Hour of Devastation Review — Gold, Split, Artifacts and Lands
Hello friends and worshipers of the God-Pharaoh. Welcome to EDHREC's final Commander set review of Hour of Devastation - gold cards, split cards, artifacts and non-basic lands! We have a lot to cover, so let's get started!
I Love Goooooold!!!!
You know a set is powerful for Commander when you open the gates of discussion with an uncommon. For three mana we get a flying 2/2 with prowess that will dig a sorcery or instant out of our graveyard and put it on top of our library. Sure, it's not as kind as the Archaeomancer who goes the extra mile to make sure that spell is in hand, but it does do a splendid job of setting us up for a Miracle. Entreat the Angels, Reforge the Soul, and Terminus could all prove to be worthwhile spells the second time around. "Thanks for the spell, great job kid, now get out there and chump block for me!"
The Locust God
As if drawing cards wasn't a reward in itself, The Locust God will see to it that we add a 1/1 insect with flying and haste for every card we draw. There is no doubt that the Izzet god will combine its ability along with out of control draw engines to send forth a plague of locusts to swarm our opponents.
The glaring, obvious interaction is with Skullclamp. Attach the clamp to an insect, draw two cards and create two more insects. But why stop there? This is blue/red, I'm sure there is a combo here somewhere right? Right! If we add Ashnod's Altar to the mix, we can draw as many cards as we like and bring forth a plague of biblical proportions.
What do we do now? Well, we can swing our army of insects, acquire the services of the Theros god Purphoros, God of the Forge, or simply stroll our Laboratory Maniac out onto the battlefield. Of course, if we need more than 99 locusts to swarm the table for the win we could cast Time Spiral and refuel the Locust God's supply of death wielding power. I will be looking forward to seeing The Locust God flourish on EDHREC and the insane possibilities and strategies this god will provide.
Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh
Ladies and Gentlemen. It is my great honor to introduce to you, the eldest of Elder Dragons, the Tyrant of Worlds, the Archenemy of the Gatewatch, the Master of Devastation, Nicol Bolas! Finally, the big bad of the set is revealed and who can't help but clamor in awe at the wake of the most notorious dragon in Magic: the Gathering? "Nicky B." is overloaded with a buffet of abilities that will definitely grab your friends' attention. Let's take a quick glance at the devastation the God-Pharaoh has in mind to torture all that oppose!
Nicol Bolas's +2 ability exiles cards from the top of an opponent's library until he/she exiles a non-land card. That opponent exiles that card and we have the privilege of playing that card until end of turn without paying its mana cost. The ability shows our planeswalker's random side and reminds me a bit of Telemin Performance; a card I'm not ashamed to admit that I have played before.
The +1 from Nicol Bolas' utility belt features an ability that eradicates two cards from each opponents' hand. This could be a crippling blow to opponents that were hanging by a mere thread in the drought of card draw.
For -4, Nicol Bolas can do what dragons do best. Fix his gaze on a single target and let forth a sulfuric breath of flame. Outside of indestructible, not too many targets will survive the direct ire of our archenemy planeswalker.
Finally, the true Hour of Devastation is upon our opponents. Commander games are all too familiar with the likes of a Cyclonic Rift sweeping the board. However, this fails in comparison to Nicol Bolas's wrath. This ultimate is a nuclear blast that should lead to an hour long commander game ending in devastation at the hands of Nicol Bolas, God Pharaoh.
This is actually a decent little blocker. As a 1/4 with reach, it is well worth the three mana casting cost in the early game. While it doesn't have deathtouch, the venomous bite of a -1/-1 counter will provide value in niche decks like Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons or Vhati il-Dal. And let's not forget gaining that itsy-bitsy amount of life courtesy of this Golgari spider.
