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Brewer's Minute: Five High-Potential Amonkhet Sleepers


Hey, everyone! It's time for another Brewer's Minute. When it comes to evaluating cards in Standard, apart from looking at what cards are performing well right now, one of the most important things to consider is potential. We can break Standard cards down into two broad groups: high-potential cards and low-potential cards. Now, I should be clear: "potential" doesn't say anything about the power level of the cards—it's very possible for a card to be very, very strong and still have low potential. Rather than referring to power level, potential is all about how much better a card could possibly get in the future. 

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Take Angel of Sanctions, for example. While the card is powerful, it also has fairly low potential. It's hard to imagine that Wizards could print something in a future set that would make the Oblivion Ring on a stick significantly better (or worse) than it is today. Of course, every card goes up and down in value slightly depending on metagame considerations like how well it matches up with popular removal and what other cards are competing for the same slot on the curve, but in a broad sense, Angel of Sanctions will be just about as powerful six months or a year from now as it is today. On the other hand, there are some cards that might be under the radar now but are highly likely to get more support in coming sets, which could make them go from relatively unplayed to format staples with a bit of luck. While these cards may never pan out and end up Standard staples, they are worth being aware of as spoilers from Hour of Devastation start tonight because, with the right help, they could suddenly become major players in our upcoming Aetherworks Marvel-less Standard format!

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#5: Graveyard-Hate Cards

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While Watchers of the Dead and Scarab Feast might not be the most exciting cards, there's a fairly reasonable chance that they end up being pretty important to Hour of Devastation Standard. With Aetherworks Marvel banned and (presumably) another set full of graveyard synergies on the way in Hour of Devastation, it wouldn't be a bit surprising to see these cards end up as sideboard staples and maybe even slip into some main decks, depending on what the format looks like. As a 2/2 for two, Watchers of the Dead isn't that far below the curve, and in the worst case, Scarab Feast cycles away for a new card. We've seen very situational one-mana cyclers like Dissenter's Deliverance showing up in main decks, so it seems like it could happen for Scarab Feast as well. Either way, as Hour of Devastation spoilers roll out, keep in mind that, unlike a few months ago, we actually have some options to fight against graveyard-focused decks in Standard.

#4: Cycling Payoffs

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While we don't know for sure, it seems likely that Hour of Devastation will continue the cycling theme from Amonkhet, which means all of the cycling payoff cards like New Perspectives and Drake Haven have the potential to improve drastically. We've already seen these cards force their way into the fringe of Standard with just a single set of support, which means they are already close to being good enough, so in theory, it shouldn't take that much more support to push a cycling deck over the top and into the top tier of Standard. 

#3: Neheb, the Worthy

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Neheb, the Worthy is an extremely powerful lord with a ton of abilities but thus far has seen zero play in Standard. The reason is we simply don't have a critical mass of Minotaurs in the format. In fact, there's only a total of 10 Minotaurs in Standard, and nearly all of them are three or four mana. This makes it impossible to build a solid tribal-aggro curve, which is what Neheb, the Worthy needs to be effective. The good news is that nine of the 10 Minotaurs in Standard are from Amonkhet, which suggests we'll be getting more tribe members in Hour of Devastation. If this includes a couple of Minotaur one-drops and another two-drop to go with Bloodrage Brawler, Minotaur tribal could end up being at least a semi-competitive tribe in Hour of Devastation Standard thanks to the power of Neheb, the Worthy.

#2: Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons

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Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons is a lot like Neheb, the Worthy—a super-powerful card that simply doesn't have enough support to work...yet. One thing we know is that Wizards doesn't mix +1/+1 counters and 1/1 counters in the same block, which means Hour of Devastation will be another 1/1 counter set, so we know for sure that Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons is getting more support. The only question is how much. The good news is there are already a lot of powerful 1/1 counter creatures in Standard like Baleful Ammit, Channeler Initiate, and even Crocodile of the Crossing, which means the foundation for a competitive 1/1 counter deck already exists. The main thing the deck needs is a one-drop (maybe a 3/3 for one mana that enters with two 1/1 counters and then removes those counters somehow as the game goes along) and a competitively priced 1/1 counter removal spell (a Grasp of Darkness that gives 1/1 counters would be great). While we will have to see what 1/1 counter cards Hour of Devastation holds, I'm hopeful that we'll get enough pieces to support the powerful two-drop in Standard.

#1: Anointed Procession

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Anointed Procession tops our list for two reasons. First, out of all the cards we've talked about today, it's the closest to being a tier deck already. Sam Black's Abzan Tokens list had a reasonable performance at the Pro Tour, and Anointed Procession has found a home in various Aristocrats-style decks as well. As such, instead of needing multiple cards to be good like the other cards on our list, Anointed Procession is likely just a card or two away from being a real deck. Second, Amonkhet broke the record for most unique tokens in a Magic set thanks to the embalm mechanic (which has already been showing up with Anointed Procession), so it's likely we'll get some more tokens support in Hour of Devastation. The best part is that Anointed Procession doesn't need anything specific to be great. With Neheb, the Worthy, it's completely possible that we get a bunch more Minotaurs but not the right Minotaurs to make the curve work. Anointed Procession, on the other hand, just wants more things that make tokens in general and doesn't care too much what they are, as long as they are priced competitively. All this together means that Anointed Procession is the highest potential sleeper from Amonkhet, so keep an eye out for anything that makes tokens during Hour of Devastation previews!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. What other cards from Amonkhet do you think have potential for Hour of Devastation Standard? What cards do you think need to be printed to make the cards we talked about today competitive in the format? Let me know in the comments, and leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions. As always, you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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