Ranking Every Planeswalker with EDHREC – 2021 Edition

(Professor Onyx | Art by Kieran Yanner)

I'm Still Here!

Welcome back to another catch-up article! We're talking about a whole bunch of cards that came out in 2021 and seeing where they'd fall amongst our miscellaneous ranking series.

Although, I guess it's not really welcoming you back, since I never left. I'm writing these all at once, so I've been here the whole time. I guess it's been a week for you, though, so maybe since you've left, I can welcome you back... but then if you read these both in a row, it feels weird to have some sort of ancillary, time-based introduction....

Maybe I should start talking about planeswalkers now.

Planeswalkers of 2021

  • Eligible Sets: Kaldheim, Kaldheim Commander, Strixhaven, Commander 2021, Modern Horizons 2, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, Forgotten Realms Commander, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, Midnight Hunt Commander
  • Previous number of Planeswalkers: 218
  • New Additions from 2021: 19
  • New Number of Planeswalkers: 237

Spoilers, no Teferi, Master of Time-level 'walkers this year. There's some cool stuff that released this year, but none that rival the casual juggernauts, which is probably a good thing. When everything is made for Commander, it's okay to have some cards that need a little extra work to flourish in the format.

223: Grand Master of Flowers: 510 Decks

210: Ellywick Tumblestrum: 720 Decks

150: Zariel, Archduke of Avernus: 2,202 Decks

149: Mordenkainen: 2,242 Decks

I call this batch "The Adventures in the Forgotten Realms planeswalkers with very specific niches in EDH." Let's give a round of applause for Mordenkainen in Maro tribal decks, Zariel, Archduke of Avernus in Devil tribal decks, Ellywick Tumblestrum in Venture decks and Grand Master of Flowers in... Monk tribal? Okay, that one might just be bad.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Outside of these specific niches, I'm not a huge fan of any of these. Zariel in particular is seeing an oddly large amount of play. I guess it's just for the ultimate?

206: Niko Aris: 754 Decks

I've tried to write Niko Aris a write-up three or four times, and I still feel no closer to deciphering which decks they actually go in. An artifact deck for the Shards? Some weird white Ninja deck for the +1? A random control deck to fuel the X cost? None of those decks feel equipped to take advantage of the other abilities here. Maybe someone in the comments figured them out, but I cannot.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: This card is like a Labor-Day-themed puzzle box. Many cute things, but I don't know when I'd want to try and solve it.

173: Geyadrone Dihada: 1,646 Decks

Geyadrone Dihada is a fine card. She's gonna be fairly agnostic to any deck you put her in, but all her abilities are decent in a lot of scenarios.

There's one small issue: what other Grixis 'walkers are there again? Oh yeah! Nicol Bolas! If you want to play a random 'walker in your Grixis deck, you kinda have to pick a Bolas first, and probably second or third as well, which doesn't leave much room for Geyadrone here.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Would you rather permanently steal the best three creatures on the board, or wipe out your opponents' entire library with Nicol Bolas, the Arisen? Yeah, that's what I thought.

170: Mila, Crafty Companion: 1,777 Decks

(374 Decks as a Commander, 1,403 Decks in the 99)

I was disappointed by Mila, Crafty Companion's page. It's full of purely Superfriends staples, which is not a bad place for it, but I wanted to see someone build around Lukka!

Let's steal an idea from my mirror-universe duplicate over on Commander's Herald and build a Boros reanimator deck around the -2. You can either play creatures that only need one turn to be good, like Etali, Primal Storm, Pathrazer of Ulamog and Molten Primordial, or you can blink the targets with Conjurer's Closet and Restoration Angel to keep them forever. This is the build of Mila/Lukka I want to see in my LGS.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: When Commander's Herald and EDHREC end up in civil war, I want first dibs on Michael's head.

165: Kasmina, Enigma Sage: 1,892 Decks

What a weird static ability that is: each other 'walker has Kasmina, Enigma Sage's abilities? She obviously goes in a Superfriends deck, but for what purpose? My first thought is to slam her with 'walkers that don't naturally add their own loyalty. Sarkhan the Mad and Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis certainly get a lot funnier with Kasmina in play, but it's not like Elspeth and Sarkhan do much on their own.

