Amonkhet Complete Review: Green, Artifacts, And More!

The wait is over! Pro Tour Hall of Famer Patrick Chapin has taken a break from his Pro Tour Amonkhet testing in order to bring you the rest of the crazy number of ideas he has for Amonkhet brewers everywhere! Get out your notes, everyone! This is how you Magic!

With Amonkhet legal and the Pro Tour rapidly approaching, I’d like
to finish this pass through the new set, covering the green cards and the
artifacts. Discussion on black can be found
, blue
, and white and red

Discussed at length
, Benefaction of Rhonas is a modest draw spell that’s only really worth it
if you have a lot of both creatures and enchantments, as well as a lot of
graveyard synergies. Even then, there’s a lot of competition.

Save this one for Draft. It doesn’t have a big enough impact for the cost,
and the ability is more useful in Draft anyway.

It’s kind of a bummer that Cartouche of Strength doesn’t let the creature
you just gave trample to trample over when it fights the fight you just
arranged. (Got that?)

Regardless, this is a tough effect to get into Constructed, and there’s a
real glut at the three spot for decks in general, and the Cartouche/Trial
cards specifically.

Trial of Strength isn’t breaking any power level records either, but at
least it helps a dedicated Cartouche/Trial deck get its creature count

The most likely best way to use Cartouches and Trials in Constructed is
either some red aggro deck, or a light amount of support for Trial of
Ambition in an otherwise normal deck. However, just to see, I wanted to try
jamming as many Cartouches and Trials into one deck as I could. Let’s

I fear that even with this many fixers, the mana may come out too clunky.
Additionally, there are going to be a lot of bad draws when you draw too
many auras, particularly if your opponent has removal. After all, your
Cartouche has to successfully stick to your creature, otherwise the Trials
never trigger.

Channeler Initiate is an excellent new accelerator that taps for mana
longer than Servant of the Conduit and ends up a bigger threat. There are
tons of possible homes for it, and it will help inspire many more. This
one’s a hit.

While it can help enable many multicolor monstrosities, it can also be used
just as well in more normal, two-color decks, such as the G/W Tokens deck
Karl Tashjian piloted to a 20th place finish at SCG Atlanta.

You want tech?

To the surprise of most, Watchers of the Dead has gotten onto the
scoreboard early. Its purpose? As a sideboard card for aggressive non-black
decks that want to stop delirium, possibly blunting Ishkanah, Grafwidow,
shrinking Grim Flayer, and weakening Traverse the Ulvenwald.

Dissenter’s Deliverance is a totally respectable form of artifact hate,
though I’m not sure it’s actually going to be optimal as a sideboard card
in a lot of the decks it will show up in. The option to cycle it is always
worth something, of course; but we don’t actually want to cycle
our sideboard cards as often as maindeck cards. There are other artifact
hate options with great applications, such as Natural Obsolescence.

That said, it is nice to be able to power up delirium proactively. It might
be just enough stronger of a card to be the better sideboard option anyway.
Here’s another example, this time out of the sideboard of Samuel Braatz’s
Sultai Delirium deck:

It’s worth noting with so few instants, it actually might be worth a few
points to have the option to cycle away Dissenter’s Deliverance without
waiting for a good target in order to power up our Traverses or Ishkanahs.

Champion of Rhonas is kind of an interesting quest in that all you have to
do is successfully attack with it. Of course, to really get paid, you’ve
also got to have something really expensive in your hand. One possibility
is to run it alongside Briarbridge Patrol in some kind of crazy
Clue-centric deck, aiming to cheat out Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.
Another possibility is in some kind of a reanimator deck where you can
discard and Liliana back Ulamog when you don’t have the Champion.

Cartouche of Zeal and Expedite is a little fancy, but Champion of Rhonas is
a sweet card to give haste to; and a Liliana-zombied Ulamog ain’t so bad

Vanilla for Draft that isn’t in the zip code of Constructed-worthy.

Crocodile of the Crossing is a more aggressive haste creature that green
typically gets. There’s a lot of competition at the four-spot in
Constructed, but the Crocodile hits hard enough that I think it’ll see play
in some decks with Channeler Initiate. There are lots of potential ways to
mitigate the -1/-1 counter, but turning it into upside naturally is pretty

While I think the best way is probably to stop there, we can also go “all
the way,” building around the various ways to turn -1/-1 counters into

There are more -1/-1 counter creatures than we’ve got room to play with,
but we might as well start hardcore dedicated to the synergies and see what
we learn.

