Prid3's Hour of Devastation Multiplayer Set Review
Introductions and Explanations Who Am I?
Greetings fellow multiplayer enthusiasts. My name is Kyle "Prid3" Brecht and at the time of writing this I'm a 15+ year MTG veteran who's been playing and following the game competitively (across all relevant duel formats) for well over a decade. That being said whereas most Magic players spend the vast majority of their recreational time dueling/drafting/testing the bulk of my personal playtime has been spent at kitchen tables slinging spells in large multiplayer matches with my friends, family and acquaintances. Be it Cube, Constructed and/or EDH I've literally played tens of thousands of hours of multiplayer Magic in my lifetime and so I consider myself to be an expert on the subject as a whole. With that in mind I'd like to offer you my take on how Magic's latest set will affect the global multiplayer scene as a whole. That is, unlike similar set reviews this one is going to be purely focused on multiplayer formats and dynamics with absolutely no emphasis on duel and/or limited Magic. While I understand that this sort of content won't appeal to everyone it's my belief that multiplayer Magic is played by a relatively high % of the casual MTG playerbase and so it's my hope that most of you will be able to extract meaningful value from my expertise.
I'm a fiercely competitive player and my set reviews are going to reflect that. That is to say that this is largely going to be a competitive multiplayer set review and so don’t expect me to put any emphasis on subjective measures such as fun factor, flavor nor self-imposed restrictions. While I recognize that terms such as "casual" and "competitive" carry many negative stigmas in the MTG community rest assured that I don’t use either maliciously. As far as I'm concerned it's a simple matter of mindset and how players approach the game from a mental perspective. "Competitive" Magic players such as myself typically build decks with the goal of maximizing our overall match win % given an expected metagame. "Casual" players on the other hand tend to consider a wide variety of variables and factors beyond winning alone. Clearly it's an entire spectrum as opposed to a set of binary data points but the key thing that I wanted to stress is that these terms have absolutely no bearing on a person’s worth nor morality. That is, no one is inherently better or worse than anyone else for thinking about a game in a different way. The only reason why I’m going to focus entirely on "what wins games of Magic" is because every other variable is too subjective to make any definitive, sweeping claims about. That being said all other things being equal we'd all rather win games than lose them.
Grading Scale: A: Oppressive cards that completely warp the game around them. These are format definers that dominate games in which they're left unchecked and crush adversaries who aren't employing similarly powered strategies. This makes them must-have competitive staples with limitless potential. Think Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Humility, Consecrated Sphinx, Sylvan Primordial, Purphoros, God of the Forge. B: Formidable cards that will enable you to pull ahead of the pack. Winning decks should be clamoring to field them as they figure to significantly improve your overall win %. This makes them top-priority acquisition targets for players of all skill-levels. Think Grave Pact, Rolling Earthquake, Wrath of God, Recurring Insight, Tendershoot Dryad. C: Powerful cards that will enable you to keep pace with the rest of the field. A list full of C's won't crush a table but a solid foundation of them should be good enough to keep you competitive. Think Fleshbag Marauder, Clever Impersonator, Scab-Clan Berserker, Realm Seekers, Oreskos Explorer. D: Marginal playables with which to flesh out your lists in the absence of reasonable alternatives. I strongly encourage that you enlist substitutes if it's a realistic option since they're unlikely to yield impressive win %s. F: Weak cards that shouldn't be played. Niche: Immensely powerful-yet-narrow cards that are Bs/As in decks that actively want them and Fs/Ds everywhere else. Think Waste Not, Repercussion, Limited Resources, Intruder Alarm, Oath of Druids. Sideboard: Tremendously powerful-yet-niche cards that you shouldn't maindeck against unknown adversaries but that have competitive applications in known metagames with clearly defined threats and strategies. Think Dystopia, Energy Flux, Compost, Stony Silence, Ruination. +/-: Used to denote a better or worse N. That is, a B+ represents a strong B whereas C- implies a weak C.
While this is arguably a reasonable 4 drop for Blink-based builds it pales in comparison to alternatives such as Eldrazi Displacer, Panharmonicon, Restoration Angel and Brago, King Eternal. I also dislike these "Faceless Butcher" style threats in multiplayer given their extremely vulnerability to sweepers and other forms of miscellaneous interaction. After all, if someone casts a sweeper then that key threat returns directly to play on an otherwise empty board. There's just not enough going with this thing to pique my interest.
Grade: Niche C
This card is reasonably powerful in Soul Sisters style builds that feature a critical mass of cards like Soul Warden, Soul's Attendant and Authority of the Consuls. Left unchecked it will quickly end games on its own by spewing out a massive army of 5/5s in a small number of circuits. Your ideal use-case typically involves jamming one with a Soul Sister already in play so that you can immediately generate a 5/5 at EOT. That way even if someone untaps and Wraths the board you'll still have a 5/5 to show for your trouble. Otherwise maybe look top pair it with Phyrexian Metamorph for the "all indestructible all the time" combo and/or Ranger of Eos to ensure a steady stream of Soul Sisters as the game progresses. Clearly it will never supplant oppressive closers such as Test of Endurance, Aetherflux Reservoir and/or Felidar Sovereign but assuming that you want to win "the fair way" this is one of your best bets.
Wait, what? 3 mana destroy all permanents? Am I reading this right? Holy Hannah Montana Wizards O.O! Planar Cleansing is already extremely competitive at 6 CMC and the prospect of jamming it for 3 mana is absurd. This card literally destroys the everything and the only thing that it asks in return is that you play a boat-load of White mana. DEAL! This is going to be an instant monowhite staple moving forward and will revitalize the "Serenity" archetype that forgoes playing Artifacts/Enchantments so that it can field oppressive forms of mass removal. After all, it's trivially easy to win with things like Emeria, the Sky Ruin and/or Approach of the Second Sun so by no means do you need to have a ton of permanents in your builds. Rather, you can just field endless quantities of mass removal and simply chain Approaches until you win.