Plus. it's not like Kasmina does much without them, because what else is she gonna do? She can let 'walkers make Fractals to protect themselves, but it puts them down a ton of loyalty. Her ultimate isn't even that great in a Superfriends deck, so despite the cuteness of it, I don't see anything to do with her.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I do still wanna see the Sarkhan the Mad/Kasmina, Enigma Sage deck, though.

148: Dakkon, Shadow Slayer: 2,293 Decks

I know it's a throwback, but is a bit incongruent to give these colors an ability that cares about lands. Dakkon, Shadow Slayer is probably not growing to more than seven or eight in the average game, which, y'know, is still good, but imagine if this was a Jund or Golgari 'walker? We're not reaching for the stars here, is all I'm saying.

Not being bonkers isn't a bad thing, though. Every ability Dakkon has does something relevant. You're rarely gonna draw Dakkon and find that he can't do anything. Late enough, he's a three-mana Refurbish, which is no Tamiyo, Field Researcher ultimate, but it's also much easier to make happen than the Tamiyo ultimate. I don't think Dakkon's spectacular, but I like him a lot. He's a good filler card for basically any Esper deck with a large number of artifacts.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: He's particularly cute in Aminatou, the Fateshifter.

143: Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset: 2,473 Decks

Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset fits the "generically good but not great 'walker" category to a T. By and large, he makes you a little extra mana and gains you a little card advantage, and you need three or four turns of that to be worthwhile. That's unlikely to happen in EDH.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: And Wizards still does not understand how subsequent titles work, I swear! "Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset" is a fine name, but no! You gotta syncopate it to sound all special and pretentious. Urghmfirghm.

141: Arlinn, the Pack’s Hope: 2,594 Decks

It was inevitable that Arlinn, the Pack's Hope would see play. It's a Werewolf planeswalker from a set where Werewolves finally popped off. It feels wrong not to jam the two together.

That said, if all you care about is power, then you can probably do much better. Ironically, I like the front side on Arlinn more than the back. It's not amazing, but flash can be very good in the Werewolf deck, except that most of the time you're gonna want it to be night, which means that you're stuck with an Arlinn that makes mana and not much else. It's a poor attacker compared with the other Werewolves, and it doesn't protect itself at all. There're way more steps to Arlinn, as opposed to just jamming any other Werewolf into that card slot.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Again, this is like, purely my Spikey instinct. I totally understand anyone that wants to play her for the flavor win!

130: Rowan, Scholar of Sparks: 2,908 Decks

Lightning round! We've got a good static, a bad +1, a good -3 in the right deck, a mediocre +1, a fine -3, and a decent but fairly costly -7. All in all, not something I'm super into.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: The best use for this card is to play it as Rowan, and hope to turbo towards the ultimate, but even that can be somewhat situational.

104: Lolth, Spider Queen: 3,981 Decks

Lolth, Spider Queen is up there with Jace, Unraveler of Secrets as the best 'walker to throw in any random deck that can slightly support it. Most of the time, Lolth will probably draw you two or three cards and take the attention away from your life total. That's serviceable for five mana, but she can do way more. She can live a really long time off that static ability, and the ultimate will make all your value creatures into very large threats. She'll probably never be amazing, but she can be quite good.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Yes, I'm gonna make the Gauntlet Dark Legacy reference. No, I don't expect you to know what that is.

102: Grist, the Hunger Tide: 4,073 Decks

(997 Decks as a Commander, 3,076 in the 99)

Grist, the Hunger Tide can be your commander. The rules are weird. So, what do you do with her? Well, you play a bunch of Insects so the +1 has the best odds of hitting. The +1 is fine on its own, but it does tend to need some help with Forever Young or Strionic Resonator, or Insidious Dreams to dump a bunch of cards into your graveyard at once. When you do, though, you'll have a stocked graveyard, a ton of tokens, and a Grist with a million counters!

And then…. this is where I get lost. You can flashback Dread Return for free, but what does it buy back? There's no Insect that's really worth getting back, and a non-Insect is less likely to get milled. Like, the best I can find is Nantuko Husk to sac the tokens Grist makes, and that's super mediocre.

What else can you do, though? Living Death is boring, and not guaranteed to be in your hand. Do we need, like, Patriarch's Bidding? Maybe we just pass the turn and ultimate Grist? I think it's a lot of spinning your wheels for no value, but gosh dang, I want it to work!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Outside of my pet fantasy decks, there're some Superfriends decks and some other Insect decks showing up in her EDHREC data. Not a ton of decks abusing the creature ability, which is surprising.

