Jumpstart 2022 - Legendary Creature Review
(Ashcoat of the Shadow Swarm | Illustrated by Christina Kraus)
Jumpstart 2022: Legendary Review | Nonlegendary Review | cEDH Review | Reprint Review
Jumpstart 2022 showed up seemingly out of nowhere, and it's already making waves. With 14 new legends to build around, the Magic: the Gathering community is already buzzing about the likes of Kibo, Auntie Blyte and Ashcoat but there's plenty more cool design space among the Jumpstart 2022 legendaries.
Let's jump in and see what we've got!
Lita, Mechanical Engineer
Okay, admittedly, we're starting with one of the legends I consider just... fine. The art is so reminiscent of Astar , a Canadian PSA robot who taunts children with their ability to regenerate, which is probably why I don't feel a lot of love for Lita.
Lita untaps your artifact creatures at the beginning of your end step and provides an ability that pushes out 5/5 flying Zeppelin Vehicles. The untap is narrower than, say, Drumbellower or White Plume Adventurer, but Lita can live in the command zone. Don't forget, at your end step, if you Crewed your Zeppelins on your turn, they'll be ready to be Crewed again once more at the table's go-round. Double up on Reckoner Bankbuster activations early.
I think the strongest synergy is of course using mana dorks, like Ornithopter of Paradise and Palladium Myr. Don't discount cost reduction from Foundry Inspector or Cloud Key, with the nod to the Inspector for being an artifact creature that untaps and can therefore Crew.
Shorikai, Genesis Engine decks will be happy to see this, but I reckon Greasefang, Okiba Boss, Depala, Pilot Exemplar, and Astor, Bearer of Blades will also welcome Lita to their 99s. We got a lot of Powerstone support recently, and I'd say Lita's deck would make for a great spot for these cards.
Isu the Abominable
The best way to tell if a commander is disgusto busto is to determine how good it is at resource generation and card advantage. Isu the Abominable is a card that can do both in a way. It's a secret Future Sight that lets you play snow cards from your library.
Pack the deck with nothing but snow lands. Even your dual lands can be snow thanks to Kaldheim. Also, thanks to that set, snow basics are still pretty cheap! Also also, any silly reason to include Heidar, Rimewind Master is good enough for me. (He always looks so shocked!)
With a total of 71 snow cards in its colors, Isu's deck currently pretty much builds itself if you want to take a blind approach to deckbuilding. What I also really like about Isu is the option of building the Yeti's pile as a Simic or Azorius deck. With its Bant identity, it's hard to imagine Isu making it into the 99 of many decks.
There aren't many cards that care about playing things from "anywhere but your hand" - those that came to mind immediately were Drannith Magistrate and Aerial Extortionist, which care about your opponents doing that - but I did manage to spot Sage of the Beyond and Vega, the Watcher both from our time on Kaldheim.
Cards not to miss are Adarkar Valkyrie, Ohran Frostfang, Replicating Ring, Moritte of the Frost, and of course, Dark Depths.
Ashcoat of the Shadow Swarm
I won't mince words: if I see this commander hit the table, I am going to hold up removal specifically to take it out. Ashcoat of the Shadow Swarm is pretty insane. Its pump effect does only trigger on attack or block, but there are so many ways to protect this Rat Warlock. Swiftfoot Boots, Whispersilk Cloak, Malakir Rebirth, Darksteel Plate, Commander's Plate, and many more.
Putting Lightning Greaves and churning out Rats turn after turn when your commander is out is going to be hard to contend with. I still think Marrow-Gnawer might be the better Rat commander because of the evasion it gives. The fact that Ashcoat triggers on block too means that you're building a wall of Rats that are going to be extremely difficult to get through.
I haven't even touched on the last ability that ensures that you get back your Relentless Rats or Rat Colony when they die. There's baked-in resilience and swarm anthem. I think this is going to make for a tough opponent and an easy game for the pilot. Very cool, but I'm already groaning. Gotta play more spot removal, I guess!
Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence
What a little weirdo.
I wish that could be my review. Clean. Concise. Auntie Blyte is a little weirdo. Get out, get paid. Done.
This is a cool indication of a new direction that the design team is testing out, and it is interesting. It's a design that perfectly plays into the whole "devil-on-your-shoulder-telling-you-to-do-bad-things" joke of the card.
