A Pick Order List for Amonkhet

Welcome to my pick order list for triple Amonkhet Draft. In the past, I would post these kinds of articles in the week after the Pro Tour. For Kaladesh and Aether Revolt, I got them out 2 weeks earlier so that players could refer to them for their first Magic Online Drafts. Now that Amonkhet is on Magic Online earlier than ever, my job got even more challenging.

I did manage to play a prerelease this weekend to get at least some experience with the new set and to discuss the cards with other players, but I am making this pick order list before my first Amonkhet Draft. Inescapably, I’ll be off on a few cards, but I’m confident that with 20 years of drafting experience, I can give you a reasonable guide to the first-pick-first-pack decision.

The pick order list in this article ranks all cards in Amonkhet from high to low. Multicolored cards are ranked lower than you might expect because they leave you with less flexibility to choose a second color if you start your Draft with them. This also applies to multicolor aftermath cards, but to a lesser extent. Good colorless cards are ranked higher than you might expect because they go into every deck and keep your options more open. I broke the list down into separate categories to make it easier to read and to allow me to intersperse some comments, but it’s essentially one big continuous list.

As a reminder, don’t mindlessly follow this pick order for the entirety of the Draft. You need a good mana curve and a coherent game plan, and things can change a lot depending on what you have already picked so far. For example, Cartouches and Trials change in value depending on how many of the other type you already have, and every color combination tends to focus on other cards. The list is just a guide for the first-pick-first-pack decision.

(If you need a searchable list, click the spoiler dropdown at the bottom of the article.)

The Best Rares/Mythics

This list doesn’t include the Invocations because I don’t want to take monetary value into account, but let’s be real—if you open an Invocation and you’re not drafting at a premier event like the Pro Tour, then you’ll be glad to take it over everything in the pack, so there’s no real point in including them in a pick order list.

When it comes to the quality of a card during game play, I think that the cards above are the best in the set. They can win the game by themselves, sweep the board, or provide a lot of value for a low mana cost.

I didn’t rate Insult // Injury as highly when I first saw it, but I changed my mind after playing with it at the prerelease. Every time I waited until turn 6 so that I could play both halves on the same turn, it won me the game: Clear a blocker, deal 4 damage to the opponent, and double the power of all my creatures. In my red aggressive deck, it over-performed, and I would first-pick it over any uncommon.

The Part with the Best Uncommons

Cast Out and Angler Drake are my picks for the best uncommons in the set. Bounce effects are a little better in this set because of embalm and -1/-1 counters—you can profitably bounce an opposing embalmed token or a 4/4 Exemplar of Strength. Alternatively, you can bounce one of your own creatures that you shrank with your own Exemplar of Strength. So Angler Drake does a lot of work, but if I were to open both Angler Drake and Cast Out, then I would still take the unconditional, instant-speed removal spell.

Either way, I would be happy to first-pick any card from this group. This includes the multicolored cards. If I could start the Draft with one of these multicolored cards, then I would be drawn to those 2 colors, but if those colors don’t seem open, then I wouldn’t necessarily stick with them. Fortunately, Samut and Nissa are easy to splash, and you don’t have to be black to play Cut // Ribbons.

The Part with the Top 5 Commons

Final Reward and Electrify are my picks for the best commons in the set. I put Final Reward in 1st place because it can kill 5/5s and because exiling is relevant against Gods and embalm creatures.

I have Magma Spray in 3rd place and Compulsory Rest in 4th place. A simple Shock would be rated lower and a basic Pacifism would be rated higher, but embalm changes the equation. Magma Spray is the cleanest answer to embalm creatures like Unwavering Initiate or Aven Initiate. Compulsory Rest, on the other hand, is not a great answer to an embalm creature and it gives your opponents a creature to offload their -1/-1 counters. But it’s still a 2-mana removal spell, so it can’t be too bad.

In 5th place I have Cartouche of Strength. Most of the Cartouches are medium unless you have a Trial, but this is an exception because a 3-mana Hunt the Weak is a simply good card. So my top 5 commons are all removal spells.

Among the higher-rarity cards in this group, there are a lot of cards whose quality is highly variable. Lord of the Accursed, Champion of Rhonas, and Open into Wonder (to name but a few) can range from super powerful to nearly unplayable depending on the rest of your deck, which actually makes me excited to start drafting. I estimate that you’ll be able to draft a good deck around these cards most of the time, but they are riskier picks than the top common removal spells.

The cycling duals are high picks in my mind. They are excellent if you end up in both colors—in that case, later in the Draft, I would usually take them over every common—but they are also fine if you’re in only 1 of the 2 colors. I would be reluctant to play a completely off-color cycling dual, but in a deck that has no double-colored casting costs and/or a few cycling triggers, it isn’t unreasonable.

Temmet and Hapatra, the 2-drop gold creatures, are extremely powerful for their respective color combinations, but they are not easy to splash. When it comes to a first-pick-first-pack decision where you’re not sure about your colors yet, that is a definite downside.

The Part with the Next Best 15 Commons

Solid cards all around, but if you have to first-pick any of the cards from this group, then you have a fairly weak booster. That said, I never hate starting my Draft with an Evolving Wilds because I value mana fixing highly in Limited—the classic 9-8 mana base is not quite the epitome of consistency—and because it keeps your options open.

