With nearly half of Hour of Devastation spoiled, there’s a lot to be excited about. From a Modern player’s perspective, a few cards stick out to me as being particularly playable. Let’s take a look at 6 picks from the Hour of Devastation spoilers (so far) that I anticipate will find a home in Modern.
Liliana’s Defeat: Liliana’s Defeat stands a good chance of seeing some serious sideboard play vs. Death’s Shadow, Jund, and Abzan as it is a one-mana removal spell that can effectively deal with early problem creatures like Death’s Shadow or Dark Confidant. Whereas Fatal Push falls short of dealing with large delve creatures like Gurmag Angler and Tasigur, the Golden Fang, Liliana’s Defeat can finish the job.
Additionally, Liliana happens to be the most commonly played planeswalker in modern and the one that most significantly demands an immediate answer. Often times, Liliana of the Veil is so crippling because she sets you back in her first activation (causing you to sacrifice a creature or discard a valuable card) and then even further when you spend the next turn committing valuable time and resources to killing her. Liliana’s Defeat allows you to commit just one mana to doing so AND deal your opponent 3 damage in the process.
Solemnity: Solemnity creates all sorts of combo potential in modern. This means that ‘undying’ creatures will infinitely return to the battlefield and that Phyrexian Unlife prevents you from dying to damage. Additionally, Solemnity could come out of the sideboard vs Infect, Devoted Druid, Pyromancer’s Ascension (should it ever return), Walking Ballista, or Arcbound Ravager. When cards like Solemnity are printed, they are begging to be broken in eternal formats. How could I not include this on my list?
I won’t go into too much detail here because there are already plenty of people on the job (read the comments), but in modern, I see this doing the most work in a combo deck with Phyrexian Unlife. At three mana, both enchantments are searchable by Zur, the Enchanter, who just might function as the centerpiece an enchantment deck that takes shape around this combo.
Supreme Will: Yes, Supreme Will costs three mana and yes, that is quite a bit to pay for a counterspell in Modern. Let’s remember something though. Versatility goes a long way in this format. In games where a three-mana counterspell is just too slow, the other portion of the card may just dig for the most beautifully timed Supreme Verdict. I don’t expect to see three or four copies of Supreme Will played in a control deck but a single copy may be what is needed to round out a UW Control or Scapeshift deck. This card does both things that a Baral Storm deck wants most. Quite possibly, the cost is just too high for this particular deck but the ability to dig four cards deep may be enough to make that worthwile.
Ramunap Excavator: I don’t see a way that this card DOESN’T see any play in modern. This is the type of thing that players will have a hard time walking away from. Currently, there exists a GW deck involving Knight of the Reliquary, Ghost Quarter, and Crucible of Worlds. Ramunap Excavator, who happens to be “Collected Company-able” seems to fit rather naturally into this sort of shell. Aside from that, having a creature that can be played via all of the most effective toolbox cards in a format where fetchlands are played seems to suggest that Ramunap Excavator has a good shot of making a splash in Modern.
Claim // Fame: This card screams Grixis Death’s Shadow. The only question is whether or not it is needed. While Claim // Fame provides obvious redundancy for the deck’s namesake creature, it falls victim to one of the most effective sideboard plans: graveyard hate. We’ll certainly see some players experiment with a copy or two in either their main or side but whether or not Claim // Fame becomes a Death’s Shadow mainstay remains to be seen. Claim does provide a valuable recursion option for other Modern favorites like Tarmogoyf, Young Pyromancer, and Jace, Vrynn’s Prodigy however, and the opportunity to give them haste seems rather appealing (particularly in the case of Jace who might immediately flip into a planeswalker).
Hostile Desert: This one is quite hard to evaluate but without any testing…it seems REALLY good. A two-mana activation for a 3/4 creature makes Hostile Desert seem like Mutavault’s big brother. The obvious difference between this card and Mutavault is the fact that you’ll need to exile a land card from your graveyard in order to animate. If you play the right number of fetch lands, this shouldn’t be an issue. Consider the number of times you are likely to attack with an active Stirring Wildwood… While there are many variables that will factor into this answer, in many games, you’ll likely find yourself doing so just two or three times. In an average game of modern, you’ll certainly have cracked two or three fetchlands. Pair with lands that readily place themselves into the graveyard for best results – ie. Ghost Quarter, Tectonic Edge, and Horizon Canopy.
Scavenger Grounds: Scavenger Grounds serves a rare function – graveyard hate in a land. We have one other card that can do this in Bojuka Bog, however, Bojuka Bog has two limiting factors; it produces black mana and comes into play tapped. While Scavenger Grounds producing colorless may seem more limiting, for some decks, this hits the spot. Notably, Eldrazi Tron who pack ways to search this land out via Expedition Map will benefit from this. It seems good but the question remains, is the activation cost too great for this to be worthwhile?
Oketra’s Last Mercy: I’m really not sure how I feel about this one but it would certainly be a near automatic win vs. Red Deck Wins and that seems pretty strong. Unfortunately for Oketra, there are lots of white cards that are already quite crippling against RDW, some of which cost fewer than three mana. Please note that due to rules changes, this change in life DOES count as life gain and will not bypass cards like Skullcrack and Atarka’s Command.
Consign // Oblivion: On the front end, Consign is already quite close to playable in decks like Mono U Tron who’s sideboards benefit from versatile bounce spells due to blue’s inability to deal with resolved permanents. These decks tend to also play a very light splash of another color, typically black, so Oblivion is quite castable and with tron, should be easy to reach.
Hollow One: This looks like a Modern playable card but don’t fall into the trap. It will probably be a part of some silly combo at some point (potentially involving an Eldritch Evolution into something bigger) but I don’t expect a big splash. Notably, cards like Faithless Looting and Cathartic Reunion can cause this to cost just one mana. If everything goes as planned…you get a whole vanilla 4/4! Perhaps, this guy has a home in Living End. Perhaps a two-mana cycle is too much to pay.
Appeal // Authority: This card seems really damn strong. Unlike other aftermath spells, it’s the second half of this card that is the most exciting to me. Authority reminds me an awful lot of Feeling of Dread which was always forgotten about by my opponent until it was tapping down the last two blockers as I swung in for the win. Appeal, which, in theory should always be about X=3 but has potential to be even BIGGER than a Giant Growth, and also gives a creature trample. This card does so much for such a small cost and it seems to have some major potential in standard (at least) but I’ve included it here because I think that it is strong enough for Modern if the right kind of deck exists for it.