the deck are heavy hitters, like Archon of Cruelty or Atraxa, Grand Unifier. To fully utilize Creativity, you need to make some deckbuilding concessions, but they’re often worth it.
#9. Faithless Looting
A glance at Faithless Looting suggests the card is just a bad cantrip. After all, it’s card disadvantage when cast from your hand and only card neutral when flashed back. But the graveyard is one of the strongest resources in the game. Decks like dredge or the infamous Hogaak that want cards in the graveyard see a beautiful card trip that generates so much card advantage it needed to get banned in Modern.
#8. Shatterskull Smashing / Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass
Zendikar Rising’s modal double-faced cards are all incredibly powerful. Having a land or spell when either is appropriate makes Shatterskull Smashing and its siblings two cards in one. Smashing is also a powerful removal spell, often becoming a two-for-one later in the game when you don’t need an extra untapped land. This flexibility gives this card a huge bonus.
#7. Blasphemous Act
Blasphemous Act is easily red’s best wrath effect, at least for Commander. Dealing such a large amount of damage to creatures is tantamount to destroying the board. Mark Rosewater confirmed that this card is a color pie break for red, and we aren’t likely to see similar effects in the future. And this scales beautifully with the game. The more creatures are in play, the more you want to cast Blasphemous Act, and the cheaper it is. Even white can’t compare to a 1-mana board wipe.
#6. Jeska’s Will
Jeska's Will is a card you won’t see much outside of Commander, but what a Commander card it is. “Drawing” three cards for 3 mana is a fine rate, but the ritual effect pushes Will over the top. With your commander in play, this often works out to be mana-neutral, but it doesn’t take much for it to be even better. It’s especially useful in wheel decks that force their opponents to have seven cards in hand.
#5. Fiery Confluence
Cards that give you options are always powerful. Fiery Confluence gives you a bundle of them. Getting to wipe the board, burn an opponent out, or blow up three artifacts for 4 mana is fine, but the flexibility of doing however many of them are appropriate at the time makes this card so powerful. You’ll never waste options with this card.
Red’s tutors are few and far between, and they’re often restrictive. Gamble’s ubiquity makes it incredibly powerful. Sure, you’ll discard the card you want some of the time, and it’s a terrible top deck if you’re hellbent. These downsides are far outweighed by what’s often a 1-mana Demonic Tutor.
#3. Infernal Plunge
Getting a mana advantage is powerful. Infernal Plunge does red’s best Dark Ritual impression, which is the gold standard for rituals. It’s not hard for red decks to have something to sacrifice; it’s pretty good at making tokens but also has some sacrifice synergies like black. Adding gives you the potential for explosive turns that leave your opponents in the dust.
#2. Warrior’s Oath
Hello, Time Walk! Warrior's Oath gives red decks an extra turn, a powerful effect usually only granted to blue. Sure, you’ll lose the game at the end of the extra turn, but that’s not as big of a deal as it sounds. The effect can be Stifled, or you can remove the trigger from the stack by ending the turn with Sundial of the Infinite or similar effects. This card shines the most in combo decks, though. It’s the perfect piece for decks that need one more turn to win, letting you set up without needing to pass the turn.
#1. Wheel of Fortune
The card for which draw-sevens have been dubbed “wheels,” Wheel of Fortune is as powerful as it is iconic. Decks with a bunch of fast mana can dump their hands and fire off an early wheel for incredible value and card advantage. The mechanic can easily be exploited with effects like Narset, Parter of Veils or the recent Orcish Bowmasters to extract maximum value for yourself while inflicting the most punishment possible on your opponents.
Best Red Sorcery Payoffs
Some of red’s easiest payoffs for sorceries are its spellslinger cards. While you’ll often find it paired with blue, mono-red spellslinger decks can still make use of cards like Firebrand Archer, Thermo-Alchemist, and Electrostatic Field to burn their opponents out in a flurry of spells.
Superfriends decks can also benefit from red’s sorceries, namely the board wipes. Anger of the Gods does a great job protecting planeswalkers early, while Blasphemous Act or Star of Extinction go a long way towards defending your friends later.
Warrior's Oath | Illustration by Eric Deschamps
Red’s sorceries have plenty of explosive firepower but go much deeper than mere burn spells. You’ve got excellent card draw, some tutors, and even plenty of cards worth building decks around.
This depth showcases why red is one of the most iconic spellslinger colors in the game. There’s a little something for everybody within red’s slice of the color pie, whether you want to cheat big boys into play or burn the table to the ground.
What’s your favorite red sorcery? Have you ever played mono-red? Let me know in the comments or on the Draftsim Twitter!
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