Ranking Every Planeswalker with EDHREC – Part 1: How on Earth Did You Get a Spark?

(Jiang Yanggu | Art by Tingting Yen)

You… are a Planeswalker!

Planeswalkers are some of the flashiest cards in the game. They’ve made a pretty strong impact across most formats, yet in Commander, they tend to be thought of as mediocre. Sure, decks like Superfriends are a fairly common sight, but most players generally regard walkers as not being compatible with the four-player splashy format of Commander. However, we’ve had a lot of walkers since they were first created in 2007. Are there enough good planeswalkers now that we can consider them a part of the format? Let’s find out! Let’s rank all 203 Planeswalkers based on how many decks they have on EDHREC!


The Boundaries of Our Plane

Yes, while battlecruiser cards and Equipment put up a good fight in the polls, but planeswalkers have won the day! I know some might be disappointed, as walkers aren’t considered to be very good in Commander. Heck, I myself have held this view, but with the shift in the format, and more powerful, unique walkers being made every set, I think it’s time to see if that stance still holds up. Maybe we’ll even find some new favorite walkers that time had forgotten! Before we start though, we need to get the boring rules out of the way. 

  • Each card is ranked based on how many decks they are in on EDHREC. All thoughts about the cards are my own, but I have no say on where a card ends up on this list.
  • Cards from Un-sets, or other cards not legal in Commander are excluded. Cards from M21, or any future sets released after this article will also be excluded, as they haven’t had enough time to be put into decks.
  • For Planeswalkers that can also be commanders, their placement will be based on their number of decks as a commander plus their number of decks as a card.
  • Finally, for each Planeswalker, I’ll give my opinion if it’s overplayed, underplayed, or just right. If you disagree, post your own opinion in the comments!

Rules done! Let’s rank! We got 203 walkers to go through, and the least-played walker is…


203: Elspeth, Undaunted Hero: 54 Decks

Ooooooookay. Already have a lot to talk about right out of the gate. Elspeth, Undaunted Hero is from the Planeswalker decks. I’ve mentioned the Planeswalker decks before, but we might as well refresh our memory. The Planeswalker decks are simple preconstructed decks made of commons and uncommons for players to buy and have a deck to play against their friends on the kitchen table. They’re not meant to be decks you can play at a tournament, or even at a LGS really. They’re super low power decks meant to get new players into the game.

However, every single deck contains one brand new planeswalker specifically for that deck! Super simplified walkers that needs to match the power level of cards like Sleep of the Dead, and since the title of this series is “Ranking Every Planeswalker,” I have to rank all these starter deck walkers for commander! Whooooo….

Okay, that’s a bit unfair. They aren’t all terrible. Sure, we’ll definitely be hitting our quota for weird, laughably bad cards, but there are a few of these beginner walkers that I think are definitely worth playing. For example, I don’t think this Elspeth is that bad. Admittedly, that’s almost entirely because of the ultimate. The +2 is pretty lackluster, and the -2 requires playing Sunlit Hoplite, but the ultimate is like a souped-up Overwhelming Stampede. Elspeth can get to that ultimate in just a couple turns. Plus, provided you can protect her, you’re guaranteed +3/+3 off Elspeth’s own devotion, and it’s very easy to imagine much more. It’s definitely not worth playing if you can’t get that ultimate, but I think it’s worth it for a mono-white Superfriends list.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Look, we’ve only just started this. Any playability at all is an achievement. This is not a card for 95% of mono white decks, but it’s not completely garbage.


202: Mu Yanling, Celestial Wind 71 Decks

This is more what I was expecting from these Planeswalker deck walkers. The only reason I’d ever play Mu Yanling, Celestial Wind is for the ultimate, but if you ever decide to use that -3, you know, so she doesn’t die, good luck ever getting back up to 7 loyalty, and oh yeah, she’s probably still gonna die.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Might I recommend Gravitational Shift instead?


201: Sorin, Vampire Lord: 156 Decks

See, this is the type of hilariously bad card I love. Imagine you’re playing some aggressive Vampire deck, and instead of slamming Edgar Markov, or Nirkana Revenant, you decide to spend six mana on Sorin, Vampire Lord, who looks like he’s living in the CGI cutscene from Symphony of the Night, and then watch as Sorin doesn’t protect himself in any way, but instead decides to cast sorcery speed Bull Rush. I suppose you could do the -2, and maybe kill a threat… and then probably still have Sorin die because he’s now on two loyalty. Yeah, you’re probably just gonna wanna plus, and then not attack in your aggressive Vampire deck, because you don’t really wanna let this six-mana walker die, now do you? Great job, Sorin, giving creatures a boost on attacking when they can’t actually attack! 

So anyway, you do this play pattern four times, and if you somehow kept Sorin alive, you’ll get Sorin up to the ultimate, at which point you’ll decide, “No. I’m not going to attack with my horde of Vampires, and actually end the game. I’m going to tap them to steal creatures that apparently couldn’t kill Sorin before, but are now worth my time to steal, and then I’ll probably just lose to a Wrath. Yep. This planeswalker was definitely worth $10!”

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: This might be my favorite planeswalker we talk about this week. It’s completely terrible, and I love it! 


