Myth Realized - What if Any Planeswalker Could Be Your Commander? (Colorless)
(Ugin, the Spirit Dragon | Art by Ryan Pancoast)
Magic's Secret Sixth Color Colorless
The question of planeswalkers as commanders has been brought up in the Magic discourse an infinite number of times. People say it would kill EDH as a format, and others say it will do nothing but give more options to an endless pool of commanders. I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle. My name is Nick, and the sixth installment of Myth Realized will cover colorless cards and how they would each ruin (or not ruin) your favorite 100-card singleton format.
A quick disclaimer for this article: while there might not be many colorless planeswalkers, they all lead to running a deck heavy on artifacts. This means cards like The Chain Veil, Strionic Resonator, and Lithoform Engine are often treated as auto-includes in decks of this type.
- Karn Liberated - 7 mana
The answer to the math question of Urza's Tower + Urza's Mine +Urza's Power Plant. A powerful card in 1v1 formats of Magic and most likely the card with the greatest likelihood of putting a target on your head if you played it as your commander. Both from an opponent's hand and from the field, exile is great removal, and if you tick this card up, the ten loyalty is tough to get through; restarting a Commander game is the best way to not get invited back to Commander night.
- Karn, Living Legacy - 4 mana
Not only is this the worst of the Karn Planeswalkers, but it is also the worst of the four-mana Karn planeswalkers. This card has seen no play in its current Standard life in any meaningful deck, and the only reason I would want this in or in charge of a deck is if I can get a quick ultimate them for a slightly better Ghirapur Aether Grid. If the +1 made an untapped Powerstone, this card would be pretty sick as just a great form of artifact ramp every turn. This card needs too many pieces to make it work, and the other four-mana versions are much better.
- Karn, Scion of Urza - 4 mana
Colorless card selection plus a great design overall. It does almost everything you could hope for from a colorless card. Depending on the situation, it gives you multiple options and can create sizeable blockers or attackers. The only thing holding this card back is the mandatory turn delay and loyalty counter tax for exiled cards.
An interesting fact to remember is that you can access all the cards exiled with silver counters for the rest of the game. This Karn might also make the scariest token in the game going right now in Construct tokens. Every token this card makes can quickly outclass many of the creatures on the other side of the board.
- Karn, the Great Creator - 4 mana
Please never let this be a commander. This could be the best possible play from the command zone with four mana in a wide variety of situations. You don't often see this card because its static is exceptionally mean to all the other players at the table. Not everyone plays green, so many decks rely on artifact mana to ramp them into more significant plays. If you've ever had to play while someone has Stony Silence on the battlefield or if you have played with this card and its table lock combo piece, Mycosynth Lattice, you'll know the pain of staring at your cards and not being able to do anything with them.
- Ugin, the Ineffable - 6 mana
People often consider Ob Nixilis Reignited the cookie-cutter planeswalker design. It has card draw, removal, and an ultimate that should win the game. While this Ugin does not have an ultimate (thanks to War of the Spark), it does have card draw and removal. The new addition that Ugin brings to the table is the two-mana cost reduction on colorless spells, so if you're following along, reader, this is every card in your deck except your lands. I'm unsure how strong this cards would truly be if I'm honest with you. Would it help you combo fast in a colorless deck? Yes. Would it help you do that truly faster than playing anything else in the entire format? Not sure without really crunching the numbers.
- Ugin, the Spirit Dragon - 8 mana
The biggest and baddest colorless dragon of all time. Even in a deck full of colorless mana rocks and trying to do nothing but ramp, this card is not coming down so far ahead of the curve that it cannot be dealt with. On the flip side, this cards can keep the board empty for a long time. Tokens don't stand a chance against this card. All nonland permanents don't stand a chance against this card unless they cost eight mana and got played before you could cast this. Not to mention if you're able to ultimate this card, gaining seven life, drawing seven cards, and just slamming down seven permanents onto the battlefield is absurd value. The eight mana is the thing that holds this card back from just ruining games, but I would get pretty annoyed seeing this card with any form of consistency.
So, the secret sixth color in Magic might not bring a lot in terms of options, and most of these decks will look very similar unless someone puts an extreme amount of effort into not making it look the same. Usually, these cards are balanced because they cost a higher amount of mana or are a little bit above medium rate since they can be played in any deck. Some of this gets thrown out the window when you bring these to head up a deck with them. You might not be able to use the tutoring effect to get something from your sideboard, but you can reclaim pieces from exile, and turning off everyone's mana rocks will make your playgroup ask you to leave the table. I will say Karn, the Great Creator would need to go.
I've realized that, so far, six articles into this series, from my point of view, planeswalkers should be allowed to be commanders. Are there problems with some of the cards? Yes. Are these problems any worse than some other commanders already permitted in the format? No. My opinion might change once I dive into the multicolored planeswalkers, but at this moment in time, in this year of our Lord 2023, and in my heart of hearts, I ask people to try these out in Commander, get people talking about it, and free these 'walkers from the shackles of the 99.