Welcome to the Amonkhet Limited Set Review! Before we dive into the cards, I’ll make my usual note: The rating on each card is less important than the commentary—the numerical value is more to provide a relative value than to define the card. This is especially true from 2.5-3.5, as those ratings are more contextual than the best or worst cards.

Aether Revolt Set Reviews

Limited:

Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts and Gold

Constructed:

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green

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Previous AKH Set Reviews

Limited:

White | Black | Red | Green | Gold, Artifacts, and Lands

Constructed:

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Gold, Artifacts, and Lands

Ratings Scale

Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte.
5.0: The best of the best. (Noxious Gearhulk. Verduous Gearhulk. Aethersphere Harvester.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Untethered Express. Herald of Anguish. Whirlermaker.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Renegade Freighter. Winding Constrictor. Thopter Arrest.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Welding Sparks. Prophetic Prism. Aether Chaser. Daring Demolition.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Dawnfeather Eagle. Scrounging Bandar. Dhund Operative.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Wayward Giant. Leave in the Dust. Countless Gears Renegade.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Bastion Mastodon. Implement of Malice. Highspire Infusion.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Renegade’s Getaway. Reservoir Walker. Watchful Automaton.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Ironclad Revolutionary. Precise Strike.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Take Down. Natural Obsolecence.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Secret Salvage. Lost Legacy. Gonti’s Machinations. Other complicated black cards.)

Mechanics

Embalm

Creatures with embalm can be recast from the graveyard, in token form. This makes all of them easy 2-for-1s, as long as whatever kills them doesn’t exile or incapacitate them without sending them to the graveyard. It’s a very strong ability, and expect to see high grades across the board for creatures that have it. It also makes bounce/Arrest/exile effects stronger.

Aftermath

Another form of 2-for-1 are the spells that come in two modes, the second of which you cast from the graveyard. These often synergize with each other, and are naturally quite powerful. They don’t require much special analysis, as their strength is largely what’s on the card, on a case-by-case basis.

Cycling

Cycling is the trickiest of the mechanics, as it adds a ton of power to a card in a somewhat innocuous way. Being able to cash in a card for something new makes the cost of adding cycling cards to your deck very low. Any card with cycling is baseline good, and cheap cycling makes situational cards much more appealing. I’m going to be high on cycling cards because of this, even if I don’t explain it each time. Trading in a card for a new one when the card isn’t useful reduces both mana screw and mana flood, and is a huge shaper of how this format will play out.

Exert

Keeping a creature tapped for an extra effect is pretty straightforward. Cards with exert don’t impact the shape of the format all that much, and can be evaluated on their own merits easily. This does make untap effects stronger than they otherwise would be, though.

Ancient Crab

Limited: 1.5

Sometimes you just need to put the shields up. By my estimation, that’s going to be about half the time, maybe a little less. I wouldn’t be unhappy to run this in a control deck, though I’d be pretty crabby if my aggro deck ended up with one of these. I suppose it could hold the ground in a flyers deck, so maybe picking one up isn’t the worst.

Angler Drake

Limited: 4.0

Mist Raven is back, and it’s angry. This card looks like a classic mythic uncommon, which is to say it’s an uncommon with a power level well above its rarity. A huge flyer that bounces their best creature would be insane under normal circumstances, and the fact that this can kill embalmed creatures is a nice additional angle.

As Foretold

Limited: 0.5

While I like the challenge of building decks around cards like this, it’s pretty hard to get them to work in practice. To make this worth a card and 3 mana, you need to be casting a spell basically every turn or every other turn for the rest of the game. That’s just not how Limited decks are built, and I’d rather simply pay mana for my spells and go on my merry way. Of course, if you pick up enough card draw, maybe there is something here…

Aven Initiate

Limited: 3.5

A 3/2 flyer with flashback is a fantastic deal for 4 mana, and I’m jamming as many of these in my deck as I can get. I’m glad to initiate trades with this, which makes it a great defensive play as well as a good offensive one. Cards like this are why mana flood looks like much less of an issue in this format, and why I’m looking forward to it.

Cancel

Limited: 1.5

Cancel ranges from “meh” to “passable” in Limited, and I’m leaning more toward the former here. It really isn’t that effective against embalm, and despite being a fine card in slow games, I don’t think I’m going to be excited to play this.

Cartouche of Knowledge

Limited: 3.0

Drawing a card makes this about as free as it gets, and +1/+1 and flying is a legitimately powerful ability. I’m a fan of gaining knowledge, and will be happy with this even if I don’t have any Trials.

Censor

Limited: 3.0

Censor is a good play for the first 5 or 6 turns of the game, and cycles cheaply when it’s not. This is a perfect card for Limited, even if neither half is insanely powerful. I do love having a card that gives you a relevant play on turn 2 and isn’t dead on turn 10, and this is exactly that.

