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Commander Deep Dive: March Of The Machine’s Jin-Gitaxias

Jin-Gitaxias is lying in wait, ready to transform your Commander experience. 
Bennie Smith shares ways to build around the March of the Machine preview.
Jin-Gitaxias, illustrated by Julian Kok Joon Wen
In the teases we got for March of the Machine, what really popped for Commander fans were the legendary “team-up” cards, and I’ve done some deep dives on them over the past few weeks (check out my archives if you missed them). But they also showed two transforming legends you can build around too. This week, I’d like to dive into the one that is really wild and, at least so far, unique, Jin-Gitaxias!


A History of Jin

This is the third incarnation of this legendary creature.  In the beginning, before Wizards of the Coast (WotC) started designing legends with Commander in mind, there was Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur from New Phyrexia. Most of the original versions of the Phyrexian Praetors are oppressive monsters that aren’t at all fun to play against in a multiplayer, social format like Commander, and Core Augur is arguably the worst. If you get that card on the battlefield and can protect it for an entire turn cycle, you will have stripped just about every opponent’s hand and left everyone else in topdeck mode. The second version of the legend is Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant from last year’s Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. Marginally better than Core Augur, Progress Tyrant is still oppressive to a Commander pod, constricting everyone else’s artifact, instant, and sorcery spells while doubling yours. I have never even considered putting either of these cards in my paper Commander decks because I do not want to bring that sort of play experience to the pods I prefer to play in.

Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant

Third Time’s the Charm?

For me, third time is the charm, and I’m really looking forward to trying to build something cool with Jin-Gitaxias at the helm. First, this version doesn’t really oppress your opponent’s game plan outside of Chapter II of The Great Synthesis, which requires setup and gives your opponents plenty of time to prepare. Jin-Gitaxias wants you to go on a journey with the card, and step one is having seven or more cards in your hand. Jin-Gitaxias helps with that to some degree by letting you draw a card whenever you cast noncreature spells with mana value three or greater, but since we’re playing blue, it shouldn’t be too difficult to draw enough cards to satisfy the first step of the journey. Once you’ve got seven or more cards in hand, you’ll need three generic and one blue mana to activate Jin’s ability, as a sorcery, which will exile Jin-Gitaxias and return it to the battlefield transformed into The Great Synthesis, which is a Saga!  How cool is that?

The Great Synthesis

The Great Synthesis

Chapter I of The Great Synthesis lets you draw cards equal to the number of cards in your hand, and you have no maximum hand size for as long as you control The Great Synthesis; at a minimum, you’ll be drawing up to a hand size of fourteen cards, and for almost any Magic player, drawing this many cards will be sweet.  Of course, you can expect your opponents to be pretty agitated about it and likely sending attackers your way, so Chapter II offers a nice respite by returning all non-Phyrexian creatures to their owners’ hands. If you have any non-Phyrexian creatures, this will be a good time to redeploy them to the battlefield. Chapter III is the pot of gold at the end of your epic journey. You get to cast any number of spells from your hand without paying their mana costs, and then exile The Great Synthesis and return it to the battlefield front face up as Jin-Gitaxias, ready to go all over again.  If you still have seven or more cards in hand and the mana available, you could potentially transform Jin-Gitaxias on the spot and start the Saga up again. This is one of those epic haymaker turns that is what Commander is all about, and I can’t wait to see this card pop off, no matter what side of the battlefield it’s on. Let’s dive in and see what sorts of cards we might want to put in the 99 of our deck!

