I played Amonkhet sealed at home last night. I didn’t make it to the pre-release last weekend. I had intended to go but my back was being crap again (see this article on my back pain) so I knew sitting in chairs would be very foolish, and decided to be sensible.
So, instead, on the day the set was released in Australia, I arranged for my husband and I to play sealed at home against one another. I’d had a ‘sad’ day so I was hoping to have some fun to improve my mood.
To be honest, I wasn’t excited at all about this set, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
Sealed is always good fun, it combines many things I love, cracking packs, sorting and organising cards, deckbuilding, and playing.
My husband picked up the product on his way home, a prerelease pack and a bundle.
We have bought a bundle for each set since Eldritch Moon (I like the little booklet) and it has become a tradition to open it up and affix the little ‘poster’ to its spot above the others on the bricks above our card storage area.
I know I seemingly had an advantage as I got the pre-release card and my husband didn’t, so he had one less rare to work with, but keep in mind my husband is a much better player than I am, so it levelled the playing field somewhat.
We each set about making our decks, me in our bedroom upstairs, him downstairs, and our toddler entertained with dinner and a TV show.
My first thoughts upon opening the pre-release pack was that I loved the design. The box was so pretty. I couldn’t open it, because apparently cardboard defeats me.
Once I got it open, I loved it much more than the Kaladesh and Aether Revolt pre-release packs, which are the only ones I have for comparison. The design was good. I accidentally closed it again while enjoying the prettiness of the box and then had to spend a great deal of time trying to open it again. After I opened it the second time I carefully folded the locking flaps back so I would not be defeated by flaps of cardboard a third time. I recommend this method to other cardboardically-challenged players.
Okay so let me talk about the blue spindown dice. I love it very much. It is blue and sparkly and pretty.
But that’s not all. It is, story-wise, made from the Amonkhet mineral that is mined by mummies, lazotep.
This is an obvious nod to lapis lazuli which was one of the first minerals that was ever mined, and was held sacred by Ancient Egyptians, and used in many ways. It was ground into powder and used in elixirs for health, and as eyeshadow by Cleopatra. The stones decorated cartouches and sarcophagi.
The blue was considered to represent the sky, and thus the gods, divinity, and purity, and thus royalty, given how royalty was linked to the gods. Now I am a big fan of lapis lazuli, because not only was it sacred to Isis, it was sacred to Ishtar/Inanna/Astarte who is her Sumerian/Babylonian precursor and just happens to be my favourite goddess.
So. I was very happy about the lazotep dice.
My pre-release card was the red card Sweltering Suns.
My response was ‘meh… I hope I don’t have to be in red…’ It seemed okay, but I didn’t much care for it.
I opened the rest of my packs, sorting the cards into colours. By the 5th pack I noticed I had significantly more green cards than any other colours, which was interesting, usually it is a fairly even spread. Then on my final pack, the rare I opened? Vizier of the Menagerie.
This is a card I was going to buy for my Yisan commander deck, so I was considerably happy.
I was also happy because I felt it would be great in limited. Okay, what creatures do I have? I wondered.
I got out all my green creatures, then looked at the other colour creatures. I immediately knew I didn’t have anything special in white. Then I looked at red, blue, and black. I was impartial and careful in my considerations, and I was happy that my conclusion was in alignment with my heart… The correct second colour for me, was black.
Black is my favourite colour to play, and green is my second favourite colour. I don’t typically enjoy mixing the two, but hey, limited.
I found because I wasn’t as hyped about the set, I wasn’t attached to any cards emotionally, and so I didn’t have to fight against any ‘feels’ influence. It made deckbuilding faster and easier. I just appraised the cards on their mechanics, as to be quite honest I don’t like most of the art for Amonkhet. To me it looks too homogeneous and lacks interest. Wrath of god is a notable exception,
and I am sure there are other artwork that would stun me, but as a whole, I don’t enjoy the art of this set. I don’t enjoy the flavour. I’m a Sumerian/Babylonian fangirl, but have little interest in Ancient Egypt (as an aside, please, Wotc, one day make a Sumerian themed set? Pretty please with Gilgamesh on top and sprinkles?).
All this worked in my favour. I didn’t know the cards as well as the Kaladesh block, and this strangely was more of a benefit, as I had few preconceived notions of which were ‘good’ cards.
I had 3 of the 1 drop mummies that place a -1/-1 counter when they die, and included them.
When I was finished deckbuilding, I had something that I felt was very playable. I finished building much quicker than I have in previous sealed games I’ve played at home. I don’t know if that was due to luck of my pulls, because I lacked emotional investment, or maybe even because I am slowly becoming a better player. I like to imagine my swiftness was due to the last, but it was probably due to the first reason.
