Jumpstart 2022 - cEDH Set Review

Jake FitzSimons • November 28, 2022

Preston, the Vanisher by Christina Kraus

Jumpstart 2022: Legendary Review | Nonlegendary Review | cEDH Review

G'day, jumpers, Jake FitzSimons here to review the best new cards from Jumpstart 2022 for cEDH. Why review a casual introductory set for a decidedly non-casual and non-introductory format? Because big things come in small packages: the original Jumpstart had a disproportionate impact on cEDH for its size, just 37 new cards.

Allosaurus Shepherd quickly rose to staple status, protecting all manner of green-based wins and making players everywhere wonder just how far Wizards is willing to take a single green pip. Emiel the Blessed was instantly singled out as Naya's most efficient way to go infinite with Dockside Extortionist, something the Unicorn continues to do this day. Kels, Fight Fixer saw play as a commander herself, on account of her naturally powerful color identity and being an infinite mana outlet. Even Tinybones was almost something, if not quite enough to get off the ground.

All this to say that despite targeting brand new players looking to understand this wonderful game, Jumpstart can pack a punch in the power department. So, does Jumpstart 2022 live up to its predecessor? No way. But even bad cards deserve reviews!


Ardoz, Cobbler of War

Let's run through the checklist. Card advantage? Nope. Mana advantage? Nope. Combo potential? Weirdly... yes. If you can mange to cobble together infinite mana, Ardoz will cobble together infinite Goblin tokens. This is of course doable with the help of old faithful and a Cloudstone Curio, not to mention unwieldy combos like Jeska's Will and Reiterate, but these aren't especially convenient to assemble in a mono-red deck.

More than that, Ardoz, Cobbler of War isn't the first mono-red commander to fit this bill. Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei can do it, as can Ashling the Pilgrim and Ardoz's fellow Goblin, Pashalik Mons. You'll note that none of these commanders are common sights at cEDH tables, and for good reason: being an infinite outlet is not enough to justify a commander in cEDH. Meanwhile the mono-red commanders that do see play have far leaner combos and utility besides. Red has the only "zero-card combo"1 commander in the form of Godo, Bandit Warlord, and a mana-making, Dwarf-dumping, combo-clock in the form of Magda, Brazen Outlaw, faster and fiercer than Ardoz could ever be.

Beyond flavor, an overbearing love of Goblins or the desire to upgrade your existing Pashalik Mons deck, I would avoid this Jumpstart Goblin in cEDH. There's nothing here you can't get elsewhere.

Isu the Abominable

Playing cards from the top of your library is the basis for various cEDH cards like Elsha of the Infinite, The Reality Chip, and Bolas's Citadel. With the right support, it's a powerful source of card advantage and easy to turn into a game-winning combo. Unfortunately, what separates Isu the Abominable from its predecessors is the severity of its restriction.

Granted, you'll run into Snow-covered basic lands in cEDH, but this is almost always to meet Tainted Pact requirements, very occasionally to enable Arcum's Astrolabe. Outside of the basics and the Astrolabe, you'll see an Ohran Frostfang here and there, maybe a Boreal Druid once in a blue moon, but not nearly enough playable cards to warrant a commander that relies on a snow permanent sitting on the top of the deck.

This would be a different story if Sensei's Divining Top was a snow permanent for some reason. That's not something I ever thought I would want, but here I stand, looking at the first ever legendary Yeti and wondering what a Bant alternative to Elsha of the Infinite would play like. Ultimately, Isu the Abominable is a fun and flavorful card, but not one that belongs at a cEDH table.

In the event you have your heart set on snow (Christmas is right around the corner), I would recommend looking into Jorn, God of Winter. He has access to better combos, he can break parity on stax effects, and he can produce a lot of mana once the snow starts piling up. Check out this cEDH list!

