When Amonkhet first spoiled, I was hesitant to praise the cartouches. They looked pretty good, but it’s hard to fill your deck with them. That’s still true, but if you do happen to get a couple trials, then you really can afford to play four cartouches. And they have turned out to be quite good overall.

I’ve been surprised at how fun and rewarding cartouches can be to play. Amonkhet draft has reminded me most of Theros, and the cartouches are almost like the ordeals. That makes sense given the parallels between Theros and Amonkhet blocks, but it still seems fresh and welcome. Theros is one of my all-time favorite draft formats because it was so well balanced between aggressive and controlling decks. Amonkhet is proving to be similar.

Top five lists are all the rage these days. So I present to you, my top five cartouches from Amonkhet:

Number Five

First strike is nice. Sometimes it makes a big difference in combat, but usually big creatures don’t need first strike, especially if you can punish double blocks with combat tricks. If you want this cheap cartouche, you probably also want combat tricks, making this less than amazing. That said, if you have Trial of Solidarity, you want as many of these cartouches as you can get.

Number Four

One mana doesn’t buy you much, but this is still a good card to have. Rebuying any trials is great, but the can’t-block effect is what you want. It’s nice that you can hold this back until you have a creature you can haste up on the same turn. When you play against red decks in Amonkhet, it’s always a concern that their last card is Cartouche of Zeal. And conveniently they can hold one back and still keep Thresher Lizard large. Despite all that, I’ll still cut this cartouche from a decent number of red decks.

Number Three

Better Hunt the Weak is great. I’ve heard many proclaim it is the best cartouche. When you have a big creature to slap it on, it sure feels that way. But I’ve had a few of these stranded in my hand while I wait for a fair fight, and I’ve even played a few with no intention of using the fight ability at all. Trample is a really nice ability, but again goes best on big creatures. I like putting this on Bitterblade Warrior, but you can’t always get a good fight off when you do. All in all, the situational nature of Cartouche of Strength leaves it in the middle of the pack.

Number Two

In theory this is the best cartouche. It draws a card and does a very nice Ordeal of Thassa imitation, especially on Sacred Cat. Blue-green also makes great use of surprise flying and a card. The flying makes this very relevangt late into the game, and often can be the one card you want to draw to break up a stalemate or finish the game. The Slither Blade and Sacred Cat deck is real, and this cartouche is a big part of it.

Number One

It feels like every time my opponent resolves Cartouche of Ambition, I lose the game. When the negative counter kills a creature it’s backbreaking. But even shrinking something makes it very hard to deal with a buffed-up lifelinker. Amonkhet draft is very tempo-based, and the life swing this card provides really changes the game. I have been so impressed by Cartouche of Ambition. It is the number one cartouche.

Honorable Mention

The sixth cartouche! Honed Khopesh is basically Rancor. Too bad you can’t pick up trials when you cast it.

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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