So 2022 has come to an end. As we take our first tentative steps into a brand new year, I’d like to take this chance to look back at my highlights from Magic The Gathering across 2022. Just like the last two years, I’ve handpicked a Top 10 list of cards that cover the gamut of different aspects of the game. As you might expect, the list is entirely subjective to what Magic was to me last year. Hopefully my thoughts and insights complement your own as we explore the past 12 months in our mutual favourite card game.
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
I love Kiki-Jiki. He’s one of my favourite cards of all time. Kiki-pod was the deck that initially drew me into my favourite format: Modern. With that said, it saddens me to say that I am so tired of seeing Kiki’s latest homage on the other side of the battlefield. Fable of the Mirror-Breaker might just be the most powerful card printed last year (and second in ubiquity after my #1 pick for the year).
The Fable provides so much value across multiple turns, it’s often just too hard to keep up. It’s a real shame that the only cards that really deal with it on a one-for-one basis are counterspells. If you kill the Fable, they keep the treasure-making Goblin. If you kill the Goblin to slow their ramp, they still get the other chapter effects. Then, at the end of it all, they get a Kiki-Jiki.
Fable has been turning up all over Standard, of course, but it has also made it back as far as Red-based Prison and Stompy decks in Legacy (and some people have even been trying it out in Vintage). A threat/value-engine like Fable being this prevalent could be a problem, but the metagames seems to have adapted to survive it.
I just wish that they hadn’t pushed it as much as they did. Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is the sort of card I want to like. A value-engine that becomes an homage to one of my favourite creatures -and one that lets you reuse enters-the-battlefield triggers to boot -is right up my alley. I’ve just seen enough of this card in just 2022 to last me a lifetime.
30th Anniversary Edition
Presented without comment.
Now, a note on the actual top 10. As I warn every year, this list is entirely subjective. I’m trying to showcase my favourite parts of 2022 in Magic, so my top cards probably won’t line up with any other lists out there. Anyway, to start off the list, we have:
#10: Kappa Cannoneer
I like turtles.
I also like artifacts and killing my opponent extremely fast.
Kappa Cannoneer came to use from the Kamigawa Neon Dynasty Commander decks, but quickly moved into eternal formats. Older Magic has a plethora of playable archetypes built around a bunch of cheap artifacts, and Kappa Cannoneer slides right into these decks.
I’ve had a Legacy Affinity deck on the side ever since my friend showed me how quickly you can kill someone with a turn-two Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas in that format. Now, that deck has another powerful finisher, even if Tezzeret was cut a while ago.
#9: Jinnie Fay, Jetmir’s Second
While Kaldheim and Streets of New Capenna were in Standard together, I had great fun with a Elves list in Standard. I won’t say the deck was going to win any tournaments, but I have to throw Magic‘s premier format a bone somewhere on this list. I just loved combining Jinnie with Elven Ambush to turn a horde of Elves into a flurry of Cats. Other roleplayers in that deck were Elvish Warmaster and Gala Greeters for a very token-focused variant on Elves.
It’s one of the few times I’ve actually bothered sticking with Standard for more than just a dabble in the last year. It helps that she’s also fabulous.
#8: Queen Kayla bin-Kroog
You might remember my excitement for Kayla back in my set review for The Brothers’ War. While I haven’t worked out where she will finally land, I’ve been messing around with some silly four-colour Elves builds on Magic Arena. I even got my wish from that set review: they released Shaman of the Pack in an Explorer Anthology. Now I can repeatedly drop multiple Elves into play alongside a Shaman with Kayla, replacing my hand each time.
I don’t think these builds are going to amount to anything truly competitive, but damn is it fun.
#7: 40K Sagas
Each year I have an entry on the list for a card/set of cards that stood out to me for their art. This year, the cycle of four Sagas in Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000 Commander Decks. Each of these pieces is an in-fiction image that represents a historical event in the 40K universe.
