I’m heading the Indianapolis this weekend for the grand prix and looking to run back my perfect day one from Grand Prix Toronto. You never know how a sealed tournament will go, but I love how Hour of Devastation plays in the current format. Yes, there are a lot of powerful rares and mythics that can take over a game. But there are also a lot of strong commons that can stand up to the bombs. That makes more pools playable, gives skilled players room to manuever even without the best cards, and generally improves the quality of games. I’ve really enjoyed playing this Sealed format, and I can’t wait for another big opportunity this weekend.

Here are ten commons from Hour of Devastation that you should hope to open and play on day one of Grand Prix Indianapolis. They aren’t just the ten best—I left out stars like Ambuscade and Unquenchable Thirst—but they include some of the top commons and some unsung heroes as well.

Honorable Mention—Cycling Deserts

The book is out on the common cycling deserts: they are great. In draft they pose tough choices in the early picks of the first two packs. Do you stock up on deserts early then collect the remaining good cards in pack two, or do you hope everyone else fills up on deserts in pack one and hope to get them later? When you open your sealed pool, however, you don’t have to make that choice. You just put Desert of the Indomitable and friends into your deck. Even off-color cyclers make the cut, both to help splash and as a reasonable cycling option off the plentiful fixing in the set.

Aven of Enduring Hope

Fliers are always good in Sealed, and especially so in this format. Ground stalls are common with all the toughness running around. Aven of Enduring Hope applies pressure, and the three life comes in handy. Incidental lifegain is underrated in Sealed, especially with so many cards that can finish you off from a low life total. Aven protects you from Inferno Jet, Fling, and the various uncommons and rares like Overcome and Insult // Injury.

Cunning Survivor

Blue Sealed decks tend to like blocking. There are plenty of bounce spells to reward lining up your creatures in front of their attackers and forcing them to act. Two drops in this Sealed format need to block well and provide some value in the late game. Cunning Survivor does both decently well. It is a great addition to a double- or triple-block and cycling lands off the top later turn into two unblockable damage. It’s not a great card unless you are deep on cycling combos, but it rounds out your curve well and provides protection from annoying early attackers.


You have time to ramp and splash in Hour of Devastation Sealed. Manalith is the perfect card and you want one in every pool you open. Sometimes you have two copies but don’t need them both—you have to decide if you can afford two copies in your deck. But the first one should go in your maindeck pretty much every time.

Countervaling Winds

Counterspells tend to be good in Sealed, and that is especially true in this format. With so many powerful expensive spells, Countervaling Winds provides a hard answer in most situations that can also cycle away when you need that. It’s not hard to fill your graveyard just by playing the game, and most of the spells you want to counter cost enough to to dodge getting under the winds. I love playing multiple copies of this spell and cycling one away early to bait my opponent into thinking the coast is clear.

Ruin Rat

Deathtouch is nice, especially against giant hexproof threats like Striped Riverwinder and Scaled Behemoth. Ruin Rat has the cool aditional ability to exile something from the graveyard when it dies. This means it trades one-for-one with all embalm and eternalize creatures. It can also eat a problematic aftermath card like Cut // Ribbons. even if your opponent can play around that, this little two drop makes them jump through hoops and waste mental energy to avoid losing a key graveyard card when the rat dies.

Puncturing Blow

Puncturing Blow kills just about everything. It even exiles all three of the new gods. You rarely need to cast it early, giving you time to find two red mana and save Puncturing Blow for a juicy target. I’m generally not a fan of red in Sealed, as it’s the fastest color in the slowest format, but Puncturing Blow deals with a lot of big creatures that normally put up a brick wall against red decks.

Striped Riverwinder

All of the expensive cycling creatures are worth playing. Everyone loves Rampaging Hippo, with good reason, but Striped Riverwinder is a powerhouse as well. Hexproof is the real deal. Other than opposing hippos, there’s not much that can block the giant serpent. And it blocks very well when you need that. Tapping out for a 5/5 hexproof generally feels safe, and you can sit behind it until you stabilize the board at find yourself in position to close out the game.

Beneath the Sands

Ramp, mana fixing, and cycling all in one card? Beneath the Sands is a versatile tool that powers up your Sealed deck. Three-mana ramp spells can be tricky to add to your deck because you want to cut lands but need to hit your first three land drops consistently. Cycling for two generic mana makes that easier, as you can cycle this to try to hit your third land drop without getting the ramp spell stuck in hand. Plus it triggers Riddleform, which is all I want to do on turn three.

Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs

The wall is one of the best commons for Sealed. It blocks well, pushes the game long, and slowly chips away at opposing life totals. You almost always have a few deserts to turn it on, and the ping each turn really adds up. Sealed games often go ten or fifteen turns. An early, unanswered Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs can dominate these long games. Plus it’s colorless, so almost everyone will play them. Don’t miss out.

Oasis Ritualist

This is the power common you most want to open. One of these (or two if you’re lucky) open up every power card in your pool. You can even splash something crazy like Overwhelming Splendor or Cruel Reality, though it helps to have more than just one Oasis Ritualist to get there. Like I’ve hinted at earlier while discussing Manalith and Beneath the Sands, you have to manage how many card slots in your Sealed deck to devote to mana fixing. Oasis Ritualist is perfect because a 2/4 provides decent value even without the mana ability. Playing four mana fixing cards cuts into your creature count, but ritualist plays double duty. On top of all that, it ramps you into your top end faster than most opponents can handle. Seriously, play this card.

Take these commons and go win some matches. I’ll see you in Indianapolis.

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.