Red Gets an Aggressive Two-Drop in Return to Ravnica
September 15, 2012 | Posted by Dee
In the last couple of months, it hasn’t been a good time to be an aggro red mage in Standard. There are too many cards like Celestial Purge, Timely Reinforcements, Blade Splicer, and Strangleroot Geist that are very good against red aggro decks.
Fortunately, Celestial Purge, Timely Reinforcements, and Blade Splicer are leaving the format once Return to Ravnica is Standard legal.
Also, yesterday Wizards spoiled a hasty red two-drop that can brawl effectively against Strangleroot Geist. Not only that, the creature matches up very well against Snapcaster Mage.
It’s not often that you see a red two-drop with three good abilities and a decent power/toughness. Say hello to the future of red aggro, Ash Zealot.
This card is definitely unprecedented for red. It did some research on the Magic Card Database. I found that there are no other red creatures that cost two mana with two power and have three good abilities that don’t cost any mana to use.
Basically, this means Ash Zealot is already in the running as a top ten red two-drop of all time. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.
Her first strike ability is excellent because it allows her to win a combat battle against Strangleroot Geist even after it gains a +1/+1 counter from undying. Also, she beats up Gravecrawler, Snapcaster Mage, and the first half of Geralf’s Messenger.
Her third ability hurts anyone trying to flashback spells with Snapcaster Mage. Also, it gives you free Lightning Bolts against Burning Vengeance and Unburial Rites decks.
Control decks with Think Twice will have to think twice before flashbacking the spell. Ash Zealot even deals three damage versus Zombie players when they cast Gravecrawler from the graveyard.
Her two toughness is good because I think Tragic Slip is going to be widely played in the new Standard.
I see Ash Zealot seeing play in these two decks: mono red aggro and Rakdos (black/red) aggro. She might even work in an Izzet (blue/red) deck but I’m skeptical because Izzet is not a fast guild. With her haste and damage abilities, she fits much better in a fast deck.