I just booked my ticket to Kyoto (technically Osaka, I guess) a few days ago, and I’m excited to start prepping for the Pro Tour and jamming Drafts on MTGO. I will probably focus on Limited at first, especially since I’ll keep streaming almost every day until I leave for Japan, and it can get kind of awkward prepping publicly for Constructed when you’re testing with a team. I still want to see what will happen in Constructed and whether Hour of Devastation will shake things up, so I went through the spoiler to assign a percentage chance that certain cards will appear in a tier 1 deck (probably the top 4-6 decks in the format) as at least a 1-of main deck card. With those conditions, the percentage is the parlay of a card being played in a Standard deck and that deck being tier 1.
Hour of Devastation: 90%
“If I open X rare at the PT, I’m just taking it, [the art is] on the ****ing pack” -Various Pantheon members while discussing Draft pick order before a Pro Tour.
Well this one is literally named after the set. I think it is the best card in the set, and I hope I’m wrong, but there is a non-zero chance Wizards will have to ban it. It gets rid of pretty much anything you can think of and conveniently lets your Torrential Gearhulk live. I think U/R Control is pretty weak right now, but with Hour of Devastation and Abrade solving pretty much every problem the deck has, that is most definitely going to change.
Even though Heart of Kiran isn’t as dominant as it used to be, Abrade will at least find a home in U/R/x Control. You might see it show up in other red decks, especially with Oketra’s Monument on the rise.
Hour of Promise: 20%
I was pretty excited about this card at first, and putting an Ulamog into play on turn 6 (searching for Shrine of the Forsaken Gods) sounded great, but I think the card is actually going to be too slow and clunky. There might be a viable red-green version with cheap removal, Cathartic Reunion to get rid of extra Ulamogs, and Hour of Devastation, but I have a feeling your good draws aren’t going to come together often enough.
Consign // Oblivion: 10%
This card looks like it might be okay as a 1- or 2-of in some kind of U/B/x control deck. It’s cute with Torrential Gearhulk (you can flashback either part when it’s in your graveyard), but what are you going to cut for it? I understand it’s (kind of) an out to a planeswalker, but there are so many good 2-casting-cost options that I just don’t see it. It doesn’t help that a lot of the time your opponent will have a couple of dead removal spells in hand anyway, so the discard part might not be effective. I can see this card being better in some kind of proactive tempo/discard deck in which the Oblivion part might be more relevant, but I doubt such a deck exists in Standard.
Samut, The Tested: 10%
A lot of people have said that Samut is worse then Arlinn Kord and almost no one plays Arlinn. While that might be true, there is a chance Samut is better than she looks. Giving double strike to Heart of Kiran sounds decent, and the fact that it goes up to 5 loyalty counters right away and survives a Heart of Kiran attack itself might be relevant too. The Arc Trail ability doesn’t sound horrendous either in a world of Cryptbreakers, Toolcraft Exemplars, Dread Wanderers, Selfless Spirits, etc. It probably won’t be better than Chandra in the R/U/G Energy deck, but might fit right into some R/G or R/G/x aggro deck.
Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh: 30%
I really like that Wizards has been balancing their planeswalkers much better for the most part. The new Nicol Bolas seems to have a reasonable power level and it is very easy to splash in something like U/R Control (Aether Hub might be enough). The problem is that I’m not sure you’re going to want to cut a Torrential Gearhulk for it and I’m not sure you really need more than 4 Gearhulk as a win condition. I also don’t like that it doesn’t save you the turn you cast if your opponent has multiple threats out (as opposed to the way an Elspeth, Sun’s Champion could).
Neheb, the Eternal: 10%
I could see playing Neheb as a 1-of in some of the red decks instead of, or in addition to, Glorybringer, especially in a world where Hour of Devastation might reign supreme. Combining its ability with Cut // Ribbons sounds disgusting.
Ammit Eternal: 50%
Slots in Zombies are hotly contested and I’m not sure Ammit will make the cut. I haven’t played with the Zombie deck much at all, but I don’t feel like Lord of the Accursed is very impressive and the Zombie Crocodile Demon might just be good enough. It could also make its way into some other kind of B/x aggro deck, and I like that it survives an end-of-turn Abrade.
Not going to lie—I am really struggling with this cycle. The initial body on all of them is unimpressive, and I’m not sure how eternalize is going to play out. Between cards like Magma Spray and Cast Out, and the fact that the token dies to pretty much anything in Standard, I’m not sure how much value these guys are going to have. I’ve rated the black one fairly low as it doesn’t have an enters-the-battlefield effect.
Champion of Wits: 40%
Potentially the best of the five, you will need to get value out of the discarded cards to make it worth it (delirium, Prized Amalgam) or find a cool way to pump it the turn it comes into play. It should fit quite nicely in emerge strategies.
Earthshaker Khenra: 20%
I might be biased because I’ve lost to that “2 Tix Red” deck the one time I played against it, but if the green Khenra doesn’t seem good enough for Standard, this little hasty guy just might be. A 1-drop into Khenra into Ahn-Crop Crasher sounds kind of nasty. You’re hoping to close the game before you get to play your sixth land, but eternalize will for sure win you games some of the time, even in a 19/20 land deck, and Earthshaker Khenra might also be a decent 2-drop in an attempt to be more resilient to Hour of Devastation in more expensive aggro decks.
