The Beginning Of The Beautiful Amonkhet Brew Season

Chris is always excited to have a new set to work with! Amonkhet is delivering plenty of brews for him to think way outside the box! How many of these archetypes had you thought of for SCG Atlanta’s big Standard breakout?

All right, fellow brewers, are we all sitting comfortably? Do you have your notebooks, your blankets, and your binders ready? The full set of Amonkhet is now in our figurative hands, which can only mean one thing…Brew Blitz!

Generally, when writing these articles, I am looking for more unusual ways to play with new cards. Everyone can tell you that exert is good with Always Watching, or that Haunted Dead and Drake Haven are good friends. I’m here to jump-start your minds to some of the more out-there interactions in the set. Let’s dive in!


Let’s start with this impressive-looking mythic. When I first read this card, I kept expecting it to be done, but those abilities just keep on coming. There’s no doubt that Samut is objectively powerful and can end games in a real hurry, but as it stands there is no real home for her. Keyword salad cards have not exactly been Standard staples recently…

…but that doesn’t mean we can’t change that by both making her a home and taking advantage of all those abilities. Five mana is not a small investment, but flash and a significant power level make me less concerned about that. She is a Human, and we already have strong incentives to play Humans in the format. But why stop at the obvious? If we’re going to have that many abilities on one card, why not have them on all our creatures?

As with most of today’s lists, this is a rough sketch. Trying to find the balance between the keywords we need and a low curve is a challenge and will probably require some tinkering. I initially had Thalia’s Lancers in here, but we were already heavy on five-mana spells. As it is, we might have too much in the three-slot and too many lands that will enter the battlefield tapped. We also have no interaction. It’s a starting point, though.


We’ve been told over and over that Wizards of the Coast R&D will not playtest for Modern or Legacy. They do keep those formats in mind when doing development, but no energy or effort is put into traditional testing. We’ve seen some pretty wild stuff come about as a result: Eldrazi (led to a banning), the Expertise cycle with fuse cards (now undone by a rule change), Phyrexian mana (led to a banning). Some stuff has been very powerful but not enough to ruin the format: Fatal Push, for example. I don’t know if Vizier of Remedies will fall into either of those categories, but I do know that I will be testing it. For example, something like this:

Yes, the Vizier allows us to get arbitrarily large mana from Devoted Druid as a two-card combo as early as turn 3. From there we have several ways to win: Chord of Calling for Sidisi, Undead Vizier, who can then tutor up an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (which you can conveniently cast with your arbitrarily large mana and get the extra-turn trigger) or Walking Ballista (which you can then cast for a few million and shoot your opponent in the face) is the method of choice, but you can also use Duskwatch Recruiter to repeatedly look at your top three cards for one of your win conditions. I considered Bloodrite Invoker as a way to beat Worship, but I think I would rather have that in the sideboard. Really, you have a plethora of choices for how you actually win the game once you have the mana, so flavor to your own tastes.


Sometimes I just want to play a tribal deck. While most recent sets have given us options to do that, Amonkhet really ramps up the possibilities with three lords and a lord-enchantment. I’m sure most people will be aiming for some sort of Zombie tribal, and I would not be surprised to hear that Didgeridoo has shot up in price in preparation for more Minotaur tribal Commander decks. I might get there eventually, but I am definitely channelling my inner Selina Kyle and going the Cat route.

This list is not meant to be a top-tier competitive deck, which explains the inclusion of Sacred Cat. We’re not playing Longtusk Cub, but we don’t have any sort of energy generation and, after all, we can’t play every Cat.

Felidar Guardian may well end up not being legal in the format, but I like the role it can play in this deck. Regal Caracal is begging to be blinked, and Scrounging Bandar is not complaining about the possibility either. It might seem weird seeing such an innocuous card without its partner-in-crime, but it does fit here.

