Before Hour of Devastation was released, we looked at the new mechanics together and analyzed how they would shake up the Limited format. Let’s see how we did on our predictions.
4/Xs and X/5s get better
With 4/4 as the marquee set of stats in Hour of Devastation, we predicted that the best stats against the meta would be 4/Xs, which can trade up against 4/4s, and X/5s, which won’t trade down. This has come true to some extent, but not at the rate that I expected. Many of the effects that make Eternal tokens are at rare or mythic, so while they come up fairly often, they don’t dominate the format to the point of warping the meta toward certain stats.
I give us a B- on this prediction.
Blue-white gets slower
In our initial mechanic review, we noted that there were three Blue-White decks in Amonkhet: the hyper aggressive Cartouche-Blade deck; the midrangey embalm deck; and the durdly control deck. Most of these decks fell into the first and second categories, however. We thought that Eternalize would force Blue-White, as the color pair with the most Eternalize cards, to become slower so it could take advantage of the higher-than-Embalm costs of Eternalize.
This has not really come true, thanks to the existence of one card: Spellweaver Eternal. Spellweaver Eternal is an excellent tempo creature that on its own creates a deck somewhere between the speeds of the Blade deck and the Embalm deck of the previous format. On top of that, it’s helped in its aggressive mission by other new blue cards like Aerial Guide and Unsummon. There also exists an Eternalize value deck in this color pair, but its prevalence is mitigated by the superior tempo deck.
I give us a B on this prediction.
Bounce is still good, but for different reasons
In Amonkhet, bounce spells like Winds of Rebuke were really good for two reasons. The more important reason was that the format was really aggressive and playing a Winds for tempo so you could attack in was often correct. The less important reason was that you could just kill big Embalm’d dudes with them, which is a great deal for two mana. We thought that in Hour of Devastation, these reasons would flip in priority, since Eternalize creatures were even juicier targets for bounce spells.
What’s actually happening is that bounce spells remain good, but kinda for the same reasons. The cause of this is twofold. First, like we mentioned earlier, Eternalize isn’t prevalent enough to really warp the format. The second is that while the format slowed down, the blue decks are still aggressive, so bounce is just as good if not better than it was in Amonkhet.
I give us a B.
Worship gets a bit worse
So sad, yet so true.
A+ on the prediction, D- on the cruel reality of the situation.
Black will get more aggressive
If you like attacking and basic lands that begin with an “S”, Amonkhet was a sad, sad time for you. The common black two-drops all either had only one power or disincentivized you from playing them on turn 2. Luckily, Hour of Devastation brought black much beefier two-mana creatures at common: Khenra Eternal and Wretched Camel. Both creatures love to be played early and love attacking, and as expected, black has become a much more aggressive color in Hour of Devastation. The most dramatic change has been in the black-blue deck- Shadowstorm Vizier is not in nearly as awkward a spot anymore, as it’s now an actively good card with respect to Blue-Black’s plan.
As such, this prediction gets an A.
Low-power, high-toughness blockers (especially X-4s!) remain bad
We didn’t like Ancient Crab before, and we definitely don’t now. There are still a ton of powerful ways to prevent creatures from blocking, and Afflict’s presence on top of that makes blocking painful even when you get to do it.
We scored an A+ on this one.
Chump blocking with 1/1 vigilance tokens isn’t always gonna cut it
As we said in our original article, “There were a lot of these tokens in Amonkhet, and they were pretty good at poking in for damage when they could, and then finally blocking and dying when you started to lose a race. This strategy could still be effective in Hour of Devastation, but the existence of Afflict makes that less likely.” That’s funny, because in the dozen of drafts I’ve done so far, I have yet to counter a single one of these tokens, so I guess our prediction was kinda correct?
I give it a wonky B+.
It’s harder for control decks to stabilize at a low life total
I have definitely encountered a feeling of dread after stabilizing at 3 already, and I expect to do so several more times before Ixalan. Not only does Afflict make that a spooky reality, but burn spells like Open Fire and Inferno Jet just didn’t exist in Amonkhet in the same quantity, and Trial of Zeal wasn’t enough to make me sweat once I entered the red zone. On top of that, tempo decks like the ones that exist in Hour of Devastation can often kill out of nowhere.
When you put all these factors together, I think we deserve an A on this prediction.
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