Pre-Pro Tour: Amonkhet & GP Richmond Thoughts

Hello, hello, fellow gamers.

As you probably know, Pro Tour Amonkhet is right around the corner, and I wanted to share some of my early impressions of the format, the state of standard with zero bans, and just some personal thoughts before I’m off to Virginia to test with the Genesis boys. I also want to state for the record that these are mostly untested ideas, and this is just based on my initial reaction, which I’m sure could be way off!

First off, I’m very excited to just be playing a new limited format. For as good as Kaladash and Aethor Revolt were to me, I welcome the change. There new set is amazing in so many ways for this new limited draft format, one it is a much slower format which allows a lot of range to outplay your opponent or if you aren’t careful be the one getting savagely outplayed.

Along with the set being slowed down, it’s also a format that is very open to a lot of different color combinations that work well together. While we will always have the usual archetypes that work together (G/B Counters, R/W Aggro, or U/W Skys) there is so much wiggle room to adjust these pairings and stay open in a draft early on. Speaking of which, I feel that not staying open long enough is a huge mistake that new players often make in the world of draft. They don’t stay open long enough, or they force a color combination that they’re comfortable with, or forcing the Pack 1 Pick 1 bomb.

I’ve only got about a dozen drafts at this point, getting ready to at least try and keep up with the great players that I’m teamed up, but so far it is awesome. No matter what type of tournament I am testing for, whether it’s for the PT, a Gran Prix, it doesn’t matter how big the event is, I still want to be enjoying myself when it comes to practice. Learn to love the process!

Now, delving into the strategies themselves, my initial success has been with Wx decks, basically every medium sized creature with Exert is great. Most decks in the past that could just play something big enough against a white weenie deck could easily shut down the deck, and some of these Exert creatures give the archetype a lot more reach than initially thought. Similar to Kaladash, two drops are important, and in some colors like G/B there is a noticable lack of good 2CMC threats. Naga Vitalist and Bitterblade Warrior are great for green, but for black do you really want to be jamming Miasmic Mummys and Dune Beatles? Sometimes, I guess, but they’re not anything to be excited about.

I’ve also tried some stratagies that were heavier in spells and cyclers to fuel Enigma Drake, and when the deck works it’s great. The issue that these decks run into though, are the ones that just play creatures every turn are super hard to beat (which is most limited decks). There just isn’t enough early removal to deal with these types of decks.

The last piece of insight that I can share with you is regarding the Trials and Cartouche’s. They. Are. Broken. Being able to have gas in the tank while you play cards that already do great things is so good! The green varities are both excellent and should be picked highly.

The black counterparts are a bit of a different story – so far in my experience, the black trial isn’t very good. Edict effects really aren’t as strong in limited, and lose a lot of effectiveness past the first few turns. Now, that doesn’t mean that randomly getting to kill your opponents fatty at the right time should be something to scoff at, but keep that in mind. The black cartouche is really good in the right deck, but weak in a B/W deck since your creatures aren’t going to be big enough to make lifelink worth it. I think it’s better in a G/B shell.

The white ones are both excellent, being able to play the trial and Exert is ridiculous value, while having a one mana cartouche is good in any deck with a trial, and probably even okay in some that don’t even have any.

Red is along the same lines: both are good, and being able to kill a creature repeatedly is as nice as it gets from a red deck. The red cartouche is also the nuts, being able to play the cartouche and recast a trial in the same turn can really turn the corner on the game.

And last but not least, blue: the trial can be alittle clunky sometimes since it does cost 4 mana, but the card advantage is real. The blue cartouche pairs up really with fat green creatures. Give them a Red Bull? Sounds good to me.

Onto the very new and exciting Standard format! It has to be just as cool and exciting as the limited format, right? RIGHT?! I’m sad to see my cats go (they helped me win a GP after all!) but I am thrilled for what it hopefully means for the format going forward. I don’t have a lot of insight into Standard yet, since I’m focusing most of my time on limited, but I travel this weekend to start my testing for GP Richmond, and PT Nashville after that so I’m hoping to have things a little solved by then.All I know for sure is that I get to bring a lot more cards with me instead of just two decks and that’s all I care about! Hype!

So thanks for reading everyone, I’m off to Virginia to hit up the limited GP, testing with Genisis, and hopefully securing 18 pro points to lock myself for PLATINUM! Wish me luck! I’m going to need it! And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and check out our Facebook page.

Corey Baumeister

Corey Baumeister is a professional Magic: The Gathering player, degenerate gambler, brother to Brad Nelson, Grand Prix champion with 5 total Top 8’s to his name, and a lover of music festivals.

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