Are you ready for Amonkhet? We are about to head on over and get our Egyptian themed Nicol Bolas on! And with the introduction of the Masterpiece series moving forward for all of the expansion sets, what would we see get printed in Amonkhet?
This article was inspired in part by me looking last week at ten cards I’d love to see get reprinted this year in 2017. Three of those were specifically cards that I thought made a lot of sense for Amonkhet Masterpieces. But there are a lot more out there, so what would I expect to see in the Amonkhet Masterpiece section of the next two expansion sets?
I suspect the Amonkhet Masterpiece series will be the first one that doesn’t have a mechanical correlation. What do I mean when I say that? Well, it’s easy. Both the Zendikar Expeditions and the Kaladesh Inventions are lands or artifacts respectively. We only have a few permanent types. We can’t continue to have mechanical connections like that every set. Especially since it would be hard to do multiple times. For example, take enchantments. There are only so many high profile enchantments you could print if Amonkhet had an enchantment theme. If you printed them all, how would the next enchantment theme work? There’s only so many times you can ring around the rosie before you run out of posies.
So what do I expect to see? Well really two sort of cards evoke my radar. The first are those that can be directly tied to Nicol Bolas himself. Let me give you an example from the Reserve List that could not be used anyway — Treachery. Nicol Bolas has been shown to steal stuff, and it deals with the sort of line of sight that he has. It could easily be reconcepted as a Nicol Bolas card. Another example is the flavor of Egypt and other places, as well as the basic opportunity to prove one’s mettle, mentioned in the central concept of the plane. So any card, not on the Reserve List, that would make sense is an interesting take.
Could we run into something like Desert? Note that Desert has a subtype, Desert. So they could reprint it and have some other Desert subtype lands and then some cards that care about Deserts, evoking the sense of Desert Nomads and Camel. Shoot, if you reworded the Desertwalk ability, you could arguably reprint Desert Nomads as is. Have you ever drafted Desert Nomads? Nope? Wouldn’t you want to!?!?!
But nah. A card also needs to have some level of cachet as well for this series. Now we need to remember that both previous entries in the Masterpiece series are probably going to be a lot better than the cards we’ll see moving forward from top to bottom. Remember that every one of these sets in the past has some lower profile reprints that very few were clamoring for. Every From the Vault had its Shivan Gorge, Virtue's Ruin, Char, or Dragon Whelp. Every Masters set had its Arcanis, the Omnipotent, Chimeric Mass, or Jugan, the Rising Star. And I can’t recall anyone asking for a primped up version of Meekstone or Static Orb that we saw in the Kaladesh Masterpiece series. I would expect that, moving forward, we’ll have some major cards with strong reputations to help sell, and then some weaker entries underneath.
Now last week I mentioned that three cards that I wanted to see reprinted badly are ones that could be easily conceived as Amonkhet Masterpieces — Damnation, Bribery, and Cruel Tutor. All three are in the “Nicol Bolas Inspired” section, and I think we’d agree that all three are great mechanical ties to Bolas as well.
Now there are some others that I think are major ties to Bolas and would make a lot of sense to see reprinted here as Masterpieces, either for Amonkhet initially, or it’s follow up, Hour of Devastation. So let’s take a look!
Honorable Mention #1 -Endless Horizons
I see this as a powerful Amonkhet flavored card, with art that evokes a sense of the plane just selling the piece. Endless Horizons over a desert scene.
Honorable Mention #2 – Propaganda
Holy Crap! Duh! This thing would be a hit for casual folks everywhere, right? We don’t often see cards like these printed much outside of decks because they aren’t mechanically in the right color — Propaganda was moved to White’s Ghostly Prison. We’ve only seen it in Commander products, on three occasions already. But a prime foil? That’d be sexy. Did you know that we’ve never had a foil Propaganda ever? Not as a judge foil or a promo or anything. Doesn’t that seem off to you? And wouldn’t the concept of the Propaganda of Nicol Bolas make a lot of sense here?
Hmmm . . . A set named Hour of Devastation and we have a card called Devastation from the Portal and Starter sets most people haven’t heard of? The Portal version is around 20 bucks. There is demand for this card. Why? A few places. First, for Commander, it’s nice to have another Obliterate / Jokulhaups effect for those decks that seek the redundancy. Second, unlike those, this works amazingly well with artifacts. It only blows up creatures and lands. So you can easily play this in a deck with a lot of mana rocks and retain those great mana making trends post-Devastation. If you think the play on words would work for other cards instead, might I suggest Hour of Reckoning as well?
9. Deserted Temple
I feel like Deserted Temple is the land that was most missed by the Zendikar Expedition cycle. It’s never been reprinted, it’s played in a lot of places, and right now a NM copy sets you back $12 dollars here at Coolstuffinc.com. Wouldn’t this make way too much sense flavored with an Egyptian set of art? It’s the perfect sort of card to see reprinted as a Masterpiece.
8. Dark Ritual
Normal Dark Rituals are worth very little. The cheapest are around a buck a piece. But pimped up versions are worth a ton. The promo and foil versions of Dark Ritual are worth a ton of money. This would seem to me to be the Ornithopter of Amonkhet, with a low street value in other places, but a very high foiled and high profile card one. This is a card I could see all day long in Amonkhet. I can even see the art in my mind. Imagine a sacrifice in an Egyptian themed temple or pyramid, with the image of Nicol Bolas in the sky looking down, and a priest about to slay the sacrifice. Or a priest doing a rite in that same place, slashing his body where his blood falls, first a fresh blood red and then turned to a dark sickly black as it falls into a bowl at the bottom, with a cloud heading up from the bowl, and the image of Nicol Bolas in the cloud. Man this thing would be awesome!
