In last week’s article, I went over some cards that are very powerful, but are currently being overlooked in Standard. In this article, I will be checking out some mechanics and cards that you should be keeping an eye on as spoilers roll in, as they too are primed to dominate.
Now that we know the abilities that will be in Amonkhet, we can theorize what sort of cards will be good against the new cards we will see, or what effects complement the new cards or gain value due to new abilities.
First off, here is one mechanic and one important clause that I believe will gain value because of the abilities in Amonkhet.
Delirium gains so much value with three of the spoiled abilities in Amonkhet. Cycling, while already being an incredibly versatile and powerful ability, also fuels Delirium. Being able to put cards from your hand into the graveyard and immediately replacing them is insanely powerful, as the cards gain you value in the graveyard by turning on Delirium for monsters such as Ishkanah, Grafwidow and Mindwrack Demon, and everyone’s favorite one mana tutor, Traverse the Ulvenwald.
Delirium also gains value with the Embalm ability. This is another case of cards gaining you value from being in the graveyard. This specific ability is very powerful because it allows you to trigger delirium on cast, and then later return the card to the battlefield, when you do not need a creature in your graveyard anymore. This, and the next ability I will mention, are both very relevant with cards such as Grapple with the Past and Vessel of Nascency, which allow you to add fuel to your hand, and still gain value from cards in your graveyard. The final ability that powers up Delirium is Aftermath. This ability, just like Embalm, allows you to add types to your graveyard for Delirium while still maintaining value in the long game. Plus, Aftermath cards can have two different types, as is shown in Destined / Lead.
Recently, Unlicensed Disintegration has been the most effective removal spell in Standard, with Oath of Chandra, Harnessed Lightning, and Fatal Push following close behind. With the reveal of indestructible gods and Embalm, however, removal that simply says destroy might not cut it anymore. Instead, cheap exile effects are going to be at a premium, because of their ability to answer gods and Embalm creatures so effectively. The best exile-based removal spells I could find that could see play with Amonkhet are these:
(Note: some of them will likely not answer gods with higher toughness.)
- Anguished Unmaking
- Stasis Snare
- Declaration in Stone
- Incendiary Flow
- Brutal Expulsion
- Complete Disregard
- Flaying Tendrils
- Touch of the Void
- Descend upon the Sinful
While some of these are ambitious, they could have some constructed applications given the right circumstances.
It’s not only exile-based removal that gains value, but exile-based counter spells, which cleanly answer Embalm creatures. Here is a list of counters that you should keep in mind when building a control deck in the near future:
Finally, exile-based hand disruption spells answer pesky embalm creatures that aren’t too hurt by traditional hand disruption spells. Here are the best of the best:
Now, while Delirium and exile effects are likely to gain value with the release of Amonkhet, here are specific cards that are likely to get some help from Amonkhet’s presence in Standard.
Nahiri actually gains relevance in both of her first abilities. As with Delirium, Nahiri’s +2 becomes a lot better when you are discarding cards that you can actually use later instead of just dumping them permanently for no value. Both Embalm and Aftermath help out Nahiri’s +2 a bunch, for example. Nahiri’s -2 is an exile-based removal spell, which will help players get rid of resilient and hard-to-kill creatures that are likely to be abundant in Amonkhet Standard. Exile was previously relevant mainly against Scrapheap Scrounger, but will now be relevant against a whole slew of new cards, and will allow you to get rid of those annoying god cards with the flick of a die.
Eldritch Evolution only truly combos with Embalm creatures, but if we see any powerful embalm creatures, trading 3 mana for a larger creature and turning one of your own into a token isn’t such a steep price to pay, making the card reasonably positioned. Its power level has been seen in Modern recently, and that certainly makes it a reasonable option in certain Standard environments.
Ok, maybe this is asking a lot, but I couldn’t resist the urge to try and make Kiora work. Her +1 synergizes with the new Exert mechanic, and allows you to give your creature pseudo-vigilance after activating its Exert ability. When combined with Glorybringer, she allows you to do 4 damage to a creature per turn while swinging for 4 in the air, which is fairly impressive if you ask me. Her -2 is also very relevant with the graveyard-centric abilities in the set (Sultai Delirium anyone?).
Blessed Alliance is simply a very good card, and it gains even more value with the Exert ability. Likely the least used mode on the card, Alliance’s ability to untap two creatures allows you to ambush someone in combat after you have activated your creature’s Exert ability on your own turn. It also doesn’t hurt that Alliance can pick off a lonesome attacking god creature, but it does have the downside of not being stellar against Embalm and other resilient creatures.
Another very good card simply on power level, Displacer gains so much value with Exert, allowing you to exile your creature on your opponent’s turn, which allows it to then untap during your own. Additionally, Displacer can straight up kill Embalm tokens, which opens up a whole new deckbuilding conundrum of whether it is ok to keep non-exile removal in a deck with displacer. I would advise against it, due to the probable power of the gods, but Displacer is so powerful on its own that it may be worth it to just run objectively more powerful removal such as Unlicensed Disintegration.
Here we are delving into the very farfetched realms of possibility, but Kari Zev’s Expertise has a fairly good effect on its own. The main reason I have it here is because it allows you to steal a creature with Exert, attack with it, and return it back to your opponent frozen for a turn. Taking Glorybringer and killing the Gideon, Ally of Zendikar they played the previous turn, as well as the knight it came with feels like something you shouldn’t be allowed to do, and that alone is enough to warrant its inclusion in this list.
As always, thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed. Spoiler season is always exciting, and I hope this article helps while you evaluate new cards!
P.S. I didn’t want to reveal my Pro Tour winning tech yet, but I’ve got to do it for my readers, you are welcome in advance. Look over both of your shoulders, as this spicy tech is only meant for you and me.
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