The Hour of Devastation is almost upon us, and in the spirit of survival, it’s time for a review of the green cards in the upcoming set that are sure to shake up the EDH format. No time for pleasantries, Nicol Bolas is coming to wreck face, so we’d best get to know our green cards before he annihilates them all.
Let’s start with a sweet mythic previewed by the Magic Mics Podcast, Majestic Myriarch. For five mana, you get an epic chimera with an ability I’m calling “Selfish Odric, Lunarch Marshal.” Odric spreads your abilities around, but Majestic Myriarch takes them for himself. Still, the Myriarch is probably where you want all those abilities, because its power and toughness are equal to twice the number of creatures you control. Landing an Avenger of Zendikar seems particularly insane. Build-your-own-beater sounds bonkers cool for green decks.
I’m most excited to see the Myriarch in Samut, Voice of Dissent decks. Having not one but two creatures with double strike, vigilance, and haste sounds amazing. Combine it with the aforementioned Odric, Lunarch Marshal for a keyword-soup commander deck, and I think you’ll have a blast. Any deck that likes to go wide with tokens will like the Myriarch too, like Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice. She makes quite a few tokens (which means Majestic Myriarch’s toughness could gain her a lot of life) and some of them, like Advent of the Wurm and Hornet Queen have keyword abilities attached. Better yet, try it out with Prossh, Skyraider of Kher and his army of Kobolds.
It might also be fun to play the Myriarch in a deck like Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, animating your lands and pumping the chimera to astronomical heights. I should point out, too, that the Myriarch’s power and toughness are equal to twice the number of creatures you control in all zones. If you run a creature-token The Mimeoplasm deck, this could give ol’ Mimeo quite the power boost.
There’s quite a bit of buzz about Uncage the Menagerie, and for good reason. The effect is so unique we’re not even sure how powerful this card is yet. What we do know is that it’s full of potential. The ability is a bit wordy, but basically, if you pay 3 mana for this spell, you can grab a one-drop from your deck. If you pay 4 mana, you can search for two two-drops. For five mana, three three-drops, and so on. (Don’t cast it with X=0, though–you’ll search for zero creatures!)
The greatest potential I see in this card is the ability to tutor out some combo pieces. The most-talked about combo so far has been X=2 to fetch Devoted Druid + Vizier of Remedies for infinite mana. If X=3, elf decks could grab their Ezuri, Renegade Leader, Elvish Archdruid, and Imperious Perfect. If you feel like paying 7 mana, you could also grab a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker + Zealous Conscripts combo.
For that much mana, though, cards like Tooth and Nail and Chord of Calling just strike me as better options. Uncage the Menagerie puts the creatures in your hand, not on the battlefield, so it feels risky to pay all that mana (at sorcery speed) for a spell that doesn’t affect the board. This card probably functions best when X is between 2 and 4 mana, to draw you a handful of useful creatures. It’s quite a toolbox card, and every creature they print from here on out only makes it better, so keep your eye on this peculiar tutor.
I’m not big on this card for EDH. Exerting your lands for a vanilla 5/4 just isn’t worth it. You’d have to be running some Seedborn Muse shenanigans to make this feel like a safe play. The best case for this card is probably a Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice deck, since she can populate the tokens, but even then, I’m skeptical that this token is powerful enough to warrant play in our format.
I had to reread this card when I first saw it. At first blush, it just seemed like a worse Explosive Vegetation. But look closer: Hour of Promise searches for any land cards, not just basics. That opens the door to a lot more options. Utility lands run rampant in EDH, and Hour of Promise can grab all of them. Why not fetch out the old Cabal Coffers + Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth combo for tons of mana? Or a Dark Depths + Thespian’s Stage to unleash Marit Lage? Even searching out a Maze of Ith or a Glacial Chasm sounds pretty useful. Off the top of my head, the only other cards that put nonbasic lands straight into play are Tempt with Discovery and Reap and Sow. This is not an effect we get very often, so we should definitely take advantage of it. If you like lands, this probably belongs in your deck.
