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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Jul 12 2017 11:00am
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  The Hour of Devastation prerelease was this past weekend and now it's available on Magic Online, so we have actual draft and sealed content this week.  My prerelease went well, although I didn't pull any high end cards other than my promo (The Scorpion God).  I know a few people opened Invocations but I sadly did not.  I still need to hit one this set in order to keep my streak going of opening at least one masterpiece every set.  To date I've opened: Temple Garden, Smoldering Marsh, Mana Confluence, Combustible Gearhulk, Chromatic Lantern, Chrome Mox, Planar Bridge, Chalice of the Void, and Spell Pierce.  I've traded them all away, so the ones I actually own I never opened: Canopy Vista, Tectonic Edge, Oketra the True, Rugged Prairie, Mind's Eye, Champion's Helm, Painter's Servant, and Sculpting Steel.  The most important thing was having fun and that I did have.  Today we'll be diving deep into Hour of Devastation but before we do that, let's take a look at the upcoming schedule:

  • Today - HOU Prerelease Pools, HOU Draft League #1, HOU Sealed League #1 video, HOU Sealed League #2 video
  • 7/19 - HOU Draft League #2, HOU Sealed League #1 videos, HOU Sealed League #2 videos
  • 7/26 - HOU Draft League #3, HOU Sealed League #1 video, HOU Sealed League #2 videos
  • 8/2 - HOU Draft League #4, HOU Sealed League #1 videos, HOU Sealed League #2 videos

All of July is about Hour of Devastation, so let's jump right in!

Hour of Devastation Prerelease Pools

Over three different pools I went BR, BW, and BR again.  This isn't to say that black and red are really strong, it just says that more often than not I had those colors be the best colors I could play in my sealed pools.  While I prioritized cards that could beat Eternalize, it actually wasn't as prevalent as I thought it would be.  While the mechanic is good, it isn't always attached to an amazing creature and even if they upgrade their creature to a 4/4 you can have something just naturally in play that beats it (removal, double blocks, big creatures).  So cards that could beat Eternalize mostly turned out to be as good as they normally would be, but less important that you have them in your deck.

Afflict was very strong if you were on the play and the aggressor, which was something that I'm glad I caught on about right away.  (Frontline Devastator) was a card no one really wanted to block since it was always an even trade at best for the opponent, and the worst scenario was getting blown out by a combat trick and still having to deal with the creature.  Afflict discourages trades from your opponent and makes them more likely to race, even if they're not really capable of doing that early on.  That said, sometimes they'll decide to bite the bullet and take the loss of life rather than take more combat damage, and that's where if you have a trick up your sleeve you can take advantage of that line of thinking.  Generally speaking I think the best way to combat Afflict is to not let your opponent seize initiative or think they're ahead.  Make attacking bad for them or have ways to turn the race in your favor.

A lot of common creatures felt to be around the size of a 3/3, which made "big" creatures like a 4/4 seem bigger than they normally would be.  (Gilded Cerodon) at 4/4 with a way to make combat favorable for you seemed much better than I initially realized.  (Granitic Titan) as a 5/4 Menace was also pretty strong and almost always got a two for one when you had to double block it.  I'm not sure if the average creature in Hour of Devastation is around a 3/3, but that's how I felt playing the games.  I wonder if that's a "feature" of a small set, the creatures are smaller because you see them more often, and perhaps they don't want too many big creatures always showing up?

I went 7-4 overall over three pools (3-1, 2-1, 2-2) with my losses coming to decks that were just better than mine.  Better rares, curves, removal, they had all of it and I had none of it.  That's how it goes sometimes and you can't get upset about that.  I believe I built the pools to the best of my ability and won as much as I could.  What do you think?  Would you have built something differently?

