Just like the commons, it can be difficult to figure out how good certain uncommons are in relation to each other. I made a list of what I think will be the Top 10 uncommons when I first open a pack of Hour of Devastation in my first Booster Draft.
10) Sinuous Striker
Sinuous Striker is an efficient blue 3-drop that can trade for a 3-toughness creature and then get huge after you eternalize it. I’m loving the idea of trading this off early and eternalizing it on turn 5 , then following up with a Cartouche of Knowledge to get in for a ton of damage. In a pinch you can also kill this creature yourself with its ability if you need a bigger body. While you have to discard a card to eternalize it, you sometimes will get bonuses for doing so, and can discard excess lands, so I still evaluate this card as a 2-for-1.
9) Sunscourge Champion
Sunscourge Champion, just like Sinuous Striker, is a tricky card to evaluate. On one hand if you’re able to trade this creature off on turn 3 and eternalize on turn 4 you’re likely pulling really far ahead. On the other, this card doesn’t line up great against decks that can just block it with 2/4 and 1/3 creatures and ignore the 2/3 body. Having the ability to gain life along with the ability to put a 4/4 creature into play early in the game makes this card excellent against aggressive strategies trying to attack through it, so I think this card is still likely great even though at times it will merely be decent.
8) Steward of Solidarity
A 2-drop with a repeatable ability that can go wide in board stalls. I like when my 2-drops don’t get bricked throughout the game, and having this exert ability that creates tokens makes it so the creature will never be irrelevant. This card will be great in go-wide strategies and can also be used defensively.
7) Burning-Fist Minotaur
I may be overrating this card, but it seems like possibly the best nonrare 2-drop in the set. A 2/1 with first strike for 2 is a solid rate, but add in the fact that it can’t really be blocked effectively throughout the game, and I think that makes this card great. What sets the card apart is the fact that there seems to be a lack of premium 2-drops in the set, and this is definitely one of them. Burning-Fist Minotaur also threatens lethal damage pretty early if you have a couple of cards in hand, so it will turn extra lands into valuable resources. Let’s not forget that it won’t only be a nightmare trying to block this creature, but that it can also stonewall an opponent trying to attack through it.
This is mostly just an efficient removal spell with the small upside of destroying one of the few artifacts in the format. I would be happy to first pick this card as it’s an upgrade to Open Fire, but it’s not a huge upgrade by any means.
5) Struggle // Survive
This is basically a red card. The Survive aftermath can have some utility in shuffling back in embalm or externalize creatures, or in rare cases prevent you from decking, but in reality this is just a 3-mana Stonefury. The fact that this it will scale with the threats it needs to deal with, as an instant, makes this one of the best 1-for-1 removal spells in the set for Limited.
4) Desert’s Hold
Arrest is almost always a quality first pick, and this is like Arrest with some built-in life gain some of the time. I would be perfectly happy first picking Desert’s Hold and you don’t need to do too much work to find Deserts because it’s perfectly solid without them.
3) Banewhip Punisher
Banewhip Punisher is at worst a 4-mana removal spell. At its best you can put a -1/-1 counter on a 1-toughness creature and kill another creature that came into play with -1/-1 counters on it, like a Defiant Greatmaw, or find ways to put -1/-1 counters on bigger creatures later. Another huge upside to this card is that black has cards like Wander In Death and Gravedigger to bring back your removal spell and cast it again.
It’s highly possible that I’m overrating this card because of how closely it imitates Overrun, but it still seems like it will be a busted card in most decks with enough creatures. I’d be very happy to take this card first and then value creatures a little more highly throughout the Draft. Just watch out for Haze of Pollen, and remember to bring it in if you see one of these from an opponent.
1) Sand Strangler
Not quite Flametongue Kavu, but pretty close. Historically, Nekrataal creatures are about as good as it gets at uncommon. I don’t think finding a few Deserts will be too difficult, especially when you can pick up some undesirable Deserts from Amonkhet. I’ll be slamming this over any non-rare in my first couple of Drafts.
This list of uncommons was tough. I spent a lot of time trying to visualize opening a pack and figuring out which uncommon I’d take over which uncommon. My honorable mention of sorts that didn’t make the list is Sifter Wurm. It looks a lot like Pelakka Wurm to me, and you even have Oasis Ritualist to power it out as early as turn 5. I think this card may just be great, but if the format is too fast it could just be a medium high-end creature. For that reason, I’m leaving Sifter Wurm off my list.
I think there are a lot of high quality uncommons in this set, which will make reading and sending signals really interesting. I’m looking to my first draft of Hour of Devastation as soon as the set is released on Magic Online. Let me know in the comments below if you think there are any cards I left off the list that you think are better!