7. Reanimate / Hypergenesis
The cycle of life and death is one of key importance in Egyptian mythology. I can’t imagine it not being a valuable one here as well. I was looking at cards like Life // Death for inspiration, but that’s too cheap. Instead I went with this pair. Reanimate on the other hand is expensive, played all over place, prized by a lot of people, and has a pricetag of between 20 and 30 dollars based on the version, and is very hard to find. Wouldn’t it make sense as one example of the life and death concepts in Amonkhet? Similarly, with it banned in Modern, Hypergenesis can’t be given a new printing in Modern Masters 2017. What about here though? And both clearly fit the life and death themes of the base belief system.
Unless they have been reprinted later, the cards from the first Commander set back in 2011 have risen in value considerably, especially if the card is either a really good cards worth investing in or relatively unique. Stranglehold is both. And that’s why it’s at $10 for a near mint copy right now. I could easily see this with a Nicol Bolas flavor. Don’t forget that NB is Red too. And this works just on opponents and thus feels very Bolas-esque, both in flavor and in mechanics.
5. Mind Twist
Nicol Bolas is known for one major thing in virtually every incarnation of himself. His maddening touch of discarding cards. You will discard, and you will discard hard. We need to evoke that hard. Now I could see some powerful cards for Modern or Legacy here like Thoughtseize. And you could have Thoughtseize in a Masterpiece too. But Mind Twist is the most powerful, iconic, and hated discard spell of all time. It was actually banned in Vintage for years. Not restricted, but banned. Do you know how powerful and hated you have to be to get banned in that format? Having a beautiful, iconic, reprint of this classic as a Masterpiece in 2017? Doesn’t it seem like it’s time; like Nicol Bolas is the right fit?
4. Test of Endurance
We know that there is an aspect of tests and such in the world. At first I thought a Masterpiece of all of the five enchantment win-the-game effects would make sense. Battle of Wits! Epic Struggle! Mortal Combat! Chance Encounter! All of flavorful names and concepts that work with the world. But the other four aren’t worth a lot of money. Shoot, Battle of Wits, (whose art is my Monday’s column art, in case you hadn’t noticed, as a subtle throw back to my Five Color roots) is a bulk rare after 2 core set reprints. You can get a foil Battle from Magic 2013 for a buck. Mortal Combat is the same, with a core set reprint, and a bulk rare status. But the Test isn’t and we all know why . . . cough . . . COMMANDER . . . cough. It’s never been reprinted, and you only need ten more life than your starting total to care. And the Test certainly fits mechanically and flavor-ly with Amonkhet.
3. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
This makes perfect sense to reprint. First, the big bad of Kaladesh is running around, so reprinting a copy here works. It creates a little union with the sets. It gives players enjoying the artifact-friendly themes to get another tool for their kitchen table. We found out that Tezzeret is still in the service of good ol’ Nicol Bolas, so the Agent of Bolas version of him still makes sense from a flavor perspective. Remember, most Planeswalkers are printed as they are at the current time, capturing that one moment of their lives. Ajani is no longer Ajani Vengeant and Sarkhan is not Sarkhan the Mad anymore. But Tezzeret is still serving Bolas, so this is a good card from a variety of angles.
2. Land Tax
This might feel a bit out of place, but follow me on this and I will take you across the wilderness. First, its financial value perfectly matches what you would expect from a Masterpiece, right? You can easily have a promo of Land Tax that really is beautiful. Now flavor wise, I suspect that the world created by Nicol Bolas is going to be one that gives our good Elder Dragon regular tariffs and taxes, in order to give him a set of bounty. Makes sense. Finally, and this is pure flavor, but Land Tax and Nicol Bolas were first printed in the Legends set. And I can totally see them having a high profile Legends reprint as a Masterpiece as they bring back Nicol Bolas. This makes too much sense to me.
1. Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
Duh. I think it makes total sense to have a new edition of Nicol Bolas in Planeswalker form in Amonkhet as well as a reprinting of the original here. Especially because Dark Intimations could be used for this as well. Another option would be to reprint the original Nicol Bolas in Masterpiece form instead, but I like this better.
And there you are! Ten(ish) more cards that I think would make a lot of sense seeing the Masterpiece treatment in Amonkhet or Hour of Destruction this year. What do you think of my list? Anything in here you agree with? So what do you think will see print? And what do you want to see print (those are not necessarily the same thing, I might really, really want to see Imperial Seal get the Masterpiece treatment, but I think we all know that’s unlikely given its cost on the secondary market and recent judge promo-ship).
See also —Desert Twister, which could be primed for a comeback. Now if Sinkhole hadn’t been reprinted for the first time as a non-promo since 1994, then I would have included it below as primed for a Masterpiece themed comeback. But it was, so we are fine on that end. Is it too soon to do another Ancient Tomb? This time with Amonkhet flavoring?
Would they be willing to print a card that’s normally part of a cycle, but instead could be on its own flavor-wise? I’m thinking Underground River. I think an under-the-sands concept for it would be really cool. Most of this cycle of off flavor, like Karplusan Forest or Adarkar Wastes. But Underground River would work.
It’s too bad about the Reserve List or how about Cyclopean Tomb?
Anyways, thanks for reading! Who can’t wait for Amonkhet? This Guy!