I was explaining this card to my seven year old
son, who is an aspiring Pro Tour player. He got
it right away. All mono red decks want to do is
kill, and Chain Lightning goes right along with
that sentiment. Most of the time when you cast
Chain Lightning, nothing much happens except a
creature or player gets burned for three points.
Sometimes, however, your opponent has two
untapped Mountains of his own and a penchant for
self-destruction. On these happy days, such an
opponent will bounce your Chain Lightning back
to you or one of your creatures. That's HIS
mistake. You are a mono-red player, and you
wouldn't play this card unless you also had a
couple of spare untapped Mountains with which to
bounce HIS bounce of your Chain Lightning.
The end effect is you spending only three mana
and ONE card to deal three damage to up to two
different creatures or players while
withstanding three damage to one of your own
creatures or possibly your face. It's a deal!
Unfortunately, Chain Lightning is not legal in
any constructed format that I participate in,
but I do love this card. Chain Lightning was
never a part of any limited formats, but if it
were, it would be a very high pick.
We all loved Lightning Bolt. So there's little
reason to believe we wouldn't like Chain
Lightning. And against decks not playing Red, it
works exactly like Lightning Bolt. This is a
card that's always hot. And it's always sought
out by casual players.
so in retrospect this card is pretty lame. But
believe me when I say that back in the day it
was super cool. Of course, we didn't have a lot
of options for burn back then. There was the
stuff from the core set - Lightning Bolt,
Fireball and Disintegrate, notably - but there
wasn't any burn in Arabian Nights or
Antiquities. So when we finally got another burn
spell, a lot of people were excited. Plus it
could do all these cool tricks. Like being able
to Chain Lightning a bunch of Rukh Eggs.. or..
okay, that's really the only trick you can do
with it. But that's something! Nowadays it's
just another burn spell. But it used to be
One of the few (read: 2) 1 mana for 3 damage
spells that can hit creature or player. Strickly
inferior to Lightning Bolt being a Sorcery and
the chance it can be thrown back at you against
red players, the card has still always been just
fine in red burn decks and will continue to be a
Vintage and Legacy burn staple as long as it’s
legal. It’s always been hard to argue with the
card, no matter the speed or drawback.
I have to assume it’s fine in limited, as I have
only drafted Legends once in my life and this
card never found it’s way in my deck or against
me. If I’m willing to draft Volcanic Hammer
high, I would definitely play the chain.
Hmm... not bad if you're playing against
not-Red. For only one R, 3 damage isn't bad. It
would be amazing if it were an instant. Also
nice that it can hit a creature or a player.
Constructed - 3.5
Casual - 3.5
Limited - 3.5
I have no firsthand experience with this card,
but it's not too hard to figure out. Ask any
player what they'd most like to spend one Red
mana on, and they'll likely say Lightning Bolt.
It's so powerful that it's been out of standard
for at least a decade. This is undoubtedly an
early effort to "fix" Lightning Bolt. But it's
hardly a fix, since it's exactly Lightning Bolt
against any player who doesn't have Red mana,
and the ability to use it against yourself in
order to make more copies makes it even better
than Bolt in some narrow cases.
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