200: Domri, City Smasher: 158 Decks

One theme that is going to come up a lot in this series is the fragility of planeswalkers in Commander. With three opponents, it’s a lot harder to protect walkers from combat, especially if they have no way to protect themselves. As such, if you don’t have a lot of ways to protect planeswalkers, it’s often correct to evaluate them as if you’ll only get to use them for a couple turns. This makes creature based walkers like Domri, City Smasher very awkward. You‘ll naturally want to attack and take advantage of Domri’s ability to grant haste, but if you do, it makes it very difficult to actually defend Domri. If Domri only gets to plus once or twice, that’s a pretty bad deal for six mana. Even if somehow Domri survive, the ultimate isn’t even that amazing. It’s good, but in the 40 life formats of Commander, it’s not even a guaranteed kill.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Maybe some weird decks can take advantage of it as a pseudo-Fires of Yavimaya, but it’s just so expensive.


199: Jiang Yanggu: 162 Decks

 

I actually kinda dig Jiang. He’s not great, but he’s got some relevant abilities, other than that +1. That’s not doing much of anything outside of the occasional Wild Beastmaster, but the ultimate might actually deal some damage in the ramp heavy format of commander, and he gets to it in a turn. I could definitely see it in a budget legendary deck, or budget Superfriends? Is that a thing? Can we make it a thing?

At the very least, it probably goes in some Dog decks. Thanks to Rin and Seri, Inseparable, Dogs are all the rage, but they also aren’t exactly the highest quality tribe. The fact that Jiang makes a very good boy, and then can stick around pumping random dorks makes it one of the better Dog tribal cards in the format until we get some other good boys.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: And if you don’t want to sound like a tool, here’s how you pronounce Jiang Yanggu.


198: Rowan, Fearless Sparkmage: 174 Decks

 

Hey! I was afraid after Jiang that we were leaving the really terrible cards, but Rowan, Fearless Sparkmage has come to prove me wrong. That -2 might be an even worse ability than Sorin’s Bull Rush. It’s probably not killing much, it’s probably not helping a creature swing through, and it’s Rowan’s minus ability, because clearly it would be too broken without costing loyalty! At least the ultimate is cute. Insurrection ends games pretty quickly, but I highly doubt that +1 is gonna get you there before someone gets through to Rowan.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I should be clear, while I’m making fun of these, I’m absolutely not saying these cards should have been more powerful. The purpose of these walkers is to be pretty weak, and let me tell ya, they’re doing a great job!


197: Vivien, Nature’s Avenger: 181 Decks

That +1 is some serious beef! If you can activate it a couple times, that’s six counters, and that’s with no other synergy! The +1 will quickly make anything a big threat, and if that doesn’t kill someone, the ultimate certainly will. I don’t know if that makes Vivien, Nature’s Avenger good, but it certainly makes her pretty dang scary if you can’t take her out.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Maybe she can pet Mowu, Loyal Companion.


196: Tezzeret, Cruel Machinist: 200 Decks

Who let that cryptic complicated ultimate pass on the Planeswalker specifically made for brand new players? Not only is the ultimate on Tezzeret, Cruel Machinist pretty bad (it’s pretty major card disadvantage and it’s unlikely you’ll have many cards in hand late game), but it’s also needlessly complicated. It might not look that complicated, but what happens if I flicker one of the 5/5’s? Can I look at one of the face down creatures if I steal it? What if I wanna clone one of the 5/5’s, or if I cast Echoing Truth? If you or I can’t answer those questions with 100% certainty, what’s new player Jimmy Junglerson gonna do? You know something’s wrong when the regular Tezzeret from M19 has less rules notes than the walker specifically made for new players!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I’d say Tezzeret does a decent job protecting itself, but there’s not much of a reason to protect him.


195: Chandra, Flame’s Fury: 282 Decks

Chandra, Flame’s Fury is actually most comparable to the very first Chandra: Chandra Nalaar. They basically function the exact same way in most cases, and I actually wonder if Flame’s Fury is better for some decks. You lose the flexibility of the -X Nalaar has, but you probably aren’t doing more than four damage with that ability anyway. The biggest loss is Nalaar only takes two turns to ult, and Flame’s Fury takes four turns. That’s a pretty big deal, but the fact that the +1 on Flame’s Fury actually does something, unlike the +1 on Nalaar, might make it better for decks that aren’t just trying to reach the ultimate.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I mean, neither Chandra Nalaar or Flame’s Fury do a ton in commander anyway, but if you’re playing OG Nalaar, it might be worth the swap to this one.


194: Oko, the Trickster: 288 Decks

Oko, the Trickster at face value is not a great card. The +1 is cute for making things big, but Simic can do way better on that front. The ultimate can win the game provided Oko doesn’t get attacked which he probably will. Blah, blah, blah. Whatever. The star of the show is the 0 to become a copy of any creature. Not great by itself, but there’s a way to abuse this ability, and it involves everyone’s favorite rules nightmare, Mutate!

Here’s a brief version of the nonsense: if you make Oko into a copy of any creature and then Mutate onto Oko with something like Parcelbeast, you can either choose to put the creature on top or on bottom. For hijinks to ensue, you want to put the creature on top. After this, at the end of turn, the Oko/Parcelbeast stops being a copy, and regains all his abilities. Since the top card of the pile is a creature and not a Planeswalker, Parcelbeast can’t be attacked, or lose loyalty counters from damage, but can still activate all of Oko’s loyalty abilities. Yep, mutating a creature on top of Oko let’s you use all of Oko’s abilities and eventually ultimate him, with no worries about him dying through combat! Does this one synergy make Oko good? Not really, but it does make him endlessly funny!!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I’m going to copy a mutated Oko with Progenitor Mimic someday!


When I figure out how Mutate works, Y’all better watch out!

Well, that’s the supposed worst walkers out the way, although I think there was some decent stuff here. Do you have any place for Elspeth, Undaunted Hero? Have you figured out budget Superfriends? Let me know somewhere on the internet. Until next week!

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.