So, last week we got a bit of a sneak peek at some Hour of Devastation cards when they got spoiled early. Now I normally don’t like talking about leaks, as they can have a negative effect on the official release and ruin Wizards preview season. However, these cards were accidentally released on the official French MTG website before being quickly taken down. So although we weren’t meant to see them yet, this leak doesn’t appear to be malicious and so I think we would be ok to have a look and speculate if they will make an impact in constructed play. Having said this, please bear in mind that these cards haven’t been made official yet, so anything we affirm here needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Let’s first of all talk about the elder dragon in the room, Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. We haven’t seen Nicol Bolas since Alara block, and we have all been very keen to see if he could live up the hype that has been building up in our minds. Luckily for us, I think he does! Four abilities, seven starting loyalty is a good start. His first (+2) ability is not only a form of card advantage, allowing you to find the next spell in your opponents library, but you get to cast it for free too! The variance on what you could hit is admittedly large, but for every Attune with Aether you could hit, you can just as easily hit an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger (and since we cast the card, we get any cast triggers!). The second (+1) ability attacks our opponents hand, forcing them to exile not one but two cards! More card advantage! Since this exile cards rather than discards, we can avoid them enabling Delerium or Aftermath (or Flashback in older formats). The third (-4) ability, seven straight damage to an opponent or one of there creature, is simple yet effective, be it to protect him from a threat or finish off a foe. Finally, that ultimate is just plain backbreaking, exiling ALL non-land permanents our opponents control. So where do I think this Planewalker will fit in standard? Aetherworks Marvel. Not only could you hit this off the ‘spin’, but then you could +2 to go and play one of your opponents cards for free too, even one of their Marvels, or their Nicol Bolas (if they run it like you do!). Even if the Marvel ends up getting itself banned, there are plenty of mana producing creatures in the format, and we could see some 5 colour green decks making the rounds in the near future to cast him ahead of schedule. [Mtg_card]Oath of Nissa [/mtg_card] also helps us cast any Planeswalker without actually having the mana needed. I can certainly see Nicol Bolas making an impact come the next Standard session.
Next let have a peek at the latest ‘Wrath’ effect to sweep into Magic, Bontu’s Last Reckoning. For the last few blocks, we have had to contend with the lack of 4 mana wraths. We have had to make do with either 5 mana wraths or spells like Languish and Sweltering Suns. So it was a bit of a surprise to see that Wizards went ahead and gave us a 3 mana wrath, and in black no less. Before we go and think this is a upgraded Damnation, there is a little caveat we must address. The turn after we cast it, none of our lands will untap, not just the ones we used to cast it. While this may seem like a steep cost to pay, I think it isn’t as much of a problem as it first appears. In a Standard format where we have rise in Gruul/Temur aggro and many variations on zombie decks, the games can end before control players can hit their fifth land drop. With these aggressive decks dumping a ton of creatures asap, sweeping the board on turn three can set your opponent back enough for you to stabilise. On turn four you can play a fourth land and hold up a Fatal Push to hold the advantage until turn five rolls around. So will it see play? I’m hopeful, but only time will tell.
Lastly, lets have a look at the Multiverse’s newest Planeswalker, Samut, the Tested. The latest in a long line of Gruul walkers, it appears we will get to experience Samut’s spark ignite during the events of Hour of Devastation. Unfortunately, many of stated that they think she doesn’t stack up well when compared to other 4 mana walkers. Though it is true that Samut is no Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, I feel she hasn’t been given a fair shake of the stick. Most planeswalkers are judged in a vacuum, balancing their ability to give card advantage, protect themselves and win the game. But it’s important to remember that cards never play in a vacuum, and the value of a card is based on its importance to the overall strategy of the deck. With the increase of Gruul pummeler/aggro decks, Samut could easily find a home at the top of such a deck. There is also the combo of Samut and Heart of Kiran, which with the alternative crewing cost can lead to some major flying damage from turn four onwards. You can even use that -2 to finish off the game, or even pick off the odd Cryptbreaker and Dread Wanderer. As for that ultimate I have three words for you. Modern Doubling Season. Three to four colour Moon Walker decks have been around for a while now, and use Blood Moon to disrupt opponents, while taking advantage of Oath of Nissa and Doubling Season to play out an army of planeswalkers to win the game. Sounds good right? Now imagine getting out a turn three season thanks to some mana dorks, and following it up with a Samut. You could use that ultimate straight away to fetch up another copy of Samut and another Planeswalker, such as Nahiri, the Harbinger, which can then let you get another Samut, chaining together walker ultimates, winning the game on the spot. Don’t count her out, that’s all I am saying.
And there we have it, the first three cards we have seen from the upcoming Hour of Devastation. What do you think of them? Will you want to put them into your standard deck? Do they have modern or legacy potential? Why not get in touch and give us your thoughts. Personal, I can’t wait to see what else we have to look forward to. So until next time Good Luck, and Have Fun.