Gate to the Afterlife is a fascinating card. It continues not one, but two traditions! It semi-spoiling an upcoming card, as seen with Shield of Kaldra, Goldmeadow Lookout, Eye of Ugin, Renowned Weaponsmith, and Dark Intimations. It’s also a weak card which tutors  up something (potentially) big and powerful, as seen on cards such as Urborg Panther, Dark Supplicant, Sift Through Sands, and Sphinx’s Herald.

Most of these cards aren’t playable outside of Limited (Eye of Ugin was a weak card for years, until Modern Tron adopted it and then Oath of the Gatewatch kicked it into ban-worthy overdrive), and the decent ones tend to be good cards in and of themselves. Gate to the Afterlife is definitely not a good card—it’s card disadvantage, doesn’t give you a way to sacrifice creatures, and doesn’t work with tokens (which are among the best creatures to be sacrificing). It’s also far too slow for blazingly-fast Amonkhet Limited. But that said, it does pose an interesting question.

How good does God-Pharaoh’s Gift need to be in order for Gate to the Afterlife to be playable? Just what could be behind that gate?

What’s Behind the Door?

Amonkhet is Nicol Bolas’ world, and there’s no way that the God-Pharaoh’s Gift is the paradise the plane’s denizens believe it to be (or perhaps it is, because Bolas knew that you’d think that, so he pulled a double whammy for some reason). There’s got to be something horrible lurking there. The Magic Story Servants states that Liliana’s third demon, Razaketh, lurks behind that door. Bolas’ plan could involve Razaketh consuming or twisting the worthy of Amonkhet to some nefarious end. But now we’re both speculating about the story and off-topic—God-Pharaoh’s Gift isn’t Razaketh because Razaketh’s name should probably be on its own card.

A Fitting End

Amonkhet is a world where all who die rise again in undeath. It’s a world where the most worthy are slain by Hazoret and the rest are turned into obedient Anointed zombies. It would make sense, both in terms of flavor and mechanics (since Gate to the Afterlife requires  a stocked graveyard), for the God-Pharaoh’s Gift to be a mass reanimation spell where Bolas enslaves the world as part of some scheme for power. However, that doesn’t entirely make sense—the entire plane already worships Bolas, longs for death, and would likely commit mass suicide if he so commanded. That seems a strange endgame.

It would make sense for Bolas to want a massive, trained zombie army to conquer planes with using a Planar Bridge, but that’s not Bolas’ style, since Bolas’ schemes seem to revolve regaining his massive power from before the Mending. But there’s a bigger problem with a mass reanimation spell; it’s the effect of a sorcery, something which God-Pharaoh`s Gift isn’t.

We know that God-Pharaoh’s Gift has to be a permanent, since Gate to the Afterlife puts it onto the battlefield. It’s probably not a land or planeswalker, since it bucks those naming conventions (though it could be some kind of bizarro afterlife land). It could be a creature (almost all of the big-thing tutors find creatures), where the God-Pharaoh`s Gift is some horrifying zombie amalgam or army of those ritualistically slain by  Hazoret. But I’d put my money on the Gift being an enchantment.

A Cursed World

Opening the gate to the afterlife should dramatically alter life on Amonkhet, either by unleashing some new horror or changing the very rules of the world. An enchantment would best convey the changes wrought by Bolas’ return and harvesting of the world.

Mechanically, an enchantment could have a powerful enters-the-battlefield trigger, letting it have some of the functionality of a reanimating card like Rise of the Dark Realms. Liliana’s Mastery already plays in this design space, where a large amount of its value is tied up in an ETB trigger.

If Bolas’ return is a rules-change, we could see the God-Pharaoh’s Gift be a literal curse to the world. Sure, the existence of Cruel Reality makes me somewhat skeptical that there will be two high rarity black Curses in the same block, but it would feel incredibly Bolas if his gift to the world is a literal curse upon everyone. What such a curse would do is unknown, however. It wouldn’t interact with your own graveyard (which feels like a miss, given the trigger condition for Gate to the Afterlife), given that you’re not supposed to target yourself with curses.

So, what could it be?

So, in the interests of fun and speculation, what could it be? Well, here’re a couple ideas of what Bolas’ gift to the plane would be. I’ve tried to go in a few different directions, but I feel that anything you’re working so hard to tutor for is probably very expensive (otherwise, you’re not really getting a big payoff for all your hard work).

A literal idea of Razaketh and Bolas teaming up. No relation to the trigger condition of Gate to the Afterlife.

God-Pharaoh’s Gift



When God-Pharaoh’s Gift enters the battlefield and at the beginning of your upkeep, search your graveyard, hand, and/or library for a demon creature card and put it onto the battlefield. If you search your library this way, shuffle it. Then, if you control six or more demons, you win the game.

Something to interact with a full graveyard

God-Pharaoh’s Gift



When [CARDNAME] enters the battlefield, exile all creature cards from your graveyard. Create that many 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens.

At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control twenty or more zombies, you win the game.

A less destructive idea – what if Bolas grants someone godhood, even if it’s himself?

God-Pharaoh’s Gift



At the beginning of your upkeep, draw a card and create a tapped 2/2 black zombie creature token.

At the beginning of your end step, you gain 3 life and God-Pharaoh`s Gift deals 3 damage to target creature or player.

A plague where Bolas begins converting everyone into Anointed

God-Pharaoh’s Gift



At the beginning of your upkeep, each player sacrifices a non-zombie creature.

Whenever a non-token, non-zombie creature dies, create a 2/2 black and white zombie creature token.

1B, exile a creature card from your graveyard: create a 2/2 black and white zombie creature token.

Those are some ideas of what God-Pharaoh’s Gift could be, but who knows what it’ll actually be? Only time and Hour of Devastation spoiler season will tell. Until then, we can only engage in the wonderful pastime of speculating.

And, as always, thanks for reading.

—Zachary Barash

Zachary Barash is a New York City-based game designer. He learned Magic in 1994 and is still afraid of Living Wall (don’t click it! It’ll see you!). He just received his MFA in Game Design at NYU and designs for Kingdom Death: Monster.

His favorite card of the month is Hieroglyphic Illumination. It combines two underwhelming cards into something far greater than the sum of its parts, and that’s before considering all of the cycling and spells-matter shenanigans in Amonkhet.

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