Magic the Gathering: Amonkhet – first impressions, unboxing, and planeswalker decks reviewed

To watch our Amonkhet unboxing… where we find a super rare card!!… click here.

Claire and I just played best-of-three with the Amonkhet Planeswalker Decks. She used Gideon’s deck, which uses white and red mana and is based around the new Exert mechanic. I used Liliana’s deck, which is black and green and focuses on -1/-1 counters. They were a lot of fun, and they seemed quite balanced.

In each game, Claire got off to a very quick start. Creatures with Exert make very powerful attackers, and she used it at every opportunity to make her creatures more powerful, or harder for me to defend against. The drawback of Exert is that they won’t untap on the next turn, but it’s pretty easy to circumvent. Gideon, Martial Paragon in particular combos very well with the deck. Well done to Wizards of the Coast: he’s a very enjoyable and powerful card for casual Magic play, exactly what should be in an introductory deck. We also appreciated the tactical choices in this deck. Choosing when to exert, and when not to exert, makes this deck more interesting to play.

Liliana’s deck felt a little weak by comparison. It’s a bit slower, and so I was always on the back foot against Gideon’s armies. That said, once it gets going, it’s capable of doing some terrifying damage. In the first game, I was down to three life, and Claire was still on 20. Crocodile of the Crossing with a Cartouche of Ambition meant that I had a 6/5 lifelink creature attacking every turn, and it quickly turned the game around on its own. There are a number of creatures with ridiculously large stats for their costs, balanced by the fact that they give -1/-1 counters to your creatures when they enter play. The Tattered Mummy is a great target for these. This ‘survival of the fittest’ theme feels very black and green, but in a very different way to usual. I can’t comment on Liliana, Death Wielder, as I was never able to get her into play. There’s also a sub-theme of ‘landmark’ artifacts. These artifacts all have a weak activated ability, but gain a brick counter at the same time. With enough bricks, you can finish the landmark, and it becomes much more powerful. I played with one of these, but I never felt like I had the time or the resources to be able to build it.

In the end, Claire won two games to my one. In each game, Gideon’s deck did a lot of damage before Liliana came back for a counter-attack. The game play was engaging, and a good way of showing off the new mechanics in Amonkhet. Claire and I agree that these decks are much more fun than the old intro packs, and we’re keen for a rematch. They also seem more balanced than we remember from the previous Planeswalker Decks. They’d be great for a new player getting into Magic. Alternatively, a casual player who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on Magic could grab the Planeswalker Decks for each set, and have a good set of pre-made decks to use, for the price of a small board game expansion. Recommended for the casual player!