Adorned Pouncer: 10%
Always Watching and Invigorated Rampage are both legal, so who knows? Karsten’s Cat deck looks kind of cool, but allied color mana bases in beatdown decks are pretty bad, and you don’t have access to any efficient removal spells.
Djeru, With Eyes Open: 10%
Typical of a 1-of card, this might be good in some kind of W/B midrange deck, but the stats and the cost are probably too weak.
Hour of Revelation: 20%
I think this might be the most overrated card in the set, and it might turn out to be borderline unplayable in the current Standard. U/W Control relies heavily on Cast Out and sometimes on Stasis Snare, and you already have Gearhulk at 6 mana. No matter how powerful your cards are, curve actually does matter and you can’t just have seven or eight 6-drops in your control deck. Another problem is that you’re going to have a hard time beating Scrounger and Relentless Dead without the exile effects. It does combo nicely with both Gideons (you can activate them to make them indestructible before casting Hour of Revelation) but I think those cards are fairly weak in control right now. You could also try fitting the card in a midrange control deck, but those will probably have really bad matchups against Torrential Gearhulk decks.
Supreme Will: 30%
Hard counter in the early game and Impulse in the late game—sounds like the perfect mix and a potential replacement for Disallow. The problem is that a lot of the time Disallow is the card you want the most in your hand in the mid-to-late game, and you’re only going to have so many slots you can afford to spend on a 3cc counterspell during deck building. I will definitely try it, but I’m not as excited by the card as I first was.
Countervailing Winds: 20%
Despite looking less flashy than Supreme Will, Winds might be just as good if not better. A hard counter in the late game, I’m guessing it will also be a hard counter on turn 3 in most games out of U/x control decks.
Nimble Obstructionist: 10%
I think this little Bird Wizard falls just short and isn’t costed aggressively enough to make the main deck. It might be a strong sideboard card if I’m wrong about Hour of Promise/Ulamog decks. The exact card you would want in your control deck provides early pressure combined with a Stifle effect for Eldrazi triggers, though I’m still not sure you would want the flyer over Summary Dismissal.
The flexibility is nice, but I don’t think you can afford to put cards that are this clunky into your deck. The removal part is really poor and I already hate the tempo loss you suffer when you spend your second turn casting Transgress the Mind or Lay Bare the Heart instead of affecting the board, so forget about it at 3 mana. The card might have been cool if at least the Edict part was instant speed (making the whole spell instant speed would probably have been too strong).
Razaketh’s Rite: 20%
As someone who toyed a bit with B/G Seasons Past a month or so ago, I’m kind of excited about the new tutor. I was actually playing a copy of Diabolic Tutor and it was decent—this is probably an improvement. B/G Delirium decks are also somewhat short on sorceries—Traverse is a mandatory 4-of, but I haven’t been impressed with Never // Return, so I could see a copy or 2 of this card being played. I doubt control decks will want it unless they’re actively trying to achieve delirium themselves for cards like To the Slaughter. I rated this card low because I don’t believe that delirium decks are or will be tier 1.
Hour of Glory: 10%
As with Doomfall, I don’t think you can afford to pay the premium no matter how “clean” the removal spell is.
Hollow One: 10%
There is a chance the card is good in Modern, but I just don’t see it in Standard, especially with Abrade and Grasp of Darkness being popular. You want to play Hollow One in an aggressive deck, but an aggressive deck can’t really afford to spend mana cycling or discarding a bunch of cards. I did goldfish some with Joel’s R/G Disco Beats deck and some of the draws were impressive, but I’m worried it relies a bit too much on Noose Constrictor.
Strategic Planning: 20%
I’ve never really tried out Splendid Reclamation or Prized Amalgam decks so I’m not sure how likely to be tier 1 they are, but Strategic Planning could be the missing piece that pushes those decks over the edge. I was never a huge fan of Grapple with the Past, and Planning could be a slight improvement in delirium decks.
Ramunap Excavator: 10%
Hard to justify playing this guy while Tireless Tracker is legal, but there is a small chance you’ll want to run 1 copy on top of the full playset of Tracker to get a little extra value. And who knows, between this guy and Hour of Devastation, it might finally be The Gitrog Monster’s time to shine.
Ramunap Ruins: 10%
It’s fun to put myself out there with predictions, and even though it might seem like I’m pessimistic, remember that I took a serious and competitive approach, and I’m judging cards on their chance of making it into the optimal versions of the top Standard decks. A lot of the Hour of Devastation cards will still be fun to brew with or include in your deck, and hopefully we’ll have some good surprises with cards like Hour of Promise, Hollow One, or Strategic Planning. We might also see new archetypes emerge with the rotation in September, so a little patience might be required.
I’m sure there are some cards I missed, whether intentionally or not, so feel free to fire away in the comments section. Let me know what you think of my rating system, or how to improve it.