Wednesday 28 June 2017

Hour of Devastation Initial Review Part VI

Hollow One 3

This is rather like a Myr Enforcer, arguably a more widely playable and higher power one at that. You can play this turn two with nothing more than a Careful Study or Faithless Looting to turn it on. The issue this card has is much like the Ammit. You get a potentially undercost fatty for some minor inconveniences. That is a problem because you rarely want just a fatty in cube. By the time most things are big enough to be considered a fatty in cube you need trample or some other evasion to make them all that useful. At 5 mana this is terrible. At 3 is it OK but far from exciting. It is not until this is 1 or less that it really stands out in the cube. While Hollow One is just a vanilla dork and doesn't have the -1/-1 counters drawback of the Ammit it has a different kind of awkwardness in regards its value at different costs. As this is only good at one or less mana you have to support it heavily. Big vanilla dorks that require support from your build are either overly narrow or simply not worth it. The only time this would see play is if a deck that contained loads of discard (and I guess cycling although even a cycle for one mana only reduces the cost of this by one rather than the two from a discard, which can often be done for zero mana) that also wanted efficient creatures. That is probably only some kind of madness deck as all the other decks with high discard outlet numbers are combo decks and have little need of a vanilla 4/4. This is either too narrow or too low powered for the main cube although at least it isn't both. Nice card though and one that could well find a couple of homes even if they are only constructed cube archetypes.

Shefet Dune 3
Ipnu Rivulet 3
Ifnir Dreadlands 2
Ramunap Ruins 4
Hashep Oasis 1

I have always wanted to see more coloured utility lands with pain costs rather than coming into play tapped ones. While I like what has been done here I don't think these pack enough punch or offer the kind of thing I am after to make a main cube entry. The ability to combine these with other deserts, deserts matter, or desert supporting cards is nice and will have good limited and standard applications. Overall it felt like all the desert stuff was too fair to make significant waves in other formats. Perhaps we will see a total bomb that will be enough to carry a desert theme but it seems pretty unlikely at this stage. As such these cards will have to find homes on their own merit rather than being carried by synergies. So let us take a look at where you might want such cards. One thing I did just realize is that these are basically dual lands when playing a lot of the BfZ Eldrazi cards. In a list with a lot of cards wanting colourless mana these lands rise a good chunk in value. Narrow bonus application but not irrelevant.

The Dunes offer one turn of Glorious Anthem for five mana and a sacrificed land. This is only something you would play in a deck going very wide which is something white does fairly well and not too infrequently. My gut is that if I really wanted something like this I would look to Gavony Township first. If I really couldn't afford that colourless land or the green splash then I probably play this but it likely adds very little to the overall power of the deck. For five mana this effect is pretty marginal. You are probably only popping this when it allows you to alpha strike or perhaps take out a planeswalker. As you will be playing an aggressive deck including this costs you almost nothing, you just might as well if you can. While that should make it an auto include in most white tokens decks I still don't think it is enough for playing this in your drafting cube. The card is narrow and very underwhelming. No one is ever picking this over a proper card as this is so utterly replaceable with a Plains. It will be a last pick far too often and barely ever get taken in the first go round. Such cards lower the draft experience. In constructed this has no cost but in draft it has a more significant cost and will lower the consistency and power of your cube.

The Rivulet is narrower than the Dunes but it is probably more powerful. While you could play this to enable some of your own synergies I think sacrificing a land as part of a setup is too much to make that good ever. The only place I see this is in a mill deck, likely a more rush mill than a control one but viable in either. Nephalia Drownyard is likely more desirable in control for the repeat uses. Four mill is a lot in cube and having access to it for 3 mana and basically no other cost to your deck at all will just give that little bit of extra gas and wiggle room to the mill decks. They don't really need any further love as they are somewhat over powered in cube already.

Dreadlands seems like it is the best of the black removal lands on offer. It is cheaper than Blighted Fen and doesn't have the issue of only producing colourless. Cabal Pit is perhaps more cost effective removal but it is a little unreliable with the threshold and incredibly painful to use as a mana source. The Dreadlands is comfortable and convenient. It is low key removal at a high cost but it is again, a pretty free inclusion. The previous two lands of this cycle both had obvious homes while this more rounded offering doesn't. You could play it in aggressive decks just to give you some extra options and late game gas. You could also play it in a midrange deck although the land loss would be a bigger concern there. Quirky land themed decks may well want this as a more readily usable source of removal but such decks are rarely seen in cube and are typically uncatered for in draft. The issue I fear for Dreadlands is that it is such a generic thing at such a high cost for the effect that I think alternate late game action and mana dumps will be far more desirable. By the time this is online it isn't going to be enough to tip the tide of battle for the aggressive deck, they will be better off going all in on a level up guy or digging with a Faithless Looting Flashback than using this. Generally this won't hurt much as an option but I don't see it being relevant enough to even offset the minor cost of playing this. Certainly this is like the others in that is it too costly on drafts to be worth including in cubes but I am not even sure how much this will get used in constructed events.

