Magic in 2022, A Retrospective

Magic the Gathering in 2022, A Retrospective

This is the second edition of my annual tradition looking back at the past year in Magic. I’ll start by looking at each set from best to worst and giving them all grades finishing with my set of the year. Afterwards I’ll give awards to individual cards such as “best sorcery of the year” or “best artwork of the year” before finally crowning my best card of the year.

2022 Set By Set Retrospective

Unfinity – 4/10

Unstable is one of my favourite sets of all time and I was extremely hyped for Unfinity when it was first announced. However as we learnt more and more about Unfinity my enthusiasm for the set dropped. Unlike previous unsets this was a black border set which means the cards stick out like a sore thumb when included in existing silver-border decks. I really wanted more cards to add to my silver-border decks or to build new ones but I’m hesitant to get any Unfinity cards because they don’t fit well with my other cards. Part of this is the black border and the strange acorn holo-stamp but the theme of the set is another big factor in my apathy towards Unfinity.

Unfinity has one of the most distinctive themes of all time. This is both a blessing and a curse. The retro-science fiction theme and the carnival theme go together really well and give Unfinity a really strong identity. Unfortunately this contributes to Unfinity being quite jarring when mixed with cards from other sets. The themes also featured heavily on every card so you didn’t enjoy them it’s hard to find much to enjoy in the set and I also feel it limited the humour. Unsets traditionally made fun of the game of Magic itself and I felt like the set was so focused on the retro-futuristic carnival theme that this self-referential humour was lost as well.

I really sympathise with the designers though. Magic has developed in a way that a lot of old uncards don’t feel as crazy as they did in the past. For example, dice rolling is now mainstream and we see a lot more humour in black border too. Unsets are best when the mechanics are wild and shocking. The designers had to go really far out with the mechanics to achieve this with Unfinity. Stickers let you modify cards in fun ways that stay on the card in public zones. I wish these had stayed as a un-mechanic and the stickers were permanent in your hand and library as well. It would make the rules simpler, open up more interactions and feel crazier. Another big mechanic was the attractions that were perfect for the set as they let you build your own carnival with random effects happening every turn. However I don’t think these were as original as contraptions in Unstable and were so random that you had little agency over your attractions. Contraptions were much more fun to use because you built a crazy machine and could plan out wild combos and sequences.

What makes this set confusing is that some cards were legal in classic black border magic and others weren’t. Apart from a handful of headline cards like Saw in Half, Exchange of Words, Comet, Stellar Pup and Space Beleren I don’t think this experiment was a success. Almost all of the cards that are tournament legal deal with attractions, stickers or dice rolling which already feel fairly out of place with traditional Magic cards. In the end I had to give this set a low grade because I don’t think the cards we got were interesting enough to justify all the confusion and drama involving Unfinity. I don’t hate the set but I am underwhelmed by it. I used the word apathy earlier and that is the perfect word for how I feel about Unfinity. Therefore it gets a mediocre grade of 4/10.

Streets of New Capenna – 4/10

Streets of New Capenna only came out at the end of April, but when doing this review I realised how much I had forgotten about it. This was a set based around five crime families on the plane of Capenna that is controlled by organised crime. I was able to remember the names of each of the guilds but I couldn’t name the mechanics or what type of crime each family specialised in. I think it was a mistake to have all five guilds be crime families because it made every guild feel too similar. It was part of the reason this set wasn’t especially memorable because nothing in particular stood out.

The set was also a big flop in limited. Players had been asking for another three-colour format for a long time and when Streets of New Capenna was announced they hoped it would be as good as the last true three-colour format Khans of Tarkir. Despite all the three-colour commons and uncommons this was an aggressive two-colour format and some colour pairs were far stronger than others. The format was one of the most unbalanced formats I can remember with commons like Inspiring Overseer and Jewel Thief being far too good and it was miserable to play some of the guilds like Riveteers.

Of course, Streets of New Capenna has some hit cards like Ledger Shredder and Raffine, Scheming Seer. This wasn’t a terrible set but being a bad limited format and having a rather small impact on constructed makes this set pretty forgettable. The best part of the set for me are the simple top-down designs that worked with gangster tropes like Make Disappear. Dig Up the Body and An Offer You Can’t Refuse. However there aren’t enough cards like this in the set to get more than a 4/10.

