Welcome back, everyone! Another 75% EDH Review is upon us, and this time we're going over the upcoming Hour of Devastation. As always, I’m going to highlight cards that aren’t as obvious in EDH because we’re approaching this from a 75% perspective. Some of the cards are good power-level substitutes for other cards that may have side effects that aren’t desirable in our decks. Maybe it’s an effect that you will maximize with an odd build that a majority of people wouldn’t consider. Let’s be honest — no one needs to read a set review where we only talk about the 5 or 6 cards that are very obvious and good in the set. There are a lot of cards with 75% potential and a lot of my picks from older sets like Bonds of Mortality that people at the time called me a scrub for mentioning are starting to gain some traction. We’re not scraping the bottom of the barrel, we’re dealing with a completely different kind of barrel. Let’s look at some cards already.
Adorned Pouncer — Twice I have accidentally typed “Adorned Pounder” which may be a Freudian slip predicated on how good it is to make a 4/4 double strike cat that gets all sorts of bonuses in cat decks. This may be a card that’s like a 10/10 in Trostani, Selesnya's Voice and not good in anything else, but that’s cool because Trostani happens to be one of my favorite decks.
Angel of Condemnation — I’m not sure your Nekrataal or whatever you flicker will consider the brief time-out it spent before returning to the battlefield to wreak some havoc “condemnation,” per se, but it will appreciate it for sure. This card flickers stuff, that’s probably worth having in your deck considering in a pinch it doubles as removal. Having to tap can sting but you can work around that, I’m sure.
Crested Sunmare — I’ll never get over the fact that there are more horses with power and toughness of 5/5 than any other number. Why is a Knight on horseback a 2/2 but a horse by itself is 5/5? Ponder this question while you fill the board with indestructible horses. The horsey deck needs a commander, but I bet the Brony who plays at your LGS (every LGS has at least one, don’t even pretend) has one picked out. This is too powerful not to make an impact, and gaining life is too easy not to make this do a ton of work.
Desert’s Hold — 1562 decks on EDHREC contain Arrest and this seems better than Arrest. I won’t steal Matt Morgan’s shtick where he evaluates every card relative to how they interact with Crested Sunmare, but the lifegain here isn’t nothing.
Djeru, with Eyes Open — OK, this card isn’t great, but there are worse Commanders with decks built around them. Mono-White seems a little weak for a deck based around Planeswalkers, but this can get jammed in Atraxa, Praetors' Voice or other superfriends decks and I feel like flickering him is fun and keeping him in play to make it tougher to kill your ‘walkers is fun, too. This is a Thalia's Lancers with some downside and some upside.
Hour of Revelation — This is a card. A 3-mana sweeper seems pretty good to me and this sweeps better than most sweepers. My favorite in the cycle, this is going to be affordable money-wise and can be cast earlier than Wrath of God a lot of the time. You’re going to do a lot of work with this card.
Overwhelming Splendor — Cheating this into play seems pretty savage. Bitterheart Witch is ready and willing to curse an opponent with this and there are plenty of other ways to get this out early. Serra's Sanctum can help you come by this honestly. I realize it may not be the most 75% idea to hurt one person this much and leave everyone else alone, but if someone is super far ahead, this will bring them back in line with the table and that’s what we’re about.
Saving Grace — Stuffy Doll, anyone?
Solemnity — I have already written about the myriad price spikes caused by this card, which is probably the most impactful in the set in terms of price movement. This interacts with cards ranging from Dark Depths to Glacial Chasm and can make it really annoying for people who can’t find an Abrupt Decay if you manage to get out Decree of Silence. This can be fetched with Zur the Enchanter, Plea for Guidance finds a whole combo and this can shut down their strategies that rely on counters. This is a very, very White card. This is easily my favorite card in the set.
Champion of Wits — This has a lot of potential. Sometimes you want to “mill” yourself for two, sculpt your yard or just draw an answer. This does all of that and does it twice, once when you play it and once when you Eternalize it. This is a curious card for sure. I see it being playable in decks like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant or The Mimeoplasm where dredging it is fine since you can use its ability from the yard and can dredge other stuff when it comes into play.
