The Hour of Devastation is upon us! The next expansion for Magic: The Gathering will be released on July 14, 2017 -- and it's time to take a look at the best possible choices for the Sealed format.
Unlike Draft, Sealed pool can offer twice as many Rare or Mythic Rare cards, but Common and Uncommon cards still make up the majority of your deck. That's why this article will focus primarily on the lower rarities, but you will see a few Rare cards in this list here and there as well.
Usually, Mythic Rare cards are definite bombs that you can grab without thinking too much -- but when it comes to the rest of the pool, you will need some help. So keep on reading to find out which Hour of Devastation cards will rule the Sealed format in the next few months.
Instant cards that deal damage are some of the most effective cards in Limited. But what if you give such card an extra flexibility? Well, it just makes it even better.
Abrade costs only two mana, and it can instantly kill a creature with 3 toughness or destroy an artifact. This is exactly what you're looking for in a format that utilizes many early creatures and cheap but annoying artifacts like Edifice of Authority.
Blue has been a bit slow in the Amonkhet meta -- but with cards like Aerial Guide, it can easily become the next aggro staple in Limited. Combine it with Red or Green creatures, make them fly, and the game will be over in just a few turns. That's how powerful this drake is.
Of course, it will be the very first candidate for early removal, but this will open the way for the rest of your threats -- so it's totally fine if you lose it to Magma Spray or Abrade.
Here is an instant spell that resembles the Cartouche of Strength from Amonkhet. However, Ambuscade is more efficient because it doesn't make your creature attack another one, but simply deals damage equal to your creature's power.
This means that you can remove an enemy creature and attack on the same turn without any damage -- a considerable improvement from Cartouche of Strength, where your creature got damaged and couldn't attack if there was another blocker on the opponent's side.
So Ambuscade should definitely go into your green decks, as it is a highly efficient removal.
A four mana 3/3 flyer with vigilance would be more than enough for this card to be an insta-pick for your Sealed deck. Yes, it's a Rare, so you most likely won't get more than one copy in your pool. But it does so much that one should be more than enough.
The first of the two abilities could be used to cure your own creatures that got enchanted by auras like Compulsory Rest or Illusory Wrappings. The second one is the same as Angel of Sanctions' main ability, which was a true bomb in the Amonkhet meta.
Angel of Condemnation could have easily been a Mythic Rare, but it looks like WOTC simply wanted to make another Glorybringer-class creature for Hour of Devastation, too.
This human warrior would have been a fine filler card if not for the last ability. Putting a -1/-1 counter on an enemy creature and having a 2/2 body for three mana is not great, but it's fine. However, for just an extra black mana you can destroy any other creature.
From this point on Banewhip Punisher becomes a premium removal for four mana, which is really good in Limited.
This is a perfect removal for all the Embalm and Eternalize creatures that will be prevented from getting into a graveyard. Since there is a ton of those types of creatures in Magic right now, Desert's Hold immediately becomes a premium card in Sealed.
You can also gain life when playing this card, but it doesn't really matter that much unless you control some other creatures that give special bonuses for life gain, such as Crested Sunmare.
Mind Control cards are super powerful in any type of format, but in Limited they can literally win you the game. This particular card offers that kind of power for only four mana -- while usually, it would cost seven or more.
Yes, there is a downside. Your lands don't untap during your next upkeep. However, if you've managed to steal your opponent's biggest creature, you don't even need your lands that much anymore.
This sorcery is similar to Banewhip Punisher from before, except it doesn't offer an extra body on the table with which you could block an additional creature. But it is also cheaper than Punisher.
The extra cost on Lethal Sting is not a big deal either, as -1/-1 counters are easy to deal with -- especially if you have creatures like Quarry Hauler or Vizier of Remedies that can easily negate the effect.
The Green/Black archetype with Hapatra was one of the strongest in the Amonkhet meta. The Obelisk Spider with all of its extra abilities will push that type of deck even further, making it even more annoying.
Also, considering that it puts the -1/-1 counter at the same time as it attacks and has Reach, it can deal with any flyer that has 2 toughness. That's a really big deal considering you're paying only three mana for this spider creature.
A five mana flyer with 4/4 stats and with an upside should always be among your first picks in your Sealed pool.
Sure, it's not as effective as Archfiend of Ifnir that can potentially destroy the opponent's entire side of table after a few cycles, but it still keeps all the threats at bay by minimizing their attacking/blocking power.
This spell has the exact same effect as Lightning Bolt -- a popular choice in the Modern format. But it costs two more mana, which at first sight seems a bit too much.
However, Limited is not Constructed, and certain effects have the room to be a bit more expensive if it's worth the play. Open Fire is exactly that -- while being a tad more expensive than the aforementioned Constructed bomb, it still does the job, and it does it well.
Cats, just like Zombies, work better in large groups. Even if you have no other cat creatures in your Sealed deck, you can put in Pride Sovereign and start pumping them with its white mana ability.
Of course, it restricts you to Green and White -- but from the looks of it, these two colors will be really strong in the HOU meta.
The last three words of this card's ability give it that extra push for it to become a Limited bomb. Just like Magma Spray, it not only destroys the creature, but exiles it, which is necessary against Embalm and Eternalize effects.
The only drawback is that Puncturing Blow is not an instant spell -- but for four mana, dealing five damage is totally fine.
Now, this is the kind of speed you're looking for in the Sealed format. Dealing five instant damage for just three mana is absurdly good.
Also, if you look at the art of the card, you may notice that it is none other but Archfiend of Ifnir himself getting blasted by the power of the sands. This is just a small hint from WOTC on the type of creatures you can deal with the help of Sandblast.
Desert lands do matter in the HOD meta. They're not particularly good lands -- but with cards like Sand Strangler, you may want to have at least one in your Sealed deck.
Dealing three damage to any creature on turn four is as good as it gets, especially if you have an extra 3/3 body to go alongside the effect. So do consider playing deserts even if for the cycling effect alone.
Struggle to Survive is the first and only Aftermath card in this list -- although there are a few others that deserve to be mentioned, such as Farm to Market and Appeal to Authority.
But this split card is truly the champion of all split cards in HOD. This regards the Struggle part that can potentially deal huge amounts of damage at an instant speed, while the second ability of Survive is just optional.
Here are some more counters for you to play with. On top of that, Torment of Venom deals damage to your opponent or destroys another permanent. All this costs only four mana at instant speed, which makes it the most powerful Black Common card in Sealed.
Play it in your Green and Black decks, and watch your opponents concede on turn four.
Be sure that these 17 cards will define the state of Sealed format in the next three months as MtG: Hour of Devastation rolls out. But if you have any other suggestions for cards that might be worth using, let us know in the comments section below.