Back in the day, red was on the receiving end of many Redemption jokes, due to its lack of viability as a single-color offense. It didn’t have cannot-be-negated (CBN) battlewinners, it didn’t have high-quality Heroes that could win battles by themselves, it didn’t have enough “speed” (searching and drawing), it didn’t have high-quality support cards, etc. I remember reading the Redemption boards once a year to see Bryon once again ask the Redemption community what the game needed to see in its upcoming expansion. Red was always receiving a large number of recommendations, but still couldn’t find its way into top decks after receiving targeted support year after year. Even after receiving a big boost in the 2011 expansion, red is still seen primarily as a brigade that needs secondary support.
I’ll be defining “Red-only” to mean:
- All Heroes are red
- All Enhancements are red
These are not exclusive; Cornelius (TEC), Soldier of God promo, Seeker of the Lost promo, etc. can be used. So can Love, Brass Serpent, Trumpet and Sword, etc. But every Hero and good Enhancement must have red as one of its brigades.
Sticking with pure red definitely removes some powerful options that have synergy with red. You can’t use Ira or Benaiah to finish off your red banding chains. You can’t give red a “speed boost” with Judges, Tabernacle Priests, or O.T. royalty, even though those 3 themes have cards that complement a red offense nicely. But rather than talk about what red doesn’t have, I’ll be focusing on what it does have. I actually think a red offense could do better than most think; it suffers somewhat from lack of use.
First, red does actually have a nice suite of useful Heroes. What it lacks is stand-alone Heroes that can win battles on their own (although Cornelius might just be one such Hero). I’ll create a larger list of Red Heroes that I think are worth working with, and you can narrow it down to fit a deck’s particular strategy. In a future article, I’ll post a few ideas for red-only offenses. For now, I’ll just focus on red’s best cards.
First, negating Evil Characters is always powerful. There are 4 red Heroes that can negate a subset of Evil Characters – Ishmaiah the Gibeonite, The Centurion at Capernaum, The Centurion at Calvary, and Cornelius, so let’s start our list with them. Ishmaiah also comes with draw and band abilities, making him one of the more powerful Heroes in the game; the other three bring Site access to the table, as well as some other miscellaneous abilities.
Next, band abilities. Here is where red shines, although missing out on Ira and Benaiah will hurt. Abishai, Asahel, and Heldai all have band abilities that target a number of Heroes. Asahel also comes with a powerful choose-the-blocker (CTB) ability as well. All 3 of these will go on the list.
Speaking of CTB abilities, red has 2 CTB Heroes! Jael will go on our list. While she suffers the same drawbacks as Chloe (she can’t use some of red’s useful Enhancements), her CTB ability is actually better than Asahel’s, since you can target a character that your opponent doesn’t own. And Jael can use Counsel of Abigail (Chloe can’t).
Other miscellaneous categories to round out our list: territory destruction is powerful; we can’t forget about Jephthah, even though he is sadly not warrior-class. Making some Enhancements CBN, with the initiative to play them, is very good; add Uriah the Hittite. Being able to win battles if banded into battle, along with having a “Canaanite” identifier and protection from capture, is good; add Ahimelek the Hittite. Looking at opponent’s hand and having great initiative is powerful; add Spy. Making some of red’s most powerful cards CBN is a good thing; add David (Ki). Peter will make our list, due to being N.T., Four-Drachma Coin, The Garden Tomb (TGT), and Cornelius’ band. Simon the Zealot’s protection, as well as his ability to get rid of Household Idols, gets him on our list as well. Seeker of the Lost has a fantastic soul gen ability. Recruiting Officer, as an O.T. warrior class Hero with Site access and the potential for Lost Soul generation, can be useful too.
That should be good for now. We have more Heroes than normally needed for a 50-card T1 deck. The final list:
- Ishmaiah the Gibeonite – Negate, Band, Draw
- The Centurion at Capernaum – Negate, Band, Site Access, stops artifacts
- The Centurion at Calvary
- Uriah the Hittite
- Ahimelek the Hittite
- Simon the Zealot
- Seeker of the Lost
- Recruiting Officer
There’s a lot of solid options here, but nothing that is too frightening for opposing defenses; I think this is one reason red not often played (and usually with another brigade, when it is). Let’s move on to our list of Enhancements to consider. I’ll keep this briefer, with just a quick description of how the Enhancements I’ve selected can be useful.
- Bravery of David: Any red enhancement list should start with this one. A negate + battlewinner, and is CBN if David is in play. It does need to be used by a warrior-class (WC) Hero to discard an Evil Character though.
- Counsel of Abigail (2011): An interrupt + battlewinner that cannot be prevented by an evil card. It must be used by an O.T. Hero.
- A Soldier’s Prayer: Exchanges itself for a red Enhancement in deck or discard. So it can pull your good cards out quicker from deck (like Bravery of David and Counsel of Abigail), and later can be used to recur one of them from your discard pile. It must be used by a WC Hero.
- David’s Triumph: Interrupt + battlewinner, although it can’t target female or demon Evil Characters. It does have useful numbers, should you end up fighting by the numbers (7/0).
- Centurion’s Proclamation: Interrupt + battlewinner, but it can’t target demons. It does create a LS for your opponent to rescue though.
- Foreign Sword: Red’s best weapon class Enhancement. Negates an evil or neutral card, and if used by a Canaanite (Ishmaiah the Gibeonite, or Uriah the Hittite), you can topdeck the negated card. If played in battle, it is a plain-vanilla negate, unless you use it on a Canaanite, in which case it is a negate + battlewinner. But Foreign Sword’s primary value comes from repeated activations upon entering battle.
- Mustering for War: Sets aside a Hero for 2 turns; on return, you can draw 3 cards. It’s a lower risk set-aside card; an opponent’s Darius Decree won’t wipe out your whole offense, like it could for Pentecost or First Fruits. And it can be searched out with A Soldier’s Prayer to jumpstart your deck.
- Battle Cry: Interrupt + band. Works best when you can bring in Ahimelek the Hittite, or a Canaanite equipped with Foreign Sword, into battle. Allows you to activate multiple Hero abilities too.
- Trumpet and Sword: Without a Tabernacle Priest, you can’t negate and discard a single-color Site or evil Fortress. However, this is still a mass-discard; for each O.T. WC Hero you have in play, you can discard a human Evil Character. Don’t forget Uriah the Hittite makes discard abilities CBN.
- Sing and Praise (Priests): Red’s side battle card. Side battles are very powerful, if you build your defense properly. Sing and Praise is unique in that it prevents evil Enhancements on both sides of the side battle. This is often a drawback, as the power of side battles gives you the chance to play powerful evil Enhancements that are more difficult to play, and easier to negate, when played while blocking. Nevertheless, creative players that craft a good defense complimenting their red-only offense should strongly consider what Sing and Praise might do for their deck.
- From here, you get the lower-level cards: Enhancements that are only battle-winners, like Freedom!, or only negates, like Holy Ground.
That concludes my Hero and Enhancement lists for red. I’m sure there are cards that were left off of each list that other players will want to point out; for example, I didn’t put multicolor Enhancements, like Loaves and Fishes, Love, or Brass Serpent, on the list. In my next article, I’ll put together two red-only offenses to get you thinking about ways to use red.
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