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A First Look at Amonkhet

Hey guys! The last few weeks have been pretty busy with stuff like work and “Real-Life” Magic, but I saw the news from Wizards giving us an early look at Amonkhet with our first (official) spoiler cards. In case you haven’t seen it yet, the link is here. I’ll go ahead and give you a minute to read through that if you want. I’ll probably be explaining the same things Blake does, so you don’t have to read it if you’re not so inclined. Let’s begin!

Pokemon Punch Cards

Okay, I know that’s really unfair, but that’s exactly what this reminds me of. Mark Rosewater has brought up numerous times the problems with -1/-1 counters and +1/+1 counters coexisting, and this looks to be a potential solution. I say potential because I have a feeling this will be as successful as skulk! Check out that verbal irony there. Oh yeah, the pinnacle of content creation right here.

Punch Cards

As you can see, this means -1/-1 counters will be returning for Amonkhet block. This is something that many players ask for simply because it’s not done as often. It’s very difficult to pull off a successful -1/-1 counter block, and that’s why we haven’t seen it since Scars of Mirrodin block. We also see two mechanics new to Amonkhet from this article- Exert and Embalm- and what appear to be… bricks? Sure, okay. Build some pyramids. I gotcha.

Mechanics of Amonkhet

The article reveals three mechanics (four if you count “brick counters”) and we know of split cards returning from the leaked “Dusk//Dawn” card from a week or two ago. Embalm appears to be an activated ability similar to Unearth. If I had to template the ability from what the article gives us, I’d say it reads similar to this:

Embalm N (N, Exile this card from your graveyard: Create a creature token that’s a copy of this card, except it’s white and is a Zombie in addition to its other types. Activate this ability only as a sorcery.)

There might be some rules issues with the way this is worded due to creatures not being creatures unless they’re on the battlefield, but I believe this is the correct templating. So why the “embalmed” punch cards? Well, I suspect that either every or nearly every pack will have a punch card in it. Since not everyone will open a token with their Embalm creatures, they can simply bring the card back to the battlefield and put an “embalmbed counter” on it to signify its token-ness… or whatever.

Next we have Exert, which is very simple. While attacking, you can exert the creature, which gives it an ability at the cost of not untapping during its next upkeep.

Exert Example

Hellooo, Limited bomb. For this kind of ability, you should always be exerting Glorybringer. We’ll likely see more “middle of the road” or conditional exert abilities that make the player choose between two fairly equal options. My initial reading of the exert mechanic is that it’ll be very successful and well liked. Embalm is flavorful, but it doesn’t really fit on other planes so that’s something we likely wouldn’t see often at all. Speaking of seeing things often…

Returning Mechanics


Cycling! It’s been far too long! Well, I’m sure we’ll all be excited to see cycling back. Potentially gives control decks a foothold into the meta, too. Amonkhet has a very real chance of shaking things up.

Don't speak this language

You can look up the translation for this, but it’s a split card that casts the second half from the graveyard. Why the funky layout? Because the problem with split cards is that players hold their head sideways trying to read them. This fixes that problem at the cost of looking a little weird. Fine tradeoff if you ask me. Dusk reads “destroy all creatures with power greater than or equal to 3.” and Dawn reads “return all creature cards with power 2 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.” I guess I could totally be off-base here and “poder” means toughness, but that seems like a stretch. Dawn has a new ability called “Aftermath”, which basically means flashback, but on the other side of the split card.

Cards to Watch For

As I mentioned above, Glorybringer is a home run bomb in Draft or Sealed. But are any of the other previewed cards primed to make an appearance in a Constructed format? Let’s see.


They missed an opportunity for “Curiosity killed the cat” flavor text, but I guess that’s just as well, since this isn’t exactly Curiosity. Sixth Sense has potential to be played in Constructed if a tempo deck similar to Collected Company (forgive me for bringing that back up) saw play. The key difference is that Sixth Sense only triggers on combat damage, so no infinite Niv-Mizzet loops here.

Heck Yeah Control Cards

Oracle’s Vault is absurdly slow, but for a control deck with plenty of time to use mana that needs the card advantage, this could be a role player in the upcoming Standard season. When it does finally get to three brick counters, the control decks will have turned the corner and it will be almost impossible to lose from that position.

Archfiend of Ifnir is another card that could see Standard play. A 5 mana 5/4 flier is a fantastic rate and that ability could end up being relevant. The wording on it confuses me, however. Cycling already involves discarding a card, so simply saying “whenever you discard another card” would have sufficed. It’s possible they pointed it out for new players, I suppose.

Overall I’m hopeful that Amonkhet will shake up the Standard format, and I’m excited for spoiler season to start. Control should be getting plenty of new toys. What are you hoping for from Amonkhet?

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