Compelling Argument

Limited: 0.5

Cycling is nice and all, but it’s not a compelling enough argument to make this anything but a blank that you can trade in. You aren’t really going to get to a mill deck, and randomly milling your opponent is just awful. I’m also not in for trying to mill myself for embalm, so you should only play this if you have literally no other playables and want a cycler rather than a 19th land.

Cryptic Serpent

Limited: 2.5

This isn’t quite Gearseeker Serpent, but I still like it. If you can make it cost 5 mana, it’s a fine deal, and at 4 or less it becomes great. A 6/5 is a commanding presence, even without evasion, so in a deck with 7+ spells I’d be fine with this as my finisher.

Curator of Mysteries

Limited: 4.5

A 4/4 flyer for 4? I’m in.

The rest of the text is pretty good too, as getting a bunch of free scrys can make sure you always have what you need, though if you have a 4/4 flyer, the answer is often “not much.” It’s a mystery to me when you’d cycle this, but I guess if you get mana-screwed or something you always have the out to do so.

Decision Paralysis

Limited: 1.0

Effects like this are at their best in fast formats, and this one doesn’t look abundantly fast to me. It does kind of get around embalm in that you lock the creature down instead of killing it, but I suspect I will not be making the decision to play this very often.

Drake Haven

Limited: 3.5

One time, let this be awesome in Limited. It looks very good to me, as picking up cyclers can’t be that hard, and cyclers tend to make your deck better anyway. Once you get 2 Drakes out of this, it’s fine, and at 3 or more you really made it (despite starting at the bottom and all that).

Essence Scatter

Limited: 3.0

Essence Scatter is fine at basically any point in the game, embalm or no. 2-mana counters are just efficient enough to be worth it, as you don’t have to keep much mana up for them. Creatures are the most common card type in Limited, so this will have plenty of targets, and all around it’s a good addition to your deck.

Floodwaters

Limited: 3.0

This is another take on situational cycling, as the situational part is mainly how expensive this is. It’s a good effect when it’s good, and powerful enough to be worth including, even if you will cycle it a fair bit more often than you cast it.

Galestrike

Limited: 3.0

This doesn’t strike me as an uncommon, exactly, but I’ll still happily play it. It bounces attackers and can bounce your own exerted creature, which is a fine deal for 3 mana. The card draw makes it “free,” and the mana cost is low enough that this should work out.

Glyph Keeper

Limited: 4.5

Nearly impossible to kill via spells and it comes back if it dies in combat. Yeah, that’s a bargain I’ll accept for the low price of 5 mana. This reminds me of Aethertide Whale where sometimes you think you can’t lose, and then your opponent plays this and you know you can’t win.

Hekma Sentinels

Limited: 1.5

The opponent can’t block this all that easily due to a threat of cycling, but this won’t hit for 3 all that often either. It’s just a solid body in most decks, and a cycling-heavy deck will want to take it a little higher than that (bumping it up to a 2.0 or 2.5 once you have 6+ cyclers).

Hieroglyphic Illumination

Limited: 3.0

1-mana cyclers need to be real bad before I won’t include them, and if you think I’m turning down a card this inspiring, you are crazy. When you can cast this, it’s a nice 2-for-1, and when you can’t, just cycle it. Win-win.

Illusory Wrappings

Limited: 2.0

Turn to Log or whatever you want to call it is a fine way to negate an opposing creature. It still gives them a chump blocker and doesn’t take away abilities, but if you are having trouble with a 5/5, this does deal with it.

Kefnet the Mindful

Limited: 3.5

This is mostly a Treasure Trove, but given enough time it can become a Dragon. It’s really hard to get to 7 cards until the late-game, so I’m not as high on this as other Gods, but drawing a card for 4 mana is a nice effect to have access to.

Labyrinth Guardian

Limited: 3.5

The power level here is certainly not illusory. This dying to any spell doesn’t really matter since it’s still a 1-for-1. It’s cheap to play and cheap to embalm, making it a good card in any deck, even if you may have to sideboard it out against an opponent with too many multi-targeting spells (but even then, I’d probably just keep it in).

Lay Claim

Limited: 3.5

This is incredibly powerful when you cast it, and cycles when you can’t. Once again, cycling makes cards like this into premium additions to your deck. One note—don’t be afraid to cycle this. Players historically have resisted cycling away their bombs, and while I’m sympathetic to that, you should just pitch this when you aren’t casting it any time soon. A big part of the strength is that this cycles, so don’t waste that potential.

Naga Oracle

Limited: 2.5

This is better than scry 3, as sending embalm creatures to the graveyard is way better than putting them on the bottom. I like seeing the future, and this Oracle seems quite accurate. It’s slightly clunky, so maybe you don’t want tons of them, but the first 1 or 2 seem awesome.

New Perspectives

Limited: 1.5

This is essentially 6 mana to draw 3 cards, and by “essentially” I really mean that it does nothing else. That’s not a bargain, and I’d only play this if you are a control deck completely starved for card draw, or you side it in against another slow deck.

