Amonkhet has returned from the dead. This remastered MTGArena only version smashes together the two sets Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation as well as some extra powerful cards from Magic’s past. It can be daunting if you didn’t draft these sets the first time around. Because this is two sets in one, there are a lot of mechanics. Many of the mechanics aren’t too important.

Afflict is not lighting the world on fire. You should mainly focus on Exert, Cartouches, and Deserts. These are the most heavily featured of the mechanics at common and uncommon. They’ll be your bread and butter as you draft and draft and draft again. After that you should learn what each two color pair cares about. Some pairs are more focused than others, so know when you should be going for synergy or for raw power.  

Exert

When you attack with an exert creature you have the option to make it not untap on your next turn for some sort of bonus. This means that it is hard to block in Amonkhet because cheap common creatures can sometimes attack for 4 or 5 damage. But it also means you will only be attacked every other turn, so don’t worry if you take a few hits to the face.

If you find yourself on the side with the exert creatures, try to figure out when you can afford to attack normally and when you need to exert to break through. The general rule of thumb is to attack normally in the early turns and start exerting once the board starts to stall. Some creatures also exert as a tap ability and not an attack trigger. These creatures are pretty powerful so take them highly if you see them.

Note: On Arena you can’t click “attack all” and exert your creature, you have to attack manually to exert.

Cartouches/Trials

Normally you want to avoid auras because they open you up to getting 2 for 1’d, but the Cartouches are powerful because if they do stick you get a little bit of value from their ETB effects. The Green and Black ones one are some of the best commons in those colors. The Blue/White/Red Cartouches are a little more situational, but still decent filler cards in aggro decks. Cartouches get even better when you pick up some Trials.

Trials are a cycle of enchantments with ETB abilities. When you play a Cartouche all the Trials you have in play will return to your hand to give you some free value. If you ever pick up multiple Trials with one Cartouche its very hard to lose. It’s just too much card advantage.

Deserts

I know lands can seem unassuming as they go by in the draft, but this theme is heavily supported in the set. Sand Strangler, Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs, and Unquenching Thirst are all powerful cards that get enabled by having a desert in play in your graveyard. Also lands that do stuff are just really good, it’s like adding another spell in your deck. Having a few cycling lands can help you avoid flooding out. Ifnir Deadlands is a strong first pick and the other uncommon Deserts aren’t far behind either.

Color Pairs/ Themes

A lot of themes in this set are soft themes. There might be one or two uncommons that pay you off for having some number of a keyword or a creature type, but mostly you will just draft the good creatures and removal of two colors. Blue/Red and White/Black are the two exceptions. Those decks are more focused and have some strong payoffs at common. It is still helpful to know the general theme of the color pairs

Blue/White Eternalize/Embalm

The Blue/White color combination is the home of two slightly different mechanics Eternalize and Embalm. You can make a token copy of an Embalm creature by paying the Embalm cost and exiling it from your graveyard. Eternalize is the same thing, but instead of a copy the creature is always base 4/4. There are not many of these cards in the set, however Vizier of the Anointed is a strong uncommon if you can pick up one or two Embalmers to search up. The keyword is mostly a way to freeroll some card advantage so don’t worry about being “eternalize tribal.”

Key Uncommons: Vizier of the Anointed, Oketras Attendant 

Blue/Black Cycling/Control

This deck is pretty hard to put together unless you open two specific rares. The payoff cards don’t really reward you highly for being a dedicated cyclist. If you manage to open a Drake Haven or a Archfiend of Ifnir you should definitely pick up a lot of cyclers. Abandoned Sarcophagus is worse than the other two cards, but it’s a decent card for a control deck.

Key Uncommons: Ruthless Sniper, Ominous Sphinx 

Black/Red “Heckbent”

There is no reason to be this color pair unless they are both open. They are both fine colors so don’t worry about a theme and just kill lots of creatures and attack.

Key Uncommons: none

Red/Green, Green/White, and Red/White Exert

These are the colors with Exert triggers. Like most mechanics in Amonkhet Remastered, there are not a lot of reasons to draft an “exert deck.” Just remember that Exert is an attacking mechanic so stay in an aggro mindset if you pick up a lot of Exerters.  You can also get cute and do some untapping of your exerted creatures with Anh-Crop Champion or Initiates Companion.

Key Commons: Gustwalker, Rhonas’ Stalwart, Khenra Scrapper, Hooded Brawler

Blue/Red Spells

Blue/Red spells is a theme that comes up in a lot of limited formats so if you’ve drafted M21 or War of the Spark this deck will feel familiar. Amonkhet has a lot of strong prowess creatures and Firebrand Archer at common, and Enigma Drake at uncommon so this theme is pretty deep.

