Hour of Devastation spoilers are coming in hot, and with them, brews and speculations. Now, I’m not exactly one for brewing, but I do think there are some standout cards in the set that are worth a close look before settling for just playing whatever is good at the end of this current season.

1. Earthshaker Khenra

Fellow Spellsnare writer Charlie Rinehart-Jones talked a bit about this card in his latest article, and I think he was on to something. While the aggro deck of choice in Standard has not been Mono-Red for a long while, I think this card, and others, give the archetype a fighting chance in this upcoming format. Amonkhet introduced some great options, with the headliners being Ahn-Crop Crasher, Hazoret the Fervent, and Bloodrage Brawler. Amonkhet also gave us the option to go bigger with Glorybringer, which I believe is another reasonable option.

Earthshaker Khenra gives us three great things: a reasonably sized cheap haste threat, a way to push through damage early, and inevitability. First, lets look at the body. While a 2/1 for 2 is nothing to write home about, the card having haste is pretty great. The second ability makes sure that it and our one drop both get through a Winding Constrictor or similarly-sized creatures, which is great as we get to establish a board but still push through damage. Finally, the Eternalize on the card, while being very expensive for a Red deck, can provide the final push that we need to get through.

I think this card is at its best in a R/B Aggro deck, with a supporting cast of Cut // Ribbons, Hazoret the Fervent, and possible discard synergies, although I’m not sure if that’s necessary now that we get a better 2 drop that gives us reach.

2. Angel of Condemnation

While this card does not look stellar at first, I believe it has some potential. A while ago, some U/W Panharmonicon decks started doing pretty well in tournaments. That deck utilized Eldrazi Displacer, and I think that this card could fill a similar role. While it doesn’t have the option to blink multiple creatures per turn, it is also a 3/3 vigilance flyer, and can be removal for your opponent’s creatures.

Maybe this card would be better in a midrange sort of deck without Panharmonicon synergies. I could definitely see it in G/W Tokens if that deck were to make a comeback, and it could be great in a B/W Midrange deck with Wasteland Strangler and the like.

3. Oketra’s Last Mercy

Remember that Mono-Red deck we were just talking about? Well, this card gives control a fighting chance against its historical worst enemy. I think playing a U/W Control deck with a few copies of this card can be a winning strategy. Once you have dropped a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and maybe killed a few creatures, this card can really seal the deal. Having a Planeswalker to generate value is very important, as not being unable to untap your lands is a pretty big downside, unless, of course, you only tap 3 lands to cast this and don’t need to cast any other spells with your mana.

This card is also great because it can give you a few more turns, usually two, to find a board wipe or whatever else you need to stabilize, and then allow you to take control of the game.

4. Bontu’s Last Reckoning

This is a card which I am super excited about. Just like Oketra’s Last Mercy, Bontu’s Last Reckoning can help control decks overcome aggro decks. However, I think this card really shines in a matchup such as B/G Constrictor. Because we are playing Black, we will have access to spot removal. Our opponent’s best chance of winning is to go wide utilizing cards such as Verdurous Gearhulk.

Bontu’s Last Reckoning punishes them for this, all the while just costing 3 mana, which allows you to develop your board! Also, this can be cast earlier in the game to good effect. If you are facing down large amounts of pressure, taking an extra turn off to wipe the board without actually investing much mana can be great. This card could also be fantastic against G/W Tokens decks, as those decks might pop up with the new set’s release, and a board wipe is always great against decks that try to go wide as their main plan.

5. Supreme Will

This unassuming uncommon may have some real potential. While there are indeed a lot of counter spells for three mana, this one often does something better. To start off, it isn’t color intensive, meaning it can be played easily in a three or four color deck. Secondly, it can also be used as an Impulse for when you need to find a specific card, or just don’t need the counter spell anymore. On the negative side, this card is an expensive Mana Leak, and so will not always give the choice between counter spell and Impulse. However, I think that the choice the card gives you most of the time is worth the cost of one more than each original spell.

Also, this card is not strictly a control card. A midrange deck could easily play this, as it is disruption in the matchups you need it, while replacing itself by providing card quality in the matchups where you do not need your counter spell. The card could also be played if a new combo deck arises, as it can find a combo piece or protect your combo all in one card. This card is also sweet for other formats, mainly cube for me!

I am extremely excited for this new Standard format, and I hope some of these sweet cards unlock their true potential and burst onto the competitive scene. My only reservation about Standard currently is that Vehicles might be the best deck until it rotates, but I’m definitely willing to keep my mind open and watching the format develop, hopefully in a positive way!

As always, thank you so much for reading, and I wish you all the best in your coming tournaments! Let’s hope to get some more sick spoilers soon, as Hour of Devastation is currently very exciting! See ya next time,

Riccardo Monico

P.S. Pirates and Dinosaurs?!??!? Can we just fast forward to that?

Looking for more Hour of Devastation spoiler analysis? This article from Austin Mansell has you covered, where he goes over the cards that have caught his eye as a contender in the new Standard format.

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