By Niels Viaene
Small expansions, like Aether Revolt and Eldritch Moon, usually have new interpretations of the mechanics introduced in the sets that came before them. In order to be able to influence the limited formats enough, they are usually full of very interesting cards to draft around. Incidentally, these are also the type of cards that can be cornerstones of Gentry decks. Eldritch Moon gave us the Emerge deck, Aether Revolt led to the rebirth of UR Thopters.
Lets first take a look at the cards that make existing archetypes better and then at cards that might make new archetypes viable.
Losing Felidar Guardian made this deck a small player in the metagame rather than the dominating force it was before. It still has access to Displace and Aviary Mechanic, though. Sand Strangler could be a valuable addition to more aggressive versions of UWR Blink decks. It does require you to play deserts in your deck but that is not so painful considering their cycling nature. Once you have taken that bridge a few other cards become viable inclusions as well.
For the more controlling UWB Builds Sunset Pyramid offers a potential card draw engine that is safe from creature removal. With the loss of Felidar Guardian, Cloudblazer became a lot more mana intensive to use and gives more points of interaction to the opponent (since you probably are bouncing and recasting it rather than blinking it). Are those reasons enough to swap or include a slower but more potent card drawing enging in your deck? We’ll see.
All in all I think Blink doesn’t have that much to gain from these cards but extra options are always nice.
Control was already strong and now gets some tools to deal with both new and old threats. Consign//Oblivion gives a deck that already has some discard as the possibility to get rid of any permanent on the board as long as they are allowed to target it. By returning a card to a hand that has maximum one other card in it you can force your opponent to discard it. The best part about this is that you can split the two costs over an end of your opponents turn and your own turn. Only cards that repeatedly bring themselves back from the graveyard remain an issue and I expect to see three of them from time to time in Gentry to fight the cycle of Gods.
That brings us nicely to the next card I want to talk about, Doomfall. Again it offers flexibility by giving you the option to kill the creature that survived your sweeper like Flaying Tendrils or to take a peek at what your opponent has planned for their next turn and throw a wrench in it. Depending on what kind of deck your opponentis playing you have the coice of weapon that is capable of neutralizing Embalm, Eternalize and (self)recursion. Only token decks take that choice away from you but you’ll usually want to attack their hand for synergistics bombs anyway. This is the kind of flexibility that is sought after, especially by control decks.
There are two more cards that fall under this umbrella, Forsake the worldly and Supreme Will. These offer a lot more flexibility, one in supercycling itself when it becomes obsolete, the other cycling when it proves not to be needed. In the case of Forsake the Worldly that means Control decks get to play effects that are usually sideboard material in game one, so it becomes a lot more dangerous to rely on a specific artifact or enchantment. It is also unrestricted by convertred mana cost, unlike Fragmentize, which can influence your deck building options.
Ramp, in many forms, both mono- and multicolored has been a fringe player so far. With the addition of Oasis Ritualist and Sifter Wurm this decks time in the shade might be over. Oasis Ritualist fills multiple voids this deck was struggling with: It is a great follow-up to a turn two ramp spell or creature that is a good blocker the turn you played it while enabling 5, 6 and 7 drops (depending on whether you have a 4th land to play and whether or not you exert it for two mana). On top of all this the Ritualist is a common, which is mind blowing to me.
On the other side of the story Sifter Wurm offers the two things a ramp deck is looking for late game. It gains you some life to serve as a buffer while searching for the next fatty to dominate the board with. It doesn’t have the hexproof Plated Crusher offers, instead giving you better odds at follow-up. I think 4 Arborback Stomper and 4 Sifter Wurm are going to be the base of many Ramp decks to come, especially in a few months, when Battle for Zendikar rotates out and takes Crusher with it.
Unraveling Mummy, Mummy Paramount, Marauding Boneslasher and Accursed Horde are all cards that I expect to be considered for the 75 of different types of Zombie decks. I even expect the occasional Unconventional Tactics to appear in order to give Zombies an evasive path of attack. That said, it looks like these cards will diversify the different decks rather than amplifying one single type of White Black Zombie deck, something I can only be happy about.
