Thursday, July 6, 2017

Hour of Devastation Overview

The full spoiler is out and here.

I have to say, I'm a bit more intrigued with this set than I was with Amonkhet, although I think both sets have some gems in them that are being overshadowed by Kaladesh block. Time will tell but I think this is going to give us some cool things to enjoy.

Let's start with the new mechanical stuff:

Eternalize: Really underused. The ability itself isn't a bad one-extra mana to get a creature back from the dead? Not bad. But the only time WotC decided to do something interesting with this ability beyond "pay huge mana costs" was with Sunscourge Champion and Sinuous Striker.This makes the ability pretty weak; I'm seeing six mana on average as the cost and it feels really inappropriate. Why would you pay six mana for a 4/4 nothing creature? What's the logic behind paying five mana and discarding for a 4/4 creature with a +1/-1 pump ability?

Why is that? The more I look at it, the less I like it.

New Exert stuff: a reasonable spin to keep the old mechanic interesting. Nothing crazy but at least some respectable turns on the mechanic to make compelling decisions.

Afflict: this seems interesting! It's definitely there to reward players for attacking and I don't object to that. Making blocking decisions and the when/where to use your removal seems like a decent gameplay enhancement.

New Cycling stuff: why is the only really interesting cycling card Nimble Obstructionist? Did they use up all the other "when you cycle" this triggers in Onslaught?

The Desert matters subtext; from a storytelling perspective, this is pretty cool. From a gameplay perspective I'm not as high on it. Similar things were attempted with Snow lands and they never really went anywhere. They were wise, however, to include cycling on the deserts and allow cards to trigger on deserts in the graveyard. 

More -1 counter antics: I can't say that they did a lot with this and while that's not surprising-WotC has said that -1 counters are a narrow field, mechanically- I'm still a little disappointed that they didn't shake it up just a touch.

Specific cards I find interesting:

White: First, there's the continuation of the zombie creature theme from Amonkhet. However, what's also interesting is the mechanical extension of that theme with Disposal Mummy.

That's really it: Overwhelming Splendor is going to bring the Humility headaches to the modern audience so...that's exciting?

Blue: Kefnet's Last Word is going to be better than people think. Riddleform is a clever implementation of that characteristic in Blue.

Black: Ammit Eternal has some nice stuff happening and is probably really good in a discard deck. Scrounger of Souls for the rarely seen black lifelink effect. Torment of Hailfire is probably a 'win more' card but I do like it.

Red: Birth of Blades is an ok start but the lion's share of interesting stuff is in this color, I think. Hazoret's Undying Fury, Hour of Devastation and Imminent Doom make a hell of a set of interesting cards, Neheb, the Eternal and Wildfire Eternal also go a long way towards sprucing the color up.

Green: is a bit dull. Majestic Myriarch is probably the card with the most text in the set. Rhona's Last Stand might find its way into some old school green stompy decks.

Multicolored: Refuse/Cooperate and Driven/Despair are both under the radar, I think. The other cards are more obviously flashy, though the enemy God cycle is pretty solid.

Artifacts/Lands: Only Mirage Mirror really looks different. There are fifteen deserts, so at least cards with that subtheme will be able to take advantage.

The disappointing stuff:
The Planeswalker "defeat" cycle. This is not what I mean when I say we need better tools to control planeswalkers.

Green didn't get an Aura-Curse. Which would be fine if White didn't get one; the story themes would suggest that Red/Blue/Black would get curses (and they did) because those are the antagonist's colors. What gives?

Doomfall/Supreme Will/Abrade: I really like the modality of these cards and wish it had been a complete cycle. I would understand why it wasn't because Nicol Bolas is B/U/R except the curses got something?Also, white seems to be awfully complicit with B/U/R and green not so much. Perhaps a story thing?

Chaos Maw-couldn't have dealt 4 damage? Or cost six mana? Seven mana is pretty absurd. Also, Resilient Khena and Earthshaker Khena are pretty meager for their effect and rarity.

Djeru, With Eyes Open; WotC, we do NOT NEED PLANESWALKER PROTECTION. Those stupid cards already create a subgame while adding X to the controller's life total where X is the planeswalker's loyalty.

Creating a Demonic Tutor for planeswalkers that also protects planeswalkers above and beyond what a creature already does, is just so unnecessary. Ugh. I guess I object less that Djeru exists and more that there aren't effective ways to manage planeswalkers.

Ah well. I'll know more once I get my hands on it and I'm already looking out for cards to fit the Garbage cube.

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