For those unaware of the massive event that transpired last week, an MTG YouTuber spoiled an entire unreleased set on his channel. The content has since been taken down after the Pinkertons visited him, but one card, at least for a little while, left some community members scratching their heads for a bit. It’s a Legendary Character that we’ve seen many times before, but the ability it came alongside has not been seen in quite some time. The newest Niv-Mizzet actually calls back to a mechanic introduced in a previous visit to Ravnica. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the MTG Jump-start mechanic!
What is the MTG Jump-start Mechanic?
Jump-start, as a mechanic, is relatively simple. This ability exclusively shows up on instant and sorcery cards and allows you to re-cast an instant or sorcery from your graveyard. In order to do this, you need to pay any costs associated with the spell (mana value) and discard a card from your hand. Any card that you cast from your graveyard with the Jump-start mechanic will go to exile after it leaves the stack. This prevents a player from re-casting a Jump-start card from their graveyards repetitively. In other words, under almost every circumstance, you can only Jump-start a card once.
Note that it doesn’t matter how your Jump-started instant or sorcery leaves the stack, it will be exiled. Whether the card resolves, is countered, or even bounced to your library, the card will still be redirected to exile.
The History of the MTG Jump-start Mechanic
Not to be confused with the Jumpstart product, Jump-Start was an MTG mechanic initially featured in the Ravnica, City of Guilds set that released in 2018. Ravnica features a series of different Guilds that, as MTG has aged, has come to represent the names of various two-colored identities. Known for its affinity for instant and sorcery card types, Jump-start was the Izzet guild’s signature mechanic, who specializes in blue and red mana. Overall, not including sets that haven’t officially released yet, the Jump-start mechanic has appeared in the following sets:
- Guilds of Ravnica
- Ikoria Commander
- Commander 2019
- Modern Horizons 2
Jump-start being the mechanic exclusive to the Izzet Guild upon its release, makes it an incredibly flavorful mechanic to reappear on Niv-Mizzet. Before the Dragon Avatar was reborn as the new Guildpact for the plane during the War of the Spark, Niv-Mizzet led the Izzet Guild. Upon being reborn as the Guildpact, Niv-Mizzet’s color identity became that of all five colors, which leads to his current mana value. Niv-Mizzet’s first three iterations were that of an Izzet-colored Dragon Wizard, instead of the Dragon Avatar he has become after being reborn.
Best MTG Jump-start Mechanic Cards
Putting aside cards that have not been officially released yet, there are only 11 cards that currently feature the Jump-start mechanic in all of Magic. That’s quite shocking, considering that there are currently more than 26,000 different cards at players’ disposal.
A majority of these cards aren’t even available at a high rarity. Only two Jump-Start cards have been printed as Rares, and no Mythic Rare cards currently exist that care about the mechanic. Here are some of the best cards (currently printed) that feature the Jump-start mechanic!
Quasiduplicate occasionally sees Commander play but is held back by its inability to ignore the Legend rule. Spells that can copy permanents or can otherwise duplicate payoffs are incredibly popular in the format because of how long games tend to go. That said, the most consistent form of copy payoff, generally, comes from copying a Commander. They are consistently available thanks to the signature mechanics of the format, allowing for the deck in question to reliably synergize with their signature card.
Quasiduplicate is not a great option for decks that focus too much on their Commander (due to the Legend Rule), but can be great when spending three mana to create a copy of a non-legendary creature goes a long way. Just make sure your payoffs are worth it on average before you run this card. An exception can be made when using a Commander that gets value out of abusing the Legend Rule.
Risk Factor rarely does enough to be worth running in Commander unless you’ve got some significant synergies involving this card and your graveyard. That said, the card was fantastic when it was Standard legal. Considered a mainstay in Mono-Red aggro decks at the time, Risk Factor is best used when it forces your opponent to make a tough decision or, as the card implies, take a risk. Generally, drawing cards will be a more favorable thing for you, so your opponent will tend to take the four damage instead. In Commander, players have 40 life, making four damage pretty insignificant most of the time. In constructed, however, Risk Factor can force your opponent into a difficult spot since the card represents eight damage between the original cast and the MTG Jump-start mechanic, allowing you to cast it a second time.
Chemister’s Insight is, perhaps, the most well-known of the MTG Jump-start mechanic cards. This instant speed card offers a Divination for four mana. While the card costs more than the effect’s namesake, its instant speed makes it a superior choice since players utilizing Chemister’s Insight can prioritize interaction with the opponent’s cards over tapping out to draw two cards.
Jump-start is very strong in combination with Chemister’s Insight’s ability. Suddenly, your four mana instant can draw four cards over two casts. You do need to discard a card (and pay eight mana total) in order to do this, but the card was an absolutely fantastic Standard option to help filter through unfavorable cards and find better ones. The card is a great budget option in Commander as well, especially since those games tend to go for a long time – ensuring that you’ll need a handful of cards to keep up with other players at your table.
How Good is the MTG Jump-start Mechanic?
Ultimately, as a mechanic, Jump-start’s potency depends on the card it’s attached to. None of the MTG cards that currently offer Jump-start are very impactful overall and are, therefore, relegated to being strong budget options. Flashback is a very similar mechanic to Jump-start but is featured on a lot more MTG cards that are more impactful than Jump-start. Flashback doesn’t cause you to discard a card from your hand upon casting a spell from the graveyard but commonly demands alternate casting costs.
Niv-Mizzet, Supreme is likely to be the most powerful Jump-start card ever printed once it does release, and since it gives Jump-start to other MTG cards, it will be a great way to identify just how powerful this mechanic is in a void.