Defiant Greatmaw is actually kind of sweet. A 4/5 for three would probably
be good enough; and while we do inherit two -1/-1 counters, we get paid
back in full if we have any of other creatures on the battlefield.
Additionally, we actually turn a pretty nice profit if we have Hapatra,
Vizier of Poisons on the battlefield.

Along with Nest of Scarabs, these are the “big” payoffs for the -1/-1
counter theme (although we do have lots of little synergies). Generally
speaking, I think you’ve got to be “trying” to make Vizier of Poisons good;
but if you do, it is great in that deck.

While Exemplar of Strength is generally a little too fragile to use
straight-up, it can quickly turn the weakness to strength when used in
conjunction with Hapatra’s Mark and/or Shed Weakness.

Hapatra’s Mark seems more reliable, more versatile, and brings a bigger
payoff than Shed Weakness.

Maybe we’d actually want five?

Fringe option for decks that really capitalize on -1/-1 counters. I guess.
It’s kind of medium minus, and having your colors right is also sweet.

Quite the reprint. It doesn’t exactly match-up well against Archangel
Avacyn, Glorybringer, or Heart of Kiran. We can do better.

A lot better.

Are you really in the market for more Weirding Wood? If so, Gift of
Paradise is your jam.

Notable for being the largest creature with cycling in Amonkhet,
Greater Sandwurm still doesn’t have a big enough impact on the board to get
too excited about reanimating it. Liliana, Death’s Majesty getting it back
is solid, but that’s probably not a high enough ceiling to be worth how
frequently we have to spend two mana without anything to show for it (and
how many options we didn’t have, because of being a card behind until we
could cycle it).

Harvest Season requires a lot of different parts, but it has so
much potential. You’ve got to reliably get multiple small creatures early,
get them tapped (which might be thwarted by blockers), and have expensive
stuff to do with the extra mana that isn’t dead when you don’t get there.

Here’s an attempt:

This list isn’t trying to be greedy at all; however, if you wanted, you
could also potentially try Harvest Season with powerful cycling cards that
you can cycle away when you don’t have tons of mana. Zombies is another
interesting place to look, as the Zombies are great at getting tapped; and
there’s a variety of ways to take advantage of the extra mana, like
powering Dark Salvation even harder.

While Haze of Pollen has clear purpose in New Perspectives combo decks, it
also has applications in ramp decks, such as Ali Aintrazi’s top 64 SCG
Atlanta list. His U/G Ramp deck features not only a full playset of Haze of
Pollen but also a little Commencement of Festivities (because, when you
mean it, you mean it).

I just can’t get behind Naga Vitalist, though. It just seems worse than
Channeler Initiate.

I guess if you just know you’re going to want to tap your mana creature
more than three times, Naga Vitalist has that going for it.

I wonder if Weaver of Currents is just too greedy? I’ve got a feeling it’s
going to eat Magma Spray after Magma Spray, but it sure would be nice if it

With Felidar Guardian banned out of the format, Manglehorn has lost a lot
of its purpose. Now it’s mostly a Traverse the Ulvenwald target for
combating Vehicles and Dynavolt Tower, but it’s also just a generally solid
card that should show up in small numbers in both maindecks and sideboards.

I would guess that one and one is probably the default mix for Delirium
decks, and beyond that, you typically just want to play spells like
Appetite for the Unnatural, Natural Obsolescence, and Dissenter’s

You’d have to be really into the whole Always Watching, untap your
creatures stuff. The problem is, best case scenario, you’re still only
getting up to a 5/4 for three. That’s reasonable, but it’s not so
impressive to really inspire us to go to that much trouble.

Mouth looks fun, but it might just be helping in the wrong place. It looks
like it’s built for grinding, but it’s not really going to go over the top
of Torrential Gearhulk + Pull from Tomorrow, or Aetherworks Marvel +
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Still, here’s an attempt:

A 3/3 for three really isn’t that bad, and if we draw at least two
cards off Feed, we’re actually not making out too poorly. Maybe there’s
hope for this one after all…

I want to play this card so badly.

An in-depth breakdown of the card can be found

I don’t hate this one. It’s a little underpowered, but there’s a shortage
of good one-drops. If you’re in the market for a little early defense with
an option to buy some ramp, you could do worse.

