Hour Of Devastation: Building Decks With Green

Patrick Chapin’s Hour of Devastation exploration continues! Which green cards are full of (Hour of) Promise, and which are just mirages?

Today, I’d like to take a look at the green cards of Hour of Devastation. The set has wasted no time having an impact, and a couple of the green cards are among the most important in the set.

Some day, they are going to make one of these that is tournament-viable.

That day is not today.

Dromoka’s Command?

As best I can tell, Beneath the Sands has two primary archetypes it can go in. The first are New Perspectives decks. Regardless of what colors you’re playing, Beneath the Sands is color-fixing, ramping, and a “cycling land” for your engine. It’s a decent draw early, speeding you up and adding consistency. It’s like everything else, later, when you’re just looking to cycle. It does cycle for two instead of one, but if you’re looking to New Perspectives anyway, that’s not the biggest deal.

The other potential home for Beneath the Sands is some kind of Eldrazi ramp deck. It’s competing with Spring // Mind, which I think is frequently better if you’re U/G, so it’s probably going to be more of a G/R or G/B Eldrazi Ramp card. For instance, check out the list Jonathan Benson used to Top 32 this weekend’s Open:

The banning of Aetherworks Marvel has left a giant hole in the “best Ulamog deck” department. Conveniently, Hour of Devastation has a lot to offer anyone looking to keep the Ulamog-ing going.

Hour of Promise is one of the most influential cards in Hour of Devastation. It’s an awful lot of a Primeval Titan, and it’s even cheaper. While it doesn’t actually leave you with a Primeval Titan on the battlefield, it sure does leave you with a whole lot more than Explosive Vegetation.

The pain-Deserts are an important piece of the Hour of Promise ramp strategy, as you really do get a lot more value when you’re producing two Zombies to block with while you go find two Shrine of the Forsaken Gods.

Hour of Promise gives us a lot of capacity for a land-based toolbox, and some Deserts are needed to fuel Hour of Promise anyway. Between Scrapheap Scrounger, Zombies, Lilianas, aftermath, embalm, eternalize, and delirium, there really are a ton of potential applications these days.

Hour of Devastation means some of your Kozilek’s Returns don’t even need Eldrazi, plus they kill planeswalkers. Abrade is also just an amazingly versatile form of interaction. I’m a big fan of G/R Eldrazi Ramp for this upcoming format, though there is merit to the other support colors. We discussed G/U last week, so let’s take a look at G/W:

I’m not super drawn to G/W Eldrazi Ramp; however, one possible draw is the synergy between Hour of Promise and miscellaneous token enablers like Nissa and Gideon.

Next, we have G/B Eldrazi Ramp, combining the Ulamog strategy with a bit of a Delirium strategy.

Of course, we could also just stay mostly green, doing the typical “splash for removal” thing. I just like pushing the edges early when gaining an understanding of a new format.

Dune Diviner is a relatively unassuming card that looks like it was meant for Draft, but I’m not sure it won’t find an occasional home here and there as an additional option for Desert decks with Traverse the Ulvenwald. More likely than not, it’ll turn out that we’ve got better things to do with our mana too much of the time, but if it does work out, it could be pretty sick tech.

This list is going pretty hard, but there are a lot of sweet things to try. Generally speaking, however, I think Uncage the Menagerie looks too fun to not try.

It’s quite the ramp payoff, even if we’re just casting it for five mana and then using additional mana to cast one of the cards we just searched up.

Once you’re tutoring up three three-drops, it’s kind of nice if one of them is Murder.

Bitterbow Sharpshooters is only a single mana away from being a single mana away from being worth considering.

Devotee of Strength is in a similar camp.

Why would you waste our time talking about the possibility of Devotee of Strength being a 3/2 with upside for one?

Are you already locked in on Toolcraft Exemplar or something?

Feral Prowler isn’t breaking any records on power level, but it does look pretty decent. Historically, plenty of worse two-drops that were meant to be sacrificed have shown up. Elder Deep-Fiend looking for friends anyway!

Of course, the more likely new best buddy to the Deep-Fiend is Champion of Wits.

We discussed Champion of Wits at length last week, but here’s the card’s first (of many) successful outings:

Basking Rootwalla did show up occassionally in decks that couldn’t really take advantage of its madness. I would guess the current format is too mana-efficient due to cycling, creature-lands, Clues, and so on. Nevertheless, here’s an attempt:

Frilled Sandwalla is hardly required, here; but Rhonas’s Last Stand is quite a bit more exciting.

Last week, we discussed the possibility of running Rhonas’s Last Stand in some fancy Second Harvest and/or Anointed Procession decks. However, it could also just be used in a green beatdown deck, particularly with Servant of the Conduit and Rishkar, Peema Renegade to keep your mana going. Additionally, the curve of Servant of the Conduit into double Rhonas’s Last Stand is kind of cheating the system.

Another possible use could be in some kind of a dedicated Rhonas the Indomitable deck, fittingly. Just casting it on turn 2 as a 5/4 can be a pretty exciting opening, particularly if everyone has cashed their Harnessed Lightnings in for Abrades, so we really don’t need that big of a payoff for making such a big token.

