The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Liliana, Death’s Majesty | Chris Rallis

Magical Thinking: Amonkhet

Welcome back to Magical Thinking, a look back at the cards and art of Magic: the Gathering, set by set, from the beginning. All through the eyes of a casual fan. This week we come to a new plane of existence, and a new mini block, with April 2017’s Amonkhet.

Amonkhet is a plane ruled by Nicol Bolas, where warriors train their whole lives to prove themselves worthy of the trial of the five gods, so they can earn a place in the afterlife as one of the worthy dead. The Gatewatch arrive on the scene to put Bolas in his place, but on a plane where Bolas reigns supreme that might be easier said than done. Has the Gatewatch bitten off more than they can chew this time?

To be fair, Gideon, you come from Theros, where the gods are also massive assholes. You should be used to this sort of thing by now.

Here’s something I bet you never thought you’d see: White-colored zombies. Yeah, Amonkhet is all about the undead. In fact, I think every color gets zombies of one sort or another. I love that the White zombies are these creepy faceless mummies.

Hey, it’s our guy Gideon. Let’s see what powers he gets.

Wow. Wow. That is a really good emblem. Wow. And of course Gideon is the kind of planeswalker who leads from the front. He’s not afraid to get out there and get his hands dirty.

Case in point, here’s Gideon personally tanking a smiting from one of Amonkhet’s gods. Dude is a regular stone cold badass.

Exert has a card do an extra thing, but they don’t untap next turn like they should. Come on, it’s the desert plane. They’re working hard. Give them a break. Maybe some peanuts and an ice tea. They earned it.

Exert is only a 4 on the Storm Scale, but it’s only ever seen in this and the next set, Hour of Devastation.

Like Theros, Amonkhet has the gods up and about and walking among mortals. And like Theros they have special restrictions that keep them from just attacking on their own. Like little miss kitty here needs three friends with her to be actually useful.

These story spotlight cards are out of order. That’s because Gideon’s admiration for these gods is pretty short lived, as you can tell from the other two cards we just saw that are story spotlight.

Yep, just leave all your baggage with the bellhop mummy at the front desk, and don’t worry about a tip. They just want your brains. I mean thanks. What did I say?

Probably my favorite new mechanic in this set, embalm lets you bring back your creatures as zombies. What could be better?

Embalm is an 8 on the Storm Scale, but a 5 on Amonkhet (I guess because it fits the theme of the plane better). Unless we go back to Amonkhet one day don’t expect to see it again.

I think viziers get a bad rap in popular media. Look at this poor lady. She’s just doing her job, trying to heal someone. Leave her alone.

This set also has a major -1/-1 counter theme to it, which we last saw in Scars of Mirrodin with infect.

Ancient Crab. Because when I want crab legs, I want to be able to taste the life experience. I want to eat the legs of a crab that’s seen some shit.

There is also a cycle of these Cartouche cards, but I really have no idea what their significance is yet. Are they like shrines or something? I guess we will find out eventually.

Just like how I live my life every day. Also, you can always count on Blue to come through with the trippy card art.

And here’s another god. This one can only attack if you have enough cards in hand. I have to say these Amonkhet gods are really picky.

YOINK!

I love how creepily and unnecessarily realistic the fingers look there. They did not have to look that real.

This is what people imagine Bitcoin mining is like (Yeah, I know I spent all the last episode talking about NFT’s, I’m not gonna keep it up this time, but seriously Cryptocurrency is trash).

I see now. The Cartouche synergize with these trial cards. When you play the Cartouche you can replay your trial card. Now it makes sense.

You know, you’d think that the local demons looking just like Nicol Bolas would have tipped people off that maybe he’s not the best guy in the world.

And here is the point where Gideon is like “Hey maybe this isn’t the best place in the world.” Poor guy.

Everyone might get zombies in this set, but Black will always be king of zombies. And this card shows that everyone who dies in Amonkhet becomes undead. It’s just some become more undead than others (If that makes sense, which it probably doesn’t).

Think you got the right idea here, Chandra. We’re not even through three colors and Amonkhet is already a worse place than Shadowmoor or Innistrad (New Phyrexia is probably worse though).

