Magic The Gathering: Let’s Talk Mechanics

Mechanics are the teach names that are given to the cards in Magic The Gathering. Essentially each card with a mechanic or a Keyword Ability would either have the same costs, act the same way or have the same effects. Each new sets in the game bring a brand new mechanic to the cards, and sometimes old mechanics back into the game. Since the newest set for Magic the Gathering is coming out in two weeks time, I think it’s best we talk about the mechanics in the new set and I will try to rate them in my own personal opinion.

Amonkhet is the new set and in them is Eqypt with Gods, Mummies, Curses and Trials. Let’s start with the first Mechanic in the set.



Embalm is the keyword ability that exists on creature cards which predominantly are in the white color pie of the set. When the creature dies and is put into the graveyard, you may at anytime cast a Sorcery (usually on your own turn), pay the Embalm cost and exile the creature. In return you put a token of an exact copy of the creature you exiled, gaining the Zombie creature type.

This very flavorful, since the set being in Egypt, embodies the flavor of a mummy. The creature dies, it gets mummified and returns back to the living as a zombie. Still, it should be a bit weaker and not the exact same since the mummy loses the ability to think. As an ability, it is a very good card advantage mechanic, since you will be getting two times the use of a single card.

Although the Embalm cost is steep most of the time, getting another use of a card is always useful. There are times when cards exile the card before you get to use the Embalm ability but it rarely happens.

Flavor = 10/10

Usefulness = 7/10


Next up is


Exert is another ability keyword that exists on the creatures of the new set which seems to appear more often on the red cards. Exert is a trigger that goes on the stack when the creature attacks. You then have a choice whether to Exert the creature or not, and if you do, you gain an ability to use. The cost being that the creature will not be able to un-tap the following turn since it is too tired to fight again.

Flavorful, very flavorful. Need I explain how flavorful it is? (I already did.) The real question is how useful would it be? Unlike Embalm where the ability is the same while the costs differ, the abilities when exerting the creatures varies while the costs remain the same. Only useful abilities would be rated highly, while some creatures may have abilities that you would not want to exert at all. There is also a time when you exert a creature and may not be able to block when the opponent drops a bigger creature.

Flavor = 10/10

Usefulness = 5/10


Third is


Aftermath is a the new split card that has two spells in one. The cards with Aftermath, as you can see from the picture, allow you to cast the spell from your hand using the top half, while the bottom half can only be cast from the graveyard. Another mechanic that gets you card advantage is that there are two cards in one but the second time you cast the card, you get a different effect.

Flavor wise, there is nothing much other than the names being play on words like “Destined” to “Lead” (as pictured). The cards usually bring two different effects, and at times, you may need the lower half effect more than the first but cannot do so until you cast the top half first. Furthermore, the cards seems to be in two colors which – if you are not playing those colors – may prevent you from playing the card, even if the card is strong. Still this rarely happens as the top half of the card is (or as the spoiler states) useful enough on its own that it can warrant being placed even in Mono Colored decks.

Flavor = 6/10

Usefulness = 7/10


Next is a returning mechanic from awhile back…


Cycling is an ability that appears in both creatures and spell cards and seem to appear in all colors (as the spoilers go). Cycling is an ability where you pay the cost and discard the card, to draw a new one. Some cycling spells have an added ability like the one in the image. Some cards may also trigger from when you cycle cards, bringing some cards to work together in tandem.

Flavor wise, not much. It seems to be an ability that is tacked onto a card without any explanation on the flavor other than being a good ability. The ability on the other hand is very useful. Cards can be situational and you might not need the effect at the current state of the game, therefore you can just discard it (for a cost) and try to draw a new card that may be helpful.

Flavor = 2/10

Usefulness = 10/10


The following mechanic is not so much a mechanic but cards that seem to have the same theme, which is


Counters seems to be a returning theme in most sets, often being plus
counters, but this set brings more negative counters than positive. As the spoilers state so far, there are cards like cycling that work in tandem with the -1/-1 counters which can bring about great combos.

Some of the cards do have the flavor of bringing -1/-1 counters but not all. Like the picture, flavor wise, it does not make sense giving the counter to a friendly creature. Usefulness depends on each card, where the counters going to the opponent are great, while the counters going to your own creatures are most of the time situational.

There are even times where it could be detrimental to play cards that put counters on your own creature that would result in you not playing the card.

Flavor = 1/10

Usefulness = 3/10


The final abilities are cards that work off each other


The trials are Enchantment cards that have certain abilities with the added trigger. When a trial is in play after, and when a Cartouche, a new type of Aura, is played, the trial is returned to hand to be able to be played again. Another mechanic that seems to ooze with some flavor, where after a trial, a Cartouche (which I would think are badges) is presented to a creature and the Trial is over. Then, the Trial presents itself for another Cartouche to be given again. Still, a creature could have the Cartouche from another Color while a Trial from another Color is in play.

The mechanic is another card advantage mechanic but requires two cards instead of one to work. You would need a trial in play and play a Cartouche to be able to gain Card Advantage. Even more is that the Cartouche has to resolve and enter the battlefield for the trial to be returned. If is countered or the creature gaining the aura is killed, the trigger won’t happen. In general, auras are not good cards, since you lose the aura when the creature dies. Sometimes it work, and sometimes it might not.

Flavor = 5/10

Usefulness = 4/10


That wraps up my personal opinions and thoughts on the new mechanics coming to the latest set of Magic the Gathering. I may be wrong and might enjoy the mechanic once I am able to play with the cards. For now, I cannot wait for the set’s pre-release so that I can mummify some cats, bringing a new kind of terror to my opponents.

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