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate – 5/10

Commander Legends is like a mash-up of two recent sets Commander Legends and Adventures in Forgotten Realms. It was a draftable commander experience filled with characters, monsters, spells and items from Dungeons and Dragons instead of pulling from Magic’s past like the original Commander Legends. The switch from Magic to Dungeons and Dragons really dampened my enthusiasm for the set. The things I liked most about Commander Legends included the new cards for legendary characters from Magic’s past and the large number of high-profile reprints. Baldur’s Gate really missed out on these and instead had to use characters that only appeal to D&D fans.

I have to single out initiative as one of my least favourite mechanics of all time. I enjoyed the dungeon mechanic from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms and I had hoped that it would get more support after being fun but weak in AFR. Taking the initiative is very similar to venturing into the dungeon but they combine in a clunky way so I wouldn’t include any of the new dungeon cards in a dungeon deck I built from AFR cards. This lack of backwards compatibility was a big disappointment for me. The initiative has an extra wrinkle in that it can be stolen by your opponents which makes it a mix between dungeons and the monarch. Whilst the monarch is powerful and simple to understand, taking the initiative requires a lot more explanation and book-keeping for players. I’m sure it works great in limited as a flavourful way to incentivise players to be pro-active but I don’t like that in constructed it forces your opponent to take part in such a convoluted exercise. Even if having three dungeons was more complicated in AFR, it was optional and players who didn’t want to care about dungeons were unlikely to be venturing into any dungeons themselves.

Despite these criticisms I have heard so many good things about the draft format, that I have to give the set credit for delivering on the set’s primary focus as a fun limited experience. For this reason I’m ranking it above Streets of New Capenna and Unfinity. I also recognise that whilst a lot of the cards aren’t as exciting as the cards from the original Commander Legends, there are still lots of good cards in this set and very few broken cards. The highest ranked cards from Commander Legends on EDHREC are cards like Jeska’s Will and Jeweled Lotus but in the newer set the most popular card is Decanter of Endless Water. This shift in focus does make the set less exciting but it’s probably a net positive for the health of the format. Cards like Displacer Kitten and Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm still let you do powerful things but they aren’t on the same level as things like Jeweled Lotus. There is also plenty of support for gates which helps improve budget mana bases as well. All of these positives help push my grade up to a 5/10 even though I am still pretty underwhelmed by the set overall.

The Brothers’ War – 7/10

Being the newest set makes Brothers’ War a harder set to review. It’s harder to evaluate the impact of the set on constructed formats, but over all I think there are a lot of positives for this set. It was great to see some of Magic’s most important lore come to life in the cards for the first time since Antiquities. Lots of important characters and events from the Brothers’ War got their first ever appearance in the game whilst other cards were fun call backs to Antiquities. Classic cards like Dragon Engine were reimagined (see Fallaji Dragon Engine) with modern design principles and power levels which was a lot of fun. The retro-frame artifacts were very popular with collectors and added something exciting to the draft format. The limited format has been interesting because the archetypes share a lot of overlap and cheap artifacts like Energy Refractor are good in almost any deck. The high volume of colourless cards makes it easier to build mono-colour decks or stay open longer in draft.

My only real knock against the set was that I was expecting the huge mechanised war machines to make a bigger impression. Prototype and powerstones seemed like they were going to be a very strong combination in limited but prototype in particular was overshadowed by the aggressive strategies. Not every mechanic can be a hit but the big titans felt like the unique selling point of the set and perfect for the Brothers’ War thematically. I think the designers were cautious with the power level of the prototype cards because the flexibility prototype offers is very powerful but I think they were too cautious with many prototype cards. Overall I think Brothers’ War is a very good set but I haven’t fallen in love with it in the way that I did for some other sets this year, so it gets a respectable 7/10.

Dominaria United – 8/10

If Set of the Year was determined solely on the basis of the limited format, Dominaria United would be the clear winner for me. Each colour had clear strengths and a strategy it focused on whilst off-colour kicker, domain and gold uncommon legendaries tempted you into playing more and more colours. This was a deep format that really rewarded you for staying open, and there were always plenty of great cards in every pack. It was also a very well balanced format which meant players could lean into their favourite playstyle or colours. This was a fascinating format and I loved watching different streamers draft the format to see all the different ways you could approach the format and still get a great deck.

