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Commander Review: Hour of Devastation Part 1 (White, Blue, Black)


Hour of Devastation has been spoiled, so it's time again to look over all the new cards and see which have the most potential to make a splash in Commander! Let's get started!

 

WHITE

Angel of Condemnation

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Angel of Condemnation is packed with value for its mana cost and is highly flexible in how you use him: blink your own creature to re-use ETB triggers (Eternal Witness), blink potential blockers to clear the way for attacks, or Oblivion Ring pesky creatures instead. The biggest strike against running this card is that, while flexible, it's not the best choice for any particular strategy: Eldrazi Displacer is superior for Combo and Blink, Brago, King Eternal, Roon of the Hidden Realm, and others are superior for Blink, Admonition Angel is better at exiling, and so on. Angel of Condemnation is still a fine addition to any Blink deck, but I'd suggest running the better Blink cards first and before adding this angel.

 

Crested Sunmare

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I never thought I'd see a Horse lord printed, yet here we are. Horse Tribal is not yet a thing, though this is a big first step! Instead, this card is insane for the Lifegain archetype. We've seen this ability before with Angelic Accord, which creates an angel token each turn if you gained 4 or more life in a turn. The enchantment was perfectly playable but required some setup. Not so with Crested Sunmareany lifegain triggers its ability, even just 1 life! A single Soul Warden will have you pooping out horses like a madman! And these horses are indestructible while Crested Sunmare is around, so it needs to be taken out first or else your tokens will still survive a board wipe like Wrath of God.

Crested Sunmare is amazing in any Lifegain deck, but is absolutely busted in decks that can Clone it, making both sunmares indestructible horse factories; Oloro, Ageless Ascetic is a perfect candidate.

The card is nuts and an instant staple for Lifegain decks. I'm shocked that the trigger doesn't have a minimum lifegain requirement like Angelic Accord

 

Djeru, With Eyes Open

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Djeru, With Eyes Open continues the trend of White being the official planeswalker support color, following Call the Gatewatch and Deploy the Gatewatch. While far more expensive than Call the Gatewatch, Djeru does come with a sweet damage prevention, and being a creature means he can be bounced / blinked / reanimated to tutor multiple times -- excellent with Venser, the Sojourner! Djeru is an excellent new staple for the Superfriends archetype.

 

God-Pharaoh's Faithful

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

In a Lifegain deck that runs a significant amount of blue / black / red cards, God-Pharaoh's Faithful might actually be worth running. She's no Soul Warden to be sure, but she might still be good enough, and she has a surprisingly high toughness to actually block once in a while. Maybe Oloro, Ageless Ascetic will like her?

 

Hour of Revelation

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I have always loved Planar Cleansing, which is in most cases a superior Oblivion Stone, a Commander favorite in non-White decks to reset the board. Hour of Revelation is a strictly better Planar Cleansing! In Commander, this is almost always 3 mana to cleanse the board! HOLY MOLY! That's less mana than Wrath of God and it hits artifacts and enchantments too! It's so good! Soooo goooood! Unless you're an Enchantress/Artifact deck, there's no reason not to run Hour of Revelation in decks that can reliably pay the triple White mana cost, and even those decks should still run it.

Hour of Revelation is a new White staple. It's insane. It won't be played as much as it should because most people play too few removal spells in general, but trust me, this card is worth a spot in your 99.

 

Oketra's Last Mercy

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Oketra's Last Mercy is certainly interesting because it can gain you so much life for so little mana. In a deck built around life total manipulation, like Selenia, Dark Angel, this can take you from 1 life back to 40! Pair that with Sanguine Bond and you've got a sweet little combo. Of course, it does come with downsides, is very situational, and probably isn't worth it in the end. Still, it's something to think about and maybe keep a copy around just in case!

 

Overwhelming Splendor

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

One part Humility, one part souped up Damping Matrix that oddly doesn't affect planeswalkers (why?), Overwhelming Splendor is an 8 cmc middle finger to one person at the table. It's glorious. It's probably too expensive to see much play, but in the ultra janky Curse deck it's probably the best new card in the entire archetype. I can't wait to cheat it into play with Bitterheart Witch!

