Everything You Should Know About Hour Of Devastation Standard

The most recent Pro Tour Champion has his sights set on Standard for the next one! What did SCG Cincinnati reveal about the new metagame, and what’s in store for SCG Atlanta this weekend?

Last weekend, #SCGCIN set the stage for Standard with Hour of Devastation. In short, the format kind of looks like a mess, but in the best possible way.

The Top 8 contained seven different archetypes, with W/U Monument being the only deck that overlapped. If you enjoy diversity and getting a unique play experience almost every time, then this Standard format might be for you.

The story of the weekend for me was that various Emerge decks, various G/B decks, Mardu Vehicles, and the Ramp decks all failed. Where does that leave us?


If there’s one thing looming over Pro Tour Hour of Devastation, it’s Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and G/X Ramp.

What’s the best list? Are people going to find it? Should it affect how many Summary Dismissals I play? Should I switch decks if I can’t beat Ramp?

Like most things for me, it’s going to come down to hedging. For example, maybe I’ll slip a couple of copies of Nimble Obstructionist into Temur Emerge. It’s not the worst card against anyone, it’s fine in the strategy, and it happens to be relevant against Ramp decks both as a clock and a way to counter an Ulamog trigger.

If I can’t find the best G/X Ramp deck, I’m going to assume that most people won’t find a good list either. That will deter some folks from playing it, but not all. At that point, if I can gain some percentage points against Ramp decks by hedging, I’ll do it. However, I’m not going to bend over backwards trying to beat it. There doesn’t seem to be any merit to that strategy.

The best versions of G/R Ramp aren’t going to be the old-school Jim Davis-style ramp decks. I firmly believe they’ll be velocity-based with Vessel of Nascency. Actual ramp cards will be at a minimum, with only Hour of Promise and maybe Corrupted Grafstone making the cut. If Tormenting Voice and Drownyard Temple end up in the deck, I wouldn’t be surprised either. Beneath the Sands is just bad enough that I wouldn’t want to play it.

When it comes to three-mana ramp cards, it’s often better to just play more interaction and slow the game down instead of trying to ramp. A turn 6 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger will beat some opposition, but it won’t beat a super-wide battlefield. If you cast Ulamog on turn 7 or 8 but their battlefield is relatively tame, that’s a virtual win.

One of the questions you need to ask yourself is how good Kozilek’s Return really is. It’s showing up a lot at this point, and despite me liking the card and the strategies it’s involved in, it doesn’t seem particularly well-positioned.

There are enough big creatures, hasty creatures, and easy ways to refill your battlefield that make Kozilek’s Return ineffective at its job. Champion of Wits makes emerging much easier than it’s been in the past, but is that something you even want to be doing?

I suppose this is a good enough segue into the next section.


While Temur Emerge was mostly a flop, it wouldn’t surprise me if a better list is created in time for the Pro Tour. That, combined with the high difficulty level, meant I wasn’t surprised at all to see it perform poorly.

Still, Elder Deep-Fiend is great.

Zan Syed made the Top 4 with his take on Emerge, which I happen to like quite a bit. Instead of going my route with Minister of Inquiries, he stuck to the green enablers like Vessel of Nascency and Grapple with the Past. Strategic Planning rounds out his enablers, giving him quite a few ways to get his engine started.

From my experience playing these decks, I’ve enjoyed a copy of Noose Constrictor and Advanced Stitchwing. The Stitchwing gives you a Haunted Dead proxy, which can be important as a way to return Prized Amalgams. Noose Constrictor fills a similar role as a discard outlet, but perhaps its time has passed, thanks to Champion of Wits.

Emerge decks are at their best when Elder Deep-Fiend has friends to attack with, and Grim Flayer is perfect for that. I like how Zan streamlined the manabase, although I’m skeptical about all the Evolving Wilds and creature-lands. I also wouldn’t maindeck the Mountain. Other than that, we could probably come up with a better sideboard, but the list looks good.

Prized Amalgam is the place to be if you’re emerging.

Temur Energy

Temur Energy is one of the most powerful decks in Standard and it plays some of the best cards at each spot on the curve. That used to be a good enough recipe for success, but now the opposition is just as powerful.

W/U Monument preys on Temur Energy’s weaknesses and is largely a bad matchup. With W/U Monument basically taking over Standard and everyone else picking up some new toys, it’s a tough time to be a Temur Energy player.

You can still play Temur Energy and be relatively successful, but I wouldn’t suggest it. There are better ways to accomplish what you want than by playing Servant of the Conduit and Whirler Virtuoso.


Where was Zombies in all of this? Quietly doing well, I suppose.

It still puts up numbers online, and the recent trend of shaving Metallic Mimic for more removal and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is one I can get behind.

Kalitas wins the midrange fights, can get out of Kozilek’s Return and Hour of Devastation range, and gives you some incidental lifegain for beating aggressive decks.

Aethersphere Harvester appears to be back in style and I’m down with that. Where are the Ifnir Dreadlands, though?