I was a Warhammer player before I was a serious Magic player (even if I did own some Magic cards first) and seeing new art in this setting that I love is great. The Necron deck’s The War in Heaven and the Chaos deck’s The Horus Heresy especially stand out to me. One uses the muted colours of an ancient wall carving from a degrading Tomb World. The other is a bright stained-glass window in some cathedral of the Imperium that has fallen to the Ruinous Powers. Both contain two contrasting elements: the decayed upper half of The War in Heaven compared to the pristine lower half; and the crisp and clean colours of the stained-glass window itself compared to the rudimentary and dirty Chaos iconography imprinted at the bottom. They’re a perfect intersection of two hobbies from two different times in my life.
The other two decks also have Sagas that look cool, but it’s the first two that really stand out to me. All four look gorgeous rendered in the product’s ‘surge’ foiling, whether or not they’re curling.
#6: Soul of Windgrace
Now, something that doesn’t come up as much here on HexaGorgon is the kind of Commander decks I play. With all the focus on Elves and Draft, I don’t get to talk about my adventures in the format. Anyway, one of my most beloved EDH decks of all time is The Gitrog Monster. A deck entirely built around Lands-in-Graveyard synergies. Eventually, that deck morphed into Lord Windgrace when he released.
As a result of all this, a new Jund-coloured Lands-in-Graveyard Legend is right up my alley. Soul of Windgrace does everything my deck wants to do: discard lands; recur lands; and draw cards. Alongside some other Commander entries on the list, I can’t wait to take it for a spin.
#5: Roothpath Purifier
I haven’t found a home for Rootpath Purifier yet. However, the card fascinates me. The most obvious use is allowing cards like Evolving Wilds and Rampant Growth to search out my beloved Gaea’s Cradle. Then you consider how it makes Cradle immune to Wasteland and unaffected by Blood Moon. Other random, niche interactions like this must be made possible by that one line of text. However, I don’t know what format wants to pay four mana for this effect. Despite that, I still love Rootpath Purifier for the potential it represents.
#4: Trazyn the Infinite
We’re still on the EDH train for this entry. Trazyn the Infinite is my latest Commander passion project. As a Necrons player and a lover of nonsense combos, I was extremely happy to see these two interests collide.
Trazyn is basically a Necrotic Ooze for artifacts – a very interesting niche. He combos off if you so much as look in his direction with any number of different cards. Infinite mana with Sol Ring and Pili-Pala. Mill everyone out once you include Grindclock. Infinite anything with Staff of Domination. Nonsense amounts of damage with Phyrexian Devourer and Walking Ballista. All of these are possible by just getting those cards into your graveyard. Good thing they also printed Disciples of Gix this year.
I’ve had great fun theory-crafting this new deck and putting the pieces together. Now I just need to actually find a group who want to play against it! Trazyn definitely takes the trophy for my favourite new Commander of 2022.
Best New Old Card: Fiend Artisan
As is tradition now, before the Top 3, I need to give out the Best New Old Card award. This award is given to a card that wasn’t new in the year in question, but has gained new context during that year.
Now, Fiend Artisan isn’t that old. Ikoria wasn’t too long ago. However, in builds of Elves across Modern, Legacy and even Vintage, Fiend Artisan really hit its stride in 2022.
This little (at first) Nightmare provides a toolbox of options that an ex-Birthing Pod player such as myself loves. You can fetch silver bullets against specific strategies. Or you can get distracting side-threats in grindier match-ups where you expect one to die. Then, after the dust has settled, Fiend Artisan gets swole from all the creatures that have been sacrificed or removed across the game.
Powered up by the absurd mana that Gaea’s Cradle can generate, Fiend Artisan even helped spawn a new archetype in the Eternal formats: Cradle Control.
And my favourite interaction of all, Fiend Artisan can fetch Grist, the Hunger Tide, an alumn of last year’s Top 10 list. Then Grist provides bugs to sacrifice to Artisan and mills cards to grow it.
