Hello and welcome to a new limited article.
Usually when a new set comes out I do a lot of drafts in my local environment and therefore get an edge early on. This time around it was completely different as Amonkhet was released even before the set was available in paper and people were drafting a lot on Magic Online. I also did, even though some of you might already have more drafts done than I have myself.
When I played the Prerelease at my local shop the format felt like a super slow grind fest and at first I thought it could be correct to draft control. I was immediately disappointed and got destroyed, I had to realize that we have an aggro format once more. I am not saying that this is a bad thing, because in this format gameplay and decision-making becomes even more relevant as you don’t get blown out that badly and can manoeuvre through screw with all the cycling cards.
So we do have an aggressive format again, but card advantage is also very important at the same time, which makes it different and trickier than previous formats. You need to have some reach and gain card advantage on the board. The best cards to accomplish this are the Cartouches. They basically are card exchange, but they boost your creature in a way that you can break through a boardstall or make it impossible for your opponent to attack. Another interesting thing about the format is the existence of high cmc cards that are played in basically any deck. I am speaking of the big cycling creatures like 《Desert Cerodon》.
What I liked about the past few formats was the lower power level of rares in limited, this has also changed this time around, as there are a lot of real bomb rares. But there are a lot of very good uncommons to balance this out somewhat and of course removal is as good as ever.
So let’s have a quick look at all the colors before I try to split everything up into color pairs. From my last sentence, you can imagine that I am not a big fan of splashing in this format and I strongly advice against it, as mana issues usually seal the deal in a quick format. Most of my manabases had 16 lands, evenly split on the two colors I was playing.
White:At first glance I did not like white a lot, but I have revisited my opinion and think the color is great and has everything you need. You have very good card advantage in form of embalm creatures and some synergies with the mummies, a pacifism and a tapper that really perform way beyond my initial expectations. White probably also has the best common two drop in the form of 《Gust Walker》. I would not mind drafting white in any combination.
Blue:I thought that this could be a blue format, as it feels very powerful in Sealed, unfortunately blue falls short again. There are no aggressive blue creatures available and it is not a whole lot better on defence. So, classic blue problems even though 《Essence Scatter》 is very powerful and some uncommons and rares certainly help. In general I consider blue to be the worst color and I only want to play it with white, unless I can pick up a 《Drake Haven》 somewhere.
Black:This color is super deep with a lot of card advantage, a decent amount of quality removal and 《Cartouche of Ambition》, which consistently overperformed for me. Most commons are playable and the only thing the color lacks a little bit, is an aggressive 2-Drop. Besides this, black also has everything to offer and pairs well with other colors and different cards shine within different archetypes.
Red:Most people consider red to be the best color in Amonkhet Draft and so do I. You have 《Magma Spray》 and 《Electrify》 as premium removal, 《Emberhorn Minotaur》 and 《Manticore of the Gauntlet》 as big creatures and a lot of aggressive cards. This color certainly lacks nothing as it stands and is as overdrafted as it probably should be.
Green:Green is a weird color in Amonkhet as it does a lot of things, but nothing very good. Of course, we still have reasonably costed creatures, we have a great removal tool in the Cartouche and we also have some ramp cards. However, I don’t think ramp is a good strategy in this format, but there is still enough room left to prove me wrong here. Green does allow you to splash another color, so I consider this an upside of green.
As we have a brief overview of the colors we can move towards the color-pairs, even though I have not drafted every color combination yet. So I’ll try to give you the key factors and key cards, even though some statements I make are only from the view of having faced said decks. As usual I will not list removal as key commons as they have to be picked above most of the key commons in almost every archetype.
White-Blue:As usual we have our fliers deck here. Paired with a lot of embalm creatures and some Zombies for the early game we can find a winning strategy. It is a tempo based deck and the two cards that truly stand out in this archetype are 《Open into Wonder》 and 《Aven Wind Guide》 as they do exactly what your deck tries to accomplish.
Key Commons: 《Unwavering Initiate》, 《Aven Initiate》, 2-Power 2-Drops
White-Black:For me this is the most exciting archetype to draft and play, as it is so synergistic. The Zombie-Theme of Amonkhet really pops up here and you really should focus on only having Zombie creatures in your deck without exceptions as the upsides can be really high. Payoff uncommons like 《Wayward Servant》 and 《Lord of the Accursed》 push the deck over the top, but a reasonably curved 《Binding Mummy》 deck with 《In Oketra's Name》 is promising as well.
