Hour of Devastation Prerelease Primer

Welcome back. This weekend is the Hour of Devastation prerelease. Today I’m going to take a look over the ten 2-color archetypes that you can expect to see during your prereleases and highlight some of the key cards to look for. Let’s get started.

White Blue Tokens

In Amonkhet we had Embalm and now that Hour of Devastation has arrived we have Eternalize. Eternalize is just like Embalm except the creature token becomes a 4/4 instead of its original power/toughness and is black instead of white. Despite these small differences, both work great in the White Blue tokens archetype.

Getting 2 uses out of most of your creatures lets you aggressively trade off creatures until your zombies are the only things left standing. All the White Blue token-matters cards from Amonkhet work just as good here, such as Aven Wind Guide giving flying and vigilance to your 4/4 army. Remember that the Embalm or Eternalize creatures don’t have to die for them to get in the graveyard, with some cards in both sets granting you the ability to mill yourself for that zombie value.

Blue Black Cycling

Blue Black aims for a cycling-focused control deck that mixes cheap cycling cards and cycling-matters cards to get you to the late game. Expensive creatures like Riverwinder or River Serpent cycle for cheap early on and become your win conditions later.

Cycling matters cards like Cunning Survivor or Faith of the Devoted trigger when you cycle OR discard a card, so keep that in mind when building your deck. Discard outlets like Miasmic Mummy or Merciless Eternal can start to look real impressive when they are mixed in with the cycling-matters theme.

Black Red Afflict

In Amonkhet, Black Red was aggressive with a focus on having no cards in hand. In Hour of Devastation, Black Red is still aggressive but the focus moves to Afflict instead. Khenra Eternal is a bread-and-butter 2/2 for 2, but Afflict 1 means that even when it eventually rushes to its death it will get in an extra point of damage.

Combat tricks that will save your creature when it eventually gets blocked seem great in this archetype. On top of that there are some direct damage spells in this set so the opponent shouldn’t be safe at a low life total even when they stabilize the board.

Red Green Smash

Red Green’s big creature strategy returns in Hour of Devastation. The aggressive exert creatures from Amonkhet will play well in these decks but you really want to be topping out at giant creatures like Wurms that will overpower anything the opponent throws at it. Fight cards are particularly potent in this archetype as your creatures should always be bigger than the opponents.

Green White Exert

Green Whites focus is a mixture between exert creatures and a go wide strategy. Plenty of combat tricks in both sets will untap your creature as a way to get around the drawback for exert, so keep an eye out for those. Overcome or In Oketra’s Name reward you for building up and protecting a large board of creatures that can eventually win the game in one attack.

Blue Red Spells

Blue Red was one of my favorite decks to play in Amonkhet and not much seems to have changed here. The deck has a clear focus – play a lot of spells – and the few creatures it does play care about spells. Because of this focus, Instant and Sorcery speed removal is much more valuable in this deck than Enchantment based removal.

Blue Red decks tend to be very tempo-oriented. The cards are all quite efficient but not outright powerful. Be on the lookout for spells like Unsummon which can push your advantage and keep the opponent off their end game.

Black White Zombies

Zombies is a synergistic tribal deck just like last set. This Black White deck uses its lords and other synergistic interactions to build up a horde of unbeatable creatures. Remember that both eternalize and embalm create zombie creatures that will trigger cards like Wayward Servant.

Red White Aggro


Red White doesn’t have the same mechanical identity as some of the other colors, but it likes to attack and to attack fast. A low curve of lots of creatures backed up by pump spells is what you are looking for here.

Creatures that can exert to gain first strike or another ability to keep attacking are very valuable. With so many cheap creatures you are bound to draw them when the game goes late, so the ones that can repeatedly get in for damage are the best. The red and white Cartouches from Amonkhet, Oketra’s Avenger and Vizier of the True all grant the ability to keep the pressure on turn after turn.

Black Green -1/-1 Counters

Black Green had a major -1/-1 counter focus in Amonkhet. In Hour of Devastation, this has been toned down a lot but it still exists. The creatures that came into play with counters on themselves on gone, but in exchange we have a bunch of ways to put counters on the opponent’s creatures instead such as Banewhip Punisher. Tenacious Hunter doesn’t care what has a counter on it giving us some flexibility while Decimator Beetle and Obelisk Spider are still going to be just great. Black Green played out well in Amonkhet and here looks no different.

Blue Green Ramp

Finally, we have the Blue Green Ramp deck. The game plan here is simple: ramp to large creatures and fliers that can win the game. Blue card draw and large green creatures work well in this deck while counterpulls tend to be your main removal suite.

While most Blue Green decks will be 2 colors, splashing is a real possibility. If you have a single-costed bomb in another color and a great Blue Green base it’s easy to splash for it. In fact, it’s possible to make 4 or 5-color ‘play all the bombs’ decks from this base of blue green.

Wrap up

That’s all for this week. Have fun at the prerelease this weekend and remember that the Magic Online prerelease starts right afterwards in case you don’t get enough Magic in over the weekend. Until next time.

Justin Robb
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Justin Robb

Justin Robb hails from Queensland, Australia, so you might see him travelling around the Asian GPs or RPTQs (especially in Japan) as he chases more Pro Tour qualifications. He won GP Brisbane in 2013 with Affinity in Modern, was on the Australian team for World Magic Cup in 2014 and has several other top finishes in constructed formats. Apart from Magic he has a keen interest in technology and how it can change our lives, especially in education.
Justin Robb
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Published:July 5, 2017


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