Commander Decks are a mix of staples and cards that will support your decks themes and goals. The following is a list of red cards that I consider to be the top ten cards in their color. The list is subjective and it will differ from person to person. When it is time to construct a deck consider these cards when building your deck list.
Honorable Mention Possibility Storm
When reading these lists do not consider the honorable mention card as card eleven. Instead look at it more as a card spotlight. These cards have unique abilities that are powerful that some decks may want. This is the case with Possibility Storm. Possibility Storm provides a way for you to cheat mana costs on cards. It also adds unpredictability to the game. Spikes hate this card because often they will plan their moves and this card will mess with it. If you are playing this card, then you will have constructed your deck that you can play around it. When it does trigger there are plenty of cards that are just plain good versus situationally good to capitalize on. Possibility Storm will not win you the game. It will definitely impact the game.
10 Dockside Extortionist
Dockside Extortionist is another tool for Goblins but it is so much more than that. Red can be inconsistent with mana ramp. For two mana you get a body and several treasure tokens to use later. These treasure tokens are invaluable as commander is won by explosive plays and this card helps set them up. Token creation is an enter the battlefield effect. This is very difficult to stop meaning more often than not you will get the extra mana.
Oftentimes this card will be in a game where there are at least three or more artifacts and enchantments. In this scenario Dockside Extortionist will make more mana than you spent to cast the card. It is one time use,but its the difference between having an explosive turn and winning the game or not. This is one of the best ramp cards in red. Think of Dockside Extortionist as a one time use Sol Ring.
9 Etali Primal Storm
If commander is won by explosive plays, then cheating mana costs of cards is exceedingly powerful as well. Etali cheats these costs. Every time Etali attacks, in typical red fashion, you will be able to cast up to the number of players in cards (usually four players) for free. This is done immediately at flash speed. This includes cards that can’t be cast at that time such as creatures and artifacts. Each attack trigger will affect the battlefield in your favor. There is also a certain satisfaction of using your opponents cards against them.
Unfortunately, this ability is stapled to a beat stick with no evasion. It is still removable and does not have haste on it’s own. Without other interaction Etali can not attack on the turn it comes out. This sometimes leads to tempo blowouts if removed. Also, because it is an attack trigger you need to have a good attack to preserve her. This way you can use it again and again. Etali is the perfect example of a strong card in red. It is impulsive with an I want the effect now without thinking about what the drawback may be. Etali is inconsistent. In red, she is consistent enough to make the top ten.
8 Treasonous Ogre
Mana Ramp in red usually comes in spurts. It is rare that a ramp card in red that will give you mana consistently turn after turn. When evaluating ramp spells in red, look at the cards ability to create mana all at once. It is this ability that will cause you to make a plays that will win you the game. This is what Treasonous Ogre does. At the cost of three life you can generate an additional mana. You can trigger this effect multiple times in a turn. If you need mana to win the game you do not care about the life loss. A game won at one life is the same as a game won at forty life.
7 Stolen Strategy
Card Draw in red is a lot of looting and rummaging. Which means you often will get some card quality but not card advantage. This card is hard to remove because it is on an enchantment. During your upkeep you will receive additional cards you can cast from your opponent. The cards are only for the turn so Stolen Strategy is more of card quality that actual card draw. This is because expands your play options for the turn only. However, when you cast any of these cards, then it becomes card draw because you actually used the card. This card opens up abilities that the red player normally does not have access to. It also allows some of the effects in red but without the downside. This is why Stolen Strategy is number seven on the list.
6 Chaos Warp
This is single target removal that can target anything including enchantments. Enchantments is something red has difficulty in doing. It should be one of the first considerations to put in your removal package. Three mana is a reasonable rate for this versatility. It does have the downside that it can sometimes give your opponent a better permanent than what they started with. If an opponent just cast an Exquisite Blood with a Sanguine Bond on the table, then you don’t care what permanent he gets. You just prevented him from winning the game.
5 War’s Toll
One way to disrupt your opponent is to reduce the number of play lines they have on a turn. This is what War’s Toll does. If your opponent wants to play a card they must tap all their lands. At this point mana becomes use it or lose it. This disrupts mana sinks and the draw go strategy. It also forces opponents to attack with all their creatures. It makes them vulnerable to counter attack which often will reduce the viability of attacking as a play line. A single goad effect added to this card can upset the apple cart and shorten games quite rapidly. Finally War’s Toll effect is asymmetrical. It affects your opponents but it does not affect you. You can play your game as normal while they have to alter how they play..
As discussed in War’s Toll, asymmetrical effects are very powerful. This is asymmetrical artifact removal. When you overload this card each opponent will lose all their artifacts. You get to keep all of yours. It combos with Mycosynth Lattice to wipe the table of everything including lands. Although this might be the tables response if you play the combo. It will be very rare that you will cast this card and not use it’s overload ability. It is that good.
3 Wheel of Fortune
As with most card draw in red you have to discard cards in order to get cards. You will get seven cards but unfortunately your opponents will as well. Its strength is you control when the discard happens. Unlike other versions of this effect they do not see it coming. You play the card after you play all the cards you want to improve your board. Then you wheel away the bad ones at minimal damage to you. Oftentimes your opponents will not be so lucky and will discard cards that they were planning to use..
2 Experimental Frenzy
Experimental Frenzy is unique card draw in red. It does not draw you cards but you can play cards off the top you your deck. You can not play the cards you draw while the enchantment is on the field. Oftentimes the decks that employ this card can play multiple cards per turn which is card advantage. It also contains a way to remove the enchantment on the card itself. Then you to play cards again from your hand when ready. The power of this card is limited by how many lands you can play in a turn. Double lands often ends turns. If you judiciously use fetch lands, then you can shuffle away the second land off the top of your deck. Any shuffle effect can extend turns.
1 Purphoros God of the Forge
This card is unique. It is indestructible protecting it. If you have less than five red pips on the battlefield, then Purpheros is not a creature protecting it from most exile effects. Outside of its ability to protect itself it is also repeatable direct damage and a win condition. Almost every deck wants to play some creatures. As a result, this card will always cause some damage. It also contains the words “each opponent.” As preached here at Commander Clinic those words are very strong. It means that the card scales in power for multiplayer games. There are many ways to abuse this card and this is why it claims the top spot on this list.
Not every deck wants all of these cards. Consider this list more as a buffet when building your decks. Peruse the list and sample from these cards that meets your decks needs. This top ten and others to come help point out some of the most important criteria in deck building. Versatility, powerful effects at a discount, and the ability to build explosive plays are all aspects of a card that increase it’s value in a deck. These aspects of a card will help you have what you need to win the game in your deck. Finally, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you as quickly as possible.