Beyond that it's also bonkers in Control decks given that it enables you to keep up a ton of mana for permission/draw spells/threats while still clearing the entire board. There's no better feeling than following up mass removal with Luminarch Ascension while still holding up things like Counterspell and/or Fact or Fiction. You basically get to have you cake and eat it too since mana stops feeling like a major bottle-neck. The card is utterly bonkers in that sense which is why I expect it to be a staple moving forward.
Grade: Niche C
While I typically don't emphasize EDH in my reviews I've been wildly impressed with this card in that format. Not because lifegain is inherently good, but because cards like Necropotence, Ad Nauseam and Necrologia are extremely broken. Even in my casual decks that don't include any infinite combos whatsoever I often find myself tutoring for Necrologia, drawing 30 cards and then either casting Children of Korlis immediately (off of Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox, Mox Diamond, etc.) or Oketra's Last Mercy on the following turn to jump back up to 40. As long as you have access to Reliquary Tower or Thought Vessel you get to keep everything and even if you don't discarding cards is wholly irrelevant when you're playing with all of the oppressive mass revival engines. This is how I like to play EDH (my other favorite deck is Demonic Tutor + Seasons Past control) because I basically just want to draw my deck and play with it every game. I don't care what my actual gameplan is, I just want to ensure that I'm never bottle-necked by resources other than mana.
I'm giving this card an B not for being the most oppressive combo enabler of all time but rather for enabling such a vast quantity of unfair combos. A small handful include Dark Depths, Mystic Remora, Phyrexian Unlife, Persist, Undying, Decree of Silence, on and on and on. For the Persist/Undying the idea here is to pair them with a sac outlet such as Viscera Seer to stack your deck, drain your opponents for infinite life, gain infinite life, whatever. Most of us already know how the Melira, Sylvok Outcast combos work by now so I'm not going to waste more time explaining it. Again, the idea here is that while none of these combos are new or oppressive it enables far too many to overlook. These decks become more powerful and more consistent as Wizards prints redundant alternatives to the key enablers which is why they have so much more potential than new, standalone versions. After all, reinventing the wheel is an arduous process at best but anyone can jam a clock on a toaster and see an improvement to already functional device.
I'm always fond of cheap creatures that you can blindly cast on-curve and still extract maximum value from them. This is a perfect example of something you can plop down on turn 3 to threaten blocks, smooth your draws and start filling your GY for things like Accumulated Knowledge, Animate Dead, Rally the Ancestors, Forbidden Alchemy, Mystical Teachings, Vizier of Many Faces, Living Death and Dig Through Time. Moreover, while it offers less immediate value than alternatives such as Sea Gate Oracle and/or Trophy Mage it compensates by being a reasonable lategame threat. Whereas none of those other cards are even remotely exciting to jam on turn ~10 the fact that you can flash Champion of Wits back as a "Sphinx of Uthuun" ensures that it's always a relevant draw. Ultimately it's not bomby 3 drop by any means but there's more than enough going on here to justify acquiring and playing them in virtually any deck that even remotely cares about its graveyard.
This is a playable 1-of in ETB decks that feature things like Sea Gate Oracle, Mulldrifter, Archaeomancer, Peregrine Drake, Diluvian Primordial etc. The primary interaction that interests me is the combo with "Archaeomancers" which, while not infinite, is still fairly absurd in practice. The idea here is to convert your anemic dorks into legitimate threats as the game progresses given that it's trivially easy to generate large sums of mana in this style of deck. My versions often seek to pair Panharmonicon with Peregrine Drake which is already 10 mana in-of-itself and that's excluding any of the Cloudpost/Glimmerpost shenanigans that you can easily include. Even if you ignore all big mana tactics casting this to recur 1-2 threats and buying it back with an Archaeomancer only to repeat the process on 2-3 others is still a fantastic way to close games out. Your 1/3s, 2/2s and 2/3 will struggle to seal the deal otherwise which makes this important than it otherwise sounds. Again, it's not a bomb and you wouldn't want to run more than 1-2 but it's a reasonable way to close games out.
Grade: Niche C
This is an extremely relevant threat for "Living Death" archetypes given that it's a 1 CMC cycler than's both big and resilient. Note that I use the term "Living Death" loosely in this context and I'm merely referring to any mass resurrection strategy. I really don't care how you plan on recurring this thing because even if it's just turn 1 cycle, turn 2 Animate Dead that's still netting you a 5/5 Hexproof for 2 mana and 1 card (the cycle replaces itself). Otherwise you can employ the As Foretold + Living End combo or even good old fashioning Living Death itself. That being said this wouldn't be my go-to Reanimator target by any means which is why I'm mostly thinking about is as a "Living Death" threat for builds that feature plenty of mass recursion. At 1 CMC it's trivially easy to cycle a large number of these before going off with your massive swing turns and so that's where it'll shine.
This is legitimately one of the most powerful Counterspells on the market for casual, budget-minded players. After all, not only does it function as reliable form of permission but it also doubles as a powerful form of card selection. Since it's an instant you can easily sit on the card, see what your adversaries do, and then cast whichever mode will serve you best. While both modes are slightly overcosted the added utility is definitely worth the investment because it ensures that you'll always have uses for your cards and mana. I'm a bug fan of running of to 10% of my total size as permission spells (4 in Limited, 6 in Constructed, 10 in EDH) but I prefer to field a good mix of cards like Dismiss in additional to things like Swan Song and Counterspell. That way I'm never stuck with a hand full of 1-for-1s that I'm struggling to find uses for. Clearly this isn't a card that you'd want to field as a 4-of, I'm thinking 1-2 tops, but I can definitely get behind the first in any Blue deck.
Even as someone who routinely sits down with objectively weak EDH decks in casual spheres I've still never been impressed with win-more finishers such as these. That is, I've built and played with cards like Cast Through Time countless times and it's never even come close to impressing me. In practice you virtually never find the time to deploy them and even when you do they rarely justify the investment. After all, even when they don't die to removal (at no benefit) they still require that you cast a slew of spells that meaningfully benefit from being doubled. I'm sure that it's possible but heck if I've ever seen that happen.
