Hour of Devastation, the newest set from Magic: The Gathering, is coming soon. Set on the plane of Amonkhet, a kind of almost-ancient Egypt where mummies serve towering gods, Hour seems to be the story of a horrifying apocalypse put into motion by one of the biggest, baddest villains in the history of Magic. His name is Nicol Bolas, and he’s rude as hell. The story of Hour so far has been wholly dedicated to how Bolas’s clockwork mind has spelled the doom of the world of Amonkhet, and it’s genuinely sad to read about the humans, gods and planeswalkers who are being cut down on the wake of this eternally-evil dragon wizard.
What I wonder about is the little people. While named characters and creatures with cards dedicated to them and their actions throw their weight around in Magic, it’s rare that we get any perspective on the average person who is just trying to exist day to day. I mean, magical beings are literally stomping all over their world. What’s the average person to do?
The Hour of Devestation preview cards that I have for you are, mostly, about the little people of Amonkhet. So let’s see them:
Click on any image for a closer look.
You’ll notice that all four of these cards are zombies. If you’re not already aware, Amonkhet’s whole deal is that it contains a society that is somewhat at peace with the blurry line between the living and the dead. Mummies do manual labor, and zombie camels roam the deserts.
What’s brilliant about all four of these cards is that they give us some hints at what the undead are up to in a post-Bolas Amonkhet. As Mummy Paramount’s flavor text says, the creatures who used to be simple manual laborers in the mode of the Dutiful Servants who simply keep working, and who are presumed to be “less than” the living, are now developing their own society in the wake of the wreckage of Amonkhet’s human-centered civilization. They get boosted by other zombies, too, which means that whatever they are growing is building to something.
Outside of the game’s narrative, from a purely gameplay perspective, the mummies are roleplayers in zombie draft or sealed decks. A 2/2 for 2 with the benefit of being a little bigger every now and again is a good card, and it only gets better in multiples. I’m also genuinely interested in what Manticore Eternal and Wretched Camel can do in the right circumstances. A red and black deck with a lot of creature-killing abilities (or -1/-1 counter placement) could turn the manticore into a very fast kill, and selective use of the camel with a sacrifice outlet and the right number of Desert cards could give you the ability to strip cards from your opponent’s hand during their draw step. The Magic design team doesn’t usually allow for that, and for good reason, because it’s incredibly powerful.
If that paragraph didn’t make much sense to you, that’s ok. Hour of Devastation has the Magic cards and story back in very familiar terrain for the game: a world is getting wrecked, and maybe some clever strategies can save it. Or maybe they can’t. In either case, Hour is looking to be an excellent set, and it’s going to be very interesting what Amonkhet looks like after its run-in with an evil dragon.
Cameron Kunzelman tweets at @ckunzelman and writes about games at thiscageisworms.com. His latest game, Epanalepsis, was released last year. It’s available on Steam.