The limited playing community has submitted over 37,000 grades to the community limited review of Hour of Devastation. If you haven't had a chance yet, you can participate by visiting the survey page.
While each participant may rate cards a little differently, the community sometimes sees a card so awesome that we can't help but agree:
And sometimes we agree because the card is... well... less awesome:
And sometimes we disagree. And sometimes we REALLY disagree. Last week we looked at the most controversial commons and uncommons from Hour of Devastation. This week we get to the really fun ones - the place where Wizards likes to hide it's weirdest, niche-est cards: the rares and mythics. We'll look at the 8 most controversial cards. I'll start by summarizing the community view, then offer my take...
...which, given these cards, is guaranteed to be controversial.
8. God-Pharaoh's Gift (Community Grade C+)
What the community thinks: Expensive but potentially powerful effects are a mainstay on the most controversial list. On the one hand, God-Pharaoh's Gift will quickly grind out opponents with an unstoppable army of zombies. On the other, if Hour of Devastation is as fast as it's predecessor format you may die with this in your hand. Even if you do cast it: you might find yourself with no more corpses to reanimate.
With questions about the speed of the new format still unresolved, the community is split as to whether this gift is a white elephant or a potential bomb.
What I think: I think you could do worse than drawing Mr. Bolas as your secret Santa. Because you get an activation the turn you play it, God-Pharaoh's Gift isn't even that horrendously over-costed as a colorless 4/4 haste creature, and the possibility of stapling on other useful abilities makes this package even more lucrative.
If you manage to get two creatures off God-Pharaoh's Gift it's starting to look pretty grim for your opponent.
Let's also address my most far-fetched concern: that you might run out of targets to reanimate. It doesn't take much to make God-Pharaoh's Gift work. Even a lowly Oashra Cultivator is going to come back as a 4/4. And if you find God Pharaoh's Gift in your stocking you should feel free to cycle away your Winged Shepherds and trade off your 2 drops with the promise that they'll be back later to do your bidding.
The fact that God Pharaoh's combines immediate board presence with long term inevitability more than makes up for its high mana cost.
7. Endless Sands (Community Grade C-)
What the community thinks: Utility lands are a way to sneak extra power into a limited deck, without cheating on your land count. Endless Sands also sports the Desert subtype, so having this on the battlefield or in the graveyard is a bonus in Hour of Devastation. The question the community is split on is this: how much is getting a little utility from a desert worth?
What I think: Especially in sealed, I was always able to find a spot for at least one Cradle of the Accursed:
Endless Sand feels similarly unobtrusive, and I expect it to find it's way into most of my typical two color decks. A pretty typical play pattern I can imagine with this card is this: untap, go to combat, attack and hold up activation of Endless Sands in case your opponent has tricks or removal. Shutting down tricks and removal is a nice little bonus from a land, and occasionally it may grant you extra value with come into play effects. In magical Christmas land, it can even return one (or more!) of this guy:
That's a pretty nice little package for a card that doesn't even take up a spell slot.
6. Razaketh, the Foulblooded (Community Grade C)
What the community thinks: Have I already used the phrase: "Expensive but potentially powerful effects are a mainstay on the most controversial list"? Let me check. Yep.
Razaketh ups the ante by being the most expensive card on this list, and triple black to boot. In return you get a huge flyer that, at the cost of some blood, will help you search out answers for whatever your opponent has. The question facing the community is: is this power worth the cost?
What I think: I will say that the best part of Razaketh is his flavor. Liliana's boss fights so far have started with:
And now this guy. Anyone want to take bets on Belzenlok's power and toughness? (And today you learned the name of Liliana's fourth demon - don't say you didn't learn anything from this article).
As far as Razaketh's limited playability? He's too expensive for what is essentially just a big flying fattie.
5. Abandoned Sarcophagus (Community Grade C)
What the community thinks: The cycling deck was more miss than hit in Amonkhet limited, needing some very specific cards to help it come together. Hour of Devastation has given the deck a potential new toy in Abandoned Sarcophagus. Now, of course, Abandoned Sarcophagus does actual nothing when you play it, so the upside better be pretty good.