Resilient Khenra doesn’t immediately jump off the page as an EDH card, but I think it could have a home in some Xenagos, God of Revels lists. It’s just a 2/2 to start, but after it dies, it can come back with Eternalize. If you run out of creatures in your Xenagos deck, it’s nice to have options in the graveyard. The Khenra can come back as a 4/4, then double its own power to an 8/8. Then Xenagos can double its power again, making it a 16/16 with haste. It just seems like a neat option that most opponents won’t see coming.
I’m of two minds on this card. On the one hand, cat tribal is kind of awesome, and it’s nice that Regal Caracal has a buddy. If you have the means to untap your creatures, say with Samut, Voice of Dissent. The best application is probably a Derevi, Empyrial Tactician deck, where the cat tokens can untap the Pride Sovereign to make even more cat tokens. So this guy seems like a pretty cool way to churn out a bunch of creatures.
On the other hand, cat tribal doesn’t have much support, and I’m worried I like this card out of affection, rather than liking it because it’s powerful. Exerting itself is a pretty big cost, and without a way to abuse the ability, the payoff here isn’t very high. Let’s pray for a Cat-mander in the Commander 2017 product, because I’d love for this card to get the support it deserves.
That’s right, I made the title of Ramunap Excavator much larger than the others. Why? Because I am so freaking excited to play this card. I’m a The Gitrog Monster player, and my precious Crucible of Worlds has a new Naga friend to join it. You can even run Uncage the Menagerie to fetch out this creature, Azusa, Lost but Seeking, and a Courser of Kruphix for a bunch of land shenanigans. This card is effectively a ‘Magus of the Crucible,’ making it searchable via Worldly Tutor and Green Sun’s Zenith. I’m crazy excited to play this card, and if you have a landfall deck of your own, I’ll bet you’re just as hyped as I am.
Speaking of lands in graveyards, Quarry Beetle joins the fray. This is a nice effect, one we’ve seen before on Cartographer, Tilling Treefolk, and Stoic Builder. The 4/5 body is nice, but five mana is rather a lot. Tilling Treefolk is already only fringe playable, showing up in just 25% of The Gitrog Monster decks, so I doubt this will make much of a splash. Still, budget land recursion is nice. Not everyone can afford a Crucible of Worlds, so it’s good to have options.
I’m intrigued by this little card. On its face, it’s not great; it doesn’t ramp your mana unless you exert it, which is hardly efficient. Even so, untapping lands has its uses. You shouldn’t be untapping a basic land with this, you should be untapping your Gaea’s Cradles and Cabal Coffers. make yourself super-safe by untapping Maze of Ith. Even if it costs a mana to do so, that’s absolutely worth it. Stone-Seeder Hierophant is a criminally underplayed card that can net you a bunch of mana, and this new gal’s ability to untap multiple lands might come in handy as well.
Let’s finish up with Beneath the Sands, a new ramp spell with cycling. At three mana, what we really want is a quality spell like Cultivate or Kodama’s Reach, which not only ramps our mana but also sets up our land for next turn. Some decks even run Nissa’s Pilgrimage for that ability, even though it doesn’t fix our colors. Beneath the Sands isn’t quite that quality, but it’s still an interesting option. For one more mana than Rampant Growth, you get the option to cycle. That can be useful later in the game, when you no longer need to search for more lands and would rather dig for a more useful spell. This may not show up in many decks, but it’s a solid option to have in our back pocket.
Hour of Devastation looks absolutely sweet, and I’ve already pre-ordered my Ramunap Excavators, plural. I don’t even have that many decks to put it in, I just adore the card so much that I’ll find excuses to play it anywhere I can. Let me know if you’re as excited for this set as I am, and which cards you can’t wait to get your hands on. Nicol Bolas is coming in fast, so make sure you’re prepared. With green, it’s Survival of the Fittest out here, and only the strong will survive Bolas’s wrath. Stay strong, stay majestic, and uncage every menagerie you can find. We’re in for an epic fight.