Don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly content to play a game of Magic and lose to luck/variance/deckbuilding/whatever. I couldn't care less at this point. My problem is that I've literally never seen these types of cards earn their keep. That is, in all my years of playing multiplayer Magic I've never once managed to pair oh, say, Grave Betrayal with Damnation and proceed to win the game. Not once. I either don't get to cast it and win/lose or I do manage to cast it and I still lose. This is why I've basically stopped playing these types of cards altogether and why I can't muster any excitement for these types of spells and effects.
(Note: I'm going to purposely ignore Consecrated Sphinx because it's expensive, not because I'm an idiot.)
Even if you ignore the cost reduction mechanic entirely this is still a reasonable 6 drop for basically any Blue deck given that it offers a relevant body, some card advantage and some self-mill. Feel free to re-read my review for Champion of Wits if you want to see why last part is relevant because I'm not going to rehash my entire spiel again. That being said if you do opt to field this as a your 6 drop then Sphinx of Uthuun starts to look fairly compelling at 7 CMC, especially if you want to protect your finishers with permission such as Counterspell. I'm also a huge fan of Sphinx of Lost Truths as a 5 drop that doubles as a 7 drop in these blink-based builds which is even more reason to invest in the Sphinx-based cost reduction. It's entirely possible that I'm overlooking other Sphinxes but those are the main ones that come to mind (unless you count Windreader Sphinx).
Putting all of these synergies aside you can blindly jam one of these into any Blue deck as a generic "Titan" given that it's essentially an upgraded version of Mulldrifter. In that sense you don't actually have to build around it any way, shape or form to make it a playable threat. Clearly we're not looking at the next Consecrated Sphinx or Nezahal, Primal Tide but it gets the job done.
Without delving too deep into the math I hope that it's obvious as to why "skip your next turn" is a heinous drawback in a multiplayer setting. After all, (assuming a 4 player game) if you're only taking 1 "real" turn out of 8 then that's a ton of time spent not playing the game. This weakness is exacerbated by the fact that mass removal doesn't actually win games. Rather, it merely prevents you from losing them in the short run which isn't saying very much when you're waiting 7 turns to start playing again. Perhaps if Black didn't have access to vastly superior alternatives (such as Toxic Deluge and Damnation) it would be worthwhile to discuss Bontu's Last Reckoning's multiplayer applications but realistically this isn't a card that you should be playing. Running one out of desperation seems passable but even then I'd still recommend making efforts to secure playable alternatives instead.
When I started writing my review for Razaketh I kinda just kept going and going and, well, I kinda just never stopped. I'm too proud to delete all of my hard work but for the sake of my readers I'm going to give you the truncated version and let you decide if you care enough to read on. With that in mind Razaketh is Griselbrand levels of broken and has quickly become a de facto finisher in my Black decks. I can't even qualify that with Reanimator/Ramp/Control/Prison/Pox/Midrange decks because it's legitimately all of them. Insofar as your deck has "creatures" and "Black mana" he's one of the most stupidly oppressive cards that you could possibly play and it doesn't matter if you're Animate Deading him on turn 2, Crypt Ghasting on turn 5 or even Swamping him on turn 8 because he's good enough to field regardless of how you're going about it.
After all, once he's in play you essentially get to cheat and draw whatever you want, whenever you want, as much as you want. The sad part is that statement is only slightly hyperbolic because that's honestly what it feels like when you play with and against him. People try to kill him? Not of this World and spank it. Low on creatures? Life // Death an army for 1 mana. Mass removal beating you down? Grab Living Death and enough "Duresses/Defense Grids" to force it through permission. Low on life? Aetherflux Reservoir and Gray Merchant of Asphodel say "hi." It's absolutely bonkers and wildly fun to play with because the rules no longer apply to you. Removal, protection, recursion, finishers, 2-card combos, the world is your oyster when there's a Razaketh in play. He's going to be an oppressive staple for years to come and so I highly recommend acquiring some before he inevitably increase in price.
The biggest problem that conditional cards face in Modern day Magic is the throng of oppressive alternatives that get printed without any meaningful costs or stipulations. After all, why jump through hoops to make something work when you can blindly jam things like Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Inferno Titan and Sylvan Primordial that don't give a damn what you have or haven't done to support them? This is why I'm so excited to see Razaketh, the Foulblooded because he's a card legitimately worth jumping through hoops for. Let's start from the top.
First, Razaketh, the Foulblooded is legitimately one of the best creatures to be casting regardless of how you're doing it and what your strategy is. As much as I love playing Reanimator and curving turn 1 Putrid Imp into turn 2 Animate Dead on Razaketh, the Foulblooded I'm still plenty happy to ramp him out with things like Cabal Coffers, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Worn Powerstone and Crypt Ghast in my Control/Ramp/Midrange decks as well. The idea here is that even if you have to tap 8 Swamps to cast him "the fair way" he's still a card that you're going to want in your decks. I'm going to explain why in a second, bear with me for the time being, just understand that this card has no barriers nor limitations. If you enjoy playing "Magic" and your deck is "Black" you can probably make Razaketh work.
Moving on, Razaketh, the Foulblooded does so much and asks so little. In order to make this card work you basically just need to be playing with a reasonable quantity of fodder such as Hapless Researcher, Insolent Neonate, Putrid Imp, Viscera Seer, Reassembling Skeleon, Bloodghast, Dusk Legion Zealot, Ophiomancer, etc. Given that most of your Reanimator/Sacrifice/Prison/Control decks are going be fielding them anyways this typically isn't even relevant. After all, the upside is that every other creature in your deck can become a Demonic Tutor at any time and for any reason. Someone wants to kill him? Fetch Not of this World. Need some health back? Fetch Gray Merchant of Asphodel or Aetherflux Reservoir? Need some resilience? Start grabbing other revival spells or start building towards something like Buried Alive + Living Death. Heck, do anything that your heart desires because you can literally any creature/token that you own and go "you know what I could really use right now? BLANK. Let's convert this into a BLANK." It's well and truly insane how powerful that this card is once it hits the field because it's like none of the rules even apply to you any longer. Whereas everyone else is bound by some semblance of resources and restrictions you can smugly exclaim "oh, that's cute" as you blatantly break every rule in the game.