Samut, the Tested
So I ask you, my EDHREC friends, have you played against a Samut, Voice of Dissent deck before? If so, then you may agree with me that she can definitely be an open flame in a firecracker hut just off the main highway. When I first heard of her ascension to the rank of planeswalker I feared that she would be a gruesome force to go up against. Needless to say, I'm a bit disappointed in her abilities. Who knows, maybe I had the hype turned up too loud, but her plus ability to give a creature double strike and a -2 to do two damage just doesn't seem to live up to the power presented by her former legendary self. As with most planeswalkers, however, that ultimate is smoother than a Left Hand Brewery Nitro Stout. A Tooth and Nail entwined that can fetch planeswalkers or creatures. Let's get that Doubling Season lined up and get straight to the good stuff!
The Scarab God
Perhaps the most intriguing of the three new legendary commanders found in Hour of Devastation is The Scarab God. On the surface, The Scarab God seems poised to replace Gisa and Geralf as EDHREC's most popular Zombie tribal commander. And why wouldn't it? The Scarab God has an amazing ability to create an undead version of any creature in any graveyard and give it a base power and toughness of 4/4. Have you ever wanted to create a 4/4 flying Birds of Paradise zombie at instant speed? The Scarab God is here for you.
While exiling creature cards from graveyards and eternalizing them for our benefit is plenty of reason to justify The Scarab God in our command zone, let's take a look at that upkeep trigger! Our opponents lose life and we scry according to the number of zombies we control? A commander with its own win condition? Heck ya! Army of the Damned or at the very least Grave Titan will provide plenty of resources to drain our opponents' life totals at the Dimir altar. Heck, it's not too far out of the realm to think that Paradox Haze might be worthy of a deck slot.
In addition to being the new lord of the undead, the Dimir god could also prove worthwhile as a mill commander. We don't have to run tribal zombies to get amazing value from his exile/eternalize ability and The Scarab God could possibly replace commanders like Lazav, Dimir Mastermind with little or no change to the main deck.
Without a doubt, this is my favorite god of the set and I am looking forward to plundering graveyards and swinging at Meren players with a 4/4 zombified Spore Frog.
The Scorpion God
Sure, I will admit, I was taken back just a smidge when I didn't see Green in The Scorpion God's color identity, but after reading through the abilities, who cares! Let's officially embrace red in this new era of -1/-1 counter shenanigans.
Decks built around The Scorpion God will more than likely have a larger portion of the color pie swinging to the black side of Rakdos. The history of -1/-1 counters is strong in black and "The Rock" will be absolutely bonkers with on-theme cards like Soul Snuffers, Necroskitter and Black Sun's Zenith.
The Scorpion God will also be able to use its ability to distribute -1/-1 counters to manipulate the creatures with undying. In particular, we are looking at the Rakdos god's highest priest, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed.
Of course, the glaring overall potential is seen in The Scorpion God's first ability to draw a card whenever a creature with a -1/-1 counter on it dies. Let's not forget to mention Blowfly Infestation. A card that could single-handedly wipe out a swarm of 1/1 locusts and gush forth an unfathomable amount of card draw. Can you smell what The Scorpion God is cooking?
Struggle // Survive
Incinerating a creature is definitely red and the fact that Struggle is an instant makes it playable as a piece of removal in my book. We are playing commander, so it won't be out of the realm of possibilities to toast an opposing creature for seven or more. Now that this split card is in the graveyard, we can also grill an opponents graveyard or mill strategies by requiring each player to shuffle their graveyards into their library. I could definitely see Struggle // Survive being Signature Cards on EDHREC for Mina and Denn, Wildborn and Omnath, Locus of Rage.
Leave // Chance
While I had full intentions on "leaving" this one alone, I had a change of heart when I remembered The Cheese Stands Alone, er, I mean Barren Glory was a card. Someone, please tell me that you plan on including this two card win condition in your EDH deck. Honestly, I will probably give it a shot in Zurgo Helmsmasher for the simple fact that we can return permanents we own to our hand in response to targeted or mass removal. Better yet, this saves Zurgo from an increase in his commander tax if I extract him from the battlefield in time. Of course, I can hear the thoughts of a few evil players out there that have already teed this up in tandem with land destruction like Armageddon. Ah, yes, mass land destruction, a sure-fire way to get an opponent to "Leave" the game (chuckling as I write this pun).
