Last updated on March 10, 2023
Regal Caracal | Illustration by Filip Burburan
Amonkhet is upon us! The 74th expansion of MTG, this time an Egyptian-themed set, was released on April 28, 2017. Amonkhet continued the Gatewatch’s saga in pursuit of Nicol Bolas and took them to a plane where references of Bolas were everywhere. But here those symbols were a reference to the God-Pharaoh.
Besides sand everywhere, pyramids, and Pharaohs, Amonkhet is an exciting plane full of gods, Egyptian-inspired mythology, and powerful cards. And following the trend set by Battle for Zendikar, Amonkhet featured special Masterpiece cards.
So let’s see what this set has to offer!
Amonkhet: Basic Information
Sweltering Suns | Illustration by Raymond Swanland
|Number of Cards||269|
|Rarities||101 commons, 80 uncommons, 53 rares, 15 mythic rares, 20 basic lands|
|Mechanics||Aftermath, Cycling, Cartouches, Embalm, Exert, Gods|
|Previews started||April, 3, 2017|
|Prerelease events||April 22 to 23, 2017|
|MTGO prerelease events||April, 24, 2017|
|Paper release date||April 28, 2017|
|Draft weekend||April 29 to 30, 2017|
About the Set: The Story
Cut // Ribbons | Illustration by Raymond Swanland
There are a few things you need to know before we get into Amonkhet’s story. First is the Gatewatch, a team of planeswalkers dedicated to protecting others and keeping order. At this point it’s composed of Chandra Nalaar, Jace Beleren, Gideon of the Trials, Nissa, Steward of Elements, and Liliana, Death Wielder. The last we saw of them before Amonkhet was on the plane of Kaladesh during Aether Revolt.
Following these events, the Gatewatch clashed with Tezzeret who’d stolen an artifact called the Planar Bridge. After this conflict Tezzeret reveals that Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh is on a plane called Amonkhet.
After some debate about whether going after Bolas is a good idea the Gatewatch decides to pursue him. After all, they just defeated the Eldrazi titans Kozilek, Emrakul, and Ulamog, right? Liliana has her own reasons to go but she‘s not telling anyone yet.
Upon arriving at Amonkhet the Gatewatch discovers that the plane of Amonkhet has been shaped and corrupted by Nicol Bolas. The plane also holds its own secret.
Is the Gatewatch heading for a trap? Or will they be victorious?
Set Mechanics and Themes
Since Amonkhet is a top-down design based on Egyptian mythology it’s bound to have Egyptian-inspired themes. Some of the first things that come to mind are Pharaohs, pyramids, the desert, the Nile River, mummies, and gods.
And yes, Amonkhet delivers on all of these aspects (mainly in card designs). But what about the mechanics? Let’s take a closer look!
Sets have a +1/+1 counters theme to convey development and growth. But here -1/-1 counters were chosen as part of a grim scenario. Based in black and green, these colors had creatures enter the battlefield with -1/-1 counters with ways to interact with and transfer them to your opponent’s creatures.
While cards like Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons incentivize you to put -1/-1 counters on your creatures, cards like Ruthless Sniper bleed -1/-1 counters with the set’s discard theme.
Aftermath is a new take on the split cards present in sets like Dissension and Dragon’s Maze. The special aspect of aftermath cards is that one side can only be cast from your hand, while the aftermath side can only be cast from your graveyard. Naturally you typically want to cast the first side and then cast the second from your graveyard later on. But if you discard or mill the aftermath card, you can still cast the aftermath side. Like flashback, after you cast the aftermath side of the card it’s exiled from your graveyard.
Take Prepare // Fight as an example. You can cast Prepare on a creature as an instant by paying . Once the card is in your graveyard, you can cast Fight by paying with another target. Then the card is exiled.
I want to note that the right way to read these cards is starting with the top, adding a “to,” and then finishing with the bottom. So Prepare // Fight reads “Prepare to Fight,” while Start // Finish reads “Start to Finish.”
Although good cards power-wise, the alternate frame from the aftermath cards received a lot of criticism for being ugly and unsettling to look at.
