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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Jul 28 2017 12:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  Still haven't drafted Hour of Devastation in paper, so Magic Online will have to do for now.  I'm going to be a little behind the curve on this format, so please bear with me as I try to figure things out at a slower pace than I normally would. Hopefully I can start drafting again in paper and everything will be much smoother.  Until then however, we press on and play on Magic Online when we can.  Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule before I head into thoughts on HOU and actual gameplay:

  • Today - HOU Draft League #3, HOU Sealed League #1 video, HOU Sealed League #2 videos
  • 8/3 - HOU Draft League #4, HOU Sealed League #1 videos, HOU Sealed League #2 videos
  • 8/10 - HOU Draft League #5, HOU Sealed League #3 video, HOU Sealed League #4 video
  • 8/17 - HOU Draft League #6, HOU Sealed League #3 videos, HOU Sealed League #4 videos 

By my estimation we'll be able to do a total of six sealed leagues by the time Ixalan comes out and around 12 drafts with Hour of Devastation.  Not a bad number and should give us a nice overview before we move onto a new format.  In the meantime, let's talk a bit about Hour of Devastation Limited before diving into the gameplay this week.

Random thoughts on Hour of Devastation

Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs is a good card in Hour of Devastation, but what does this tell us about the format itself?  What can we take away from a 0/4 defender that can deal one damage every turn?  What would the situation look like if a 0/4 is good in a format?  Creature sizing would have to be small enough that a 0/4 blocks well and the format slow enough that a 0/4 wall that pings every turn is powerful.  I've seen people use premium removal on the creature, and I myself have wanted to kill the wall every time it shows up.  Does this make cards that have less than four power bad in the format? No, but it does mean that a big creature (think 5/5 or 5/6) is going to be more powerful than one would normally assume it would be.  

Now there's one thing that we can't forget about Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs: it needs a Desert in order to activate its ability.  If you're lucky you get one or two on color Deserts in your sealed pool, and in draft you have to pick your Desert cards much higher than you would normally take a land because if this card is good with them, what's to say that other cards that care about the same land type won't be good?  Sand Strangler does a fine Flametongue Kavu impression and Gilded Cerodon makes attacking much better for you and both require a Desert.  These cards matter and they matter in a big way.  If nothing else you can use the mono colored tapped Deserts to cycle whenever you need another card rather than an extra land.  I would go so far as to say that being able to cycle them is quite good, and you should hold onto them as long as you can.  If you need to play it as your land drop by all means go ahead, but if you can wait then you might just find yourself being able to cycle when you don't need land anymore.

While I wouldn't go too crazy in draft, I do believe the format is slow enough that you can make a viable green deck with two to three splashes if you have the right amount of mana fixing in your deck.  There are a number of powerful effects in the format that you can have access to if you're able to build your deck correctly.  How much mana fixing is too much and can you play flexible fixing if able?  Beneath the Sands allows you to either search of a basic land and put it onto the battlefield tapped, or you can cycle it when you don't need the land/fixing.  That amount of flexibility is quite good and you'd want access to at least the first copy of the card if you're planning on splashing a card or two.  Oasis Ritualist is a card that you can play as a decent 2/4 blocker and fixes/accelerates your mana when you need it.  Naga Vitalist can work in a pinch but Oasis Ritualist is the far superior card as it will always produce your splash color any time you want.  If you're not green you can use Painted Bluffs/Survivor's Encampment and Manalith to fix your mana if you need it, although in those decks I'd be splashing one color max.

Hour of Devastation Draft #3

This was a bit of a silly draft as I passed TWO Obelisk Spider and got back one on the wheel.  It's crazy for me to think that I could have had a deck with two Obelisk Spider if I had chosen the first one right away.  I came into the draft not wanting to draft RW again and so I started things off with a first pick Sifter Wurm.  My experiences in sealed gave me the idea that the format was slower than I thought, and picking a seven mana creature was something I could do and build around.  It helps that green has mana acceleration in Oasis Ritualist and Beneath the Sands, so getting to seven mana is not as hard as one would think.  In fact with Oasis Ritualist in play I can cast Sifter Wurm on turn 5 if I so wanted to.  I picked up red as my second color in pack 1 and had the choice of abandoning it for a Hour of Revelation when I opened pack 2.  It might have been correct to do so, but I don't know what white signal I passed in pack 1 and there was a perfectly acceptable Ambuscade that I could take instead.  I think most people take Hour of Revelation, but I decided to take Ambuscade instead.  I stayed on the RG train while taking some black cards when possible to facilitate a splash if I was able to make it happen.  Pack 3 gave me Cut/Ribbons and TWO Decimator Beetles that made me commit to black as opposed to red and I ended up with a deck that splashed red for Sand Strangler and Cut/Ribbons and had a minor -1/-1 counter subtheme in Nest of Scarabs and Decimator Beetle.  I went 2-1 with this build, giving me a record of 3-5 overall in Hour of Devastation draft so far and 2 prize packs.  I like how much more powerful this deck was compared to my other two draft decks.  Perhaps the key is to be bigger and not try to be aggro like you could in Amonkhet?

Hour of Devastation Sealed League #1

Sadly there isn't much to say about this match since we got destroyed by a far superior deck.  I could have played around Hour of Revelation a little bit better than I did, but I don't think it would have mattered.  It's very hard to beat that card when you walk into it and even more so when you have to win games knowing it could happen at any time.  Even so, I think my opponent had a strong enough deck that if they never drew it they would still be able to beat me.  Right now I'm looking at 1-2 hoping to salvage a 3-2 and prizes next week.

Hour of Devastation Sealed League #2

After starting off 2-1 in the first stage I catch a bit of a bad break and end up 1-2 in the second stage for an overall record of 3-3.  Looking back on it I should have played both Bontu's Last Reckoning and Torment of Scarabs while ditching Overcome and relying on Torment of Hailfire as a way to win games.  The Overcome plan isn't really working out and even though it's a strong card, I have better gameplay with Bontu's Last Reckoning in my deck.  I had an opponent walk into it while Torment of Scarabs was out and it won me the game.  That's something I would have liked access to in my other matches, and Bontu's Last Reckoning gives me an insurance plan against an aggressive start so I don't just lose the game immediately.  With the new Amonkhet pack added to my pool I'm going to look at each color again and see if there's either upgrades to my current deck and/or a new deck that is viable now.  

Conclusion

I'm having middling results so far in Hour of Devastation but for now I'll hang my hat on a 2-1 draft league and hope to do the same or better next week.  Hopefully the answer is just to draft a bigger deck and not be lured by small aggressive creatures that get stopped in their tracks by a 0/4 wall.

Next week I'll be back to finish my sealed league and do another draft league.  If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.  You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here where you'll find all the videos seen here early on the channel along with extra content made only for the channel.  Looking to try Grixis in Standard?  I have videos with my build of Grixis Control on there!  

Thanks for reading/watching!