Last night, Matt and myself were lucky enough to attend the media pre-pre release down in Sydney. We had a great time checking out all the new cards and jamming some games. The new set is called Amonkhet, and it is inspired by Egyptian mythology. The people of the plane serve the God Pharaoh (assumed to be magic bad boy Nicol Bolas) and his underlings the Gods of Amonkhet. I came into the event super excited by this set because I am a huge fan of Egyptian mythology, and it feels like wizards has captured the essence of it perfectly.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a servant of the God Pharaoh, who instructed us to build our decks and face the trials of the Gods. As we played, we were granted gifts from the God Pharaoh for completing the trials (in the form of special dice, foil basics, and extra boosters). Some of the invited players even dressed up a bit – not too much – but it was great to see, and made the experience even more enjoyable.
The pre release kits were slightly different from the previous block, but they did share similarities. Each kit comes with the standard six boosters from the new set, a spindown dice (which looks amazing, but it is only in one colour this time), a special five trials of the Gods checklist and a special promo rare/mythic from the set.
We cracked open our packs, and got into sorting.
Embalm allows you to get extra use out of your creature cards by paying an alternate cost to bring back your creature from the graveyard, with the added caveat that your creature is now a zombie in addition to its other creature types. This is a super flavourful and very strong mechanic since being able to use your creatures twice makes them incredibly strong.
Exert allows your creatures to push themselves to get extra effects so they can prove themselves worthy to the Gods. This is another flavourful mechanic, and can be incredibly powerful if used at the right time. If you can get enough of the uncommon exert creatures, and pair them with spells to help untap them or help them win a combat then you will win plenty of games.
Aftermath is a fresh new version of split and fuse cards with a whole different twist. Aftermath cards are functionally two cards, with a top half and a bottom half – but with Aftermath, you can only cast the bottom half of the card from your graveyard. Aftermath cards look quite different to “normal” magic cards, so you’ll definitely be able to tell the difference between them.
-1/-1 counters aren’t new to the game of Magic, but the way in which they interact with the new cards in this set is really cool. A -1/-1 counter modifies the power and toughness of a creature, giving it – you guessed it – -1 to the creature’s power, and -1 to the creature’s toughness. In Amonhket, -1/-1 counters are not only used to kill opposing creatures; they can also be placed on your own creatures and then removed later to create some unique effect.
Cycling is another returning mechanic which allows you to pay an alternate cost to discard the card and draw a fresh one instead of casting it. This will probably be the most popular mechanic in this set, simply because of just how useful it can be. In Amonkhet, many of the cards with cycling also have a similar effect to its main effect which triggers when you activate cycling, so you draw a fresh card, but also don’t feel like you’ve just wasted a card.
I had a very aggressive red green deck that looked to use exert to push through large amounts of damage. My deck also had a bunch of combat tricks to keep my guys alive during combat. I had a sick “combo” of Champion of Rhonas to summon a Greater Sandwurm, and was able to pull this off on turn four multiple times during the event.
I am going to pick Ahn-Crop Crasher with a special shout out to Synchronized Strike. These cards won me so many games.
Thoughts on the set?
I love this set, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys playing magic. Try this set out! Go open some amazing cards and then turn ’em sideways and kill someone (only in games, please don’t commit murder). This is going to be a great set to play limited in and I look forward to trying out as many different archetypes as possible.
Matt managed to activate his scrub abilities and open a pre-release kit with two half decks in it – but in the end he succeeded in putting together forty cards to shuffle up. His deck focused heavily on the Embalm mechanic to get double duty from his creature base.
Matt’s favourite card from his pool was a card he didn’t even get to play, since it was in green – Vizier of the Menagerie. Unfortunately, he had a grand total of six green cards which he called “the one’s that don’t suck.” To quote him: “I almost considered splashing green in this deck just so that I could play it, but then I remembered that’d mean I was playing Bant, and I couldn’t bring myself to do that.”
Thoughts on the set?
I asked Matt what he thought about the set on the way home. “Seems pretty well balanced,” he said. “If you can draw cards that aren’t lands, and also the cards in your deck are playable. But in all seriousness, I think they’ve done a great job of creating balance, both in limited and in constructed with this set. I’m actually looking forward to sleeving up standard again.”