Every colour had so many great cards just at common that it’s impossible to mention them all. My favourites include the build-around commons with cost reductions like Tolarian Terror and Writhing Necromass and all of the cards with off colour kicker costs like Urborg Repossession and Phyrexian Espionage. This was almost a perfect draft format for me, although I do wish there were more build-around rares and that the Shield-Wall Sentinel and Wingmantle Chaplain combination was a little bit weaker or at least less frequent. Even so this is still one of my favourite draft formats of all time.

Away from limited I do have a couple of criticisms. The mechanics and themes were mostly copied wholesale from Invasion block and other older sets. This made it a fun homage to Magic’s past and it made for a great set but I wanted my set of the year to a bit more creative and innovative. Another complaint I have is that cards like Liliana of the Veil and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse have cemented black as the best colour in Standard when I was hoping rotation would bring a more diverse and interesting metagame. All in a great set, but not quite my set of the year.

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty – 9/10


Set of the Year 2022

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty was the set I was most excited about before the year began and it managed to exceed my expectations. It balanced the nostalgia of returning to a plane with being inventive and creative. There are sagas that become creatures and creatures that become equipment. Shrines were back but were now creatures and modified was a clever design that grouped +1/+1 counters, auras and equipment together.

It was also an absolute blast to open. Between the powerful rares, showcase frames, gorgeous full art basics and a saga in every pack, there was always something exciting in every pack. However what makes Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty my Set of the Year for 2022 is that it had something for everyone. Constructed players got new powerful staples like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and the channel lands. Limited was full of surprises with a card like Imperial Oath being a pillar of the format. Those who missed the old Kamigawa got to new takes on beloved cards like ninjas and the legendary spirit dragons. However those wanting something new got a set infused with a cyber-punk aesthetic. There were big futuristic mechs like Mechtitan Core alongside traditional Japanese fantasy creatures like Kami of Transience. It even had the shocking corruption of Tamiyo with the revelation that the Phyrexians are now able to compleat a planeswalker. There was so much in this set and it all fit together beautifully. I expect we won’t have to wait quite as long before we visit Kamigawa again.

2022 Individual Awards

For the second half of my retrospective, I’m going to give awards to individual cards that stood out. The categories include best card in each colour, best card of each card type as well as awards for best art, cutest art and best flavour text. I’ll start with the cards that won a single award, and then those that won multiple awards and finish with my overall card of the year 2022.

The Wandering Emperor

Best White Card of 2022
If you only look at the loyalty abilities of the Wandering Emperor you would be confused why this planeswalker was anything special. It provides a very familiar mix of token making, +1/+1 counters and removal that seems like a recipe for a very generic planeswalker. But The Wandering Emperor is the first planeswalker with flash which transforms this into a constructed powerhouse. It becomes a powerful and flexible combat trick that leaves behind a planeswalker. It’s a fun card and a good reason to run white in Standard. It also answers the question of who The Wanderer is which was a mystery I loved when she was first introduced in War of the Spark. I like that even though we now know who she is, she still doesn’t have a name on her type line just like the original Wanderer.

Vodalian Hexcatcher

Best Blue Card of 2022
Of all the colours I think blue had the best year with a plethora of great cards. Ledger Shredder is a fantastic two drop for constructed whilst cards like Displacer Kitten, Astral Dragon and One with the Multiverse let you do big and explosive things. My pick of the blue cards however is possibly the best tribal lord ever printed. Not only does the anthem effect make all your other merfolk bigger, it can also act as a combat trick because it has flash and the last ability turns it into a counterspell. This does everything and it only costs two mana and comes with incredible art. Merfolk decks have long been popular and this gives them a real boost. I loved all the other blue cards I mentioned, but being one of the best tribal lords of all time makes Vodalian Hexcatcher the winner of Best Blue Card of 2022.

Take Up the Shield

Best Flavour Text of 2022
The most dramatic and shocking part of Dominaria United was seeing beloved planeswalker Ajani corrupted and compleated by the Phrexians. Ajani was one of the original planeswalkers and one of only five planeswalkers to have appeared on ten or more planeswalker cards. Until Gideon rose to prominence, Ajani was the face of white in the game. Losing Tamiyo to the Phyrexians hurt, but losing Ajani was even worse. Take Up the Shield has fantastic flavour text because when Ajani promises “As long as I live, I will protect you”, we see what makes Ajani so great. However now that we know Ajani’s fate, we see this promise was also foreshadowing a great tragedy. This double meaning, combined with great art and being a fantastic combat trick in limited makes Take Up the Shield my Best Flavour Text of 2022.