Fraying Sanity — Mill isn’t optimal in EDH, but spells like Tramuatize that scale to 100 card decks are the only thing I can see making that happen. This scales pretty nicely. “Mill Reflection” could make it doable to mill more than one person, something I can see struggling with unless you get a combo going with Phenax, God of Deceit and Eater of the Dead, a combo that you don’t even need to be a mill deck to win with. This is a weird thing to be doing in a format where you need to deal the table 300 damage to win, but it does it so well you just might get there,
Hour of Eternity — It’s rare for there to be misprints in this day and age with tight control over printing, but occasionally a typo slips through, like the “Patheitc” typo in Wit's End. You heard of the Blue Hurricane, right? Well Hour of Eternity is a Black spell accidentally printed on a Blue card with Blue mana symbols. What a gaffe! Luckily the card is very good and I can see Blue decks taking advantage of this effect.
Nimble Obstructionist — I really like countering abilities in this format. Having a body that I can play in a pinch makes it worth devoting a slot to this, or at least trying it out.
Swarm Intelligence — Uhhhh wow. Any spell worth playing is assuredly worth copying, unless it’s like a Wrath of God or something. This is a Doubling Season for spells. That seems pretty good to me. This is in my Top 5 75% cards in the set.
Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign — Someone is going to build a Sphinx tribal deck with this dude. I think the cost reduction is vital because the average cost of a Sphinx is something like 5.8 mana. That’s a lot. Oh, but you likely don’t want this to be the Commander since a lot of good Sphinxes are Esper-colored. Still, playing good, powerful creatures like Consecrated Sphinx were worth it before when we lived in a world where casting that Sphinx didn’t give us a Fact or Fiction.
Bontu’s Last Reckoning — Lands aren’t as important in Commander where we have artifact mana and maybe an early wrath before you get Damnation mana could make a huge difference. However, this seems really narrow. I almost never want a cheaper Damnation with downside in a 75% deck when we can have a more expensive Damnation with upside. Give me Decree of Pain any day. Still, this will likely be $1 in a few months and it’s good to know about cards like this.
Razaketh, the Foulblooded — A lot has changed since I spoiled this monster and I am really warming up to a creature this powerful. Shadowborn Apostle decks are ready to jam this right away and Kaalia of the Vast decks could use another demon that feels like cheating. This is going to impact Commander a lot and it makes up for the rest of Black being really “meh” in this set.
Abrade — Lots of people play Shatter. Maybe they shouldn’t, but they do. Take out Shatter from your decks and replace it with Abrade, at least. I think Mono-Red decks could use modal removal like this and I think this is a very well designed card.
Firebrand Archer — This is a little bit of redundancy in a Guttersnipe-based deck and can give your spells some reach. This has a lot more place in Commander than most of the rares in Red.
Hazoret’s Undying Fury — I am not sure if I like this card. I wish it didn’t have the cap on CMC (you know, like a totally ridiculous, unbalanced spell) because if we’re going to cheat, let’s cheat and put an Eldrazi into play. Red is the color of chaos, but spending six mana to get a bunch of Signets off the top and not untapping our lands seems like a bad trade, but I’m also sure some lunatic will break this card and I’ll look like a doofus for saying publicly I didn’t like it.
Hour of Devastation — This kills Gods. Not all of them, but the really annoying ones. That’s worth it to me.
Neheb the Eternal — This is going to generate a lot of Red mana for people and I like that. Jam an Assault Suit on this for shenanigans, or just find a way to make him indestructible and go ham. This is one of the most powerful cards in the set and while it remains to be seen whether he’ll find a good home, I can’t imagine anything this nutty won’t at least make the 99 of someone else’s deck if no one wants to build around him.
Wildfire Eternal — This falls off a lot late game, but I like how hard this hits early and with the potential to cast some very powerful spells for 0 mana, I think this deserves a look.
Beneath the Sands — This is a lot like Rampant Growth but simultaneously worse and better. I think if you have Rampant Growth you should consider replacing it with this. You don’t have to, I just think you need to consider it. Is not being stuck on 2 lands like with Growth worth the upside from cycling? Do we always want to be casting Kodama's Reach or Cultivate at (I do)? If you’re benefitting from cycling somehow, this calculus obviously gets easier, but I think we should at least recognize this is a card and could potentially work out better than Rampant Growth, a card seeing a lot of play.
Hour of Promise — Two. Lands. Not two basics. Not two forests. Not two Deserts. Two. Lands. Search your library for Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage. Search your library for Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Cabal Coffers. Search your library for Maze of Ith and Island of Wak Wak. This card is super hot. I don’t love tutors in 75% decks but I play a lot of the narrow ones like this and I love this card. This is named correctly because it’s very promising.