In other news, a Serpopard is a mythical beast from Egypt and Mesopotamia that has the body of a leopard and the head of a serpent. So it’s a serpent-leopard, or serpopard for friends. What does any of this have to do with countermagic? I don’t have the faintest idea.

I really like the existence of cards like Cruel Reality and Sandwurm Convergence. Even though I’d rather take a top common over a 7- or 8-mana card without cycling, they are sweet win conditions to draft around. Once you have them, you should prioritize good blockers and removal spells over aggressive creatures so that you can stall the game until 7 or 8 mana. The enchantments change the rules of the game completely, forcing opponents to adapt their game plan on the fly. That’s the type of Magic I enjoy, and winning a game with each these cards is near the top of my Amonkhet Draft bucket list.

Decent Playables

A win condition that I was already able to scratch off of my bucket list is Approach of the Second Sun. At the prerelease, after winning several rounds with a red-white aggressive deck, I decided to switch things up. I re-built my pool into a Bant deck that was capable of the following sequence: Generate 11 mana with Bounty of the Luxa, cast Approach of the Second Sun, Commit // Memory the card second from the top, and draw it via Bounty of the Luxa on the next turn to win the game. I won several games on Approach of the Second Sun at the prerelease, and I think it’s a good win condition in the right deck. But it doesn’t fit an aggro deck, and you need some synergies to make it work. As an example of synergies, my deck could use Benefaction of Rhonas to shave 5 turns off the clock. (“But what if you’d accidentally mill Approach of the Second Sun with a turn-3 Benefaction of Rhonas?” you might ask. Well, my deck included Commit // Memory, so I had all bases covered.) I felt like I was playing Cube, and to me that indicates this format is going to be great.

Another reason I have high hopes for this Limited format is that there are plenty of build-arounds, and it feels like there are more than usual. Take cards like Warfire Javelineer, Trial of Solidarity, and Seeker of Insight. I put them in the present category because they have a low floor, but could be very high picks for the right archetype. Warfire Javelineer seems great in a blue-red spells deck, Trial of Solidarity should be good in a red-white swarm deck with exert creatures, and Seeker of Insight is perfect for a black-blue deck that has cycling/discard trigger and needs a body to offload -1/-1 counters.

Monuments could also be considered build-arounds, but I’m not too high on them right now. I had Hazoret’s Monument at the prerelease in my red-white deck, and it felt really lackluster. But Oketra’s Monument is an exception. White has several global boost effects (In Oketra’s Name, Trial of Solidarity, Tah-Crop Elite, etc.) so you can really build around it.

I’d be happy to include most of the situational cycling cards in my deck. The effects on cards like Floodwaters, Unburden, Limits of Solidarity, and Stinging Shot are game-winning blowouts in certain games and utterly useless in other games, so the addition of cycling makes them much better. In other sets, these types of effects would typically reside in sideboards, which narrowed the range of effects that you might encounter during a game. In Amonkhet, you may see a wider variety of play patterns, which is great. I wish cycling were an evergreen mechanic that was in every set.

In a deck without any cycling spells, 17 lands is the gold standard. You could go up to 18 if you have a lot of expensive embalm creatures, but let’s say that we have a 17-land deck. Can you then cut a land if you add a few cyclers? Well, I wouldn’t count premium cards like Cast Out or Curator of Mysteries for this purpose, but situational cyclers could theoretically reduce your land count. You can count a situational cycling card as 1/3rd of a land if you plan on cycling it about 78% of the time and you can count it as 1/4th of a land if you plan on cycling it about 59% of the time. (This average calculation doesn’t quite tell the whole story because the probability of cycling is dependent on how many lands you drew, but it provides some intuition). What this means is that you could go down to 16 lands if you have 3-4 situational cycling cards. I would be hesitant to go to 15, though, mostly because a 7-8 mana base won’t have enough colored sources for one of your main colors.

Medium Filler

Weak Filler

Unplayables, Barring Extreme Circumstances

That wraps up my pick order list and my initial impressions on the format. Which cards would you rank higher, and which ones would you rank lower? Let me know in the comments below!

Searchable List

The Best Rares/Mythics

Angel of Sanctions
Liliana, Death’s Majesty
Glorybringer
Archfiend of Ifnir
Gideon of the Trials
Glyph Keeper
Rhonas the Indomitable
Regal Caracal
Liliana’s Mastery
Vizier of Many Faces
Vizier of the Menagerie
Oketra the True
Curator of Mysteries
Hazoret the Fervent
Never // Return
Heart-Piercer Manticore
Sweltering Suns
Dusk // Dawn
Insult // Injury
Mouth // Feed

Best Uncommons

Cast Out
Channeler Initiate
Angler Drake
Cut // Ribbons
Samut, Voice of Dissent
Honored Hydra
Deem Worthy
Glory-Bound Initiate
Nissa, Steward of Elements
Trial of Zeal
Crocodile of the Crossing
Drake Haven

