Hello again! It’s been a while since I wrote something, as there hardly were any tournaments of note that I attended and the Modern Masters Hype was everywhere. I really enjoyed the format and I hope you did too. With that being said we jump right into the next set that is just around the corner.
The Prerelease tournaments of Amonkhet will take place next weekend and while I am writing this the spoiler is almost finished, at least when it comes down to abilities and mythic rares, so I will take a closer look at those. Amonkhet will feature some old and some new mechanics and that also includes my favourite mechanic:
For me personally I like this ability the best, because it protects you from mana screw or flooding and leads to better Magic games in general. It is also very skill intensive to decide when to discard cards that could have an impact within the following turns and when to leave them in your hand. When I first read that Cycling comes back, I was really hoping for a 《Miscalculation》 reprint, as this card was just great back then and I do enjoy counterspells quite a bit. As it seems we do not get 《Miscalculation》 but a lot of other very interesting Cycling cards, so let’s start by having a look at some that really impressed me, besides the lands because they are all pretty awesome:
While there is no 《Miscalculation》 there is a card in 《Censor》 which comes very close. The counterspell part is slightly worse, but it is still very viable in the first 5 to 6 turns in a game. Besides that the Cycling cost is reduced to just one blue mana, so if you have multiples you can just cycle one away to draw into new cards, and your opponent will have rough times how to arrange his spell without getting crushed by your following copies. This card allows for a lot of mind tricks and therefore I am already a big fan of this card, without having played a single game yet.
The next card is 《Curator of Mysteries》, which is a great card in my opinion and does not get the love it deserves yet. 4/4 Flying are great stats and the ability to cycle it makes it good, even when it is not. As most of the new cards do not go too well with 《Torrential Gearhulk》, I expect this card to be played in some control strategies. Maybe it would be “better” if it would cost 3UU because it could dodge 《Fatal Push》 then, but we will see soon enough.
A blast from the past, which excited me is 《Renewed Faith》. It just such a great card and looks so fair. It is probably the best card ever to give life for competitive play and certainly is something control mages were waiting on for quite some time.
As Cycling is more of a blue ability, there are enough other cards which I expect to see in constructed formats.
《Shefet Monitor》 is the first of those cards. You get a land into play and draw a card for an uncounterable 4 mana effect. This seems pretty strong to me, and 6/5 for 6 sometimes gets the job done in constructed.
Another card, which does not look that great at first glance is 《Dissenter’s Deliverance》. In the old format we were playing 《Natural Obsolescence》 maindeck because it had pretty good targets against every deck but 4 Color Saheeli. This card has basically the same effect, but if there is no need for it you can just bin it for a card, which makes it a strict upgrade.
Finally we come to the card that I like the most so far: 《Cast Out》.
Since 《Hero's Downfall》 is gone we were lacking a card that both solves the creature and Planeswalker problem likewise and finally we got an instant speed 《Oblivion Ring》. At first glance it might seem a little overpriced but this way it is a balanced card and will see a lot of play. It removes 《Gideon》, 《Dynavolt Tower》, 《Scrapheap Scrounger》 and opposing 《Cast Out》.
Sure, 4 Mana is a lot in Modern, but this deck might want a couple of those. Even Miracles in Legacy might be interested in one copy of this multifunctional removal, as it also increases your number of 4 Casting cost spells, which might me somewhat interested.
We finally have Split cards back, this time with a new design which makes them very interesting and hard to evaluate. If you can mill yourself or discard them you get Flashback spells or you could just hardcast them and then play the second part. None of them really look particularly unfair but I personally like the design of 《Rags＋Riches》 the best.
This is one of the new abilities found in Amonkhet. It’s pretty similiar to Persist or Unearth but plays out in a slightly different way. For Limited play this certainly is very interesting as you automatically increase your decks’ creature count, for constructed I have not seen a super interesting card yet, but cards that interact with your graveyard were always of interest for some sort of selfmill/reanimator strategy.
This is the second new ability from Amonkhet and this will definitely have an impact on our limited and constructed world. There are already a lot of great cards printed, but the one that impresses me the most is 《Glorybringer》, as it immediately deals with 《Gideon, Ally of Zendikar》. It is a combination of 《Stormbreath Dragon》 and 《Flametongue Kavu》, which both were great in their respective formats.
But all the cards are reasonably costed with basic stats and for constructed, I expect them to Exert once per game on average, which will push them to a higher level. Besides that this effect does not require any mana to activate, the flavor on the world of Gods is pretty sweet.
