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The Hourglass Coven

Why The Hourglass Coven Is Going To Be One Of Alchemy’s Best Late Game Threats

Although it looks more like a card for Historic Brawl, DoggertQBones thinks it has real competitive applications! Find out what makes The Hourglass Coven exciting for Alchemy and what decks could make the best use of this unique card!

Hello everyone!

With Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate’s preview season in full swing, I already analyzed Viconia, Nightsinger’s Disciple, Karlach, Raging Tiefling, and Ulder Ravengard, Marshal, but there’s still more cards to look at! While there are many cards that look super fun to play with, there was one that looked like just a fun card on the surface that seems obscenely powerful under closer examination. Obviously the title is giving it away, but I’m talking about The Hourglass Coven!

So on the surface, it’s a six mana 3/3 that when it comes in, nets you two cards from it’s spellbook. For a six drop, that definitely would not be an acceptable rate as six mana cards have to be extremely good to compete in today’s Alchemy environment. Furthermore, decks like Mono Green Aggro naturally gate expensive cards as they pressure you so effectively and Citystalker Connoisseur tags the most expensive card in hand making it a liability. It seems that everything is against The Hourglass Coven, but I’m still optimistic. Why? It puts the spellbook cards directly onto the battlefield!

The Hourglass Coven's Spellbook
Apologies for the image, this was the best we could get!

If it’s hard to read, I’ll lay out each of the abilities:

  • At the beginning of your upkeep, each opponent loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.
  • At the beginning of your upkeep, target creature an opponent controls gets -2/-1 until end of turn.
  • At the beginning of your upkeep, each opponent discards a card.
  • Warlocks you control have menace.
  • At the beginning of your upkeep, each opponent mills 5 cards. Then exile each opponent’s graveyard.
  • At the beginning of your upkeep, each opponent loses 3 life unless they sacrifice a nonland permanent or discard a card.
  • Warlocks you control have “Ward-Pay 2 life”.
  • At the beginning of your upkeep, scry 2.
  • At the beginning of your upkeep, create a 1/1 black Skeleton creature token.

None of these abilities are super strong, but the fact that you get them for free can make them add up very fast! So let’s reevaluate, The Hourglass Coven is actually 6 mana for 9/9 in stats (as the Coven pumps Warlocks) with double triggered abilities on the upkeep. That’s quite strong! The closest comparison I could make with this card is it’s a planeswalker that has slightly worse abilities, but adds substantially more pressure to the board initially. Whether you’re looking to tax the opponent’s resources or life total, you have a good chance of getting at least one of the modes you’re aiming for.

Another really nice aspect of this card is how hard it is to answer in general. You can look to remove the pieces individually, but that’s obviously quite the cumbersome task. This does get swept away by any board wipe for a slight mana premium, but beyond The Meathook Massacre specifically, that’s not going to happen terribly often. The only other unfortunate part of this card is that it is Legendary so no copying it with Reflections of Kiki-Jiki which is a dream crusher, but what can you do.

So with all the evaluations out of the way, where will this card land? I think the most natural home for it is Rakdos Midrange. The deck is all about fighting for the long term advantage and eventually ending the game, and while you wouldn’t want to run 4 copies of this, a solid 2 of seems like an excellent choice. A lot of Rakdos mirrors come down to each player having a lot of mana and top decking, so having a means to instantly break any sort of parity and have a threat that is so much better than what the opponent could be playing is a big deal. Even if it’s not specifically in Rakdos Midrange, realistically any Black midrange deck would be happy enough to play this as it provides so much advantage on entry and demands a very quick answer lest the game spirals out of control. Even if that advantages doesn’t win you the game, you still added 9 power to the board and if you can clear out some blockers, just win through a couple of swings as well! While I wouldn’t claim the Coven is versatile, it does enough that any Black deck that’s looking to play towards the mid-late game will be happy to have it. Typically this is going to be some sort of Rakdos (x) deck, but this may help reinvigorate Golgari as they were struggling to have an adequate top end threat that wasn’t a wacky Shigeki loop.

While the cost is definitely a bit prohibitive, this card has a lot of power behind it and is one of the few cards I would be happy to spend more than 5 mana on. For reference, the only other cards I would consider in this realm are Titan of Industry, Hullbreaker Horror, and Koma, Cosmos Serpent, and while I don’t believe Coven matches those on power level (although it might be as strong as Titan), it’s a full mana cheaper and can be a huge pain to any opponent not ready to immediately deal with it.

Rating: 3.5-4/5

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Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on
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