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The next event on the #SCGTOUR is only days away. Many of you out there are looking to #SCGCIN as a way to begin understanding the new landscape after Hour of Devastation, but a select few are currently hard at work trying to win it. I normally find the time after a set releases to be extremely fun while I explore all the possibilities, but right now I'm completely stressed out.
There are many reasons why that may be, but if I had to pick, I'd say it's due to not having a clue what's going on in Standard. Seriously, like at all! I'm the guy that people go to for advice on the format, and as of right now I'm completely lost.
Clearly that's not the tone I'm trying to set for this entire article, but making the point is important. Magic's difficult, and sometimes there's no way of telling what's what. As of right now many potential strategies are floating around, but I have zero data to go on. Everything's in flux, as you see authors all over the internet talk about such a high volume of differing strategies they think are good.
We've got Gerry Thompson talking about graveyard shenanigans like it's Modern or something, Tom "The Boss" Ross writing about how you can get milled out as early as turn 5, Ross Merriam horsing around, and a few out there saying Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger isn't going anywhere. To top it off, we still have no way of knowing if Mardu Vehicles, Zombies, and U/W Monument are going anywhere.
How am I supposed to give you direction when I don't know which way I'm standing?
Let's start by talking about the biggest distraction in the format.
The set's hallmark card was widely praised when it was first revealed. Finally the format has an answer to Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in sweeper form. Not only that, but Archangel Avacyn can't even swoop in and save the day. This card was meant to mean business, and we fell in line.
But is this card actually going to change the makeup of Standard?
First of all, there aren't really that many Gideon, Ally of Zendikar decks left. As of right now, the only deck known to play Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is Mardu Vehicles. Outside of that, we "know" the card will be playable against Mono-Black Zombies and U/W Monument, but how good is it actually going to be? Both decks are designed to get hit by sweepers at this point, making them only efficient when backed by a clock. Hour of Devastation doesn't leave much in its wake, meaning that this card will most likely be used in a deck not trying to micro-manage a battlefield. Sure, it will be good against Mardu Vehicles when they just freshly tapped out for Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, but outside of that, I just don't see this card doing what we initially expected it to do. Scrapheap Scrounger and Vehicles still exist, making this five-mana sweeper need additional support.
Also, if this card will see play, where? U/R Control is a great guess as I do believe that deck will play a few copies, but anywhere else? G/R Ramp is a deck many are talking about, but this card competes with the Hour of Promise as a five-drop. I don't really think a ramp deck can afford to play that many expensive cards when they also intend to top off at Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. My guess is we will see them playing with Sweltering Suns and Abrade instead of Hour of Devastation. They may have it in the sideboard for when they do face Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, but it just doesn't seem like a smart maindeck choice to me.
Last, the card just seems bad against Elder Deep-Fiend strategies that I do believe will take up a decent chunk of the metagame. With all things considered, this card just doesn't seem like it will live up to the hype.
Speaking of Elder Deep-Fiend, how good are these decks going to be?