The Best And Worst Of Magic: The Gathering In 2022
This week I decided to look back on this year in MTG. It’s been a pretty exciting year, and while the most exciting thing is the return to the Pro Tour, I wanted to look at some of the cards the year brought us together, discuss the ones I love, and of course, some that I hate. There’s no specific criteria other than how I feel about the cards.
This is a category of cards I’d love to see more of in the future. They’re fun to play with, solid rate, and make games fun.
10) Ertai Resurrected
This is an old soul’s card. Ertai Resurrected reminds me of a modern day Venser, Shaper Savant. Rather than returning the same card to the opponent’s hand, they draw a new one. Had this card been printed 10 years ago, it would have been one of the best cards in Standard. However, today it’s barely, if at all, playable. I still like a copy in my UBx decks since it gives some flexibility, but unfortunately MTG has passed by. I’d like to live in a world where this card is strong, or at least good enough, to be a format staple, but you get too much for four mana these days. I love this card, and I’m sad it’s not played more.
9) Hurkyl, Master Wizard
I’m a bit confused by this card. It seems strong on paper in a deck playing lots of cantrips. It can draw multiple extra cards a turn. I’m still looking to test this card in all formats, as it’s the exact kind of advantage I like to see on a card. It incentivizes you to play cheap, similar cards and refills your hand rather than snowballing on board. I hope to see more of Hurkyl moving forward.
8) Unleash the Inferno
Here is a simply phenomenal design. In a world where cards like Fable, of the Mirror Break and Wedding Announcement are dominating Standard, it’s nice to have a card like Unleash the Inferno to reset without having to outright counter these cards.
7) Misery’s Shadow
Andrew Brown labeled this card as “2022 Nantuko Shade” in a tweet, and he is exactly right. It’s a nice well-rounded card that adds a nice static ability to make it more desirable. Allowing any form of mana to pump into it makes it a palatable upgrade for power creep. Sweet card.
6) Archangel of Wrath
It’s a perfect world where this card is strong. This card is seeing some play in decks like Mardu Angels in Standard, but it’s underrated for Standard these days. It scales to improve its quality as the game goes on and is especially effective against aggro. It also provides a bit of value on board. It would be a delightful world where we have lots of cards like this and are constantly playing back and forth interactive MTG. More of this please.
5) Corpse Appraiser
If Misery’s Shadow is 2022 Nantuko Shade, Corpse Appraiser is 2022’s Rogue Refiner. It’s a solid three-drop with the ability to produce a bit of graveyard hate, while also being impacted by graveyard hate itself. It’s one of the main reasons Grixis Midrange is everywhere right now in Standard. Value oriented, in a good way, I love Corpse Appraiser, and it was a big reason I qualified for Worlds this year.
4) Cityscape Leveler
This mini-Ulamog is just a lot of fun to play. It’s one of those cards you know we’ll see for years to come in various formats whether it be Commander, Cube, or Pioneer in a Karn sideboard. It’s an expensive, fun-to-play-with finisher.
3) Reckoner Bankbuster
I’ve said some slanderous things about Reckoner Bankbuster in the past, but I have come around on the card. It does a lot of neat things. It’s at the appropriate power level for an artifact, as it’s not for every deck, but it still finds its ways into a lot of them.
My favorite part about the card is that it makes planeswalkers a lot worse. Planeswalkers has a history of dominating Standard. Reckoner Bankbuster, much like Heart of Kiran before it, made it tough to comfortably try and let a planeswalker run away with the game for you. Liliana of the Veil was tough to put into Standard decks despite the card having some high-ceiling spots because Bankbuster made the floor on Liliana incredibly low.
2) Ledger Shredder
I have no idea what the designers thought of this card, but it made an enormous impact in eternal formats while having minimal to no effect on Standard. I’d love to see this card played in Standard because it’s a fun card and not in the “too strong” category. This is just a great 2022 design since it’s not in your face powerful like Oko or Uro, but it’s good enough to see play in every format.
1) Fable of the Mirror Breaker
My favorite card of 2022 is Fable of the Mirror Breaker. I know we probably have many haters out there, as this was the card we all thought we’d see banned from Standard to start the year, but I enjoy playing with this card and like how it snowballs. It’s not immediate, as it takes time to get rolling. As the game progresses it gets worse and worse because you start to feel that you’re not getting that immediate impact.
This card, like Ledger Shredder, is playable in basically all formats. Fable in Standard feels like it’s difficult to beat when you’re on the draw, but in Pioneer it’s more palatable and interesting. I think this will be a staple MTG card for years to come while pushing the boundaries of needing to be banned but not actually getting there, at least yet.
Now for the category of cards I wish weren’t printed for a variety of reasons.
10) Greasefang, Okiba Boss
I don’t hate this card nearly as much as other people. It’s in that category of Tibalt’s Trickery where it can randomly win games as early as turn two, but it usually just isn’t very good. The Greasefang decks are easy to hate and aren’t that fun to play against. That said, I did have fun trying to find midrange shells postboard with the combo deck, so I think Greasefang isn’t all bad. Still, if this card was unprinted, it wouldn’t be the worst.
