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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Jul 06 2017 12:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  The hour is upon us and it's time for the Hour of Devastation Sealed Set Review.  In case you're not familiar with how I do these reviews, I'd like to explain it a little bit before diving into Hour of Devastation.  I look at the cards individually and see how they line up with the set overall and how they'll play in Sealed Deck.  I don't compare cards to one another, so even though I may issue two grades for the same card, they're not equal in power level.  When you open your prerelease kit, you're not comparing a Tah-Crop Elite to Mighty Leap because you're not having to decide which one is better, you're having to decide if they're good.  This set review tries to find the good cards and separates them from the bad/filler cards, giving you a starting point to build your decks.  

This is not a draft guide nor am I looking at the cards with draft in mind.  If you're interested in a draft guide I do not recommend using these grades for that.  Draft differs wildly from Sealed in terms of mana curve and speed, so a card I think is a D might be a C in draft because you're able to curve out with it as opposed to maybe drawing it on turn 6 or 7.  I'm asking: "Is this card good?" as opposed to "Is this card better than this card?"  Those are slightly similar ways to look at a card but have a different analysis and feel.  Let's go ahead and take a look at the upcoming schedule before diving into Hour of Devastation:

  • Today - Hour of Devastation Sealed Set Review, Vintage Cube Draft #2
  • 7/13 - HOU Draft League #1, HOU Sealed League #1 video, HOU Sealed League #2 video
  • 7/20 - HOU Draft League #2, HOU Sealed League #1 videos, HOU Sealed League #2 videos
  • 7/27 - HOU Draft League #3, HOU Sealed League #1 video, HOU Sealed League #2 videos

Hour of Devastation Rankings

Same system as I used for Amonkhet:

  • A - Bomb
  • B - Premium removal, good mythic/rare/uncommon
  • C - Okay mythic/rare/uncommon, most commons
  • D - Bad mythics/rares/commons, sideboard cards
  • F - Unplayable cards

The scale is meant to give a card a letter grade based upon what you would expect an A/B/C/D/F card to look and play like.  A's are cards that win the game on the spot, that produce an immediate impact and must be dealt quickly otherwise they will win the game for your opponent.  Cards such as Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Pack Rat are among more recent A's.  B's are cards that are quite strong but do not necessarily win the game outright.  They help you win the game or are extremely powerful pieces of removal.  Fatal Push is an example of a B-type removal while Winding Constrictor is an example of a B-type creature.  C's are filler cards that go in most Limited decks, or higher rarity cards that don't have that high an impact on the game.  Kari Zev, Skyship Raider is an example of a C.  D's are either bad cards but aren't completely unplayable, or sideboard cards that have narrow effects but are strong in the right situation.  The "Defeat" cycle in Hour of Devastation  is an example of a D.  F's are unplayable cards that make your deck worse for having them in your deck.  I would rather play a basic land than any card that is an F.  Fog is a F.

The purpose of this scale is to see how good a card is on its own, not how good it is with or against other cards because you can't always have those cards to go with it.  Now, some cards will be graded as "if you have this specific type of card: instant/sorcery/creature/creature type" but that's as far as I'm willing to compare a card with other cards.  Some cards will rise and fall in rating depending on what other cards you open in your sealed pool, but I can't account for that.  Instead I choose to see what the card can do on its own and see if that's good enough or not.  With that said, let's talk about the new mechanics in Hour of Devastation.

 

Hour of Devastation Mechanics

Eternalize

Eternalize (cost): Exile this card from your graveyard: Create a token that's a copy of it except it's a 4/4 black Zombie with no mana cost.  Eternalize only as a sorcery

Eternalize is like Embalm from Amonkhet, except now your creature gets upgraded to a 4/4 while retaining all other text it had.  All Eternalize creatures become 4/4s, so you're getting a solid creature when you pay the cost.  This allows you to "double up" on creatures as now you can reuse your creature again and make your opponent have to use exiling effects if they don't want to face the creature again.  In general creatures with Eternalize will be playable as the worst case scenario is you chump block and then make a 4/4 at some point later in the game.

That said you don't want to play a bad card just because it has Eternalize.  For example, take (Proven Combatant), a 1/1 for one blue that becomes a 4/4 if you six mana.  You would effectively be paying SEVEN mana for a 4/4 that does nothing given that you pay 1 mana up front and then 6 mana later on in the game.  I gave (Proven Combatant) a C in my set review and that was a mistake.  You still want to be playing good cards and sometimes a card with Eternalize can still be bad.  If the card is good without eternalize then it'll be even better with it.

