Nick’s Initial Amonkhet Thoughts & Brews

It’s been an exciting week of spoilers so far, and today I wanted to talk to you about some of the cards that I think are going to immediately impact Standard out of the gates. Let’s jump right in!

Gideon of the Trials seems like the perfect place to start. Full disclosure: I really like this card, which may come as a surprise because nobody – no really, nobody -hates Gideon, Ally of Zendikar more than I do. While powerful, it doesn’t drown the enemy in an insurmountable board presence like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Perhaps comparing Gideon of the Trials to his broken, older self is a poor idea. After all, this new Gideon strikes me as more of a control card, whereas the Ally of Zendikar was just a goodstuff walker that went into virtually any deck ineterested in tapping for white mana.

There may be some contention with the new Gideon being a control card, but consider this curve: turn 2 Heart of Kiran > turn 3 Gideon of the Trials > turn 4 Chandra, Torch of Defiance.

In this scenario your opponent would need an absurd amount of creatures on the board to attack any of your planeswalkers.  Gideon is, in my eyes, so good because of his +1 ability. It essentially turns Gideon into a 3 mana Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. His first 0 ability will suit him up nicely to battle against other walkers too, and while his emblem is icing on the cake, I don’t think it’s going to be extremely relevant in Standard. (Although it seems decent against possible Fling or Electrostatic Pummeler shenanigans).

One other important point that I want to bring up is that Ally of Zendikar wasn’t ever supposed to be part of Amonkhet Standard. We’re now in the period where things are sort of in flux with the rotation schedule being changed, and then changed again. Having access to 3 different Gideon’s wasn’t originally planned, and I’m curious if there’s a deck that’s looking to run 8 copies.

In all honesty I would be panicking if not for one our next cards, which looks to be a multipurpose Planeswalker/creature eating machine and bringer of all things glorious… GLORYBRINGER! 

This card by itself will knock every Planeswalker in the format down a full grade. Being able to kill most protection a walker might have, as well as having haste to actually, you know, kill it, is something that Standard desperately needs. If you asked me earlier this week what standard needs I might have said Hero’s Downfall, but this is the answer I didn’t know I wanted, needed, and maybe deserved.  It’s time to take a crack back at Gideon casters everywhere. Also, if Felidar Guardian evades the next B&R announcement again, then Glorybringer seems like a reasonable way to handle the Guardian and Saheeli both.

Channeler Initiate is the best mana dork we’ve seen since Sylvan Caryatid. Channeler is going to start as just a 0/1 in most cases, but can grow to be a real threat later in the game. The most common line is probably going to be putting all the counters onto the Channeler itself, but running this card alongside Blisterpod, Carrier Thrall, and Zulaport Cutthroat seems decent too.

I know we still have a lot of the new cards to see and evaluate, but I can’t resist.

GR Monsters –  AHK Standard Test Deck

Creatures (25)

Instant (6)

Sorcery (3)

Planeswalker (4)

Land (22)

This list attempts to ramp into early Glorybringers and Gearhulks with some interaction and Planewalkers along the way. This deck hearkens back to a time of Stormbreath Dragon and Polukranos, and was a great deck in it’s day.

Next up is our rare lands cycle, the Cycling Duals. (Bicycle lands?)

These might not be as flashy as some of the more powerful dual land cycles like the fetch or shocklands, but in Standard these will be absolutely essential. I believe they’ll play in a similar fashion to the temple cycle from Theros block. The format may slow down a bit because of them, but gameplay generally goes through the roof because of how many more games you play that don’t come down to screw/flood. I’m looking to play as many of these as my mana bases can allow.

Speaking of cycling, talk about a payoff! Once this is in play you pretty much get to stop playing conventional magic and start playing the Pack Rat-esque game of “every card is suddenly a token (with flying)”.  We need to do some work constructing our deck to take advantage of this powerful enchantment, but the rewards are pretty insane.  What immediately jumped to mind when I saw this card was to pair it with Noose Constrictor and explore some sort of U/G Madness style deck.

UGw Cycling – AHK Standard Test Deck

Lands (24)

Instant (12)

Enchantment (8)

Creature (16)

We have a lot of new cards in here, so let’s take a look:

Honored Hydra is a lot like Roar of the Wurm, which was a staple of the old U/G madness decks. While this deck is technically a “cycling” deck, we’re borrowing heavily from the old archetype. Honored Hydra looks a lot worse than it is – but curving into this guy on turn 4 is big game and will halt either Gideon in their tracks.

Narrow removal like Dissenter’s Deliverance is typically sideboard material at best, but cycling makes anything maindeckable in the right meta. Here, we have a one mana cantrip with the upside of killing a Heart of Kiran at mana parity.

Censor on the other hand is a card I believe some are misjudging. In a world where curving out on the play is the name of the game, Censor is a pretty reasonable spell. The cycling means that it’s never a dead draw, and once we throw in some incentive to do that, we have a Real Magic Card™.

Cast Out is the last card I’ll talk about, and is the only white card in the deck, and castable off of only 11 sources. This may seem like poor deckbuilding to some, but consider that we would likely play some number of the cycling duals anyway and we’re only a few Shadowlands away from the splash. It’s worth it too, as many have said that this might just be the best card in the set.

The flexibility and flash are the keys here. Cast out can answer walkers, combos, and can cycle once we have a drake haven in play. (Note: according to the holy gospel of Frank Karsten, 11 sources is what you need to cast this on turn 4 anyway.)

There are plenty of other spoilers for me to get through but I think we’re off to a great start. Stay tuned for more from myself and the rest of the team while we prepare for the prerelease.

P.S.: if you’re so inclined, follow us on Twitter @mtgdotone, and if you’re feeling generous throw us a like on our Facebook page too. We appreciate all feedback, positive and negative. And we’re also planning on giving away a few Masterpieces and an oversized Oath of Nissa card, so keep your eyes open for that as well.
[Editor’s note: We apologize for the lack of inconsistent content the past month or so, things have been busy in real life and the team is gearing up for the next set of cards to come out. This was written shortly before the full spoiler was released this week. So stay tuned for more good things.]
Nick Peternell

Nick has been playing Magic since the 2013 Core Set was released, and grinding since Return to Ravnica. He’s played on the Pro Tour and has multiple high finishes at both the Star City Tour and Grand Prix levels. He’s a brewer at heart and excels most in the beginning and middle stages of a format. Finding weaknesses in the metagame and exploiting underplayed cards is just another day in the office for him.

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