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Hey folks! Just a reminder to any Magic folks hanging around that Great Canadian Cards & Hobbies is hosting a 2-day Prerelease on April 22nd and 23rd. Definitely call in advance, as these events often fill up. If you don't have a DCI number, they'll set you up with one. Not sure about you folks, but this set is all about VALUE, so if you like drawing cards and keeping busy during a game, this set seems to have that in SPADES.
We got previews a'coming for Amonkhet! First, allow me to introduce you to the set's mechanics. RETURNING MECHANIC: Cycling Yes, Cycling is coming back! Everyone loves cycling. The classic version is to pay 2 generic mana, and toss the card out your hand, and you get a new card! First and foremost, this is a great ability to have on any card. There are many times that you have a card in your hand that you don't need, and some other card in your library that you do need. If you already have the mana available, might as well try toss the one you don't need for a likely better one. The second thing is that Amonkhet is looking to be a heavily graveyard-based set. In this way, cycling helps get cards from your hand into the graveyard without needing to cast them and/or have them die. Chances are that we're going to see some variant cycling too, such as paying life for cycling instead of 2 mana, or getting bonuses whenever you cycle cards. Best thing of all? Cycling goes into almost any deck, so always try to snatch these up in a draft! NEW MECHANIC: Brick Counters Not really that new of a mechanic, even though these are the first brick counters we've ever had. They're just a type of counter that's going to be shared amongst some artifacts. The fun thing is that these brick counters are going to let you "build" some Civilization-type Wonders. Okay, not really. They're artifacts that if they have a certain threshold of brick counters they start doing more powerful things. NEW MECHANIC: Embalm Now THIS is a cool new mechanic. Embalm lets you get a second use out of creatures that have it. Basically, this is "flashback" for creatures. While in your graveyard, you can pay an "embalm" cost. Doing so exiles the creature card from your graveyard, but you get a token copy of the embalmed creature that's a little... undead. Specifically, it becomes a white creature, gains the Zombie creature type, and loses its mana cost. What's not to love? Bringing back creatures is always powerful, and the fact that these stick around is great. I'm personally hoping for a few white-hate cards in the set to punish people that get too many mummies, but I doubt that'll be the case. Watch out if there's a card that gives all your graveyard creatures embalm, since that'll likely be a big card for some kind of combo deck and/or commander. NEW MECHANIC: Exert This is a mechanic that I've seen discuss in design-forums numerous times, and I'm glad to see it come on out into the real world to play. Basically, this mechanic lets you push your creatures a little harder when they attack, and they give a little more, but then they're really tired and stay tapped next turn. You declare if a creature is exerting itself as it attacks (so before you know of any tricks your opponent might have!), and in return the creature will perform a special ability. Guaranteed you'll see creatures getting to attack as if they were worth an extra 1 or 2 mana. I wonder how much we're going to see this though, as staying tapped for a whole second turn is quite a cost. I would doubt that it's correct to exert your creature each time, but we'll probably see it be practically a requirement on a few creatures. RETURNING MECHANIC: -1/-1 counters You like making creatures bigger right? Wrong. You like making your opponent's creatures dead. Dead dead dead. -1/-1 counters help you do this. Shrink those buggers until they die from having 0 toughness. A few -1/-1 counters can make a beefy attacker into something that can be blocked all day long too, reducing the threat that such creatures have. Just be careful when putting those counters on an Embalm creature, because it'll come back at full strength! Otherwise, you can treat these as both damage spells and combat tricks, with either using them at Instant speed to offset a combat in your favour, or used post-combat to destroy a creature that thought it could safely block something smaller. NEW/RETURNING MECHANIC: Aftermath (that's kind of a Split Card and kind of Flashback) I really dislike this mechanic, but whatever. It'll do good stuff, but it looks fugly. This card is cast for one of its halves, then it can be cast again from the graveyard for it's other half, and doing so exiles it. So, yeah, that's it. An Aftermath card is Flashback, but happens to be a split card, sorta. Looks terrible. One half of the card is right-side up, the other is sideways. It does let you bluff easier that you don't have it (since you look at it normally in your hand), and while beside you in the graveyard it's easier to poke its head out and see it as well. Guess that's why. Bleh. Previews of it to come below.
On another forum that I frequent, an issue with the new Masterpiece cards for Amonkhet has been realised. These are, as it turns out, not Tournament Legal. Check this out: So these are, by the current rules, not tournament legal. Comparing side-by-side: The first being the new one, the second being the Kaladesh Invention. Quite clearly, the new ones don't have a white or black border. Note, these are both links direct from Wizard's website, which means they would be showing the border. And they can't just say "you can play these, but only with sleeves" because that opens the doors for other non-black/white bordered cards to be played in sleeves. This is a rather significant mistake that, while it may seem fine on the surface, has some compounding layers of issues as you dig deeper into their tournament system. Well, not that big a deal, they just got to bite the bullet really. But still, it'll be interesting to see how Wizards responds to this.