Hour of Devastation Draft League #1

Even though I do a set review, I don't do it for draft, it's more for sealed deck so the first draft or two of the new format is always a little wonky for me.  I wanted to be flexible with my picks and general purpose cards rather than commit to anything so that if those cards weren't the open colors, I could easily switch or splash them if needed.  Turns out the cards I picked: (Desert's Hold) (Open Fire), were in the colors that were open so I was able to draft a RW deck that had a fair amount of removal and a strong card in (Hour of Revelation).  (Chaos Maw) can be a bomb, but it's a little too situational and my deck was hurt more than I'd like if I ever cast it since I had so few cards that could survive the three damage, and it's not always clear that your opponent will get wrecked as well.  I didn't have as many Afflict creatures as I wanted, but they're generally pretty good so it's going to be hard to get a lot of them.

I went 1-2 with this deck and I had to misplay to get myself into a 1-2 unfortunately.  I made mistakes in both matches that I lost that had I not made them, I could have turned those into wins.  Against (The Locust God) I should have waited on my removal until I drew (Disposal Mummy).  I can't race effectively because I have no attacks after they replay the god so I might as well let it live and wait for my one out before I pull the trigger.  I simply didn't think that one through and even if I never drew the (Disposal Mummy), the correct line is to wait even if I still lose.  My other misplay was game 1 of match 3 were I used a (Desert's Hold) on a meaningless 2/2 because I didn't want them to discard and draw a card, only to be hit with a (Gilded Cerodon) that I had no answer for.  I should have just traded with the 2/2 if it came to that and saved my removal for a better threat.  Instead I got in for 2 damage and lost the game and match.  My misplays cost me hard and it shouldn't have come to that.

Hour of Devastation Sealed League #1

This one was pretty easy to figure out.  Even though I have some good blue rares and (The Locust God), I don't have the support to make blue a strong maindeck color.  Blue itself is very shallow whereas black and red are strong on their own.  Green and white weren't even in the discussion of being played so it didn't take long for me to decide what colors I wanted to play.  Black and red have some removal and good creatures and the mana is stable enough that I can splash (The Locust God) and have the deck run smoothly.  Someone on YouTube asked if a Grixis shell was possible and after looking at it I didn't think it was possible.  There's only like 3 blue cards I want to play but I don't have the fixing to make that happen.  The best I can do is play (The Locust God) and leave the rest of my blue cards to the side.  What do you think?  What would you build?

Hour of Devastation Sealed League #2

With (Torment of Hailfire) and (Bontu's Last Reckoning) it's a very hard sell to not play black, especially since my black is quite playable.  The question with this pool is what color to pair with black, not if I should be playing black.  What I want with black is a color that adds meat to the deck.  I either want early creatures to maximize how punishing (Torment of Hailfire) is, or I want bigger threats that let me leverage (Bontu's Last Reckoning).  I have a problem though, if you look at the curve of my playable cards, I have about 6 cards that cost more than 4 mana spread across all five colors.  This means I don't have powerful plays further down the mana curve, so I have to be more aggressive in terms of how I play my cards.  If I want to maximize my early plays, my best shot is to pair black with green and have access to (Overcome).  My creatures overall aren't the best, but if you have (Overcome) then any amount of creatures become good.  What do you think?  What would you build?

Conclusion

I wonder why I keep opening pools that make me want to play black, it's a little funny actually.  Overall I think Hour is a good set and definitely mixes up gameplay from just triple Amonkhet.  The deserts go highly in draft if you're playing cards that care about them, so make sure to pick them up if you need them for your deck.  Don't do what I did and pray for Amonkhet to bail you out and have to use colorless lands in order to get the desert cards working.  My draft deck ended up with a 1-2 but I believe it could have gone 2-1 or 3-0 if I didn't misplay those two matches.  Hopefully next week is better!  I'll be back with more gameplay and looking at cards that I underrated initially.

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.  As always you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here where I post all the videos in this article much earlier along with Commander and Standard content.  We'll be playing Hour of Devastation all month long so tune in next week for more videos of the new format.

Thanks for reading and watching!