April 5, 2017

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Daily Dose of Amonkhet – -1/-1 Counters for All!

Welcome back to some more preview fun on the Daily Dose of Amonkhet. Today I’m going to be talking about a cycle of Legendary artifacts in the Uncommon slot and -1/-1 counters that you want to put on your own creatures.

I’ve always been a fan of cycles of cards, and there have been a few artifact cycles at Common and Uncommon over the past few years. There was the dreadful Cluestone cycle, including Boros Cluestone from Dragon’s Maze, there was the Monument cycle that turned into creatures from Dragons of Tarkir, including Atarka Monument, and there were more popular cycles, like the Signets from the original Ravnica block, which included Dimir Signet.

Amonkhet offers a new cycle of legendary artifacts that could make an impact on the upcoming Standard format. These new artifacts each provide a mana reduction for creature spells, and provide a bonus anytime you cast a creature spell. One thing to note is that each artifact only reduces the mana cost for one colour of creature, but the second ability is triggered when you cast any creature. Here are my rankings of the five new artifacts based on how much Standard play I believe that they will see.

kefnatsmonument

5. The reason that this is at the bottom of the list is mainly since it doesn’t also tap the target creature when you cast a creature. I would have liked to use this as an offensive threat, but it does work well in a defensive capacity by locking down any attackers that might be pointed in your direction.

bontusmonument

4. In a creature-heavy deck, being able to drain 1 life every time you cast a creature with one additional mana cost to do so can turn the game in your favour, or help you claw back if you’ve fallen behind. This is an ability you wish would trigger when a creature enters the battlefield instead of being cast, but that might have been too strong to have.

hazoretsmonument

3. Card filtering and selection are always very important. This is the exact same ability that Smuggler’s Copter had whenever it attacked, but now it’s triggered whenever you cast a spell. Being associated with Red spells also allows you to use it with Madness cards such as Fiery Temper and Voldaren Pariah.

rhonassmonument

2. This artifact has a very impressive second ability that allows your attackers’ damage to break through against enemy blockers. Green normally plays a lot of creature spells, so you can easily cast a creature spell each turn, pumping up the creature you cast the previous turn. Just imagine using this when casting Greenbelt Rampager twice in a turn, giving two creatures bonuses or making one large attacking creature with trample.

oketrasmonument

1. Yes, you read that second ability correctly. Every time you cast a creature, you get two creatures. Not only do you get to create a 1/1 Warrior creature token, but just for a bonus it has Vigilance. Cast a Thraben Inspector, get two creatures and a Clue token. Wouldn’t it be nice to cast Oketra’s Monument on turn three, followed by Archangel Avacyn on turn four? You’ll get a 1/1 Warrior token when you cast it, then you can put Archangel Avacyn’s trigger on the stack and block with both creatures being indestructible.

These are all nice artifacts that will provide some significant advantages, but only time will tell if we have a Standard format that will allow you to take turn three off so that you can put these artifacts in play. I don’t think there will be many decks that choose a monument that doesn’t reduce the mana cost of the color they are playing just for the second ability they possess.

Next, I want to talk about three new green creatures that allow you to put -1/-1 counters on one of your own creatures, but provide you with a sweet ability for doing so. Let’s first have a look at Channeler Initiate.

channelerinitiate

When it comes to cards like Birds of Paradise, and Sylvan Caryatid, I’ve always been a big fan of any creature that can allow you to get any color of mana to ramp to a larger spell on turn three or four. Channeler Initiate puts a new spin on this by turning itself into a 0/1 temporarily and then getting bigger every time you tap it for mana.

There’s also the possibility to kill a creature already on the battlefield instead of placing the counters on Channeler Initiate so that it comes on to the battlefield as a 3/4 creature. If you do this though, you can’t tap it for mana unless you can find another way to put a -1/-1 counter on it. Channeler Initiate will allow you to fix your mana in a three or four color deck, meaning you can play a wider variety of creatures.

Don’t worry, Channeler Initiate isn’t alone in wanting to give itself some pain now for gain later. Here’s another green creature using -1/-1 counters as a positive, Exemplar of Strength.

exemplarofstrength

Exemplar of Strength also allows you to put -1/-1 counters on a creature you control. But this time, by attacking with Exemplar of Strength you can remove one of those counters and gain some life in the meantime. If you can play a creature on turn one, you can even put the -1/-1 counters on that creature instead of Exemplar of Strength allowing you to have a 4/4 creature on turn two.

crocodileofthecrossing

Only one -1/-1 creature is nothing compared to the three we’ve been dealing with on the previous creatures. Even if you must place the -1/-1 counter on Crocodile of the Crossing, you will be left with a 4/3 creature with haste. This becomes even more powerful in combination with other cards that want to have -1/-1 counters for abilities, like Channeler Initiate. Playing a turn two Channeler Initiate, followed by a turn three Crocodile of the Crossing will give you a 5/4 creature and refill the -1/-1 counters on Channeler Initiate.

So, what do you think of -1/-1 counters on your creatures helping you out rather than hurting you? These are just a few of the amazing new cards that have been previewed, and there are still a lot more to come. Join me tomorrow as I look at some more new cards from Amonkhet and talk about how they will have an impact in the months to come.