In my Hour of Devastation set review, you might have picked up on the fact that I was a little cool on the set as a whole for Commander. That said, the silver lining is that the somewhat lower number of cards I want to put into my existing decks makes my job slightly easier in that I have to say goodbye to fewer favorites. As I do with every new set, I'll take you through my process as I make changes to my suite of 40+ decks. The simple truth is that there are some Hour of Devastation cards I'm thrilled about and look forward to playing them as soon as I can possibly get my hands on copies of them. The simpler truth is that there are more of them than I thought there were.
Into: Trostani and Her Angels
For: Acidic Slime
If I were still playing my Commander 2015 Rotisserie League deck, Angel of Condemnation would certainly go in there, since there are a few blinking and untapping shenanigans. Weirdly enough, I currently have no W/G decks with Seedborn Muse—the obvious card which which one can get a little abusive with Blinky the Angel. For now, Angel of Condemnation will go into Trostani, my Angel tribal deck, and I'll start trying to figure out how I can rationalize Seedborn Muse being a Spirit is pretty much the same as being an Angel. Of course, I upset the apple cart there by taking out Acidic Slime, signaling that I actually want to get as close to on-theme as possible.
Into: Lavinia Blinks
For: Daxos of Meletis
Repeatable graveyard removal that can't accidently come back on you is always nice. Whether it's blinking with Venser, the Sojourner or soulbonding with Deadeye Navigator, Disposal Mummy is going to take out some trash.
For: Grim Discovery
With a battlefield full of indestructible things, I'm okay with blowing up the world. It might sometimes be asking a little much of a five-color deck to produce the three white mana required for Hour of Revelation, but I'm reasonably sure there's enough mana fixing in the deck to get there. Grim Discovery was initially there to bring Child of Alara back out of the graveyard, but there are enough other ways to get that done that the card hasn't done all that much.
Into: Halloween with Karador
For: Avenger of Zendikar
One of the ways to find out if this card will be problematic is to play it. To that end, I'm sticking it into the deck in which I think it might cause the most problems and not making other changes to take advantage of the card, which is Karador. The two biggest offenders here will be Puppeteer Clique and Woodfall Primus, since they'll persist back without the counter, making them infinitely reusable with the right sacrifice outlet. For the most part, it feels like it's a card that prevents other decks from doing things, not one around which you build, but we'll see. I'll take out one of the deck's win conditions, since it's one of the only cards in the deck for which counters matter. Yahenni, Undying Partisan was the other choice, but since it's a free sacrifice outlet, it'll stay it to see if it fuels too much nonsense.
It can obviously be countered by another Nimble Obstructionist and a few other things, but it's better than a spell because what can counter it is so narrow. Commander is a target-rich environment for activated and triggered abilities, and this one can't even be sent back at you. Although I'm okay with making political alliances, Intellectual Offering doesn't work particularly well in this deck. I'm reasonably sure I'm going to find another home for it, though.
Into: Dreaming of Intet
Another card which makes me leery, but I think its mana cost is going to keep it in control. I'm going to put it into the deck which likes copying its big Fireball spells anyway and see how nasty it is. There aren't too many instants that need copying, especially since you can't change modes on Cryptic Command, although I suppose getting a Mana Drain on two different spells on the stack would be kind of cool. Evolutionary Leap makes more sense in Yasova, so that's where it's headed.
I don't have a current deck for it, although it might be worth picking up for my Commander 2016 Rotisserie Draft deck. There's a Sphinx build coming down the road, though.
Into: Halloween with Karador
Possibly the most talked about-card in the set Commander-wise, I don't see Razaketh being as ban-worthy as some other people do. There are current cheaper and easier ways to get your combo if that's what you want to do. It's going to be strong, and it's certainly worth playing, but I find comparisons to Griselbrand overblown. The obvious swap-out is with Sidisi, since Razaketh does its thing on command.
For: Infernal Offering
Thraximundar loves to make people sacrifice things, so Torment of Hailfire is right up his alley. If Grave Betrayal is around, it gets even uglier. I also had some thought to put Torment of Hailfire into Lazav to cut off the discard angle for opponents, or at least make it even more uncomfortable.
Into: Animar Do-Over
For: Tooth and Nail
Tooth and Nail is currently on loan to my Rotisserie Draft deck, so I figured that I'd give Crash Through a try in the Animar Do-Over, which can occasionally have creature battles bog down. Sometimes, giving trample to Animar, Soul of Elements is all that you need.
Into: Saskia Unyielding
For: Birthing Pod
I've loved playing my Saskia deck recently, since it has the kind of considered aggression that's my favorite part of Magic. It likes to go to combat, so Neheb is going to generate quite a bit of mana with which to cast other things—like Storm Herd. Birthing Pod is another card on loan out to the Rotisserie Draft deck, plus my Pod chain is a little awkward. I'll probably rejigger the creature base in the long run to take advantage of Pod coming back in.
Into: Dreaming of Intet
For: Growth Spasm
Certainly one of the strongest cards in the set, Hour of Promise goes into my strongest deck—one with Gaea's Cradle and Kessig Wolf Run for starters. We're going to see lots of this card, so you might want to start preparing for it. If it's available in our Rotisserie Draft League, I'll try to pick it up during our Hour of Devastation supplemental draft, but since I'm currently in first place and will likely draft last, I doubt it's available. Growth Spasm is the cut because there are two other three-mana ramp spells in the deck, Cultivate and my hidden gem Recross the Paths.
