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June 6, 2017

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Daily Dose of Hour of Devastation – The Return of Nicol Bolas!

Welcome all to an early preview edition of the Daily Dose of Hour of Devastation! Thanks to some preview cards that probably weren’t supposed to be previewed this early, I have some cards to talk about for the upcoming second set in the Amonkhet block.

Today I’ll be talking about the villain card that everyone’s been waiting for, Nicol Bolas. Nicol Bolas has been voted the number one villain in polls done by Mark Rosewater, and is one of the all-time favourite Planeswalkers in Magic. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve seen Bolas in action, but with the events leading up to Hour of Devastation, we now get to see Nicol Bolas in all his glory.

Before we look forward to what Nicol Bolas has to offer in Hour of Devastation, here’s a look at where he’s coming from. Here’s Nicol Bolas, the creature:

nicolbolascreature

Bolas started off as one of the five Elder Dragons back in Legends. These Elder dragons were so powerful they needed to have three mana of upkeep just to keep them on the battlefield. This incarnation also showed us the first indication of how the number seven plays a big part in everything related to Nicol Bolas, as he was a 7/7 creature. If you attack with Bolas and get in for seven damage, not only do you deal a significant amount of damage, but your opponent discards his or her hand as well.

Now that you’ve seen Nicol Bolas the creature, let’s move on to Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker:

nicolbolasplaneswalker

This is an eight mana Planeswalker that’s one of the most powerful Planeswalkers you’ve ever seen. He can deal with any permanent on the battlefield by either destroying it, or by taking control of it. He also has one of the most powerful Planeswalker ultimate abilities ever printed on a Magic card. Once again, you see the number seven come into play, as it deals seven damage to a player and wipes out their hand and battlefield in the process.

But enough of the past, let’s talk about the here and now and introduce the newest card from Hour of Devastation. Here’s Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh:

nicolbolasnew

Wow! Just, wow! To start off you get a seven (there it is again) loyalty Planeswalker for seven (cha-ching) mana. That’s a lot of starting loyalty, no matter what his casting cost is. To top it off, they’ve given Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh four Planeswalker abilities. Let’s have a look at them and break them down:

[+2]: Target opponent exiles cards from the top of his or her library until he or she exiles a nonland card. Until end of turn, you may cast that card without paying its mana cost.

So, I get to exile cards from my opponent’s deck until I find a nonland card and just cast it for free. Yes, please. This is a plus ability, people. Not only is this card advantage, but most of the time it will be able to protect Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh as well. One of the key words in this ability, like with Aetherworks Marvel, is “cast”. This means you’ll be able to take advantage of your opponent having an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on top of their library, or a card that they’ve left on top after a Scry ability.

[+1]: Each opponent exiles two cards from his or her hand.

You can decimate your opponent’s hand while simultaneously increasing loyalty on Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. This is another ability that provides card advantage. Being able to exile those cards as well is much better than making them discard them, as many cards benefit from certain cards being in the graveyard.

[-4]: Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh deals 7 damage to target opponent or creature an opponent controls.

Here comes the number seven again, as you can deal seven damage to any opponent or creature on the battlefield. This will often not be used unless your opponent has seven or less life, or there’s an opponent’s creature that you aren’t able to deal with any other way. Most of the time you’ll wait to use this ability as a finisher, or if you’ve built up enough loyalty counters, you can use this ability two turns in a row to deal 14 damage.

[-12]: Exile each nonland permanent your opponents control.

Talk about taking over a game. This ultimate ability will allow you to have a one-sided board clear, which doesn’t happen very often in Magic. This will clear the way for any cards you might have already stolen from your opponent.

So, in all Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh has two abilities that provide card advantage, and two abilities that help you protect him. Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to get one or the other in a Planeswalker, but not two of both.

So, what do you think of the new Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh? This card is just too powerful not to see play, but how it will make an impact on the Standard format is yet to be determined. Thanks again for joining me on the Daily Dose, where the journey towards Hour of Devastation begins! Join me later this week where I talk about two other cards that we got an early preview on.