I love planeswalkers. I love them so much, I have two Commander decks dedicated to the theme, with a third one on the way. And while I knew that Phyrexia: All Will Be One would have some planeswalkers for us, I didn’t expect to get ten! Talk about a tasty treat that is compleat.
Jokes aside, I was beyond excited to get a plethora of new planeswalker cards to toy with. I haven’t seen this many in one set since War of the Spark. That war went well, right? Anyway, with so many new pieces, I decided to dive into each planeswalker and talk about which ones I think are truly the best, with a focus on Commander.
10. Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler
When looking at these Planeswalkers, Tyvar did not stand out to me. Tyvar’s abilities aren’t bad; in fact, none of the planeswalkers in this list are bad. However, when compared to the other planeswalkers, Tyvar falls very short to me. He is the only Planeswalker in this set to have two loyalty abilities, with the remaining nine having three to four abilities. Sure, he has a static ability that allows you to activate abilities of creatures as though they had haste, but the loyalty abilities feel very lacking to me. Untapping a creature is nice, and so is milling/recursion, but it doesn’t pack as strong a punch as these other iconic characters. In a Limited setting, I see this card shining, but in Commander? Not very likely.
9. Jace, the Perfected Mind
I’m not gonna lie, I was expecting something major when I saw we were getting another Jace planeswalker, especially a compleated one. It’s huge! Jace is probably the most iconic planeswalker in Magic except for Liliana, so I was expecting an insane mythic.
As a Commander player, I often encounter the pitfall of expecting every single card to be stellar for my format. This is definitely not the case, and Jace is a good example of that. This planeswalker isn’t bad in Commander, but it isn’t show-stopping in the format of my choice, and that’s okay. Jace seems his strongest in a 60-card format or a mill-focused Commander deck. He can reduce the power of a creature until end of turn, draw you cards, and mill three times his -X. That’s nothing to sneeze at; however, his narrowness has me looking elsewhere for planeswalker picks.
8. Kaito, Dancing Shadow
Like Tyvar, Kaito is another planeswalker we have only seen once before. He also has a static ability, though I’d argue his static is much more interesting than Tyvar’s. If one of your creatures deals combat damage to an opponent, and you choose to bounce that creature to your hand, you’re able to activate Kaito’s loyalty twice rather than once.
I absolutely love multiple loyalty activations (cough cough, Oath of Teferi and The Chain Veil, cough cough), and Kaito’s abilities are strong and fun. Target creature can’t attack or block, you draw a card, and you can make a token that can gain you life while making your opponents lose life? God, I love it! While Kaito definitely has a home in ninjutsu decks, I find his abilities to be pretty flexible in other Dimir decks with less-clear themes.
7. Nahiri, the Unforgiving
Moving on, we have Nahiri. I struggled with placing her at first, almost putting her before Kaito. However, I really appreciate the fact that she has no minus loyalty ability. She can either stay stagnant at five or go up. She forces combat, draws you a card, and temporarily gets you a token copy of a creature or Equipment in your graveyard.
What has drawn me to Nahiri is her 0 ability. She exiles things in your graveyard, creates a token copy of them, and gives them one more chance, with haste to boot, before they are sacrificed. I love this weird form of recursion so much. Whether you’re in an Equipment deck or not, being able to get back some of your strongest pieces can be a game-changer. Oh, you thought you got rid of my Helm of the Host and my Gisela, Blade of Goldnight? Nah, get wrecked.
6. Lukka, Bound to Ruin
What to say about Lukka? He certainly is a Gruul planeswalker! I mean that in the best way; he epitomizes what Gruul’s personality is and I love it. This Lukka likes creatures. He makes mana used only to cast creatures or activate their abilities, and also makes a Beast token that has toxic 1.
However, my favorite aspect of Lukka is his noncombat damage loyalty ability. Shocker, right? This -4 can be incredibly devastating if you have a high-powered creature, which green is famous for. Pair this with a Pathbreaker Ibex or a Ghalta, Primal Hunger! The destruction is absolutely amazing. Lukka is incredibly flexible, giving you tons of value out of the gate.
5. Koth, Fire of Resistance
It’s getting harder and harder to find slots for these amazing red cards that Phyrexia: All Will Be One is printing. Koth, Fire of Resistance is on the shortlist for my Chandra theme deck. But why? He ramps you by allowing you to search for a Mountain, deals damage to target creature equal to the number of Mountains you control, and gives you an emblem that lets you deal four damage to any target when a Mountain enters the battlefield under your control.
This Koth does it all. Ramp, creature removal, and possible player removal. I think this iteration of Koth pays great homage to Koth of the Hammer, and I can’t wait to snag one of the Store Championship promos.
4. The Eternal Wanderer
She is back and badder than ever! The Eternal Wanderer continues to prove that white is stepping its game up in the color identity war. The Wanderer has some valuable loyalty that I find fun to fiddle with. Her blink ability can be used to prevent a scary creature an opponent controls from doing something gnarly, or it could let you get some value out of an enters-the-battlefield effect one of your artifacts or creatures has.
