Every format has its key cards, whether it's the pillars of Modern and Standard or the common and uncommon glue of Limited. At Grand Prix Washington D.C. there were cards that rose above the rest, creating stories and moments players remember. From both adventures in Sealed Deck to the faster run of Draft, these are the cards that stood out the most.
A situational removal spell, sure, but one that fits almost any situation that arises in Theros Block Limited. Not only are many of the powerful creatures enchantments themselves, but often the threats you need to deal with have been enchanted by bestow creatures or the old-fashioned kind of Auras that still permeate the format.
Not to mention that it gets tricky. In locking up his monstrous eighth Grand Prix Top 8 this Pro Tour season, 21st-ranked William Jensen bestowed his own Nyxborn Eidolon on an opposing Nessian Asp, turning on Feast of Dreams for the kill, staying one-to-one for card use. Tricky.
It may not look like much on the surface but as a 2-power two-drop it gets the job done for aggressive decks. The Hong Kong native of Team MTG Mint Card Yam Wing Chun shared it's good for much more than that: Being stuck on two lands would normally spell doom for any deck in Limited, but Yam's two lands and Satyr Hedonist was enough to summon the might Ember Swallower. It pulled the win out from right underneath his opponent. In the same deck it also let him cast Revel of the Fallen God on turn five.
This is one Satyr that gives you reasons to celebrate.
1/1 creatures that cost two mana aren't typically something you'd see on a list of format-impacting cards, but it certainly made its presence felt on Sunday. The ability to drain opponents for 2 life a turn — and more importantly get a second use out of it if you're able to bestow it on another creature — is enough damage to swing games.
Finalist Yuuya Watanabe put the bestow creature to hard work through the Top 8, transforming humble creatures like Grim Guardian and Blood-Toll Harpy in life-eating machines. Taking 5, 7, or more life in chunks ends games quickly, and helps transform decks that look slow into aggressive steamrollers like in his quarterfinal match against Charles League. Punishing an opponent's slow start is always a great plan in Limited.
2. Golden Hind
This not-so-innocuous common is put leaps and bounds above almost every other card in Journey into Nyx from every pro we talked to. The ability to ramp ahead and trade efficiently made it an easy sell for everyone that had a chance to play it. 11th-ranked Yuuya Watanabe, en route to yet another one of his innumerous Grand Prix Top 8s, summed it up succinctly: "It works all the time."
1. Hour of Need
This "mythic uncommon" is exactly what you want in your own hour of need. As flexible removal in a color without many permanent ways to deal with creatures, it's been a desperate mode option to survive. But more than that, it's the opportunity to upgrade your own creatures into 4/4 flying Sphinxes and secure victories out of nowhere. Both David Ochoa and end-of-Day 1 King of the Hill Jon Goss attested to its offensive capability, serving them well in both Sealed and Draft.
Even in the finals of Grand Prix Washington D.C. Hour of Need was there. Eventual champion Mike Sigrist waited on using it until the last possible moment, recovering immediately from several turns of opponent 11th-ranked Yuuya Watanabe's efforts to stabilize. Whenever Sigrist needed help, Hour of Need was always there.