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Hour of Devastation is a very interesting set.
At first glance, it doesn't pack the punch of some of the more recent set releases. There's no insanely powerful Eldrazi that costs a hundred mana and wins the game on the spot. There are no insanely pushed planeswalkers like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar; game-changing removal spells like Fatal Push; or new card types gone crazy like Smuggler's Copter. There aren't even any accidental two-card Splinter Twin-style combos!
But what the set lacks in flair, it makes up for in utility.
While it's partly due to Standard finally being free from the oppression of Emrakul, the Promised End; Felidar Guardian; and Aetherworks Marvel, I haven't seen people this excited to brew up decks and play Standard in a long time. Cards that didn't necessarily jump off the image gallery at first are making their way into decklists, and the new tools provided are supplementing archetypes that were coming up short before.
In short, Hour of Devastation is doing exactly what a small set being released after a year of rough Standard formats should do – it is adding new and unique tools to the Standard card pool without tipping the scales too far in any one direction. Hour of Devastation is full of cards that are great role-players, cards that make the other cards around them better without taking too much of the spotlight.
Last week I went over a number of cards in the set that had caught my eye, but this week we get down to putting those theories into practice.