Cycling is back! Cycling on a card means that you can pay the cycling cost and discard the card to draw another instead of casting it from your hand. Amonkhet has a discard theme in blue, black, and red and cycling synergizes with the cards from these colors.
Cards like Drake Haven were designed to support this theme. The text ‘’whenever you cycle or discard a card” was written so that the players were reminded that you actually discard the card whenever you cycle.
Cartouches were a new subtype enchantment. These are the same as auras in practice and they all have an enter-the-battlefield effect. The main difference is that there’s also a cycle of cards in this set called “trials.” When a trial enter the battlefield you may return the cartouches to their owner’s hand in order to play again and abuse their ETB effects.
There are only five cartouches in the set, one for each color. Cartouche of Solidarity and Cartouche of Ambition in particular saw some Constructed play in Amonkhet’s format.
Yep, Egypt has deserts, we know. Although it was a much more prominent theme in Hour of Devastation, Amonkhet brought back the desert subtype in lands. There were a few lands with the desert subtype in the set, like Cradle of the Accursed and Grasping Dunes. The next set brought more deserts and cards that cared about them.
The direct reference to mummies in the set, Amonkhet treats them like white zombies. Embalm is present on creatures, mainly in blue and white as the Azorius () mechanic for the set.
While a creature with the embalm mechanic is in your graveyard you can pay the embalm cost and exile it at sorcery speed to create a white Zombie token that’s a copy of the creature.
Exert is a mechanic found on creatures mainly in white green and red as the Gruul () mechanic for the set. It’s a mechanic that allows the creature’s controller to exert it in the declare attackers phase. If they do, the creature gets a boost but doesn’t untap in the next untap phase. Wizards created exert markers to include in the boosters in punch-out cards to help track if a creature was exerted.
Glorybringer is a powerful card with the exert mechanic. Whenever it attacks you can choose to deal four damage to a creature, effectively acting as a threat and a removal spell.
There’s a god for each color in Amonkhet following the tradition of previous sets like Theros. They’re indestructible like the Theros gods, but they’re not enchantments, just creatures. Since Theros‘ gods demanded a devotion threshold to be able to attack and block, Amonkhet gods had certain conditions.
Hazoret the Fervent asks you to have one or fewer cards in hand in order to attack or block. “Heckbent” as it was called back then as a reference to the hellbent mechanic. Rhonas the Indomitable requires muscle on the battlefield so you need to control a creature with at least four power.
Almost all gods turned out to be Constructed playable. Hazoret in particular featured in a deck called Hazoret red, which was a top tier deck while Amonkhet was legal in Standard.
Masterpiece Series: Amonkhet Invocations
Amonkhet had 30 cards that received this special frame, called invocations. Although very different and unique, these frames gowe some criticism because they are very difficult to read since the names and types were inspired by Hieroglyphs.
The God Cycle
All these gods are indestructible and have a certain condition that needs to be met in order to be able to attack and block.
The Cycle Lands
These rare dual lands all cycle for and feature the basic land types.
The Aftermath Cards
Amonkhet has 15 cards with the aftermath ability, five of which are monocolored on both sides while the other ten are evenly split between the 2-color allied and enemy color pairs.
Notable Constructed Cards
Gideon of the Trials
Gideon of the Trials is a great planeswalker to combine with effects whose downside is “you lose the game” like Pact of Negation and Glorious End. And after the legend rule change you can have multiple Gideons in play, which makes the emblem much more powerful.
Oketra the True
If you control a lot of creatures (which white weenie usually does), a 3/6 vigilance double strike ends games quickly. Oketra the True is also indestructible.
“Did you mention lifegain?” 5 power and toughness among three bodies is good and you can gain a bunch of life with Regal Caracal’s cats. And who doesn’t love cat tribal?
Trial of Solidarity
Trial of Solidarity is a piece of a strong white weenie deck.
Approach of the Second Sun
A win condition in Azorius control decks. The first time you cast Approach of the Second Sun you stabilize with seven life. The second time you win the game.
Anointed Procession is for those like me who like token doubling effects.
As Foretold is a combo piece in Living End/Restore Balance-style decks full of cycling creatures.
The worst part of counterspells that tax for one is when your opponent has mana to pay the card. Censor is good when it needs to be and cycles when it’s not good anymore.