Draft only. It just doesn’t have a pronounced enough impact on the game to
entice us.

A 4/3 for three is already fairly decent, and the ability might be
especially useful if the Torrential Gearhulk population increases. Just
watch out for Spell Queller! While it could just be used as a three-cost
beater, here’s an example where it gets extra mileage from Traverse the
Ulvenwald implications.

Quarry Hauler seems like it’s probably a Draft-centric card; but
if we were going to try to make it work, we’d probably be interested in
finding the most elite, hardest to come by counters.

Sadly, the only really valuable “exotic” counters in Standard at the moment
are on As Foretold and Planeswalkers.

Rhonas looks to be the best of the Gods; however, you don’t need to spam
four of these the way some of the Theros Gods pushed you.

Not surprisingly, the only thing Rhonas really asks of you is a critical
mass of four-power creatures. Here’s one of my favorite new decks. Mac
Bower’s G/R Energy Aggro has a couple really exciting new additions from Amonkhet:

Glorybringer might be the best card in the set, so seeing it alongside
Rhonas makes a lot of sense. With a full third of the deck able to power-up
Rhonas without even needing to use his ability, this list gets to use it as
a 5/5 indestructible for three. However, the +2 and trample ability of
Rhonas is also extremely well-used here. Electrostatic Pummeler absolutely
loves both parts, and this helps the deck move away from a reliance on so
many combat tricks.

Another interesting home for Rhonas is in B/G Delirium with Grim Flayer and
Winding Constrictor plus Rishkar, Peema Renegade for extra ways of
triggering Rhonas, in addition to Mindwrack Demon and Verdurous Gearhulk.

While Rhonas is just a quality threat on its own, this list gets extra
mileage out of it as a Traverse target, giving us an extra option for how
to spend mana efficiently in the late game. Grim Flayer appreciates the
extra pumps sometimes, and Hissing Quagmire does a little extra damage when
it gains trample, thanks to the deathtouch/trample interaction.

Finally, here is one more list with Rhonas, combining a little of each of
the previous two lists:

You’d probably have to have a way to cheat the mana cost to make Sandwurm
Convergence attractive. It’s a pretty impact on the battlefield, no
question, but eight mana is already two mana more than Torrential Gearhulk.
What’s more, Cast Out and Commit mean a lot more people have answers than
typically would be the case.

My, my, my. How far we’ve come.

Autumn Willow was once a defining bomb in Magic. Scaled Behemoth is +2/+3
bigger, doesn’t need mana to target it with your own stuff, and isn’t
limited by the legend rule.

As for today, there are lots of potential chump blockers. There are Edict
effects, like Oath of Liliana and Trial of Ambition. There’s no Armageddon.

Still, I’m not totally sure Scaled Behemoth is out of the question. Sphinx
of the Final Word is just 5/5 for seven and sees play. Flying,
uncounterable, and makes your sorceries and instants uncounterable is all
great, but +1/+2, costing one less, and being the color of Traverse the
Ulvenwald is not nothing.

I want to like Shefet Monitor. It’s got a respectable rate. It does some
good stuff. However, these are different times than the Krosan Tusker days
of yore. Glimmer of Genius is pretty steep competition for four-cost card
draw spells, so I think we’re probably going to need to really value
ramping into six. Here’s one place the Monitor has already made an

Cycling Shefet Monitor on turn 4 does make a turn 5 Liliana, Death’s
Majesty more impactful, I’ll give you that. It is also kind of an
interesting way to get a creature into the graveyard for Traverse the
Ulvenwald decks that don’t want to use cheap creatures.

I don’t think it’s time for Sixth Sense; however, if we were going to find
a home for it, it would probably be a tempo-oriented deck with a lot of

I think we probably just can’t afford to play so little removal, but maybe
there’s a way to incorporate a little Declaration in Stone and maybe some
Fumigates to combo with our Selfless Spirits and Archangel Avacyn?

Of course, one does start to wonder if the green is really giving
us enough to be worth what it does to our mana.

Draft-only trick.

