Magic: The Gathering's Jumpstart 2022 set includes a theme to embiggen the smallest man

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Jumpstart was introduced to Magic: The Gathering in 2020 as a way of putting new decks together fast. You get two packs of 20 cards, almost always monocolor, each with a theme. That theme might be a particular creature type like Cats or Goblins, or a concept like Smashing, Tree-Hugging, or Well-Read. You shuffle two packs together to give yourself a lean deck of 40 cards—Smashing Cats or Well-Read Goblins—and you're off. It's a faster way to assemble a new deck than playing draft or building one from scratch, handy for sit-down events.

The original Jumpstart set was mostly reprints, with a handful of new cards. Some of Magic's recent expansions have been available in Jumpstart boosters as well, in addition to all the other flavors of booster packs you can buy these days, so I got to play Dominaria United and The Brothers' War at local Jumpstart events, which was a convenient way of trying out the new hotness.

Jumpstart 2022 (opens in new tab) will be a set like the original Jumpstart, which means it's mostly reprints though you're guaranteed to get one new card in every pack. You're also guaranteed one card with variant anime art, and some of the artists have been showing off their contributions already, like Balan, Wandering Knight (opens in new tab) and Spectral Sailor (opens in new tab), who has gone from a bearded pirate to a girl in a sailor fuku uniform. Good for her.

There will be 46 themes in Jumpstart 2022, some with multiple variant versions so two booster packs with the same theme won't necessarily have all the same cards. Themes revealed so far include Detective, Snow, Speedy, Primates, and Multi-headed Creatures, which is a varied bunch. We've been given a theme to show you ahead of release, which is called Gigantic. It's made up of green cards that play to the color's traditional archetype of growth. You start small, survive the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (usually in the form of decks with faster aggro), and ramp with cards that accelerate mana production to help you play your fatties (opens in new tab) as soon as possible: the giant apes, dinosaurs, and trees of unusual size that trample whatever's arrayed against them.

Making that win condition even more crushing is a new card appearing in packs with the Gigantic theme: a legendary called Runadi, Behemoth Caller who empowers your most expensive summons. Any creature you cast after Runadi gets a +1/+1 counter for each point of mana over 4 they cost, and on top of that every creature who has three or more +1/+1 counters gets haste. Gigantic reprints several creatures that hit that 5+ cost, like Colossal Dreadmaw, Havenwood Wurm, Mammoth Spider, Woodborn Behemoth, and Engulfing Slagwurm. That last one is a beast, a 7-mana 7/7 that destroys any creature it blocks or that blocks it, and gives you life equal to the destroyed creature's toughness. Yikes.

To help you accelerate your mana production to get to the point where you can play those game-winners, Gigantic reprints Overgrowth, which enchants a land so it provides 2 additional green mana, and Paradise Druid, who can be tapped for one mana, though she loses her hexproof tag when tapped. 

One of the other monocolor green themes from Jumpstart 2022 has had a new card revealed thanks to being given away at pre-release promo events, and that's the Primates card Kibo, Uktabi Prince (opens in new tab). He's notable for a couple of reasons. There's his ridiculous ability that gives both players a "Banana", which is an artifact that can be sacrificed to give you 2 life and either 1 green or 1 red mana. There's the fact that whenever he attacks you can chuck an opponent's artifact straight into their graveyard—like that Banana you handed them last turn—and doing so lets you put a +1/+1 counter on every Ape or Monkey you control. 

Apes together strong.

Aside from the wonderfully ridiculous Banana mechanic, I'm partial to Kibo, Uktabi Prince because he continues a running gag that goes back to 1997, when the Uktabi Orangutan (opens in new tab) card came out. Players joked that the two monkeys it depicted sure looked like they were having sex, and Wizards of the Coast ran with that joke with Uktabi Kong (opens in new tab) from 2004's Unhinged, which featured the same two monkeys, one of them now pregnant. Is Kibo, Uktabi Prince the child of those two questionably drawn monkeys? I'm convinced he is. If you've been waiting 18 years to find out how that monkey baby turned out, now you know.

Jumpstart 2022 (opens in new tab) packs go on sale from December 2.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games (opens in new tab). He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun (opens in new tab), The Big Issue, GamesRadar (opens in new tab), Zam (opens in new tab), Glixel (opens in new tab), Five Out of Ten Magazine (opens in new tab), and Playboy.com (opens in new tab), whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.