The full contents of Amonkhet are known, so it's time to start brewing!
There are a ton of possibilities with any new set, but I'm most excited by card draw engines and mana engines. These can turn out to be quite powerful in the right deck, and I'm a sucker for bad combos. Fortunately, Amonkhet features 3 cards that can act as card draw engines and mana engines at the same time.
These 3 cards definitely revved up my brewing engines. In this article, I'll show off a deck idea for each of them. They will be rough, not-yet-competitive drafts without sideboards, but hopefully they will provide an enjoyable look at new Standard options.
Deck #1: New Perspectives Combo
Welcome to Eggs in Standard!
The first couple turns are fairly innocuous.
Turn 1: Irrigated Farmland.
Turn 2: Plains, go. Censor your opponent's 2-drop.
Turn 3: Scattered Groves, go. Cycle a Renewed Faith.
Turn 4: Forest, go. When your opponent attempts the Saheeli combo, cycle Shefet Monitor and disrupt it with Sunscorched Desert.
Turn 5: Fetid Pools, go. When your opponent plays a second Saheeli Rai, use Cast Out to stop the combo once more. Also, cycle a Dissenter's Deliverance to dig deeper.
Then, on turn 6, it's time to go off, so you cast New Perspectives, going up to 7 cards in hand. You can now cycle every card in your deck for free.
Among the cards you cycle, you have 3 Vizier of Tumbling Sands and a Shefet Monitor, generating 3 mana and an untapped land. You cast Weirding Wood, tap the land for 2 black, and cast Shadow of the Grave to return your cards.
Eventually, you get up to 14 mana, cast Approach of the Second Sun, cycle 7 more cards, and cast Approach of the Second Sun for the win. Hurrah! It's good to live in Magical Christmas land.
Right. Well, these cards will be difficult to beat, so I am somewhat skeptical of the competitive viability of my deck. While discard and countermagic could be solved with a good sideboard, the biggest challenge is surviving to 6 mana. You can't even spend many cards to interact with your opponent because you need to have 4 other cards in hand when you cast New Perspectives.
Another issue is that you'll fizzle if all your copies Shadow of the Grave lurk on the bottom of your deck. So a lot of things have to go right. But if everything works out, then New Perspectives is essentially a 1-card combo for 6 mana that cannot be stopped by creature removal. That is pretty strong.
The metagame might actually be friendly to a combo like this, especially when Mardu players are slowing down by replacing Inventor's Apprentice and Veteran Motorist with Walking Ballista and Archangel Avacyn. Then again, various players have tried to attack the format with Paradox Engine or Aetherflux Reservoir decks in the past few months, and they haven't been successful. This doesn't bode well for a New Perspectives combo deck.
So why not just turn it into a regular midrange deck with cycling cards?
I didn't include any of these cards because I aimed to build a combo deck that couldn't be disrupted by Unlicensed Disintegration. I wasn't even planning on providing a target for Unlicensed Disintegration.
Nevertheless, you can surely build a decent cycling midrange deck, so if you don't think the combo angle (or the green part of the deck) is good enough, then you could run some of these cards instead. Its win condition won't be as stylish, though.
Deck #2: Hazoret's Monument Combo
Like New Perspectives, this yields a 6-mana combo that can't be stopped by creature removal. To summarize: The idea is to start the turn with Hazoret's Monument and a bunch of artifacts in play. Then you cast Insult to double the damage, play Ravenous Intruder, eat several artifacts, and finally use Fling to deal lethal damage. Since the creature is sacrificed as a cost, the opponent can't respond with a removal spell.
These creatures, whose costs are reduced by Hazoret's Monument, provide food for Ravenous Intruder. They also flood the board with tokens, which allows you to go wide with Reckless Bushwhacker as an alternative game plan.
There are tons of small synergies in this deck that I haven't even touched upon. Implement of Combustion draws a card when sacrificed to Ravenous Intruder. Key to the City works well with improvise. Insult // Injury is sweet to discard to Hazoret's Monument. And so on. I imagine this deck, even if it may not be the most consistent combo deck ever, will be a blast to play.
You could build it in various other ways. For instance, you could add Fiery Temper to emphasize the discard theme, add Servo Schematic for extra artifact synergies, or add Glorybringer as a strong 5-drop to ramp into. But no matter how you build it, Hazoret's Monument ties it all together. I love when these types of cards are available.
Deck #3: Bounty of the Luxa Ramp
From the 3 cards I wanted to build around today, Bounty of the Luxa is the one I have the least hope for. It's expensive and slow. But I wanted to give it a try nevertheless.
I started by looking for mana sinks to go with the enchantment. Nissa, Steward of Elements and Part the Waterveil felt like good fits because they scale well—they aren't useless if Bounty of the Luxa isn't around, but they are happy to exploit the extra mana when you do have it.
Manglehorn is a strong answer to both Heart of Kiran and Saheeli Rai. Since the copies are artifacts, your opponent will end up with a gazillion tapped Felidar Guardians. Although it might look like more of a sideboard card, it does something relevant against the top two decks in Standard, so I have no qualms about starting it in a Nissa deck.
I considered splashing white for Eldrazi Displacer, but it didn't seem like a reliable way to stop the Saheeli combo and required an additional color, so I decided against it. I went with Walking Ballista instead, even though it doesn't synergize with Nissa.
Bounty of the Luxa and Nissa work best when they come out one turn ahead of time, so that's what these mana creatures are for. I really like the design of Channeler Initiate—it could easily become a Standard staple. I chose Hedron Crawler over Ulvenwald Captive and Servant of the Conduit because it can help cast Thought-Knot Seer.
The first couple of cards I added to the deck seemed promising, but I ran into problems when I tried to fill out the deck. If there were enough good support cards, interactive creatures, or spells to ramp into, then this deck might have merit, but instead I filled out the deck with Weaver of Currents, Reality Smasher, and Baral’s Expertise. Meh.
It's very well possible that I overlooked some good options, but my first impression is that this deck is still a couple cards off.
Amonkhet brings powerful new cards and interactions. I had fun brewing, and I hope that you can draw inspiration from some of my ideas.
In the end, though, I expect that none of these decks in their current state will hold up against Mardu Vehicles or 4-Color Saheeli. This makes me a little sad, but it's the world we live in.
That said, I still expect that Amonkhet will have a reasonable impact on Standard. First up, there are several new cards that Mardu and Saheeli may be interested in.
Besides these updates for Mardu and Saheeli, I have high hopes for the new Empty Hand of the Gods deck proposed by Zvi a couple of days ago. I would explore a build with Flameblade Adept, Ravenous Bloodseeker, and Incorrigible Youths, possibly instead of Bomat Courier and Lupine Prototype, but one way or another, this archetype might have what it takes to become a contender.
And who knows…maybe a tuned version of one of my crazy brews might turn out to be good enough. What do you think?