Hour of Devastation is Going to Change Standard

by Simon Nielsen on 13 July 2017, Thursday

Simon Nielsen

Hour of Devastation is Going to Change Standard

Oh, you thought I was talking about the set Hour of Devastation in the headline? I mean, I kinda am, obviously the new set it going to change standard somewhat. But that's not the point.

The card Hour of Devastation is absolutely incredible!


Hour of Devastation

Not only does it sweep up a ton of previously challenging board states that our previous 5-mana sweepers couldn't deal with. 

Gods? I think not. 

Gideon or Chandra? Get 'em outta here!

Crested Sunmare, if that becomes a thing (which it very well might be), just gets swept up too along with everybody else.

Not even Archangel Avacyn, Selfless Spirit or Heroic Intervention can save you from this terror.

And not only that. A powerful sweeper is something that red has been missing for a while. A flexible sweeper like this is what the format has been missing. There are multiple homes for this card. Maybe you play it in a ramp deck or a Metalwork Colossus deck. Maybe you have a Black-Red removal-heavy midrange deck. But Blue-Red Control looks to be the obvious deck that wants Hour of Devastation the most.




Blue-Red Control

And here, I might actually just as well refer to the set Hour of Devastation, because it brings more goodies for the control deck. The deck has been in the format for so long, but it was never really good. It always needed it's answers to line up correctly with the opponent's threats, and that ultimately made the deck too inconsistent. It needed flexible answers and boy has it got some.


Abrade Supreme Will

These are some of the premium interaction spells in Hour of Devastation (the set, not the card. I feel like something was misnamed here). And both of them happen to fit perfectly into Blue-Reds plans and wishes by being flexible answers that allow the control player more options and thus more room to better line up their draw vs. opponents. How would an updated version of this deck look? Well here is my - disclaimer: not a control mage! - very straightforward take on the archetype:




Fetid Pools Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh

Maybe we would a bit more power here. In that case, a black splash is possible through Fetid Pools and such which would allow us to splash for Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh and maybe even The Scarab God.



Other Interesting Cards


Majestic Myriarch


This fine birdie... beastie... snake... thing looks like a card for the kitchen table player, but sizing after double the number of creatures you control is much larger than what we've seen before on these kinds of cards, and even on a creature that has easy access to get evasion.

Majestic Myriarch looks especially hot in tandem with Rhonas the Indomitable. With the god in play, Majestic Myriarchs automatically becomes a 4/4, which is large enough to let Rhonas get in there. But the chimera will also receive Rhonas' Indestructible and Deathtouch (which combines particularly well with the trample you can give it). 

Sadly, it doesn't gain indestructible all the time so you can save it from removal, but it still makes it close to impossible to interact with it combat. Mindwrack Demon is another card that pumps up Majestic Myriarchs abilities and also activates Rhonas. 


Uncage the Menagerie

This card is a bit difficult to wrap your head around. I assume that unlike most X-spells, in this case the value of X will actually be decided in deckbuilding rather than in gameplay. What I mean is that X doesn't scale into the lategame, and when you hit your 12th land you can't cast Uncage the Menagerie for X=10 because you obviously won't have 10 differently named 10-drops in your deck.

Rather, when you build your deck you decide what you plan for X to be, such as including 4 differently named 4-drops and have Uncage the Menagerie be a 6-mana spell. I think the sweet spot is X=3, because then you cast Uncage the Menagerie on turn and curve perfectly into turn 6 where you can drop down two of the three-drops you just found.

Imagine getting Tireless Tracker, Rogue Refiner and Whirler Virtuoso out of Temur Energy. Yeah, that's a whole lot of card advantage, and I do think that Temur Energy is the best spot for Uncage the Menagerie. Question is if there are enough match-ups where you'd want such a grindy card, because it will definitely be a sideboard card.

Black-Green Energy might be another deck that maybe would like Uncage the Menagerie in their sideboard, but in that case it would be as a 4-mana spell to get your favourite mix of Winding Constrictor, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner or Longtusk Cub.


Claim // Fame

Speaking of Black-Green Constrictor, Claim // Fame might not only have applications for Modern Death's Shadow. A deck like that with so many high-powered 2-drops that are often the target of opposing removal, like Longtusk Cub, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and of course will be a prime spot for the new aftermath card. 

The fact that you can have your opponent kill your two-drop on turn 2 (and usually they will kill it on sight) and then follow up with another two.drop and Claim on the one they just got rid of is a very powerful tempo play. 

I wouldn't include too many red sources for Fame, maybe just a couple red-producing lands in addition to your 4 Aether Hubs. So far in my testing I've found Claim/Fame to sometimes be incredible and sometimes be too low powered in the games where you don't draw your 2-drops or they just don't get killed. It has been very powerful against Blue-Red control so far. 


Earthshaker Khenra

Standard doesn't really have an aggressive red deck and haven't had for a long time, but if one of those were to pop up in the future it will be at least in part because of this card. This one has the potential to push a ton of damage on the turn it comes into play. And if you happen to flood out it gives you access to an even more powerful tool. 




Mono Red Aggro

So, how would an aggressive red deck look in the current format?


Kari Zev, Skyship Raider Incendiary Flow Ramunap Ruins

I really like that you can take advantage of the Deserts to help burn the opponent out. The burn isn't even that bad in standard right now, and effects that make opposing creatures unable to block are even better in multiples. There are enough of those effects available that even though the creatures aren't really that good, it's going to be quite easy to force through damage with them and you don't need to sneak in that much damage because of how powerful the burn-suite is.

I like that this deck just doesn't really care about Glorybringer and Hour of Devastation which are two of the premier cards in the format. The format also doesn't contain much lifegain, but cheap interaction like Magma Spray might be tough to get through. I don't have high hopes for this deck, but it would be awesome if something along these lines were viable.



Onward to Kyoto!

I am heading to Japan for the Pro Tour by the end of this week. This is my first time in Asia at all, so I have both a lot of new experiences ahead as well as a lot of things I need to learn about this format.


Oketra's Monument

Currently, I think Mono White Monument is the best deck (I prefer it over the Blue-White version, because Archangel Avacyn is better than Cloudblazer anyway, Metallic Rebuke is too situational, and I don't think Spell Queller is powerful enough to justify a bunch of taplands and Islands in this heavy white deck), but that was before Hour of Devastation got added into the mix.

I am very curious to see how this deck fights through Abrade and Hour of Devastation - the card, not the set. =)

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