Yesterday, we kicked off a countdown of the top 25 red cards of all-time. Today, we're going hard, right out the gate...
#20: Koth of the Hammer
Nowadays, we've been spoiled by good Chandras for so long, many people don't realize there was once an extended time where red lagged behind the other colors in mono-color planeswalkers.
Don't get me wrong, black wasn't exactly keeping up with white, blue, and green, either; but in the hearts and minds of players, red was behind thanks to a couple of expensive Chandras.
Koth of the Hammer basically turned most existing heuristics about planeswalkers on their heads.
"Planeswalkers need to be able to defend themselves to be good."
Oh? Do they? Do they, really?
Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense, and Koth of the Hammer was certainly a good offense, to say the very least.
In many ways, Koth would function as a four-power haste creature, but one that was fairly resilient to removal and the possibility of trading in combat. He was especially good at punishing players relying on sweepers, both in dodging them and in how quickly he goes ultimate, creating an inevitability that's extremely hard to race.
This quick damage and late-game reach played well into the burn-heavy strategy Toshiyuki Kadooka used to great effect in Koth's debut Pro Tour. While there wasn't a surplus of good X-spells to sink extra mana into, there were still plenty of occasions where you'd want to drop Koth and -2 in order to make another big play in the same turn.
Koth might not be able to defend himself, but if you can cast a burn spell in that same turn, taking out the attacker, maybe that's enough? Besides, there were plenty of occasions where untapping a Mountain for his +1 was all the mana you needed, enabling a Galvanic Blast to keep Koth safe and well on his way to ultimating.
#19: Punishing Fire
Since we already talked about Rubin Zoo here, I'd like to take a moment to revisit another Punishing Fire deck, one of my absolute favorite decks to play of all-time, a deck featuring basically a who's who of my favorite spells to cast:
For sure I played all these cards on many occasions, but all at the same time?