Side note: I'm so sick of these bolas horn monuments in all the artwork. It's literally everywhere in Amonkhet block, featured on all the lands and it feels like at least half the cards (the other half just has bolas symbols on all the emblems / clothing / weapons). I get it, Wizards wants to make sure everyone knows that this is a Bolas plane, but come on, this is overkill. What could've been a sweet art to me is ruined because I've seen this image on dozens of other cards already.

 

Solemnity

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Solemnity is one of the most hyped up cards in the entire set and for good reason! There are plenty of cards that get outright broken when they don't get counters on them. Counter all the spells with Decree of Silence, never take damage with Glacial Chasm, draw all the cards for just 1 mana with Mystic Remora, never die with Phyrexian Unlife, and so on. Plus Solemnity is an excellent hate card against popular commanders like Atraxa, Praetors' Voice and Meren of Clan Nel Toth! Solemnity synergizes with so many things that it's trivial to break it.

 

BLUE

Champion of Wits

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Champion of Wits is close to being a very exciting card. It loots well enough and can even draw cards from the graveyard for sweet card advantage. Unfortunately, the mana cost is too high to be appealing. Card draw on a creature does mean that it may have a spot in Blink decks, such as Brago, King Eternal, but those decks already have much better cards like Mulldrifter to run.

 

Countervailing Winds

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

While most decks won't give Countervailing Winds a second look, it's actually a nice addition to Cycling decks. The cycling cost is perfect with Fluctuator and because your graveyard is always full from cycling cards, the countermagic is essentially an easier to cast Cancel. It's nothing insane, but it's really solid in the deck.

 

Fraying Sanity

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

It's been a while since we got a sweet Mill card for Commander! The archetype has never been a powerful one but has always been a casual favorite, so it's cool to see a great new staple in Fraying Sanity. Since it doubles the milling, it goes well with all the good mill cards such as Sphinx's Tutelage, and forms a lethal one-two punch with Traumatize. Fraying Sanity is great for mill decks like Phenax, God of Deception, but just keep in mind that it doesn't really do anything to make Mill a good archetype in Commander.

 

Imaginary Threats

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Imaginary Threats can be a sweet little combat trick if an opponent has a big army and you can't be attacked; perhaps you're hiding behind a big Sphere of Resistance, for example. It's highly situational, of course, but it can be cycled. It's probably a bit too cute to be worth playing, but I'll certainly try it out in a Spellslinger Cycling deck.

 

Nimble Obstructionist

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Would you play a Stifle that cost 2 more mana, can't target your own stuff, but draws you a card and can't itself be countered? I personally wouldn't in most decks. I usually don't even run Stifle, but there are a few specific decks where I could see Nimble Obstructionist doing serious work. First, of course, is the Cycling archetype, which I think this is a new staple in. Then there's perhaps a Dimir deck that runs cards like Phyrexian Reclamation, where you could easily re-use its ability over and over. So I wouldn't jam this in any generic deck, but decks that can take advantage of its wording, Nimble Obstructionist is going to be stellar.

 

Supreme Will

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Pay an extra mana for the flexibility to cast Mana Leak or Impulse seems very solid to me! I'll still be running Counterspell, Impulse, and others before I run Supreme Will, but Blue Spellslinger decks are happy to run many of these type of cards. I highly recommend running it in Talrand, Sky Summoner, Baral, Chief of Compliance, and others!

 

Swarm Intelligence

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

So flashy! So big! So janky! Swarm Intelligence is clearly designed for Commander and will see play in casual Spellslinger decks. Seven mana is a lot, however, and I rarely ran Cast Through Time for that reason, but Swarm Intelligence is slightly better because you get the extra copy immediately instead of having to wait a turn. No, it's a card you want to add in a super optimized list, but for janky fun this enchantment will do the trick!

 

Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Sphinx Tribal has finally gotten a real tribal commander in Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign, and man is he great! The Fact or Fiction trigger is already good enough for me to run him, but the mana cost reduction for Sphinx spells really seals the deal! I can't wait to cast Sphinx of Uthuun with Unesh and Panharmonicon out and then Fact or Fiction three times — or four times with Strionic Resonator because let me dream big damnit! 

