I don't typically do set reviews for new Magic sets. There are many other people on both this website and many others who do it, and I have always left them to it. However, I always do my own review for myself before reading those others. A friend convinced me to make it public and, therefore, I am sharing my Amonkhet set review with you all today.
This is an experiment: let me know what you like and dislike about this Draft Overview in the comments below.
IT'S A TWO-COLOUR FORMAT
Like most of the recent Magic sets, Amonkhet will be a two-colour format. There are only two common mana-fixing cards in the entire set, which makes going more than 2 colours very difficult.
Even then, I am really only happy to play Evolving Wilds. Painted Bluffs is a functional reprint of Shimmering Grotto and that card has never been great. In other words, just play two colours and only splash a third if you happen to pick up a couple of Evolving Wilds or one of the rare lands.
PLAY 16-17 LANDS
This is the normal go to for most formats, and I think it is correct here. Most of the time, I think 17 lands will be correct; with the exception of cards with Embalm, there are very few common and uncommon mana sinks, so running more lands seems useless. In addition, Cycling allows you to smooth your mana and find land when you need it, so 16-17 land seems correct.
IT FEELS LIKE A SLOW, GRINDY FORMAT...
When I first saw Embalm spoilt, I had a feeling this would be a slow format where you are attempting to out-value your opponent. The fact that many of your creatures will come back for more means you can trade with your opponent's creatures and get your blocker back. To me this makes me think people will sit back and not attack as much; after all, would you trade your attacker for a blocker that will just come back?
...AND REMOVAL SEEMS WORSE THAN NORMAL.
The other thing Embalm does is make removal worse. Look at these cards:
You wouldn't be very happy to use these cards on an Embalm creature; you are essentially 2-for-1ing yourself if you do so.
However, Wizards haven't left us without answers. These cards certainly go up in value against Embalm creatures:
These cards are fantastic against Embalm creatures and will likely be high picks in draft. I, for one, will be prioritizing these cards over other removal and will be taking this quite early at the start.
THE UNCOMMON BUILD AROUNDS
Wizard like to put multicoloured uncommons into their sets as guides to what each colour pair should be doing in draft. Let's have a look at the ones from Amonkhet:
Let's have a look at each colour pair and what it's build around signals:
Untapping other creatures as you attack, and with it having Exert itself, Ahn-Crop Champion points towards taking advantage of the Exert mechanic. Cards like Devoted Crop-Mate, Gust Walker, and Hooded Brawler become so much better when they can exert every turn. Draft lots of creatures and prioritize those with Exert.
As per normal, this seems to be a flyers deck, though Aven Wind Guide wants you to play tokens as well. Although there are some normal token makers, this will mean playing Embalm cards for the most part in order to generate the tokens. Anointer Priest also becomes playable in this sort of deck. This type of deck is normally made up of defensive ground creatures like Ancient Crab, while you attack in the sky with flying creatures. Oketra's Monument would also go well in this type of deck.
It's pretty obvious this colour pair cares about -1/-1 counters. Decimator Beetle by itself is pretty underwhelming; a 4/5 for 5 mana that makes one of your creatures smaller is not fantastic, but if you can attack with it it becomes good. Luckily, there are cards like Baleful Ammit, Plague Belcher, Defiant Greatmaw and Exempler of Strength that work well with this card, allowing you to create some big creatures for small amounts of mana.
Enigma Drake points towards this colour pair caring about spells, and there are other cards such as Cryptic Serpent, Seeker of Insight, Warfire Javelineer and some Prowess creatures that hint that this is true. You want to draft card draw and removal, and make sure you have some pay offs for it as well in the aforementioned cards.
Honored Crop-Captain is a 3/2 for 2 mana that buffs other attacking creatures... unsurprisingly, this points towards this colour pair being an aggressive deck. You can see this in cards like Bloodrage Brawler and Nef-Crop Entangler. Low cost, high power creatures are good in a deck like this, as are token makers like Start // Finish.
This seems like a pretty standard archetype; Khenra Charioteer gives all your creatures trample, so this is a pretty typical aggressive "monsters" deck; beefy creatures that want to beatdown. Cards like Ahn-Crop Crasher, Emberhorn Minotaur and Hooded Brawler are good in this type of deck. Rhonas's Monument is good here as well.
This colour pair is essentially a self-discard/cycling deck, with Merciless Javelineer being an outlet to do this. You want to pick up cards like Faith of the Devoted, Ruthless Sniper and Flameblade Adept for this deck.
Much like the previous colour pair, this one seems to care about cycling and discarding cards. You are looking for the same sort of black cards, but also embalm creatures and blue cards like Zenith Seeker.
Zombies! This is the tribal colour pair of the set. Draft as many Zombies as you can. If you can also pick up a Lord of the Accursed you are well on your way to drafting a decent deck.
This colour pair is a ramp archetype. You want cards that increase your mana, like Gift of Paradise and Naga Vitalist, big creatures such as Greater Sandwurm or Scaled Behemoth, as well as blue card draw and Vizier of the Tumbling Sands to untap your mana producers. Rhonas's Momument and Kefnet's Monument, due to their cost reduction, work well here too.
If I open one of these cards first pack, I will be taking it, no questions asked:
If you are about drafting for value in order to subsidise your drafting, you will want to look for these cards. At time of writing (April 17), all of these cards are selling for more than $5 in paper at Star City Games:
That's all for my Amonkhet Draft Overview. Do you agree or disagree with my conclusions? Let me know in the comments.
Next week, we will jump into an Amonkhet draft! See you then.