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The Key to Amonkhet Draft? Attack.

Who doesn’t want to draft a brand spanking new set? It’s a rhetorical question. Everybody wants to draft Amonkhet.

Learning a new format is tricky because there’s a ton of information, cards, and archetypes to evaluate. I wanted today’s article to be a simple, straightforward guide anybody could read and get an immediate sense for drafting Amonkhet.

I’m not a huge fan of pick orders. I find the value of cards fluctuate from archetype to archetype and depending upon curve considerations. I’m going to lay things out differently: The major archetypes, when to move in on them, and what you should be looking for.

I wanted to get an Amonkhet video submitted quickly and so I dove head first into the format. It’s only been legal for a few days and I’ve drafted 12 times. Here’s what I know.

You don’t always get Old Glory to bail you out!

Tip: Rares break the equation.

When I talk about drafting and archetypes, I don’t take rares or mythics into consideration. Rares change the dynamic of what a deck looks like and what it can do. More often than not, the Cs and Us are going to dictate how good or bad the deck is.

Amonkhet is About Attacking

All Limited formats are about attacking and Amonkhet is no different, but there are varying degrees of aggressiveness between each format. I would describe Kaladesh as aggressive but kind of grindy. Amonkhet feels more about running creatures into one another and having the biggest, baddest baddie on the board.

With that said, I believe red is by far the best and deepest color. More high quality red commons and uncommons means there is a better chance of fielding an above average deck. The cards are also well suited for the beatdown games you are likely playing.

Tip: Keep the curve as low as possible.

I know there is a natural desire to go big, but save it for Sealed! Most of my best decks play zero to one 5+ drops. I want a sweet curve and efficient tricks and removal.

The Sweet Spot for Drafting Red

Here’s what I’m looking for to lock in:

Top Uncommons

I’m glad to first pick one of these. In particular, Ahn-Crop Crasher is better than most rares. The ability to clock quickly and make their blocks impossible is challenging to answer.

In generally, exert heavily favors the aggressor because it grants no benefit to blockers. I like the mechanic. Functional Grizzly Bears and Hill Giants that can attack on a board that would typically stall is a fun change of pace.

Brawler and Deem are above curve. Pick them. Play them. Cherish the memories.

Top Commons

Most of the red commons are good enough to make your deck. These two stand out.

Magma Spray would already be great (boom shock-a-lock-a), but the ability to exile embalm creatures at instant speed is backbreaking for R.

Minotaur is humongous, and the exert ability (+1/+1 and menace) is often too much to overcome on an important turn. The Minotaur is simply better than the 4-, 5- and 6-drop red creatures. It really brings the room together.

Underrated

I’ve been slaying with these cards and would put them into the top tier of red despite the fact that they frequently table. Both are great in R/B, which is my favorite archetype to draft.

Thresher Lizard is really good in these decks with low curves since it will frequently be “turned on” by turn 4 or 5. Brawler and Miasmic Mummy can speed it up.

Look to be:

  • R/B – aggro.
  • R/G – aggro.
  • R/W – aggro.

Be aggressive. Be, be aggressive!

The Sweet Spot for Black Cards

A nice little fade to black…

I would arbitrarily say black is the second-best color on planet Amonkhet. It pairs well with both red and white, and supports green nicely.

Tip: Cycling sucks.

Unless you have a Drake Haven deck, I wouldn’t brag about cycling. Good cards that have cycling are a nice bonus but don’t get too cute. Stay focused on playing to the board.

Top Uncommons

I’m picking Lord of the Accursed over basically anything (most rares included). The card converts to wins. It would be busted without the menace ability.

Ammit is great at wearing Auras and taking the race option away from an opponent.

I mentioned that I was cold on 5- and 6-drop spells, but there are a few I’ll make an exception for. Stir is one of them. It can also cycle for a critter for 4.

I feel weird saying this, but Cartouche of Ambition is the best black common in the set. It doesn’t look like much but it really flips the board in a big way. Getting it onto a huge monster is often unbeatable.

Dennis the menace! Life is hard for fans of blocking. Minotaurs are too strong. Debatably one of the best 3-drop common creatures across all colors.