Into: Animar Do-Over
For: Draining Whelk
Another one I might consider picking up in our supplemental draft, Majestic Myriarch is going into the Animar Do-Over because of its Clone sub-theme. There are creatures in the deck that have abilities the Myriarch can pick up, but I can also choose things my opponents control via the copy creatures for full value. Draining Whelk is coming out for other, yet-to-be-disclosed plans.
Into: Melek, Izzet Paragon
For: Far // Away
Oh, the adventures we will have with the God-Pharaoh. One of the main reasons it went into this deck beside it being my main Grixis representative is that Dark Intimations is in the deck too. It's not going to get to the ultimate ability too many times because you'll become the archenemy once Bolas hits the battlefield, but it'll definitely set the narrative of the game you're currently playing.
I theorized a Hapatra deck back when the card was first previewed. Now that both Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation have arrived, it's time to build it. Obelisk Spider will be a part of it.
Into: Rith's Tokens
Double-striking Rith, the Awakener means double triggers and numbers of tokens which may be beyond my math skills. Brimaz coming out is just me telegraphing some kind of Cat tribal deck for the near future.
Into: Zombies of Tresserhorn
There's obviously an argument for The Scarab God to lead its own Zombie deck, but since I have two of them already, I don't believe I need a third. Lord of Tresserhorn always has a special place in my heart because it was one of my earliest decks. It's also the deck that got dear friend and now fellow Commander Rules Committee member Scott Larabee involved in the format. The Scarab God is just going to kill opponents—and oh, hey, you get to scry as well. There's room in this deck because Liliana of the Dark Realms is out on loan; when she comes back, she'll have to battle for a spot.
Into: Adun's Toolbox
For: Soul of Innistrad
Adun Oakenshield already got Archfiend of Ifnir from Amonkhet, and it's going to continue to pick up a few of the tools which will eventually make their way into the aforementioned Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons deck. Soul of Innistrad was more mana-intensive for the deck that I wanted it to be, so it's a relatively easy cut. Of course, now I want to find room for Cauldron of Souls in the deck as well.
Into: Obzedat, Ghost Killer
For: End Hostilities
As Obzedat focuses more and more on exiling creatures instead of destroying them, cards like Grind // Dust become more valuable. For the same reason, End Hostilities becomes less valuable and capable of being repurposed elsewhere. The next thing for this deck is to find something to take out in order to put back in Black Sun's Zenith. Rout might seems like the choice, but I'm a little iffy on giving up that just yet.
Into: You Did This to Yourself
A brilliant new toy for decks that like to punish people for doing broken stuff, Refuse // Cooperate is manna from heaven. The dream will of course be casting Parallectric Feedback on some big X spell, casting Refuse on that same spell, and then copying Parallectric Feedback with Cooperate.
Into: Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder (Rotisserie Draft deck)
I won't say what I'm replacing it with, but I'm drafting this card. I'm saying so here because I don't think anyone else will really want it—but I sure will.
Artifact and Land
Into: Animar's Swarm
For: Sylvan Ranger
This card is such chicken dinner, I'm ready to go make some dumplings. When you have a deck with Panharmonicon in it, you put in Mirage Mirror for maximum stupidness, right? Also copiable: Lurking Predators. The card isn't broken by any stretch, but it's going to generate some of those completely insane plays that happen in the format we love so much. I'll probably also try to draft this one as well.
Just a little fixing to go into the kind of deck that needs a little more flexibility color-wise.
Into: Lavinia Blinks
Providing more colorless mana to help fuel Eldrazi Displacer and then doing what the card does, saving creatures. As I mentioned in the set review, if your environment is rife with targeted land destruction you might want to be careful—but that said, there are plenty of other, way more dangerous lands running around than Endless Sands. You'll occasionally get blown out by the odd Avalanche Riders or something, but for the most part—so long as you're not getting crazy with it—you should be safe. It will take knowing the folks you play with to understand the line.
I'm a little higher on this set than I was a week ago. Despite my lukewarm view of Hour of Devastation as a whole, there are still 24 cards I'll be working into my suite of decks, down from 32 in Amonkhet—but consider that the former has only 199 cards and the latter 264, the percentage of cards from each set works out to basically the same 12%. When I ran the numbers, I was certainly surprised. As you dig deeper into Hour of Devastation, I hope that you will be, too.
Our regular features Idiotic Combo and Deck Without Comment will return after Hour of Devastation release season.
Check out our comprehensive Deck List Database for lists of all my decks:
Lavinia Blinks; Obzedat, Ghost Killer; Aurelia Goes to War; Trostani and Her Angels; Lazav, Shapeshifting Mastermind; Zegana and a Dice Bag; Rakdos Reimagined; Glissa, Glissa; Ruric Thar and His Beastly Fight Club; Gisa and Geralf Together Forever;
Shards and Wedges
Adun's Toolbox; Animar's Swarm; Karrthus, Who Rains Fire From The Sky; Demons of Kaalia; Merieke's Esper Dragons; Nath of the Value Leaf; Rith's Tokens; The Mill-Meoplasm; The Altar of Thraximundar; The Threat of Yasova; You Take the Crown, I'll Take Leovold; Zombies of Tresserhorn
If you'd like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that's been alive since 1987) which is just beginning the saga The Lost Cities of Nevinor, ask for an invitation to the Facebook group "Sheldon Menery's Monday Night Gamers."