Speaking of Gods, we were blessed with a new Set of Gods but they have significant differences from the one we know from Theros. At first they are no Enchantments and second they are creatures at all the times. Besides the battlefield that was true for the old ones as well, but them being creatures at all the times makes it a little bit easier to deal with them. Besides 《Cast Out》 we also have 《Declaration in Stone》, which immediately can take care of an opposing God. They also have different clauses, which heavily effects their playability.
My colleague Pierre wrote about the 《red one》 here: Amonkhet Card Spotlight so there is no point in discussing him again. The black and white Gods don’t seem very impressive to me, but 《Kefnet the Mindful》 and 《Rhonas the Indomitable》 show potential!
《Kefnet》 is a classic build around card, but it seems pretty strong to me. The first card where I see combo-potential is 《Fevered Visions》 but in a control deck this is a pretty resilient way to gain card advantage and eventually take over the game. I like the design that you are allowed to return lands to your hand but are not forced to do so. Nice gameplay interactions incoming.
While 《Kefnet》 needs a lot of Setup, 《Rhonas》 is online in the blink of an eye. It is also the only God that is pretty close to the old ones regarding power level and effect. While 《Nylea, God of the Hunt》 was a little bit more of a go big card, this is a pretty fast beatstick, which is hard to remove. I expect this one to see a lot of play in the future.
Next in line are our new Planeswalkers, which all seem super strong. I really want to focus on 《Nissa, Steward of Elementals》.
When I first saw her I was really confused, as it is our first Planeswalker with an X in the casting cost, which also means the card is harder to evaluate as it might do different stuff because of the different costs. Let’s look at X=1, which I believe is the most relevant casting cost for standard.
The design of this card is just great because you have to gamble whether you think sticks in play or not, because if you know she survives you can leave a land second from the top. So if you have a good spell and a land I assume you keep both as you will accelerate the following turns. If you don’t know what is on top of your deck Nissas Second ability is not that great as the card most likely sticks on top of your library.
And now the crazy stuff starts. If you assume you cast 《Nissa, Steward of Elementals》 on turn 3 you will most likely not end up ultimating her, as it might be more beneficiary to plus/zero every other turn. But with Nissa you can finally play a Planeswalker, ultimate her right away and kill the opponent. It is 8 Mana 《Fireball》 for 10, which is a pretty good effect for both limited and constructed. The possibilities this card opens up are pretty exciting and it will be heartbreaking to lose to her ultimate out of nowhere. So, right now I would much rather try to play with her than against her. We will see if it will stay the only X-Mana Planeswalker in Magic.
I was expecting 《Nicol Bolas》 as the third Planeswalker in the set, but it seems we have to wait until the next set for him to come.
Instead we got another Liliana, which did not get the credit it deserves yet. 《Liliana, Death’s Majesty》 comes into play with high loyalty, can protect itself by making a token every turn and can win on its own with either tokens or reanimation. Besides the fact that it pretty hard to deal with her. She can 《Wrath of God》 two turns after she hits the battlefield, maybe even with Zombie-Tokens left behind. I expect to see this Planeswalker in a couple of good decks soon, so don’t just think of 《Gideon》 and 《Nissa》. 《Liliana》 is out there and will replace 《Ob Nixilis Reignited》 in some strategies.
I started this article with the Cycling cards so I want to give you an example of how a Cycling-Deck might look like nowadays. Of course it’s just a rough first draft but I can see this being a valid Strategy.
4 《Prairie Stream》
4 《Irrigated Farmland》
2 《Fetid Pools》
2 《Scattered Groves》
4 《Port Town》
4 《Curator of Mysteries》
4 《Renewed Faith》
3 《Pull from Tomorrow》
4 《Drake haven》
2 《Stasis Snare》
4 《Cast Out》
Another Cycling strategy that might be valid is some sort of Sultai Delirium.
4 《Fetid Pools》
2 《Sunken Hollow》
4 《Evolving Wilds》
4 《Blooming Marsh》
2 《Botanical Sanctum》
2 《Lumbering Falls》
3 《Walking Ballista》
1 《Tireless Tracker》
2 《Ishkanah, Grafwidow》
3 《Torrential Gearhulk》
4 《Traverse the Ulvenwald》|
4 《Fatal Push》
3 《Grasp of Darkness》
2 《Grapple with the Past》
2 《Pull from Tomorrow》
1 《To the Slaughter》
1 《Vessel of Nascency》
3 《Nissa, Steward of Elementals》
1 《Liliana, Death’s Majesty》
That’s it for today, I hope you enjoyed this article and I will be back with a limited analysis in just 2 weeks from now. Have fun at your Prerelease Tournaments!
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