Magic: the Gathering is changing, evolving and reshaping faster than ever before. New mechanics, modifications in rules, different formats. The game keeps finding ways of staying fresh and modern, trying to adapt to how people play games nowadays. Magic Arena was a big step in that direction, offering a digital product that was up to date with the standards of the industry.
One of the aspects of the game that was always difficult to embrace for newcomers is the deckbuilding process: how to which cards you should play, especially if you want to take into account synergies, mana curve, balance between threats and answers, mana bases, and so on. But even if you ignore all these aspects of the game, it can still be a challenge to decide which tools you should bring to battle. JUMPSTART is a new way to play Magic, that will bypass this characteristics, and let people literally jump right away into the action.
Designed with the sole and noble purpose of having fun, this new set will let you combine two packs of 20 cards each, to create a unique 40 card deck that you can shuffle up and start playing with right away. Each booster will have its own theme from 46 different options, like “Dragons”, “Pirates” or “Dinosaurs”. Some will be centred around a specific character, others around a particular creature type, others around certain keyword. The complete set will include more than 500 cards, most of them being reprints, with the exception of 37 brand new ones that were specifically designed to help these strategies compete.
Today I will introduce you to one of these specific themes, centered around an ability that we are not used to seeing be of competitive power level, but a term popular enough that it has finally been given its own name… This, is the MILLING Jumpstart Booster Pack!
Here’s the new Island art associated exclusively with the pack:
The game plan this booster will want you to execute, is to get rid of your opponent’s library instead of their life total. The milling gameplan is to play a defensive role and try not to die to your opponent’s threats, while slowly putting cards from the top of their library into their graveyard. Once a deck has run out of cards, when that player attempts to draw, the game is over and that player loses!
A coherent comparison that dedicated mill decks get is to Burn decks: instead of trying to inflict 20 points of damage as fast as we can, we are trying to get rid of 40 cards in Jump Start (which will realistically be less, since our opponent will reduce their library themselves with their opening hand, and by drawing a card each turn!). Let’s break down the cards one by one to understand why all of them are helpful to this strategy, and take a look at the new creature created exclusively for this team:
When we plan to leave our rival’s deck with no options left, a card that helps us and costs no resources (since it substitutes itself automatically) is always welcomed. It’s even an instant, which can be helpful for interacting with the opponent’s deck in more varied ways. Keep in mind that, as with any other mill card, we will be able to do such things as ruining a scry, or milling a creature we bounced back to the top of their deck so they don’t get to draw it again!
Wall of Lost Thoughts
In Constructed, where decks are bigger, milling four cards might not be too much, but when the game starts with less than 40, it represents a huge percentage of your total resources. This is an early play that helps develop our plan while also working on the much needed defense, protecting our life total early from potential attackers, and with four toughness, it might not be that easy for the opponent to get rid of it rapidly.
Being a three mana looter (meaning “creature that draws and discards” in reference to the iconic “Merfolk Looter”), the key aspect of this wizard is the fact that it lets you choose which player to target. Early in the game, it will usually be correct to improve your hand, discarding extra lands and finding more resources. When we get to the late game, it may be correct to start targeting our opponent, accelerating the process of destroying their library!
This new enchantment from M21 might be one of the most powerful tools in this theme pack, as it will grant the ability to mill tons of cards from your opponent, assuming we survive, just by drawing cards: it triggers once by itself, and at least once more per turn in each of our draw steps! Playing this on turn three and protecting our life total could be all we need to obtain eventual victory.
Even though it may be the right play in a desperate situation or if we are being pressured enough, bouncing a creature back to their hand for three mana is not what this card is about. The idea is to wait until we get a chance to target an attacker to put it back on top of its owner’s library, and then proceed to mill that card, essentially getting rid of it forever!
Pretty self-explanatory. This is probably not that efficient in our deck, since we won’t be making many trades and lack the ability to kill opposing creatures (unless of course, we end up pairing our Mill Theme Pack with another one that enables those options!). Nevertheless, it is still a serviceable body on turn three.
Classic “Cancel”, but with the added bonus of milling our rival for three. This has the chance to trade with an opposing spell that costs the same or more, and even if we end up targeting a small creature, it still pushes us in the right direction, as three cards represents a decent portion of our opponent’s deck.
The Entranced has the same amount of toughness as the Wall without the enter the battlefield trigger, but instead has an activated ability that can win the game by itself. Left unchecked, this Wizard will eventually destroy any library, all while having good stats to prevent damage from getting through. If we manage to get a couple of these online, they will spell doom for our opponent very fast.
Not a particularly synergistic card in our deck, but as a defensive strategy, we need to have some form of creature removal. Blue is not at its best in this regard, but it still has some decent options, and they usually revolve around tapping creatures and preventing attacks that way. Having Flash improves this a bit from other iterations, since you might be able to leave up a counter spell while also having this as an option.
Big flyer with good defensive stats, and an ability that might make the opponent think a couple of times before sending creatures into the red zone. Milling cards equal to the amount of damage it receives is very powerful here if it manages to survive a couple of combat phases, and the number of cards decked is not limited to its toughness (if it receives ten damage from a source, it will mill ten cards!). This is the only card from this strategy that has the fringe potential To win the game through alternative methods from milling such as, you know, combat damage, but it will take so much time that it will almost always be better to leave it on defense.
Excellent design, as Blue will be the color you always need here, and will end up choosing another one depending on what you pair the pack with.
Bruvac, the Grandiloquent
Here we finally have Bruvac, the brand new creature designed specifically for this Jumpstart Theme Pack… and just for that. I honestly don’t see this human making a splash in any other format where it will be legal, but for what he was designed, he will be a premier draw. In any of your games, essentially doubling every milling effect in your deck will result in a much faster victory. Costing three mana and having four toughness means he will be able to come down quickly enough to start pressuring our opponent’s deck, and survive combat while being a decent blocker.
This set promises to be something totally different than what we’re used to seeing, and I’m looking forward to trying it out! It seems like an excellent way to play with friends and have fun. Keep in mind that we will see many new cards printed in the set so, for all Commander fans out there, it might mean you get some great new tools to work with.
Thank you so much for reading, see you next time!