The intention of this series is to highlight cards one may find while digging through bulk. Each installment focuses on a different color of bulk cards. I covered gold, colorless, white, and black cards previously. Red is particularly interesting because the Burn archetype has been around for a long time and most burn spells tend to be printed as common or uncommon. Unsurprisingly, several will make today's list.
To keep our list manageable, I'm restricting it to some of the best sub-$5 finds in each color according to TCGPlayer mid price. I have found that understanding the reason for a card's value is extremely beneficial in evaluating other cards and their potential, and have included a bit about each card.
Note: As in previous installments, this list isn't in any particular order, though it was suggested to me that I add sub-sections and group the cards in a useful and functional way, which is something I can get behind.
1. Dragon's Rage Channeler
This is our most recently printed card on the list. Its current price honestly seems below what it should be given how prevalent it is in the modern format. According to MTGGoldfish's modern staples lists it is the #23 most played card in Modern and the #5 most played creature. I think the only thing holding this back from being a $3 staple is the fact that Modern Horizons 2 is still readily available and in print.
2. Pyretic Ritual
Ritual effects have been used since Magic's very beginning to play powerful spells ahead of schedule. While this effect used to belong to black, since Kamigawa block it has shifted towards a "red" thing. Pyretic Ritual is most often played in modern Storm or Belcher decks. While it was reprinted in the Mystery Boosters, that sets extremely large size means fewer were printed than in a typical set.
3. Burning Inquiry
I remember back when drafting Magic 2010, this was easily a card you got last pick. Thanks to modern Hollow One decks, it has become a very valuable common. I have found plenty of copies of this card sifting through bulk thanks in large part to everyone who opened them back in 2009, dumped them into the draft "chaff" pile, and forgot about them.
4. Goblin Lore
This card's value skyrocketed around the same time Burning Inquiry became valuable, and for the same reason. Its reprinting in Jumpstart and its addition to The List recently cratered its value. However, other than those recent reprints, the card has only otherwise appeared in Portal Second Age, Starter 1999, and 10th Edition. This means any real uptick in demand, and this card goes from its currently $1.50 to $7+ quite easily. Note that only the Portal Second Age and Starter 1999 versions actually meet the $1.50+ TCGMarket price criteria for this list. The other printings are near bulk price. I pull any version of this card out of bulk and set it aside when I find them, as I made a good bit of money from them when the Hollow One decks first made a big splash in Modern.
5. Gut Shot
Phyrexian mana is listed as a 9 on MaRo's "Storm Scale," which when asking how likely a given mechanic is to return is " Level 9: I never say never, but this would require a minor miracle." It is at its worst on one-mana spells, essentially making them free spells. We have seen this effect powerful enough that not one but two one-Phyrexian-mana spells are banned in multiple formats (Mental Misstep and Gitaxian Probe). I say all that to emphasize just how powerful it is to pay 2 life to cast a spell instead of paying mana. Gut Shot's heyday was back when Izzet Phoenix decks dominated Modern and Gut Shot was used as an enabler for the three spell count needed to bring the Phoenix back from the graveyard. While no longer as played, should Izzet Phoenix decks rise from the ashes Gut Shot could easily be a $4 card again.
6. Shattering Spree
Shattering Spree has been a $20+ dollar uncommon and Modern sideboard staple for a while. The replicated copies get around cards like Chalice of the Void on one, which can easily lockout burn decks. Honestly, this feels a bit underpriced currently, given that its "reprints" were in a Guild Kit and Mystery Boosters. Any substantial reprint would likely tank its price to sub $2, so there is a decent amount of risk with the card.
7. Searing Blaze
This is exactly the type of spell that Burn decks need in creature-heavy metagames. Every Lightning Bolt you have to throw at an opponent's creature is three damage missed on that all-important count to 20. That said, it is a dead draw when your opponents have no creatures and it relies heavily on triggering landfall to be good. For these reasons the card tends to ebb and flow in Burn decklists based heavily on the current metagame.
8. Impact Tremors
This hidden gem has made me a fair amount of money over the years. It's been a Commander staple, showing up in 8% of the 500k decks on EDHRec. For a non-artifact that's an impressive percentage. The fact that it is a common means it's often passed over when picking as most commons tend to be worth little, especially those printed after the original Zendikar block.
Overload was an interesting mechanic from Return to Ravnica. While most cards with the mechanic didn't tend to see much competitive play, they proved to be very good in Commander. We don't often see cards that destroy all of something and only affect opponents. Unsurprisingly, Vandalblast tends to make the cut in most Commander decks playing red that need answers to lots of artifacts. It's included in 17% of the 500k decks on EDHrec.
10. By Force
Similar to Vandalblast, By Force is another mass artifact removal spell. It's usually a worse version of Vandalblast. However, in Hinata, Dawn-Crowned it acts as a one-mana destroy any number of artifacts of your choice spell. This allows you to keep beneficial artifacts your opponents may control on the table while destroying all the troublesome ones. This gives the card more play in the realm of table politics.
11. Honden of Infinite Rage
I can honestly copy and paste here what I said about Honden of Night's Reach in my article on black cards: "Many may not realize that the printing of Go-Shintai of Life's Origin caused all the Hondens to spike. Unlike with Sanctum of All, the prices so far have stuck." This is the same reason for Honden of Infinite Rage's current value. So far those prices are holding firm. I am a big fan of selling all the Hondens now. Another decent reprint will destroy the prices on all of them as they are so niche in the decks that would want to play them.
12. Crimson Wisps
A common from Shadowmoor is more akin to a "rare" uncommon in today's print runs. Thus, it isn't surprising to find a common from this block on our list. This card first came to prominence with the rise of Jeskai Ascendancy decks in Modern, though that deck has fallen out of favor. Even in that deck, this card seems to have been replaced, but it looks like the current demand for the card is now from Birgi, God of Storytelling // Birgi, God of Storytelling, and other red spell-based Commander decks.
13. Goblin Bombardment
Of all the cards on this list, this is the one I am most surprised to see. Within the last 12 months I sold played copies above the $5 threshold I placed on this list. I can't believe its current price is so low. Goblin Bombardment's biggest "mass reprint" was as a rare in Modern Horizons 2. Looking at the graph of its price, this reprint does appear to be the one that killed its value. The current price mirrors that of its pre-2018 price, at right under $2, where it sat for years. If you find these in bulk, set them aside. The current price is unlikely to remain low indefinitely. On a similar note, I actually like the idea of snagging the foil etched version from Modern Horizons 2 given its price is still under $2.
14. Boggart Shenanigans
This is one of the few cards we see on these lists that is extremely limited in demand. Thankfully, goblins are a beloved tribe, and Krenko, Mob Boss is one of the cheaper competitive Commander decks to build. Lorwyn seems to have been forever ago and was several years prior to the explosive playerbase growth Magic has seen over the past decade.
15. Bloodmark Mentor
While this may be another goblin card, it actually fits well in any aggressive red Commander deck. First strike is a keyword that dominates combat math and can easily swing a game. While this card technically has three printings, only the original Shadowmoor is really a "mass printing." Because of that, its price remains above $1.50. This is a card that I have found in bulk I previously "picked" due to me being ignorant of its value; don't make my mistake.
Bottom Of The Box
That's all for this installment. Are there any cards you think I missed? If so comment below or reach out to me on the QS Discord. Happy picking!