The one criticism is that Unesh is Mono Blue. Sphinxes are primarily Blue, yes, but we have a bunch of great ones throughout Esper colors that we won't have access to, and Sphinxes are a small tribe so we'll be hurting for playables sticking in one color. That's alright, though. Unesh is going to work best as a Control deck that only runs the handful of great Sphinxes available and just gets more value out of those than normal.

 

BLACK

Grisly Survivor

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Grisly Survivor is another possible win condition in Cycling decks, alongside Stoic Champion and Horror of the Broken Lands, and to a lesser extent Shadowstorm Vizier and Hekma Sentinels. With a Fluctuator or New Perspectives out, possibly a Windfall effect too, you can easily pump up these creatures large enough to swing for lethal. At the very least they make for great blockers because you can pump them large enough to trade/eat just about anything.

 

Razaketh's Rite

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Diabolic Tutor is a solid card that I end up running in most of my Budget Black decks to fetch up an important piece of my deck. Yeah, it's no Demonic Tutor, but it gets the job done. Razaketh's Rite costs an additional mana with the option of cycling, which isn't appealing to me in most decks. However, if there's one deck that I'm excited to run Rite in, its the Cycling archetype: the cycling cost is cheap and it's another tutor that fetches the key pieces, Fluctuator and New Perspectives! This is exactly the type of cards that the Cycling deck wants to see!

 

Razaketh, the Foulblooded

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Razaketh, the Foulblooded is the perfect card for an immensely powerful demon in Magic's lore: an 8/8 with flying and trample that acts as an instant speed tutoring engine that costs no mana to activate! The 8 cmc is steep, but this is a Black card so we can always cheat him into play through the graveyard with classics like Animate Dead. Razaketh is incredibly powerful if you have sacrifice fodder feeding him, and again since this is Black you can easily build a powerful Sacrifice deck around him with cards like Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder and Pawn of Ulamog.

I absolutely love the design and power of this card. It's reminiscent of the classic Lord of the Pit where you have to feed the demon creatures for its power (except this version doesn't suck). I even love that they fixed their mistake with Griselbrand; Razaketh is an 8/8 that costs 8 mana!

Razaketh is going to play very well in a Black Sacrifice/Reanimator deck, either as the commander or as part of the 99.

 

Torment of Hailfire

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Torment of Hailfire is one of the best Black X spells I've ever seen! Black is amazing at generating ridiculous amounts of mana mid/lategame, with cards like Cabal Coffers, Black Market, Nirkana Revenant, and more. I like it even more than Exsanguinate as a big mana dump finisher. Think about it: with 10 mana, Exsanguinate deals 8 damage to each opponent and you gain 24 life if it's 3 opponents. Or your opponents lose some combination of 24(!) life, 8 nonland permanents, or 8 cards in hand. Yes, your opponents get to choose, but either way I feel like Torment of Hailfire is going to hurt a lot more than Exsanguinate in most situations. Of course, you can always run both, which I intend to do!

The only thing that annoys me about the card is the name: hailfire? I keep saying "hellfire" in my head. I so dearly want it to be hellfire. Why isn't it hellfire? We already have the card Hellfire. Is it now considered offensive in 2017, or is it because they want to keep "hellfire" associated to demons/devils and Bolas is casting it? Whatever the case, I wish it was named Torment of Hellfire or just something entirely different, not "hailfire."

 

Vile Manifestation

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Vile Manifestation is a great addition to the Cycling archetype. Cycle it or play it as a great blocker that eventually turns into a lethal attacker. Either way you're spending only 2 mana! Probably the best cycling creature for the archetype.

 

Part 2 Coming Soon!

We'll wrap up the review with all the remaining cards: Green, Red, Multicolor, Colorless, and Lands! Until then, let me know what cards you are excited about from Hour of Devastation! Did I miss any cool cards or interactions from this review? Agree/disagree with anything? Let me know in the comments section below!


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