April 10, 2017

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Daily Dose of Amonkhet – Trials and Cartouches

Welcome all to a new week of the Daily Dose of Amonkhet, where today I’m going to be talking about 10 new enchantments that have a very interesting premise behind them.

Back in Oath of Gatewatch we got a cycle of Oath Cards such as Oath of Nissa and Oath of Jace that all provided an ability when they entered the battlefield, and a secondary ability involving Planeswalkers. These have become more useful and popular over time as players find ways to reuse them, and as more Planeswalkers start to see play. Amonkhet now provides us with a series of enchantments called Trials that also provide an immediate benefit when they enter the battlefield. Their secondary ability lies in the fact that they will return to your hand if you play a new subtype of enchantments called Cartouches so that you can cast them again for even more value.

Let’s have a look at the five Trials from Amonkhet and talk about their possible impact on the format and how they compare to their Oath of the same color.

Trial of Solidarity – I was hoping that maybe, Trial of Solidarity would create some tokens of some kind, but having a pump ability for all your creatures won't have that big of an impact, unless you already have lots of creatures on the battlefield. This means in most circumstances, you won’t be playing this on turn three, which means you will have less opportunities to bounce it back to your hand. I give the advantage to Oath of Gideon as it at least brings some creatures onto the battlefield early in the game.

Trial of Knowledge – Being able to draw three cards for four mana is usually a pretty good trade-off. True, it is one more mana than Oath of Jace is, but you only have to discard one card instead of two. I think that if you have the tools to recast Trial of Knowledge, then it has an advantage over Oath of Jace. Costing one more mana makes it fall behind Oath of Jace though if you believe that you'll only be able to cast each enchantment once.

Trial of Ambition – This is one of the best two mana removal spells available right now. You'll have no problem casting it on turn two to remove any threat your opponent has put onto the battlefield. This should be the best Trial that you want to cast repeatedly and it has a significant advantage over Oath of Liliana, providing the same first ability for one less mana.

Trial of Zeal – I’m a big fan that they added the words “or player” to this card. Trial of Zeal fits right into a Red burn strategy whereas Oath of Chandra was only able to deal 3 damage to a creature. I think being able to hit players as well as creatures gives Trial of Zeal the advantage over Oath of Chandra even though it costs one more mana.

Trial of Strength – Getting a 4/2 creature for three mana is okay, but not great. Oath of Nissa is by far the better of the two cards as the card advantage and selection it can create is worth way too much. Trial of Strength will come in handy in decks that don’t play many creature spells.

Part of the advantage of Oath cards is their second, Planeswalker-centric ability, which I understand could make the Oaths better in certain decks. Now that we’ve seen the five Trials, let’s talk about the Cartouches needed to bounce the Trials back to your hand for extra value.

Cartouche of Solidarity – This card provides a 1/1 creature with Vigilance for only one mana and provides one of the best abilities for a creature, first strike. Being only one mana tricks your mind a little bit, as you can’t cast it on turn one, but you really don’t want to as you want to wait until you can bounce a Trial and pump a creature with it on turn three, four, or beyond.

Cartouche of Knowledge – I love cards that replace themselves, and by letting you draw a card Cartouche of Knowledge is the only “free” spell of the bunch. The fact that it provides evasion in the form of flying is great as well.

Cartouche of Ambition – Being able to possibly kill a creature, or at least weaken it, is a bonus with this card. Costing three mana is a bit of a deterrent to playing this card, but lifelink is a very strong ability to have. Perhaps being played in a Black/Green -1/-1 counters deck will be where this Cartouche finds a home.

Cartouche of Zeal – I do enjoy that this only costs one mana, which allows you to have the chance to chain it with recasting a Trial in the same turn. I do not like the fact that it only gives a creature haste and causes a creature to not be able to block. For the haste to be useful, it means you would have had to already cast a creature in the same turn, which most likely means you won’t also be able to recast any Trials that you bounce back to your hand.

Cartouche of Strength – I’m torn on this card as removal in the form of fighting an opponent’s creature is only valuable if you have a strong creature of your own to begin with. This applies to the trample that the creature will get as well. If you place this on a creature and it fights to kill off another creature, you'll be hesitant to block as your creature has already taken damage and your opponent will be able to trade up to kill it when blocking.

One thing to note is that the abilities provided by the Cartouches seem to line up with the secondary ability of each God of the same color. For example, Hazoret, the Fervent has haste and Kefnet, the Mindful has flying. This would lead me to believe that the black God will have lifelink, the white God will have first strike, and the green God will have trample.

What if there were more ways to take advantage of the five Trials by being able to blink them or return them to your hand without Cartouches? Here are a few cards currently in Standard that can help you get the value you are looking for from the five Trials:

Angelic Purge – After you have gotten value from your Trial, you can than sacrifice it to Angelic Purge to exile away a threat.

Felidar Guardian – This creature can provide huge value with Trials, as you won’t even need to cast them again. Probably the best way to get more value out of these new Enchantments.

Aether Tradewinds – You will have no trouble returning your Trials back to your hand so that you can recast them for more value thanks to this spell.

Aviary Mechanic – This allows you to get a 2/2 creature onto the battlefield while bouncing one of your Trials so that you can cast it again.

Crush of Tentacles – Being able to clear the board while also getting more value out of all your Trials will make it so you don’t hesitate to play the Trials early in the game.

Disappearing Act – This rarely used counterspell could become more valuable thanks to having more permanents that you want to return to your hand.

Paradoxical Outcome – Not only can you gain some cards from returning the Trials to your hand with Paradoxical Outcome, but you than get to cast them for even more sweet value.

So, what does everyone think about the possibility for these cards? I think it might be a better value route to try and blink and bounce the Trials without using Cartouches so that you don’t need to rely on creatures to put your Cartouches on. There's also the issue that some of the best Trials and the best Cartouches don’t match up colour wise, leaving you with having to play more colors than you wanted. I do believe that there is a possibility for these cards if they can find the right home.

Thanks for joining me at the start of another great preview week on the Daily Dose of Amonkhet. Join me tomorrow as we are less than 2 weeks away from Amonkhet prerelease weekend and I couldn’t be more excited!