Amonkhet Limited is coming to the end of its run. Hailed early as an all-time great format, it settled in to a nice place with a deep metagame and extensive replay value. I’m not sure it’s among the best ever, but I’ll be happy to draft some Amonkhet in the future.

Hour of Devastation previews are in full swing. It’s hard to tell how the new set will change the draft environment, but things definitely won’t be the same. I’m excited to explore the new cards and hopefully see some Amonkhet cards in a new light. This is the twilight of small set drafts. I don’t think many will miss them, but studying the changing context of situational cards will be a pleasure of the past.

Looking back on triple Amonkhet draft and six-pack sealed, I had a lot of fun. As was true of Kaladesh as well, the Limited environment has been very powerful and swingy. The cards are well balanced around each other, at least within the tiers of “great” and “good” that tend to fill most Limited decks these days. The games are deep and a ton of fun, but big swings make it hard to win too consistently at the top tables.

For example, here’s an iconic screenshot from a draft I played the other day. I lost this game, which isn’t too surprising given that I don’t have anything going on besides Glorybringer.

As oppressive as Glorybringer is to the format, it doesn’t end the game unless you’re already ahead. Sometimes it grinds through so many of your opponent’s resources that it eventually wins the game, but for the most part it provides a helpful big swing that you hope positions you to leverage your spells more effectively in the late game.

Amonkhet has a lot of hidden synergies. In these late days of the format, I’ve tried drafting all sorts of fringe decks. Black Red discard control was pretty good, though I missed picking up the one Wasteland Scorpion I saw and ended up losing the second round of a single-elimination draft league to the Honored Hydra plus Scaled Behemoth deck.

Deep-format drafts are great for exploring decks that are only possible with two specific rares, like two sweepers. I woulnd’t recommend this strategy overall, but it was fun and powerful. This deck really needs some Ruthless Snipers but Merciless Javelineer works well enough with Faith of the Devoted.

Sometimes you get a crazy sealed pool with hidden synergies you never realized. Like, for example, super cat tribal:

Adding Sacred Cat to your Regal Caracal deck is usually not great, but both Initiate’s Companion and Prowling Serpopard are cats that do good work on their own. Watchers of the Dead and Pouncing Cheetah round out the cat suite. This sealed pool featured two Initiate’s Companion, plus the Serpopard and two Regal Caracals shown above. Pretty cool when you can get it.

My personal favorite draft archetype is Blue Green tempo/ramp. For whatever reason, people love to pass Vizier of Many Faces to me, and I end up switching into this deck pretty much every time it happens. Here’s my personal favorite iteration of the deck, though it sadly doesn’t include the clonemummy:

Gotta love the full curve up to nine converted mana. There’s a Spring // Mind next to Sandwurm Convergence that I didn’t even realize was hidden off my screen. The picture is too perfect. The deck was also a blast of good, clean Magic. It reminded me of some of the better midrange UG Ramp cube decks I’ve drafted in online cubes past.

I’ve been chided for my love of Bitterblade Warrior in these sorts of decks (over for example the second Hieroglyphic Illumination) but I’ve found the deathtouch attacked to usually be good throughout the game. It also has the “kill me” sign on it for a lot of opponents. I’d much rather have it eat a Magma Spray than one of my mana creatures. I’m not saying I’m right, but I think I’m in the general margin of error so I hedge toward my preference.

Finally, I’ve been playing a little minigame with myself—and anyone who would listen at tournaments—with the best possible in-game uses of the counter-manipulating ability of Quarry Hauler. Between rounds in one local PPTQ, I told Shawn Sloan how I had enjoyed taking counters off my Bounty of the Luxa to draw extra cards. In the top eight he had the opportunity to make that exact play. I don’t think it ended up mattering, but those kinds of small shared insights are one of my favorite parts of Magic.

That said, I submit this as the best possible use of Quarry Hauler:

In keeping with the theme, I lost this game too. It turns out dealing with Gideon for a bunch of turns ends up wasting a lot of resources. Who would have known. But I don’t care. This game was great. I hope Wizards R&D can keep delivering Limited Magic on this level. Maybe swing the pendulum back from the higher variance of recent sets, though.

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

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