Ramunap Ruins is the clear winner of this cycle and is very close to an auto include in RDW. The only reason you wouldn't play this is if you were somehow worried about your mountain count for Fireblast and Lava Dart. Seems unlikely. This is less painful to include than Barbarian Ring not just for the significant life loss difference they will incur but also because it won't have negative synergy with flashback, delve and Grim Lavamancer. It is a lot more mana to activate and can't hit dorks which does make it rather less useful during the game. At the end of the game they are doing very much the same thing, just being an extra two damage you can send at face without needing to draw more cards. A lot of RDW games come down to drawing into burn when everything else is spent and cards like this help a good amount. The convenience, low cost and being spot on theme wise ensure this will see plenty of play despite the fact I don't even think I will put this one in the cube. There just isn't room for marginal free garnish cards. RDW is plenty good without this, I don't need to hurt the whole cube just to polish a single archetype. My normal rule is that any tier one archetypal auto include is a card I will add to the cube but I think it is time to revisit that rule now that the cube is so chock full.

The poor Oasis seems like the turd of the group. Pump is made much weaker when restricted to sorcery speed. The white one has inherent scaling options somewhat mitigating that. This one can only scale with some ability on a dork. Gaining 3 life with this because I pumped a dork with lifelink really doesn't excite me at all. This might be a bit of OK reach in an aggressive green deck but such things are rarely just green. The kinds of decks that could run this will actually find it somewhat of a cost, either wanting basic lands or more dual lands. Treetop Village is often left in the sidelines now due to need of basics and duals. Although the Village comes in tapped it is substantially more powerful than this Oasis. I don't ever see myself playing this before a Village, to be honest I just don't ever see myself playing this.

Maw of Chaos 0

Too pricey to hard cast and not exciting enough to cheat in. There are far far better bodies kicking around and far better ways of dealing with lots of dorks in play, be that with a big dork or not. Even Crater Hellion outperforms this in many of the places you might play such a thing. Magma Giant never saw play, this has not power crept enough from the Giant compared to cube creature power creep in that time frame so this shouldn't either.

Hour of Promise 0

Even if this didn't need the massive desert synergy it just isn't enough. Ramp for five mana isn't exciting, this is only good if it is getting good utility lands. A pair of 2/2s is fine, it is reasonable value at that point but it isn't presented in a good package, it has no real self synergy. There are better ways to ramp, better ways to find non-basics and better ways to develop a board. This is a long long way off a Primeval Titan.

Imminent Doom 3

Well this is a fun card. It is actually pretty decent value pretty quickly. Most red decks will easily be able to milk this for an Arc Trail. it will eventually be a Lightning Bolt as well and might even get in a Fireblast. Value isn't the problem for this, the issues are being a weak late game top deck and for generally being slow. You need six or more damage from this to be good and that means best case scenario you have to get to turn five for this to ever be good. This is too reliant on being cast on turn three, not to mention actually having the right curve in the right order. The extreme upper end on this does give it some mild potential in a deck with tutors so as to have it reliably early. Still very niche and perhaps too much effort for the return. Due to the support it needs it seems like it would be best in some slow Season's Past style control deck but you could conceivably play it in a number of places. Damage is just a potent versatile tool. This offers a solid amount of it over time for a very low mana cost. This feels like the red As Fortold. It is certainly more playable but sadly still not quite enough I think. Cards need to stand alone better than this to have much impact in cube.

Endless Sands 0

This is quite the upgrade to Safe Haven! Mostly due to tapping for mana but the ability to return the things at any time, even if it costs a lot more mana, is a nice bonus too. Far too expensive to use to great effect in cube and generally not close to powerful enough to get played in a rare colourless land slot. I am sure this will be fun in limited but we will need to see yet more substantial improvements to this before it is viable.

Razaketh's Ritual 2.5

Diabolic Tutor isn't playable in my cube, even the unpowered one. A mana more seems like quite a stretch. It feels like if you play this then you will cycle it most of the time. In that capacity I feel like Scarab Feast would be a better addition to the cube... It has to be very late game or at least a rare game state where you can use this as a tutor sensibly. Perhaps this is viable in a ritual storm build using Yawgmoth's Will. Perhaps this is playable in a very grindy Seasons Past style control deck. Perhaps you just run this in a cycling themed deck with black in it just because it is a cheap cycler! This is actually quite a lot like the pain deserts I reviewed in this section. Playing this doesn't hurt you very much at all but the potential gains you get from it are so low on average that even if it is viable in a couple of drafting cube archetypes (which I rather doubt) it isn't worth a slot in the drafting cube.

Consign / Oblivion 3

Front end this is actually better than Cyclonic Rift which is the best performing bounce spell in cube. It is as good as an Into the Roil which was the card that proceeded the Rift. Consign is absolutely playable as it is and needs little more to push it into the realms of good. Sadly I am not sure Oblivion is that thing. Mind Rot for two more mana is a very bad deal. It will be late enough against a lot of decks to be irrelevant and is so very costly that it will likely put you behind even when you hit good off it. The real issue is that this is black making this a gold card. If the aftermath on this card was of comparable power or utility to Oblivion but a blue card (and obviously cost) then I would be all over this. Bounce anything early, disrupt and stay in the game and then have value and/or further disruption sitting there in the bin waiting until you need it. All very appealing. Very playable but not overly powerful. Like so many cards from this set, I can see decks where it would be a fine card and do what you want but the average case will be this just not getting picked or played. This is a card with homes but a card too lacking in power and playability to get near the cube. One thing I do like about this is the ability to fire this off with a Torrential Gearhulk. Cute, but hardly the most busted thing to do with the Gearhulk.

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