With the Magic 2015 prerelease behind us, we have drafting to do! In order to best give ourselves a chance to win in our first drafts, we should be aware of the pertinent cards in each color. This time, we’ll be taking a quick look at the common and uncommon removal available in red. Not only is it helpful to know what removal spells are available when drafting a particular color, but it helps you know what to play around when facing off against opposing decks.
If you drafted a lot of Theros—or really virtually any Magic set ever printed—you already know that the premium removal spell in red is Lightning Strike. It’s no Lightning Bolt, but two mana for three damage that can kill opponents at instant speed isn’t just great in Limited: it’s Standard-playable. In a mono-red deck (or just mostly red), Seismic Strike is the other premium removal spell at common here. It can’t kill opponents, but it’s priced right and can kill big things in the late game.
Inferno Fist is a cool little card. On an unblocked creature, this represents four damage for three mana, which is nothing to scoff at. You can’t cast the aura at instant speed, but once it resolves, the sacrifice effect is available in response to whatever your opponent may want to do. Blastfire Bolt is comparable in many ways to Turn to Slag. Being an instant and splashable is nice, but the difference between five and six mana is huge, and that probably makes Bolt worse than Turn. It will still play a role in a pinch, but likely won’t be a high pick.
Closing out common is Forge Devil, which is narrow and only a 1/1, but it can kill a few things that matter. We also have Clear a Path, which may be just the sideboard card you need sometimes, but is a bit of a stretch in the maindeck.
Cone of Flame is a pretty insane card, occasionally getting you a three-for-one but also sometimes uncastable without targeting yourself or your own creature. That's a relatively minor drawback compared to the upside this provides. Also be on the lookout for Stoke the Flames. Even if it's priced too high for Constructed, four damage to a creature or player on one card is fantastic in Limited. Being an instant at four mana (or less with some help from convoke) just puts it over the top.
Heat Ray is no Fireball, as the inability to hit players really reigns in the power level of this card. That said, we don’t often get X-damage spells at instant speed, so that’s pretty cool. It’s very good, but not as crazy as we usually expect these types of spells to be. Finally, we have Shrapnel Blast, which is almost entirely dependent on the deck it’s played in. It requires some huge deckbuilding concessions, but five damage is an awful lot, so we can’t discount it entirely.