Tamiyo, Compleated Sage

Magic Story Highlight of the Year 2022
Heroes are only as good as their villains and there are three iconic antagonists in Magic. We’ve already seen the Gatewatch defeat Nicol Bolas and the Eldrazi, and now they are taking on the final part of the trifecta with the Phyrexians. The Phyrexians have had two flaws that held them back from being utterly terrifying. Firstly they lacked any way to travel between planes and were trapped on New Phyrexia. The story highlight of 2021 was the discovery that the Phyrexians had managed to find a way to escape New Phyrexia. The second problem I had with the Phyrexians was that planeswalkers were immune to Phyrexian oil and couldn’t be corrupted. Whilst it was fun to return to Kamigawa and see Magic’s take on cyberpunk, the real highlight of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty was seeing that our planeswalkers were not safe and that they could indeed be turned into servants of Phyrexia.

This discovery was shocking and we found out in the most shocking way with Tamiyo, a well-known and popular planeswalker being the first planeswalker to get the Phyrexian treatment. One complaint people had about the Bolas story arc was that very few planeswalkers died which made Bolas look much weaker than the story was making him out to be. 2022 has shown that the Phyrexians will be able to kill or corrupt the characters we care about the most but there are still plenty of unanswered questions. Who else will be compleated by the Phyrexians? Is there any hope for characters like Tamiyo and Ajani? Is there any way to reverse compleation? The climax of the Phyrexian story arc is almost upon us but the shocking compleation of Tamiyo is quite possibly the most memorable part of the whole saga.

Unlicensed Hearse

Best Artifact of 2022
There have been some really cool artifacts this year with multiple sets having a big focus on artifacts. Kamigawa had Mecha like Mechtitan Core and creatures that are also artifacts like Lion Sash. The Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks were filled with Necrons, various war machines and iconic artifacts like The Golden Throne. Of course Brothers’ War has heavy hitters like Portal to Phyrexia and Cityscape Leveler. We even got massive titans like Rust Goliath at common and fun buildarounds like The Temporal Anchor.

However the best artifact of the year has to be Unlicensed Hearse from Streets of New Capenna. It might be one of many sideboard cards that are great at removing cards from graveyards but it is seeing too much play to ignore. The fact that this can be used to exile cards in your opponent’s graveyard over and over again whilst also growing into a massive threat makes it a fantastic card. It is in the top ten cards by play rate in Standard, Pioneer, Historic, Modern and sees decent play in Legacy. In Pioneer in particular it is in 38% of decks right now which means it is in more decks than any other card. I could rave about all of the unique and wacky artifacts I suggested earlier, but Unlicensed Hearse is clearly the Best Artifact of 2022.

Comet, Stellar Pup

Cutest Card of 2022
This was a tough pick this year with two great dogs that both deserved to win. White has recently been getting more card draw with creatures like Spirited Companion that draw cards when they enter the battlefield. This isn’t completely new in white as it has had Wall of Omens for a long time but a more aggressive version is very welcome for white. This was also the first time we got enchantment creatures that weren’t from the plane of Theros so Spirited Companion gets even better if you have enchantment synergies. The art is adorable and Spirited Companion would have been a worthy winner.

However Unfinity gave us Comet, Stellar Pup. A planeswalker that operates randomly would be noteworthy anyway but this one is deeply thematic with abilities that reference chasing squirrels, digging up bones and biting. I think I prefer the art of Spirited Companion more, although Comet is still adorable. However, what made Comet the winner was the squirrel token that goes with the planeswalker. If you factor in the token there is no denying that Comet is the cutest card of 2022.

Cosmic Epiphany

Best Art of 2022
There were so many great pieces of art this year. Anything by Dominik Mayer was a hit from Titania’s Command to Hurloon Battle Hymn. As usual the sagas were a hit including The Brothers’ War and The Dragon-Kami Reborn. I also adored Misery’s Shadow, Shadow Prophecy and March of Swirling Mist. Any of these cards are worthy of being named my Best Art of 2022 and it’s very hard to pick a winner.

My winner however is Cosmic Epiphany because I think it is stunningly beautiful and brings a unique new art style to the game. The light and colours in this piece are magical and what makes it incredible is that this represents Eli Minaya’s debut in Magic art alongside Love Song of Night and Day which is another incredible piece of art. I really hope we see more art from Eli Minaya. They already have one more piece coming up in Dominaria Remastered so I’m optimistic we have another great new artist joining the game.

