Welcome to my first What’s the Pick? Pack 1 Pick 1 for Hour of Devastation. The set has been out for a week, and I’ve done 10-20 Drafts, so I’m starting to get comfortable, but keep in mind that I will change some opinions as time goes on and I learn more about the format.
This card is excellent. You should very rarely be attacking or blocking with this creature. Making an extra 1/1 every other turn for no mana is very solid and then you get the 2/2 body when you do decide to alpha strike or if you need to use it to block later. Good 2-drops come at a premium and this format is no exception. I think this is a clear pick out of this pack.
Honorable Mention: Unsummon.
This pick is much closer. Prowess is something that blue decks can definitely do in this format, and Riddleform could turn out to be much better than expected. I also really like Wretched Camel. If you have your Desert online, the Camel has 2-for-1 written all over it, which could make blocking it or attacking into it difficult for the opponent in the early turns.
This card is very powerful. If the opponent doesn’t leave back two blockers, they are discarding cards. If you have a pump spell or even a Cartouche to put on it, that can mean discarding a lot of cards. The eternalize ensures that it’ll never be truly dead because in the late game you can chump or suicide attack it, and still buy it back as a 4/4, which is a respectable creature even in the late game of most games of Limited. I have a feeling this was a card that was designed for Standard and is going to ruin some games of Limited.
Honorable Mention: Shefet Dunes.
I really like all the uncommon Deserts and this could easily be the best one. Just getting a Desert that adds your color of mana, comes into play untapped, and turns on your “needs a Desert” cards would be good enough for me, but this one’s ability is also awesome. White tends to be small and aggressive in this format, and sacrificing your lands to pump all your creatures is a great last-turn-of-the-game effect for all white aggressive decks to have.
I think people undervalue useful lands. Currently, you almost always end up with enough playables, so I tend to take useful lands very highly because I think there is generally more value in upgrading a basic land into something like this than replacing the last card in your deck with a slightly better one, which is often roughly the same value.
I don’t love first picking gold cards, especially ones that aren’t easily splashable. But this pack is pretty bad. This card is a flat-out bomb in B/W Zombies and B/W Zombies is still excellent. That said, I would take any legit 1-color card over it, but there aren’t any cards in this pack that are particularly impressive. B/W Zombies usually has tons of small creatures and being able to gain life if they don’t block (or if they do) and much more importantly trade up with any size creature by giving your Zombies deathtouch is incredibly powerful for the deck. For Draft, I think this Zombie lord is actually better than the previous one, Lord of the Accursed. I’d still rather have Liliana’s Mastery, but that’s only because it comes with two Zombies!
Honorable Mention: Ramunap Ruins.
I have already well espoused my love for the uncommon Deserts and this is another one of the good ones. If you have a red aggressive deck, only having to get the opponent to 2 or maybe even 4 instead of 0 substantially increases your chances of winning. Don’t sleep on these lands. That said, it’s not a good first and not a great second pick. This is a pretty bad pack. I see these lands as around 3rd-5th pick quality cards not 1st/2nd pick quality, but the only 1st pick quality card in this pack is Unraveling Mummy.
While not on the Glorybringer level of broken rare, this card is everything I want from my cards in Booster Draft. It’s cheap and easy to cast, so it can help you in the early game and then it comes back later for a very powerful effect in the late game. Don’t be scared to just run it out on turn 2—holding it for more value will often be a mistake. The vast majority of the time if you have another 2-drop, you will drop that one and save the Khenra for a turn your attack might be stifled, but if you don’t, then I would just put this out there and start attacking unless they played a 1/3 or something that would blank it. And if you get the opportunity to trade it off, you generally want to do so because then you can bring it back supersized.
Honorable Mention: Bloodwater Entity.
This is a very impressive card. U/R wants to be an aggressive spells/prowess deck most of the time in this format, and wow did R&D nail that with U/R’s gold uncommon. It has evasion and prowess so it does a lot of damage in that deck while also providing you with some flood protection by allowing you to return your best spell to the top of your library. The icing on the cake is, of course, is triggering the entity’s prowess when you cast that spell again the following turn. Flood is often the biggest weakness of archetypes like U/R Spell’s and this card really helps prevent that by replacing a random draw with a powerful spell. I really love cards that give you something even if the opponent has removal and this card is very efficient at doing everything U/R wants.
Cheap, efficient removal spell. Green’s creatures are big so this will pretty much kill whatever you want. It’s hard to get the real 2-for-1 with it, but not impossible. Sometimes your opponent may block your 2/3 with theirs or your 3/3 with their 0/4 Wall—and remember this isn’t a fight, it’s an ambush, so the opposing victim doesn’t do its damage back. That means if your opponent has a tapped 3/3 and an untapped 2/3 and they block your 2/3 with theirs, then you can kill both their creatures and have yours live.
Honorable Mention: Ifnir Deadlands.
I have decided to remain consistent and rank the uncommon Deserts the 2nd best card in the pack (I swear this is just a coincidence). There is just so much value in your lands turning into removal spells when you don’t need them to add mana anymore. Think about how many great creatures -2/-2 will kill. Because of exert and afflict, a lot of the great creatures in this format don’t start out very big. Also, even if the opponent does have a giant monster, you can still permanently shrink it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m generally going to play any number of the common ones since flooding out is one of the main ways games of Limited are lost and turning on the Deserts-matter cards is very important, but there is a cost to each additional tap land, while the cost of pinging yourself with these should be minimal. There aren’t many double-colored cards in this format, so if you draw one other basic land of the same color I wouldn’t expect to take too much damage off these. I’m not saying that’s zero drawback, but it’s a small price to pay to have lands that are effectively spells and turn on your Deserts-matter cards.
There you have it—my first take on Hour of Devastation. Hopefully when I look back on this article in a month I won’t be embarrassed. But hey, Magic is hard, and learning each new format is probably the most fun and rewarding part of the game to me. I hope you enjoyed this article and please respond with your thoughts and criticisms. I still have plenty of time before the Pro Tour and one of the things I love most about sharing my thoughts with everyone is all the great and helpful feedback I get in return.