Tuesday 20 June 2017

Hour of Devastation Initial Review Part III

Sunset Pyramid 2

Cheap to play and use compared to most other cards of this ilk such as Jayamdae Tome. Sadly, for some reason these kinds of cards have always been grossly over priced. Every colour has value in some shape or form so there shouldn't be that much of a premium for this kind of effect on a colourless card. To draw 3 cards with this you have to pay 8 mana and wait at least three turns. It is nice that you can spread the mana cost out but still, this is a very mana inefficient card for the effect. The scry is nice but even worse on the good value front. The only chance this has in the cube is in concert with artifact synergies. This does at least qualify as a cheap artifact and will therefore support other things pretty well. Too narrow for an unpowered cube but OK filler in a powered one.

Oketra's Last Mercy 1

After Bontu's card I was hoping this was a cycle and I was then hoping Oketra's would be essentially a Swords to Plowshares with the lands not untapping bit. That would have been very interesting. Oketra's Last Mercy isn't. Lifegain and nothing else on a three mana sorcery. No thanks. While this is awful and shouldn't feature in any drafting cube it is not quite as bad as it looks. It has some strong sideboard potential against burn decks for example. If you gain over 10 life in that matchup you are fairly OK with skipping your next turns casting. This is like an inverse Final Fortune, you kind of skip your next turn to have potentially many more turns after that! Mostly this is bad because mostly this doesn't do anything to stop the things that are killing you. Sure, gain yourself 15 life, I'll just carry on hitting you for 8 a turn and we will see how good your life gain card is. I guess I didn't really need to go on much about this card, if a three mana Wrath with this drawback isn't good then a lifegain spell with the same cost and drawback is looking very sad.

Pride Sovereign 1

To my surprise there are actually a number of decent white and green cats in the cube. When this reliably comes down as a 3/3 or bigger it starts to get decent. This is why I haven't just written this off, you could play this in a tribal cat deck. Such a deck would just be a quirky version of some better Selesnya list but it would be fun and different at least! While this card is ultimately good value on its own it is just painfully slow. It is a Grey Ogre for a turn most of the time and that is very bad. Then it is a pair of 1/1 lifelink cats for the next two turns. Finally after three turns of very low value and tempo you actually have a decent card and board. Your Pride Sovereign is a 4/4 and able to become a 6/6 at instant speed making more dorks and likely block as well. It is not unlike a Grave Titan once it has been around for a while. The thing is you might as well just make some more expensive card that isn't a risky play instead. Just play that Angel of Invention, Cloudgoat Ranger or Deranged Hermit! They might not come down sooner but they will absolutely be relevant sooner.

Mirage Mirror 6

This has a lot of cool uses. You can copy a Grim Monolith and generate mana without any untap issues which is my personal favourite! I fully anticipate this being a rules nightmare in multiple ways. By the looks of it you can stack the effect and do it again on something else. You could copy and Arcanis and the Grim Monolith and then Arcanis again and tap to draw three and then pay four to untap it with the last Arcanis copy still on the stack and then draw another three. This is a silly example but I am sure there are some more practical uses for it. Initially I thought this was awful. I already hate Clone effects and rarely play them myself. This is a Clone that is expensive and has an ongoing use cost. That sounds like piling bad upon bad. Upon deeper consideration however the things I mostly hate about Clones do not overly apply to this little card. You can just dump this down without any targets. It is a rare example of a proactive Clone that doesn't rely on you keeping something in play or making two things at once or your opponent having a worthy target. Once in play this is kind of dangerous and awkward to play around. I can give a lot of my cards pseudo-haste should I have the two mana spare afterwards. Any dork with a good on attack trigger works very nicely with this be that a Titan or a Hanwier Garrison. You don't have to commit either, you can jsut copy whatever is useful there and copy something better later on when siad better thing is in play. Other Clones you have to wait or get low value.

Just having this in play will be a little like having a Vedalken Shackles. It will prevent opponents from laying certain cards or playing a certain way. It is almost like a Spellskite, just a total ballache to play into. There is no way your opponent is Show and Telling in Emrakul if you have this in play as you will get the first attack. This is likely true of most top end stuff, no one wants to get hit by a Titan. The Mirror has all sorts of nice subtle things going on as well. You can just use it to colour fix. Pay 2, copy a land and then tap for a mana, the Mirror is always a Prophetic Prism! It is also one of those annoying threats that evades a lot of sorcery speed removal like vehicles and man lands. This is cheap, it has synergies, it is proactive, it is disruptive, it is threat diversification, it is utility, it basically has too much going for it for it not to work out well in cube. A cool an interesting card that seems pretty playable in most cube archetypes. I certainly like this more than Phyrexian Metamorph. Mirror might not be quite as powerful (it also might be!) as the Metamorph but it is substantially broader and more playable.

Ramunap Hydra 0

As a 5/5 this is pretty good but it isn't even close to the levels of good it would need to be to make deserts playable yet. This is just a dork, a slow conventional dork. It is like a very bad Baneslayer Angel. As a mostly Hill Giant card this isn't close to playable.

Scavenger Grounds 2

Mostly this is another Bojuka Bog. It is more expensive to use by a long old way but it comes in untapped, it can exile things at instant speed and it can be laid and used as a land before you need to exile stuff. This is a pretty narrow sideboard tool but I do expect it to see some play. It might even sneak in main in some lists when there is a known meta. Lots of good sideboard options in this set so far it seems.

