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.
Previous AKH Set Reviews
White | Blue | Black | Red | Gold, Artifacts, and Lands
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.)
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.
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 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.
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.
Benefaction of Rhonas
This is too much mana for too little effect. Unless you have 5+ enchantments, which isn't likely, you are paying 3 mana for selection (and a chance of missing entirely).
I'm not bitter about running this in any kind of deck, as it beats down early and can still force trades late. It's not great defensively, but it does enough for a 2-drop that I'm in.
Cartouche of Strength
This is one of the stronger fight cards we've seen recently. Paying only 3 mana and getting +1/+1 and trample permanently is a big upside, and that's without even factoring in Trial synergy. Cartouche of Strength is a premium common, make no mistake.
Champion of Rhonas
Later in the game, this is just a Hill Giant, but that's easily outweighed by how absurd it can be on turns 4-6. Getting to drop a creature that costs 4 or more into play is a huge swing, and even playing a 3-drop for free gives you a Black Lotus. At 3/3, this won't be chump-attacking often, and you aren't paying much of a cost for a huge upside.
This may seem like an aggressive rating, but I'm biased toward any card with the name "Channel" in it. The actual reason is that this is great acceleration on a huge body, and for only 2 mana. It's a ridiculously good turn 2 play, and any game in which you lead with this you have to be a huge favorite. Getting to turbo out your hand and end up with a 3/4 feels like cheating, and far outweighs the fact that this isn't the best topdeck.
Sometimes you'll run this, and it'll be fine. Sometimes you won't, and that will also be fine. Vanilla isn't my favorite flavor (obviously chocolate peanut butter is infinitely better), and in a set this powerful, you can do better.
Crocodile of the Crossing
This comes down and takes a giant bite out of the opponent, while only taking a small bite out of one of your creatures. You don't need any synergies to make this good, though it certainly helps.
The floor on this is a 3-mana 2/3, which isn't great, but is passable. Once you add in counter synergies it gets much more impressive, and even a very lightly-themed deck can take advantage of it. Plus, playing a 2-drop into this can leave you with a very hungry 3-mana 4/5.
I'm higher on 1-mana cyclers the more I think about this set, though I don't see a pressing need for the actual effect of this card. If you have cycling payoffs, this is good, and otherwise it's a filler or sideboard card.
Exemplar of Strength
This reminds me a little of Longtusk Cub. Sometimes you'll play it on turn 2 and your opponent will just be dead if they can't stop a 2/2, after which it snowballs out of control. In the late game, it can't attack as easily, but you can also just toss the counters somewhere else. It also has plenty of synergy with cards like Nest of Scarabs, and all that added together makes this the perfect exemplar of a card that's good on its own and rewards you for building around it.
Defensive green decks will play this more often than not, as it does a decent job of keeping you alive. It's not exciting, but it's got legs if the format has a lot of 3/3s and smaller. Lots and lots of legs...
Gift of Paradise
Bad mana ramp plus fixing is not really what I'm looking for in a 2-color format, which is what Amonkhet looks like to me. I would return this gift for something better unless I was playing 3 colors.
The spice must flow. I'm not cutting cards from my deck that are good late-game and cycle early game, and this is a great example.
This is less a combat trick and more an anti-removal card, though a counter-heavy deck does make it better. This is a borderline build-around, and looks like it'll make more of a mark out of the sideboard, as it counters removal spells efficiently. This is the kind of card people tend to overplay in -1/-1 counter synergy decks—using it as a way to get around a drawback isn't a very powerful combo.
Harvest Season has been postponed indefinitely this year, I'm afraid. This is a classic case of needing too much work to bear fruit (or vegetables, or whatever). By the time you have multiple creatures tapped, you don't need the lands, and the "dream" of playing this on turn 3 for multiple lands, or even 1, seems nigh-impossible.
Haze of Pollen
Fogs are good in close races, and if there's a lull in the action, you can cycle this. That's the idea, at least, but cycling 3 makes this too expensive for me to be interested, and I'd keep it in your sideboard and bring it in against Overrun effects.
This is solid to cast and insane to embalm, which makes it a card I'd be honored to include in any deck. It's even easily splashable, making it a safe first pick.
The weakness of 3/2s is that they trade down for 2-drops, but this can brawl with the best of them. Doing 2.5 damage a turn is not bad, and if they don't have a good blocker you can just attack for 3 without exerting.
I'm a little lower on 1-toughness creatures than normal, thanks to the -1/-1 counters theme. This doesn't have that useful of an ability, and connecting with it won't be easy either. It's a fine inclusion, but not something I'm going to let out of the bag all that often.
Unless your Draft pool is overrun by Mardu Vehicles decks, this is a sideboard card at best (and an unlikely one at that, given the lack of artifacts).
