Today I would like to share with you how I like to draft Hour of Devastation. When HOU was released on Magic Online, for the next six days me and fellow Hareruya Pro Petr Sochurek stayed in my apartment and drafted nonstop. We both managed to do over 50 drafts, both pretty successfully and most of the time I was one of the people with most Trophies on MTGO.
This draft format is great, you always have many options of what to draft, so I will go through my favourite archetypes and what I think are the most important cards in them. There are of course many more viable archetypes, and I am sure the Pro Tour will show us how versatile this format is, but let this be your guide to what i consider good archetypes.
Let’s get started!
In my first few drafts, ramp was the only thing I drafted. 《Oasis Ritualist》 and Rares/bomb uncommons is the key to this archetype.
Usually you are two color based, splashing one or two other colors. Most of my draft decks were blue green and black, splashing one of those colors. 《Oasis Ritualist》 Ramp decks are usually made up of cards from these categories – Ramp, Interaction; Payoff and Random fillers.
《Oasis Ritualist》 is the best and most important one. He makes splashing double colored cards pretty easy and in Amonkhet you can complement it with Gift of Paradise, so pretty much any good rare you open or get passed you can play.
All the removal belongs here, but also cheap creatures that are used to slow down your opponent or brick wall his creatures.
《Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs》 is very good. It stops a lot of early creatures and also pings your opponent and can serve as a win condition if you have multiples or combine it with 《Vizier of Tumbling Sands》.
《Solitary Camel》 is great and the more I draft the more I like this card. If you are playing anything but the most aggressive decks and have some deserts, this one will be a nightmare for you opponent.
Removal is fine to have, but I don’t think you need it that much, especially if you have some good cards to ramp into. 《Sandblast》 is good in this archetype if you happen to be in white (I don’t like the card very much in aggressive decks).
These are the rares and powerful uncommons that makes the deck work.
The format is slower than 3*AKH, so rares like 《Sandwurm Convergence》 are very good now.
《Overwhelming Splendor》 is bomb. At first I thought it might be too slow, but after I played with it once, I knew I wwould never pass it again unless I have very aggressive deck. I am hoping to open this card in my first pack.
Cycling creatures are very good in this archetype, giving you something to do with your mana early in the game, smoothing your draws and being good cards to ramp into. Not all of them are great though, but 《Rampaging Hippo》 is one of the best ones and a lot of people still underrate it. 《Greater Sandwurm》 is also great.
In a perfect world, you would have only card from the other categories, but you usually have to play some random creatures. Cards like 《Harrier Naga》 fall into this category. Solid creatures, that don’t have much synergy with rest of the deck but are important to fill out your curve.
《Scrounger of Souls》 is pretty good in these decks, lifelink is just such an important ability for slower decks.
《Initiate's Companion》 is suprisingly good, because when you use it on defense it trades with more expensive cards and if your opponent has a slower start you can even get some damage in and potentialy abuse its trigger.
Just a final note on this one, I would not reccomend to start the draft with picking Ritualists very high unless you already have some good payoff. If you happen to get good payoffs, go ahead and pick ramp spells high and go for it, but not the other way around. You would be just hoping to get passed good rare/uncommon, and that is not a great place to be in.
UR Prowess aggro
I love this archetype. Whenever you get there, it is so much fun and very good, but unfortunately it doesn’t happen very often. You are playing all cheap creatures with Prowess, and once you assemble multiple in play, you chain a few spells and attack for a whole lot of damage.
The problem is that there are not that many Prowess creatures and if you don’t open enough at your draft table, you won’t be able to make a good UR Prowess deck.
By far most important are two drops. 《Spellweaver Eternal》 and 《Firebrand Archer》 are essential. They are not that high picks for other decks, so if you see them passed late in pack one, it might be a good time to try to draft this archetype. I would not want to play this deck if I can’t get multiples of them, I would say having 3+ is the point when I really want to be doing UR prowess.
《Thorned Moloch》 is a good creature in this deck and you actively want to have some, or even multiples if you don’t have many other three drops. It is not a good card in other decks so you can get them late.
《Nimble-Blade Khenra》 is suprisingly good. I hate that card in other decks, but in this one anything with Prowess its just good. If you can’t get enough of other twos, this one is fine replacement.
《Seeker of Insight》 might seem like a great card in this deck, but it is not as good. The reason is that you want to be casting spells and attacking for a lot of damage, not just looting. I would usually play the first one, but I wouldn’t mind not playing any if I have enough cheap creatures. It is a good sideboard against decks with lot of , “Pacifisms”.
