Ultra Budget Brews — Hour of Devastation Review
Hello everyone and welcome back to Ultra Budget Brews! Typically, this article builds entire EDH decks in which no single card costs more than $1. If you are reading this, it means that you are probably aware that Hour of Devastation has been recently released. I’m not sure if there is anything that Magic players love more than new sets. Opening Masterpieces, maybe?
So, while I love creating budget decks, I also love dreaming about new cards and how I’ll use them in different decks. Now, this is still a budget series, so I want to look at cards that will give you the most bang for your buck. I will try to keep most of my picks under $1, but as the set was recently released, prices are a bit higher than they will be in a few weeks, so the cards I am picking are ones that I think will be under a $1 in the very near future. I will also add a few suggestions for decks that they might fit well in.
Obviously, this means that I will be skipping over some really great EDH cards. Cards like the Gods, Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh, Razaketh, the Foulblooded, etc. In all fairness, these cards have been discussed quite a bit at this point (rightfully so, they are very fun and splashy), and you probably don’t need another internet talking head telling you that Ramunap Excavator is a sweet card. You are a smart person and know that a scaly version of Crucible of Worlds goes in all sorts of decks. So, let’s look at some of the budget goodies that Nicol Bolas has gifted us with.
I am, admittedly, a dog person. Cats are fine, so long as they aren’t digging their claws into my legs. Sadly, this seems to be their default setting, so yeah, I’ll pass. The internet seems to largely disagree with me and can’t get enough of them. WotC has printed a number of decent cats in the not too distant past and is even printing an entire cat tribal deck which will be released next month. So, it’s a good time to both be a solid cat card and to be a cat aficionado. Pouncer falls into the first group. A 1/1 Double Strike for 2 mana is a solid rate and if you are running any ways to pump its power, which you should be, this becomes pretty powerful. Double Strike is simply a fantastic keyword. All of that being said, this card wouldn’t have made this list without the Eternalize cost. Creatures die pretty often in EDH, and once this card does, you can pay 5 mana to bring it back as a 4/4 double striking zombie kitty. I’ll take that.
Lifegain, much like mill, is a strategy that basically every magic player tries at least once. In EDH, it can be a solid strategy, mostly because there are some very powerful cards that like lifegain. God-Pharaoh’s Faithful is kind of like the 3rd Soul Sister (the others being Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant). In most instances, it’s not quite as good at gaining life, but it can often block and live to tell the tale. Obviously, you’ll need to pair this with a white commander that also has some combination of blue, red, and black. Thankfully, black in particular pairs well with this card. Also, it’s another Ranger of Eos target, which is not a bad thing.
This is possible my favorite card in the set. If I were to tell you that my favorite deck is Mizzix of the Izmagnus, you’d probably understand why it's my favorite. I have definitely been known to play Cast Through Time in a variety of decks, and this strikes me as a better version of that card. For one, it’s easier to cast. Obviously, they both cost 7 mana, and that is a ton, but having it only cost 1 blue as opposed to 3 is nice. It works much nicer with X spells. Cast Through Time gave spells Rebound, but the X cost isn’t carried over to the next turn. With Swarm Intelligence, it is. Possibly the biggest reason I prefer this card is that you get the extra effect now. I’m all for patience, but why be patient if I don’t have to be? Also, if you cast enough big and scary spells with a Cast Through Time on the table, guess who is getting targeted during the next turn cycle? I don’t need an entire turn cycle to monologue like a movie villain, explaining to the rest of the table how dead they are.
Actually, that sounds really fun. Forget everything I just said. I’m getting my Cast Through Time altered into Syndrome from the Incredibles, monologuing.
I’m more of a fan of this cycle, for EDH, than most people seem to be (besides the green one. That thing is the sucks). I totally get not liking that your lands don’t untap, but with as many mana rocks as the typical EDH deck runs, this strikes me as far less of a drawback than it might be in something like Standard or Modern. Control Magic is a powerful spell. It, and all of its different iterations, is one of my favorite ways for a budget deck to compete with a more juiced up list. If budget deck are like Rocky, the lovable underdog that realistically shouldn’t win, then tuned decks are Drago. Know what’s better than getting into a slugfest with the roided up Russian death machine? Having him join your team! Strike terror into the hearts of everyone watching!
