Devastation Awaits: Figuring Out Finale Of Devastation

Finale of Devastation reminds The Boss of some truly busted cards, including Green Sun’s Zenith! He explores how to use the big green X-spell in Standard and Modern.

The final chapter of War of the Spark previews is upon us. Nicol Bolas is harvesting the sparks of countless planeswalkers and the plane of Ravnica is a chaotic battlefield. Everybody has shown up to the party and the story is culminating towards an explosive ending.

The cycle of Finales have been previewed and whoa are they doozies. Each costs XCC and has an enormously powerful (read: game-ending) effect when X equals ten or more. They’re all quite pushed and showcase the spectacular ending of the Nicol Bolas story arc that began way back in Kaladesh. The Finales are also mirrors of the “Hour” cycle from Hour of Devastation.

Hour of Devastation was the most powerful and widely played of the cycle and rightly so. After all, you can’t name a card after the namesake set without it packing a punch. It turns out that history is due to repeat, with Finale of Devastation poised to be the strongest card of the Finale cycle from War of the Spark.

Where one brought death, the other brings life (or death to your opponent).

Access to any creature in your library, no questions asked, is huge. You don’t have to sacrifice a creature like Neoform or Eldritch Evolution demands. You aren’t restricted to a certain casting cost or color like other green search effects. Any creature you want, as long as you pay enough mana upfront, and you can grab creatures from your graveyard too? Sure, why not.

Let’s go into a few comparisons of similar cards to get a grasp on the power level of Finale of Devastation.

Too powerful for Modern.

The new Green Sun’s Zenith? Finale of Devastation will immediately be compared to GSZ and rightly so. The original searcher-upper is currently banned in Modern due to its versatility, redundancy, and interaction with Dryad Arbor. Could Finale of Devastation be even better?

For an additional green mana on the casting cost, you gain three different bonuses: any creature (not just green), the option to grab creatures from graveyard, and an incidental win condition. Like, is +10/+10 and haste to all your creatures even necessary? It’s just gravy. Oh, and Finale of Devastation goes to the graveyard on resolution too. Not shuffled back into the library or exiled. Ya know… in the graveyard where Eternal Witness can find it. My hot take is that they ran out of room on the card for more text.

I think Chord of Calling is a closer comparison to Finale of Devastation on functionality.

Chord has been a Modern staple to search up critical combo pieces or timely answers or threats when the need arises. XGGG of Chord of Calling and XGG of Finale of Devastation are fairly close in their actual mana costs, even with Chord’s convoke aspect. Much of the time with Chord of Calling, you’re tapping one extra creature that’s not a mana creature already like Noble Hierarch or Birds of Paradise. With Chord of Calling you’re going for more of a surprise combo win by taking advantage of the instant-speed. Finale of Devastation’s main draw is functioning from a low base without needing creatures already on the battlefield.

Now there are three (!) different cards in Standard that can tutor up a creature from your library onto the battlefield. With so many, it’s tough to choose which we want, since playing a full twelve tutor effects doesn’t leave much room for an actual deck of silver-bullet creatures. I think settling around eight tutor effects will be about right.

Prime Speaker Vannifar is great when unchecked, but sometimes that’s a tall order. It’s also legendary, which makes drawing multiples awkward at times. Finale of Devastation conveniently rebuys creatures from your graveyard, so you don’t need to run a full four copies of Prime Speaker Vannifar anymore.

Neoform is the cheapest of the bunch but requires you to lose a creature upfront. This is especially bad if the spell gets countered since the sacrifice is an additional cost. On the plus side, the creature that you search up comes with a +1/+1 counter, ensuring a beefier creature for your money.

What else does the +1/+1 counter do?

Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance are purposely loaded with +1/+1 counter synergies. Skarrgan is a 5/5 flying haste creature that comes with the pinging ability. Growth-Chamber Guardian immediately searches out another copy of itself. You can give all of your countered-up creatures trample with Zegana, Utopian Speaker without having to invest in the adapt cost. Incubation Druid starts out tapping for three mana right off the jump.

I think Incubation Druid and Finale of Devastation are going to be best buddies in Standard moving forward. Three mana really opens the door for fueling future copies of the powerful sorcery. If two Incubation Druids are cranking out three mana each, we can see how the X=10 ultimate is an achievable reality.

Fblthp, the Lost is the real winner here. I think he’s straight-up strong, even outside of a Vannifar shell. He’s great sacrifice fodder to Neoform or Vannifar after you’ve drawn a card from the enters-the-battlefield ability. Searching up Fblthp with Finale of Devastation costs you four mana and draws you two cards. That’s arguably better than a Hydroid Krasis that you’ve sunk four mana into if you’re specifically in the market for card advantage.

War of the Spark brought a lot of sweet targets to find with Neoform, Finale of Devastation, and Prime Speaker Vannifar. If found with Neoform, Evolution Sage can start proliferating the counter on itself, and Bloom Hulk enters as a 4/4 with a +1/+1 counter and then proliferates up to a 6/6. If you have other assorted counters on the battlefield, it could be a worthwhile target. Spark Double is a sweet option that’s always your best creature on the battlefield, and Roalesk, Apex Hybrid is an absolute monster.

Finale of Devastation will get a surprising amount of mileage from recurring your one-of threats from your graveyard. Often with these toolbox-style decks, your opponent can deal with your silver-bullet answer and then bleed you out of relevant cards in your deck. Many of the targets are neither good in multiples nor good in opening hands.

As far as Standard goes, I predict Finale of Devastation to be a useful component of all green decks, perhaps even extending them into more toolbox-y space than we’re used to. It’s a great value card that smooths out draws that’s played as a value-generator.

What about Finale of Devastation’s combo potential in Modern? Green Sun’s Zenith is fantastic in Legacy Elves. Slotting Finale of Devastation into Modern Elves seems like as fine a start as any.

Everyone’s favorite Forest is back as a potential zero-cost target for Finale of Devastation. Two mana for a functional Rampant Growth is clearly worse than the one-mana GSZ version that has been deemed too strong for Modern. The upside, though, is that it can get nongreen combo pieces.

Know a good way to make X equal ten? An arbitrarily large amount of mana will do it.

We’ve seen the Devoted Druid plus Vizier of Remedies combo throughout Modern, and sometimes in an Elves shell. Chord of Calling used to be in the Finale of Devastation slot, but that only really got mileage from Nettle Sentinel, Dwynen’s Elite, or Elvish Visionary, since the rest of the deck is either mana Elves or tutor targets.

Only scratching the surface of possibilities.

The options for Finale of Devastation are endless. There’s no way to list all of the combinations that outright win the game that Finale helps assemble. A card like Finale of Devastation progressively gets stronger as the Magic card pool increases. Cards like Stoneforge Mystic and Birthing Pod are in the same camp as Finale of Devastation. More cards will be printed and more creatures will be put under the microscope as players try to break Finale of Devastation in the future.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a Modern combo that breaks Finale of Devastation right now. Good luck finding it!