The Raven Man

Best Legendary Creature of 2022
Magic has thirty years of lore and stories can take years or even decades to play out. I started reading Magic lore during Magic Origins in 2015 and the story I loved most was Liliana’s where she is tricked by a mysterious spirit she calls Raven Man. His true identity was left a mystery and even when he returned to help or torment Liliana in later stories we learned very little. One of the best things about such a long running story line is how mysteries and loose-ends can be left for years giving fans plenty to discuss and speculate over. In Dominaria United we finally got an answer to the identity of the Raven Man and it’s clear his story is not yet over. I’m so happy to finally see the fantastic Raven Man art by Chris Rahn appear on a Magic card many years after it first appeared in the web fiction. It’s a great card for a deck themed around discard effects and it’s flexible because you build around making your opponent discard cards or get ravens by discarding your own cards. It also synergises well with Liliana of the Veil which is a big flavour win. For most of the time I’ve been playing Magic I’ve wanted to learn the truth about the Raven Man so I’m delighted that he finally has a card in the game and it is my pick for best Legendary Creature of 2022.

I want to give an honourable mention to Greasefang, Okiba Boss who is a fun new legendary creature for decks build around vehicles and has inspired a new archetype in competitive Magic that cheats Parhelion II into play. It’s often said that there are too many legendary creatures being printed these days or that legendary creatures only cater to Commander but Greasefang is a perfect example of how it’s possible to create new and unique legendary creatures that open up possibilities for Commander decks whilst having an impact on competitive Magic.

Ancient Copper Dragon

Best Creature Card of 2022
2022 was definitely the year of treasure with 88 cards that reference treasure nearly doubling the number of all cards that make or use treasure. This has led to a lot of discussion in the community about treasure becoming too common, whether players are bored of treasure now and if it is unhealthy for the game. Personally I think Streets of New Capenna and Battle for Baldur’s Gate were both a perfect fit for treasure as both criminals and adventurers need some loot. It gave us some really flavourful cards like Prosperous Thief, Big Score and Blood Money to name a few. I’m definitely not bored of treasure tokens yet although I expect them to be less common next year, at least until we return to Ixalan.

Are players as a whole bored of treasure yet? Listening to content creators you might think so but looking at the price of Ancient Copper Dragon tells another story. As the most expensive card of the year there is clearly demand for a card that makes a crazy amount of treasure. This is such a simple yet splashy effect and what could be more fitting for a dragon than a huge pile of treasure? Unless you are unlucky with your dice rolling, this pays for itself very easily and if you roll high it can fuel some crazy plays. This might be a perfect design for a mythic. It’s exciting, powerful, a simple and elegant design whilst not being unbeatable because it can be killed with a simple removal spell before it attacks. It’s understandable why this is so expensive and a worthy winner of the title of Best Creature Card of 2022.

Command Performance

Craziest Card of 2022
I could have chosen any number of Universe Beyond cards for this award as this new approach to Magic still feels pretty wild. It would be pretty disappointing if the craziest card of the year didn’t come from the un-set Unfinity where the ordinary rules of Magic can be ignored and broken. I could have chosen a number of splashy Unfinity cards for this slot. Photo Op requires you to use social media to generate card names you can wish for. Sole Performer lets you add tap symbols to your mana pool. Claire D’Loon, Joy Sculptor lets tokens exist outside the battlefield which must enable hundreds of janky and powerful combos. Space Beleren creates a weird subgame with sectors that calls back to Raging River.

My craziest card of 2022 however is Command Performance. It manages to combine attractions, tickets and stickers in one card. It’s a good card in an attraction deck or a sticker deck and a great card in a deck that combines both. However if you don’t know what attractions, tickets and stickers are this card makes absolutely no sense. This is why it has to be my craziest card of 2022.

An Offer You Can’t Refuse

Best Card Name of 2022
When I graded Streets of New Capenna earlier I mentioned that the best part of the set was the cards inspired by gangster clichés like An Offer You Can’t Refuse, Sleep with the Fishes and Big Score. An Offer You Can’t Refuse has my favourite card name of 2022 because it’s such a fun thing to say when you stifle your opponent’s plan. Buying your opponent off is great flavour for the gangster set and this is such a good counterspell for one mana. It’s very easy to hold up one mana and it can answer many game ending spells. Giving your opponent two treasure is a real cost but in a format like Commander where mana is already plentiful this is an excellent counterspell that is too good to refuse. I’m not surprised that this has the highest EDHREC score of any new non-land card from 2022. Fun and powerful is a sweet spot few cards get to hit.

