Drafting Amonkhet

Posted in How to Play Limited on April 25, 2017

By Kenji Egashira

Better known as NumotTheNummy, Kenji is a lover of all things Magic. A "legendary streamer," you can almost always find him playing Magic Online over at his Twitch channel. When he's not playing Magic, Kenji enjoys long walks on the beach, romantic comedies, and devouring the hopes and dreams of the innocent.

Our friendly neighborhood Planeswalkers have found themselves on the Nicol Bolas–controlled world of Amonkhet. What they didn't expect to find was a place filled with absolute wonder and gods that walked and lived among the common folk. With all the cards now previewed, we get a closer look at some of the directions we can expect the storyline to go, but for fellow gameplay fanatics like myself, we also get to finally look at what might occur in a draft with the cards!

The full set of Amonkhet has been revealed, and that means it's time for a lovely look at some of the drafting potential that this set holds. As with any set with new mechanics and abilities, it's important to first look at things in a macro perspective before fine-tuning things and honing in on specific archetypes and strategies. In this article, I plan on looking at drafting Amonkhet in a broader scope and detailing what you might come to expect, whether you'll be drafting it for the very first or even 100th time. Let's get to it.

Cycling

Amonkhet is a set filled with mechanics, new and old. If you've been playing Magic for as long as I have, you will remember the days of cycling and how much it can alter a format. This is also true of Amonkhet. Not specific to one color, cycling can be found on cards of any of the five colors in this set. I've always found cycling to amplify the power of a card because it gives you so much versatility and can even make cards useful when they might not otherwise have been. As an example, look at Forsake the Worldly. Usually you wouldn't want to play cards with this type of effect in a Limited environment, save for one themed around artifacts or enchantments. But because this has cycling, you can always play this in your deck as a random trump card versus artifacts and enchantments and still get value out of it even if your opponent doesn't have any. Simply pay the cycling cost and draw a new card! There are plenty of other cards with cycling that are simply good on their own as well, my favorite of them being Shimmerscale Drake. Any time you have a card that would already be good on its own (and believe me, a 3/4 flier for five mana is definitely good), giving it extra value just pushes it above and beyond.

Here are my picks for best common with cycling from each color.

Exert

In addition to cycling, we also have a new ability that creatures can now possess called exert. Limited to white, red, and green, exert allows a creature to gain an additional bonus as it attacks—merely at the cost of being unable to untap the following turn. Suddenly your creatures become that much more potent should you choose to exert them, as is the case for a creature such as the Emberhorn Minotaur. Remember, you do not have to exert a creature should you not want to; it is merely an ability that you decide upon when the creature initially attacks. I have a feeling people are going to generally undervalue creatures with exert, as they will probably be much more back-breaking than on first appearance.

My top exert commons from white, red, and green are as follows:

 

Embalm

If exert wasn't good enough for you, then I'm sure embalm will be. Similar to cycling in the way that it makes cards more versatile and adds to their power, embalm is also similar to exert in that it is specific to creatures but allows them to instead accrue value from the graveyard! Just take a look at this little cutie, Sacred Cat.

Sure, a 1/1 for one mana, even if it has lifelink, isn't the cream of the crop. But the ability to create a copy of that creature from the graveyard after the original has died means value. I love myself some good old-fashioned value. While there isn't a large quantity of creatures that can be embalmed (most of them are white or blue), they are all worth exploring as they provide long-term advantage—something great to have in any draft.

My choice for top two creatures with embalm that sit at common or uncommon are the following:

 

Aftermath

If all that I've mentioned already wasn't good enough for you, how about we add some split cards to the mix? This will be just a small note about them because while you won't see these as frequently, split cards such as Start // Finish should always be noted as they are quite powerful should you be able to play both halves with relative ease. I wouldn't take aftermath cards extremely high in a Draft setting, but I would always be noting them if I see them. It will be especially important to make sure you play around the second half of an aftermath card if your opponent casts the first.

Taking It to Draft Weekend

Where does that leave us now? Hopefully you've gleaned some useful information as you set out to finally play the new set. I've only scratched the surface of what a draft of Amonkhet might look like, instead focusing on the bigger picture of what this set brings to the table in terms of a Limited environment. Whether you're cycling through your entire deck looking for that one bomb or untapping an exerted creature mid-combat, the rest of the cool combos and sweet tricks are up for you to find. If you're looking for more about Draft synergies and specific cards, take a peek over at Luis Scott-Vargas's article that conveniently went up today as well.

And if you're looking to test your new skills and theories, make sure you make it out to a participating store on April 29 or 30 for Draft Weekend! Until next time, this is Kenji "NumotTheNummy" Egashira wishing you an army of embalmed creatures to take over your opponents.

~Kenji

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