Hour of Devastation: First Impressions

The last year or so has been a pretty good time to be playing EDH. Lots of new cards tailored for our format, from giant monsters, to big silly spells, and everything in between.

Now, spoilers have started for the next set, Hour of Devastation, the sequel to the Egypt-themed Amonkhet. Will this set continue Wizards’ strong run of good multiplayer sets?

Let’s take a quick look!

What a time it is to be an EDH Magic player.

Last year, 2016, was an excellent year for EDH and multiplayer Magic, as we were given a lot of fun, shiny toys to play with. We started the year with Oath of the Gatewatch, which was the second Battle for Zendikar set and introduced Eldrazi that broke multiple formats. Zendikar II block did have lots of fun multiplayer cards in it, such as Zendikar Resurgent, and was fairly good to all of my EDH decks. Next, we had the latest “sequel to this plane” nostalgia set, Shadows Over Innistrad and its expansion Eldrich Moon, which had even more big bad Eldrazi, tons of flavorful cards, and great utility cards. Over the summer, we were treated to Conspiracy: Take the Crown, which was absolutely one of my favorite Limited sets to draft of all time, and added a lot of awesome generals to EDH like Queen Marchesa. From there, we had Kaladesh, a bright and hopeful new set, just chock-full of fantastic new multiplayer cards like the amazing Panharmonicon. The Commander 2016 set of pre-constructed decks came out, which had 50+ excellent new cards and finally(!) four-color generals in them.

Then this year, we’ve been getting some great Magic sets as well. Aether Revolt had lots of great multiplayer cards in it, like Metallic Mimic, one of the best tribal enablers ever. This was followed by reprint set Modern Masters 2017, which had lots of great reprints in it. Finally, Wizards released the Egypt-themed set Amonkhet, which again, had a ton of great multiplayer cards, like new general Hapatra, Vizier of Poison and Dusk // Dawn.

Basically, 2016 was an awesome year for EDH, and multiplayer Magic in general, and it looks like 2017 is going to be the same, especially with all the new shiny things Wizards has announced! Wizards has been dropping a ton of exciting MTG news on us over the past while, and it is an amazing time to be playing the game, really.

So spoilers have started for Hour of Devastation, the second set in the Egypt-themed Amonkhet block, and so far, it seems pretty sweet. To no one’s surprise, we have a new version of Nicol Bolas, who has been running the show; lots of planeswalker-specific hosers that let you wreck Gideon, Jace, Nissa, etc (basically, showing that Nicol Bolas kicks their ass), and lots of cool and fun new cards.

Let’s take a look.

THE MANY FACES OF VILLAINY:
As all planeswalkers do now with each set, Nicol Bolas gets not one, but two versions of himself re-immortalized in cardboard to kick ass with. And both versions are super sweet!

The first Nicol Bolas, Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh, lets you steal cards from an opponent’s deck, exiles cards from each opponent’s hand, deals 7 damage, and has a sick board wipe as an ultimate. I’ll be honest, this is a silly planeswalker for EDH; his “+1: Each opponent exiles two cards from their hand” is bananas, and if you can protect him for any length of time, he’ll just grind each opponent out of cards in hand.

This planeswalker is one of those cards that is just obviously powerful, but I don’t see it as being too powerful for EDH. In Commander and multiplayer in general, if something becomes too big a threat, the other players at the table will gang up to remove it. As such, I can see this Bolas being a pain for a few turns, but he will eventually get his ass kicked.

Still, this is an awesomely powerful planeswalker for EDH (just as Nicol Bolas should be).

The second version of Nicol Bolas is from the Planeswalker decks, and I like this version much better for EDH, if I’m being honest. His first ability will likely only drain players for 3 life each turn, which is perfectly fair. His middle ability is awesome, and my favorite part of this card: “-3: Kill a creature, draw a card” is fantastic, and it costs enough to use that players won’t just kill him off out of hand for being too powerful. I can’t see his ultimate ability ever working, but I do like anything that says “draw seven cards”, so there’s that.

Basically, I see intro deck Nicol Bolas as the safer version for Commander. He kills dudes, he draws cards, but he doesn’t grind your hand away, making him much safer to play and play against.

Both versions are great, though.

Planeswalker deck Nissa is the other planeswalker that’s been spoiled, and I do actually like her a lot for a very specific deck — Xenagos, God of Revels.

In Xenagos, her “-3: Target creature gets +5/+5” ability should end up being a huge boost (especially when you can double the boost thanks to Xenagos), so this is another intro deck ‘walker that I really like.

So, the planeswalkers this time around are pretty good. What else does this set have in store for us?

MONO-COLOR CYCLING DESERTS:
One thing I always pay attention to with new sets is to see what new lands we are getting for EDH. Manabases are the building blocks of your EDH deck, and if you don’t build them right, you can’t cast your spells.