In all seriousness, I can see Regal Caracal being one of those cards that I put in too many decklists this season. Seven power for five mana in white is an impressive rate, and it might be the perfect complement to Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in a B/W control deck. If that deck is playing either booster-pack version of Liliana to recur the cat, we are left with a creature that can create a strong battlefield presence multiple times. Stretching the opponent’s removal is good, I hear. How about something like…

There are several singletons in here because I find that the best way to test: try several things and cut the ones that don’t work out. If the metagame turns out to be a fast one, this deck will be very far behind, but we have options to fix that in Flaying Tendrils, Yahenni’s Expertise, Blessed Alliance, and even Aerial Responder, which could all find a home to help staunch the aggro flow. I am a big fan of this sort of build as we head into the new format, and if I wanted to play something powerful the first week, I would take this and hedge the sideboard against faster decks.

Hey, Have You Seen My Ghost?

It’s hard to believe that it was over a year ago that Retreat to Coralhelm was previewed, bringing with it a slew of speculation on some otherwise pretty unremarkable cards. Although the combo with Knight of the Reliquary would turn into a viable Modern deck, the expected emergence of Sakura-Tribe Scout has not really materialized (though it does see some play in the fringe Amulet decks), and Ruin Ghost has seen even less play. It’s almost like people aren’t willing to play otherwise bad cards just to make a combo deck work.

The printing of Sunscorched Desert does a couple of things for us. First, it lets us combo off without a Knight of the Reliquary and without a combat phase, both of which are potential stumbling blocks. In case you’re not seeing the combo, you cast Chromatic Lantern with Ruin Ghost and Retreat to Coralhelm already on the battlefield. Play Sunscorched Desert, pinging the opponent. The Retreat triggers; in response, you exile Sunscorched Desert with Ruin Ghost and keep going. The Lantern is required to make the Desert tap for white mana, but it also has the benefit of allowing your fetchlands to do the same.

This combo also gives me an excuse to play a Trophy Mage package, as it needs a Chromatic Lantern to work. Trophy Mage can also search up Blasting Station, which makes me want to play the Saffi Eriksdotter / Renegade Rallier combo.

Although this list looks very different from traditional Coralhelm decks, I am excited to give it a go. Chord of Calling as a singleton gives us the ability to just get whatever piece of whatever combo we don’t have…except for Retreat to Coralhelm, sadly. We have both Tireless Tracker and Undergrowth Champion to take advantage of a potential arbitrarily large landfall situation, though Tracker might not be the best choice here, as we don’t really have a way to take advantage of all those Clue tokens. That said, we can definitely get incremental advantage from them and make it easier to find our Retreat to Coralhelm.

More Different Snek

With all these -1/-1 counters floating around, I would not be at all surprised if we saw considerably fewer copies of Winding Constrictor being played. However, my prediction is that we’ll see more Snakes in general. Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons is a solid card that has me very interested, but the time for Noose Constrictor may finally have come.

With so many red cards from Amonkhet wanting us to empty our hand or discard cards, Noose Constrictor is in a pretty good spot. It will empty our hand on command, but that does leave us in topdeck mode. Fortunately we have ways to refill our hand in both green and red, and we can even dip into black for something particularly fun…

The Shadow of the Grave / Noose Constrictor / Flameblade Adept combo is fragile and relies on having Shadow of the Grave in the deck, and that card is very, very bad in a lot of situations. I included it because explosive potential is still explosive potential, but I don’t think it is realistic to go all-in on it. Instead what we have is a relatively fast aggressive deck that actively tries to get hellbent early and then relies on two cards of dubious quality (Stromkirk Occultist and Ghirapur Orrery) to refill our hands to some degree. We have a fair few ways to empty our hand again, though we might want to look at something like Haunted Dead as a more reliable way to do so. That deck almost definitely also wants Prized Amalgam, likely eschewing the madness angle for more aggression.

We’ve Only Just Begun

With another week to go before the Prerelease and then a week after that before we actually get to play with these cards at FNM, these brews are just scratching the surface of what this set can do. Simic Ramp, Bant Flash, something involving Jund and big creatures, The Gitrog Monster…so much I want to try. However, this is all we have time for this week, folks. As always, thanks for stopping by the LAB. Until next time…Brew On!