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Amonkhet Spoilers: Limited Review for April 5


It's time for more spoiler discussions from Amonkhet! Today marks the reveal of the full Trial and Cartouche cycle as well as the newest addition to the sterling club of Gideon planeswalkers.

I'll be reviewing these cards from the standpoint of how well I expect them to perform in Limited. We can't rate the cards completely accurately without knowing the entire set, but we can evaluate the cards in an "average" limited format. You can find all the latest spoilers on the Amonkhet page. Please note that if I haven't yet reviewed a card, it's probably because the official spoiler for it has not been released yet.

Grading scale

A: This card will often be the best card in one's deck. I'd consider splashing it where possible. (Verdurous Gearhulk, Aethersphere Harvester)
B: This card is rarely cut from a deck that can cast it. In draft, it signals that a color or archetype is open. (Aerial Responder, Fatal Push)
C: Cards like this make up the majority of limited decks. You're neither excited nor embarrassed to have them in your deck. (Lawless Broker, Hinterland Drake)
D: I'm not putting this in my main deck unless I have a specific reason or I'm low on playables. (Curio Vendor, Aegis Automaton)
F: This card will have little or no impact on the game if I draw it or is strictly sideboard-material. If I cast this card, please stage an intervention for me. (Madcap Experiment, Secret Salvage)

White

Dusk // Dawn

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

This is one of the few aftermath cards where the power is concentrated in the first half. Dusk // Dawn can control an opponent's boardstate that's getting out of hand while also being a danger to your own large creatures. Dusk // Dawn can draw some small creatures at a point in the game where they're less likely to be relevant, but still it's nice to have the option.

Gideon of the Trials

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A-

Gideon of the Trials is weird. There, I said it. His +1 ability protects himself but doesn't move blockers out of the way or prevent exert effects from being used. He's mainly going to be used when you're at parity or ahead of your opponent to plus a few times until you're ready to start beating down by attacking with a 4/4 indestructible.

Trial of Solidarity

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

Any way to gain vigilance is going to be extra good in this set due to exert creatures, and Trial of Solidarity offers a good buff to power and toughness as well. This Trial is the one least useful for bouncing back to hand since you won't usually cast it until you're ready to attack all out, and at that point the game isn't going to last much longer.

Blue

As Foretold

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

F

Nope, not going to happen. You'd have to play this exactly on turn three, then have the mana costs in your hand magically align to get any decent kind of mana advantage out of As Foretold. Just play another creature instead.

Cartouche of Knowledge

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

Combining Cartouche of Knowledge with Trial of Knowledge sounds slow, but obviously nets a ton of card advantage. I'll be more interested in comboing the blue Cartouche with the other Trials so as to actually affect the board a bit and not die with eleven cards in my hand.

Floodwaters

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C-

Floodwaters is overcosted enough that it's usually just going to be for the cycling matters deck, but when you draw it late, you'll be glad to have the option to bounce two things.

Black

Cartouche of Ambition

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

By itself, Cartouche of Ambition is probably the least impactful of the cycle, but combining it with the Trials or using it to enchant an evasive creature is still a strong game plan.

Painful Lesson

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

D

Sign in Blood but easier to cast. I don't think the format will be slow enough to make Painful Lesson a premium card, but you can pick it up if your deck is controlling enough and already has good defensive speed.

Scarab Feast

$ 0.00$ 0.00

D+

Scarab Feast slots into any black cycling matters deck, but is the effect good enough to play in a normal black deck? If you cast it to exile a mediocre embalm creature, that's not even worth a card. If you hit two embalm creatures or an embalm and an aftermath card, it's probably better than cycling it away. Still there's only so much room for cards in your deck that don't affect the board, so don't pick this up early unless you have combos with it.

Trial of Ambition

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Various embalm creatures and their embalmed tokens may make edict effects worse in this set, but Trial of Ambition being only two mana and potentially repeatable probably means it still makes the cut in most black decks.

Red

Cartouche of Zeal

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Hammerhand was a good card in Magic 2015, and this is the same but with Cartouche/Trial synergy. Also, spoilers about what card is coming up next, but imagine putting this on a good exert creature like a Combat Celebrant!

Combat Celebrant

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

At one toughness, Combat Celebrant dies to anything (like half a Splendid Agony), but if your opponent doesn't have that "anything" they're going to have to leave back a lot of blockers each turn to prepare for the possibility of you having a double attack step. The fact that this untaps your other exert creatures takes it from merely good to incredibly great.

Insult // Injury

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

The six mana combo of Insult // Injury to Insult // Injury is great. You remove a creature, deal four damage to face, then threaten a huge attack step for each creature your opponent isn't able to block. If you have to break this up into two spells on separate turns, you lose a lot of power, but it's probably still worth a card.

Trial of Zeal

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

I prefer my Volcanic Hammers to cost two mana, but since Trial of Zeal is repeatable, I guess it's acceptable. Since this can kill creatures to protect you or hit an opponent to close out the game. It's probably the best card in the mythical 5-color Cartouche/Trial tribal Limited deck.

Green

Cartouche of Strength

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

This card is nuts for being a Common. It's Hunt the Weak with four upsides. Four. 1) Triggers Trials 2) One mana cheaper 3) "May" ability lets you opt out of the fight if your opponent has no creatures or pumps their creature in response 4) Trample. The only downside is that it's weak to enchantment removal where Hunt the Weak isn't, but that's so small it's almost not worth mentioning.

Trial of Strength

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

A three mana 4/2 will typically trade down with a two drop, but if you need the creature or have Trial synergy, you can't really turn down Trial of Strength. Also, how tilting is it that some of the Trials/Cartouches have flavor text while others don't?

Multicolor

Rags // Riches

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

If you're only playing black, this is a medium card. If you're playing blue too, it's still just medium. Obviously the idea is that Rags // Riches gets rid of small creatures so that Rags // Riches is likely to give you something good, but your opponent can see it in your graveyard and play something small to mitigate the loss. The only place this is exciting is for Two-Headed Giant prereleases (which I love).

Cut // Ribbons

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

Cut // Ribbons is obviously good in Limited even if you aren't playing black. If you are, Cut // Ribbons sits ominously in your graveyard, silently warning your opponent that the longer the game goes, the more inevitable their defeat becomes when Cut // Ribbons hits them for 5 or 6 or 7 life. I love this card's effect, name, art, design, and basically everything about it.

Colorless

Watchers of the Dead

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

Watchers of the Dead is a colorless bear with upside, so it's already a C at minimum, but its upside is not large. The odds of your opponent having 3+ things in their graveyard that they need is low. These cats should mainly just be used to trade off early, and will generally only end up being activated after chump blocking (but before damage of course!).

Conclusion

Amonkhet's aftermath cards are pretty exciting, and I hope to see more as spoilers continue to flow in. What's your favorite Amonkhet mechanic? Please join me for spoilers and Limited review again tomorrow, and reach out to me on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG or in the comments below with your thoughts on the new cards.


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