A ton of Amonkhet cards were revealed this week, most of them very strange and cool. Earlier this week, Mark Rosewater shared an anecdote behind the creation of Champions of Kamigawa — given the choice of a top-down designed set based in Japan or based in Egypt, Bill Rose, head of R&D, decided to ground the set in Japan.
The takeaway here is that Amonkhet will be another top-down set in the vein of Champions of Kamigawa. Everyone thinks of Champions of Kamigawa as a set that was bad for Magic, which is unfair. Coming off a truly busted block like Mirrodin, any set was going to look silly. The truth about Champions of Kamigawa is that it played very well and led to lots of cool games. Maybe things would've been different with a wider playerbase. Perhaps Sensei's Divining Top would've been oppressive. As it played out, though, the block was fine, low power levels (especially in the latter two sets of the block) notwithstanding.
Amonkhet is likely to follow a similar pattern to Champions of Kamigawa. It will be a cool, flavorful, low-powered, under-appreciated set, the curse of following up a truly busted set like Kaladesh (trust me, Kaladesh is a ludicrously powerful set). I am very excited to play with Amonkhet, but early returns indicate the set is not going to have the power to play in a Standard bloated with established, dominant cards.
Battle for Zendikar can safely be considered a turning point in player approval of Standard. Fetchlands and duals made every deck homogenized. Dark Jeskai. Mardu Green. Do you remember that? Those decks were the worst. Oath of the Gatewatch began the churn in earnest; Four-Color Rally was quickly determined to be the best deck, and from there each format became a race to find the best deck, and the disparity in power levels between cards made the decks continually easier and easier to find, culminating in today's Mardu Vehicles deck, where the only synergy card is Thraben Inspector and literally every other spell is a high-impact, efficient game-swinger.
Amonkhet and its promise of cards with a flatter power level is a good direction for the game to head towards — the good cards and decks are harder to find when the cards are more similarly-powered — but its impact won't be immediate. This is going to annoy a lot of short-sighted people.
Just be patient. Now on to the show.
No idea. Is this card even playable? I don't think so. Tell me I'm wrong in the comments, please!
Ranger of Eos is fantastic out of the Death's Shadow sideboard, as Reid Duke proved last weekend. Turns out tutoring up two 8/8s for one is pretty good.
I know I skipped #8. We're gonna skip #6 too. Hold tight.
Cycling's in Amonkhet, which means there's also some new "discard matters" cards, liek Archfiend of Ifnir. Key to the City plays well with those, and is even a good card by itself.
Splendid Reclamation took a bit of a dive in the sales rankings, but cycling lands still exist, so Splendid Reclamation continues to sell.
To understand why these cards are here, take a look at As Foretold.
As Foretold uses time counters just like Vanishing, the old fading rework, did. Adding time counters to As Foretold seems more cute than good, but if it's powering out an Emrakul or some such nonsense, you'll hear no complaints from me.
Fatal Push?? BORING. Watch this video I made instead!
Let's not mince words. Exert is an underwhelming mechanic. However, Always Watching, with its vigilance clause, makes exert cards pretty freakin' sweet, to borrow an Evan Erwinism.
Originally intended to hose infect creatures, Melira, Sylvok Outcast's applications turned out to be much broader. She allows for an infinite combo with Murderous Redcap / Kitchen Finks plus Viscera Seer, since she turns off the -1/-1 counter from persist. We're seeing a spike in her sales thanks to Amonkhet's -1/-1 counters subtheme.