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Insider: Amonkhet Powerhouse Cards

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Theros has nothing on Amonkhet's gods! Some of the new gods are looking pretty easy to turn on. Not only that, but we have some amazing new planeswalkers and some great build-around-me cards for our Constructed formats as well. Today, we’ll take a look at what’s happening on the spoiler and break it all down. Let’s go!

Gods

The god creature type, first from Theros block and now Amonkhet, is a potent combination of permanent and creature. Unlike the Theros gods, Amonkhet's gods are always creatures, so removal spells can target them even if they're not turned on. We are still limited in our targeting, though, because they are indestructible.

Last week, we discussed Hazoret, the Fervent, the new red god from this plane. Today, we have three more gods to discuss. We may see some multi-colored gods from this set, but I think at the least we will get the black one to complete the mono-colored cycle. Who knows, though – maybe, just maybe, Nicol Bolas will be a god as well. That would be epic!

Oketra the True

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Sheesh, that’s a lot of abilities! All of the gods seems to have many different aspects to their cards, and that includes the first one up. Oketra, the white god, seems like a great mana investment. The card may read 3/6, but thanks to double strike, it acts like a 6/6. Tokens seems like a theme for white in this set as well, so it should be fairly easy to active. I think Oketra can do what Heliod, God of the Sun could not: see play in Standard.

Oketra is preordering for right around $10, which is the price point I was thinking for this card. I don’t think there is money to be made buying in at this price point, but keep an eye out for a dip if it doesn't find a home in Standard right away. From a player perspective, there are so many other great cards in this set that this price seems great for what it does.

Kefnet the Mindful

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So let’s say you don’t do anything else but play lands for turns one through three. If you are on the play, you’ll be down to five cards after you cast Kefnet. If you’re on the draw, you could attack or block on turn four after your draw step, but then if you play any cards you’ll be back under the required card amount.

The nice thing is that we can play card-draw spells to draw back up to the maximum hand size necessary. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of good options in Standard to help us right now. Glimmer of Genius has been the most used card-drawer, but I’m not sure it will be enough. There is a new card, Pull from Tomorrow, an instant, which costs XUU and reads, "Draw X cards, then discard a card." That might be enough. My point, though, is that keeping Kefnet active as a creature is a difficult feat.

What if you don’t care about this permanent being a creature, though? What if the purpose of the blue god in your deck is to act as an enchantment that allows you to pay four mana to draw a card whenever you’re not interacting with your opponent? Now that sounds like a proposition I can get on board with. You can play it on a turn when you weren’t going to do anything anyway, and then draw extra cards throughout the game. You could even play Pull from Tomorrow as additional card draw and maybe turn on Kefnet as a win condition late in the game.

At $5 or less, you are not making a big commitment with this god. I don’t think the mindful one will be breaking the bank anytime soon, but I could see it being an important two-of in a control strategy.

Rhonas the Indomitable

rhonastheindomitable

Rhonas the Indomitable has successfully drawn my attention. In addition to the normal indestructible key word on all the gods, Rhonas also gets deathtouch. He’s already a 5/5, but there can be bigger creatures than that in Standard.

Rhonas looks amazing, and unlike Kefnet’s difficulty to activate, the green god shouldn’t be nearly that hard. He could slot right into GB, as the deck already builds big dudes thanks to all the +1/+1 counters floating around, but we could also see a new green strategy emerge around werewolves like Lambholt Pacifist // Lambholt Butcher again.

The pump ability of +2/+0 and trample is generically powerful, and it only costs three mana. There might even be board states that you activate this ability twice to force a trade with bigger creatures or to get enough damage through blockers to win the game.

This is quite a nice scenario for Rhonas the Indomitible, and his price tag reflects it. Despite there being more expensive planeswalkers in the set, which we’ll dive into next, Rhonas is still holding strong at just under $20. The gods generate a lot of hype, but this time, I think Rhonas will find a deck to help attack the format.

Planeswalkers

Gideon of the Trials

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"Let me tell you, we definitely needed a powerful white planeswalker. It’s about time we had one in the format." Nobody is saying that right now in reference to a second Gideon in Standard. Shaving off a mana is a big deal for a great planeswalker.

Wizards seems to have pushed the gods a little more with their cheaper mana costs, and that mentality helped the planeswalkers as well. Unfortunately (or luckily, depending on your perspective), this planeswalker is named Gideon. One of my biggest gripes about planeswalkers in Standard is that the ones I want to play always have the same name. This has happened with multiple iterations of Garruk and now Gideon and Liliana! Maybe this is done for game balancing as well as storyline purposes, but it would be nice to be able to play these ‘walkers alongside one another.