With Hour of Devastation another kind of Zombie deck might be reborn in UB Zombie, focusing more on recursion and featuring scarier rares and mythics in The Scarab God and Geralf’s creation from Innistrad. Throw in a Gift of the God-Pharaoh, and you have a deck that has crazy late game potential while having the tools to survive early game.
Lets start with the most unlikely candidate in the new archetype category, Vizier of the Anointed could lie at the base of a new kind of deck allowing you to grind out through recursion from your graveyard. Don’t forget it also serves as a tutor for your rares as long as they can turn themselves into zombie tokens. Champion of Wits and Dreamstealer can have quite an impact while Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun and Aven Wind Guide are ready to rise to prove their worth in a deck.
Grisly Survivor, Hekma Sentinels, Horror of Broken Lands, Ominous Sphinx, Pitiless Vizier, Shadowstorm Vizier, and… Vile Manifestation are all cards that want to go in the same deck. They have more than enough setup around them to consistently discard cards but whether the deck well get enough time to set-up and really enjoy the pay-off is less clear.
When we saw Nest of Scarabs in Amonkhet and juuuuuust barely enough card to make a deck that is average at best my hopes were on Hour of Devastation to round off the deck. We got Obelisk Spider and Torrent of Venom as tools to work with. These look like they give the deck the tools it needs to cross into an infinite midgame where they can grind down an opponent. I expect a lot of people will opt into a tiny red spalsh to fit in the Scorpion God and some extra removal but I fully expect others to go a more aggressive route that optimizes the Torrents “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” mechanic.
Gate to the Afterlife/God-Pharaoh’s Gift
The restriction on having only one copy of each rare and Mythic you are playing makes it so that effects that tutor for your most powerful cards always warrant at least some attention. When both your set-up card and pay-off card are colorless and offer synergy that becomes even more noteworthy. You can throw this combo in the deck build around Vizier of the Anointed I mentioned above. The beauty in this combo, though, is that it offers any creature deck the same benefit, especially decks that have creature with ‘enters the battlefield’ abilities or abilities that scale with the power of a creature. I fully expect these 5 cards to be a core in many decks to come and think it will make Forsake the Worldly a needed staple in the format.
Throwing this on an indestructible creature creates a soft lock for most decks in Gentry, if you are holding a counterspell or a way to give that creature hexproof the number of ways you can lose the game becomes extremely limited. Currently we have a bunch or rares (the Gods and Yahenni) that can be played with this card or Seraph of the Suns at 7 mana if you want to jump through too many hoops, but it only takes one indestrictible 4 or 5 drop in a set to come to make this a potent way for control decks to force interaction from an aggro deck.
It is frail but offers the two things Control decks really want in the late game while being a little blocker, token deterrent and removal magnet (causing decks to have less mana for attackers) in the early game. It is also in the Control color combination that was already fighting with the restriction on the number of uncommons. There is potential here but maybe not just yet.
Desert matters cards are somewhat underwhelming but this one offers an alternate win condition hidden away in the permanets people have a hard time interacting with. Mill decks, that aim to kill their opponents by removing their opponents deck, can use this to great effect. If you are building this kind of deck, don’t forget to take a good look at Fraying Sanity as a very possible rare for your deck.
Claim shines best in a combo type deck that aims to get duplicates of a certain small creature in play. Fame makes it so that it can find a home in aggro decks as well. These decks are usually strained on uncommon slots, though, so I don’t think it will be that commonly played. I will probably toss it into my Intruder-Fling deck so you aren’t safe from a hasty reanimated Intruder. Muhahahahaha
Eternal of Harsh Truths
This is the kind of card control matches in the good old days of magic were centered around. Against control they are a source of card advantage, against aggro deck it offers interaction on board. Magic has changed drastically, though, and now I wonder if a card like the Eternal is even still worth it. It sits largely in the same spot as the River Hoopoe which makes it even less likely to be played though its single colored nature ups its stock if there ever will be one.
That’s all folks. Did I mention every Hour of Devastation card that will get played? Definitely not, there are a lot of cards that will slot in and offer alternatives to currently played cards, but they won’t alter the way a deck plays or influence how certain match-ups go. I probably also missed a few of them. Do you think a card I did not mention will make waves in Gentry? Start a discussion in the comments or on facebook.
I wish you lots of brewing fun,