Hour of Devastation is here!
It's time to set the stage for what Standard will look like and it all starts with #SCGCIN.
To recap, we have a huge Standard format with eight different sets, and after multiple bannings, there's hope the format is once again fresh and interesting.
So far the obvious decks to beat are Temur Energy and Zombies, with B/G variants, Mardu Vehicles, Oketra's Monument decks, and Control decks right behind them.
But the format is still young and the smell of fresh cardboard is in the air! There's still plenty of time to set sail and discover exciting new adventurous strategies before our hopes and dreams inevitably crash and burn, dashed on the rocky shores of Netdeck Island.
I'm still in brew mode for now, just trying to explore the interesting and potentially powerful, so today I'm going to share what I've come up with. Weigh anchor!
- 4 Grim Flayer
- 3 Tireless Tracker
- 2 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
- 1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
- 2 The Gitrog Monster
- 1 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Let's see what the Rock deck is cooking.
The Gitrog Monster hasn't really has a chance to shine in Standard, but now might finally be the time for this Frog to become a prince.
The Gitrog Monster matches up well against a lot of the removal in the format by being resilient against Fatal Push; Grasp of Darkness; Chandra, Torch of Defiance; Harnessed Lightning; Glorybringer; and of course, everyone's favorite new confusing set name/card: Hour of Devastation.
Desert of the Indomitable and Desert of the Glorified aren't especially exciting, but they work great with The Gitrog Monster on the battlefield, since the Frog draws you cards whenever lands are put into your graveyard from anywhere, which means you can cycle them to draw two cards.
Hour of Promise is potentially one of the most powerful cards in the set. On five mana it can similar to Primeval Titan when you just have one Desert on the battlefield already and search up two more, since you'll get four power and toughness worth of Zombies.
Now that I've compared Hour of Promise to Primeval Titan, I feel a little depressed, but what card will ever live up to Primeval Titan? The key is you need to naturally draw one Desert to get those fresh Zombies, which means you have to run a decent amount of them.
Another nice thing about Hour of Promise is that, when you already have three Deserts on your side of the battlefield, you can continue tutoring up valuable lands like Hostile Desert, Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, Hissing Quagmire, or even Evolving Wilds.
Once you've ramped a bit, you can easily cast Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. There's only one in the list, but it shouldn't be too hard to find using Traverse the Ulvenwald. It acts similarly to Delirium decks of old that would run one copy of Emrakul, the Promised End.
The best thing about Doomfall is that it's almost always going to be a great turn 3 play. Either you're exiling a creature or casting Pick the Brain.
Control decks will likely be making a comeback as well, so having Doomfall act as a removal spell that is also an excellent hand disruption spell is perfect for tackling a diverse metagame.
Doomfall does usually get weaker as the game goes on when your opponent has no cards in hand and more creatures to choose from to exile. There are also some creatures and creature-makers that really punish Doomfall's Diabolic Edict mode, like Whirler Virtuoso; Nissa, Voice of Zendikar; and Thraben Inspector.
Can Hour of Promise make ramp happen?
This is a pretty linear strategy that's going to be clunky some of the time, but it could shine if Control decks start getting popular.
- 3 Advanced Stitchwing
- 4 Champion of Wits
- 4 Elder Deep-Fiend
- 4 Prized Amalgam
- 4 Stitchwing Skaab
- 2 Wretched Gryff
Nothing too special here, just an already powerful archetype that gets some great new tools.
Champion of Wits really does it all in this deck. It enables emerge, it dumps cards the cards you want in the graveyard, and it's even a good card to just have in your graveyard, since you can eternalize it later. Champion of Wits not only helps you have the most explosive draws possible, including a turn 4 emerged Elder Deep-Fiend after you discard a Kozilek's Return, but also provides really solid late-game inevitability. I think it's easy to underestimate how good eternalizing Champion of Wits is.
Strategic Planning secretly one of the most solid cards in the set, acting as a sorcery-speed Anticipate, except it's also able to generate value by putting cards in the graveyard. I'm not even sure it's better than Tormenting Voice here, but it seems like a safe option that complements the strategy. Having the option to cast Cathartic Reunion when you want to get cards from your hand into the graveyard, and Strategic Planning to dig for cards to put in your graveyard seems good.
The nice thing is that if some form of this deck is broken beyond belief, there are some nice sideboard cards in the form of Crook of Condemnation and Scavenger Grounds to help keep it in check.
- 4 Bygone Bishop
- 2 Fairgrounds Warden
- 4 Glory-Bound Initiate
- 4 Hanweir Militia Captain
- 4 Selfless Spirit
- 4 Sunscourge Champion
- 4 Thraben Inspector
Oketra's Monument already managed to make its way into Standard, but will it continue to succeed?
A big question is whether decks that heavily rely on artifacts survive Abrade entering the format. Even Heart of Kiran starts looking less appealing when Abrade answers it so easily. But Abrade won't be in every deck and might even fall victim to its own power a little. Expect artifacts to be prioritized less highly, but don't count them out entirely.
Sunscourge Champion hasn't received a lot of hype, which makes sense; today's three drops often provide a lot of value in the form of card draw or a massive body. There also isn't really a Mono-Red Burn deck in Standard that would make you want to prioritize lifegain. But, if you ask me, I think Sunscourge Champion does a pretty great Kitchen Finks impression, and it could easily find a home somewhere.
Here we get a little spicy with a mill deck in Standard.
Fraying Sanity is one of the best mill cards they've printed in quite some time, but to make mill happen, Fraying Sanity is going to have to carry the deck hard. So is it enough to spawn a new archetype?
The nice thing about Fraying Sanity is that it works well with other mill cards, and works naturally if you stall long enough, since eventually cards are going to get into your opponent's graveyard somehow.
The more copies of Fraying Sanity, the better. If you have three Fraying Sanity copiess attached to your opponent and mill your opponent for five with Compelling Argument, the Fraying Sanity copies will then mill your opponent for an additional five, then ten, and then twenty.
Abrade coming into the format incentivizes you to work with enchantments if you're looking to build a combo deck, which this deck takes into account by not playing into its hands. Fraying Sanity and Fevered Visions are enchantments, so checkmate, Abrade-theists.
Ipnu Rivulet mills for four and doesn't really take much extra effort than just putting in your deck and getting work, which is no joke.
Startled Awake is your major kill card and can mill for massive amounts out of nowhere when paired with Fraying Sanity. Although I don't imagine you'll often be returning it to the battlefield flipped as a creepy ghost child, in theory it could come up, and you'll give your opponents plenty of nightmare fuel when it does.
The key to mill being a strategy would be the format slowing down and opposing decks not having good ways to interact with your key enchantments.
Hour Time Is Now!
Hour of Devastation is here, in real life and on Magic Online, so get to playing some Magic!