We call them extras, bonuses, upsides, and perks. By any name at all, free things are (almost always) sweet. Of course, red spells are only going to be generous on their own terms, and today's preview is no exception.
In Hour of Devastation, as in so many other sets, the red slice of the color pie is generously doling out damage, and Nicol Bolas—never one to be outdone by any other person, plane, or thing—is leading the charge.
Considering the previews we've seen from Hour of Devastation so far, Amonkhet's doom isn't so much imminent as fully arrived, heralded by the flap of Bolas's enormous wings and the crumbling of what looks like hundreds of years' worth of quality infrastructure.
The flavor of this card only makes promises it knows it can keep, and the same can be said for what it accomplishes in a game of Magic. Its arrival on the battlefield signals your opponent's imminent doom in a few short turns, whether that's by evaporating their battlefield resources or by dealing damage directly to their face.
Imminent Doom is a bit like a red counterpart to As Foretold, with, of course, the caveat that it's not casting just any spell for free; it's handing out points of damage like it's sample day at the grocery store. Unlike the blue enchantment, however, Imminent Doom doesn't automatically get a counter at the beginning of your upkeep, meaning that you'll have to put a little more work into developing the enchantment's value. Also unlike As Foretold, Imminent Doom enters the battlefield with a doom counter already on it, so there's no need to figure out a way to get that first one.
Imminent Doom is most exciting in formats where we'll have access to a lot of cheap spells so that we can start seeing return on our three-mana investment as soon, and as often, as possible.
In a Burn deck, this enchantment starts by pinging your opponents for extra points and ends by doubling up your most expensive spells. Burn is a deck that too often comes down to depending on drawing the last few points of damage. That's something an enchantment like Imminent Doom, which gives late-game reach just a little bit of an extra boost, can help with.
Luckily there's already a perfect set of spells in Modern Burn that lets us take advantage of Imminent Doom. At one mana there's Lightning Bolt, then Boros Charm, Atarka's Command, and Eidolon of the Great Revel at two. And while there aren't many spells that cost three mana in Modern Burn decks, Rift Bolt will get an extra 3 points of damage out of the enchantment even when it's cast after being suspended.
Our options get a little thin after three mana, but by that point our opponent's life total should be even thinner, if not entirely gone.
The utility of this new Hour of Devastation enchantment, however, goes beyond pinging your opponent for precious points of damage. We can also point the damage at our opponent's creatures, thinning their resources and drawing a game out into late turns where we can really start pressing our card advantage.
Speaking of turns, Blue-Red Taking Turns is a deck that fits the bill of spells at every converted mana cost, and if it sounds a little off the beaten path . . . well, it is. But it's also a favorite of mine, so humor me; it plays a lot of Modern staples too.
There's Serum Visions at one, Remand at two, Exhaustion at three, and Cryptic Command at four, and then we start casting all our extra-turn spells—which now also hit our opponents or their creatures for 5, 6, and 7 damage. Imminent Doom's flexibility here is great because it's both a way to help you pick off creatures and a way to kill your opponent once your extra turns are underway.
These are just two examples of decks that already have shells ready to take advantage of the effect offered by Imminent Doom. Of course, there's also a whole set of new Hour of Devastation cards coming out in a few short weeks and a Standard format about to be turned on its head. Whether it's a hyper-aggressive deck looking for a little late game reach or a control deck in need of a way to pick off creatures early and deal lethal damage late, it's time to pick up Imminent Doom and build as though a giant Dragon is about to tear your house to pieces.