Top Commons and Uncommons in Amonkhet Limited

by Zen Takahashi on 21 April 2017, Friday

Zen Takahashi

Top Commons and Uncommons in Amonkhet Limited

Hello everybody!

With GP Beijing and PT Amonkhet fast approaching, I've been spending a lot of time studying Amonkhet's limited landscape. Traditionally, I have done well in limited formats at its debut, having made two Top 8s and one Top 32 in the three early-format limited Grand Prix I've played.

I believe this is because of the large amount of research I do into the format before the set is even released, where I rate and make notes on all the cards, followed by creating mock decklists for each archetype to identify its power level and feasibility to actually get those cards in a given draft. 

With Prerelease coming up this weekend, I decided this would be a good opportunity to share what I believe are the best uncommons and commons of each color. This is written in the perspective of drafting, but the majority of it will hold true for sealed as well. Usually, many of my initial evaluations are off, but I believe it's important to have a starting point, as it provides you with direction. 




Top 3 Uncommons


Cast Out Trial of Solidarity Oketra's Attendant

1) Cast Out
The premier removal spell of the set, Cast Out can get rid of anything relevant your opponent may have. Its flash ability allows you to potentially blow your opponent out if they cast a combat trick or a Cartouche aura, while the exile ability ensures that the creature you targeted can't be embalmed. 

2) Trial of Solidarity 
White looks to be aggressive in this format, and many of its good creatures have exert, as shown below by its best commons. While Inspired Charge has traditionally been fine in any aggressive white deck, giving your creatures vigilance as well makes it interact very well with your exert creatures, pushing this card to being great. 

3) Oketra's Attendant
Although its base stats are just below average, Oketra's Attendant has a lot of flexibility, as it can be cycled early in the game and embalmed later, or just hard cast and pressure your opponent with an evasive threat they'll have to deal with twice. It is especially good in a board stall, as there's few flyers in this set that are bigger, and your opponent will need two removal spells to deal with it. 



Top 5 Commons


Compulsory Rest Gust Walker Unwavering Initiate Rhet-Crop Spearmaster Tah-Crop Elite

1) Compulsory Rest 
2) Gust Walker 
3) Unwavering Initiate 
4) Rhet-Crop Spearmaster 
5) Tah-Crop Elite 





Top 3 Uncommons


Angler Drake Galestrike Cryptic Serpent

1) Angler Drake 
Big, flying creatures are always a good way to close out a game, especially in board stalls. A 4/4 flying is above the usual size of a flying creature – in fact, Seraph of the Suns is the only common or uncommon flying creature that can compete with Angler Drake on its size. In addition to its big body, it also comes with a bounce effect. Bounce effects look to be great in this format, due to embalmed tokens and creatures with detrimental -1-1 counters effects. 

2) Galestrike
I liked Drag Under a lot, and Galestrike provides a similar effect. It is much worse if you're on the offense, as you can't bounce your opponent's blocker. However, blue looks to be very controlling in this format, and being able to cast it at instant speed, and potentially blow your opponent out if they cast a combat trick, makes the trade-off well worth it. I've rated it especially highly though because of how good I think bounce effects are in this format, as described above with Angler Drake

3) Cryptic Serpent 
Like Gearseeker Serpent, this won't belong in every blue deck, but will be great in the ones that it does. This card is fantastic if you can play it on turn 4, though is still above curve on turn 5. Blue has a lot of cheap cycling cards, like Hieroglyphic Illumination and Compelling Argument, which both cycle for one mana and is a sorcery/instant. Since not many decks would be looking to pick these up, it shouldn't be hard to draft enough of them. I'm especially a fan of Hieroglyphic Illumination, as shown below where I rate it the second best blue common, as in addition to cycling for one mana and being a sorcery/instant, it can also be cast for card advantage. In my view, this essentially does everything that blue decks in this format are wanting to do, which is to be a controlling deck based around cycling and/or filling the graveyard with sorceries and instants. 

Top 5 Commons


Aven Initiate Hieroglyphic Illumination Tah-Crop Skirmisher Shimmerscale Drake Essence Scatter

1) Aven Initiate 
2) Hieroglyphic Illumination 
3) Tah-Crop Skirmisher 
4) Shimmerscale Drake 
5) Essence Scatter 





Top 3 Uncommons


Ruthless Sniper Bone Picker Lord of the Accursed

1) Ruthless Sniper
Ruthless Sniper is the best non-rare cycling payoff, and can singlehandedly win the game if left unchecked. Black has a decent amount of cheap cycling cards, like Horror of the Broken Lands and Scarab Feast, and you get even more if you pair it with blue. If you're able to cycle cards for one mana, you're essentially paying two mana to put a -1-1 counter on your opponent's creature, which will quickly wreck your opponent's board. 

