Draft Report: Amonkhet U/R Spells (5-26-2017)

Amonkhet U/R Spells

I wanted this U/R deck to work, but it’s clear I made mistakes. In tonight’s Draft Report, I want to discuss one of the more inconsistent drafts I’ve had in Amonkhet limited, and take a look at the interactions that saved it from being a complete disaster.

Amonkhet Draft List: U/R Spells (5-26-2017)

Creatures (14)
Seeker of Insight
Tah-Crop Skirmisher
Pathmaker Initiate
Nef-Crop Engangler
Battlefield Scavenger
Hekma Sentinels
Scribe of the Mindful
Minotaur Sureshot
Enigma Drake
Naga Oracle
Aven Initiate
Emberhorn Minotaur

Spells (8)
Magma Spray
Essence Scatter
Brute Strength
Hieroglyphic Illumination
Open into Wonder

Enchantments (1)
Cartouche of Knowledge

Artifacts (1)
Edifice of Authority
Lands (16)

On-Color Sideboard (8)
Hyena Pack
Trueheart Twins
Cryptic Serpent
Tormenting Voice
Rhonas’s Monument
Pursue Glory


Deck Tech

Enigma DrakeI’ve built a decent U/R spells deck in Amonkhet before, but after a number of drafts in the format, I’m not convinced it’s an option that’s worth pursuing too heavily. Now that the format has aged a bit, a lot of players agree that red is the best color. With that in mind, I’m learning that there are sometimes just too many people at the table trying to force red, and it feels bad to realize you may be one of them.

In addition to the meta problem of everyone wanting “the best deck,” many of the spells-matter cards are just not good enough. I’m a big fan of Enigma Drake; on its own, the Drake is a harder-to-cast Dune Beetle / Ancient Crab stand-in with a higher ceiling. But other cards that were clearly designed to care about spells often underperform, or end up serving as low-CMC filler. See for example: Soul-Scar Mage & Nimble-Blade Khenra. These are fine cards, but they rarely gain as much value out of Prowess triggers as you’d hope.

It could have just been my matchups in the pod, but I found myself cutting Cryptic Serpent to lower my mana curve a bit, and still found this deck to be too slow.

Insight & Illumination

Seeker of InsightDespite not always performing consistently, this deck actually put up a decent fight most games. The creatures did mostly what you’d expect in combat, so I don’t want to spend too much time on that. (Curve out, swing & remove, cast Open into Wonder to win the game.) I’d rather discuss the engine that hummed along when things went best.

The bar-none MVP of this deck was Seeker of Insight. Whether on defense or offense, combat often included casting Hieroglyphic Illumination or Electrify, tapping Seeker of Insight to loot, while also pumping my Hekma Sentinels. Add in the rummage on Exert with Battlefield Scavenger, and triggers added up quickly.

This also illustrates just how much higher the ceiling is on most of Amonkhet’s Cycling-matters cards as compared to those specifically in the spells-matter archetype. They all care about when you “cycle or discard a card,” and Amonkhet is full of rummage and loot effects.

Opened into Wonder

Even though I was disappointed with this deck overall, it felt very powerful when the engine was running. I also learned a few things about interactions I missed my first few times through the archetype. I still don’t think I would auto-include Seeker of Insight, but it has certainly risen in value in my estimation. Perhaps if the format was just a bit slower – or I went deeper into red, only splashing blue – this deck might have gotten there. Maybe next time.