Open into Wonder

Limited: 2.5

This is a really interesting card, and one of the hardest to evaluate. I think it’s good, though not absurd. In the late game, it’s a finisher, and could let you attack with your whole team for lethal. It’s a brick in the early game, but where it really gets interesting is the midgame. Finishers like this aren’t that high a priority for most decks, especially blue ones, but the possibility of casting it for 2 or 3 makes it not a dead card when a finisher would otherwise be a blank. That’s a good amount of flexibility, and you know how much I prize flexibility. I would play this card if your deck has a lot of creatures, is aggressive, or at least midrange (not controlling), and needs a way to finish games. It’s not quite all or nothing, which is the strength, but it’s also not a ridiculous bomb, since drawing 5 cards just isn’t necessary—if you are hitting with 5 creatures, that should likely be enough already.

This is a neat card, and I wonder how it will turn out. My guess is it’s going to be initially overrated, yet still good on balance.

Pull from Tomorrow

Limited: 3.0

There are enough ways to gain card advantage in Amonkhet that I’m not going nuts over this card. It’s good, but doesn’t seem quite like a bomb. You need to spend 5 mana to make this solid, and 6 or more to make it really good, which means despite it being an X spell, it’s not that flexible.

River Serpent

Limited: 3.0

Not only does this cycle when you don’t need a 6-drop, the non-attacking clause is unlikely to come up in a format with cycling. The most interesting thing about this card is that the name River Serpent hadn’t been taken yet, since otherwise it’s just a classic good expensive cycler.

Sacred Excavation

Limited: 1.0 // 3.0

This is unplayable until you hit 8+ cycling cards, at which point it becomes solid. Drawing 2 real cards is good for 4 mana, and you can always cycle them again if you need to. You can’t get away with playing too much of this nonsense, but it’s good to have some late-game power.

Scribe of the Mindful

Limited: 1.0

I don’t want to overpay for a 2/2 because maybe it trades itself for a spell later. There’s no real edge gained on either side here, so the only way I wouldn’t mind playing this is when I have some absurd spell in my deck.

Seeker of Insight

Limited: 1.0

If you need a 1/3 body, this provides that with a little upside. In a spells-matter deck, this improves to a 2.0, but in a normal deck it’s not worth the slot. Looting once a game just isn’t enough to justify this.

Shimmerscale Drake

Limited: 3.5

This is another high-quality cycler. It has a huge impact on the game when you cast it, and can be cycled away when you need lands or it isn’t good enough. That’s just great all around, and I can’t overstate how powerful it is to add cycling to a card.

Slither Blade

Limited: 0.0

This has my vote for “card I’m most likely to be annoyed by” when I lose to it, because it should never slither into your deck. It’s too small and just doesn’t do anything.

Tah-Crop Skirmisher

Limited: 2.5

A solid playable, and a card I’m not unhappy to run. Embalm makes most any creature decent, even puny ones like this.

Trial of Knowledge

Limited: 3.5

Sift with the potential to be cast again is awesome, and Trial of Knowledge is an engine that can set you up very nicely for the long game. I would definitely play a couple Cartouches to go along with this, especially because they are largely good in their own right.

Vizier of Many Faces

Limited: 4.5

This is the best creature on the battlefield both times you play it, which makes it an incredible threat at any point in the game. Having embalm means you can even run it out early without being too selective about what you copy, knowing you will get to embalm it, and make it into a late-game monster once better targets come about.

Vizier of Tumbling Sands

Limited: 3.0

This does a lot of little things nicely. It serves as a mana Elf by untapping lands, can cycle and ambush attackers, and combos with exert. None of this is spectacular, but it adds up to good value.

Winds of Rebuke

Limited: 1.5

Bounce seems fine in this format, as bouncing embalm tokens does kill them dead. I like this the most in a spells-matter deck, as the mill 2 might be relevant and trading mana for board position while putting a spell in your graveyard is a good deal.

Zenith Seeker

Limited: 1.5

Most blue decks aren’t interested in this effect, as all of their good creatures have flying to begin with. Add that to the requirement for cyclers and creatures that want flying, and you have a somewhat finicky card that will often be seeking (and not finding) a home. I guess there’s always blue-green.

Commit // Memory

Limited: 3.0

Commit is good enough that I’ll always play it, and even pick it somewhat highly. I don’t think Memory is a very good card to cast, as you are likely tapping out and your opponent gets first crack at all the new cards. Still, having the option is upside, and Commit is good enough to run on its own.

Top 5 Blue Commons

5. River Serpent
4. Essence Scatter
3. Cartouch of Knowledge
2. Shimmerscale Drake
1. Aven Initiate

Blue gets some awesome stuff here. Value creatures abound, both with embalm and cycling, and the card draw and removal spells aren’t far behind. Blue seems well-suited to fight the various battles of Amonkhet, and I’m unsurprisingly excited to draft it.