We may still be able to include both Gideons in the same deck, though, because the emblem on Gideon of the Trials encourages us to have a Gideon in play at all times. Not losing the game is definitely powerful.

I’ll be honest, I’m still trying to figure out how good this Gideon really is, so let’s break it down and see if that helps. First up, we have a mana cost of three. It doesn’t get much better than that. Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded was two mana, but although he’s hugely popular casually and sells really well, he’s still unplayable in Constructed Magic. Three mana seems to be the best fit for competitively costed ‘walkers.

The mana cost is awesome, sure, but what about the abilities? "Until your next turn, prevent all damage target permanent would deal." It's solid that you can target Heart of Kiran while it’s not a creature, Shambling Vent, or any problematic permanent. That sounds good to me.

The emblem is obviously good, so let’s talk about making him a 4/4. This ability is almost as good as Gideon, Ally of Zendikar’s ability that makes him a 5/5, and we’ve all lost to that guy tons of times. So if each of the three abilities seem great, then what’s the hang up? My big question is what deck wants to play this three-mana Gideon? A card is often only as good as the deck it's played in. For example, would Winding Constrictor ever be talked about in Standard without Rishkar, Peema Renegade? Maybe, but it’s doubtful. I don’t think Gideon of the Trials is better than his predecessor, though, so if anything, we should be playing both in the same deck. Only time will tell.

Thirty dollars seems like a lot for my level of uncertainty. I think a lot of this price tag is hype that the card won’t live up to. I’d expect the new Gideon to dip under $20 quickly after release. What do you guys think? Am I undervaluing an amazing new three-mana planeswalker? Let me know in the comments.

Liliana, Death’s Majesty

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With Liliana we have the exact same problem as with Gideon. We already have a great version, Liliana, the Last Hope, in Standard. She’s seeing play in Modern too. Now, we are getting a bigger version with Liliana, Death's Majesty.

With that being said: I love her! Not only does she have amazing art, but all her abilities are great too. Lilly can now stand next to Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and make a huge army of 2/2s. This endless stream of threats is really difficult for opponents to overcome.

In addition to the army-in-a-can ability, Lilly can also reanimate creatures! There aren’t many options for the Reanimator archetype currently available in Standard. We have Ever After or if we are working with Allies, March from the Tomb. We don’t necessarily have to be solely a reanimator deck for Lilly to be good, though. She can just bring back whatever creature you’d like during the game.

So, between both her plus and minus abilities and her ultimate, which keeps your zombies and wipes everything else out, new Lilly seems really great. She’s preselling for $17, and unless a new Reanimator deck forms around her, I don’t think she will hold that price, but she should stay close to that.

Nissa, Steward of the Elements

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Last up, we have my pick for the best of the three new planeswalkers in Nissa, Steward of Elements. Finally we have a non-Kiora blue-green ‘walker, AKA a playable one. The new Nissa, our third in the format (fourth if you count the planeswalker-deck version), is the first of her type to have X in the casting cost. That’s an exciting development that I never thought would happen. So the later in the game you cast her, the more potent she can be. If you have ten mana lying around, you can cast her and ultimate her in the same turn.

Barring crazy late-game shenanigans like that, Nissa is amazing on any other turn of the game too. I think most of the time we will see her cast for three mana and +2 up to three loyalty. Scry 2 is not the same as drawing a card, but it’s setting your draw every turn, which can help set you on the course to victory.

Her zero ability does gain you advantage. You set your deck up with some cheap casting-cost cards, scry them appropriately to the top of your deck and you can then put them in play for free! These two abilities work so well together and can be great in a number of strategies.

I think this card can see play in Modern as well as Standard. Can you imagine getting Tarmogoyf or Scavenging Ooze in play for free with Nissa? It’s going to happen. Although I'm excited by the card, history tells us that even the best cards in post-Expedition sets will drop quite a bit after release. Nissa could very well end up being the most expensive card in the set, but she should still drop from the $30 where she is now.

There are a ton more interesting cards in the set that we will break down next week. See you then!

Until next time,
Unleash the Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

2 thoughts on “Insider: Amonkhet Powerhouse Cards

  1. I think it’s interesting that your powerhouse cards are pretty much just standard while the ones I’m most excited about are all modern…This is looking to be a very interesting set.

  2. Hey Mike, you actually only need 8 mana for Nissa to ultimate as the first sentence reads “Untap up to two target lands you control.” Sure you lose her right after but if you just need to swing to win the game 8 is where it’s at. You could do 9 to keep her around for the next turn.

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