Hour of Devastation is almost here!
That means it's time to start speculating on which preview cards are going to break Standard and which are going to be duds.
Today I'll go over some of the new cards that caught my eye, with a focus on how they might shake up Standard.
Let's jump right in.
It's Planar Cleansing with upside. Simple enough, even if the cost reduction is probably not coming up that often, or necessarily even that relevant (or in this case, revel-ant.)
Planar Cleansing is a great card and one that is sorely missed in any Standard format it isn't in. Now we have Sphinx's Revelation in the form of Pull from Tomorrow, and Planar Cleansing in the form of Hour of Revelation. All we're missing are Elixir of Immortality and 80-minute rounds at tournaments.
Fencing Ace just got put in his place. Cat stop, won't stop!
Double strike is a powerful mechanic and you rarely see it on reasonably costed creatures. Adorned Pouncer is potentially dangerous for not only for being a cheap double striker, but because it can also potentially upgrade to a 4/4 fat Cat body, which kind of reminds me of how Student of Warfare worked.
Adorned Pouncer's Eternalize makes a bigger double striking body than Samut, Voice of Dissent for the same cost, for what is essentially a bonus tacked onto an already decent card.
Take this as a rough example:
One-sided Humility plus a one-sided ultra-Damping Matrix? Seems good.
This card does a heck of a bunch, but it's not cheap to cast. It's hard to think of many cards at least this expensive in Standard that have seen much play recently that weren't Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.
Overwhelming Splendor has an incredibly powerful effect that might just be worth the cost, although, again, I'm not sure where it fits. It kind of reminds me of Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, since it shrinks your opponent's creatures and has a massive effect. Maybe it's a decent card in sideboards for when games go longer. I do think this effect is powerful enough that it's going to see play somewhere though.
I also wouldn't mind searching this up with Enduring Ideal.
Djeru, With Eyes Open strikes me as playing a similar role post-sideboard as Gonti does, but for white decks. When things slow down, you just want access to card advantage.
But if you're playing Mardu, you could also have access to Sorin, Grim Nemesis; Chandra, Torch of Defiance; Ob Nixilis Reignited; Nahiri, the Harbinger; Chandra, Flamecaller; Liliana, the Last Hope; and, if you want to get extra cheeky, Liliana, Death's Majesty to reanimate Djeru, With Eyes Open and go again. That's a lot of different choices, and choices are good.
One of the surprises from Amonkhet was how underwhelming the cycling duals were in Standard. They're good in any two-color deck where they provide fixing and show up in some three-color decks, but they didn't come close to living up to the power of scry lands like Temple of Enlightenment.
In particular, you rarely put cycling duals in a deck when they aren't fixing two colors of mana, which these Deserts can never do.
So far Sand Strangler, Ramunap Hydra, and Desert's Hold just aren't powerful enough to justify including Deserts anywhere really, although they would be considerations if they didn't require Deserts to be active. It's still going to take something much more impactful to make Deserts worth it, or you're going to want a lot of cycle effects.
Yes, yes, yes!
This might not quite be on par with Relic of Progenitus in terms of quality graveyard hate, but it's a very welcome sight.
When Wizards of the Coast tells us they're going to print more answers, this is exactly the type of card I want to see. Any deck can easily play it if they want, it's not overpowered, and it helps keep in check a specific type of deck that might otherwise be a problem.
Hostile Desert also seems quite good.
It's approximately Mutavault power level in Modern, where fetchlands are plentiful, but takes a quite a bit more work to be active in Standard. It's probably not worth running over Blighted Fen or what-have-you unless you have a lot of ways to get lands in the graveyard and want to be aggressive, which seems unlikely.
Great reason to be playing red. Abrade was made to be played.
This seems pushed for a mill card… which isn't necessarily saying much.
It counts any cards going to your opponent's graveyard, be it from hand, library, or battlefield.
Could be good in Control mirrors or just against Control decks in general.
An interesting card that deserves Careful Consideration.
Keep in mind if you pump its power, or, say, have a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar emblem, you'll draw more cards since its power will be higher.
The real draw to Champion of Wits is its Eternalize cost or when you're just using it to put cards in your graveyard as a pseudo-Oath of Jace.
Ammit Eternal has great stats, but a big drawback. This type of card is usually terrible but sometimes completely amazing, in which case it ends up terrorizing Standard.
I think Afflict might be underestimated, and quite good here. Every turn Ammit Eternal stays alive and is on the offensive, it's doing at least three damage or making itself a 5/5 again. It's impossible to not take a bunch of damage if this critter sticks around for a while.
This set is full of difficult-to-evaluate cards, and I think this is one of them as well. There are split cards, cards with different modes, cards that are great when you're ahead and bad when you're behind, and cards with drawbacks.
Generally this type of card, one that gives your opponent choices, is terrible. Think Remorseless Punishment.
But Torment of Hailfire might be closer to a one-sided Death Cloud than to Remorseless Punishment. If you could choose what mode you got from it, or if it was only one of the three, it would be amazing.
The key is that it scales, but it's really only gets good once X is at least five. Fifteen damage worth of Lava Spikes is no laughing matter. I probably wouldn't want to put many copies in a deck, but it could be a reasonable top-end to an aggressive strategy like B/G Constrictor.
The reason to play this card is for the destroy a Forest. Stone Rain for some matchups might just be decent enough, especially when you factor in that you'll occasionally be destroying Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and drawing a card. Could be a decent sideboard card.
I'm not a fan of these for Constructed.
Not untapping your land is a massive drawback.
Bontu's Last Reckoning costs a virtual six if you're just using your land to cast it. Having a "cheaper" Wrath of God is nice, but even on turn 4 you will desperately want to use your mana the next turn, and it will only get worse as the game progresses and you're potentially locking up more of your mana.
This is interesting. In B/G it could be playable, but I'm probably just envisioning dream scenarios where you have a massive battlefield or manage to mill it with Grim Flayer, rather than reality.
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar making a bunch of Plant tokens and then using them to draw cards and make your opponent discard cards could also be a thing.
Wow! Debtors' Knell is back and better than ever!
God-Pharaoh's Gift has a lot going for it and little downside.
You get a creature immediately the turn you cast it, it gets haste, it becomes a 4/4, and God-Pharaoh's Gift is an artifact, so you can play it in any deck. God-Pharaoh's Gift is similar to Liliana, Death's Majesty, but harder to deal with and capable of generating a lot more value over the course of a few turns.
- 1 Noxious Gearhulk
- 4 Grim Flayer
- 3 Tireless Tracker
- 2 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
- 3 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
- 1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
How about Grim Flayer? It becomes a 6/6 with haste if you have delirium, and it probably gives you more fuel for you God-Pharaoh's Gift when you hit your opponent in the face!
How about a 4/4 Gonti, Lord of Luxury? How wonderfully decadent!
Now that we have God-Pharaoh's Gift, we're required to read the bottom half of Gate to the Afterlife. Getting six creatures in the graveyard reliably seems like a bit of a pipe dream but could be doable.
For now I'd say the safe and responsible thing to do is just play more copies of God-Pharaoh's Gift. Here's a look at a version a little more dedicated to the graveyard thanks to Champion of Wits:
- 1 Noxious Gearhulk
- 1 Walking Ballista
- 4 Champion of Wits
- 1 Tireless Tracker
- 1 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
- 3 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
- 2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
That's it for today. I'm already getting excited for Hour of Devastation and we've still got more than half the set to be revealed. I'll see you next week!