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.

Source: Wizards

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!

Khans of Tarkir: Our in-house format and the rankings

So when the Magic: The Gathering set “Khans of Tarkir” came out, I (this is Claire writing) was absolutely entranced. And that was rare, because in the past I’ve just been like… Magic cards are a thing, I’m not much into it but I know a lot of people are. So this was something pretty amazing for it to get me hooked.

I don’t know why, there’s just something about the theme that really appealed to me. So I asked James, who has made decks and draft cubes and stuff before what he thought I could do. Once he told me the options, I decided to go in a bit of a different direction and make normal sized 60 card decks, but all the nonland cards would only have one copy in the deck! So kind of like a cross between normal format and the commander format, if you know what I’m talking about.

So below this post I’ve included the deck lists, but I thought it important to give the ranking results from our little home “tournament” we ran a little while ago, especially since we’re about to change the decks up with the new set’s cards and film our tournaments for you.

Last Place: Jeskai. This was really sad because James was really keen on this theme, which is a little bit like eastern kung fu monks with a bit of Avatar The Last Airbender thrown in. However, in the format as I wanted it, the deck was way too weak. Not enough creatures, and not enough damage-dealing creatures at that.

4th Place: Mardu. I was excited to play this deck, but not when I realised how inconsistent it was. Mardu wants to be a rush deck, but it could never pull it off (in the format we used). I really want it to be better, because it has goblins in it.

3rd Place: Temur. This is probably my favourite deck because, being new to Magic, for me it’s the simplest deck. It just goes out there, with big monsters, all stompy. Nothing too tricky. However, it failed a couple of times to pull off its intended stompiness.

2nd Place: Abzan. I enjoyed this deck too, though I think James handled the mechanics better. Funnily enough, we found this deck ridiculously good at being a rush deck, certainly more than Mardu. It definitely gave the 1st place winner a run for its money…

1st Place: Sultai. The clan that’s winning all the major tournaments was also the one winning in our house. It’s got so much to recommend it: it’s good at rushing, delve is a stupidly good mechanic, and all the interaction with the graveyard just really gets under the skin of the opposition.

So we will of course be focusing on fixing the lowest placed decks first when we filter in the new cards. I look forward to bringing those matches to you in video form soon!
– Claire

Click below to see the deck lists

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