101: Tyvar Kell: 4,163 Decks

Tyvar is a fine planeswalker for a busted tribe, which means he has very few actual homes. He makes all your Elves mana dorks, but most Elves tap for mana anyway. He makes Elves, but at a slow pace, and he has a game-winning ultimate that you probably will not need. He's fine, but Elves don't need fine, and therefore don't need Tyvar.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Like most of these 'walkers, I'm sure some people are jamming Tyvar for the ultimate. Good for them.

90: Wrenn and Seven: 4,898 Decks

Probably a decent bet in a Landfall deck that Wrenn and Seven's -3 can protect them incredibly well on most boards, so we got one-shot value and protection covered. The +1 and 0 will turbo-charge any Landfall cards in play, so we have incremental value covered too, and look at that! The ultimate is straight-up Praetor's Counsel, so I guess we can check "win the game" off the list too! Wrenn and Seven is what we call "the Planeswalker Hat Trick."

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I'm honestly surprised Wrenn and Seven isn't at the top of this list because they're bananas in every way.

89: Kaya the Inexorable: 4,926 Decks

We've got five-mana sorcery-speed Utter End here as a baseline, which is... fine, I guess?

I don't know. I think Kaya the Inexorable is a fine card, but I wish she wasn't $3 or didn't cost five mana or something juicier was happening here. She doesn't do very much outside of killing things. Her protection can be good, but if that's all you want, Kaya's Ghostform costs one mana and is $1. Honestly, the best thing to do with her is to use the ultimate and then cast her again and again and Utter End every turn. That says everything for me.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Again, she's totally worth playing, but I like my planeswalkers to have a bit more spice.

73: Professor Onyx: 5,653 Decks

Ah yes, now that I cast this six-mana planes 'walker, I can now Storm off!

I joke, but that's why everybody was freaking out when Professor Onyx was printed: she goes infinite with Chain of Smog. Cool! Good for her! But have you read the rest of this card? Because it's also straight-up a good planeswalker. It draws cards, kills things, it drains people out with the static ability. Spellslinger decks don't do a great job protecting 'walkers, but mono-black spellslinger is much better at it with all the kill spells. With all the generic value, the combo potential is mainly a bonus.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I was expecting to bemoan the fact that she's only seeing play as a six-mana Witherbloom Apprentice, but she's simply very good!

67: Valki, God of Lies: 6,115 Decks

(725 as a Commander, 3,524 Decks in the 99)

I recall saying before that I never wanted to see another Tibalt after Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded, but that if we had to, I wanted him to be absolutely busted. Well, if we pretend Tibalt, Rakish Instigator doesn't exist, we got there! Tibalt is now known for something besides being completely horrendous. He's now known for being so busted that the rules for the Cascade mechanic had to be changed. If they hadn't printed mediocre Tibalt in War of the Spark, I feel like Tibalt's meme status would be more alive than ever.

That's more about the parasocial relationship of a character from a game about spooky wizards. How is the Cosmic Impostor in Commander? Super fun! Probably my favorite Rakdos commanders of the last five years. He makes and emblem that still functions even if he leaves play, which really makes this card. He can come down and draw four cards regardless of what else happens. That's good on its own, but if you keep him alive, he gets out of control very fast. Tibalt lends himself incredibly well to a Rakdos control deck that fills up on ramp, card draw, and other ways to lock combat, which is the exact opposite of most other Rakdos commanders. I love to watch the world burn as much as the next person, but having a slower style of play for a normally aggressive color is much appreciated.

Oh, and you can also just jam him in Grixis control decks, Mardu value decks, or Superfriends decks of all shapes and sizes!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Wizards, look at me, look at me: no more Tibalts. Let the meme live. Please.

I'll Ignore the Alchemy One

Those were all the remaining planeswalkers of 2021. How do you think we fared? Do you have a favorite 'walker of the year? Do you think any of these dorks are over/underplayed? Spill all of your secrets in the comments. Until next week, when we suit up!

Joseph started playing in Theros Block but decided that the best way to play the game was to learn every single card and hope that would somehow make him good at Magic. It hasn't. He is a college student in Santa Fe, New Mexico and also enjoys reading and other games of all shapes and sizes.