Because of Cycling, there aren’t a lot of spells that cantrip (cards that replace themselves by drawing a card). You get Strategic Planning and Crash Through. This means that in order to power up all these strong Prowess creatures, you might have to play some situational spells like Blur of Blades in order to get prowess triggers. 

Key Commons: Thorned Moloch, Spellweaver Eternal

Blue/Green/Other Colors Ramp

Blue/Green is a bit of a misnomer, 5 Color Control is the real name of this archetype. The mana fixing in this set if you are base green is pretty strong. So you can splash multiple off color removal spells or bombs with ease. Blue tends to be a decent complimentary color to green in a 5 color deck because of Spring//Mind and River Hoopoe, but you aren’t a lock to always be blue. 

The ramp is also very strong in this set. Eight drops like Overwhelming Splendor and Sandwurm Convergence? Seven drops like Lay Claim and Sifter Wurm? These cards are easily castable on turn five or six thanks to Oasis Ritualist’s Exert ability. 

Key Commons: Oasis Ritualist, Beneath the Sands, Naga Vitalist

Green/Black -1/-1 Counters

This one is a little weird. There are several creatures in the set that have the drawback of shrinking your own creatures as an ETB trigger. You can get around this in a few ways. Play some creatures of your own that you don’t mind downgrading such as Doomed Dissenter or Naga Vitalist. You can also draft the specific -1/-1 counters matters cards like Quarry Hauler. The biggest pickups for this deck is definitely Nest of Scarabs and Hapatra Vizier of Poisons. 

Key Commons: Ornery Kudu, Soulstinger, Doomed Dissenter

White/Black Zombies

This is probably the strongest theme in the set. There are lots of strong Zombies in the set. Most of the black creatures just are zombies and any White Embalm/Eternalize creature will make a zombie token when you activate it. Once you pick up a Lord of the Accursed, Wayward Servant or, your 3rd Blinding Mummy you can create some real snowballing boardstates. The best card for this strategy is Liliana’s Mastery. Not only is it a 2 for 1 itself, it sits in play as a pump effect making your creatures better the rest of the game.

Key Commons: Binding Mummy, Marauding Boneslasher

The Best Cards That You Aren’t Taking High Enough

Wander in Death

Traditionally these types of cards are situationally powerful. They are better than card draw in the late game because you “redraw” your best cards you’ve played in the game so far, but its dead draws in the early turns. Wander solves this by having Cycling in case your graveyard is empty. This makes it a higher draft pick than a non-Cycling version of this.

Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs 

After playing with Brimstone Trebuchet in Throne of Eldraine I will never underrate this type of creature again. Being able to block and slowly whittle down your opponent’s life total is very powerful. Think of it as a 1/4 that can’t be blocked and with vigilance. If you want it to stop pinging you, it demands a removal spell, and four toughness is good enough to block most non-exert creatures. 

Oketra’s Monument

Most of the cycle is pretty mediocre. The Kefnet Monument does basically nothing. The Red, Green, and Black Monuments might have an off chance of making your deck if you are very heavily in that color. Oketra’s Monument breaks the mold by being playable even if you are not white at all. Playing this card on turn three will generate so many tokens in a normal game, it’s absurd. It’s approaching bomb status. The only thing holding it back is how bad of a topdeck it is in the late game, but even then its worse the risk.

Sweepers

Normally you should not play around sweeper effects. They are usually only one or two in a set. You can shoot yourself in the foot if you slow roll your creatures too much trying to play around rares that might not even be there. This is not the case on the violent plane of Amonkhet. There are NINE (Wrath of God, Dusk//Dawn, Hour of Devastation, Hour of Revelation, Bontu’s Last Recckoning, Anger of the Gods, Sweltering Suns, Heaven//Earth, and Rags//Riches) total sweeper effects in the set. If your opponent is hesitant to cast creatures, you might want to start thinking about how they are going to blow up the world, because there is a fair chance they have some card that lets them.

Draft Like An Egyptian 

Amonkhet Remastered is a nice throwback to Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation draft. Amonkhet was known for being very fast with powerful all in aggro decks. On the other hand Hour was known for powerful ramp decks with expensive bomb rares coming down ahead of schedule. It is very interesting to see how they managed to combine both draft formats while creating something new. What I’m most excited for is to see who will come out on top when these two strategies go head to head. Amonkhet Remastered offers new players a chance to look back but grizzled veterans will still have a brand new format to master.

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