Now, some of you are probably thinking "how do you always have so much fodder?" You don't, but because of Life // Death you virtually never need more than a single threat. Life // Death makes Razaketh, the Foulblooded stupidly oppressive because it takes an already good card and cranks it up to 11. After all, starting turn 1 Putrid Imp turn 2 Life // Death on [FATTY] is already a strong play. The issue here is that Life // Death also serves double-duty by also reading "1 mana put an army of tokens into play" in the midgame. It doesn't matter if that army only lasts for a single turn because that's typically all you need to assemble the resources needed to close the game out. It really doesn't matter how you go about doing this (be it fair or unfair) but converting excess lands into threats of your choosing is exactly as powerful as it sounds.
The other card that you're going to want to pair with him is Buried Alive. After all, Razaketh needs fodder dso anything that can tutor for him + things like Gravecrawler, Bloodghast and Reassembling Skeleton is a big game. You'll almost always want the 1x Skele since the first is bonkers and if you can afford it having Bloodghast helps a lot since it gives you a free body to use every turn. Skele is great because it's unconditional but it's relatively mana intensive and weak in multiples. Ideally you want to fetch 1 of each because that will more-or-less fuel all of your engines for the rest of the game.
In terms of pure combo kills the easiest lines tend to involve cheap/free spells, rituals and Aetherflux Reservoir. After all, Ornithopter, Phyrexian Walker, Shield Sphere, Dark Ritual, Culling the Weak, Songs of the Damned, Cabal Ritual and more all boast immense synergy with Aetherflux Reservoir. You basically just keeping tutoring for cheap/free spells and rituals until you're able to Death Star the table down. There's even cards like Lion's Eye Diamond + Reassembling Skeleton that enable you to go-off with 0 mana floating which ensures that you can literally win with any sequence that involves getting Razaketh + another creature in play. That being said these kinds of builds tend to be more prevalent in EDH than in Constructed because very few Constructed decks want to run that much nonsense. Still, if nothing else people need to be aware of Aetherflux Reservoir because it (much like Life // Death) tends to do silly things when Razaketh is in play and the card is often extremely powerful as-is. Taking an inherently good card and making it better is always a great place to be.
With respect to Griselbrand vs Razaketh, the Foulblooded in Ramp/Reanimator/Control, look, nothing is ever going to top the Griseldaddy. If you own and are legally allowed to play them then you should. Period. Still, there's very compelling arguments as to why that card should be banned and since he's already axed in EDH there's plenty of reasonable scenarios in which you might need an alternative. That's where cards like Baleful Force and Razaketh, the Foulblooded shine and why it's still important to know what the second and third best options are. Sometimes the number one seed eats a ban at which point you'll need to turn to the next-best option. Given that that card is undoubtedly Razaketh, the Foulblooded this is a card that you'll definitely want to acquire.
Make no mistake; you can't just randomly put Razaketh, the Foulblooded in a deck and have him be good. That's not how Magic work. Still, he's obscenely degenerate when he's being properly supported to the point where I consider it to be a staple finisher moving forwards. Insofar as your deck has a critical mass of mana dorks, recursive threats and/or Dusk Legion Zealot he's easily one of the scariest baddies on the block regardless of how you go about abusing him.
"Punisher" cards are relatively weak given that they enable competent adversaries to mitigate their impact by choosing the least damaging option each and every time. That being said the ones that tend to break the mold are the thing like Fact or Fiction that leave them "damned if they do, damned if they don't." This just so happens to be the case with Torment of Hailfire because there's basically no right way to eat this Reese's. Look, I get it. Someone with 30 life is probably just going to eat 12 damage if you jam this at X=4. Someone with a whack of tokens is probably just going to pitch a couple of them and pay some life. That Blue player with 20 cards in hand and Reliquary Tower in play probably doesn't mind losing 3 or 4 of them. There are plenty of reasonable scenarios in which this thing does very little to effect specific individuals with the game and I'm not going to suggest otherwise. The reason why this doesn't bother me is because I struggle to imagine a world where this card's average use-case is anything less than acceptable. Assuming that you fire it for X=3+ (ideally 4+) you're going to get your card and mana's worth and at the end of the day that's really all that matters. Sure, it's better in builds that care about lifeloss but it's not as though your deck has to be full of Exsanguinates and Gray Merchant of Asphodels for 9 life to feel relevant.
Abrade is a perfect example of why cards need more than a grade a token explanation of why it received it. After all, it would be easy to look at this card, see the C grade and largely dismiss it as a result. While I clearly can't classify Abrade as an A from a power-level perspective this is still a card that you can get excited for. This is because you could realistically start any Red deck in any format with 1-2 of these and it would be a reasonable decision. That is, I would never look at 1x Abrade in a Red deck and think "now there's a card that needs to be cut." Quite the opposite in fact! This is the perfect card to field in small quantities because it's almost always going to pull its weight. Clearly it's weaker than By Force if your goal is to kill a bunch of artifacts but that's not always going to relevant. That being said you'll always find something to do with removal this cheap and versatile so it's never going to rot in your hand. I don't recommend playing 4 of them or anything, the card doesn't have much in the way of high-highs, but I would rather see people play something like 1x By Force, 1x Abrade, 1x Mizzium Mortars and 1x Sudden Demise than (for example) 4 of either. That way you're diversifying your removal base to cover a wide variety of situations without going too broad or too niche. Again, we still can't give the card a higher Grade, it's not going to win games or anything, but it's definitely something that you can blindly jam into a Red deck as a 1-of and never look back.
While I'm typically a huge of "Titans" in general I can't help but feel let down with this one. The card isn't bad per-say but boy does it ever feel underwhelming. Now, don't get me wrong. The body is nice and ETB triggers are easy to abuse with things like Mimic Vat, Feldon of the Third Path, Sneak Attack, Panharmonicon, Flameshadow Conjuring, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, etc. That being said I still couldn't a world in which I sleeve this card up because I'm always going to default to Red's alternatives instead. If this card were 6 mana, if the damage was one-sided, if it dealt more than 3 (say 5), all of these things and more could have made this a legitimate playable. As it sits? Meh, pass.