Fringe. Stinging Shot is great against Spell Queller and other various
Spirits while being somewhat passable against Glorybringer, Heart of Kiran,
and Archangel Avacyn. Cycling for two is a decent, but a lot more
opportunity cost than cycling for one. If you’re playing Hapatra, Vizier of
Poisons and/or Nest of Scarabs, the -1/-1 counter synergies make the card
start looking a lot more attractive.

a Draft-only trick. Untapping two creatures for so little extra cost does
have extra meaning in a world with exert. Still, this one isn’t really
priced to move.

Cute, and in another era, Watchful Naga might have been a role player. In
this day and age? Draft.

We discussed this one,
last week
; but the short version is that I’m not overly optimistic, despite how fun
Luxa River Shrine could be. I just don’t think it brings enough to the
table, considering it’s sort of a Planeswalker without haste that only
gives us one option per turn. It’s not completely indefensible, but I think
your ramp deck would have to really be in the market for a card advantage
engine that doesn’t get destroyed by Planeswalker hate or artifact hate.
With Cast Out and Commit in the format, that seems unlikely.

I think the format is just too fast, too aggressive to mostly goldfish with
a deck like this. Aintrazi’s U/G Ramp deck earlier is probably a better way
to do this.

While this list doesn’t really take advantage of Nissa as much as some
decks will, it is kind of interesting, getting both a three-mana
Planeswalker and an X-spell finisher out of the same card.

While I think Nissa is definitely maindeck’able in various multi-color
Planeswalker decks, she could also just be a solid sideboard threat against
control. For instance, check out Nathan Smitherman’s Temur Aetherworks

Sure, you don’t want to reveal it to Aetherworks Marvel, but that’s also
true of half the cards in the deck.

I’d be surprised if we wanted this, but we’re really not paying that much for the AoE trample ability, so if our deck was truly in
the market for AoE trample, we might consider it. Of course, I played
Elvish Herder in a Constructed Pro Tour, so I might be biased.

Look friend, those were different times. It was tough all over.

On paper, Prepare seems like it could be good enough. The front side isn’t
embarrassing, and the backside can eventually be made into a fairly useful
removal spell that sort of implicitly puts pressure on the opponent needing
to play around the possibility of it.

However, it’s hard to get too excited about a GW combat trick that grants
+2/+2 when Blossoming Defense is still legal. Besides, Prepare is ideal for
racing opponents that plan to also block. While that exists to some degree
in Standard, that’s just not the focus of the format.

I mean, how many of the following cards make you happy to have a Prepare in
your hand?

It’s really hard being a five-drop red haste creature with four-toughness
in the same set as Glorybringer; and that’s to say nothing of Verdurous
Gearhulk. Still, here’s an attempt:

There is something interesting about being able to play a full playset of
Channeler Initiate alongside a full playset of Servant of the Conduit,
enabling either of the two powerhouse bomb four-drop walkers, Gideon, Ally
of Zendikar or Chandra, Torch of Defiance. None of the previous two-drop
mana creature options produced the red or white we’d need for these
(Deathcap Cultivator, Druid of Cowel, Ulvenwald Captive, Beastcaller
Savant, and Hedron Crawler).

Once you factor in Oath of Nissa, maybe we can actually build a
multi-colored Planeswalker deck with a fairly different manabase than

For instance:

I actually think this one has chances, particularly as a sideboard card.

Heaven is already a passable card in some formats gone by. Earth is a
little clunky but still not that bad. Even if our opponent has no fliers,
we only need to pay one mana to jump straight to Earth (and that first mana
could even be during our opponent’s end step). It also counts as two
spells, for the purposes of stuff like Dynavolt Tower, prowess, or Thing in
the Ice.

This is far from the worst Icy Manipulator we’ve seen. Holding off a
potential attacking creature doesn’t really do that much; though,
it is worth noting that Edifice of Authority gives us some extra protection
against Glorybringer, Archangel Avacyn, Torrential Gearhulk, and possible
Gideon attacks. It doesn’t actually get you ahead against any of them, but
it can potentially mitigate some of the risk of getting blown out by them.

It’s too bad you’ve still got to pay the mana after you finish building up
bricks. Otherwise, this might actually be a passable option in some really
heavy-duty U/W control decks with a ton of Fumigate and Descend Upon the

There really aren’t all that many cards with activated abilities in the
graveyard with colorless in the activation. The main ones are embalm, Dread
Servant, Scrapheap Scrounger, and the various Haunted Dead-style recursion
creatures. Oddly, Relentless Dead is disappointing with Embalmer’s Tools,
but that’s sort of the story of Relentless Dead’s life.