Kenessos, Priest of Thassa

It's not quite Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy, it's not quite Thrasios, Triton Hero, it's Kenessos, Priest of Thassa, a different Simic two-drop with an infinite mana outlet! It's also a significantly worse infinite mana outlet because it provides no relevant card advantage to speak of (everything I just said about Isu the Abominable applies here, just replace snow with Kraken, Leviathan, Octopus, or Serpent), but if you insist on doing things the hard way, Kenessos, Priest of Thassa can get you there via Hullbreaker Horror and Realmwalker.

Simply tutor Hullbreaker Horror to the top with a top deck creature tutor, cheat it into play with Kenessos, Priest of Thassa, and produce infinite mana as you usually would with Hullbreaker Horror. You'll need to replace the Sol Ring with an Arcane Signet or Fellwar Stone, but once you've got infinite colored mana you can activate Kenessos, Priest of Thassa until you land Realmwalker. Name Human with Realmwalker and you can keep activating Kenessos until Spellseeker is on top. Search for Finale of Devastation, reset the Realmwalker with Hullbreaker so you can put every other creature into play, cast the Finale of Devastation for something ridiculous, and bam, you've got yourself a win.

There's no real reason to choose Kenessos, Priest of Thassa over the superior Simic options available, but I love to highlight the community's ingenuity and relentless efforts to push everything to its absolute limit. Full credit to EisenherzMTG for finding this line, you can check out his cEDH YouTube channel here.

Kibo, Uktabi Prince

The natural conclusion to the rich lore established in Uktabi Orangutan and Uktabi Kong, Kibo, Uktabi Prince reminds us what being a Gruul mage is all about. See fig. 1 for more information on this.

Jumpstart 2022 cEDH
Fig. 1 | "You are a Gruul mage"

Kibo, Uktabi Prince is a bit heavier on the monke side, but the sentiment of the cute Elf girl is there. What's cuter than handing out free bananas? Anyway, let's be honest about the potential of a commander that actively makes mana for your opponents: it's very low. Whichever way you peel the banana, for Kibo to meet even one requirement for cEDH viability (mana production) he'll need to fulfill it for everyone else as well. It should come as no surprise that group hug effects aren't good at competitive tables.

You could fill a Kibo deck with the likes of Collector Ouphe, Null Rod, Karn, the Great Creator to stop artifacts from being used at all, followed by Meltdown and Brotherhood's End and their ilk to guarantee Kibo triggers, but you'd be left with a stax deck that has to rely on unplayable Monkeys and Apes to actually close the game out.

The best thing I can find to pair with Kibo is Viridian Revel, but aside from being impossible to tutor in Gruul, it's still just card advantage paired with your commander. Until Studio X sees fit to design something that combos with Bananas, Kibo belongs elsewhere. The search for a competitive monke commander continues.

Pirated Copy

Great name, very unfortunate mana cost. At three mana or so, this would serve as an interesting source of card advantage by targeting a Tymna, a Yuriko, or anything else on the field you know your opponent is going to keep swinging with.

It also suffers from the terribly unfortunate combat damage stipulation. If it simply read "deals damage" it would work the same as Curiosity, Keen Sense, or Ophidian Eye and make for another combo piece with Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Granted, it would still be five mana, but at least that way it would have been on the right track. Next.

Preston, the Vanisher

You might be so bold to accuse me of writing this whole review as an excuse to talk about Preston, the Vanisher. You might be right. It's easily the strongest card in the set from a cEDH perspective, low as the Jumpstart 2022 bar might be. The easiest combo you can execute with Preston, the Vanisher requires a furry friend, Felidar Guardian2. With Preston, the Vanisher in play you need only flicker, reanimate, or otherwise cheat Felidar Guardian into play and hey presto, you've got yourself infinite mana and infinite 0/1 Illusions.

Combo explainer on Commanderspellbook

That's... almost a win. Yes, you've essentially executed a one-sided and aptly named Play of the Game, but you'll likely have to pass the turn anyway: infinite 0/1s are about as threatening as infinite 0/0s. If an opponent happens to have Thassa's Oracle and Demonic Consultation in hand, they can still untap and pay for it cleanly with their remaining lands. That won't come up often, but there's a reason the vast majority of cEDH combos win the game on the spot rather than requiring another cycle around the table.