《Magmaroth》 is one of the best creatures. It is a very good card in most decks, but in this one it is simply exceptional. It’s harder to do better than a 5/5 for four, and your deck has usually multiple ways to punish your opponent if they try to double block it.
You are looking for some combat tricks, bounce spells and removal. One thing that is exceptionally good in this deck are cantrips and card draw. They let you chain them while growing your creatures, allowing you to deal lot of damage and setting up the same thing for next turn.
《Crash Through》 is probably the best one, because of how cheap it is and that the Trample effect is very relevant.
《Strategic Planning》 and 《Tragic Lesson》 are also good, and I am looking to have multiple of those. Cheaper they are the more you can have, just make sure to not overload on 《Tragic Lesson》. Also the more card selection and cantrips you have, cheap interaction spells like 《Magma Spray》 or 《Unsummon》 get more important so you can get back any tempo you lost by casting them.
《Traveler's Amulet》 is a nice way to trigger Prowess while occupying a land slot. Just make sure to 15-16 lands total, counting Amulets. If you play more, you will get flooded very often with the amount of cantrips you play.
One important thing about this deck is that you don’t want to have as many creatures as in normal decks, because you want to have lot of spells to trigger Prowess reliably and as much as possible. Ideally you want to have two creatures in play and then just chain spells.
Unfortunately your opponents sometimes kill your creatures or they die in combat, so you can’t play that few. I would recommend having about 10-12 creatures and the rest spells.
Red and/or White Aggro
I know this is pretty vague description, but I think there are some similarities that successful aggressive decks have and rest is not that important, so I want to talk about that. One thing to note is that common Deserts are very good in aggressive decks, because flooding is a big concern and they help to mitigate it by a lot.
Uncommon deserts are even better, especially White and Green ones, because they let you push a lot of damage through, while occupying a regular land slot. This is the strategy I like the most now and have the best results with.
I don’t like vanilla two drops. That means mostly 《Defiant Khenra》 , but also 《Wretched Camel》 , 《Firebrand Archer》 and also 《Mummy Paramount》, unless you have mostly Zombies in your deck. I found out that 2/2 for two is just not good enough. They get outclassed very quickly and I would rather have a slightly worse curve than playing those.
《Dauntless Aven》 is really solid, especially if you have lot of Exert creatures. It is also the perfect foil to 《Unquenchable Thirst》. Keep that in mind when sideboarding, because in slower decks Aven is not great, but if you opponent has multiple of those you might want it.
《Saving Grace》 is solid trick when you are aggressive, because it is not hard to save your creature and have it permanently buffed when you are attacking whole time, without exposing yourself to removal spell. It is very good sideboard card against other aggressive decks if you don’t have it in the maindeck.
《Unconventional Tactics》 goes from fine to very good, depending on how aggressive you are and how many zombies you have. I would not play it in every deck, but if you have low curve and are looking for some way to push through, this is your card, and it doesn’t matter that you don’t have many zombies, as long as you have a few, i would say 4-5.
《Vizier of the True》 is similat to Tactics. Very good on the play and when you are ahead, but miserable on the draw, especially in aggro mirrors. It is very powerful and if you have multiple exert creatures, it wins any board stalls, so pick it highly.
《Inferno Jet》 is a situational card with Cycling, which is a good combination and I like it a lot.
《Frontline Devastator》 is a very solid creature, only problem is that you usually have lots of four drops, so keep that in mind and don’t pick it very highly.
《Gilded Cerodon》 is nice finisher and if you have deserts he is really good, but competition for the five mana slot is tough, so I don’t expect him to make the cut a lot of times.
Those are three out of many archetypes there are, but I have drafted those a lot and have good experience with them, so I recommend you to try it too. With that said I would like to share some thing about this draft format.
It is very important to be open for as long as possible, because you will get rewarded in Amonkhet if you are in the right colors.
《Sunset Pyramid》 is great and there are not many decks I would not play it in.
《Mirage Mirror》 is insane and should not be passed for anything but maybe top uncommons. It is even better if you are aggressive and complete nightmare to play against.
《Overcome》 is a trap.
Do not play 《Wildfire Eternal》.
Slower cards from Amonkhet got a lot better. 《Wander in Death》 is great example, it was good before, but now is just great.
Cycling payoff cards from Amonkhet got a lot better because of cycling lands from Hour of Devastation.
That is all I have for today. Hope you enjoyed this article and learned something about the HOU draft format, and hopefully it will help you win some Trophies or FNMs!
Thanks for reading.
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