Now this is a card that I'm fire-up about! After all, she's not your generic brand of archer. While I've historically hated on Guttersnipe (for good reason, I've literally never seen that card win a game of Magic) it's typically because the deck is too unreliable due to a lack of redundant enablers. Now that we finally have access things like Thermo-Alchemist, Firebrand Archer and Guttersnipe the deck doesn't just lose as soon your one-and-only creature bites the dust. As such we can finally start to build reliable versions of decks and archetypes that historically felt far too situational.
As far as decks to play her in, there's honestly too many to list. The most obviously inclusion is Curiosity effects that scale wildly out of control with mass pingers in multiplayer. You literally get to draw all of the cards which makes winning the game a formality. Moving on, you can also play her in burn decks that feature things like Flame Rift, Price of Progress and Fiery Confluence in order to incinerate your adversaries. Otherwise there's "cantrip" decks filled with Ponders, Preordains, Brainstorms, etc. that chain cheap draw spells together to quickly ping the table down. You can also build around cards like Sprout Swarm, especially if you pair it with things like Nightscape Familiar and Young Pyromancer that either produce tokens or reduce spell costs. Toss in a card like Impact Tremors and people don't tend to live for very long. You can also mix and match these strategies together or pursue entirely difference venues altogether. This make her an extremely spicy addition to Red's meager creature-based.
In the same way that I'm happy to start any Red deck with 2x Anger of the Gods you could arguably open any Control list with a couple of these. After all, 5 damage for 5 mana is a reasonable rate and the indestructibility clause can sometimes be relevant. Moreover, unlike Earthquake variants this card doesn't hit face which makes it ideal for Control lists that care about their life total. My issue with this card is that niche use-cases aside it's almost always going to be weaker than cards like Chain Reaction and Blasphemous Act which (typically) do more damage for less mana. This makes them significantly more powerful against creature decks because you're essentially doing more with less. As such the only compelling reason to field Hour of Devastation is that it deals with Planeswalkers as well which bolsters its effectiveness against other Control decks. Even then it's not going to kill some of the bigger ones but 5 is a lot of a damage so I'm certainly not going to dismiss it or anything. That being said if I had to answer the question "will you ever play with or against this card" I would have to say "no" because it's too safe to pique my interest. Again, it's not an unplayable mass removal spell by any means but it's relatively unexciting in the grand scheme of things. You could replace it with any big nuke spell and it wouldn't make much of a difference.
Neheb is the epitome of high-highs and low-lows because there's virtually no way to play a fair game of Magic when he's around. Either you fail to assemble what you need to break him and/or he dies to removal or you untap with him once, cast Price of Progress + Aggravated Assault and instantly win the game. I find that there's very little play to the card in that sense since often just crossing your fingers and hoping to draw well + dodge removal for just long enough to go broken. Note, I'm not saying that you have to build some terrible, all-in deck to make him work. After all, he boasts immense synergy with mass damage and extra combat phase effects both of which already see a ton of multiplayer play. Even if your Neheb dies it's not as though you care because you can always Aggravated Assault your Warchief Giant or Etali, Primal Storm instead. Still, even as a "fair" card in "fair" decks I haven't had many "average" experience with Neheb, the Eternal. That's fine, I'm still going to keep playing him as a 1-of in a ton of lists, but I've come to expect a swift death and am pleasantly surprised when he gets to do his thing.
Where I've been the most impressed with Neheb is in the Rakdos, Lord of Riots archetype. Neheb essentially acts as Rakdoses 4-8 as needed but I usually only play 6-7 copies total. The idea here is to curve out with cards like Vicious Conquistador, Thornbow Archer, Pulse Tracker, Night Market Lookout and Mardu Shadowspear so that you can immediately slam game-ending bombs (any Eldrazi/fatty really) when you stick either a Rakdos or a Neheb on turn 4-5. Whereas it's difficult to untap with these creatures it's fairly easy to keep them alive on your turn which is what makes this strategy significantly more viable. As such you want to swing with a couple of dorks, deal 8-12 damage and immediately jam your Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hungers and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth or whatever. Until then you're dropping things like Taurean Mauler, War Elemental and Cryptborn Horror on turn 3 to hopefully land a big hit on turn 4-5 to generate even more mana if needed. Cryptborn Horror tends to be the best of the bunch because ideally you want to curve 1 drop -> 2x 1 drops -> Horror -> Rakdos for the nut draw. Horror is the only 3 drop that has Trample making it tough to chump and a post-combat War Elemental on turn 3 doesn't grow any large than a 1/1. It's also extremely difficult to curve War Elemental into Rakdos, Lord of Riots unless you can afford an expensive manabase. The Horror is simply by far and away the best of the bunch to jam on turn 3 off of a 1 drop opener.
I highly recommend that you read this if you want my full thoughts on the card. Bluntly put it's an oppressive bomb that could change the way that we build ramp decks. As per the thread a deck with 4x Cloudpost and 4x Glimmerpost is going to draw one of them by turn 5 roughly 85% of the time at which point this becomes a literal ramp 6 (at worst) for 5. That is, you can literally play zero ramp on turns 1-4, jam this on turn 5, untap and immediately hardcast a 10-12 drop such as Void Winnower. If that doesn't sound remotely fair it's because it's not. This card is utterly oppressive in casual play and it's going to redefine the way that I (and many others) build and play ramp decks. My advice is literally "buy 4 and play then in all of your Green decks" because even if you're not fetching Cloudposts you can still slot 2x Temple of the False God or Cabal Coffers + Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth into virtually any shell even if it means that you have to cut spells to make room for some additional lands. There's absolutely no reason to field any other 5 drop as far as I'm concerned because this is game warping effect that shouldn't have been printed.
This card is fantastic. Its baseline use-case in a deck with a critical mass of fecthlands is a "4 mana" blocker that draws a land every turn. After all, recurring a land from your GY is akin to drawing one for your deck making this an absurdly powerful card advantage engine. The reason why I say "4 mana" is because I tend to think of this card as a 4 drop since I want to cats him and immediately recur a land whenever possible. Clearly you can run him out as a 3 drop after playing your land if needed but all things being equal try to guarantee your return on investment. Note that while true fetchlands such as Wooded Foothills are clearly ideal it's still bonkers with budget-minded alternatives (such as Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse) so don't false assume that you need a massive bankroll to fuel this badboy.