Reason // Believe
This may be one of my favorite spells in the entire block. For one blue mana, Reason lets us scry three. Sure, we don't get to draw a card, but we do get to dig three cards deep into our library and remove any fodder that is not pertinent to the current game state. If we don't like any of the top three cards, we can move them to the bottom. While that's groovy in itself, let's turn our head sideways and see what Believe can do.
Believe is a bit expensive for a sorcery at five mana, but it allows us to look at the top card of our library. If it's a creature we put it onto the battlefield, otherwise we put it into our hand. Used in conjunction with the scry ability from Reason, the dividends could be huge. If we need to wait a few turns, no worries. I'm sure Sylvan Library, Worldly Tutor or Sensei's Divining Top can help us "believe" in huge, friendly, monsters.
Creature heavy decks such as Animar, Soul of Elements, Ezuri, Claw of Progress or Surrak Dragonclaw should stamp "auto-include" onto this one. I would play Reason // Believe if it was just Reason. The green half is all bonus material. Great card!
Driven // Despair
You know, I always wanted to get more mileage out of Avenger of Zendikar Plant tokens. While Driven to Despair sounds depressing, the future couldn't be more bright for Golgari. Swinging in with a team of 1/2 plants to draw cards and force our opponents to discard is my kind of balance shift. Heck with the plants, how about we send our Hornet Queen and Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons deathtouch tokens into the red zone? Our opponents can block and let their creature die or let it get through for a point of damage, we draw a card and they discard a card. Forcing a defending player into a lose-lose scenario should be a part of every commander players balanced breakfast.
Curiousity has gotten the better of me, hence the inclusion of Abandoned Sarcophagus in my Hour of Devastation set review. With the Sarcophagus on the field we are simply shifting our cards from hand one to hand two (graveyard). Cycle Cast Out for one white mana and then cast it from our graveyard to get the desired effect. I would definitely like to see Abandoned Sarcophagus in a cycling themed EDH deck where I could witness the fascinating synergy in action.
Crook of Condemnation
While all deck building logic points to Relic of Progenitus being the obvious choice for this particular deck slot, the selected removal from the Crook could definitely be an upside. In particular if you are more concerned with picking off specific targets from Meren of Clan Nel Toth's yard or other graveyard strategies in your friendly neighborhood Commander playgroup.
So the God-Pharaoh's gift to the plane of Amonkhet is the ability to become eternalized? Interesting. With God-Pharaoh's Gift in play, all of our creature cards get a chance to rise from the grave in a zombified version of their former self. Add in the ability of haste and swinging at our opponents with a 4/4 Birds of Paradise that they board wiped earlier may turn out to be a great time. And let's not forget that the Gift comes with its very own tutor in Gate to the Afterlife.
While it's not a sacrifice outlet, the ability to remove our own creature from the game at instant speed can thwart an opponent's attempt to Control Magic, or as a response to a board wipe such as Wrath of God. It's almost as if we can move our creatures to a sanctuary until it's safe to return. A safe haven so-to-speak. A mana producing Safe Haven? You don't say?
While Bojuka Bog will always be my top consideration for the inclusion of graveyard hate, I am stoked that Wizards of the Coast has given us a second option in Scavenger Grounds. Well, I say second option, but now colors outside of black have a primary resource to neuter out-of-control graveyard strategies.
I'll admit. At first glance the Survivors' Encampment does not seem like the place I want to be, but in a doomsday scenario what can we do to help the surivivors and inspire them to not give up hope? A visit from King Macar, the Gold-Cursed or Gilder Bairn would definitely raise the morale for Survivors' Encampment, non-basically speaking.
The End is Nigh
That's all I have for you today my EDHREC friends. What Hour of Devastation cards are you looking forward to smashing into your Commander decks? What Grixis god has your eye for a possible deck build? Did I miss any introduction nick names for Nicol Bolas? Let's discuss in the comments below!
On to the next!