#11 – Risk Factor
– Guilds of Ravnica
December 17, 2018
Commander [EDH]: 3.13
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
This card was 8th on my top 11 list for 2018.
Risk Factor is a card that plays better than it reads, surprisingly. It calls to mind Browbeat from Judgment, part of red’s “let me do this or I punch you in the face” trend. But while Browbeat is a fringe option not considered great, Risk Factor accomplishes more even while offering less damage.
This can be tied to two things: jump-start, and instant speed. Browbeat is a sorcery, while Risk Factor’s instant-speed allows you to surprise someone while their shields are down. Twice. Not getting what you want exactly is a slight downer…but you can do it twice, and both of these things are things red is particularly fond of as a color (drawing cards and doing damage). Add to there already being a potent red deck in Standard that gets out of hand with a lot of extra cards, and it’s no surprise Risk Factor has become a power player in this format.
This card was not on my top 11 list for 2018.
. . . But in hindsight, it’s probably stronger than I gave it credit for. Red used to have trouble with drawing cards, as exemplified by the amount of play that Risk Factor’s famous and less powerful ancestor Browbeat historically got in casual play. Not any more. And a de facto flashback ability actually changes the way it plays a lot more than it looks at first. Losing four life to prevent an opponent from drawing three cards might seem worth it, once. Is it worth it again the next turn? Is it worth it the turn after that if they drew another one off the second, but you’re down four life compared to before? I really like how the addition of jump-start turns Risk Factor from a simple punisher variant into something with a surprising amount of nuance.
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