Compared to Heliod, Sun Crowned, capable of winning immediately with just one other card (Walking Ballista), Preston, the Vanisher probably won't have what it takes. Mono-white has various inherent disadvantages, none of them solved with Preston. While Preston could theoretically generate a lot of advantage with profitable enter-the-battlefield triggers and reliable blink effects, they don't yet exist in such numbers and quality to build an entire deck around. Likely not a commander, but there's still potential in the 99!

Many cEDH players ask the question: "Is this a card for Winota? My gut says not quite, but let's run through why it might be. For one, two is better than one. Doubling up on stax effects is potent. A single Ethersworn Canonist is a headache for the whole table, but someone will find removal eventually. Preston, the Vanisher forces them to find two pieces. Some Human stax effects even work better in multiples, like Sanctum Prelate and Glowrider. Preston can even improve your nonHuman token creators with an Illusion of Loyal Apprentice.

Speaking of improving your nonHuman count, the tokens that Preston are always Illusions, never Humans. The exponential effect this creates is overwhelming - each new flip with Winota guarantees successive flips. And then to the major downside: Preston is a Rabbit. Not a Human. That means you'll have to pay the honest cost of four mana, creating a little tension on the mana curve. Preston won't do anything until Winota, Joiner of Forces is in play and you have flippers, at which point the deck is already in a good position. I fear Preston will prove a bit "win more", but at least he's "win a lot more".

The best home for Preston will be under the wing of Derevi, Empyrial Tactician. Typical Derevi lists already use Felidar Guardian by virtue of its utility with Birthing Pod. Beyond Felidar Guardian, Derevi also relies on Emiel, the Blessed for its primary combo line, and some lists dabble in Eldrazi Displacer. Essentially, it won't be hard to make Illusions.

But the real appeal is the new winning lines Preston creates with Birthing Pod and Yisan, Wanderer Bard in Derevi, Empyrial Tactician. Fetch out Felidar Guardian with either green tutor while you have Preston in play and you won't just have infinite mana, you'll have infinite untaps as well. Which means infinite pod triggers!


Chumpstart 2022

So, what's the strongest cEDH card from Jumpstart 2022? The Rhystic Study reprint. Followed by Walking Ballista, then Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. Oh, strongest new card? Preston, the Vanisher. Blink synergies aren't new to white, but they're rarely this interesting. It's certainly a card to keep your eye on, even if it doesn't immediately find a home.

These are the last new cards3 we'll see for 2022, and I think it's fair to say we're ending the year with a whimper rather than a bang. And that's okay! I don't expect every new set of cards to have an impact on cEDH, but it's fun to evaluate them nonetheless.

All up, 2022 has been a powerful year for cEDH, even if Jumpstart 2022 hasn't contributed to it. It's not on par with 2016 4 or 2020 5, but the earlier half of the year saw some huge developments across the format. Stay tuned for my year in review where we'll go over the best and worst and have a good laugh at everything I got wrong!


 

  1. Obviously it requires cards, but it is unique as the only commander that not only goes infinite with another card, but finds that card. As nothing needs to be in your hand to execute this combo, some think of it as a zero-card combo.
  2. Important to note that this combo won't work with Abdel Adrian, Gorion's Ward. The legendary rule kicks in and precludes the chance to chain exiles
  3. That we know of. There's usually something unexpected over Christmas.
  4. The printing of the original Partners.
  5. Deflecting Swat, Fierce Guardianship, Jeska's Will, Jeweled Lotus, Opposition Agent, Hullbreacher, Thassa's Oracle, and Underworld Breach. Arguably the most powerful year in the history of cEDH, but that's an article for another day.


Jake FitzSimons is a writer from Sydney and a Magic fiend. He's either the johnniest spike or the spikiest johnny, nobody is sure which. When he isn’t brewing or playing cEDH, he can be found writing, playing piano, and doting on his little cat.