The fact that this can target enchantments and artifacts is what makes it playable in my eyes. Think of all the bonkers enchantments and artifacts you see played at your table, on the regular. Now you can join the fun! Admittedly, I wish this was either instant speed, could steal planeswalkers, or both, but that’s not the world we live in.
Much like Adorned Pouncer, the Eternalize cost is what pushes this into playable territory. A 1/2 for 3 mana is actually a pretty terrible rate.
- Playing a 1/2 for 3 mana is like eating at Long John Silvers. Why are you doing that to yourself? You deserve much better than that. And if you say something about their hush puppies or whatever, you’re wrong and, no, it’s not ok.
- Tacking on Menace upgrades your meal to Taco Bell. You are still questioning the life choices that brought you to this point, but sometimes you only have the change you happened to find under your car seat. While in the Drive Thru.
- Then, we add that part about combat damage forcing your opponents to discard equal to the amount of damage Dreamstealer does. Now were eating at Golden Corral. Still bad, but I can see what you are trying for.
- Tack on the Eternalize cost. Now were cooking with gas. A 4/4 Menace that makes your opponent discard 4 cards when it connects is actually pretty sweet. Oh, also, it’s a zombie and you’re playing black. Do you smell that? If you can’t smell through your screen, I’ll tell you what that smell is. We’ve arrived in Flavortown™.
This is one of the cards that I’m less sure of. I know it’s a budget card and will be forever. What I’m less sure of is how good it will be in practice. In theory, I think it’s great for our purposes. I don’t know about you, but I have no interest in forking over $30 for a Demonic Tutor. As you are reading this column, you are likely in the same boat as me. Diabolic Tutor is a fine card and is played in over 21,000 decks on EDHREC. Razaketh's Rite costs a single mana more, but gains cycling. The difference between 4 and 5 mana is actually pretty big, so there is a real cost in playing this over Diabolic Tutor. That being said, cycling is a fantastic ability and makes this an actual discussion. Personally, I can think of a variety of situations where I would prefer one over the other, but I will probably be going with Razaketh's Rite for the forseeable future. I’m curious to see how it will play out and what you all think.
Potential Commanders: Really, any non-aggro commander that has black in it.
When I was reading through the spoiler, I thought this read ‘creature’. If it did, well, it would be middling outside of a few very specific situations. Thankfully, it actually reads ‘creatures’. Reading is hard. That little ‘s’ turns this into a playable card. Trample is a very powerful ability, this only costs a single mana, and it replaces itself by drawing you another card. I can think of a number of decks that this fits super well in, but it will probably see most of its play in a variety of go-wide goblin decks, though any deck that wants to get into the red zone and do lots of combat damage will be more than happy to run this.
I grew up loving game shows. I watched everything from The Price is Right, to Let’s Make a Deal, to Jeopardy. One of the popular tropes in game shows is using different doors or boxes with things hidden in them. One of the choices is typically great while the other…well…
Abrade is like if all of the boxes had a small amount of cash. You aren’t leaving rich by any means, but that’s ok because you left with more than you had to begin with. For 2 mana you can either deal 3 damage to a creature or destroy an artifact. If the card just said one of those things, you likely wouldn’t be playing it, but there is almost never a moment you won’t feel OK having this card in your hand because it’s just incredibly useful to have.
