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Jumpstart and Zendikar Rising


Last week we took our first leap into Zendikar Rising with three Jumpstart packs built around landfall and warriors. With the full set now previewed we can finish the color pie with Blue and Black. Since I like to write about four packs each week we'll also explore the new tribal synergies for rogues and wizards.

The Jumpstart format gives us a faster way to play with our friends. Simply shuffle together two random packs at the kitchen table and begin slinging spells. In this article series we're expanding our horizons by introducing packs with new themes.

Landfall is a wonderful mechanic for Limited. The new double-faced cards can serve as either spells or lands, giving you more consistent play experiences by reducing the risk of mana flood or screw. They also enable you to play a deck with more potential lands, which is exactly what you want for landfall, which give you bonuses for making land drops.

Jwari Disruption

My first consideration for this pack was to mill my opponent with Ruin Crab and Hedron Crab. However, those crustaceans are both uncommons, which would prohibit me from playing as many double-faced cards as I wished. So we'll have to content ourselves with winning in the conventional way, by devouring our foes with flying eels.

Windrider Eel

Despite playing fewer pure lands, we have more Blue sources than a normal pack: 5 Island + 4 double-faced cards, so we can afford to play a colorless land. Ghost Town is a strong one for landfall. I would expect these landfall packs to be powerful overall, even with a few weaker cards like Glacial Grasp. For that same reason I added some clunky hedron creatures to the next pack. At least they're also adorable.

Hedron Scrabbler
Hedron Rover

Agadeem's Awakening

I can't overstate the power of these double-face cards. A mass reanimation spell will win you a game that goes long, but this card is even better than that. It can also save you if you're short on lands. In desperate straits you can escape into Agadeem, the Undercrypt. You can hold your breath in the ghastly mist and allow it to enter the battlefield tapped. Or you can be reckless and take three damage.

Zof Consumption

This uncommon isn't a bomb. Rather, it's close to a Lava Axe. It adds reach and can win you the game in a race. But Lava Axe is situational; it isn't always good, especially when you're behind, or more likely with Zof Consumption, when you don't have enough lands to cast it. Then you can simply play Zof Bloodbog. This card has twice the opportunity to be useful.

The play patterns presented by these double-faced cards excite me, as if I'm adventuring into an uncharted cavern glittering with possibility in every direction. On the whole I expect they'll allow me to play more Magic, and I should experience fewer blowout non-games. That's exactly what we want at the kitchen table.

With that in mind, I am tempted to include the double-faced cards in all my packs. These next two have one each. Including more might become monotonous, and for casual play we're most interesting in a variety of play experiences, rather than merciless consistency. To that end, we're going to put on our dark cloaks, strap on our daggers, and descend to the local thieves' guild.

Blackbloom Rogue

The original Jumpstart box included a few Rogue packs. The main synergy card in them was Oona's Blackguard. I excluded her from this pack. I have Stinkdrinker Bandit from the same plane, and, yes, I am pleased with the possibility of prowling the goblin into the play after attacking with Changeling Outcast. Talk about sneaky synergy! The rest of our rogues are newer and focus on milling.

Thieves' Guild Enforcer

Rogues have not traditionally milled. In terms of flavor, this must represent a softer form of burglary. We're sneaking into our opponent's library and making off with some of their spell tombs, then dumping them into the gutter. It's a rather spiteful form of thievery, more of a prank than a theft. Perhaps instead we're gathering information on these stealth missions. Once we know enough of our opponent's deck our spy network becomes more powerful, strengthening cards like Mind Carver.

Our last pack features wizards and another new direction for the tribe. Here we're enabling kicker. These students of the arcane want you to go above and beyond in your spellcraft. When you impress them with a kicked casting they'll also go above and beyond for you.

Merfolk Falconer

Our kickable spells include tournament playable and fan favorite Into the Roil, to the less-serious but still serviceable Bubble Snare. Kicker is another great ability, as it gives you more play should you be suffering from mana flood. In Magic, the mage who uses the most mana over the course of the game is often the winner. Kicker enables you to use every available mana symbol.

Field Research

Not only is kicker powerful, but it's also flavorful. In Field Research we have the option to skim the text, paying three, or really buckle down and master the material by kicking the spell. Students in arcane academies or state colleges will both appreciate the ability to read fast or slow, as the situation demands.

With kickable cards we have more options and more potential play. Do we study Roost of Drakes as a wizard undergraduate? Or do we kick the spell later as part of our graduate research? It's those sort of questions a Blue mage delights in, and I hope you and your finned colleagues will develop an optimal methodology.

Coralhelm Chronicler

Next week I plan to explore more class-themed packs, specifically those that bring multiple ones together in a party. What other ideas would you like to build around for Jumpstart?

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