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Full Art Basic Lands

Best Land Cycle of 2022
The simple answer for this category would be the entire channel land cycle but since one of them is going to win multiple awards later, I wanted to pick something different for this one. Another good answer would be the common dual lands from Dominaria United which were an integral part of a fantastic limited format. However once you look beyond the new land cycles, there was some incredible art on basic lands and reprints this year. The Unfinity shock lands are incredible and would be a worthy winner but there were so many great full art basic lands this year I had to choose a basic full art land cycle. In recent years we have had a number of full art basic lands but they have been pretty inconsistent. Whilst the Nyx lands in Theros Beyond Death were beautiful and unique the full art basics in Zendikar Rising or the black and white lands in the new Innistrad sets weren’t as popular.

However 2022 has had incredible full art basics in every set. Dominaria United had stained glass basics, Unfinity had colourful planets and Brothers’ War featured huge mechs. I wasn’t a fan of all of the New Capenna basic lands but the mountains were incredible. Every set getting full art basic lands makes it much easier to get fancy lands to make your favourite decks look incredible. My favourite out of all the basic lands this year though has to be the full art basics from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. The art was incredible and the Japanese art style is a beautiful compliment to traditional Magic art. I also like that they reflected the theme of the set with five basics showing modernised landscapes and five showing more ancient and natural scenes. All ten are stunning and I’ve never been so excited about opening basic lands in a set before so this cycle had to be my choice for Best Land Cycle of 2022.

Cut Down

Best Black Card of 2022
Best Instant of 2022
Black has been dominating Standard for a while now, so it’s only appropriate that the best Black Card of 2022 is a card that has seen a ton of play in Standard. Even though the reprinting of Go For the Throat has provided stiff competition for cheap black removal this is still in over half of all Standard decks. It has lined up perfectly against important threats like Bloodtithe Harvester and especially Raffine, Scheming Seer who needs to be destroyed as cheaply as possible and as soon as possible.

Of course seeing heavy play in one format isn’t enough to be my card of the year. Cut Down also debuted a new design tool with the phrase total power and toughness. Magic has plenty of spells that are flavoured as killing small creatures but these have always used power, toughness or mana cost to determine what counts as small. This delineation was never perfect and there were always exceptions that didn’t fit the flavour. The use of total power and toughness makes Cut Down the cleanest ever design for a removal spell designed to kill small creatures.

The art is also worth mentioning. It is fantastic which is no surprise because Dominik Mayer has had a fantastic year in 2022 with great art in every Standard release. He started the year strong with Repel the Vile in Kamigawa: Neon Destiny and kept it up in Streets of New Capenna with cards like Public Enemy and Cut Your Losses. His best work this year was probably the command cycle in Brothers’ War with cards like Urza’s Command and Titania’s Command. He has become one of the best artists in the game and I really hope he continues to provide such great art for every set.

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker

Best Enchantment of 2022
Best Red Card of 2022
In these two categories, there is one card that stands head and shoulders above the other candidates. Fable of the Mirror-Breaker seemed to be underrated and overlooked when it was first spoiled and many people saw it as a powered down version of Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. That looks stupid now that it’s one of the best cards in Standard and sees play in Pioneer, Modern and Legacy. It provides so much value for three mana, with multiple bodies, ramp and card filtering as well as copying your best creatures. It doesn’t have the same combo potential as the original Kiki-Jiki but it really doesn’t need it. This is also a very difficult saga to answer because your opponent needs to kill the saga and the goblin token.

Fable is a strong card in isolation but of course it gets even stronger if your deck synergises with it. What makes Fable so much fun is that it synergises with an absurd number of different things. It’s a discard outlet for decks with graveyard synergies. The first goblin can make treasures every turn for artifact decks. Goblin tribal decks appreciate more goblins, especially one that can copy goblin lords. Essentially you can put it in any red deck and expect to find a powerful synergy by accident. This is an absurd card that players have been talking about since it started put up results and I expect it to see play and be talked about for years to come.