Draft trick.

Vanilla for Draft. It’s been a long time since the glory days of Gnarled Mass.

I dunno. This sure does seem like we’re working awfully hard for a Servant of the Conduit. Maybe if they print some lands with super-awesome tap abilities that don’t cost much mana? Untapping pain-Deserts like Hashep Oasis is a tough way to do it, as it costs so much to activate, and if you’re sacrificing lands, it’s going to be tough to activate twice a turn for long.

While Oasis Ritualist looks like it’d be the more likely to be assured of “Draft-only” status, I’m actually less sure on this one. It is vulnerable, but it is an Explosive Vegetation worth of ramping. It might also find a job in some Paradox Engine deck, which is a pretty interesting way to sidestep that whole “exert” thing.

I’m not overly optimistic, but I am down for being overly ambitious!

Another possibility is to incorporate some kind of a Cat package.


Pride Sovereign has one of the best abilities, and it doesn’t take much Paradox Engine shenanigans for Pride Sovereign to completely run away with a game.

To really get our money from Pride Sovereign, however, we may want to actually “do it” and shove all-in on Cats. The Sovereign really is an excellent lord, and Regal Caracal ain’t too shabby, either.

One of the cards I am most interested in for various G/W aggro decks is Appeal // Authority.

I could be off-base, as this type of card is good infrequently, but this just looks so incredibly efficient to me, I would want to try it. The one-cost front side is already interesting and a mondo-combo on double strikers or lifelinkers. The backside clearing a path for the killing blow, however, makes it a one-two punch that I am betting will demand a home for itself.

Driven // Despair isn’t too shabby, either. If you draw even a single card off it, you’ve already gotten a weird sort of two-for-one (as you still have Despair waiting). There are a fair number of games, however, where you can play both sides on turn four and just run away with the game, scoring an easy four-for-one.

As an example, here’s the list Cameron Tousi piloted to a Top 32 finish this weekend, making good use of the card:

While Cameron’s list is more energy-oriented, it’s worth keeping in mind that Driven // Despair is an interesting card in Delirium decks, or any strategy, really, with self-mill and plenty of creatures.

This kind of card usually doesn’t pan out, but it is interesting that we have access to both Majestic Myriarch and Odric Lunarch Marshal. Now, we’re talking about a lot of incentives to have some of the better multiplier keywords, like double strike and lifelink. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar even adds indestructible to the mix for free!

Life Goes On is a pretty efficient sideboard card for the deck that can trigger it. I’m not sure there’s really a demand for this effect right now, but it is a really mana-efficient way to do it.

A fringe sideboard option discussed at length here. The most interesting aspect of the card is not what it does, but what it doesn’t do, which is kill green creatures (elevating them a little, since all four of other Defeats can stop most of their respective creatures).

Global pump spell for Draft. We can do better in Constructed.

Cute Draft card, but in Constructed, five-drops need to compare with Verdurous Gearhulk, Archangel Avacyn, and Glorybringer. If you want to play lands from your graveyard, well, I don’t blame you. I would just consider using Ramunap Excavator instead.

Ramunap Excavator isn’t as strong as Tireless Tracker, but it does have its uses. Obviously, in powered formats, it can replay fetchlands or Wastelands or whatever. However, even in Standard, it has some uses:

Probably Draft only, as there are countless options to cycle for two.

Eh, I mean, it’s not like it’s the worst or anything. However, there’s just better stuff to do for four mana. Woodland Wanderer sees only the tiniest fringe play. Maybe there’s a spot in some two-color Desert deck, but I am skeptical.

We discussed Resilient Khenra at length last week. The short version is that I am cool on the card, but the two main purposes are either in some Eternalize/Embalm deck or in a deck that really takes advantage of the pumps, perhaps with cards like Always Watching or Gideon, Ally of Zendikar (getting extra pump power), along with double strike threats like Adorned Pouncer and Solemn Recruit.

There are just too many better alternatives at two spot: Sylvan Advocate, Duskwatch Recruiter, Lambholt Pacifist, Channeler Initiate, Servant of the Conduit, Grim Flayer, Walking Ballista, etc. The only thing Rhonas’s Stalwart really has going for it is being an exert creature, and it’s not like the explicit exert call-outs are even very strong.

Draft only, though this one is only one mana away.

I would like to get in on this action, particularly when you can scry into Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and maybe help set up your Reason // Believe deck, but there are so many profitable ways to spend your mana, it’s hard to want to play counter-able cards that cost more than Torrential Gearhulk.

Draft only.

See, River Hoopoe looks like so much fun. I would love, love, love for River Hoopoe to be the kind of thing that’s going on. Sadly, it’s unlikely that is the world we live in. The decks that would make good use of the card draw, the lifegain, the early blocker, typically aren’t really in the market to make enemy Fatal Pushes and Abrades live.

Rather than some midrange or control deck where the card would be most fun, here’s an unorthodox attempt to cash in on the card also having flying.

Of course, if this is the sort of game we want to play, we can probably do so with a lot more card quality if we take a page out of the Collected Company playbook.

One week down, and lots of big winners…

Of course, there is one conspicuous absence.

The times, they are a-changin’…