Majestic Myriarch — This is a weird Chimera to be sure, but I am not sure how to feel. This seems like a win-more, but it doesn’t take a ton of work to at least give it a ton of good abilities. It at least feels like a Mythic is supposed to. That said, I think this is overrated but am prepared to be proven wrong.
Pride Sovereign — Someone is going to want to build a cat tribal deck and this does a lot of work in said deck.
Ramunap Excavator — Hey guys, what if we could tutor for Crucible of Worlds with Green Sun's Zenith? Would that be good? Do we want that? This is very comfortably in my Top 5 cards in this set. This card is very cool. Finally, Magus of the Crucible.
Uncage the Menagerie — I have no idea if this is good or not, but getting Ramunap Excavator, Eternal Witness, and Reclamation Sage for five mana seems like cheating, even if you “only” put them in your hand. Casting this for seven to put five big creatures and then discarding all of them seems great, too. This card is more awkward than it seems at first, but it’s definitely the kind of thing we want to be doing.
Bloodwater Entity — I can’t decide if this is a better or worse Archaeomancer. Prowess seems a little weak in this format, and being confined to Izzet seems like a drawback, but I think this card will do some work and it’s worth familiarizing ourselves with it before we start building new decks.
The Locust God — This card is dumb and does a ton of work and this is going to pair very nicely with Skullclamp. I saw this called “Niv Cricket” (don’t remember where — I’d like to credit the originator) and that made me laugh.
Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh — Mythic Planeswalkers are often good, everyone. Just in case you didn’t know.
Obelisk Spider — This card’s first ability doesn’t scale well into Commander but the second one sure does. Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons is salivating.
Samut the Tested — I can’t decide if it’s correct to hate this card. It’s kind of a Tooth and Nail. It’s also kind of a Planeswalker that does nothing to protect itself. Double Strike is much better in Commander, so you may end up doing some serious work with this, but it’s also pre-selling for like $5 which is never a good sign for a Planeswalker.
The Scarab God — This card is nutty. It is a great way to build zombies and I expect it to be brewed with more than almost any other card in the set.
The Scorpion God — Hapatra was already having a lot of fun with cards like Crumbling Ashes and Blowfly Infestation and now a new God wants in on the action. Kulrath Knight finally can come off of the bench.
Driven // Despair — Of all of the split cards, this is the only one I’m really excited about. I think this is going to do a lot of work.
Reason // Believe — I’m not 100% sold on this card, but I play a lot of Simic and have decks that could try this. Cheating a big creature into play is very good, sculpting the top of your library first is better. I think this could be a reasonable inclusion in Simic big mana decks.
Abandoned Sarcophagus — You’re building a goofy deck if you’re building it around this card. This is a 75% card for sure because it’s powerful but it’s also way off-meta and you need to really commit to being goofy to make this work. Sounds like my jam.
Crook of Condemnation — Historically, cards like this see play. I don’t know if you need a second card that functions kind of like Relic of Progenitus.
God-Pharaoh’s Gift — This is a lot like Seance. That’s good. I like Seance. This does a lot of work that Seance doesn’t do, namely letting the token hang around and boosting the power and toughness on smaller creatures up to 4/4 but I think if you’re prepared to benefit from Seance you will benefit from this, too. This is a very good card and it’s perfect for Commander because who else is trifling with 7-mana artifacts?
Mirage Mirror — This card has unlimited potential. I can’t wait to see how people break this card.
“Desert of the” cycle — We have more cycling lands. I would say we’re inclined to play more cycling lands in the decks where we want cycling lands and since we didn’t get the Golgari bicycling land yet, The Gitrog Monster will be excited that this set at least gave him some goodies (not to mention Ramunap Excavator).
Endless Sands — 198 decks on EDHREC are running Safe Haven. This seems a little better since it taps for mana and while you have to tap and pay 4 to get your creatures back, you can do it whenever instead of just during your Upkeep, meaning you get less blown out by land destruction. I’m not saying this is good, I’m saying 198 decks play a worse version of this.
I’m sure there is a card or two you wish I had covered. I’ll do my best to stay on top of the comments and see if we can’t get a discussion going. Did I “overpick” this set a bit? Maybe, but any card with potential is worth trying in a 75% context. There are probably five truly “slam dunk” quality cards for Commander in Hour of Devastation, but I bet if we check in a year, more than five cards from this set will be making waves in Commander. Thanks for reading, and check out the comments for what I’m sure will evolve into a bonus article. Until next week!