Top 5 Commons

Final Reward
Bone Picker
Oketra’s Attendant
Electrify
Ahn-Crop Crasher
Decimator Beetle
Magma Spray
Exemplar of Strength
Plague Belcher
Compulsory Rest
Lord of the Accursed
Aven Wind Guide
Kefnet the Mindful
Scaled Behemoth
Stir the Sands
Champion of Rhonas
Baleful Ammit
Bontu the Glorified
Bounty of the Luxa
Fetid Pools
Irrigated Farmland
Canyon Slough
Sheltered Thicket
Scattered Groves
Lay Claim
Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun
Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons
Gravedigger
Open into Wonder
Cartouche of Strength

The Next Best 15 Commons

Pull from Tomorrow
Dread Wanderer
Soulstinger
Trial of Knowledge
Vizier of Deferment
Heaven // Earth
Evolving Wilds
Ruthless Sniper
Combat Celebrant
Shimmerscale Drake
Neheb, the Worthy
Prepare // Fight
Labyrinth Guardian
Edifice of Authority
Cruel Reality
Aven Initiate
Rags // Riches
Splendid Agony
Tah-Crop Elite
Shefet Monitor
Prowling Serpopard
Defiant Greatmaw
Horror of the Broken Lands
Cartouche of Knowledge
Weaver of Currents
Start // Finish
Trial of Strength
Devoted Crop-Mate
Quarry Hauler
Synchronized Strike
Gust Walker
Emberhorn Minotaur
Ahn-Crop Champion
Merciless Javelineer
Naga Vitalist
Wasteland Scorpion
Vizier of Tumbling Sands
Sandwurm Convergence
Unwavering Initiate
Commit // Memory
Trueheart Duelist
Bloodrage Brawler
Galestrike
Essence Scatter

Decent Playables

Hieroglyphic Illumination
Honored Crop-Captain
Wayward Servant
Destined // Lead
Winged Shepherd
Minotaur Sureshot
Naga Oracle
Khenra Charioteer
Aven Mindcensor
Fan Bearer
Cryptic Serpent
Pitiless Vizier
Bitterblade Warrior
Enigma Drake
Trial of Ambition
Oracle’s Vault
Shadowstorm Vizier
Doomed Dissenter
Hooded Brawlerr
Battlefield Scavenger
Harsh Mentor
Trueheart Twins
Greater Sandwurm
Pathmaker Initiate
Cartouche of Ambition
Nef-Crop Entangler
River Serpent
Desert Cerodon
Spring // Mind
Trial of Solidarity
Thresher Lizard
Floodwaters
Manticore of the Gauntlet
Censor
Grim Strider
Unburden
Rhet-Crop Spearmaster
Ornery Kudu
Nest of Scarabs
Cursed Minotaur
Binding Mummy
Warfire Javelineer
Gideon’s Intervention
Colossapede
Illusory Wrappings
Limits of Solidarity
Wander in Death
Blighted Bat
Impeccable Timing
Shed Weakness
Djeru’s Resolve
Vizier of Remedies
Supply Caravan
Oketra’s Monument
Seraph of the Suns
Watchful Naga
Those Who Serve
Cartouche of Solidarity
Approach of the Second Sun
Tah-Crop Skirmisher
Seeker of Insight
Initiate’s Companion
Hekma Sentinels
Stinging Shot

Medium Filler

Watchers of the Dead
Supernatural Stamina
Winds of Rebuke
Cartouche of Zeal
Lay Bare the Heart
Giant Spider
Zenith Seeker
Pouncing Cheetah
Sparring Mummy
New Perspectives
In Oketra’s Name
Faith of the Devoted
Hyena Pack
Painful Lesson
Nimble-Blade Khenra
Time to Reflect
Renewed Faith
Pursue Glory
Anointer Priest
Forsake the Worldly
Tormenting Voice
Festering Mummy
Miasmic Mummy
Sacred Cat
Mighty Leap
Brute Strength
Grasping Dunes
Spidery Grasp
Dune Beetle

Weak Filler

Consuming Fervor
Soul-Scar Mage
Flameblade Adept
Hapatra’s Mark
Oashra Cultivator
Sacred Excavation
Manglehorn
Scribe of the Mindful
Rhonas’s Monument
Cancel
Gift of Paradise
Painted Bluffs
Ancient Crab
Hazoret’s Monument
Trespasser’s Curse
Reduce // Rubble
Bontu’s Monument
Scarab Feast
Compelling Argument
Fling
Failure // Comply
Kefnet’s Monument
Cradle of the Accursed
Throne of the God-Pharaoh
Bloodlust Inciter
Decision Paralysis
Sixth Sense
Dissenter’s Deliverance
Honed Khopesh
Benefaction of Rhonas
Pyramid of the Pantheon
Onward // Victory
Harvest Season
Cascading Cataracts
Haze of Pollen
Slither Blade
Anointed Procession
Violent Impact

Unplayables, Barring Extreme Circumstances

Hazoret’s Favor
Blazing Volley
Shadow of the Grave
Protection of the Hekma
Embalmer’s Tools
Gate to the Afterlife
Glorious End
As Foretold
Luxa River Shrine
Sunscorched Desert
By Force
Dispossess

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