Moreover, remember that this is the average use-case and so by no means is this as good as it gets. There's multiple lands such as Krosan Verge, Myriad Landscape and Blighted Woodland that can be recurred to ramp multiple lands per turn past a certain point. Additionally it can be used as a disruption engine when paired with thins like Strip Mine or Dust Bowl to potentially screw a player or two out of the game. Beyond that it can also be used as insurance for decks that rely on oppressive ramp lands such as Gaea's Cradle and/or Cloudpost in scenarios where you find your own manabase under attack. It's equally important to remember that fecthlands are cheap shuffle effects for cards like Mirri's Guile, Sensei's Divining Top, Course of Kruphix, Vizier of the Menagerie, Oracle of Mul Daya and throngs of other cards and effects that care about the top of your library. The more free shuffles that you have access to the better. Finally, it triggers landfall for all of your creatures (at least) twice per circuit which is ridiculous in the context of creatures such as Lotus Cobra, Tireless Tracker, Titania, Protector of Argoth, Avenger of Zendikar and more. In that sense this is an extremely powerful synergy enabler and card advantage engine that will see a ton of competitively play for years to come. I highly recommend acquiring some (along side Hour of Promise) at your earliest convenience.
Grade: C/Niche B
Given that Vizier of Remedies, Devoted Druid and Duskwatch Recruiter are all 2 drops this is essentially a 1-card win condition for that infinite mana archetype. I do realize that you can only search for 2 of them at a time (as opposed to all 3) but I'm working under the assumption that you're going to draw one of the combo pieces at some point and even if you can't there's probably something relevant that you can do with infinite colored mana. That still doesn't make this card fantastic by any stretch of the imagination but since we're only looking at 8 mana and 2 cards to defeat any number of adversaries that's a reasonably competitive rate. It's obviously vulnerable to interaction and various other nonsense but them's the breaks when you're playing combo decks.
The other number that interests me is 3 because you fetch some combination of Eternal Witness, Skullwinder, Courser of Kruphix, Tireless Tracker, Ramunap Excavator, Fierce Empath, Reclamation Sage and all of those other 3 CMC goodies in Green. 5 mana to draw 3 relevant spells is a reasonable rate especially since most Green decks open with ramp on turns 1-2 regardless. As such this will typically be landing on turn 3-4 as opposed to 5 and from there you can cast your spells and Eternal Witness it back if refueling is needed. If you're not going to build around combo kills I highly recommend this route instead.
Beyond that it's somewhat fun/relevant for singleton decks (even outside EDH), especially if you happen to have a lot of cards like Eternal Witness and Skull Winder that you can employ to recur it. That being said I mostly expect this to see play a combo card since it's significantly more practical to use it to locate multiple pieces (even Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker + Zealous Conscripts or Mikaeus, the Unhallowed + Triskelion) as opposed to being played as a generic value engine. Even if you can't locate five 5s or six 6s as long you can assemble your combo then it doesn't really matter.
For all Gods: I want to start by stating that any of the Gods could reasonably be played in any deck of their respective colors. That is, even if your deck has no card draw, zombies or -1/-1 counters they're still resilient threats that provide you with card advantage and relevant utility. Are they things that you should be jamming as a 4-ofs? Hell no, not when duplicate copies are completely worthless barring the presence of exile effects. 1-2 is still eminently reasonable but even in dedicated support decks sticks to ones and twos and opposed to threes and fours.
Otherwise I don't have anything insight to say about this card other than "I'll probably play it." After all, it's a decent finisher for those Chasm Skulker/Psychosis Crawler style decks that feature Brainstorm, Trade Secrets, Recurring Insight, Nezahal, Primal Tide and various other forms of mass card draw. Heck, even if you're playing a generic Izzet Control shell it's still a resilient finisher that scales well as the game progresses. It's not a card that you're going to field in large numbers but the first is going to be quite strong. I would have preferred to see a slightly lower mana cost or a slightly strong activated ability but I can't complain about how the card turned out in the end.
Praise Tut, the Pharaoh has arrived! Nicol Bola's newest incarnation is completely bonkers and will become a mainstay in Grixis Control for years to come. I absolutely adore his +1 "each opponent exiles two cards" mode and expect that to be his de facto use-case in practice. After all, most Grixis Control decks are already playing 4x Dark Intimations which are typically stripping players from their much needed resources. Toss in things like Arterial Flow and Syphon Mind and players will struggle immensely to keep cards in their grips. Otherwise his +2 essentially reads "draw an extra free spell every turn" which is absurd when you're already jamming 1-2 yourself. Moreover, given that I'm already playing Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge as my go-to 4 drop we're suddenly looking at a ton of mass exile effects which makes Oblivion Sower look increasingly promising at 6 CMC. Throw in things like Preordain at 1 CMC, Fellwar Stone/Dimir Signet and Baleful Strix at 2 CMC and various removal/interaction/blockers at 3 CMC and the deck is essentially already built for you. His other modes are "meh," but they'll still be relevant ~5% of the time which I'll certainly take given that I would happily field him even if he only offered the first 2. His -12 will get there some % of the time and since we all know how fair and balanced Cyclonic Rift is to play against you can probably surmise just how powerful it'll feel when it does. As with any other "legendary" 7 drop the usual caveats apply (don't play more than 1-2, make sure that you have enough mana sources to reliably cast him, try to protect him with mass removal and blockers, etc.) but this is definitely a bomb that's going to see long-term play.
TSG is the only interesting God in the set given that he's the only one who qualifies as an above-average, generic playable. You don't need any additional Zombies/support whatsoever because he's essentially a 1-card win condition. After all, the body is huge + resilient and comes down for a relatively cheap cost. From there you can sit back on your "infinite Clone army" while slowly draining the table out and stacking your draws. Moreover, as most Standard players are probably aware this card scales wildly out of Control into the lategame. This is because you can typically cast + activate TSG every turn as needed and proceed to activate him (at least) two more times on your following upkeep while the "Scry + Drain" trigger is still on the stack. This enables you to Scry 3 + Drain 3 + Revive 3 creatures every circuit as needed, which, as you can probably imagine, is extremely difficult for fair decks to beat. As such you can legitimately field 3-4 of these in your decks because the first is so good that it essentially win games on its own. Flooding out on them isn't a concern because he's all the action that you could ever need. If you don't have any spells to cast, who cares? Just cast theirs! It's an extremely powerful closer in that sense and one that will see large quantities of play for many years to come. If only he wasn't so damned expensive .