I forgot to take photos of my deck, but this was what was in it, from fairly reliable memory:
I got my lands (the full art is pretty) and my tokens (3x 2/2 zombies and 1x 3/3 hippo) and went downstairs.
My husband was surprised I was ready, he’d expected me to take longer. My son had finished his dinner and was watching TV (Dinosaur King is his current fave, it’s like Pokémon, but with dinosaurs).
My husband rolled out playmats on the floor. I’ve misplaced my Tolarian Community College playmat, which is upsetting and confusing, how do you even lose a playmat? It is probably under my bed. Yes, I am habitually messy.
As my husband arranged the playmats, my son came running up and said he wanted to play too, with his Pokémon cards. He has a very small collection of Pokémon cards, some of which are fakes I bought unwittingly at a discount store, and a handful which are real and were given to him by a very sweet pre-teen boy on the day Pokémon Sun and Moon came out, after my son saw him in the food court of the local shopping centre, pointed at his cards and said ‘Pokémon!’ and the boy looked at him and saw he was wearing star wars shirt and decided to give him some cards he was happy to part with. Yes, boys ARE the sweetest beings known to the universe.
So I fetched him his Pokémon cards, got him a tray, and he set up next to me.
“I want to help you, Mummy. Because I like you.” Well, then.
I drew an amazing hand for the first round, and won the dice roll. I had the Vizier, plenty of land, and a nice curve of creatures, as well as Never to Return for removal. I won that round, but more due to my husband not getting lands than anything else, I didn’t even get to play my Vizier.
Because my son wanted to play too he had turns attacking and we used spindown die to keep ‘life totals’ (and used an app to keep track of the actual life totals). My son chose to only ever attack my husband because he had decided he was helping me, like an adorable little sidekick.
After my husband cast Compulsory Rest on my Crocodile of the Crossing, my son picked his Butterfree card and used it to make my husband’s Crocodile of the Crossing go to sleep, which my toddler was VERY pleased with himself about.
I wish it had put it to sleep, because actually that crocodile wrecked me, and I lost the second round.
By then it was 7:30pm so we took a break while I settled my son to sleep, which took until 8:45pm and absolutely could have been a lot worse/later, plus I wound up making up a new bedtime story with him. After many protestations of ‘But, I’m not sleepy yet!’ he eventually snuggled up to my arm and fell asleep. I snuck out of his room in that stealthy ninja way that all parents do, and rejoined my husband downstairs for the final deciding battle.
My hand was alright but not amazing. It lacked some crucial lands, and the correct thing to do would have been to mulligan. It did have the Vizier in it though, and because I am greedy, I kept it.
Reader, I slaughtered him.
It felt good. My wins against my very clever, very logical husband are seldom, so I enjoy them when they do happen. As my ‘prize’ I got to open the 4 remaining packs from the bundle. We wound up getting another Vizier of the Menagerie. We sorted out our cards and put aside ones we personally wanted, and checked with each other that we didn’t want those cards. Our marriage is harmonious because we have vastly differing play styles, though we do occasionally clash over both liking to play green. My husband took the Decimator Beetle from my deck to go into his Atraxa Commander deck, and a few boring white cards (look, as far as I’m concerned, the only cool white cards are Kor), and one of the Viziers. I took one of the Viziers, and the Champion of Rhonas from my husband’s deck, and the Mouth to Feed card from my deck for my Yisan Commander deck.
I also took a few black cards I might enjoy using in my standard brews, and a Sixth Sense for enchantress brewing.
I put our rares away in a new binder page in our binder,
and put away all the other cards into their standard colour boxes or the land and tokens box, as I am our households designated mtg card librarian (really, I have made a little ‘returns’ box and everything).
I let my son have one of the Amonkhet dice because it made him smile, and that’s as good a reason as any to do anything. I have kept the other lazotep dice for myself so I can admire its shinyness and engage in Sumerian feels.
I greatly enjoyed this sealed format. I enjoyed the mechanics far more than I thought I would. -1/-1 counters are fun. The creatures can be stompy. I liked the exert mechanic, it slows the game down, but also gives you more time to consider your moves, which is helpful for me. Oh and with regards to exerting, my friend, the youtuber/streamer @MPNumbers on Twitter, had the good advice of turning a card upside down when you exert it, then moving it into tapped position on your next turn, to keep track of it. My husband and I used that process and it worked very well for us, so thanks for the idea buddy!
I still don’t love this set. It isn’t Kaladesh, where I made D&d artificer and aetherborn characters before even the pre-release, but it is nevertheless an enjoyable limited format, one that I hope to play more drafts and sealed events of. I would encourage anyone who looked at Amonkhet and went ‘meh’ or ‘blergh’ or ‘shneah’ and decided to not bother with it, to give it a go.
You may just find that you gain New Perspectives on Amonkhet.