Neheb, the Eternal 4

If you have Karakas in your cube this isn't playable. That applies to any legends that cost like 3 or more and don't have an immediate effect. Assuming you don't have Karakas Neheb starts to look rather interesting indeed. Big cards that can offer an immediate mana return (Nissa Worldwaker, Garruk Wilderspeaker, Teferi Temporal Archmage) are a lot more playable than comparable cards of the same price range. It is why Hour of Reckoning seems pretty good while Bontu's Last Reckoning seems pretty awful. Neheb is a five mana 4/6 that has some pseudo evasion in that he will always deal 3 or 4 per attack. That isn't bad, it is quite durable and relatively effective but as a top end cube threat that is a long way from being enough. This is OK because the interesting/powerful thing about Neheb is his potential to generate loads of mana, and with the right cards or board this can be done the same turn as making him. If you cast Neheb pre-combat and manage to get in for even a couple of damage them Neheb is much more like a three mana investment and is wildly more powerful. You can do some pretty bonkers things as well. Neheb can pretty easily generate mana rather than jsut getting a discoutn, lay him, in for a whole bunch and then perhaps throw a Fireblast at your face. Pay five mana, get a big old body and the best part of ten mana back! Turning all my Lightning Bolts into Dark Rituals sounds like a nice option to have. Neheb also does 3 or 4 mana himself when attacking, great if you can give him haste and not the worst if you just have him on the go.

This does all sounds massively fun and potentially broken but it has some issues. Red is not a colour that often wants to go long. It tends to play less in the way of mana sink cards than most other colours. With less demand there are just less of those kinds of cards in most cubes and that means it will be a lot harder to get Neheb performing as well as he could. Every now and again you mill make Neheb and then get to max level your Figure of Destniy or Kargan Dragonlord on the same turn and it will be great. What I expect to happen more is that Neheb will sit in hand as your last card for a few turns waiting for your fifth land. He will then come down and have basically no follow up with any mana you might generate will him. The more top end and sinks you play to empower him the less chances you have of being able to get good returns on mana with him. Presently I don't think red is setup such that this is something you are able to get much value from. I think you can force red more into that potential with cube design if you are so inclined. I also think red will eventually have some good and viable midrange options where it is the main or even only colour. When that day finally arrives there is a good chance Neheb will be a big name in that archetype. I want this to be good now and will absolutely be trying it out in the cube but my expectations are not super high.

The Locus God 2

Nice card but is it better than Keranos, Niz-Mizzet, Consecrated Sphinx, Inferno Titan etc? And even if it is, is it any more playable? Big gold things have to be really really above the curve or utterly unique and this is neither. I have no room for either Keranos or the Dracogenius which doesn't look great for the Locust God. Worst case scenario this is a bad Ephemeron. Not awful but pretty weak in power and tempo. Best case scenario you have a Jace or Dack in play and get to generate a swarm of hasting locusts for no mana cost. In that situation The Locust God is pretty spicy. It is all about the ability to make tokens, the more you can make immediately the better this is. If you are relying on the 4 mana loot then the card is very weak. The recursion on death is nice but not great. Lots of things exile or counter and even if they don't, having to repeatedly pay 6 mana for a 4/4 isn't winning many games. Draw is a lot weaker if you are holding it back till after you make your top end threat. Planeswalkers are the best thing to work with this but if you start your turn with a walker in play you are already winning. As such this is a bit of a win more card. It has quite a lot going on but needs too much supporting for my liking. A six mana gold card needs to be bonkers right away all on its own and this misses the mark.

Solemnity 1

Another lame white hoser card that can only be played in sideboards. There is every chance that there is or will be some combo with this but that isn't likely going to translate well into cube. I'm not even sure this is quick enough against infect for modern use as a sideboard tool. Infect isn't a thing in cubes. It doesn't do enough to be something you would bring in against affinity (in any format) either. One to watch but a pretty limp card from a cube perspective.

Freying Sanity 4

This is a very high powered mill card. It is able to be so powerful as you need to support it before it is doing enough. If this is just milling them for one a turn when they cast a spell or use a sac land or eat a removal spell then this is a poor card. If however you lay this after a Mesmeric Orb or perhaps follow this up with a Glimpse the Unthinkable then it is going to be doing a lot of work. It is like a Furnace of Wrath for mill but a lot better as it is cheaper and gets some value out of them just doing stuff. This is both a mill tool and a way of empowering your other mill cards, it is like a mill lord! With this you should be able to reduce how many resources (cards and mana) you invest in winning and as such will be able to include more stuff to increase consistency and survivability. I think this will be oppressive in cube mill decks and it might even be powerful enough to enable some 60 card mill decks, likely standard but I wouldn't be shocked to see a modern mill deck one day. I don't like powerful mill cards, mill isn't a fun game to play and mill is substantially more powerful in cube than anywhere else. This is a good card but in only one place and that isn't a good place to have more good cards. Thankfully most people don't run mill stuff in their cubes so we won't have to see too much of this. If you run mill themes in your cube then run this too, if not don't. Simple at least.

Swarm Intelligence 0

Seven mana... Why even print this? Commander I guess but then stick it in those sets. Yeah, so either play affordable card draw or play a seven mana card that wins the game and don't play this. If you really must then play Twincast or Fork but don't do that either.


  1. Will you review the Ixalan Spoilers?

    1. I've been thinking about that too. I certainly will but it might not end up being that much ahead of time as my focus is on Hour of Devastation, then Commander 2017 and only then Ixalan stuff.