And it is, you get to play any Wasteland Scorpions that you traded off early, as well as any one mana cyclers you cashed in for a card, and in the future you get to turn all your cycling cards into cantrips.
Winning should be pretty easy if you start drawing THAT many extra cards. So, what's the verdict? Is the fact that Abandoned Sarcophagus is a potential blank card worth it?
What I think: I think Abandoned Sarcophagus is great. If you end up with Abandoned Sarcophagus early in a draft, you obviously need to prioritize cycling cards, but if you do the pay off will be incredible.
What I hope to do with the Sarcophagus is trade and cycle early to stabilize the board and find Sarcophagus then recast all my cards. And if that STILL doesn't give me enough ammo to beat my opponent, each new cycler is going to put my opponent farther and farther behind.
4. Torment of Hailfire (Community Grade C+)
What the community thinks: Is this it? Is this the "punisher" style card that's finally good enough?
We've been fooled before sweet looking cards that give your opponent choices, but surely Nicol Bolas wouldn't lead us astray? Right?
What I think: Despite this card seeming awesome, even to my jaded eye, I just can't shake the feeling that your opponent is going to find a way to blunt the pain - you aren't putting enough pressure to make the life loss relevant, or they made a few tokens or have a few creatures with Embalm or Eternalize that they can sacrifice, or they've got a couple lands in hand.
And by the time you ratchet X up to the point where it's crippling you'd be better served by casting a cheaper, more consistent spell.
My heart wants to say this has at least got to be a "C", but my head says I'm being too optimistic, and also wants to add that the fact that my heart likes to do this to opponents can't speak well for my character.
3. Refuse // Cooperate (Community Grade C-)
What the community thinks: Refuse // Cooperate is one bad card attached to a potentially good card. In case there is any confusion, Refuse is a bad lava axe that you can't always cast, and Cooperate is the kind of effect that you can usually find a good use for (copying removal spells being an obviously strategy). So does the good make up for the bad?
What I think: I'm actively unhappy if Refuse // Cooperate is in my deck. Refuse is bad and Cooperate, while an effect I find useful, is much, much less powerful if my opponent sees it coming.
The only time I can imagine playing this card is if I have instant speed ways of discarding Cooperate, which while sweet, feels like a situation that won't happen often.
And even if you do "assemble the combo," Cooperate's upside isn't that high.
2. Uncage the Menagerie (Community Grade C-)
What the community thinks: So here's how the math works. You can pay 2 mana to up your storm count by 1, pay 3 mana to search for Fan Bearer, pay 4 mana to draw two grizzly bears, 5 mana to find 9 mana worth of creatures, and 6 mana to find 16 mana worth of creatures.
That is if you have that many left in your deck. Nobody is claiming this to be a bomb - (literally nobody at the time I took the grade snapshot had this as an A) - but some players see a card draw like this as a valuable addition to a green deck.
What I think: Uncage the Menagerie's sweet spot feels like either X=3 or X=4, but in both cases I have serious reservations. I think the chances of you having enough four drops left to get a good haul get lower the longer you wait and that three drops are going to start to drop off in value by turn 6.
Given that, Uncage the Menagerie feels too slow.
1. Hazoret's Undying Fury (Community Grade D+)
What the community thinks: Hazoret's Undying Fury is mostly viewed as an F, but there are plenty of players who disagree. To those players: your typical limited deck is mostly full of a lot of replacable cards. If you want to roll the dice to try to cast maybe 2 of them, for the low, low cost of 12 mana, then Hazoret's Undying Fury is for you.
What I think: I may have tipped my hand already. I really wonder if this card was designed to specifically make me like it less each time I read.
We have to shuffle first?
Why the mana cost cap, do we really to make this thing harder to hit with?
Oh right, it really cost twelve mana...
Oh come on! It's a sorcery?!
The Final Hour
That was a look at the most controversial cards in Hour of Devastation. Disagree? Then comment on reddit or add your grades to the community review of Hour of Devastation!