Afflict

Afflict X (Whenever this creature becomes blocked, defending player loses X life)

Afflict at its core is an aggressive mechanic as it only works whenever the creature with afflict is attacking.  The idea here is that a creature with afflict will still deal "damage" even if it's blocked.  This makes your opponent have to decide whether they'd like to block much sooner than they would, and it helps mask combat tricks from the offensive much better.  If you attack a hypothetical 2/3 with Afflict 1 into an opposing 2/3, does your opponent block and take 1, or do they not block, save their creature from a possible trick and take 2?  What about (Wildfire Eternal), a 1/4 creature with Afflict 4?  Do you block and take 4 damage, or do you not block, take 1 damage and possibly risk them casting a spell for free?  Most of the time a "punisher" mechanic lets your opponent choose the best option for them, but Afflict makes it so that they lose something even if they make the right choice.

I see Afflict as upside on a creature, so the creature would have to be playable already for me to put it in my deck. There may be some Afflict creatures worth running just for a high Afflict number, but it would have to be in decks that are committed to combat every single turn and can put your opponent in a situation where blocking/not blocking is a tough decision to make.

Hour of Devastation Sealed Set Review

Ranking the colors

White:

  • A - 2
  • B - 7
  • C - 15
  • D - 2
  • F - 2

Blue:

  • A - 0
  • B - 9
  • C - 15
  • D - 2
  • F - 2

Black:

  • A - 1
  • B - 10
  • C - 14
  • D - 3
  • F - 0

Red:

  • A - 1
  • B - 5
  • C - 16
  • D - 4
  • F - 1

Green

  • A - 0
  • B - 7
  • C - 18
  • D - 2
  • F - 1

Multicolored

  • A - 4
  • B - 11
  • C - 4
  • D - 0
  • F - 0

The takeaway here is that the initial impression has green being a little underwhelming and black being the best color in terms of how I ranked the colors.  I think there's a slight lean to blue, black, and red being better than white and green, and that's not surprising given that we're dealing with Nicol Bolas.  I in particular like the "Torment" cycle in black where you lose 3 life unless you discard or sacrifice a non land permanent.  (Torment of Hailfire) is in my opinion the best card in the format since it completely dominates the longer the game goes.  All three gods and Nicol Bolas himself received A's in the multicolored section while (Samut, the Tested) begrudgingly got a B from me.  I don't think she's any good at all, but she'll do some work in the right R/G deck.  There's a fair amount of mana fixing at common so I will imagine more often than not that the multicolored cards will be splashed in this format.

 

Vintage Cube Draft #2

Unfortunately for me the draft portion did not record, I ended the draft and I got an error message and I was unable to recover what I had recorded.  I can tell you that I tried to go into mono red again and first picked a Smuggler's Copter over a Moat and was severely punished when red was not open at all.  I took a Time Walk and then a Dig Through Time and thought I would be a heavy blue control deck but that didn't pan out.  Instead I was able to cobble together a midrangey Esper deck that "splashed" Cryptic Command, Jace Beleren, and (Vendillion Clique).  I even threw in an Emrakul, the Promised End because I had a Liliana, Death's Majesty that could either bring it back from the graveyard or help reduce its cost by using her +1.  I didn't feel too confident about my deck, but I figured it was a freeroll so why not right?

Going 2-1 was better than I expected and now I'm 5-1 overall in my two Cube drafts, which is something I didn't think I'd be able to do.  Elspeth, Knight-Errant has continued to impress me and keeps cementing her place as my favorite card ever.  I'm not sure if I'll draft again but if I do, I'll be sure to keep adding Elspeth, Knight-Errant into my decks.  She just wins games!

Conclusion

Hour of Devastation looks great and I can't wait to play with it.  Fret not loyal readers, it's not Born of the Gods!  My set review placed an emphasis on being able to trade or beat a 4/4 and that's because I'd rather overrate Eternalize than underrate it.  If you feel like I've overrated Eternalize then you can adjust a rating up or down wherever you see fit.  For the moment though, I feel it's good to be able to beat a 4/4, especially on my 4+ mana creatures.  If it can't, then it has to be doing something powerful to justify being in my deck (activated ability, etb, flying, evasion, deathtouch, etc).

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.  Disagree with a card rating?  Let me know and we'll talk about it!  I'm open to being wrong and will listen to any arguments for/against any rating in my set review.  Also, I did forget a card in the review: (Obelisk Spider) and it is a B.  Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel which you can find here; I put out videos for this article days before it goes live, and if you were subscribed you would have seen the set review come out before Monday.

Thanks for reading/watching!