9) Leyline Binding
While Leyline Binding isn’t that bad, I hate trying to build manabases with it. For the regional championships, I spent time watching some friends play Keruga Fires and try to optimize the mana base. I also tried to optimize my mana base, and it’s obnoxious that playing a four- or five-color deck with this card I’ll probably never submit a 100% optimal mana base. There’s almost always one more or less Shockland or Triome you should be playing. While the card is actually fun to play with, I’d rather just not.
8) Plaza of Heroes
This land is absurdly good. What was definitely a hat tip to Commander turned into a card that single-handedly changed cards I put into my deck because it was necessary to fuel this in Esper Midrange. The ability to cast and protect any Legend and turn into a land that taps for any color makes it a bit too pushed on design for me. I did find it fun trying to find Legends to play with it, but with this and Mox Amber, and as more and more Legends are printed, this card is going to be around for quite some time. This is 2022’s Cavern of Souls.
7) Wingmantle Chaplain
This is a card that I talked and thought so much about, and all my games playing with it in Limited took far too long. It’s seemingly, but maybe not quite broken, however it might be broken in Limited. I played around 200 drafts and still don’t know where I’m supposed to have been taking this card. My line was, “If I open this and a Shield Wall Sentinel, then I’ll takes it over every common/uncommon, but otherwise I’ll ignore this card.” Clearly, this isn’t correct, but I had trouble defining what was right. I don’t like having strong opinions in Limited, so I vote to get rid of this one.
6) Light-Paws, Emperor’s Voice
I flat out don’t like Auras no matter if it’s Limited, Constructed, or Cube. Any more reason for Auras decks or Bogles decks to exist is a big no from me. This card actually has a cool design, and my only qualm with it is that it’s an Auras card. It’s different from other Auras cards, as it allows you to play a toolbox of different things that makes it more enjoyable to build with than four-ofs across the board.
5) Brotherhood’s End
Much like Ledger Shredder and Fable of the Mirror Breaker, this is a card that’s going to be ubiquitous in Magic for quite some time. It does many things at once and covers tons of bases. It’s a bit boring building sideboards when we have model cards like this with two incredibly strong modes. The existence of this card makes cheap artifact decks in eternal formats less appealing since they’ll always have two or three of this card for artifact decks and aggro. I’d rather this card didn’t exist, not because it’s too strong, but because it’s too flexible as a sideboard card.
I’m not a huge fan of model cards like this. It does too much and invalidates too much. It’s abysmal to play against with some decks, and it doesn’t feel that fun to play. Unprint please.
3) Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
I was wildly off evaluating this card. I thought this was just a fun card that would easily die, but the problem is it hits like a truck when it lives. It also protects itself in a weird way. When the opponent doesn’t have an immediate answer for it, they can’t draw an answer without losing life. It shuts off some combo or synergy decks and is not pleasant to figure out stops and triggers. I don’t think anyone on either side of the table is having fun when this card is in play. I either trade down a ton on mana and get nothing or I soloed a win with it if it gets to attack even once. I really dislike this card, and then we have the whole “stack is empty conversation” on top of it. Please disappear forever and never return.
2) Channel Lands
I realize I’m in the minority here, but I hate them. They’re way too ubiquitous and obnoxious to use to build. Otawara and Boseiju are the worst offenders. Oh, you resolved your creativity and put that big goofy creature in play? Sorry, I drew the Otawara this time. Oh Blood Moon my amulet deck? No problem, I have the Boseiju. It’s brilliant from a WotC business standpoint. Like, I look at a decklist and find a way to monetize it. Let’s give people far less incentive to play with basics and occupy those slots with more rares. Brilliant idea. However, these cards have a similar problem to Companions in that we’ll see some copies in all decks for eternity. You must own and play them, and you must build decks with this fact in mind. Boring.
I could choose to not dogpile on this product more, but I will. Basically, everything about this product was a negative from my perspective. It’s unaffordable to most, didn’t look all that nice, and no one wants to open Chaoslace in a $200 pack. It made me sad. I had in my mind that if they did print some goldboarder equivalents in the future, it would maybe be in the form of decks, cube, or a new draftable set. I find no redeeming quality in this set’s release, and most of the community feels the same. I fear that there’s no going back on this, either. It’s hard to print these at this price tag and then sell something similar that’s more affordable without upsetting the people who purchased this product. I wish M30 was never printed, as it leaves a bad taste in our mouths as we look to the new year and the first Pro Tour back.
Overall, this was a great year for MTG design-wise. We saw a scaling down of power level, cards that broke through to the Eternal stage did so because they simply worked better in Eternal formats, like Ledger Shredder and Leyline Binding, and not because of raw power level, like Oko or Uro. Limited was fun, though I think 2021 was better for Limited. We also have the return of the Pro Tour, which hopefully feels fun.
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