I’ve played Magic: the Gathering on and off since “Fallen Empires“. My time in the game has come and gone when finances have afforded it/I had nobody to play against that challenged me to get better. Though some of my regular opponents have been on the Pro Tour/some of the best in my state. It’s a great feeling though, to constantly be able to get better. I know my card games though, and though I’ve been away a little while, I keep up with every set that comes out. And Hour of Devastation could very well be the set that lures me back to the Standard formatting. Why? What’s so great about Hour of Devastation? There has to be something that calls to me. When I build a deck, I ask myself “What can I do to make people as frustrated as possible? What will cause the salt mines to open for business?” and this set has the answer: My favorite NPC/villain of Magic: the Gathering. God-Pharoah Nicol Bolas. The ancient Planeswalking Dragon is back, he’s playable [in Standard], and his ultimate ability forces all of your opponents to exile every card in play that they control. All of them. He comes in to play with 7 Loyalty Counters, his ultimate costs 12, and he has a +2 and a +1. The +1 makes players Exile cards from their hand. The +2 is even more vexing. An opponent exiles cards off the top of their deck until they come to a non-land card, which you can cast for free. If that doesn’t get you going, I’ve got some more.
Before I get into my favorite cards of this block, let’s hear a little about the story and the new abilities on the cards:
“We join the Hour of Devastation story during the fateful time when the Second Sun has reached its place in the centre of the monument dedicated to the God-Pharaoh and the Gates to the Afterlife are finally open, ready to welcome the warriors who proved themselves in the Trials. Unfortunately, the truth is very different from what was expected, and beyond the Gates to the Afterlife lie only wastelands and forgotten Amonkhet deities. Five hours will precede the coming of the God-Pharaoh and the Hour of Devastation is imminent.
Hour of Devastation introduces two new abilities into Magic: The Gathering: Eternalize allows defeated creatures to return to the battlefield even stronger, while Afflict damages players as they defend themselves from an attack. In addition, new Desert land cards consistent with the realm’s Eqyptian flavour are included, which can provide useful bonuses to players. The abilities introduced in Amonkhet will return, including Exert and Aftermath, as well as Cycling — a favourite of players who enjoy quick and dynamic games.”
So what are my personal favorite cards in this block? Let’s go by color:
- White: Solemnity [1W2C, Enchantment: Players cannot get counters. Counters cannot be put on lands, artifacts, enchantments, or creatures], Hour of Revelation [3W3C, Instant: Costs 3 Colorless less if there are more than ten non-land permanents on the battlefield. Destroy all nonland permanents.]
- Blue: Swarm Intelligence [1U6C, Enchantments: Any spell you cast may be copied, and you may pick new targets.], Fraying Sanity [1U2C, Enchantment Player: Enchanted player must put the top X cards of their deck into their graveyard, where X is the amount of cards put in a graveyard from anywhere this turn.]
- Black: Bontu’s Last Reckoning [2B1C, Sorcery: Destroy all creatures. Your lands don’t untap on the next untap phase.], Accursed Horde [1B3C, Creature – Zombie: 1B1C: Target Zombie gains “Indestructible” until end of turn. 3/3]
- Red: Abrade [1R1C, Instant: Choose One: Deal 3 damage to target creature, or Destroy Target Artifact], Neheb the Eternal [2R3C: Legendary Creature – Zombie Minotaur Warrior, Afflict 3 (Whenever this creature is blocked, defending player loses 3 life), at the beginniing of your post-combat main phase, gain 1 red mana in your pool for each point of life your opponents have lost that turn, 4/6]
- Green: Pride Sovereign [1G2C, Creature – Cat: Gains +1/+1 for each Cat you control. 1W1C, Exert [doesn’t untap on its next untap phase] create two 1/1 Cat Tokens with Lifelink, 2/2], Ramunap Excavator [Creature – Naga Cleric: You may play Land Cards from your graveyard, 2/3]
- Multi-Colored: Nicol Bolas, God-Pharoah: [Discussed above], Samut, the Tested [1G1R2C, God, 4 Loyalty Counters. +1: Up to one creature gains double-strike til end of turn. -2: Deal up to 2 damage divded as you choose between two creatures and/or players . -7: Search your deck for up to two Planeswalkers/Creatures, place them on the Battlefield, shuffle your deck]
- Artifacts: Mirage Mirror: [3C – 2C: Mirage Mirror becomes a copy of target artifact/creature/enchantment/land until end of turn]
There is a lot of interesting stuff in this expansion, not just for Standard. Just looking at the lineup, Modern and Legacy are going to be shaken up in some pretty crazy ways. A lot of the cards I highlighted above are especially good [for me at least] in those brackets. A new card for DotLand to make lands faster to play? Another ridiculous card for my Sanguine Bond combo [Oketra’s Last Mercy]? Mmm. This makes me happy. There are some amazing pieces to come in this setting, and I’m happy that they’ve adjusted how the blocks work again. I am sincerely looking forward to what’s coming in “Hour of Devastation”. Did I miss a hilarious card that you want to be highlighted? Want some more MTG stuff on OnRPG.com? Let me know below!