2-drop accelerants are almost always among the top green commons, and I'd be surprised if this wasn't. Cycling and embalm make flooding less of a problem, and having additional mana sources seems vital in this format.
We were pretty down on this during the LR set review, and afterward people pointed out that it is a good receptacle for -1/-1 counters. That doesn't really impress me, but it did cultivate a little more respect. I could see bumping this a half grade if you are deep on that theme, but I'm still not a fan.
By itself, this is a 2/3 for 3 with minor upside, as you have some flexibility in deciding where the -1/-1 counter goes. In a deck dedicated to the theme, with good synergies and places to put the counter, this becomes a solid common, reminiscent of Thriving Rhino.
These are not good stats to pair with flash, and this isn't a card I'm racing to add to my deck. I hope I never play this, though I do like the throwback to King Cheetah, a card I remember thinking was awesome. I guess that one didn't age well.
I still can't with this name. What in the hell is a Serpopard?? (I sense another lore lecture coming.) Name aside, this is a great set of stats to cost, even if the ability is rarely going to be relevant.
4/3 for 4 seems like the baseline for this set, and Quarry Hauler comes bearing a minor upside on top of that. It doesn't look difficult to find a target for this, either on your side or the opponent's, so I'd be happy to run this in any green deck.
Rhonas the Indomitable
Rhonas is one of the easiest Gods to solve, as it only requires a 2-power creature and 3 mana. It also makes combat impossible for your opponent, and costs just 3. This looks like one of the best Gods, and will be very hard to stop.
Limited: 1.0 // 3.5
This is going to be a thumper if you can land it, but casting 8-mana spells is not trivial. Most decks just won't play it, but if you can build a ramp deck this will end most games on the spot. I know I will be converging as hard as possible if I see this, and given enough cycling and removal, it seems doable to me.
Scaled Behemoth might secretly be a 3.5 since it will win games that few other cards can. When your opponent plays this and you are looking at 3 removal spells, it's going to be about as despair-inducing as it gets. It is a bit slow, and vulnerable to deathtouch, but past that it's incredibly hard to deal with.
I like 1-mana combat tricks a lot more than 2-mana ones, and this isn't a weak one. +2/+2 for 1 is what I expect to pay, and this comes with some minor upside. You don't need -1/-1 counters to play this, though that does improve it.
This is less a cycling fatty than a split card, since paying 4 mana to cycle makes it play very differently than things like Greater Sandwurm. Still, a 4-mana ramp spell that draws a card is good, and a 6-mana 6/5 is good when that spell isn't needed, making this a solid pick.
You need a ton of flyers before this becomes plausible, and even then I'm suspicious. Also, I hate this card. Its presence makes people justify Slither Blade, and the world doesn't need that. Do not play Slither Blade because you have this, and do not play this because you have Slither Blade. Two bad cards that combine to create an okay (but vulnerable) card is not how you win games of Limited.
This is a beefy combat trick that also works with exert, and can ambush in different ways. It also costs 3 mana, which dampens my enthusiasm. I'd play one of these if you need a trick, but I wouldn't be excited about it.
I'm gonna take a shot here and say that you will almost always maindeck this. It's a powerful situational card that will have targets against more than half your opponents, and you can cycle it when it isn't good. Killing a 4-drop flyer for 1 mana is just great, and worth the cost of paying 2 to cycle if you can't find anything to shoot.
Synchronized Strike is powerful enough that I'm going to play it in any deck with a high creature count. It will be a 2-for-1 often enough, and it has additional combos with exert, while also letting you crush races by untapping and blocking.
Trial of Strength
If you have zero Cartouches, this is playable but not exciting. If you have one or more ways to bounce this, it becomes quite good, and moves up to a 3.0.
Vizier of the Menagerie
The mix of good stats and a powerful ability makes this a great first pick. It'll draw you extra cards as long as it survives, and is big enough that it defends you while you fill the zoo full of creatures.
2-for-1s don't get much easier than this. If you draw this early, you should be able to attack and at least trade, and later in the game you can cash it in for a new card. It combines well with combat tricks, and carries very little risk, given that it can essentially cycle in play.
Mouth // Feed
A 3/3 for 3 with upside is a whale (hippo?) of a deal. You won't often draw more than a card or two off of Feed, which still puts this firmly in the realm of a premium card. I don't need incentives to put a 3/3 for 3 in my deck, and anything on top of that is a bonus.
Top 5 Green Commons
Green's commons aren't fantastic. The first couple are solid, but they drop off quickly after that. If the -1/-1 counter theme is great, Ornery Kudu could easily be better than Bitterblade Warrior, and Shed Weakness would be improved as well.