Underrated

Mummy is one of my favorite 2-drops, especially in hyper aggressive builds. Other decks need those 4th, 5th, and 6th lands to hit their top end, but you can essentially pitch yours. You can also get hellbent quickly and turn them into Ravenous Rats.

Look to be:

  • R/B – aggro
  • W/B – grindy (Zombie or Tokens) midrange
  • B/G – -1/-1 counter grindy midrange

What’s Black and White and Full of Mummies?

I’ve been struggling to beat white decks with my with aggressive decks. Embalm is too strong. White isn’t deeper than red, but when it comes together it is deadly.

White is grindy and embalm is very good in a trading game.

Top Uncommons

Cast Out is unique in that it deals with planeswalkers. It’s also just a great spell to be holding up at all times. Giant creatures wearing Auras are real and there isn’t any enchantment removal.

Crop-Mate is just an above average Magic card. I’d pick it if there wasn’t a Crasher or Lord of the Accursed in the pack.

Top Commons

Cheap embalm commons are the reason to be white. Trade and bring ’em back.

It is also worth noting that embalmed creatures are Zombies, which is willdy synergistic with (you guessed it!) Lord of the Accursed. Lord is best in B/W. If you get it early, make the move.

Underrated

Sacred Cat is so annoying to play against that I assume it is actually a great card. It does a lot of work for very little investment. You always get your card’s worth out of it. Also, it’s a good place to dump -1/-1 counters.

Oketra’s Monument is a bomb. I don’t think it is unreasonable to play it in a nonwhite deck.

Look to be:

  • B/W – midrange
  • R/W – aggro

It’s Not Easy Being Green, but it’s Okay

I like green with black or red as a support color. It has great pieces but lacks depth. Green is uncommon rich but common poor. I like it best paired with red.

Top Uncommons

These are all absurd. Scaled Behemoth is perhaps one of the most frustrating cards to play against, since outside of deathtouch the only thing to do is chump block. The 7th toughness is super obnoxious. Wasn’t 6 enough, WotC?!

The Croc is one of the few 4-drops that is on par with exert Minotaur. Especially when powered out on 3 with Naga Vitalist.

What is better than the exert Minotaur? It hits so hard. Especially when powered out by Naga Vitalist on turn 3.

Vitalist is my favorite common 2-drop. It is awesome in R/G since there are so many great 4-drops to power out on turn 3.

The 1/2 body is also a great place to hide exactly one -1/-1 counter from Baleful Ammit, Crocodile of the Crossing, and Ornery Kudu. I don’t need my Vitalist to fight—I let my Crocs do the talking.

Brawler and Hauler are big and big is important to Amonkhet. Any time you see pyramids, you know that size is going to be important!

Underrated

All 1-mana combat tricks are good. In a format about trading, the ability to save something you’ve already deployed for matters. I would play Shed Weakness without the bonus ability.

Spidery Grasp is better than advertised. Untapping an exerted creature in combat to forego the “doesn’t untap” clause is a crushing blow. Blue is pretty bad and so flyers aren’t at their strongest, but I’m always down to Spider some Drakes away.

Look to be:

  • R/G – aggro
  • B/G – -1/-1 midrange

The Blue Blues

I’ve done 12 Drafts and haven’t registered an Island yet. I’ve also only lost one match so far to a deck that had Island in the 40.

The uncommon that might get me to bite on Islands:

The card is obviously busted in half, but it doesn’t have the support. I’d move on some of the rares, but I’m not looking to be blue. When it’s open, it’s open, but I don’t prioritize it.

And that is my week 1 impression of drafting Amonkhet. Remember to stay aggressive and have a great curve. I’d ideally like something that looks like this on mana costs:

  • 1-Drops: 4
  • 2-Drops: 7
  • 3-Drops: 8
  • 4-Drops: 4
  • 5-Drops: 1 (Old Glory, LOL)

With an 8/8 (16 land) mana base.

The format feels fun so far. I’ve been drafting non-stop and I’m not bored. Next up, I’ll be focusing in Sealed. I’m interested to see how much slower it either is or isn’t.

I haven’t run this many R/B creatures into other creatures since original Zendikar Draft! Loving it.

Discussion

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