Hour of Devastation – Playing To Your Weaknesses: Artifacts, Multicolor, and Land
NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)
As for my rating system, after a lot of feedback I’ve decided to abandon my 3 tier scoring system of Low-Medium-High and I will instead be moving onto a 5 star ranking system. The system is as follows:
- 1 star = a card that is barely playable, even as filler for your deck
- 2 stars = this card could be a strong sideboard card, but is highly conditional and not always effective
- 3 stars = a 3 star card is a solid role-player. These cards could be less than amazing removal effects, or a creature that is a glass cannon (high power, low defense). They could be good except for a few flaws.
- 4 stars = Here’s where we get into the powerhouses. 4 Stars could be good finishers, or cards that can end a game if left unchecked. They also have multiple effects, and are all around good value for you. The only thing holding them back is restrictive costs or some small drawback.
- 5 stars = you won’t see a lot of these at common and uncommon. These will usually be your rares and mythics because they are incredibly bonkers. Planeswalkers, massive creatures, etc., these are the cards you could build a deck around.
It’s been more than a week since the pre-release and I know some of you might be taking part in a limited Grand Prix this weekend (or some other limited event), so it’s more than past time to get this last article about the rest of HOU/AKH limited out. After some feedback from a few of my readers, I’ve become more strict with my ratings. I tried it out with green, and I think that I’m on the right course now. I’ll make it my duty to be a little harder on evaluating cards to more closely reflect their true impact. If you haven’t read my previous article on Artifacts, lands, and multicolor cards, you can find the link here from Amonkhet.
Amonkhet introduced us to a few playable desert cards like Painted Bluffs and Grasping Dunes, but Hour of Devastation is going all out. At first I thought the cards from HOU that relied on Deserts were cute but largely inconsistent due to how many deserts you could realistically play in your deck without messing up your mana too much, but after looking at the sheer number to choose from, these desert “pain lands” brought the whole synergy together. With or without the “if you have a desert” cards, these 3 lands are more than playable in HOU limited.
Shefet Dunes is a mini anthem effect for aggressive decks like RW exert, Ifnir Deadlands is a better Grasping Dunes that acts as removal, and Hashep Oasis is a nice pump card in GB or GR decks. Sure you can sacrifice these cards themselves if you wanted to, but you can actually activate these effects multiple times if you have a few spare deserts such as Painted Bluffs to throw away. Great cards for limited. I expect the white and black ones to be drafted rather highly, but green will be sure not to table during a draft as well.
Shefet Dunes – RATING: 3.5 Stars
Ifnir Deadlands – RATING: 3 Stars
Hashep Oasis – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Survivor’s Encampment is a definite improvement on Painted Bluffs, and a great mana fixer if you’re looking to splash a 3rd color. I think you’ll see it a lot in HOU limited.
RATING: 3 Stars
I don’t know why anybody would want to play a basic land over any of these. It comes in tapped, so what? Besides being a desert (which helps out those desert strategies), the added cycling effect makes these lands great additions to whichever deck your playing. I’m pretty sure you’ll see a lot of people playing these in HOU limited. While not as high draft picks as the other deserts, if you’re down to the last 7-8 picks in a booster pack and see one of these come your way in your color, grab it.
RATING: 3 Stars
There aren’t too many artifacts at uncommon and common that I’m feeling this time around, but there are some limited roleplayers nonetheless. Manalith is an easy to cast ramp card that will help you reach those higher casting costs more quickly, and great to have in decks where you’re looking to splash a 3rd or 4th color (especially if it’s a double symbol). The only time I wouldn’t play it would be if my deck was a highly aggressive deck with a lot of 2-3 mana spells with a lot of combat tricks.
In those instances, when you’re looking for more damage from your aggressive decks, Dagger of the Worthy fits the bill. While not absolutely necessary in an beatdown styled deck, if you’re short on combat tricks the Dagger can provide you with some heavier hitters at the cost of 2 mana. Also great to put onto tokens if you’re playing an Oketra’s Monument.
Traveler’s Amulet is a classic mana fixer in limited that requires minimal investment. If you’re looking to splash another color and don’t have any of the deserts that produce any color mana, or an Evolving Wilds to grab a one off land, the Amulet will do the job nicely.
Manalith – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Dagger of the Worthy – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Traveler’s Amulet – RATING: 2.5 Stars
The cycle of multicolor creatures this time around might not be as powerful as those in Amonkhet, but they each add another layer of depth to already established archetypes.
Unraveling Mummy can be really dangerous late game in a BW zombies deck with a lot of mana available. Thankfully only attacking zombies get the lifelink or deathtouch bonus, but that can still get out of hand very quickly if your opponent has access to zombie recursion from the graveyard or a bomb like Liliana, Death’s Majesty.