Look who it is! Portal’s very own MVP, still out there, still kicking, still living their best unlife. Always a pleasure to see Gravedigger making the rounds.

Speaking of living their best life, I can’t think of anyone more suited to the zombie plane than Lilliana. Look at her. She’s just crushing it here.

I skipped over this one initially but I didn’t want to miss them. Bontu is Amonkhet’s Black god, and probably the most needy yet because they want you to sacrifice a minion to let them attack. Of course with all your zombies that shouldn’t be too hard.

On the plus side shadow puppetry is a cottage industry on Amonkhet. And the source of many, many, MANY nightmares.

That’s why you always want to turn on a VPN before entering an ancient tomb.

“PACKERS WON THE SUPERBOWL!!!”

Yeah, I love how Gideon is getting his heart ripped in two and Lilliana is just taking a vacation and meanwhile here is Chandra like “Fuck it, they made my bae cry. BURN IT TO THE GROUND.”

Never wear a helmet either. Always make sure to wear a helmet when you are minotaur tossing, no matter how you participate.

Hazoret is pretty much the opposite of Kefnet; the less cards you have in hand the more likely she is to help. You know what they say. Ignorance is bliss, and also a giant jackal lady smacking your enemies in the face. Wait…

Pineapple on Pizza: The eternal debate, killer of friendships, continues. One day we will learn to love and cherish Pizza in all its forms, but not today.

I love how even in the god anointed trials there are those who are like “fuck it, gonna cheat.”

A plane with two suns and not a single Sunglass Hut in sight. Also, no sunscreen.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen hippos in Magic. Which is weird because Hippos are legit ass kickers in real life. In the real world herbivores come in two flavors: Small and skittish, and built like a tank and fueled by pure hate. Hippos are the latter.

Something something Dune reference.

There’s something endearingly adorable about a mummy gardening and holding a little bulb like that.

I keep skipping them, but I should mention Amonkhet has Naga in it. They have a lot of different races actually.

And here we have our fifth god, who needs a big boy support buddy in order to be able to do anything.

…Oh my God, she has a sharingan. DON’T DO IT MAN, NARUTO RUN OUT OF DANGER.

They’re like two seconds away from breaking into a Disney song.

Huh, I never knew that Nissa dabbled in Blue magic. I knew about her and Black magic, but not Blue. Now we need a Selesnya and a Gruul Nissa and we’ll have the whole set.

And here we have Samut, the only person in Amonkhet who realizes the whole thing is a scam. Pay attention to her, she’s gonna be important later.

Probably nice to remember under those pretty bandages those things are still gross mummies, ah well.

Here is the last new mechanic of this set. A mechanic so awesome it had to wait till near the end to get to. Aftermath cards are cards you can cast once, then cast a second part from the graveyard. They’re the spell cards that come back for more. Sadly Aftermath was a 7 on the Storm Scale, so don’t expect them to come back for much more.

Of course the real fun comes when you have multicolor aftermath cards. I hope you like playing duel color decks (I know I do. Golgari for life).

I feel like there’s some social commentary that the card called Riches can only be cast from the graveyard, like it’s saying that it’s impossible for most people to become wealthy in their lifetime. All they will have in life are the scraps left behind by the ultra rich and oh I’ve gone and made myself sad.

Meanwhile, at Activision/Blizzard HQ (Yeah, the Activision Blizzard workers are striking/unionizing, so help them out if you can).

The next set is called “Hour of Devastation”, so you can probably guess how that’s gonna play out.

Look what’s back: Deserts. Haven’t seen them since Arabian Nights. Time to dust off your camel card and give your minions banding to protect them from those desert sands. And yes, I have been waiting over two years to make that joke.

On that note, I think it’s time to take a break from the sweltering desert sands, get a drink, maybe take a nap. I’m sure Amonkhet will be here when we get back…OR WILL IT? Tune in next week for Hour of Devastation, in which the Gatewatch get their first major defeat and Amonkhet pays the price. But until then, Stay Magical.

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Jessie Staffler

Jessie Staffler

Creative Writer looking to make money writing. Prefers to write stuff based on fantasy, Sci fi and horror