Best MTG cards of 2022
This year has been intense, full of novelties, formats have often been disrupted and many new expansions have been released. So how better to start 2023 than with a classic ‘best of 2022‘ list?
February 2022: The Wandering Emperor, Fable of the Mirror Breaker, Boseiju and Otawara arrived.
February has certainly been an important month in the world of Magic. This past February saw the arrival of Kamigawa Neon Dynasty, an expansion whose cards will be played in virtually all formats. Standard was coming from a period where Izzet Turns seemed almost unbeatable, resulting in the banning of Alrund’s Epiphany and Divide By Zero to try to balance the situation. With the arrival of The Wandering Emperor and Reckoner Bankbuster, midrange strategies started to dominate the format, as Orzhov was a strong deck at the time. This mirrors the current format where Fable of the Mirror Breaker is one of the most played cards.
In Modern, Boseiju and Otawara found slots to give some decks extra solutions to side-used cards like Chalice of the Void, Damping Sphere, or Alpine Moon, or options to play better against decks like Hammer Time.
In Pioneer, The Wandering Emperor relaunched UW, which had lost some popularity and a few positions in the most played decks ranking. Fable of the Mirror Breaker, one of the cards that most changed this format, will probably have peaked in popularity in 2022. In Pauper Experimental Synthesizer gave Burn value that was missing and helped Boros even if it’s currently less played compared to other decks.
April 2022: Ledger Shredder starts to connive.
Street of the New Capenna debuted April 29 and brought one of the most played cards of this year—Ledger Shredder. Connive is the new ability that came out with this expansion, which allows you to draw and discard a card when you play the second spell of the turn and put a +1+1 counter if you discard a nonland card. This has been important in Pioneer’s Izzet Phoenix deck. With cards like Treasure Cruise, Temporal Trespass, this deck always needs a lot of cards in the graveyard and needs to discard phoenixes to play its best.
It was supposed to be the year of Ob Nixilis, rated by everyone, including me, as the best card in the expansion that was supposed to dominate the format. It didn’t, and I still don’t understand why.
Triomes are always welcomed cards especially in formats like Modern where Zoo, for example, makes the most of them and where they’re the best target for fetches.
Unlicensed Herse, the card everyone has wanted in their side, is a fantastic card against those who make the graveyard their strong synergy, and it’s a big threat to your opponent at the right time.
June 2022: Baldur’s Gate(s) change Pauper.
Baldur’s Gate heated up the temperature even more this summer. It’s an expansion made especially for Commander, but it found excellent slots in Pauper and Legacy.
Pauper had Caw Gates, one of the strongest decks in the format. It bases its synergy on the gates coming out of this expansion, especially one that gives +x/+x where X is the number of gates you have in play. If creatures with flying and the format’s strongest spells, such as Counterspell and Brainstorm, are added, then the result is amazing.
This is not the only innovation in this format. Kenku Artificer is one of the best additions that Affinity could ask for, making it one of the main decks.
Not to be forgotten are the cards that are played in Legacy, especially in Mono White initiatives that have become the second most played deck in the format thanks to White Plume Adventurer and Seasoned Dungeoneer, both coming out of Baldur’s Gate.
September 2022: Leyline Binding is the best removal?
Dominaria United will surely be remembered for one of the strongest removals ever printed—Leyline Binding. It’s especially played in Eternal formats where duals and triomes reduce its cost as much as possible. It finds its best synergy in decks like Creativity and Domain Zoo Modern, but it’s not rare to also find it in some UW builds.
Tolarian Terror makes UB Control one of the most played decks in Pauper, and Impulse helps Lotus Field be one of the best decks.
Don’t forget a card like Sheoldred that finds its best place in a midrange format like Standard but also easily finds a slot in Pioneer‘s BR midrange.
November 2022: Pioneer and Commander thank you.
November gave us the year’s last expansion, which despite not having (for now) a big impact on Standard, has given other formats many playable cards.
As mentioned in other articles, Mono Green Pioneer has found three important side cards in the form of The Stone Brain, Portal to Phyrexia, and Haywire Mite.
Brotherhood’s End is the side card that all red decks, like Izzet Phoenix, want to play in Modern against Hammer Time, for example.
Commander is the format that perhaps most of all has found cards for its decks. Portal to Phyrexia is definitely one of them, as is Mishra which has become one of the most played Commanders. Loran is one of my favorite cards and has found its place in Legacy as well. In 2023, I expect more space for soldier decks and also for Third Path Iconoclast, a card that I’ve always said will sooner or later find its spaces.
All that is left is for us to say goodbye to this past year and wish that 2023 will bring us as many good Magic Sets with a lot of decks to play for all archetypes in the meta!
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