How will it play? No idea. Having a three-mana creature that doesn't protect itself means that there's a good chance that after dealing a ton of damage to yourself and moving to swing, Auntie Blyte's getting sniped. Prepare your Bolt Bends and Deflecting Swats.
Pyrohemia allows you to dump your red mana into it and grows Auntie Blyte while keeping her around because you're taking damage every time too. This allows you to wipe the board and get in for a big chunk of damage which you've already done with the enchantment.
Pair Auntie with a vigilance-granting Equipment, and you've got two players gone if you can remove enough counters.
I have no idea where Auntie Blyte fits in the 99. Maybe Rakdos, the Showstopper or Raphael, Fiendish Savior since she's a Devil. Maybe a Mardu "stop hitting yourself" shell is in the works, where Selenia, Dark Angel, Kambal, Consul of Allocation, and Liesa, Shroud of Dusk can get fiery when Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence puts her sunglasses on and comes to play.
Kibo, Uktabi Prince
If it isn't canon that Kibo is the baby resulting from Uktabi Orangutan and Uktabi Kong's art, I'm sure we can get Wizards of the Coast to cave and let us have this one.
Let's get this out of the way quickly: Kibo is a Gruul commander! Kibo's color identity is red and green because those colors appear in its text box, and that's cool unless you play Kogla, the Titan Ape Monkey and Ape theme decks... unless you don't mind changing your commander for it!
Kibo is pretty nuts. Acting kind of like a mana dork in that he can produce essentially a Gruul Food Treasure for yourself and your opponents, Kibo wants to see artifacts hit your opponents' graveyards so he and his pals can all get big and strong. There are 35 non-Changeling eligible Ape and Monkey creature cards, making the deckbuilding process pretty easy if you're going all-in on type. However, the creature type isn't super great. Sure, you've got your Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and Silverback Elder, but you've also got Gorilla Pack and Gorilla Warrior.
You can take advantage of Kibo's tap ability with Parallel Lives and Doubling Season, with the latter also making your opponents sacrificing a Treasure a double anthem for your forest-dwelling pals.
Let's not forget that Kibo also has an attack trigger that forces the defending player to sacrifice an artifact. Ultimately, if players don't have any, you could always give a Banana to everybody. That said, there are plenty of artifacts throughout Commander, and if you could avoid giving the Bananas away, I would recommend it.
Preston, the Vanisher
Presto! It's Preston, the Vanisher! One of my new favourite creatures of all time!
What's not to love about a Rabbit Wizard who copies your nontoken creatures when you Reanimate, Flicker, Momentary Blink, Polymorph, Aethermage's Touch, Chaos Warp, Aether Vial, Ao, the Dawn Sky, Atla Palani, Nest Tender, Auspicious Starrix, Bane, Lord of Darkness, Cryptic Gateway, Deathrender, The Prismatic Bridge, Sneak Attack, or Living Death that also fits in Gyruda, Doom of Depths Companion decks? Technically, even Derevi, Empyrial Tactician isn't being cast when you use her ability, so you'll get an extra untap out of the deal.
Cascade doesn't work, and "cast without paying its mana cost" doesn't work in general. If it's about casting, this guy doesn't care! But if you blink a Coercive Recruiter, you get two bodies of your own and get to take three from opponents, so yeah who needs to cast things?
This makes tokens that can be sacrificed to exile target nonland permanent. I cannot believe just how good this card is. I'll be jamming it in my The Ever-Changing 'Dane deck, where reanimating beefy death targets happens regularly and they also happen to be legendary creatures who love dying which will happen, because unlike recent trends like with Irenicus's Vile Duplication, the tokens will copy their legendary supertype. Pair Preston with Dawn of the Dead and Anointed Procession in that deck and it's easy sailing.
This also doesn't only trigger once! Brago, King Eternal and Aminatou, the Fateshifter don't have to worry about mass blinking and only getting one Illusion! An absolutely unbelievable piece of tech we've been given here.
Alandra, Sky Dreamer
This is quite reminiscent of Talrand, Sky Summoner, and now some lore lover's going to be in my mentions like "they're married" or something.