Commit // Memory
The Commit part of Commit // Memory is a very strong card: part counter, part tempo play. It’s a huge tempo swing and also works with spells that can’t be countered. Then there’s Memory to cast in the late game.
Shadow of the Grave
Shadow of the Grave is played in combo decks where you want to cycle a good part of your deck to retrieve all the cycled cards.
The tribal zombie deck in Standard was very powerful, in part because of Liliana’s Mastery’s anthem effect. Along with putting two 3/3 bodies down for five mana, of course.
Red sweepers that deal three damage are usually good, and Sweltering Suns has cycling if your opponent hasn’t got small creatures
The hasty 5-drop dragon of the set, Glorybringer is a threat and a removal spell. Damage and card advantage. A staple during its time in Standard, it was even played beyond that.
Played in eternal formats, a 1/2 prowess for one is already a good 1-drop and Soul-Scar Mage’s shrink ability makes it a good tool against big creatures.
A card that made a powerful red deck more powerful, Ahn-Crop Crasher is one of the better 3-drops of the format.
Hazoret the Fervent
One of the defining cards of its Standard format, Hazoret the Fervent won multiple GPs and Pro Tours. Its namesake deck, “Hazoret Red,” needed to have some cards banned.
Rhonas the Indomitable
Rhonas the Indomitable is playable in some beatdown stompy green decks.
Cut // Ribbons
Cut // Ribbons is a good removal spell early and a win condition late.
Wayward Servant was played as a key part of an Orzhov () zombie tribal deck.
Amonkhet Card Gallery
Each Amonkhet booster comes with 15 cards with one mythic or rare. Just your regular booster to be cracked for the rares or to draft. Some packs have a foil card or a special Masterpiece Invocation.
- 15 Cards per Pack
- Collect the new amonkhet trading cards
- From Wizards of the coast
These decks feature Liliana and Gideon and are aimed at beginners. The planeswalkers and cards included in these decks were Standard-legal but are low-powered to ease new players into the game while still providing something exciting.
- 1 premium card
- 1 60-card deck
- 2 Amonkhet booster packs
The Amonkhet prerelease kits are the first contact with the set and perfect to play with friends or at the local game store.
The Amonkhet booster box comes with 36 boosters and a foil Archfiend of Ifnir buy-a-box promo. This product is perfect for Drafting and Sealed. If you’re looking for some cool Masterpieces to pimp out your EDH deck or cube, maybe you’ll find one or two in this box!
- 15 Cards per Pack
- 36 Booster Packs
- It’s a common ritual for engaged players to celebrate a new set by picking up a full booster display—a box of thirty-six booster packs that can be used to play Limited formats
Deck Builder’s Toolkit
The Amonkhet toolkit is aimed at beginners who are starting to build a collection. This deck builder’s toolkit comes with 125 different cards, four booster packs, 100 basic lands, and a deckbuilder’s guide. You also get a learn-to-play insert and a storage box.
- The Deck Builder's Toolkit jumpstarts new player's collection and introduces new players to deckbuilding
- Planes Walker Decks are a player's first purchase; the Deck builder's Toolkit is their second.
- Gives players their first opportunity to explore new decks and strategies.
The Amonkhet bundle comes with a spindown life counter, 10 regular boosters, a storage box, and full-art lands.
- Brand New in box. The product ships with all relevant accessories
Wayward Servant | Illustration by Anthony Palumbo
Amonkhet was an awesome set in flavor, story, and gameplay. The set is full of great Constructed cards that made an impact on several formats and you’ll find plenty of Amonkhet cards if you look mainly at Pioneer and Historic decklists. As the story for Amonkhet and the next set Hour of Devastation unfolded, we were immersed.
The Draft from Amonkhet was very quick-paced and aggressive. If you mix in Hour of Devastation it can very well be one of the best Draft experiences according to some pro-players and Limited specialists.
If you like the Egyptian theme, be sure to check in on Amonkhet. It’s a grim and sinister set with lots of cool cards and themes going on. What’s your favorite thing about the set? Let me know in the comments down below or over on the official Draftsim Discord.
‘Til next time, stay safe and wash your hands!
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