Big-Time Spells

One with the Multiverse Shark Typhoon Ancient Silver Dragon Kozilek, Butcher of Truth Nexus of Fate Thryx, the Sudden Storm Mind's Desire Portal to Phyrexia Mind's Dilation Omniscience Blightsteel Colossus Mnemonic Deluge Aminatou's Augury The first order of business is deciding what sorts of big-time spells you want to be casting for free when Chapter III of The Great Synthesis triggers. You don’t want to have too many of these spells in the deck, but you want enough that you can count on casting at least one on your big turn. I really like Shark Typhoon since it’s a spell that you can cycle off if you draw it too early, but it’ll be amazing as the first spell you cast from Chapter III. If you’ve been looking for a place to run your Ancient Silver Dragon, this seems like the perfect place for it; even though it’s a creature and so it doesn’t do anything interesting if you cast it when Jin-Gitaxias is front-side, it’s a big, bad flier with a combat damage trigger that plays perfectly with the rest of the deck. Of course, you’d much rather cast it for free during Chapter III! Mind’s Desire is another cool option here, especially if you cast a bunch of spells during the Chapter III resolution. Other big enchantments I’d consider are One with the MultiverseMind’s Dilation, and Omniscience. And I also love Mnemonic Deluge since it can target an instant or sorcery spell in anyone’s graveyard, quadrupling the potential for a super-crazy turn!


Flux Channeler Experimental Augury Karn's Bastion Tezzeret's Gambit Thrummingbird Inexorable Tide Staff of Compleation Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus When Jin-Gitaxias transforms into The Great Synthesis, we can rush our way through the chapters by adding lore counters with proliferate effects. Thrummingbird is a great card for this since it’s a Phyrexian creature and thus won’t be bounced by Chapter II. Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus supports other proliferate cards, and it’s interesting to note that its ability to gain an indestructible counter can’t remove lore counters from enchantments outside of shenanigans like Liquimetal Torque or Encroaching Mycosynth.

Copy Enchantment

Copy Enchantment Estrid's Invocation Mirage Mirror Mirrormade It’s interesting to note, even though Jin-Gitaxias is legendary, his Saga side is not, so we might consider effects that copy enchantments. Another cool thing about The Great Synthesis is that it doesn’t sacrifice when you reach the last chapter; instead, it exiles itself and returns to the battlefield front face up. Which means (if I understand it correctly) the copy will return to the battlefield and will need to copy an enchantment all over again. Estrid’s Invocation is particularly sweet here, since during each of your upkeeps you get an opportunity to exile it and bring it back to the battlefield, so if Jin-Gitaxias has transformed again, you can copy The Great Synthesis again.

Card Draw Matters

Psychosis Crawler Ominous Seas Triskaidekaphile Alhammarret's Archive Teferi's Ageless Insight Since we’ve got such a huge card draw engine always available to us in the command zone, we’ll be tempted to include cards that care about card drawing. Psychosis Crawler is a classic choice, and it happens to have picked up the Phyrexian creature type, which means it can very much be a win condition.  Ominous Seas is a little bit awkward since the Kraken tokens aren’t Phyrexian but you can always hold off making them except as defense from a ground attack.

“Free” Spells Mana Value Three or More

Fierce Guardianship Gush Submerge Treasure Cruise Dig Through Time Frantic Search Unwind Rewind Probably the worst feeling in the world would be having Jin-Gitaxias die to removal before you’ve gotten a chance to benefit from its abilities, so I went looking for some noncreature spells with mana value three or more that I could cast for free and get a card draw from Jin-Gitaxias. Fierce Guardianship is perfect here since it lets you protect Jin from a lot of removal spells, but holy moly it’s expensive these days!  If you have one, definitely put it in the deck!  Gush is an interesting option since it’s definitely a way to boost the number of cards in your hand, even though it will set you back a couple of land drops. Submerge is a bit of a gamble, but when do you play a Commander pod where someone isn’t playing Forests? Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time aren’t free, but we can potentially play them for cheap and Jin-Gitaxias will pay us back with an extra card. Frantic SearchUnwind, and Rewind cost three or four mana to cast but then immediately let us untap the lands we used to cast them and Jin draws us a card.

