Ral, Monsoon Mage – Modern Horizons III

Date Reviewed:  June 12, 2024

Constructed: 3.75
Casual: 5.00
Limited: 3.50
Multiplayer: 3.75
Commander [EDH]: 4.00

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below: 


Describing someone with any attributes related to storms or extreme weather should usually make them seem like the most threatening person in the room (if not the country). Those of us who live near the Caribbean coast and Gulf of Mexico, or within range of where the polar vortex can become unstable, or pretty much anywhere in Australia, know well that when the clouds and the wind decide to do something, there’s pretty much nothing anyone under the sky can do about it. You can see they’ve tried to temper the design of what storms “should” do with the requirements of Magic, by adding the coin flipping requirement to Ral’s front side and the various conditions to his planeswalker side. But even with all of that, he’s one of the few cards of this type who can flip on the same turn you play him a significant amount of the time (we accept odds of less than 50% on so many elements of Magic, they blend into the background). It does mean you can’t reliably set him up to have enough loyalty to use his ultimate right away, or even build up to it quickly – you’d have to get quite lucky to get six additional loyalty counters. It will, however, often make him a little harder to attack than the numbers on the card would suggest, and I like very much that he retains a lot of his front side’s function after he flips. Everything he does is something that spellslinger decks want, and I really hope people aren’t too hung up on randomness, because there is a lot of potential power in and around his abilities.

Constructed: 4
Casual: 5
Limited: 3.5
Multiplayer: 4
Commander [EDH]: 4

 James H. 


The quintet of flip planeswalkers from this set are certainly an interesting batch. Unlike Tamiyo, Ral is very much still tethered to the realm of the living in the current narrative, doing Stuff and Things in Ravnica and elsewhere. While he’s slated to get his otter on in Bloomburrow, this gives a bit of an earlier look at everyone’s favorite reformed storm mage or something.

Ral, Monsoon Mage is a pretty interesting cost-reduction body on his own. Two mana for the cost-reduction effect is on par with Goblin Electromancer, but he’s functionally mono-red, and red actually doesn’t usually get this effect this cheap. The cost is the coin flipping he brings to the table…which makes for interesting tension with actually flipping. The damage can add up if you get unlucky, but the cost reduction is very often a price to pay, and being able to push spells out ahead of schedule is a good payoff.

A successful flip gives you the option to flip Ral; this is not mandatory, so if you want to press your luck further, you can. That said, Ral, Leyline Prodigy comes in with more loyalty based on the instants and sorceries you’ve cast this turn, so a massive spell chain could put him at enough loyalty to ultimate immediately. That ultimate is certainly formidable and plays well into the Izzet risk/reward tension they go for sometimes, but his day-to-day abilities are also worthwhile. His +1 simply turns his pre-flip passive back on (though making it last even if he doesn’t), and his -2 is functionally Electrolyze or Forked Bolt (which has often been a valuable spell). He’s usually going to come in with at least 3 loyalty, and while he builds slowly, there’s a good bit he can do even without that ultimate.

That said, Ral, Monsoon Mage feels like a card you want to play more for his front half, seeing his back side as more of a bonus than the main attraction. And while he’s nothing phenomenal on his own, cost reduction has long been an effect that can be powerful and disruptive in ways both subtle and unsubtle.

Constructed: 3.5 (he may well find a home, though his body is prone to getting blasted)
Casual: 5
Limited: 3.5 (definitely a threat if he flips, but flipping him will be the challenge)
Multiplayer: 3.5
Commander [EDH]: 4 (remember that he’s blue/red and not just red here)

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