With Grand Prix Indianapolis on the horizon, I’ve been doing a little preparation in Hour of Devastation Limited. Here’s an Hour of Devastation Draft I did with pick-by-pick analysis on my thought process:

Pack 1 pick 1

My PickAngel of Condemnation

I get an easy start out of this pack with a close-to-bomb rare in Angel of Condemnation. The uncommons are pretty weak in this pack, and if the Angel wasn’t here I’d be taking Ambuscade for sure. One thing to note is the density of mediocre white cards such as Solitary Camel, Desert of the True, and Unconventional Tactics. I wouldn’t be surprised to wheel one of these cards, even in a pack this shallow.

Pack 1 pick 2

My Pick: Burning-Fist Minotaur

I notice a rare is missing and there are a few strong uncommons here. I like Oasis Ritualist a lot because it allows me to play rares such as Angel of Condemnation even if I don’t end up white. But Angel of Condemnation is especially strong in aggressive decks because of its ability to clear out blockers and kill the opponent before they find a removal spell. Burning-Fist Minotaur is a premium 2-drop because of its ability to attack through blockers effectively. Appeal // Authority is an excellent finisher for a G/W Aggressive deck but not as strong of a card as Burning-Fist Minotaur. If you wanted to play it safe, you could  take Sandblast here, but I think that would be a mistake.

Pack 1 pick 3

My Pick: Khenra Scrapper

This is a pretty weak pack, but I’m perfectly happy with Khenra Scrapper here as it’s probably the best aggressive 3-drop common in Hour of Devastation. I note that there’s an uncommon and a rare missing from this pack so I can’t really make anything of signals yet.

Pack 1 pick 4

My Pick: Aven of Enduring Hope

This is probably the pick in which I had the least confidence. On the one hand, Hour of Revelation is a really powerful card. On the other, it’s a white sweeper and white decks tend to want to be aggressive in this format, and I’m already trending that way. If I take Hour of Revelation here it’s  unlikely to make my deck alongside Burning-Fist Minotaur and Khenra Scrapper, so I’d just be taking it in case I move into another direction. Solitary Camel could also be the correct pick here, as it’s a card that I’ve been impressed with but it does require me to pick up Deserts.

I end up taking Aven of Enduring Hope because it's a solid, evasive body that can play a role in midrange decks and as a curve topper in aggressive decks. It’s also relevant that I can blink the Aven of Enduring Hope with Angel of Condemnation to gain some life in a pinch as well. In retrospect, if I had this pick again, I’d take Solitary Camel since it’s so early and I’m pretty likely to get some Deserts if I want them.

Pack 1 pick 5

My Pick: Oketra’s Avenger

Now this is a strong pack with 4 cards missing. I immediately notice 3 solid white cards in Oketra’s Avenger, Angel of the God-Pharaoh, and Mummy Paramount. Oketra’s Avenger is the best aggressive common 2-drop in my color combination and I’m extremely confident white is open now.

Pack 1 pick 6

My Pick: Oketra’s Avenger

Another Oketra’s Avenger gives me 3 premium 2-drops on color. I’m also noticing that blue seems to be a bit open with an Unsummon and Spellweaver Eternal still in the pack. I see there's a basic land and 9 other cards, so it’s possible I can wheel something like Granitic Titan or Kindled Fury as they are the two worst cards.

Pack 1 pick 7

My Pick: Frontline Devastator

A solid aggressive 4-drop. Gilded Cerodon is a card I like a lot to top off an aggro deck, but with no Deserts yet I’ll take Frontline Devastator to fill out my curve.

Pack 1 pick 8

My Pick: Aven of Enduring Hope

I strongly considered taking Survivor’s Encampment here as it’s a Desert in case I open a Sand Strangler or get some Solitary Camels or Gilded Cerodons. I end up taking Angel of Enduring Hope as I think it’s still a little more likely to make my deck at this point, though the second one is much less exciting to me than the first. I also don’t mind cutting my color here because the pick is close and I don’t want to give anyone any incentive to move into white for such a small potential gain.

Pack 1 pick 9

My Pick: Desert of the True

I notice that only one of the white cards I opened was taken, Unconventional Tactics, and I’m pretty happy to pick up an on-color cycling Desert. Solitary Camel is a solid 3-drop when you have Deserts, but I’m just picking up my first. I don’t consider Solitary Camel all that playable until I get at least 2, and 3 Deserts is where I’d like to be.

Pack 1 pick 10

My Pick: Sandblast

While I’m not excited about Sandblast in aggressive decks, it’s still a card I’ll happily play if necessary. My deck is currently all creatures so I’m pretty happy with a Sandblast this late. This is also telling me that I’ve weathered the storm and it’s unlikely someone on my right has moved into white.

