Welcome to my Amonkhet Top 8! Every set, I go over the top cards that pique my deckbuilding interest. The cards I focus on are those that fly a little below the radar. Sometimes I’m way off and the cards I pick are terrible. On the other hand, sometimes I’m right on the nose, and those cards end up being ridiculous hits.
What I try hardest to accomplish is to provide you guys with perspective on some cards that you might not have. Maybe you’ll see a card in a new light or discover an application you might not have thought of—if so, then I consider these articles a success.
If you’re looking for a list of the best Amonkhet cards, you’re in the wrong place. The following are what I perceive to be some of the unsung heroes of the set that I would like to build around based on their merit.
8. Nest of Scarabs
Okay, normally I never do this, but for perhaps the first time ever I’m going to include an uncommon on this list. I grew fond of Nest of Scarabs when I first read it while going through our set review on Freshly Brewed. Now I imagine there aren’t going to be any crazy Nest of Scarabs decks taking over Standard, but there are a ton of playable counters-matter cards. Being able to get X Scarabs for those is pretty powerful. You could even simply combine a bunch of burn with the red rare, Soul-Scar Mage. At that point every Magma Spray makes two 1/1s. An Unlicensed Disintegration makes three 1/1s. While I know it takes a couple pieces to get going, this is a pretty strong engine. The two of these cards in conjunction actually makes Cut // Ribbons playable as it makes you four 1/1s! Ha!
Anyway, like I said, we’re not breaking Standard here, but the potential number of Scarabs can be staggering.
7. Mouth // Feed
I’m not sure how good this card is. Honestly, it feels very “win more.” “Hey, I have a bunch of big creatures, I’ll draw some cards!” But maybe, just maybe, making a 3/3 that gives you some late-game value for free is good enough. I’m not certain. While I’m content to file this under “win more,” there are definitely situations where the green deck could have a bunch of big, durdly dudes that can’t break through, and maybe you just need to draw 4 or 5 cards to close things out. Whether or not this makes a splash in Standard, I like it, and that’s a rare feeling for me when it comes to these new split cards.
6. Regal Caracal
I didn’t think much of this guy when I first saw it. Yeah, it’s a 3/3 for 5 that makes two 1/1s. Cool. But there’s actually a lot going on here. While there may not be a tremendous number of Cats in Standard to take advantage of this Cat lord, this is still 7 power for 5 mana spread over 3 bodies. If you’re able to blink this, then we’re in business. The fact that the Cats also have lifelink is just gravy.
Historically this stacks up to a lot of other similar cards. Siege-Gang Commander had a better ability, but it only produced 5 power. Cloudgoat Ranger only produced 6. This is an interesting card because at 4 mana it would be absolutely ridiculous, and at 5 mana it becomes questionable. Mana costs are really complex in this way.
5. Liliana’s Mastery
If you thought 6 was funny, wait until you see number 5! Yes, this costs 5 mana in Standard, and no, this isn’t a Grave Titan. But I’m looking at rates here. 5 mana for two 3/3 bodies, along with an effect that pumps a good deal of other bodies as well, is pretty strong. If you play two of these you’re really in business, with all of your 2/2 Zombies being 4/4s! That’s pretty strong, especially when there are a ton of ways to make Zombies in this format, including a land. And remember that every creature you embalm, no matter the color, is a Zombie.
4. Glyph Keeper
I always end up having one “traditional” control creature on these lists. It’s not intentional—things just sort of work out that way. What I mean by “control creature” is an evasive threat that a control deck can play in the late game after they’ve stabilized that’s hard to get rid of. Glyph Keeper fits that bill. If they want to get rid of it with spot removal, they have to target it 4 times in total. If they want to get rid of it with board wipes, they have to have 2 of them. And that’s for each Glyph Keeper!
If a true control deck emerges, I can definitely see this guy having a home in it. I wouldn’t even minding trading it for a Heart of Kiran considering y0u can just embalm it later.
3. Approach of the Second Sun
This card is a little confusing, but boy is it cool. As a 7-mana sorcery, it reminds me of a reverse Cruel Ultimatum. I mean, Cruel Ultimatum basically says, “You win the game” on it. Ali Aintrazi asked me how many of these I would consider playing on our podcast, Freshly Brewed, and I said 3. I might be leaning toward the full 4 now. Sure, it costs 7 mana, but if you draw multiples of this card, you can basically win on turn 8, right?
I’m actually afraid of that potential in a future Standard format. I envision decks that turtle up behind big-bottomed creatures and board wipes and life gain before casting this on turn 7, then again on turn 8 to win. Without countermagic, most decks are pretty much dead to that, right? You simply have to outrace it. While that’s completely possible, they’re not exactly doing nothing in the meantime. We’ll have to wait and see if this card is the real deal, because it seems like a sleeping powerhouse.
2. Bounty of the Luxa
I went over how I feel about this card in a separate article, so be sure and check that out if you missed it. Suffice to say, it’s one of my favorite cards in the set and allows you to play a turn-6 Approach of the Second Sun! Can we win on turn 7 in Standard? I mean, you do draw an extra card that turn after all, which should help hit your second Approach of the Second Sun…
1. Sandwurm Convergence
Ah, the old “reverse Moat attached to a toned-down Kiora’s ultimate.” A classic! No, for real, I get that this card costs 8 mana, but as I mentioned with the previous card, I can definitely see a control-style ramp deck in blue and green. Heck, maybe we’re even splashing white for Cast Out to deal with pesky planeswalkers! Aw, who am I kidding? We have Cancel for that! (Naw, just kidding.)
But for real, Sandwurm Convergence is my favorite kind of card: One with a Beetlejuice reference. Or rather, one with a way to stop certain creatures from attacking you, while providing you with all the tools you need to win the game. It doesn’t take many 5/5s to overwhelm your opponent, especially when they don’t run out. Sure, your opponent can have something like Cast Out for this, but that’s why you’re playing blue and enchantment removal! Even if this card isn’t tier 1, I hope to be blowing some people out with it in Standard in the near future.
And that’s that! As always, I know some might disagree with some of my choices, and maybe some are going to think a few of them are obviously good—that’s fine! Like I said in the beginning, these are the cards I’m excited to build decks around or try out in competitive lists, so hopefully you’re excited to play with some of them too.
Either way, I hope I’ve given you something to think about and maybe you’ve seen some of these cards in a new light. Comparing them to older cards might have helped, or maybe you just think they‘re all junk! (But that’s not very nice. Cards have feelings too.)
Be sure to let me know in the comments some of your favorites that you feel aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you later!