I’ve successfully passed all of my exams for the summer session, so for the first time in months, I decided to go to my friend’s house and played every Hour of Devastation prerelease that I could. Today, I’ll evaluate Hour of Devastation cards based on LSV’s Limited Set Reviews and what I felt was underrated and overrated after 3 days of Sealed and Draft.
There are two things that I want to point out before starting with my card-by-card analysis:
1) Unsummon Effects are Great
Unsummon and Consign // Oblivion are two great cards. Eternalize and embalm are mechanics almost every deck has access to, and trading 1 or 2 mana for 5 or more is huge. The tempo swing is insane. They protect your creature from removal, which Hour of Devastation is full of, and blanking a Cartouche is a pretty big advantage.
I was never a fan of bounce effects as they are effectively card disadvantage, but I changed my mind in this set.
2) Cycling is Overrated
As you might know from Amonkhet, the cycling ability was very overrated, and cards like Winged Shepherd went from high to low priority quickly. That doesn’t change in Hour of Devastation. We still have cards like Granitic Titan and Striped Riverwinder, which are slightly better than Desert Cerodon and River Serpent, but they remain filler that I will put into my deck only if I’m short of playables or if I have some cycling synergy like Cunning Survivor or Grisly Survivor.
As I’m a dedicated student, I studied while traveling, and on the train I read each of LSV’s Set Reviews—he gave a strong 3.5 to this rare, so since I was in red in my first prerelease I didn’t hesitate to put it into my deck.
Once it came down to the game, this 1/4 was nothing more than a pinger, because the spells I had were counters, a pump spell, and a removal spell that I didn’t want to cast on their current creatures.
I would never play Wildfire Eternal and I advise you not to as well.
I’ve never played with Overrun in Limited, but I’ve always been told it’s an insane card, so in my second prerelease I was excited to put this into my B/G deck.
I had it in my hand multiple times, but I was never able to cast it and I believe the card is widely overrated. The format is quite fast—even Sealed—and because there are so many removal spells, you don’t find yourself facing a stalled board where a card like this can shine. I’m not sure if Draft would be different story. The format is obviously even faster, and, at least in Amonkhet, green didn’t exactly swarm the board.
I would never compare this to Trial of Solidarity, which was granted to grade of 4, and wouldn’t pick this highly at all.
As I said, I hate cycling cards, and Imaginary Threats is no exception. I had this in my first prerelease and it was always awful. Again, there aren’t that many board stalls that you can break with this card, and other than some corner cases, you’ll often end up cycling this card, making this way less than a 3 in my eyes.
It’s the same story here. Lava Axe was a bad card, and if you add cycling 2 and make it cost 1 more, it’ll remain a bad card.
I get that you can bring your opponent down to 6 and then finish them off with Inferno Jet, but in the early game this is just another mediocre card that you’ll end up cycling to curve out as well as possible.
Blur of Blades
In my first prerelease I put this card in my sideboard, willing to board it in every time I saw some X/1s. I ended up boarding this card in every time, and eventually leaving it in the deck, because every deck in every color presented me with some 1-toughness creatures. Carrion Screecher, Dauntless Aven, Oketra’s Avenger, and Fervent Paincaster were the cards that I killed with this, and at other times it was a fine trick that managed to win combat and get in for some points of damage that were relevant in aggressive strategies.
Blur of Blades isn’t a stellar card, but definitely a trick that I love to add to my aggressive decks.
I really don’t know why LSV gave such a low grade to this removal spell. He mentioned that there were some untap effects such as Act of Heroism and Dauntless Aven, but in my experience Unquenchable Thirst was always an efficient spot removal spell considering how many Deserts were around, especially in Sealed.
While this is just a filler card, I would give it a higher grade than 1.5. I always had problems dealing with flyers, and I saw Carrion Screechers dealing way more damage than I expected during the course of last weekend, especially in Draft. While cards like Blur of Blades and Fervent Paincaster exist, I still liked that this 4-mana flyer could add some nice evasion to any aggressive deck.
Hour of Devastation seems to keep the aggression as strong as it was in Amonkhet, while adding some late game with eternalize. It has some aggressive 2-drops and 3-drops, such as Oketra’s Avenger, Rhonas’s Stalwart, and Aerial Guide, which will be crucial for setting the pace of the format.