Pack 1 pick 11

My Pick: Gideon’s Defeat

I just made the comment that my deck was all creatures and I could use some spells, and then I go and take a sideboard card over a perfectly good combat trick. What gives? Well, for one, Gideon’s Defeat, while not on par with Chandra’s or Liliana’s Defeats, is still efficient removal, but also, take a look at my creatures at the moment. My Burning-Fist Minotaur has a built in Kindled Fury ability, Oketra’s Avenger is already incredibly hard to block, and a lot of my other creatures have evasion. Kindled Fury works best as a cheap efficient trick while you’re attacking, but my creatures are already difficult to block, so I’d much rather have a high impact sideboard card than a combat trick that’s fine, but mediocre, in my deck.

Pack 1 pick 12

My Pick: Traveler’s Amulet

Potential to splash something like a Locust God if I open it. I generally don’t like splashing in aggressive decks though.

Pack 1 pick 13

My Pick: Steadfast Sentinel

Pack 1 pick 14

My Pick: Kindled Fury

Rewarded!

Pack 1 pick 15

My Pick: Djeru’s Renunciation

Interestingly enough I get a 15th pick playable. Djeru’s Renunciation is a solid card in an aggressive deck as it can cycle for 1 mana, help in racing situations, or just clear blockers out of the way. I happily play one of these in all my white aggressive decks. Note that this is a League, so passing a playable last pick can actually be beneficial by giving the player incentive to stay out of your colors—you can pass a late playable as a signal.

Pack 2 pick 1

My Pick: Burning-Fist Minotaur

This is an interesting pick. I have a high creature count deck, and I’ve already picked up a Traveler’s Amulet, so I could go ahead and take Majestic Myriarch. I think I want to stay the course as I don’t particularly like splashing in my aggressive decks anyway because I simply want to play my spells on curve with as little risk as possible.

So the real choice is over picking up a Puncturing Blow as my deck is hungry for removal or taking another Burning-Fist Minotaur. I decide to take the Minotaur because it’s such a good 2-drop, and in an aggro deck with a good low curve like my deck is shaping up to be I can simply replace removal with combat tricks.

Pack 2 pick 2

My Pick: Open Fire

Pretty easy pick here. Open Fire is the best common removal I can hope for in my color pair.

Pack 2 pick 3

My Pick: Desert of the True

There’s a Solitary Camel again, and another Frontline Devastator, but I have enough serviceable playables that picking up another on-color cycling Desert feels best to me.

Pack 2 pick 4

My Pick: Desert of the True

Nothing else for me here. This is pretty much the cap on enters-the-battlefield tapped lands I want to put in my aggressive decks as well. Deserts-matter cards have just gone up in value.

Pack 2 pick 5

My Pick: Solitary Camel

Very happy to pick up this Solitary Camel as it fills a void in my curve and I now have 3 Deserts to turn on lifelink. There’s nothing else here for me again as it seems like I could be getting cut in this direction.

Pack 2 pick 6

My Pick: Firebrand Archer

My choice here is between Firebrand Archer and Blur of Blades. While I think Blur of Blades would be a welcome addition to this deck, I want to make sure I get reasonable 2-drops when I can, and Firebrand Archer, while mediocre in this deck, is still very playable here.

Pack 2 pick 7

My Pick: Kindled Fury

I don’t want to put a fourth Desert of the True, and I’m never going to play the third Aven of Enduring Hope either. There’s a small chance I don’t get enough playables to round out my deck, in which case I may want the second Kindled Fury. I think whatever I take with this pick is  unlikely to ever make my deck.

Pack 2 pick 8

My Pick: Gilded Cerodon

With 3 Deserts now, Gilded Ceredon is an upgrade in the 5-drop slot over Aven of Enduring Hope. I have too few spells to take advantage of Thorned Moloch, and I’m unlikely to want the second Sandblast.

Pack 2 pick 9

My Pick: Frontline Devastator

Frontline Devastator is a solid 4-drop for aggressive decks, and I don’t particularly like playing Defiant Khenra in any deck because it gets blanked often. When it does, it doesn’t provide any extra value later in the game like Firebrand Archer might.

Pack 2 pick 10

My Pick: Gilded Cerodon

Another upgrade for the 5-drop slot over the second Aven of Enduring Hope. At this point I’m planning to play both copies.

Pack 2 pick 11

My Pick: God-Pharoah’s Faithful

Not playing any of these.

Pack 2 pick 12

My Pick: Graven Abomination

Pack 2 pick 13

My Pick: Crash Through

While pretty solid in U/R, I generally don’t play this in other archetypes unless I’m short playables.