Key Commons: 《Binding Mummy》, 《Cartouche of Ambition》, 《Fan Bearer》.
White-Red:This is the most aggressive color combination in the format, which comes as no news to every Boros player in the world. All creatures with a low mana cost is very much appreciated, as are pump spells and 2-3 curve toppers like Minotaurs or Manticores. With some removal in the mix you are very well prepared to fight the good fight, even without any power uncommons or rares.
Key Commons: Good mix of creatures, removal and pump spells. The combination of 《Trial of Solidarity》 and both Cartouches is very tempting though.
White-Green:I think this deck should almost look the same as White-Red, I just believe it is slightly worse. I have not drafted this yet, but I think it is supposed to be aggressive rather than a board flooding strategy.
Key commons: 《Tah-Crop Elite》, 2-Drops, Combat Tricks.
Blue-Black:This is the cycling/control archetype of the format. I do really enjoy myself playing this kind of deck, it just lacks reasonable early drops for this strategy. The 2-Drops are all very defensive and therefore you cannot apply pressure early. I do find the combination of 《Horror of the Broken Lands》 and 《Cartouche of Knowledge》 very tempting, as it can steal games pretty quickly. You have to set yourself up in a way to not lose the early game, so prioritize high Toughness creatures.
Key commons: 《Horror of the Broken Lands》, 《Dune Beetle》, 《Essence Scatter》.
Blue-Red:This is supposed to be the spell deck, which we usually know as a control deck, but in this case I think it is supposed to be a red creature deck with a touch of blue cards like 《Essence Scatter》, 《Floodwaters》 and maybe a few Fliers. Cycling is a thing as well, as you can up your graveyard count for payoff uncommons like 《Warfire Javelineer》 and 《Enigma Drake》. I am not entirely sure how good this strategy is, as you will have a rough time if you cannot pick up the uncommons.
Key commons: 《Essence Scatter》, 《Minotaur Sureshot》, 《Emberhorn Minotaur》.
Blue-Green:And now we have something where I cannot say what you are supposed to do. Those colors don’t go well together in my opinion and the best case scenario that comes to my mind is a ramp-based strategy with some big beefy creatures and bounce spells to assemble a good attacking situation or stall out a game. I don’t want to give key commons as I just can’t tell right now. I hardly ever am at a point where I have no idea how to properly draft a strategy, but I guess it has to come up once in a while. I hope I can improve on this before the Pro Tour.
Black-Red:The powerhouse pair of the format. You can combine the two best colors of the set, have a lot of quality removal, a lot of quality creatures for both the early and late game and can grind out opponents with 《Wander in Death》. You can build this deck very aggressive with the combination of 《Minotaur Sureshot》 and 《Pathmaker Initiate》 or try to play the long game with 《Dune Beetle》. And if you wish you can try to go hellbent as soon as possible and benefit from the payoff cards there. The sheer mass of possible strategies for one color pair shows how deep you can go.
Key commons: 《Wander in Death》, 《Minotaur Sureshot》, 《Wasteland Scorpion》.
Black-Green:That’s the -1/-1-Counter theme of the format, even though you can only benefit from the strong uncommons in the set, otherwise you need to find fodder for your counters to make your big creatures shine. I think this deck is best positioned against all the aggro decks of the format, because you creatures can block well and once you start your engine going things can get out of hand quickly.
Key commons: 《Quarry Hauler》, 《Splendid Agony》, 《Cartouche of Ambition》.
Red-Green:Last but not least we have our big monster/removal deck. This time around I would prefer to be a little lower on the curve than our usual Red-Green-Decks, as it plays a little like a combo deck. I have found success with 《Bloodlust Inciter》/《Cartouche of Zeal》, aggressive 2-Drops, once again paired with powerful pumpspells to push early damage and finish your opponent with 《Fling》. In case you have not played against it: 《Synchronized Strike》 is the best card you can get, as it pairs so well with exert and gives your opponent a really hard time.
Key commons: 《Cartouche of Zeal》, 《Bitterblade Warrior》, 《Fling》.
Thanks a lot for reading and I wish you the best of luck for your upcoming events.
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