Once again I don't have much in the way of meaningful insight to offer beyond "he'll make the cut in Wither-based Rakdos decks." I use the term "wither" here loosely as I'm referring to any deck that makes effective use of -1/-1 counters. Your God draws (no pun intended) will all include Black Sun's Zenith in some capacity but since your deck can only field 4 of those ~60% of your games are going to be uphill battles. I suppose that he's decent alongside Kulrath Knight but that's already a ton of 5 drops and more hoops than I care to jump through. As with The Locust God you could realistically field this guy in any Rakdos deck as a 1-of but, again, don't go hog-wild jamming 4 of them or anything. The first is "fine" but it's not going to blow you away unless you're playing Black Sun's Zenith and/or Contagion Engine as your mass removal spells of choice. Maybe Carnifex Demon too.
Grade: Niche C
Chance is "fine" and might matter every now and then but the real reason to play this card is for Leave. This is because White and Red are two of the primary mass land destruction (MLD) colors and so it's trivially easy to set up sequences such as Impending Disaster + Leave or Armageddon + Leave to nuke the board while preserving your own resources. It also has applications as a "Retract" for things like Sram, Senior Edificer Cheerios. That decks seeks to pair either Sram or Puresteel Paladin with tons of 0 CMC equipment in order to draw your deck and win via Aetherflux Reservoir. It'll typically splash Blue for Retract but since that's costly on the manabase I expect monowhite budget versions to emerge that employ Leave instead. Clearly this works for any similar strategy as well and so you could, for example, field in it a Glimpse of Nature deck for simialr results. That being said it's true value will be displayed in MLD-based builds which is ultimately where I expect this type of effect to truly shine.
Artifact + Land
Grade: Niche D
This card is one word away from being playable and that word is "play." That is, if it allowed you to "play" cards from your graveyard as opposed to "cast" them then you could play lands (such as Barren Moor) which would make this card quite strong. As-is I could see it being a 1-of for Reanimator/Living Death style decks as a potential backup plan. The issue that I have with that strategy is that I'd much rather field something like Twilight's Call instead. That doesn't make it unplayable by any means but it's also not very exciting. I just wish that there was something cool and powerful that you could do with it.
Putting all combos/synergies aside this is still a 1-card win condition for virtually any creature-based deck. Heck, you don't even need that many creatures, even a couple of powerful one will suffice. It's also essentially a "Titan" given there's only a minuscule window to remove it for no value. Alternatives such as Debtors' Knell can often be removed before they take effect but I don't believe that I've even seen a GPG totally blanked by comparison. As such you can essentially toss one into any deck that has some number of creatures and will almost always work out fine. Again, it's essentially a colorless Titan (albeit a 7 CMC one) so it doesn't take a pro to see that there's clearly a ton of raw power and potential locked away behind those doors.
Finally, with respect to the "4/4" clause it doesn't really matter. Sometimes it's a buff, other times a nerf, ultimately it doesn't really matter. This is multiplayer; you're more likely to play Thrull Parasite and Oreskos Explorer than Fusion Elemental. Even if you have to downgrade a Sylvan Primordial or Nezahal, Primal Tide every now and then you don't really are because the effect matters more than the body. You're also going to be upgrading enough Elvish Mystics and Mulldrifters to more than make up the difference in the end so don't put too much emphasis in it.
Grade: Niche C
I'm sure that plenty of newer and/or inexperienced players looked at this card and thought to themselves "this card seems interesting but it's probably too slow, inconsistent and clunky to actually see play." Well, they're right! Look, I want to like this type of card in multiplayer given its flexibility and unbound potential but ultimately this isn't a card that's going to impress you on a reasonably consistent basis. For every game where it copies a Consecrated Sphinx or a Griselbrand you're going to encounter plenty of others where it's wildly inefficient and/or ineffective. Every now and then it will enable something wonky and make for a cool story but from a pure "I want to win games of Magic" perspective this isn't where you want to be.
The only exception that I can conjure up is the Dark Depths combo. Much like Thespian's Stage you can use this to copy DD, keep the copy and sac it to create a Marit Lage. This combo isn't new, exciting, particularly powerful nor budget-friendly but it's... a combo? I guess? If you want to build and play that deck, by all means, this is a reasonable card for the archetype.
Multiplayer games tend to be significantly slower and more casual than duels and so you could reasonably expect to "save" a couple of your critters from removal and pop them back into play with this type of effect. I wouldn't advise going nuts and fielding them en-masse or anything but if you have some free slots for utility lands then one of these couldn't hurt. I realize that this is probably the most unenthusiastic review that I've ever done but there's virtually nothing to get excited over. "Some decks will run 1 and it will sometimes matter." Moving on!
Grade: Niche C
This card is sweet! Without turning this into a full-blown article these types of mana sinks are extremely important for multiplayer burn decks given that you typically can't rely on cheap 1-2 CMC spells to seal the deal. Cards like Price of Progress and Flame Rift still foot the bill but Goblin Guide and Lava Spike don't pass muster when you're trying to burn through ~60 points of health. Rather, you need to lean on powerful 3+ drops (think Sulfuric Vortex and Fiery Confluence) that enable you to reliably burn the table out. As such you often need to play a deck that fields roughly 24 lands (to ensure that you make your first 4 drops) but you also don't want to lose every game in which you draw 6-7 (because it happens all the time). As such it's imperative that you put your manabase to work without sacrificing any speed or consistency in the process.
Much like Shivan Gorge and unlike Leechridden Swamp this is exactly what multiplayer burn decks are looking for. Not only does the land ETBU and produce colored mana but it's also completely unconditional and thus nearly impossible to interact with. That is, whereas you can quell a card like Leechridden Swamp with removal and other forms of interaction the only way to thwart a Ramunap Ruins is to employ mass land destruction. As such virtually any Red-based burn/aggressive deck can start their list with 4 of these and support them with a couple of Deserts and/or Scavenger Groundss as your manabase permits. After all, you're only looking at 4-6 true colorless lands at that stage given that the Ramunap Ruins can still tap for Red mana as needed.
