What to Expect at Pro Tour Hour of Devastation

Posted in Top Decks on July 25, 2017

By Luis Scott-Vargas

Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).

Devastation is coming to Kyoto, and you need to be prepared. We have a new Standard format (actually close to one and a half new formats), thanks to the release of Hour of Devastation and the departure of Aetherworks Marvel. While plenty of people are going to bring sweet brews and new technology to the Pro Tour, there are some decks that have a very high likelihood of showing up, and by reading about them you can have a good idea of what to expect. These are the decks people will be trying to beat, and the decks many people will choose to play. Let's dive in!

White-Blue Monument

White-Blue Monument

Going in, the most popular deck is certainly going to be White-Blue Monument. Even in a new format there are standouts, and this is one of them. If you are going to play Standard, be prepared to face this deck, and choosing to play with it is not a bad idea either.

Game Plan: Use Oketra's Monument to power out a steady stream of tokens and cheap white creatures. Disrupt the opponent with Metallic Rebuke and Spell Queller, while neutralizing opposing threats with Dusk // Dawn and Stasis Snare.

This deck takes advantage of a bunch of different synergies:

Abrade will slow this deck down some, as it kills Monument, Spell Queller, and Bygone Bishop, but I still expect White-Blue Monument to be the best deck going into the Pro Tour, and it will certainly show up in numbers.

Mono-Red Aggro

Mono-Red Aggro

We haven't seen a mono-red beatdown deck for a while, but it's certainly back now. Mono-Red Aggro is the default aggressive deck of the format, and you would be well-served to prepare for it. People have been waiting to attack for 2 for quite some time now, and they finally get to.

Game Plan: Curve out with efficient creatures, removing blockers via Ahn-Crop Crasher, Earthshaker Khenra, and Cartouche of Zeal. Finish the opponent with burn, via spells and Ramunap Ruins.

Key things to look out for when playing with or against Mono-Red:

  • Ramunap Ruins is a huge addition to this strategy. Between Ruins and Sunscorched Desert, the deck can deal 3–5 extra damage off its lands, in uncounterable fashion even. That's a lot of reach.
  • Cartouche of Zeal plus Trial of Zeal is no longer a Limited-only synergy, as bouncing your Trials is another way to eke out a few more points of damage.
  • Bomat Courier's discard ability can power Hazoret, and sometimes the deck will throw away its hand for nothing just to enable the God.
  • Post-sideboard, the deck can board in extra lands and some more high-impact spells, going big against sweepers. That changes the dynamic of the deck drastically.

Given that this deck is a known quantity, I do expect people to come packing sweepers, cheap removal, and even life gain, but that doesn't translate into this deck being bad. The sideboard plan fights that well, and this deck is intrinsically powerful enough to beat even prepared opponents. Of course, this isn't the only beatdown deck around, as the deck that won the last Pro Tour is still a very real presence.

Mono-Black Zombies

Mono-Black Zombies

While this deck didn't get a ton of cards from Hour (I still think Ammit Eternal has potential at the very least), it's still going to be a deck you'll see at the Pro Tour and should be prepared to face if you're playing any Standard.

Game Plan: Play Zombies. Eat the opponent's brain.

It's actually a tiny bit more nuanced than that, as Cryptbreaker gives the deck a powerful card-draw engine, Diregraf Colossus gives the deck a strong way to go wide, and Liliana's Mastery and Lord of the Accursed give the deck late-game punch.

Between this deck and Mono-Red, sweepers are looking pretty good, and I'd expect to see plenty of battles between beatdown and decks trying to contain the beats.

Esper Vehicles

Esper Vehicles

Wait, don't you mean Mardu Vehicles?

Well, maybe. Esper Vehicles is where I'd start right now, due to early success in the format, but making this into a more traditional Mardu list wouldn't be hard (you basically replace Spell Queller with Unlicensed Disintegration and find room for some Veteran Motorists). For the time being, I'm going with Esper Vehicles, because having access to Spell Queller and Metallic Rebuke is critical, but the core of Gideon, Heart of Kiran; Toolcraft Exemplar; and removal stays intact either way.

This deck was one of the most popular decks in the previous Standard format, and despite dropping off some, will certainly show up in this one.

Game Plan: Play efficient threats and back them up with removal or counterspells. Finish the game with Gideon or Archangel Avacyn.

Vehicles continues to present a resilient set of attackers and midrange threats, while having access to plenty of disruption. It is another on the list of decks that doesn't want to see Abrade, but it's still going to do just fine in this new world. It doesn't play terribly differently from before, but that's no reason to underestimate it. Aggression will be represented in a variety of ways in this format, and this is one of them.

Blue-Red Control

Blue-Red Control

When it comes to control decks, Blue-Red is the place to start. It was one of the most-played pure control decks in the previous format (at least until people realized it didn't actually beat Marvel), and it got a few new toys to play with.

Game Plan: Same as before—counter or kill every single card the opponent foolishly plays, then finish the game with Torrential Gearhulk.

This deck got a lot from Hour of Devastation, including actual Hour of Devastation, and the combination of Supreme Will and Abrade makes me interested in revamping this deck (and I'm not the only one). Supreme Will being a split card of Impulse and Mana Leak shores up the early and late game quite well, and works perfectly with Torrential Gearhulk. Hour of Devastation also helps against planeswalkers, which used to be this deck's bane, and the fact that fewer Gideons are being played these days helps as well.

This isn't a comprehensive list of decks to expect, as there are plenty of other viable ones, but this is a good snapshot of decks I predict will show up in good numbers. White-Blue Monument and Mono-Red Aggro are for sure huge players, and varieties of Vehicles and Zombies are undoubtedly going to make an appearance as well. What the control end of the spectrum will look like is less clear to me, especially since proactive decks do tend to be better in unknown formats (which the Pro Tour is), but Blue-Red Control does look like a good place to start. One way or another, Torrential Gearhulk will make an appearance, and pairing it with Abrade, red sweepers, and counters seems like the most natural fit.

We will see what shows up, what does well, and how many times Nicol Bolas dominates a game, as the process of discovering new Standard is well under way.


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