Daily Dose of Hour of Devastation – X Marks the Spot
Welcome all to the Daily Dose of Hour of Devastation. Today I want to kick off the second week of previews by talking about some new spells you can use in the late game when you have more mana than you can use each turn.
Sometimes, in the mid-to-late part of a Limited game, you'll have a limited number of cards in your hand and lots of lands on the battlefield. This is the time when you want to draw a spell that will get you the most value out of all that mana. There a ton of cards with the new eternalize mechanic that will help you use your abundance of mana, as well as cards with aftermath to help you use your mana late in the game. Today I want to talk about some spells that will help you use all the mana to your advantage.
Before I get into the big spells, I want to talk about a great creature that will help you use your mana to gain incremental card advantage throughout the game. Here's River Hoopoe.
When I saw this card, it reminded me of Fathom Feeder. What I enjoy about cards like River Hoopoe is that they have multiple ways to gain you value. Since it's a 2-drop creature, you can get it on the battlefield early and start dealing some damage in the air. If your opponent can’t remove it from the battlefield, it can gain you card advantage throughout the game. Five mana for one card can seem expensive, but when you aren’t using your mana for anything else later in the game, it helps with mana efficiency.
Next, I'd like to have a look at a card made in the mold of cards like Green Sun’s Zenith, Weird Harvest, and Pack Hunt. Here's the newest way to fill up your hand with creatures, Uncage the Menagerie.
Cards that allow you to tutor your library have always been very powerful in Magic and Uncage the Menagerie is no different. There are a couple of subtle aspects of this card which make it even more unique. The biggest work around to make this card great is that each of the cards you search for must have an exact converted mana cost of X. Let me break this down for different values of X.
X = 0 – Because you would be getting 0 cards from your library, you won’t be able to use this spell to get cards like Dryad Arbor.
X = 1 – If you have nothing else to play on turn three, this could be an efficient use of your mana to go search for one 1-drop creature from your library. It is unfortunate that you won't be able to get multiple one drops with this spell though.
X = 2 – Now we're getting started. Searching your library for two 2-drop creatures for four total mana is a great investment. It could allow you to search for a Sylvan Advocate and a Duskwatch Recruiter for example.
X = 3 – We've hit the sweet spot of this card. Being able to search for three creature cards at 3-mana each for only five mana is some serious card advantage. In a Temur deck, for example, you could search for a Rogue Refiner, Whirler Virtuoso, and a Tireless Tracker.
X = 4 or more – At this point, based on the logical mana curve of most decks, you'll rarely have a deck that has four different creatures that cost four or more mana. It could still be valuable to search up one of two large creatures if needed.
So, it looks like the greatest value for Uncage the Menagerie will be when X is either two or three. Either way, this card is versatile and could lead to some incredible and efficient card advantage.
This is a card that some Magic players would call a finisher. The ability behind the card does put some of the power in the hands of your opponent, as it gives them the choice in what direction they want to go. The less mana you spend on the card, the more power they have. If X is one or two, your opponent’s decision tree is very small and they can, in most times, choose the combination of life loss, permanent loss, or card loss that is most beneficial to them.
Once you start to ramp it up, and have X at five and higher, the power switches to you. Later in the game, your opponent will have less cards in hand, which means they'll either lose a lot of nonland permanents, or take a lot of damage very quickly. Try and play this card as late in the game as you can, to maximize the return on your investment.
As you can see, there will be lots to do in Hour of Devastation with your mana in the mid-to-late game. With plenty of mechanics that will help you use your mana, and new cards like what we’ve seen today, playing 17 lands in a prerelease deck will never be a problem. Thanks again for reading the Daily Dose of Hour of Devastation. Join me tomorrow as I look forward to seeing which hidden gems from the newest set we haven’t discovered yet.