Ranking Every Planeswalker with EDHREC – Part 12: I Speak for the Trees, They Want to Murder You
(Wrenn and Six | Art by Chase Stone)
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When I was collecting data this week for this series where I rank every planeswalker based on their number of decks on EDH, I noticed that they put the link to apply to be an author on EDHREC in the top-right of the page. I always thought that page was kinda hidden, so making it more visible is a plus, and hey, that gives me an excuse to talk about it!
Because yes, we didn't all start by writing elaborate fan fiction. Most of the authors here just pitched a cool idea, and the content overlords said, "Go make it." That could be you! If you, too, have a cool idea for an article series involving EDHREC, go pitch it. I can't promise they'll say yes, but they're letting me publish my rambles here, so anything's possible! Join us!
90: Jace, Architect of Thought: 2,972 Decks
When I think of planeswalkers that are good in Commander, Jace, Architect of Thought is one of the first I think of. Admittedly, part of that is because he was the first 'walker I ever played with, so I am #biased, but mainly because his ultimate is probably one of the best for Commander. Get the ultimate out and you'll always win. Find Expropriate, Insurrection, Rise of the Dark Realms, and uh, Obzedat's Aid. You know, just in case you need to ult Jace again. When you talk about Doubling Season being a card you kill on sight in a Superfriends deck, this 'walker is probably the best example, and while it's probably lost the title of most broken ultimate for Commander (we'll get to it), Jace should still absolutely be a Superfriends staple.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Maybe not right now, though. Jace's ultimate seems like a nightmare through Spelltable.
89: Estrid, the Masked: 3,026 Decks
(1,416 decks as a commander, 1,610 decks as a card)
It's always kinda weird judging the face cards from the Commander preconstructed decks because most legends that make excellent commanders fall in these really awkward place as cards in the 99. Estrid, the Masked is a great example. Her +2 does next to nothing in most situations. She can technically fuel the +2, herself, with her -1, but that's so slow. You never want to resort to that. She can give creatures with an Aura pseudo-vigilance? I can feel you shout for joy at the very thought. Yeah, that's definitely not worth the four mana, and it's not like Auras go on much else, so yeah, on average, Estrid does basically nothing.
But I know what you're thinking: "You glossed over the most obvious use for the +2. It works well with stuff like Fertile Ground that enchant lands," and yeah, that's absolutely true. When you have a bunch of Auras like Dawn's Reflection and Abundant Growth, Estrid is bonkers. She's often mana neutral, if not mana positive! However, you need a high density of these cards to have those bonkers turns. Otherwise, again, that +2 does nothing. If you're going to play 10-12 of these Auras that enchant lands, then just make Estrid the commander at that point. When your deck is built such that Estrid makes 4+ mana every turn, then there's probably not going to be a card that's better than Estrid in that deck. Either Estrid is pretty unplayable, or she's so good, you'll want to see her every game. There's basically no middle ground.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: She’s so good when your deck is suited for her, it might as well just be her deck at that point.
88: Garruk, Cursed Huntsman: 3,119 Decks
It’s finally the Garruk tribal payoff that we’ve wanted for so long!
As I may have hinted at a couple weeks ago, I’m a sucker for these big spooky Garruks, so I'd play Garruk, Cursed Huntsman even if it was on the level of a planeswalker deck 'walker. Luckily, this Garruk is not that, and he actually has a lot to offer in EDH. The 0 is pretty dang weird, but it means that Garruk can technically ultimate the turn after he comes down provided you can kill one of the Wolves, and he can stick around afterwards if you kill both. Don't have a way to do that? Well, Garruk can just sit around making 2/2s all day. So long as you have the barest of defenses for Garruk, he's pretty bad for your opponents either way.
Of course, that’s assuming that you don’t have a sac outlet, like Viscera Seer, to turn on the ultimate at will. Let's be honest, most Golgari decks are going to have Garruk ready to ultimate the turn after he comes down. That too slow for you? Any Proliferate shenanigans and Garruk can ultimate the turn you cast him, and it's very easy for that ultimate to just be the end of the game. There's a lot to like about this Garruk, and it's not just because the card has a coolness factor of 6,000,000.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: And then they cured Garruk, a la Return of the Wildspeaker, and we'll never get another Garruk like this again.
Now I'm sad.
87: Liliana of the Veil: 3,127 Decks
You wanna talk about 'walkers that don't scale well in Commander? Let me introduce you to Liliana of the Veil: one of the most busted 'walkers in 1v1 Magic, but one that does basically nothing in Commander. When card advantage is the fountain of life which players gleefully drink from, the +1 will make you absolutely no friends. It's really only worth it in decks themed around discard, and even then, cards like Necrogen Mists or Bottomless Pit are much less fragile ways to do that. The -2 is Diabolic Edict. Hopefully, I don't have to explain why single-target sacrifice in a format known for massive board states doesn't scale well. Even if you somehow get to the ultimate, it's basically going to wrath one opponent's board, except for their best cards, which they'll then use to kill you, and, oh yeah, leave two opponents completely unscathed. It's honestly quite funny how this format-defining 'walker is just kinda garbage in this derpy realm.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I think part of the reason 'walkers have such a bad reputation is because most people only look at the 'walkers like Liliana of the Veil that dominate other formats. If I only saw Lilly in Commander, I'd be pretty turned off on 'walkers, too!