Look, blue draws cards. It's safe to say that a deck helmed by Calandra will have no trouble drawing two cards each of their turns and probably on opponents' turns. Drawing five cards in a turn is a bigger hurdle, but achievable. Using cards like Windfall and Jace's Archivist after stacking opponents' hands with Forced Fruition and Font of Mythos feels like this could be an interesting take on a non-mill mill deck, decimating opponents' libraries and then hitting them in the skies with a stacked hand that you keep stacked thanks to Reliquary Tower, Body of Knowledge, Thought Vessel, and Decanter of Endless Water. (Sidenote: Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate was a way better set than people give it credit for.)
Alandra will find her home in the 99s of The Council of Four, Azami, Lady of Scrolls, and very likely Talrand, Sky Summoner decks.
Ardoz, Cobbler of War
Ardoz is confusing to me because as a cobbler, you'd figure the shoes would make her clients faster, right? All I'm saying is that the +2/+0 side of Ogre Battledriver's ability isn't what I was expecting here. But I guess that's reflected in the Goblins she makes.
Ardoz wants you to have a ton of mana to send Goblins smacking with her activated ability, I'm sure, but there are a ton of Goblin commanders out there. There are so many interesting Goblin commanders that don't even get their due. I thought Pashalik Mons would have been the one to take off, or even Muxus, Goblin Grandee, but it looks like Krenko, Mob Boss has a stranglehold on the Goblin decks. I don't expect much for Ardoz beyond her inclusion in those decks.
That said, any decks that would like to buff their creatures that enter tapped and attacking can still get the +2/+0, so that's great news for the Alesha, Who Smiles at Death decks!
Runadi, Behemoth Caller
We have a glut of similar mana dork/mana-producing legendary green creatures, like Gilanra, Caller of Wirewood, Marwyn, the Nurturer, the extremely powerful Selvala, Heart of the Wilds, and from just a set ago, Gwenna, Eyes of Gaea, with whom Runadi would play really nice.
A Runadi, Behemoth Caller deck should probably take a lot of hints from Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma decks since mana-expensive green creatures come with some beefy power and toughness stats.
I think this will shine particularly well in Hydra decks. Zaxara, the Exemplary lets you cast an X creature to get over the five-mana-value hump and gets some gravy, meanwhile you've got haste on the Hydras that hit three power! Magus Lucea Kane similarly powers out X spell Tyranids who can get to five+ mana value pretty easily considering the green of it all. Runadi strikes me as a better role-player than commander.
Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier
Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier is easily the most buzzed about commander from Jumpstart 2022. A new-not-so-new take for Boros with a Heroic meets Radiance kind of effect, though obviously not exactly. The big one is amassing an army and targeting Agrus with the Sword of Hearth and Home trigger to copy it for the rest of your creatures for just 1W/R. That means getting as many basics as you have creatures in play and getting a bunch of enters-the-battlefield triggers as long as you're flickering nontoken creatures. We're talking green levels of mana ramp in Boros, for god's sake!
Jaxis, the Troublemaker is an obvious inclusion: for a combined three mana and discard a card, you get to make a Blitzed version of Agrus and all your other creatures. Sure, Agrus and Jaxis' token copies will die right away, but that's immediately a draw two, and if you've got Vicious Shadows or Impact Tremors, you've got your gravy set up just nice. If you've got a huge board, you're hitting for plenty and drawing a ton. We're talking blue levels of card draw in Boros, for god's sake!
I would love to see Agrus in a blink deck or get targeted with a Demonic Gifts before a board wipe. A four-colour deck that uses Willowdusk, Essence Seer to pump your board rewarding you for life gain or loss, perhaps? Marath, Will of the Wild can be taken down to 1/1 and then replenish its counters if you pay into Aggie's trigger once he's blessed with the bounty of counters.
Be sure to include Agrus in your decks that allow for it to see what kind of incidental value you can add to your games. Remember, Aggie's trigger only happens when he's the target of an ability (activated or triggered), but not spells. Does this mean that if you've got a board of 1/1 tokens and a Skullclamp you can pay one to equip the Clamp to Agrus, then pay 1W/R to equip the Skullclamp across your board, filling your hand? Judge!
Zask, Skittering Swarmlord
I believe this is the first time we've had a Crucible of Worlds effect without any limitations in the command zone. We've had Muldrotha, the Gravetide, but this is limited to once a turn. Hazezon, Shaper of Sand restricts the lands to Deserts.