Otherwise this is a fantastic way to mitigate the risks of mana flood and ensure that games reach a quick and timely conclusion. This tends to be extremely important for weaker colors such as Red and White that tend to fall too far behind as the game progresses. You're simply not going to beat BUG decks in games that drag on for 15-20 turns and so the sooner that you can end games the better. Clearly this card has no value outside of burn/aggressive strategies (which, let's face it, are flimsy at best in multiplayer) but it's still a powerful addition to Red's arsenal and a worthy acquisition.
This card is stellar and I highly encourage all players to acquire a playset. One of the most prevailing themes in Magic is that graveyard-based decks tend to be some of the fastest, most consistent and most resilient strategies in the game when you're not fighting them on an unfair level. Heck, I'm sure that almost everyone reading this has lost to turn 1 Entomb, turn 2 Animate Dead on Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur sequence at some point in their Magic careers and promptly thought to themselves "what the %* is going on here and how is this balanced?!?!" The answer is that "it isn't" and that's why we see cards like Relic of Progenitus, Rest in Peace and Leyline of the Void printed to quash them. The reality is that you can't beat most graveyard-based strategies in a fair fight and so you essentially have to cheat if you want to stand a fighting chance.
Now, some of you are probably wondering "why does Scavenger Grounds matter if we already have cards like Relic of Progenitus?" Good question! The problem with "hate" in multiplayer is that unlike in duels you're typically not going to be playing in BO3s against (relatively) known metagames. For example, in Vintage you know that Dredge is a deck and since you have multiple shots to beat it as long as put 7-8 cards in your sideboard you can make the match-up favorable. The same isn't true in multiplayer where you're often playing BO1s against (more-or-less) unknown strategies. So what do you do? Do you maindeck cards like Relic of Progenitus and just hope that they're relevant? At the cost of cutting cards that you actively want to play and draw in 100% of your games? The card cycles so it's never a heinous draw but paying 2 mana to cycle isn't remotely competitive and so we can't pretend as though there's no inherent risks involved. After all, what if your deck cares about its GY? What do you do then?
This, my friends, is where a card like Scavenger Grounds shines. Unlike cards that cost mana and consume spell slots it's a generic colorless land that ETBU. Given that most decks can easily support some number of those there's very little risk or cost associated with fielding them. It's important to stress that you don't need to field any additional deserts to make them a worthwhile addition and by no means are you required to play the full 4. If you only have room for 1-2 colorless lands then hey, so be it, that's the number that you should roll with. That fact that it hits everyone is both a blessing and a curse but since many decks don't care about their graveyard it's not a deal-breaker by any means. Even if they do, whatever, just don't activate it if you don't want to. Moreover, if you do happen to have additional deserts then it's feasible to activate it multiple times throughout the game which really put the screws on graveyard-based strategies. Losing lands clearly sucks but trading a single card to "Wrath of God" everyone's GY can't be taken lightly. It's easily one of the most noteworthy hate cards at your disposal since it strikes a good balance of power-level, cost, flexibility and reliability.
Hour of Devastation is one of the more powerful multiplayer sets in recent years boasting a slew of cards in the B-A range for every color. Moreover, it bolstered our multicolored options with powerful Gods and Planeswalkers while also bringing some powerful Artifacts and Lands to the table. Unlike Amonket it was a set of "cards" rather than "archetypes" because it didn't bring much in the way of build-around-mes that're worth pursuing. That being said it brought more than enough generic playables (think Abrade and Supreme Will) to compensate for its lack of originality. I'm always a fan of sets that have "something for everyone" and HOU certainly delivered on that front.
Full disclosure for my future-readers: I basically took a year off from writing/playing Magic and even though I wrote most of my reviews for Amonket, Hour of Devastation and C17 I never got around to posting them. That being said I see no reason to waste all of that time and effort so better late than never. As such you'll probably see references to "cards from the future" and such added throughout them because I did go back and edit my work. I write fast and make a lot of typos so I need to make a ton of revisions. Moreover, all of these reviews have also been written "in hindsight" to some extent so I'm not going to pretend that I'm a prediction God or anything. I did change some grades based on how I feel about the cards having played with them for close to a year. Still, I'd rather provide you with accurate information so that you can make more informed decisions and succeed in your games. That is, please don't look at this review and judge its merits based on how accurate my predictions were. Rather, use it to learn about cool decks and archetypes that you could be building in the near future.
Definitely better late than never. As someone who also took some time off of magic I appreciate the reviews, as they will help me get caught back up.
One question/thought about hour of revelation in UW Control (or whatever non-green combination you like). Do you still recommend running manarocks in combination with it or just going slow and ensuring land drops every turn with cantrips?
Definitely better late than never. As someone who also took some time off of magic I appreciate the reviews, as they will help me get caught back up.
One question/thought about hour of revelation in UW Control (or whatever non-green combination you like). Do you still recommend running manarocks in combination with it or just going slow and ensuring land drops every turn with cantrips?
Well, I'm certainly less interested in mana rocks in decks with cards like Serenity and Hour of Revelation but that isn't to say that I'll never run them. After all, things like Mind Stone can be cycled away if needed and you typically don't need the mana fixing. You can still run the regular mana rocks too but I wouldn't want to field more than 4 for example. Still, given the option I'd probably opt for cards like Impulse and Tariff instead and go for something that doesn't play to the board much (if at all).
Ah Hour of Promise. Showing Primeval Titan that you don't even need a body or an attack trigger to be OP in multiplayer formats (although Hour would be a LOT less good if it were 6cmc)
I love that card, I just wish I had more places I can run it that don't just try and completely destroy the table at the 6 land mark.
I don't think that the card has to be oppressive. The card is just always going to be good. Regardless of what your deck is trying to do you can run that out on turn ~4 and find yourself in a strong position. I can't pretend that the card is fair, it's not, but it doesn't have to completely ruin the game for everyone.