Hello My Fellow Planeswalkers,
Mathew from GenericBadMagic here to take you through my play experience with Hour of Devastation draft. Due to work commitments I’ve had only one opportunity to have a crack at this Limited format and even completely missed pre-release (send condolences and coffee please), but managed to attend two sessions of drafting at my LGS last weekend. My Friday record was two wins and a loss, finishing third overall with a tempo control White/Blue build utilising Striped Riverwinder and Angel of the God-Pharaoh as curve toppers.
However, I’m here to show off my shiny first place finish on Sunday 16th of July, where I played White/Green Deserts Matter (to a record of two wins, zero losses plus one draw) after a pack one pick one Ramunap Hydra and being passed not one but TWO Greater Sandwurms during the pack of Amonkhet. With a total of six Desert Lands in the deck I regularly controlled one or more and had some in the Graveyard for an optimal strength Hydra. Let’s take a look at the deck before breaking down my inclusions and my view on their utility in the deck.
1x Rhonas’s Stalwart
1x Binding Mummy
1x Mummy Paramount
1x Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs
1x Sidewinder Naga
1x Solitary Camel
1x Devoted Crop-Mate
1x Ramunap Hydra
2x Vizier of The True
1x Steadfast Sentinel
1x Ahn-Crop Champion
1x Crocodile of The Crossing
1x Shefet Monitor
2x Greater Sandwurm
To start with, Binding Mummy and Mummy Paramount made the cut simply as curve fillers but offered a little synergy in the hope of catching the opponent unawares. I can’t say it happened too often and most of the time they served a purpose as blockers when offered a trade.
Devoted Crop-Mate helped to return a previously destroyed Binding Mummy or Mummy Paramount for a second block, occasionally even getting back a Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs.
Sidewinder Naga and Solitary Camel were just excellent value due to the number of Deserts in the deck. Camel being a huge point swing in the early game very regularly, having no problems turning on Lifelink, while Sidewinder Naga got through for pretty big chunks of damage. Further to the Deserts Matter theme our copy of Ramunap Hydra represented a dangerous threat with added utility as a big old blocker. Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs provided tremendous value, rendering most early game attacks useless for our opposition and doing as much as five or six damage over the course of the game with it’s tap ability, Deserts really do matter!
The real bomb in this list is of course Greater Sandwurm, usually coming down on curve and surprising the opponent just when they thought Hydra was as big as this deck got. The ability to completely ignore creatures with power two or less when attacking is invaluable and the presence of even one of these guys during a board stall is hugely intimidating to play against as it can beat almost any adversary when utilised as a blocker. When two hit the field? It was a game winner.
To fill out my curve and build up the the aforementioned Sandwurms we have cards like Vizier of the True, Ahn-Crop Champion and Crocodile of the crossing. Vizier and Champion really combine well in tapping down creatures your opponents control whilst also untapping your own attackers, such a high value synergy. Add on the utility of Rhonas’s Stalwart as another creature that Exerts to evade blockers with power two or less and you have some extremely potent combat phases.
The last creature I’d like to talk about is Shefet Monitor. Need that last land to curve into Sandwurm? Cycle Monitor. Have that land in hand but want to lay down an intimidating Lizard? Play Shefet Monitor. This card is such a good enabler in this list and does a fantastic job of intimidating the opponent, swallowing up most creatures as a blocker and being fairly difficult for our adversaries to trade with.
1x In Oketra’s Name
1x Djeru’s Renunciation
1x Act of Heroism
1x Gift of Paradise
1x Spidery Grasp
1x Uncage the Menagerie
Most of the non-creature spells in this deck don’t do anything special, however there are two in particular I would like to discuss.
Uncage the Menagerie was best cast for a total of six mana, allowing me to search out four of my four-drop threats, usually a Ramunap Hydra, Vizier of the True, Ahn-Crop Champion and Crocodile of the Crossing. This card is the reason the deck curved out so highly. Knowing I could pull four strong Limited cards with Uncage to help me gain an edge during board stalls I saw no problem with bulking out my four-drop slot. This allows me to play a big threat four turns in a row and if I hit my land drops maybe even play two on the same turn.
Ambuscade… What a card, everyone loves it and I can’t say I blame them. This simply won me games, either by getting me ahead in the early game, or pulling me level in the late game. My favourite interaction of the day was casting Ambuscade to give my Solitary Camel +1/+0 (having fulfilled the criteria for Lifelink due to my Deserts), dealing four damage to an opposing creature, gaining four life, clearing the way to attack for four damage and gaining a further four life in the process. This combination was a twelve point swing on turn four. Spells like Ambuscade are just premium removal, fight spells without the downside of actually having to fight, buff spells for getting more damage in and I was lucky enough to be passed two in the same draft pack!
2x Desert of the True
1x Desert of the Indomitable
1x Hashep Oasis
1x Hostile Desert
1x Sunscorched Desert
In addition to the Basic Land package I included the above deserts, three of which Cycle to help satisfy Ramunap Hydra on both it’s Desert on the Field and it’s Desert in the Grave conditions. Hashep Oasis provided a nice interaction with greater Sandwurm, helping me push through for that extra few damage to make lethal on occasion, while Sunscorched Desert was just a nuisance where I took great delight in pinging the opponent for one damage and getting a land as part of the bargain. When Ramunap Hydra was either removed or irrelevant, I was happy to exile one of my cycling deserts from the Graveyard in order to activate Hostile Desert as an extra blocker.
I would like to note that the image provided shows Nissa’s Defeat in the main deck, however this was swiftly removed as it pushed my card count to that annoyingly odd number forty-one. Never sacrifice consistency to include what is essentially sideboard tech!
The resulting record of this list was 2 wins 0 defeats and 1 draw. (which came in what was almost a mirror match where I equalised right before the match clock went to time GG Daniel)
As the only undefeated player in my pod I took first place and earned first pick of the draft rares and foils. Pictured below are my prizes:
This Draft format has been so incredibly fun to play, with so many great interactions and decks to play against (even a Locust God build in the final) that I would recommend it to anyone who can find a pod, either at their Local Gamestore or at home with friends on the kitchen table.
This past weekend was my first look at the new set and I can’t wait to get stuck into the new Standard with my previously posted Blue/Black Cycling list at my Local Game Store, fighting off the various concoctions of the most open Standard since Khans. The future truly seems bright for the format and so many exciting new deck archetypes are hitting the field that there is something for everyone!
Now that’s about all I have for this post, but catch me on Twitter @GenericBadMtg to let me know what you think of the build or if you’ve seen an interaction I didn’t mention here.
Please support your Local Game Store, you can find mine at http://www.facebook.com/abbeyvideogames so stop by and play if you’re ever in Arbroath, Scotland on a Friday night.
Farewell my Fellow Planeswalkers!