W/U Monument

If I end up registering W/U Monument for the Pro Tour, I’ll be happy. It means I probably have good plans against the biggest decks and it also means I’ll have a level of comfort that is generally key to my success.

On top of that, not much can really go wrong. What are they going to do? Abrade my Oketra’s Monument? If I’ve built my deck to lean on a specific card that is (somewhat) easily removed, I’m doing it wrong.

Rosum doesn’t have a completely cohesive sideboard plan, but it didn’t seem like he needed it, considering he only lost one match the entire tournament. Still, cards like Angel of Sanctions and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar tend to shift the axis of what matters in a particular matchup and you end up being less reliant on Oketra’s Monument itself.

B/G Delirium

If G/R Ramp doesn’t exist, then B/G Delirium can thrive. It’s not completely hopeless, but it’s not something I’d want to purposefully walk into. Doomfall helps in multiple different ways, but your best bet is turning to things like Ammit Eternal and beating them down.

If midrange continues to be a thing, look out for The Scarab God to make more of an appearance. We saw it in some of the Top 64 decks from #SCGCIN and I only expect that trend to continue.


U/R Control and its cousins were out in full force last weekend and they didn’t disappoint. Not only did a control deck win the tournament, but control also had three other players in the Top 16. Granted, it was the most heavily played archetype heading into Day 2, but its numbers didn’t heavily drop off like Temur Energy’s did.

While control isn’t typically where you want to be in the first week of a new format, it actually seems fine here. Torrential Gearhulk and a pile of counterspells can solve most problems. It also helps that the majority of the best decks are midrange decks, which means your answers will typically line up with their threats.

Control is infinitely beatable, especially the versions that lean on Torrential Gearhulk. Essence Scatter is your best tool against decks that are hoping to use Torrential Gearhulk to regain tempo.

Mono-Red Aggro

If you’ve been paying attention to Magic Online last week, you would have noticed that Mono-Red Aggro started killing it, mostly because ThunderMo_Hellkite was streaming it. That caused a lot of people to start iterating on his deck, and that’s how Jonathan Job ended up in the Top 8.

Job isn’t the hyper-aggressive Mono-Red deck, and that’s a big distinction. One deck is trying to chip-shot you to death, which makes any sort of lifegain incredible against them. Job’s version hits hard with Glorybringer and the like, which means lifegain is little more than a Fog against him. You are best served trying to handle his deck similarly to how you would handle Temur Energy, B/G Energy, or Mono-Red Eldrazi.

Yes, they can burn you out, but most of the time they will kill you with large creatures.

Most of the reason that Temur Energy great is that they have Harnessed Lightning, Chandra, and Glorybringer. Mono-Red has those same tools and is capable of playing a leaner game. There are no enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands here, although there are some colorless lands that could screw you over from time to time.

Mono-Red’s biggest strength is going to be finding the list that works best in the metagame. Past that, it’s all about making your opponent’s sideboard cards ineffective.

U/R Prowess

U/R Prowess is scary in the same way the Pummeler deck is, but maybe more tame? If the format is mostly midrange and control, any deck with a bunch of burn and Fevered Visions is going to be a good one. I’m also confident this could get under the bigger Mono-Red decks.

This is a deck to watch.

G/R Pummeler

Truth be told, I’m kind of scared of the Pummeler deck. It’s one of those decks that will never show up in large numbers, but you should be wary of. G/R Pummeler has two things going for it, namely how difficult it is to interact with and how that warps how your opponent plays against you.

Having true aggro decks around is great for the metagame. It means there will be more natural churn, as most decks can’t prepare for every macro archetype. Some weeks there will be a huge vulnerability to control and that will likely correct itself at the next big tournament.

The Winners

It looks like the variants of W/U Monument, U/R Control, Temur Energy, and Mono-Red are the Tier 1 decks. G/R Ramp (or hell, green with some splash) could end up being great. Mardu Vehicles also looks pretty good at the moment, but probably only because all of the other decklists are kinda rough. Mardu will get worse before it gets any better.

Emerge decks are a possibility, but (unfortunately) aren’t cutting it.

Mono-Red and W/U Monument are going to be the decks with targets on their heads, but they’re also the ones that can probably handle it the best.

The Rules for Standard

Spoiler: There are very few.

Graveyard hate isn’t necessary, at least right now, but it could become that by the time the Pro Tour rolls around. I’ve already heard rumblings of Gate to the Afterlife and Abandoned Sarcophagus beating people up online. Given the actual metagame we have, things like Crook of Condemnation are mostly wasted sideboard space.

Be prepared to fight control decks, although not necessarily the deck that won the tournament. Essence Scatter is great, Invasive Surgery is fine, and Jace’s Defeat is serviceable. Have a plan for defeating Torrential Gearhulk, even if it’s as simple as killing it before it gets to block anything. Don’t get tricked by their creature-based sideboard plan.

Other than that, it’s mostly up to you. You can choose a deck you like, tune it to fight the expected metagame, and perform relatively well. Even though there’s a clear Tier 1, those decks are only inches better than what’s lurking in Tier 2.