Obelisk Spider seems sweet in a GB counters deck synergy wise, but is rather low on the power scale. It’s a great blocker against flyer decks and weakens anything it blocks, and combos very well with cards like Nest of Scarabs or Hapatra. Very strong card in the GB Archetype, but still decent even if the synergy isn’t fully there. The incidental life gain should be great.
Bloodwater Entity isn’t as good as Enigma Drake was, but since it’s a flyer and has prowess, it should still be a good card to splash in UW or UB flyers. Getting back a piece of removal when you play it is also a nice benefit.
River Hoopoe might be rather unassuming as a 1/3 flyer, but the late game implications of this card can not be understated. Grabbing a card and 2 life every turn later on will give you great card advantage against your opponent. Possibly splashable if your mana fixing is good enough.
The last card, Resolute Survivors, is one of the best exert creatures in both sets. At first I thought it was just gaining you one life whenever a creature becomes exerted, but it PINGS your opponent too? Holy Lightning Helix on a stick Batman. I’d take this really high in a draft, and would definitely splash for it in a GR or WG exert strategy. It’s an incredibly powerful card in an aggressive deck.
Unraveling Mummy – RATING: 3 Stars
Obelisk Spider – RATING: 3 Stars
Bloodwater Entity – RATING: 2.5 Stars
River Hoopoe – RATING: 3 Stars
Resolute Survivors – RATING: 3.5 Stars
My last two picks for HOU limited are Consign/Oblivion and Farm/Market. I like Consign/Oblivion because it can bounce a problem card like a planeswalker or other bomb card at the end of your opponent’s turn, and then you can force them to discard it the follow turn. Huge tempo effect.
Farm/Market is a Rebuke-like effect effect on the top and looting on the bottom. I’d play it for the top portion alone in my white deck, but tossing two of your extra lands later in the game for 2 new cards isn’t a bad trade off either.
Consign/Oblivion – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Farm/Market – RATING – 3 Stars
Other Cards that Will See Play
- Crook of Condemnation – with all of the Etnernalize and Embalm effects in this limited format, I think the Crook could be a great sideboard card. Targets what you want and gets rid of it.
- Dunes of the Dead – great card to sac if you’re playing a desert themed deck. Gives you a creature on top of the trigger from the other desert pain land.
- Ramunap Ruins – again, if you have lots of deserts to toss, hitting your opponent for 2 damage each turn late game could help you to swing the game in your favor.
- Claim/Fame – great card for modern if you’re playing Death’s Shadow, but might be a little hard to find good value for a 1 or 2 mana creature in this format.
- Struggle/Survive – the red removal part is good, but I’m not sure I’d want to refill my opponent’s deck with cards he’s killed. If they have nothing in their graveyard I guess it’s okay though.
As you can see from my tweet, my first pool of cards wasn’t that great. White and red gave me the best curve, but absolutely no removal. I tried to splash black as a 3rd color to give me access to some removal, but I could never get the mana when I needed it so I switched back to RW only and went 1-3 drop at my first event. All of my rares were either blue spells or land, which gave me no finishers or bombs to work with. The deck would do well initially, but then lost to my opponent’s bombs like planeswalkers or finishers later on in the game. There were 45 players at this first event. It’s a far cry from my 3-0 and 4-2 matches from AKH limited.
After a the 1-3 drop, I wanted to get one more event under my belt before I left for my summer vacation, so I went up to street to a LGS starting their tournament at 4pm and got in on a small 5 person even. As you can see, I had a much better pool this time, great removal, and a good curve. Both the curse and Hailfire of Torment were instrumental in beating my opponent’s down after an aggressive start. Ended up getting quite a lot of packs for such a small even which was a nice surprise!
I wish I had been able to get a few more games under my belt during the pre-release, but oh well. It’s not like I was going to waste my money going to GP Kyoto this weekend and go into debt for 6 packs of cards and slim to no chance of making my $110 back (+ transportation). I do plan on finally upgrading my PC this summer though so I can get MTGO and practice playing both standard and limited that way. I feel it’s a much better use of my money and also will allow me to eventually stream my crazy standard and Frontier brews while taking part in free play with some of my readers too. I look forward to hearing about how your pre-releases and other limited events went, so don’t be shy and post any stories you have down below. I’m also more than open to hearing about how you would re-evaluate some of the cards I talked about and what score you would give them. That will do it for my Playing to Your Weaknesses articles for this season, but be sure to join me in the coming days for articles about standard, Frontier, and my thoughts on the financial impact of Hour of Devastation before the Pro Tour Next weekend. Thanks for reading as always!