Creatures Mana Value Two or Less

The Reality Chip Baral, Chief of Compliance Mercurial Spelldancer Ledger Shredder Elusive Spellfist Fog Bank Ornithopter of Paradise Crashing Drawbridge Ghostly Pilferer Spectral Sailor Malevolent Hermit Plague Myr Zenith Chronicler Jin-Gitaxias really pays us back for casting noncreature spells that cost three or more mana, so that means we should fill our mana curve starting at three with mostly noncreature spells. So why not fill our lower curve with cool creatures that help our gameplan?  Cards like Baral, Chief of Compliance and Mercurial Spelldancer love to live in spellslinger-style decks, and Spelldancer is even a Phyrexian!  I also really like The Reality Chip, which can come down early for blocking duty, and then when there’s mana available, it can attach to another creature and let us start playing cards from the top of our library.  Fog Bank is a simple card but offers a decent defense against one threat from each opponent.

Instant or Sorcery Spells Matter

Niblis of Frost Mindsplice Apparatus Haughty Djinn Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant Murmuring Mystic Solve the Equation Primal Amulet Octavia, Living Thesis Lier, Disciple of the Drowned Talrand, Sky Summoner God-Eternal Kefnet Jace's Sanctum Wizards of Thay Gale, Waterdeep Prodigy Rise from the Tides Jin-Gitaxias wants us to play a bunch of noncreature spells, and a bunch of cards care specifically about instant or sorcery spells, so we might want to play some of those. Ones that are also themselves noncreature spells that cost three or more mana are ideal, like Mindsplice Apparatus and Primal Amulet. A couple of creatures that care about instant and sorcery spells are likely worth a few slots too, like Niblis of Frost and Wizards of Thay.

Noncreature Spells Matter

Ichormoon Gauntlet Displacer Kitten Search for Azcanta Serum Sovereign There’s a smaller number of mono-blue cards that care about any noncreature spells, but the ones that do are heavy hitters. Displacer Kitten is rather bonkers, making it rather difficult for your opponents to use targeted removal on your nonland permanents if you’ve got a noncreature spell you can cast; it can also do silly things like reset your Copy Enchantment to copy The Great Synthesis again and again. Serum Sovereign uses the oil mechanic – which can be proliferated – to draw cards and scry, and since it’s a Phyrexian, it won’t be bothered by Chapter II of your Saga.

Card Draw Spells

Rhystic Study Candlekeep Sage Midnight Clock Sea Gate Restoration Nezahal, Primal Tide Body of Knowledge Flow of Knowledge Archmage Emeritus Thirst for Discovery Blue has no shortage of ways to fill up your hand with cards, but I’ve pulled a few here that have caught my eye. I never play Rhystic Study myself, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it here, since it works so perfectly with the gameplan. I really like Candlekeep Sage, since Jin-Gitaxias hopefully enters and leaves the battlefield by its own volition, drawing a card each time.

Helping Jin

Spellskite Siren Stormtamer Esior, Wardwing Familiar Training Grounds Arcane Adaptation Xenograft We should probably include a few ways to help protect Jin-Gitaxias from direct removal spells like Siren Stormtamer and even Esior, Wardwing FamiliarSpellskite is a great choice since it is itself Phyrexian. We might even want to include Arcane Adaptation or Xenograft as a way to make all of our creature spells Phyrexian. Lastly, if you own a Training Grounds, Jin-Gitaxias would very much like you to put it in the 99 of its deck. Activating its ability for two mana instead of four would be a huge benefit! What are you planning on doing with Jin-Gitaxias once March of the Machine is available?  Are there any awesome cards I overlooked that you think are slam-dunk inclusions?

Talk to Me

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and get conversations started about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  You can also find my LinkTree on my profile page there with links to all my content. I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do Commander, Brawl and sometimes other Magic-related streams when I can.  If you can’t join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.  You can also find the lists for my paper decks over on Archidekt if you want to dig into how I put together my own decks and brews. And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. Read the Orginal Article on:

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