If you want to play Embalmer’s Tools, you probably want to run a lot of graveyard cards, in order to turn the tap ability you give
all your creatures into a form of card advantage. This list has a full
twenty creatures that work from the graveyard, meaning roughly a third of
the Tools activations will find you business. Additionally, powering up
Diregraf Colossus is no joke either. While you may want to just attack with
your creatures, it does give them a form of “haste” that can generate
value. It also helps break standoffs.

Yes, I’m sure four Embalmer’s Tools with a sacrifice outlet and a Kuldotha
Phoenix is primed to take over Modern any day now.

While Gate to the Afterlife will take on new meaning once the God-Pharaoh
returns, assuming we’re lucky enough that he gives us a gift; for now, the
Gate is kind of in some weird space near the intersection of Madness and
sacrifice outlets.

It’s not the craziest tech ever, but I could imagine a small touch of Gate
to the Afterlife actually being a positive addition to a deck like this. We
do have to be careful that we’re not making our deck too slow, however.

A basically worse Neglected Heirloom, Honed Khopesh really doesn’t have a
lot going for it in Standard. There are more one-cost equipment than we can
probably ever really put into some Sram, Senior Edificer combo deck or to
use for improvise. This isn’t enough to get us reinterested in Weapons
Trainer, Stoneforge Acolyte, or Stone Haven Outfitter. Sometimes, if it
looks like a duck, moves like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it actually
turns out to be a duck.

Cute, but too slow. We’ve got to invest six mana before we get to the “good
part.” Over those three turns, we managed to gain just three life; and now,
our prize is only slightly better than we’d normally get.

Elkin Bottle variant to start, but after the third activation, you starting
getting a discount (both not needing to pay the two mana, nor the mana for
the card). The thing is, by the third time you’ve activated your card draw
artifact, you’ve already invested ten mana. Besides, those aren’t the spots
where the extra power is maximally relevant.

Anyway, could be okay, but I’ve got a feeling that being an artifact is
going to make Oracle’s Vault too fragile to be an ideal “back up card draw

While Pyramid of the Pantheon has a little bit of Lotus Bloom going on,
it’s also got a little bit of Gilded Lotus. It’s unfortunate that you
actually have to pay the mana to get the brick counter and can’t just pick
them up for free by using Pyramid of the Pantheon for improvise.

I tried sketching some lists that tried to take advantage of untapping the
Pyramid, both to get it activate faster and to then double the effect
after; however, they ended up real short on good cards without a degenerate
enough endgame to be worth the trouble. For instance:

If Pyramid of the Pantheon is good enough for Standard, it’s probably not
in a deck that tries so hard. Instead, it’s probably a role player in some
kind of improvise deck that happens to have a few big mana sinks and maybe
a few ways to untap it.

While the most straightforward way to use Throne of the God-Pharaoh is as a
one-of, maybe two, in some fast aggro deck that wants additional reach
against blockers, the most natural one would be in some kind of a Zombie
deck, which has creatures that enter the battlefield tapped anyway; not to
mention being able to tap them with Cryptbreaker and the like in addition
to just attacking.

Other than that, you can also potentially try it in an improvise deck full
of Thopters and Servos, capitalizing on it both as an artifact and on
naturally ending up with lots of small tapped artifact creatures.

Indestructible is at least novel, but there’s not really an abundance of
Armageddons floating around right now. As a fixer, this is a really slow
and inefficient way to do things, so you probably have to really value the
splash of several of the colors towards WUBRG. Maybe if it was
easy to animate it, we could really leverage the indestructible?

In a number of formats, Cradle of the Accursed could be totally reasonable.
In this one, I think it is likely just worse than Sunscorched Desert. I
guess you can theoretically put it in a mono-colorless deck, just to have
an extra untapped land with some utility. Still, it would be surprising for
now to be the time for such a deck. Even there, it’s questionable if it’s
even better than replacement level.

Shimmering Grotto has been fringe playable before, and Painted Bluffs has
the added synergy with Shefet Monitor. If you’re trying to splash a bunch
of colors and play a lot of colorless sources, it’s not the worst at that

Okay, next stop: Pro Tour Amonkhet.

I’ve been sharing ideas on Amonkhet for weeks. Do you have any
last minute suggestions you’d like to share with me? Bonus points if they
play nice with Torrential Gearhulk