Her 0 gives your bodies, which are always a welcome sight to see (especially if you’re in a Superfriends deck), and her -4 is an incredibly cool battlefield wipe. What makes it so interesting is that you are the one who chooses the creature not sacrificed. This act of choice can make you allies or enemies with your opponents, which I think adds an interesting flavor to the game. The battlefield is cleared and leveled, but what remains is completely up to you. Her static ability also proves the Wanderer a formidable foe, as she limits how many creatures can attack her. She truly said, “Get in line!”
3. Kaya, Intangible Slayer
When I saw Kaya’s mana value, I’ll admit that I almost checked out. She is seven mana! That’s a pretty hefty price tag for a planeswalker. Is this warranted? Absolutely. Any lower and this card would be busted. Kaya starts out at a high loyalty with utilitarian loyalty abilities. First, she has hexproof. Heck of a way to protect such a strong planeswalker. When Kaya is out, you have the ability to gain life, make opponents lose life and draw two cards and have your opponents scry.
What has me obsessed with Kaya is her -3 ability. Enchantments are often credited as being some of the most difficult cards to remove from the battlefield. Not only does Kaya exile a creature or enchantment, she creates a copy of that card that’s a 1/1 white Spirit token if it wasn’t an Aura. So not only do you get to remove a strong piece, you essentially get to steal it! Imagine stealing a Blightsteel Colossus or someone’s Mirari’s Wake! Kaya doesn’t even need to wait to do this. She can do it as soon as she hits the battlefield. That is potent.
2. Nissa, Ascended Animist
I just know Chandra is screaming and punching the air right now, knowing that her girlfriend got compleated. Though I will say Nissa is rocking compleation very well. Like Kaya, her mana value is incredibly high. But is this justified? Again, I have to say yes. Of course, you could cheat her out for less, it’ll just cost you a chunk of life and loyalty, but that’s the price of progress.
Nissa makes a pretty big body, acts as artifact and enchantment removal, and can also give all of your creatures an insane buff equal to the number of Forests you control until end of turn. This versatility and power is what lands Nissa at my #2 slot. She is strong, and a threat out of the gate. If you don’t pay life to cast her, she can immediately -7 and allow you to swing for lethal. She is threatening in every sense of the word, and I can’t help but love it.
1. Vraska, Betrayal’s Sting
This Vraska is mythic for a reason. Wow. My jaw dropped when I saw the preview. Vraska does everything in Commander that people are known to buzz about. She draws you a card and proliferates. She turns a creature into a Treasure token. Any creature! Not just yours! And finally, she doles out poison counters. “If target player has fewer than nine poison counters, they get a number of poison counters equal to the difference.” If they have none, they get nine! That is one proliferation away from lethal. Are you kidding me? It’s disgusting and I love it.
I also love the intent behind Vraska’s design. Notice how she has no plus loyalty abilities, only a 0 and two minuses. In order to get to that coveted and lethal -9, she has to proliferate herself or get help from other proliferation spells. It’s not easy to get to that -9, and that was very intentional. Still, as a planeswalker connoisseur, I can’t help but begin to scheme up ways to reach that coveted activation as soon as possible.
Phyrexia: All Will Be One is turning out to be a set for the ages. Jam-packed with lore, beloved characters, and powerful abilities, this set will be remembered for ages. The planeswalkers alone set the Internet on fire. Who would survive? What would happen to your fave completed character? It was a lot to digest.
When looking at these new planeswalkers, I found it rather difficult to rank them because I found them all so good. I hadn’t expected to love the compleated ability. Sure, you can get something out sooner, but it comes at a cost. And the Phyrexians are more than willing to pay.
Let me know what you think about my analysis and which planeswalkers are your favorites from this set. H̶̭̜̩͇͂̏̇͝ͅͅä̶̢̨̦̗͌͘p̵̪̖̄p̶͚͕̤̩͋͋̈́͌͆̕y̷͚̙̱̏̅͌̄ ̵̠͉͔̠̹͍̓̀ͅc̷͙̜̜̈́͛ọ̷̪̬̉̓̍́͆ͅm̸̧̛̺̘̂̅̓͗p̸͓͌́̇̐ḷ̵̒͑͑̔̚e̶̻̋̌͋̂͆̍a̶̛̛̼͍̞̦̤̖͌̈̈́͂͜͝t̷̠͓̗͇̳̃͊͠î̷͍̩̰͔̅̍̇̿̈̌͜n̷̥̹͈͚̠͎̍̑̈́̎͌͝g̵̛̳͈̍̓͌͛͝,̶͖̃̌̐̋̈́͑͆ ̷̢̙̞̈́̃̓͊̚͜d̴̘̗̼̱̲̼͆̽͌̾͘e̶̝͇̽c̸̥̗͖̬͜͝k̶̳̺̄̔̒̔͑̈́͘b̸͖̰̗̄͌̉͘͘̕u̷̢͖̪̖͉͇̖̔̈́i̸̥͋̑̌̄̽̚͝l̶̩̝̀̊̿d̸̥̜̾͌̃̇e̸̡̫̎̊r̸̗̖̰͉̔̿s̶̰̦̑̒͑̾̇͝͝.̸̼̤̚