Max Kahn: The Competitive Player’s Guide to Hour of Devastation

Max Kahn   July 14, 2017   Comments Off on Max Kahn: The Competitive Player’s Guide to Hour of Devastation

Pretty much every new Standard-legal Magic set comes jam-packed with new cards, new rules, new mechanics, and new policy changes. While some of these changes don’t impact competitive play, it’s important that tournament-level Magic players understand the more prevalent and sometimes unintuitive rules interactions in the new set.

This time, we’ll be focusing on interactions from the newest set, Hour of Devastation. I’ll assume that you’re already familiar with the mechanics of Hour of Devastation, and have a basic understanding of the Comprehensive Rules and the Magic Tournament Rules. Now, let’s dive in!

New Mechanics

Functionally, Eternalize is similar to Embalm, except that the creature is 4/4 and black rather than the embalmed creature’s power/toughness and white. Eternalize exiles the creature from its owner’s graveyard as part of the cost, so players can’t exile it in response with effects like Crook of Condemnation or Scarab Feast, since it won’t be in the graveyard anymore by the time the opponent would receive priority.

Afflict is pretty straightforward, but there’s one scenario that may not seem intuitive. If a creature with afflict is double-blocked, afflict will only trigger once per combat.

The other three mechanics in Hour of Devastation are Cycling, Exert, and Aftermath, which are all from Amonkhet, so there isn’t much else to cover.

Individual Cards

The mechanics of Hour of Devastation aren’t that difficult to understand, but some of the individual cards have some quirks that make them unique. Make sure you’re aware of these tidbits before playing any of these cards in a tournament.

Crested Sunmare

– Crested Sunmare triggers at each end step, not just your own.

– Crested Sunmare doesn’t need to be on the battlefield when the life is gained.

– Life gained during the end step “won’t count” for Crested Sunmare; the life needs to be gained before the trigger would go onto the stack.

– Crested Sunmare doesn’t care if your life total at your end step is higher than your life total at the beginning of your turn; just if you gained any life during your turn. So, if you get dealt four damage in combat, and gain one life from lifelink, you’ll still trigger the Crested Sunmare at your end step.

Hour of Revelation

– The number of nonland permanents on the battlefield are counted and “locked in” as you cast the spell. Flashing in a permanent or destroying a permanent in response to the spell won’t change the cost of the spell while it’s already on the stack.

Mummy Paramount

– This is a friendly reminder that all of your Embalmed and Eternalized creatures are Zombies in addition to their other types.

Oketra’s Last Mercy

– If your current life total is higher than your starting life total, you will still go to your starting life total.

– Effects that cause a change in your life total will count as gaining or losing that much life (cough cough Crested Sunmare)


– As much as you probably want it to, Solemnity doesn’t work with Devoted Druid, Lethal Sting or other cards that require you to put a counter on something as a cost. Since you aren’t able to put counters on creatures, artifacts, enchantments or lands, you won’t be able to pay the cost for the spell or ability.

Sunscourge Champion

– Sunscourge Champion checks how much life to gain when the ETB ability resolves. So, if you Giant Growth it in response to the trigger, you’ll gain five life.

– If Sunscourge Champion leave the battlefield before the trigger resolves, you’ll use the power it had when it left the battlefield to determine how much life to gain.

Champion of Wits

– This ETB ability works the same way as Sunscourge Champion. Your Giant Growth will become an Ancestral Recall if cast in response to the trigger.

Nimble Obstructionist

– Some cards in this block (like the Obstructionist itself) have cycling and a “when you cycle” trigger. When you cycle a card with a “when you cycle” ability, both abilities are on the stack independently. So, a Nimble Obstructionist can counter either the “draw a card” or the “when you cycle” effect, but not both at the same time.

Tragic Lesson

– You’ll get to see the two cards drawn off of Tragic Lesson before making the decision to discard or return a land to your hand.

Vizier of the Anointed

– You’ll draw the card from the second ability before the creature with Eternalize or Embalm enters the battlefield.

Ammit Eternal

– Ammit Eternal’s second ability (Whenever an opponent casts a spell, put a -1/-1 counter on Ammit Eternal) is a detrimental ability. When playing with this card in tournaments, make sure to remember this trigger, as you will receive penalties for missing it.

Earthshaker Khenra

– Unlike Sunscourge Champion and Champion of Wits, the targeted creature’s power for Earthshaker Khenra’s ability is checked twice: when you target it and when the ability resolves. So, Giant Growth doesn’t work the way you’d like it to.

Neheb, the Eternal

– Damage causes loss of life. Therefore, if you Lava Spike your opponent in the first main phase, you’ll add {R}{R}{R} to your mana pool in your second main phase.

Resilient Khenra

– This works the same as Sunscourge Champion and Champion of Wits. The power of Resilient Khenra is checked when the triggered ability resolves.

That pretty much sums up Hour of Devastation. It’s not the most complicated set in Standard, but there are enough uncommon interactions that make it worth discussing. As always, if you have any additional questions, feel free to comment down below or find me on Twitter @MaxPlaysMTG. Until next time!

Max Kahn is the Event Manager for the Nerd Rage Gaming Championship Series and the Judge Manager for all Nerd Rage Gaming events. When he’s not answering your judge calls or working behind the scenes at your local event, he splits his time between Chicago, Seattle, and Twitter.