Potential Commanders: Any deck that has red in it and finds itself needing more answers to artifacts or creatures
Currently, this card is a bit over $1, but I don’t see that being true for much longer. For 5 mana, you get to go find any two lands you want and put them onto the battlefield. Any lands. The thing this will most often do is get Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Cabal Coffers. This player will likely win the game because the rest of the table will be afflicted with a debilitating case of the eyerolls, making it difficult to play the game. If you are interested in some other lands you can fetch out, I would look at cards like Bojuka Bog, Reliquary Tower, Glacial Chasm, Ghost Quarter, Thespian’s Stage, Rogue’s Passage, Alchemist's Refuge, Gavony Township, or just use it to find the colors you need. Lands can have a surprising amount of utility and using this card as a toolbox card is interesting. The part about creating zombies if you have 3 deserts isn’t very likely to come up, though there are some cool deserts in this set, so maybe it’ll happen more than I think.
I read this card and was immediately taken back to when I first played magic. One of my closest friends played a deck with 4 Sol ring, 4 Quicksilver Amulet, 4 Pelakka Wurm, and 4 Worldspine Wurm. He called it ‘Game Shark’ because he almost always had a Sol Ring in hand to start the game. It wasn’t until much later that we discovered that Sol Ring is one of the most powerful cards ever printed and that playing 4 of them in a 60 card deck is simply absurd. Instead, my first takeaway was the Pelakka Wurm is a super cool card. Sifter Wurm isn’t quite Pelakka Wurm, but it’s close enough for me to play. Also, with the advent of deserts, we likely now have the cards to make a Dune theme deck. Maybe WotC could print a Wurm tribal deck. They could name it THE SPICE MUST FLOW. This stuff practically builds itself. I’d buy the heck out of that and I hate green on principal.
People love casting big stupid spells in EDH. It’s what most people love about the format. So, we should totally take advantage of this fact and punish people for playing those giant durdle bombs, or better yet, to one hit KO the player trying to kill everyone with a giant Comet Storm or Blue Sun’s Zenith. If this card just did that, I’d totally play it. The fact that it has a Twincast attached to it is gravy. You heard it here first: (well, maybe not first. Some dude at your LGS probably beat me to it. But, he's a terrible person, so it doesn't count) This card is going to steal a ton of games out of nowhere.
Reason is the next in a long line of cards that cost 1 blue mana and give you some amount of card advantage. The really good ones, like Brainstorm or Preordain draw you cards. Reason doesn’t quite do that, but the Believe side more than makes up for that fact. Blue/Green decks often play a lot of giant scary creatures, and Reason//Believe helps you cheat them into play. At best, you are flipping Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or Kozilek, Butcher of Truth of the top of your deck and into play for 5 mana. At worst, you drew a card, but hey, at least it was dramatic!
Endless Sands is a great card for saving creatures from a wrath effect, and can even act as a way to get a bunch of Enters the Battlefield triggers all in one giant turn. The first of these is what it will likely be used most often for and is why it’s being discussed at all, but the second sounds like a ton of fun. Maybe find some way to untap it and use Fanatic of Mogis as a win condition…
Endless Sands is simply a great utility land. In the past, utility lands often didn’t tap for mana. This does, so it’s absolute floor is that its giving you a colorless mana. Play this with some way to recur lands from your graveyard for even more value.
EDH players love their graveyards. I would wager that a solid 50% of tables have at least one graveyard centric deck at the table, and the other 50% have decks that use the graveyard to get some sort of incidental value. Graveyard hate is incredibly important to have in every deck. Sure, you can rely on other people having it, but if they are all thinking the same thing, that Karador player is going to mercilessly combo the table out every game and you will be in for a really long night.
In many instances, I do prefer Relic of Progenitus over this card because at worst you can draw a card, but I like the fact that you can target cards in graveyards to exile with this. I think this card will end up seeing quite a bit of play, especially in decks that can take advantage of artifacts.
Clean Up Step
That’s all I have for today. Hour of Devastation actually has a ton of fun cards for EDH, more than I had thought at first glance. There were a number of cards and commanders I wanted to talk about today and simply didn’t have the room to be able to do so. Let me know which cards you are most excited for are below! Also, last time, I promised that I would have a poll to allow you all to vote on who I will build next time. This week, we are looking at 3 color commanders, as I have yet to build one of those on here.
Let me know which you would most like to see in the comments! Thanks for reading!