Zask, Skittering Swarmlord lets you just play those lands right from the graveyard, allowing you to pile up those Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Exploration effects and keep playing lands from the 'yard. Strip Mine is mean, but hey, it'll get the game over sooner than later. Let your Glacial Chasm hit the graveyard, you'll just play it again. Mirrorpool ability too good to resist? Why resist at all?
That's just the part of Zask that plays nice with The Gitrog Monster. Now, let's see the side Grist, the Hunger Tide likes. There are a lot more eligible Insects than I thought. There are a few new ones that are worth noting.
Canoptek Tomb Sentinel can be cast from your graveyard with Zask without Unearthing it, and it will trigger Exile Cannon, removing a nonland permanent of your choice. (Edit: Similar to Flayer of the Hatebound in a Chainer, Nightmare Adept deck, this does not work.)
Casting Caustic Caterpillar from your graveyard again is going to feel amazing. Zask does have a failsafe in place, forcing Insects that die to the bottom of your library but makes you mill two cards so you might get another cool Insect, like Canoptek Scarab Swarm, while getting rid of an opponent's graveyard and giving you a bunch of flying 1/1 Insects who'll trigger Zask when they die, milling you for two.
Ashes of the Fallen might seem like a good inclusion here, but remember that casting eligibility is checked on the stack, meaning that if a card isn't an Insect when it's out of your graveyard, then it'll go right back, you'll get your mana back like a little rewind.
Mizzix, Replica Rider
As I mentioned with Isu the Abominable, there aren't many cards that care if you cast your spells from anywhere by your hand, yet here is a solid commander for that deck. Embrace the chaos with Possibility Storm and Knowledge Pool, copying anything for two mana. Add a dash of Cascade to see what else your decks can do. Flashback, Retrace, Lier, Disciple of the Drowned, all can trigger Mizzix, Replica Rider. Shivam Bhatt will be happy for his new Neera, Wild Mage deck because Neera lets you Possibility Storm a single spell a turn, but each card cast off of her trigger can be copied. Brainstorm can become Nexus of Fate, and not paying 1U/R when that happens just feels silly.
I'm actually also shocked that Mizzix has flying and is a 4/5 because not only will she be copying anything you don't cast from your hand for a cheap fee, she's also getting in and beating face or she's a sizeable blocker. This shouldn't be ignored!
Oh, come on! Celestine, the Living Saint just came out! When Celestine was previewed, my playgroup rejoiced! This was the life gain payoff we've wanted for white for such a long time.
But here comes Rodolf Duskbringer being all handsome and having the same payoff for life gain as Celestine. Yeah, RD's trigger costs mana and Celestine's doesn't, but look at that second line. You mean I get an indestructible flying deathtoucher 4/4 with lifelink because I played a Scoured Barrens this turn? Sure, I'll take it, but it's almost too easy.
Karlov of the Ghost Council decks are ready to turn their graveyards into a revolving door of souls indebted to the Orzhov Spirits.
We haven't seen much of Oloro, Ageless Ascetic in a while, but those decks are going to get a new engine.
I love the name parallel with Reya Dawnbringer, who reanimates a creature at your upkeep (dawn), as opposed to Rodolf who does it at your end step (dusk). I love this game so much.
Kenessos, Priest of Thassa
Full disclosure: I don't care for Simic, it always feels too easy.
That said, Kenessos is the most fun-looking Simic commander I've seen in a while. A tribal lean that allows you to pick any number of types to include from Kraken, Leviathan, Octopus, and Serpent is very fun. They're massive creatures and can be cheated out for cheap, especially in green or with Training Grounds, but you need to set your top deck up. Thassa, God of the Sea is an insane card to curve into, allowing you to scry two on your upkeep when you've got Kenessos out too, setting you up perfectly for the activation.
The Temporal Anchor from The Brothers' War feels like a slam dunk in this deck while adding interesting decision points to your top and bottom deck manipulation.
I am surprised to say it, but Kenessos looks super cool for the head of a deck. In terms of its inclusion in the 99, I'm hard-pressed! Runo Stromkirk and mono-blue sea monster decks are all that come to mind. I don't know if there are any Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy or Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle sea monster decks out there, but here's a fun inclusion.
That does it for my review of Jumpstart 2022's roster of legendary creatures. Which of the 14 new commanders jumps out at you and gets your gears turning? Tell us who inspires you!