Pack 2 pick 14

My Pick: Djeru’s Renunciation

Pack 2 pick 15

My Pick: Seer of the Last Tomorrow

Pack 3 pick 1

My Pick: Electrify

My deck is definitely excited to pick up a solid removal spell in Electrify but I’m still left to wonder what could have been if I selected the Majestic Myriarch. Pretty easy pick here as I don’t particularly want to splash Heaven // Earth in an aggressive deck.

Pack 3 pick 2

My Pick: Unwavering Initiate

Unwavering Initiate over Oketra’s Attendant simply comes down to mana curve considerations. I already have a ton of options at 5 mana while I’m lacking 3-drops. I have my eye on the Mighty Leap and Honed Khopesh in this pack because I think both would be solid in my deck. With a pack this deep, I’m pretty likely to wheel one of the two.

Pack 3 pick 3

My Pick: Gust Walker

Very happy to pick up another premium 2-drop here in Gust Walker.

Pack 3 pick 4

My Pick: Binding Mummy

While Binding Mummy isn’t especially great in R/W, I do have an Unwavering Initiate and 2 Frontline Devastators to trigger it. Mighty Leap is also a solid pickup for my deck as a combat trick that doubles as a burn spell. I’m happy to pick up another decent 2-drop and hopefully pick up some more combat tricks later.

Pack 3 pick 5

My Pick: Djeru’s Resolve

While I like Djeru’s Resolve, it’s not particularly great in my deck at the moment. I think it’s an upgrade to Kindled Fury because it cycles but I’m hoping to not have to play it.

Pack 3 pick 6

My Pick: Manticore of the Gauntlet

While I have my fill of 5-drops already, there's not much for me here and I actually like Manticore more than Gilded Cerodon because it provides value even if it's dealt with immediately. With Angel of Condemnation I can blink the Manticore for extra damage and I want some added reach to close out opponents as well.

Pack 3 pick 7

My Pick: Violent Impact

I'm not going wide enough for Pursue Glory or In Oketra’s Name, so I’m just going to pick up the potential sideboard card.

Pack 3 pick 8

My Pick: Impeccable Timing

While I don’t mind Tormenting Voice in aggressive decks, I already have 3 cycling Deserts and a high mana curve so the need for flood protection isn’t as necessary. I actually like Impeccable Timing against other aggressive decks, and with Burning-Fist Minotaur and Oketra’s Avenger you can even use Impeccable Timing effectively in combat against larger creatures.

Pack 3 pick 9

My Pick: Cartouche of Zeal

I’m not opposed to playing Cartouche of Zeal but I’d rather have an instant-speed combat trick like Mighty Leap. This is a fine card to bring in against clunky creature decks that try to stonewall an attack with just one creature.

Pack 3 pick 10

My Pick: Honed Khopesh

Honed Khopesh is excellent with all my 2-drops so I’m pretty happy to pick it up here. Mighty Leap is a consideration, but Honed Khopesh will help my 2-drops like Oketra’s Avengers break through 4-toughness creatures in combat for multiple turns instead of flying through the air once.

Pack 3 pick 11

My Pick: Manticore of the Gauntlet

While I already have plenty of 5s at this point I realize I’m going to be playing 3 of them, so I may as well take a small upgrade.

Pack 3 pick 12

My Pick: Blazing Volley

Solid sideboard card.

Pack 3 pick 13

My Pick: Shadowstorm Vizier

Pack 3 pick 14

My Pick: Dune Beetle

Pack 3 pick 15

My Pick: Island

The Deck

While the build is fairly straightforward, I opted for 17 lands because of the 3 Desert of the True and 3 5-drops. The last card in was Djeru’s Resolve, which I could easily see being a Cartouche of Zeal, a second Djeru’s Renunciation, or maybe a Kindled Fury.

I think the Draft went well. I managed to lock onto my colors immediately and never really drift from them, which I’ve found to be pretty rare in this format. I think the deck was above average but still over performed as I was able to go 3-0 in the League.

The most interesting pick in this Draft was pack 1 pick 2. This is the point in the Draft where I can decide if I want to try and move into a ramp strategy and take Oasis Ritualist, or if I should take Burning-Fist Minotaur and go a more traditional aggressive approach. If it were a few weeks ago, I’d take Oasis Ritualist here, but now the word is out that green ramp is a great archetype and I’ve found it more and more difficult to get cards for the archetype. As a Limited format develops, it’s important to notice the tendencies of the general population and try and adjust to them when necessary.

Where would your picks have differed? Would you have built the deck differently?