#3: Haywire Mite
Such an innocuous little card, Haywire Mite provides so much. Of course, this cool new bug is a sideboard card, but it has applications in a bunch of older formats. For starters, its most important application is as an Urza’s Saga search target that provides artifact/enchantment removal. You can also go and find it pre-emptively (whenever your Saga goes off) and still have it around for when it’s needed. Not only is this use relevant to me, with my variants of Elves running Urza’s Saga, but across any Saga deck that can access Green mana.
In addition to this, as a Chord of Calling player, Haywire Mite provides the cheapest possible Chord target for killing artifacts and enchantments. It’s the same mana investment as Masked Vandal, but without the graveyard requirement and with the ability to break up the mana across turns. Again, this can also be done pre-emptively.
Overall, this tiny bug is the card I was most excited about from the entirity of The Brothers’ War and the surrounding releases.
#2: Boseiju, Who Endures
Boseiju, Who Endures is a simple, yet powerful utility land. It has quickly become a ubiquitous card across every format. As a result, you’d think I’d hate it like I do some other cards that end up in a similar place. However, unlike things like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, my dishonourable mention for the year, Boseiju is an answer, rather than a threat.
Having a release valve for powerful cards in older formats that try to lock you out of the game is extremely useful. Most decks won’t have maindeck outs to something like The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, Chalice of the Void or Blood Moon. Giving them an option against those kinds of cards feels like it leads to a healthy environment. As a downside, you can’t just pack your deck with these in place of four lands. Legendary really does mean you run the risk of Stone Raining yourself if you do.
Maybe someday we’ll look back on this cycle of lands as being too good at what they do. For now, however, I’m glad to have them around.
#1: Luxior, Giada’s Gift
So, what beats out a card seeing play in every single format it’s legal in to be crowned the best of 2022? Well, it’s a card that led me on a new, personal deckbuilding adventure.
Rounding out an all-colourless top 3 for 2022, we have Luxior, Giada’s Gift. Luxior is intended as a cool build-around so you can turn your planeswalkers into creatures and beat your opponent with them. Instead, however, it has become the lynchpin of an entire new variant of Elves I’ve been developing across 2022. You see, Luxior can substitute for a piece in one of my favourite combos to include in Elves: Devoted Druid + Vizier of Remedies. A Druid holding this sword can generate infinite mana, never dying to its own -1/-1 counters.
There are two other important factors at play here. Firstly, Luxior is an artifact that costs a single generic mana. Secondly, it’s also an equipment. Suddenly, we have a Devoted Druid combo piece that can be found with two of the most powerful tutors in Modern: Stoneforge Mystic and Urza’s Saga.
The resulting abomination was the combination of Elves, Devoted Druid Combo, Stoneblade and Urza’s Saga decks, and I love it. The different overlapping pieces and tutor targets allow for some seriously fun silver bullets. There are a bunch of different lines of play that are rewarding to figure out. I also felt the deck always had game against every strategy we played against on stream.
This makes Luxior a more important card to me personally than Boseiju, Who Endures. The big tree is definitely the more powerful and useful card from a general perspective, but this is a personal list.
I’m looking forward to developing the deck more in 2023. If you want to catch previous runs with the deck, you can find them over on our Youtube channel.
So that was 2022. This year’s list was definitely more varied. I spent most of last year talking about Modern Horizons 2. I also focused much more on Elves and Elf-adjacent cards.
I’m glad 2022 pulled from more formats and archetypes: Magic is a diverse game, after all. I hope 2023 will be as varied as its predecessor. However, I do fear for our chances as Phyrexians take over not only the Multiverse, but also our creatures’ type lines.
I’ll see you next time for our usual Elves All The Way Down Review. We’ll be tackling Phyrexia: All Will Be One. In the meantime, have fun in your games and take a moment to look back at your favourite parts of Magic from 2022.
Jamie is a MtG and assorted gaming enthusiast who wants to bring his enjoyment and passion for games to everyone.