Awaken the Woods

Best Sorcery of 2022
Best Green Card of 2022
Land tokens have been discussed for a long time as an alternative to huge amounts of shuffling. Whenever they get suggested the idea gets shut down because land tokens would be easily shuffled into your deck after a match on accident. Finally Wizards has decided to start experimenting with land tokens with Awaken the Woods which makes land creatures like Dryad Arbor. This is important because they are played alongside your other creatures and are less likely to be shuffled into your deck on accident.

As well as being the first ever card to make land tokens, it’s also just perfect for so many green decks. At four mana it’s similar to Explosive Vegetation but it’s also capable of ramping you into huge amounts of mana whilst creating an army. Ramp decks always have the risk of drawing too many ramp spells and not enough big threats so a card that doubles as both is great. It’s also a fantastic way to create a huge number of landfall triggers in one turn. I expect this will be very popular with casual players who want to do the biggest and most exciting thing they can with lots of mana.

Boseiju, Who Endures

Best Land of 2022
Best Colorless Card of 2022
There is only one possible winner in this category but I had to talk about Cryptic Spires from Double Masters 2022 as an honourable mention. It broke ground as the first new card in a Masters set as an alternative to the tried and tested common dual land cycle that is normally put in a set to allow players to draft more colours. Cryptic Spires is a unique land because the colours it makes are set during deckbuilding. These made the format really be about three-colour decks as intended without pushing four or five colour decks that can warp drafts because they take all the best cards and all the fixing. I think this was a great piece of design technology and I’m certain we will see it again in the future.

However much I liked Cryptic Spires there is no denying Boseiju, Who Endures is the Best Land of 2022. No matter what format you play, if you are playing green it’s almost certain you should be playing this land. This is the highest ranked card from 2022 on EDHREC, and one of the top-ten most played cards in Modern. Boseiju is a legendary non-basic forest with the option of being an artifact and enchantment removal spell. This is an absurd combination. As a land there are very few drawbacks. As long as you have the basics you need for any search effects in your deck, one copy can replace a forest with almost no drawbacks in a green deck. Being legendary makes two copies a little awkward, but you can always use one to cast the other. Artifacts and enchantments are some of the hardest permanents to answer, so this is a very valuable effect to have from a land and it gets even better when you realise most counterspells can’t stop channel abilities.

I’m not the biggest fan of getting lands that are this close to essential for any green deck. It’s just too good to not play in any green deck. I also find the channel ability wordy and unnecessary. I would have preferred it if it could only be cast when you control a legendary creature as a payoff for playing more legendaries. However as printed this is just an absurd card and easily the best land card of the year.

Urza, Planeswalker

Best Planeswalker of 2022
Best Gold Card of 2022
Card of the Year 2022
As soon as I saw Urza, Planeswalker I knew it was my card of the year for 2022. This is a card fans have been dreaming about since planeswalkers became a card type. Today planeswalkers are usually powerful sorcerers but in the past they were god-like beings whose physical bodies were a mere fraction of their true form. How could a planeswalker card hope to represent such power? The simple answer would be to print the most powerful planeswalker ever but that would obviously be bad for the balance of competitive formats. However to do justice to Urza, his planeswalker card had to be special and feel epic.

The solution to this problem was to bring back meld from Eldritch Moon and I love it. Because you need to first play Urza, Lord Protector and The Mightstone and Weakstone and then meld them together, designers are allowed to let their hair down when designing a powerful planeswalker. The other advantage of being a meld creature is that being two cards allows much more space. Firstly this means the art can be larger which is great because this shows Urza at the moment his spark ignited. This larger art is totally fitting for what was such an important moment in the old lore of Magic.

Secondly, Urza gets to be the first planeswalker with five loyalty abilities and has a further ability that lets him use two loyalty abilities every turn. All of the abilities are very powerful and there a ton of powerful things you can do once you have Urza, Planeswalker in play. He can exile your opponents two biggest threats or help cast a huge artifact whilst setting up for his ultimate. We already have cards that represent Urza detonating the Golgothian Sylex like Urza’s Ruinous Blast and Urza’s Sylex but I love that you can use Urza himself to destroy everything just like at the end of the Brothers’ War.

When I first got into Magic I thought it was impossible that we would see an Urza card that represented him at the height of his power because Urza was dead and far too powerful. 2022 is the year that made the impossible a reality. I said that Urza as a planeswalker needed to be special and feel epic and because those expectations were well met, this is without doubt my Card of the Year for 2022.