2) Bone Picker 
The card already has above base stats even if you ignore its mana cost reducing ability. With the potential to cast it for one mana, Bone Picker can generate some serious tempo, where you can present your opponent with two large threats in the midgame. Triggering its ability is also not that difficult, as it just involves any creature dying, whether it be from a trade in combat, an opponent casting a removal spell or you sacrificing a creature - the last of which should come up a decent amount due to the presence of putting -1-1 counters on your own creatures.

3) Lord of the Accursed 
Black seems to have a decent amount of zombies, which makes Lord of the Accursed quite good. However, in addition to that, all embalmed tokens are also zombies, and it can give all your zombies menace, which is a powerful ability for closing games. Due to its ability to interact with creatures outside its own color and the menace ability, I suspect Lord of the Accursed will be much better than previously seen uncommon creature lords, like Chief of the Foundry

Top 5 Commons


Final Reward Soulstinger Splendid Agony Doomed Dissenter Wasteland Scorpion

1) Final Reward
2) Soulstinger 
3) Splendid Agony 
4) Doomed Dissenter 
5) Wasteland Scorpion 




Top 3 Uncommons


Trial of Zeal Ahn-Crop CrasherDeem Worthy


1) Trial of Zeal 
Three mana for three damage at either a creature or your opponent's face has always been a good rate that is valued as being one of the top commons/uncommons in the format. Trial of Zeal is essentially that, but with the potential to be cast multiple times thanks to Cartouches. While it is unlikely for it to happen more than once a game, the fact that it can be recurred even once is enough to make this one of the best non-rare cards in the set. 

2) Ahn-Crop Crasher 
Even without its ability, a three mana 3/2 haste is decent and any aggressive red deck would be happy to have such a three drop in their deck. However, with the addition of its exert ability to take out a blocker, this card can apply some serious pressure on your opponent very quickly, and if they have a slow draw they may never be able to recover from it. 

3) Deem Worthy 
Seven damage is enough to kill everything relevant, though unlike Final Reward, because it's damage based, it doesn't deal with Gods or Seraph of the Suns. This means that it will occasionally fall short of killing your opponent's bombs, which is somewhat of a concern for an expensive removal spell. However, this is made up for with its cycling ability, which for four mana turns the card into Cunning Strike. Because of how aggressive the format is, I wouldn't be surprised if the cycling ability is used quite often. When you combine both options, you're left with a great removal spell that has a lot of flexibility in the mid-to-late stage of the game. 

Top 5 Commons


Electrify Magma Spray Nef-Crop Entangler Emberhorn Minotaur Minotaur Sureshot

1) Electrify 
2) Magma Spray
3) Nef-Crop Entangler 
4) Emberhorn Minotaur
5) Minotaur Sureshot




Top 3 Uncommons


Exemplar of Strength Crocodile of the Crossing Synchronized Strike

1) Exemplar of Strength 
This card is a lot like Longtusk Cub, in the sense that it can run away with the game if it gets to attack multiple times unchecked. In addition, there are also some one drops such as Sacred Cat, Festering Mummy and Oashra Cultivator, which you'd be happy to play in a -1-1 counters deck that can eat up the trigger on Turn 2, leaving you with a 4/4. In either scenario, your opponent is facing a pretty large threat early in the game, and will often not be able to deal with it and will just lose to it. 

2) Crocodile of the Crossing 
A four mana 4/3 haste is above base stats already, but Crocodile of the Crossing gives you an opportunity to turn it into a 5/4 for a cost that can be minimized in many green decks, as they'll likely play cards such as Sacred Cat and Doomed Dissenter to eat the counters. As a 5/4, the card is basically Renegade Freighter, and due to the large number of 3/2s and exert creatures that have smaller base stats, it doesn't trade down to many three drops. Like Renegade Freighter, I suspect this crocodile will sometimes run away with the game on its own, especially if you can curve into it. 

3) Synchronized Strike 
Synchronized Strike is essentially Dauntless Onslaught with an untap clause. Considering how good Dauntless Onslaught was in Theros limited, having an untap clause attached to it that can potentially blow your opponent out by ambushing them on defence seems amazing. In addition, the large number of exert creatures which you can untap with this, makes it a truly extraordinary combat trick. That being said, it is still a combat trick, and will sometimes rot in your hand if your draws don't align well or your opponent has a lot of removal. 

Top 5 Commons


Cartouche of Strength Hooded Brawler Bitterblade Warrior Naga Vitalist Colossapede

1) Cartouche of Strength
2) Hooded Brawler
3) Bitterblade Warrior 
4) Naga Vitalist 
5) Colossapede 

Like many of you, I can't wait to play Prerelease this weekend! This set looks to be a lot of fun, and I plan to play four or five sealed flights over the weekend. I'm sure that as I get a chance to play the format, many of these rankings and evaluations will change, but hopefully this can act as a good guideline from which you can draw some information from. 

Until next time!

Zen Takahashi
@mtgzen on Twitter 

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