Once upon a time, Magic’s creatures were weak. The game was defined by spells. Threats were worse than answers. Formats were less defined by resolving creature and more by combos such as Prosperity and Cadaverous Bloom, artifact mana and Phyrexian Processor, and Necropotence and cards, or by decks full of every Counterspell available. However, cards like Phyrexian Negator fought against this tide, fighting for a day when creatures would be just as powerful as they spells they coexisted with.

We’ve come a long way since that time. Phyrexian Negator is certainly an undercosted threat, but its downside is so punishing (particularly now that it’s likely going to be seeing creatures on the other side of the field) that it likely wouldn’t see play these days. Well, with Hour of Devastation, there’s another addition to the hallowed halls of massive creatures for five mana: Ammit Eternal.

For those who don’t speak Japanese fluently, here’s its text:

Ammit Eternal
Creature – Zombie Crocodile Demon
Afflict 3
Whenever an opponent casts a spell, put a -1/-1 counter on Ammit Eternal.
Whenever Ammit Eternal deals combat damage to a player, remove all -1/-1 counters from it.

Like Phyrexian Negator, Ammit Eternal is a 5/5 for three with a hefty downside. That said, it’s a whole lot more than a bigger Blind Creeper with a permanent shrinking problem, and a whole lot more efficient than Witherscale Wurm. Ammit Eternal is designed to do the exact same thing Phyrexian Negator did: murder people

Ammit Eternal comes at players quickly and viciously, demanding they play spells as fast as possible (and potentially messing up their curve), punishing blocking, and punishing not blocking. Sure, it’s awful on defense, but there’s no shame in a card being like Goblin Guide and focusing purely on offense.

Ammit Eternal is unlike most other playable and hyped-but-disappointing oversized three drops. Some, like Phyrexian Negator and Master of the Feast have massive drawbacks that punish one too heavily for playing them. Others, like Kefnet the Mindful, Skaab RuinatorThassa, God of the SeaRhonas the Indominatable, Pharika, God of Affliction, and Cultivator’s Caravan have conditions that prevent one from using them all the time. Some of the worst ones, like Cosmic Larva and Phyrexian Soulgorger demand a steady stream of resources.

Ammit Eternal isn’t like any of them—it doesn’t have a setup cost, it doesn’t require a steady stream of resources, and if the worst happens, it just dies prematurely. I’m not saying that Ammit Eternal is the end-all, be-all; but it’s worth noting that we’ve never seen a card quite like it before, and that makes it hard to evaluate. On paper, its minimal restrictions and not-terrible fail state (not to mention its zombie creature type) suggest it’s a lot stronger than it looks (and it looks pretty strong, even if it may often only attack as a 3/3). That said, it being hard to evaluate means it could also be weaker than expected. Sure, it could do some disgusting things alongside Plague Belcher, but it’s also fighting for deck spaces with Plague Belcher.

Only time and testing will tell how good it is, but it sure is exciting to evaluate something that we’ve never quite seen anything else like. It’ll be fun watching whether this is a bust like Vexing Devil (which gave your opponent more direct control over answering it), a fine but underwhelming card like Zurgo Bellstriker, or a format-defining powerhouse like Goblin Guide. It could fall anywhere on this spectrum and there’s no way to know without giving it a try. All I know is that I can’t wait to find out.

And, as always, thanks for reading.

—Zachary Barash


Zachary Barash is a New York City-based game designer. He has an MFA in Game Design from NYU, is a game designer for Kingdom Death: Monster, and does freelance game design.

His favorite card of the month is Supernatural Stamina. It’s a one-mana combat trick that doesn’t actually save a creature from dying… except it does, blinks it, and kind of exerts it. It manages to tell a whole lot of story and be a powerful, flexible combat trick for only one mana.

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