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Reviving Hour of Promise


Ever since the release of Dominaria, Hour of Promise hasn’t seen much play it all. Its performance has also tanked quite a bit too. This is for two reasons.

  1. Dominaria made control decks a thing again. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria backed up by countermagic really puts a damper on ramp strategies, especially when the ramp decks don’t have anything insane to ramp into like, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or Omniscience.
  2. Since Ramp decks don’t really have anything crazy to ramp into, they’ve been more controlling decks. You’ve had Bant Approach, where you ramped into Approach of the Second Sun and then you’ve had Mastermind Ramp. Mastermind Ramp was more a bg Control deck than a traditional ramp deck. The original list had a ton of removal and it did very well in the beginning. When more midrange decks started showing up, the deck needed a little less removal and more cards that provided card advantage, then it became a contender again.

Knowing that these two things are true, it means that ramp strategies in Standard must always attack the metagame and be adjusted to whatever is popular. For a ramp deck to beat an aggressive deck, it needs removal backed up with some life gain. For ramp to beat control, it needs to have countermagic of its own or be able to attack the control deck in a unique way, like milling them with Ipnu Rivulet.

Right now, I foresee two ways to play Hour of Promise. One: a removal heavy ramp deck with Ipnu Rivulets. Two: a ramp deck with main deck of Hour of Revelation alongside a different angle of attack to beat control decks. I’m not sure what other payoff spell you would really have outside of Hour of Revelation, so, for now, I’m going to stick to my Ipnu Rivulets and Mastermind's Acquisitions.

Redz knew this about Hour of Promise when he built his deck. This is the first Hour of Promise deck to do well after Dominaria. Redz had an undefeated record in a competitive league.

As you can see, this is tuned to beat the metagame. How else would you 5-0 with two main deck Naturalize? I’m calling this NoBant not because of Natural Order, but because it almost has zero-win conditions. One of your win conditions is literally ultimating Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and getting your opponent to concede by exiling all their things. The other two win conditions are beat down through Hostile Desert and Zombie tokens off Hour of Promise, and your last win condition is milling your opponent out with Ipnu Rivulets. Redz was literally grinding his opponents to dust. Late in the game you just need a handful of activations against Control decks with Ipnu Rivulets to beat them. I like this approach to the deck but here are some minor changes I would make.

I don’t want to mess around too much with Redz list without trying it as first. The main change is Naturalize for Forsake the Worldly. I understand it’s an additional mana, but I can’t help but feel that the ability to cycle the spell when it’s dead or to exile Scrapheap Scrounger or God-Pharaoh's Gift is too good to pass up. Even if I wanted a cheaper way to destroy artifacts/enchantments, I’d rather run Fragmentize over Naturalize. One mana is huge when you’re killing things like Heart of Kiran, History of Benalia, etc.

All right, all right. Enough Bant Hour of Promise. What about Mastermind Ramp, Ali? I’ve had a lot of you ask about the deck and if I have any updates to it. Well, this is the Mastermind Ramp Deck I would play.

Before you go sleeving this deck up and trying to go ham with it, the deck isn’t finished. I’m just saying this is where I will be starting with the deck. Hopefully by next week, or a couple weeks from now, I’ll have a tuned Mastermind Ramp deck for you. This is still a solid place to start.

We have the anti-aggro cards like I talked about in Moment of Craving, Cast Down, Battle at the Bridge, and Vraska's Contempt. We even have a battlefield wipe alongside a graveyard exile in Phyrexian Scriptures, which we didn’t have before. Then, to combat the control decks, we have Ipnu Rivulets Game 1 with a plethora of other ways to get things to resolve in games two and three.

I’ve really liked The Mirari Conjecture in this deck when I played it on MTG Arena. It’s a fantastic way to regrow Moment of Craving early in the game or a Vraska's Contempt late in the game. Then it lets you ramp more with Hour of Promise or go crazy with copied Mastermind's Acquisitions. You can even live the meme dream by timing it just right and copying Torment of Hailfire. Cha-ching!

This is a deck I’m excited to tune and work on as the meta develops. Mastermind's Acquisition is such a sweet and powerful card. I love the feeling of always having an out to everything and the perfect card for almost any given scenario. Mastermind's Acquisition fills all those holes.

The last deck I want to talk about is Bant Walkers, except this time it’s just uw Walkers to make the deck more consistent.

We still have a good amount of planeswalkers in just these two colors. If we really wanted, we could even play Jace, Cunning Castaway but I don’t see Jace, Cunning Castaway doing much without an Oath of Teferi on the battlefield. Speaking of Oath of Teferi, this list has an excellent target for the enter the battlefield ability of Oath of Teferi that Bant walkers did not, and that’s History of Benalia. Make extra knights so that when History gets its third counter you’ll be swinging for probably lethal. This is very powerful, especially when coupled with the fact that you’ll be able to activate planeswalkers twice. Just quickly pop off a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria ultimate and then cast Pull from Tomorrow to not only draw X cards but also exile X permanents.

I really like this uw take on Superfriends over Bant Superfriends since you just lose Nissa, Steward of Elements and Haze of Pollen by cutting Green. The trade is being able to play some colorless lands and having a stronger mana base overall.

These are both great decks to sleeve up and take to your local tournament, just be sure to adapt the deck to what metagame you’re expecting. This is especially true for the Hour of Promise decks that we talked about. Hour of Promise decks really need to know what they are up against to build the right 75 and counter the meta. Again, Hour of Promise decks are basically just big mana control decks since we don’t have anything crazy to ramp into like the Eldrazi or even Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle.

That’s it for today. Thank you so much for reading. I keep trying to give you what you want. You asked for an update to Mastermind Ramp and Planeswalkers, so I’ve obliged. Feel free to leave comments below with questions or statements and I’ll get to all of them if you post a comment within 3-4 days.

Until next time,

Ali Aintrazi

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