The coming of the God-Pharaoh is nearly upon us, and in anticipation we've all pored over the spoilers. Amonkhet is full of cool new mummies, monuments, and spells galore, but most importantly it's full of hype. Let's dig in and see how Amonkhet stacks up at first look while we're still ahead of schedule.
Amonkhet is on the small side for set one of the new two-set block structure. It trails Battle for Zendikar by about 30 cards and comes in 61 cards short of Shadows Over Innistrad1, a drop of almost 23%. Time may tell us that this is a trend, as Kaladesh saw a similar drop and was only five cards larger than Amonkhet. The new block structure has given us very hilly set sizes so it's hard to say with only these few sets.
Spoiler season has shown us a ton of cool new stuff on the double-sunned horizon, but not every exciting thing is brand new. Amonkhet is about 15% reprints with 35 old cards coming back. Aven Mindcensor is seeing its first reprint since its debut in Future Sight and some fan favorites are returning such as Magma Spray and Fling.
* The Aftermath split cards are counted as single cards as they have a single collectors number. The only exception to this is the section on card types.
Now that we know the gods are monocolored on Amonkhet it isn't terribly surprising that the set is largely monocolored cards. Only about 10% of the set is multicolored, and most of that 10% is the fifteen Aftermath split cards. The other cards appear to mainly be the archetype hints and some cool things like the minotaur lord. The colorless portion seems dominant but that is slightly misleading as each basic land got four printings, so almost half of the colorless cards are basic lands.
The color identities are a little more telling of the set contents. The cycle of cycling dual lands shift over to their colors as do the basics, leaving mostly just artifacts and deserts in the colorless column. Shifting to color identities also reveals the sole three-color-identity card in the set, the human-commander-hyping Samut. Otherwise though, the color identities remain heavily monocolored.
There's not much to talk about in the general type breakdown for Amonkhet. The major note is the 31 lands because five of them are full-art basics, five are fetchable dual-lands with cycling, and three of them are new deserts which we haven't seen since Arabian Nights. The distribution is pretty standard though, although artifacts might seem low after our time on Kaladesh.
Things start getting exciting when we break it down by creature types. There are a ton of creature types represented, many of which we don't see all that often. Amonkhet is giving us a new hippo, hyena, two manticores, some camels, and obviously five new gods to add to the collection. In the theme of Egypt we're also seeing a slew of new zombies, jackals, minotaurs, and a couple news sphinxes. Of course we're also getting another dragon and hydra, as well as a handful of demons and angels just like always.
Amonkhet is also bringing some cool tribal implications with it. There are a whopping 30 new humans, including the mighty Samut, to bolster human decks, 13 zombies and 9 minotaurs both of which get a cool lord, and a few cats including (again) a lord. Other groups get a good number of new goodies even if they aren't necessarily tribally leaning here like birds, nagas, and jackals. With 33 races showing up in the set there's surely something for everyone.
The classes are much fewer than the races in Amonkhet; there are only 7. Despite that, the most common of them are very Egypt. Warriors, clerics, and wizards account for 86% of all the classes on creatures and show up paired with all manner of the races above. Bird wizards, minotaur warriors, zombie clerics, Amonkhet has it all.
There's not much to see in the rarities. It seems like Wizard's has pretty well solved that puzzle by now as the rarity distribution in modern sets looks pretty similar from set to set. The masterpiece series continues on strong, despite the range of opinions on the borders, with 30 Invocations at super special rare. Basic lands show up a little more than expected thanks to the inclusion of the full art versions, otherwise there would likely be only 15 at basic rarity like in Kaladesh.
The range of costs in Amonkhet is interesting for one reason: the rules change regarding split cards. There are no 8, 9, 10, or 11 drops in the set without that rule change as all five of those are accounted for by Aftermath cards. Also notable, the only 0-drops in the set are the 31 lands so this curve may as well start at 1. Like many recent sets there's a strong spike at CMC 3 and plenty of 2 and 4 drops with everything else falling short of those by a wide margin.
WotC was not at all shy with the set mechanics in Amonkhet. Just the new mechanics embalm, aftermath, and exert show up 46 times. Cycling, a returning mechanic that I am very excited about, shows up on 39 cards alone which is huge. While the new mechanics are somewhat limited in their scope, aftermath limited to instants and sorceries and exert and embalm limited to creatures, cycling is quite diverse showing up on basically everything but planeswalkers and artifacts.
The mechanics on the whole look aggressive. Exert encourages attacking and embalm eases the pain of trades. As for existing mechanics the only ones that are particularly defensive are reach, hexproof, and maybe lifelink. Flying, haste, and menace are particularly prevalent and the set contains a lot of other non-keyword abilities like lord buffs and tappers.
I must say I am very excited for Amonkhet. The top-down sets so far have been great and Egypt has been pretty high on my list of hopeful next sets. Nicol Bolas is also a one-man (one-dragon?) hype-train and the lead up to Hour of Devastation should be great. Here's hoping Amonkhet beats all expectations and kicks Gideon out of the scene. Thanks for reading and join us next time when we are ahead of schedule for Hour of Devastation.
Thanks to /u/Majoraatio for noting that the set size for SOI/EMN is inflated due to double-faced cards which I had forgotten counted twice in the data. Here we really care about what could come in a pack so the adjusted set sizes are 297 for SOI and 193 for EMN; the analaysis still holds but is notably less extreme. ↩