I’ve always liked the older cycling lands, from Polluted Mire to Barren Moor, and to get a new cycle of these is sweet. Most of my mono-color decks have two of these cycling lands already (the ones in their color); this gives decks more options in the lategame, and so I definitely love seeing another cycle.

As an avid player of The Gitrog Monster, I must also say that another cycle of cycling lands is more than welcome for that deck! (Now if we could only get the G/B cycling dual land spoiled too, ie. Fetid Pools, that would be even better for the Frog Horror!)

I definitely like that these are Deserts. When Shefet Monitor was first spoiled, I was hoping we would see a bunch of sweet Deserts for him to fetch, and I’m glad they’ve continued giving us even more options.

I don’t play Modern, but it’s worth mentioning that this cycle of lands could actually cause a new deck to rise up, with these, and Life from the Loam. It’ll be interesting to see if that happens.

This is quietly a very exciting cycle of lands for EDH, and Magic in general, and I like them a lot.

And hey, speaking of The Gitrog Monster

A SECOND CRUCIBLE:
For most players, a second copy of older card Crucible of Worlds isn’t really a big deal. If you have the first one, you never need the second, and vice versa. However, for an EDH player? Getting a second copy of an awesome card for your EDH deck is a bit like a Christmas present (since it increases your chances to draw one), and I am definitely looking forward to adding this into The Gitrog Monster, where it’ll be sweet.

Best of all, it doesn’t have Crucible’s absurd price tag, so anyone can play this!

I definitely approve of this card, and think it’ll end up being sweet in EDH for Gitrog players, or players of Omnath, Locus of Rage or Borborygmos Enraged. This is a great pseudo-reprint.

MORE GODS:
From the minute it was spoiled in the story that there were some Amonkhet Gods that existed, but weren’t in the Amonkhet set, I knew we’d be getting more Gods in Hour of Devastation. The Scorpion God is a cool way to kick off the new Gods, giving R/B a general with a theme to build around (-1/-1 counters).

Personally, I’m a much bigger fan of Amonkhet’s general Hapatra, Vizier of Poison for this theme, since I like how she interacts with -1/-1 counters better than this guy, but I do like that Wizards has branched out the -1/-1 counter theme to other two color pairs to give us multiple generals for EDH.

Unsurprisingly, this guy is good with cards like Black Sun’s Zenith, Crumbling Ashes, Liliana, Death Wielder, Necroskitter, and anything else from Amonkhet/Shadowmoor block that mentions -1/-1 counters. Heck, he makes me want to dig out my Kulrath Knights, which is a card I haven’t played in seven years or so!

This guy is interesting, and a great way to show the first of the new Gods. (Also interesting to note that we’re getting closer and closer to being able to do a God tribal deck!)

TWO GREAT SWEEPER SPELLS:
I’ve always been a fan of Wrath of God effects in multiplayer. Boards tend to get clogged with permanents, and very often, the only thing that will fix things is to sweep everything away so you can build up again.

These two are very interesting, and powerful, Wrath effects, and I really like what each one does for EDH.

Of the two, I am a huge fan of Hour of Revelation, as I have a feeling that the mana discount is going to be pretty much always on in EDH (so it’ll be a Planar Cleansing that costs a mere WWW, which is crazy). I’ve always liked the mass sweeping power of Planar Cleansing, so to get another copy that is a strict upgrade is an unlooked-for gift. I’ll be slotting this into my more controlling white decks, and I expect it will be excellent.

I am of two minds with the black Wrath. A Wrath that costs three is a big deal, letting you sweep the board, then drop a creature to follow up with… not having your lands untap the next turn is a big drawback though, a very big drawback, essentially giving the other players at the table a turn to rebuild without you. I like this card, but I feel too often that the drawback will end up killing the player casting it.

Having said that, I plan to experiment with both these cards, as they are very interesting and cool sweepers.

VERY COOL UNCOMMONS:
I’ve always been a fan of sets that have useful commons and uncommons, and sets where the power level is not just spread out among the rares and mythic rares. It is thus good to see some powerful uncommons in this set, and I really hope these are just the tip of the iceberg here.

Also worth mentioning, I’m a sucker for modal spells, so I would have mentioned these no matter what. I can’t guarantee that either one is good enough for EDH, but I can say that I adore the design here.

(I’ve honestly been thinking of doing a “modal spell Cube”, where every card has multiple choices to it, and I know these would find a home in that Cube!)

Thus far, Hour of Devastation is a sweet set for EDH (and Wizards has only barely scratched the surface so far with spoilers!) We have some playable planeswalkers, cycling lands, more Gods, and great spells. This should be a fun spoiler season, and I for one am very much looking forward to seeing Nicol Bolas return and kick some ass!

 

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