For those who haven’t stumbled on this yet, WotC accidentally spoiled three cards from Hour of Devastation on their own website. One of them is of course Nicol Bolas, another is Samut as a Planeswalker, and the third one is this…
So, let’s talk about it.
Then there’s this (from a few days ago):
— April King (@CubeApril) May 30, 2017
Right there on top, you can see “4-mana wraths” as one of the things Wizards doesn’t give us anymore. And there is definitely truth to this. Most recent true wraths have cost five mana (such as Fumigate, Planar Outburst and End Hostilities), so clearly they are seen as too powerful. Sure, the five mana ones have nice little additions (even the last one made sense in context), but there is still a huge difference between four and five mana.
So, R&D didn’t just give us a four mana sweeper, they went even further and cut one more mana from the cost.
Well, except that obviously they didn’t. This will (in most cases) cost at least six mana, maybe more, depending on the situation. However, breaking six mana into two parts is much, much better than paying six mana at once. For example, take a look at these two cards:
In many ways they are the same card, but they do both have a ‘kicker’ which is different from what the other does, even if they are similar. Right now the latter is seeing much more play. This seems counter-intuitive, because the kicker effect from the former is just so much stronger. Its because you can pay the whole thing in installments. Of course 2/2 is much weaker than a 4/4, but being able to play Never on turn three without losing the upside of the kicker is also very strong.
Admittedly, I don’t think Bontu’s Last Reckoning a good card right now in Standard. There’s just too many threats that can avoid it (Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and various vehicles most importantly). Of course, we can’t know how the metagame will move after we see the whole set, but I don’t think those are moving out quite yet.
There definitely are benefits to it. Costing just three mana means that you can play a threat after playing it, even if that threat costs you double (because you can’t untap that mana either). Of course, simply the fact that its black will have major repercussions. I just don’t think you really need a turn three sweeper in the format.
Older formats, however… Well, that’s a whole different thing. Modern mostly, because Legacy already has Toxic Deluge, but in Modern this can work for you both early to get rid of elves or robots for example, but it can also work a little later getting rid of Eldrazi. The affinity player can’t just save everything by putting a bunch of counters on an Inkmoth Nexus with Arcbound Ravager either.
You are still basically Time Walking yourself, but there are situations where that must be worth it, because some of these decks are just that fast. I don’t actually know how useful this is going to be, but it will be interesting to see when people try to find out.