Our next explosion of flavor, mechanics, and iconic cards is on its way!
As of now, I'm looking at around one-third of the total cards from Amonkhet, and this is a Standard I'll be excited to be a part of! Limited, Constructed—bring it on! Further dedication to themes, at least so far, should create interesting, deeper decks in Draft and Sealed, as well as more options for the forward-thinking brewer as well.
As the model of Standard shifts to a more diverse flavor environment, I'm continually impressed with these new sets to bridge previous sets, leveraging old mechanics and making all of Standard feel just as fresh and new as its newest set. As I see it, the all-but-extinct Block Constructed format should look totally different from Standard. All of its cards should be strong and ideally all of its cards should work together.
Amonkhet continues this new paradigm by bringing back an old mechanic as well as a new way to leverage it and cards that care about that effect: cycling.
Cycling turns a mediocre card into another card. That level of conditional support is lots of fun when you're playing with a subpar pile of cards in Limited, and its Constructed applications have been considerably bolstered in Amonkhet.
Hazoret the Fervent is my kind of indestructible creature. Its previous analog from Theros, Purphuros, God of the Forge, never really rang my bells, but I'll happily toss some cards to smack you and get aggressive with a 5/4.
On a side note, I love the flavor. Hazoret's epithet, “the Fervent,” perfectly fits the playstyle associated with it. To call the God to your side, you must have no reservations, no hidden agendas. You must be dedicated, without a “backup plan.” Your mind must be clear, your hand empty or close enough that you only have one plan. Once you have achieved that kind of devotion, much like with Purphoros, God of the Forge, Hazoret will come alive and you can command it in battle.
Five-power creatures with haste for four mana are game-changing. My Rakdos roots may be showing, but I don't mind being hellbent.
Flameblade Adept is a one-mana monster. As I read it, each card you discard, not each instance of discarding, pumps the Adept. If that's the case, we have incredible potential locked within this unassuming Jackal Warrior.
Our current Standard repertoire, contains plenty of ways to relieve yourself of your hand, and even ways to benefit it.
Red has more than enough to offer. As is usual with a new format, red is a solid place to start.
Even with only about 30% of the set being revealed, can we make a reasonable attempt at a mono-red discard deck?
- 4 Bomat Courier
- 2 Lupine Prototype
- 4 Flameblade Adept
- 1 Furyblade Vampire
- 4 Insolent Neonate
- 1 Reckless Bushwhacker
- 4 Scourge Wolf
- 2 Hazoret the Fervent
This simple beat-'em-up deck has all the makings of an extremely aggressive deck that can get some terrifyingly fast kills. While it may stand to feature winners like Shock, this deck favors making powerful hard-to-block creatures instead of getting burn into your opponent's face.
Bomat Courier got a decent amount of press when it appeared six months ago, but since then, it's fizzled out into obscurity. Without something like a Ghostfire Blade or even a Bonesplitter to make this work, Bomat Courier was too weak to ever do much. With the right red support, though, this could become an effective early-game play, and even in the late game, you can cycle it away for a new card or two. Discarding a hand of nonsense for R can also give a huge boost to an otherwise unexciting Flameblade Adept.
Scourge Wolf, a mono-red aggro card without a mono-red deck to go in, can achieve delirium easily, as six out of Standard's seven types are supported in this deck, and they can all easily make it to the graveyard. Moreover, the double strike is exceptional when you're pumping creature power.
Insolent Neonate has seen far more Modern play than Standard support, but this perfectly combined combination of abilities can help make this card a cornerstone in this deck. A 1/1 or 1/2 with menace isn't scary. Every power you add makes it not only difficult for your opponent to block but also difficult to attack, lest your counterattack be lethal all of a sudden. Its ability to throw itself down for free and trigger madness instantly is not lost, either, giving a solid madness outlet or, as needed, an extra boost of power for a blocked Flameblade Adept.
This creature is just always a good time. Not only is it an artifact creature, but a high-discard plan easily gets this little puppy online and attacking. Furyblade Vampire is a perfectly reasonable creature, but it gets way worse in multiples. On curve, it can create a ton of pressure. It's worthless as a blocker, but I think it's worth a singleton inclusion.
Hazoret the Fervent is terrific. Keep your curve low, cast everything ASAP, discard what you can't, and then blast away as soon as you drop your fourth land. Nothing can block this at this mana cost. A 5/4 indestructible will always win against most any four-drop or below in the format. It can obliterate planeswalkers off the top of your library, too, and the activated ability is a great finisher, especially if you're tossing madness cards.
This card combination, both legal in Time Spiral, believe it or not, has been a fan favorite since its emergence, and this deck combination wants to be able to blast big blockers and go to the face when needed. Lightning Axe helps you diversify the graveyard for Scourge Wolf, too.
The other spells in this deck are a bit unusual. First, Consuming Fervor is a sweet one. A three-power, one-mana boost in red is pretty rare outside of cards like Brute Force and Titan's Strength, but this card provides it. Even after the first turn, this still provides a reasonable bonus. Unchecked, this provides six extra damage for one red mana; all you have to do is clear the path for your suited-up creature. Of course, I want to live the dream and slap these on Scourge Wolf and smack them for ten.
Distemper of the Blood is deliberately chosen over something like Senseless Rage or Giant Spectacle. First, it costs less with madness. In a deck this fast, two one-mana spells or one two-mana spell can make all the difference in a critical turn. Second, it's a sorcery to support delirium. Third, the trample seems particularly relevant, especially in a deck filled with high-power creatures with menace. Blocking is just never appealing, and without removal, they just won't be able to actually do it. Yes, the Auras stick around, but if you untap and the creature and Aura are still there, you're probably doing okay.
I love this card; it digs so deep for so little. I liked Wild Guess just fine, then Tormenting Voice was better in every way. In a deck where we're looking to discard as many cards as possible, this is the kind of card I want. Just be sure to not hold it when you're low on cards: topdecking this card with an empty hand is lame.
The new cycling lands provide a simple way to get a land in the graveyard. If you don't need the mana that turn but you do need the land, it's perfectly fine to play one. It will also provide an opportunity to build into a splash, if needed, as more cards are previewed. For now, though, I think red's got enough to get the job done by itself.
This deck doesn't take many new cards to be functional. Hazoret the Fervent is, in my opinion, undervalued right now at $4.99, and Flameblade Adept is just an uncommon. Even the cycling lands are optional at this point; if you've got nineteen Mountains, you're fine.
None of my pals are cool enough to sleeve up decks the day after a card is previewed, but in my own testing, this deck seemed to be fast and consistent enough to at least be reliable, if not terribly powerful. Building the right mix of madness spells, sequencing, and real-world testing experience will still be needed to tell if this thought experiment of a deck turns out to actually have some legs.
You know what else Flameblade Adept goes with?
Yeah, that's right. I went there.
This is just one archetype, and we're just starting to get into Amonkhet preview season. Planeswalkers, three more Gods, and plenty of rares and uncommons will continue to drive the brewing engine into the summertime. We can escape the oligarchy of our current metagame and bring about divine change.
Which preview has you pumped, and what synergies, new or old, strike you about Amonkhet?