86: Sorin, Lord of Innistrad: 3,170 Decks
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad was basically Sorin, Solemn Visitor before Sorin, Solemn Visitor was Sorin, Solemn Visitor. One would think Sorin, Solemn Visitor coming after Sorin, Lord of Innistrad would be better in Commander, but, in fact, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad making anthems with the -2 is better than Sorin, Solemn Visitor doing temporary buffs with the +1, plus the +1 on Sorin, Lord of Innistrad protects him much better than Sorin, Solemn Visitor and the ultimate on Sorin, Solemn Visitor isn't as good as the ultimate on Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, so, in conclusion, Sorin, Solemn Visitor should be called Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, and Sorin, Lord of Innistrad should be called Sorin, Solemn Visitor because the newer card should be the better one, and Sorin, Solemn Visitor, which, again, is the new name for Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, is a better card for Commander than Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, that is Sorin, Solemn Visitor.
Got that? Good. Neither Sorin is very good in Vampires or in Superfriends, which is also where both Sorins see most of their play, so you can basically ignore them.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: And if you refer to the wrong Sorin in the comments, I'm banning you from Magic forever.
85: Wrenn and Six: 3,199 Decks
Obviously, Wrenn and Six have clearly planted their flag. They want to be rebuying Fetchlands, or utility lands, or Strip Mine if you’re an absolute monster. They're basically a planeswalker version of Crucible of Worlds that can very occasionally win you the game with the ultimate. The Landfall decks don’t have a ton of targets for the emblem, but even casting Rampant Growth, or Terminate six times will probably get you there. Would I say you had to pay $60 for this effect? Not when stuff like Ramunap Excavator exists, and for that reason, I think they're a tad overplayed but if you own them, there's no reason not to run them in a Landfall deck.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Place your bets on when we get Wrenn and Seven. Oh yeah! Betcha didn't know you wanted that!
84: Chandra, Acolyte of Flame: 3,213 Decks
Really Chandra? Really? You can’t just have a +1. You need a 0 that puts a loyalty counter on during the resolution. Mmhm. Yup. That’s not the same thing at all! Good grief.
Obviously, the first 0... Screw it, I’m calling it a +1. The +1 on Chandra is going to be best in mono-red Superfriends. Chandra tribal fans can get to the ultimate on Chandra, Flame’s Fury even quicker! That's nice, but it also does stone nothing with no 'walkers in play, so the floor is pretty low in non-Superfriends decks.
In fact, I think the best way to sum up this Chandra is with the phrase “That’s nice but...” What’s the +1 do? Something cute with other 'walkers. That’s nice, but it's not doing anything by itself. What’s the 0 do? Makes some hastey attackers that get pumped by Elemental synergies. That’s nice, but I wouldn't pay three mana for two temporary attackers. What’s the -2 do? Snapcaster Mage for stuff with three CMC. That’s nice, but I still have to cast the spell, and three CMC cuts out a lot of the stuff I’d really like to flashback. Outside of mono-red Superfriends, this Chandra does some cute things, but none that really make her worth it.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Seriously, Chandra, you're like the kid that tells everybody "Um, actually, it's the Doctor that's called Frankenstein, not the monster." Like, just shush!
83: Jace, Memory Adept: 3,228 Decks
Jace, Memory Adept must makes a good wheat flour because he is quite the Mill-house! Don’t even bother reading the rest of the card. The 0 is a repeatable Glimpse the Unthinkable, and the mill decks already want to lock out combat, so it can easily do it repeatedly. That makes him a staple in any mill deck that can afford him. There's some stuff about drawing cards and whatever, but all the mill decks have sharpied out anything that might distract them from getting cards in graveyards!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: It’s also not a bad 'walker in non mill. It’s a personal Howling Mine that also can ultimate and draw you twenty cards. I think you can do a lot better, but it’s still fine.
82: Angrath, the Flame Chained: 3,240 Decks
So, similar to Liliana, Angrath, the Flame Chained makes no friends with the +1, and that's also mainly what he's gonna do. That ultimate is an eternity away, and while the -2 is funny when you steal a Consuming Aberration or a Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon, you do want a little more than Act of Treason at five mana. Basically, if you're playing Angrath, I hope you like strangling opponents' card advantage and making yourself a giant enemy. Woohoo!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Quite frankly, though, I love playing cards that put a clock on the table and force action, even if it's against me. I'm calling him overplayed on account of all the goodstuff decks, but I'm also very happy Cow Dad exist.
81: Ajani, Strength of the Pride: 3,240 Decks
Hey! I got an idea. Let’s give Oloro, Ageless Ascetic a four-mana Plague Wind that can also gain life and can make an Ajani's Pridemate. Because we all know Oloro needed help!
Jokes aside, it's always kinda funny to end on a card that is just bonkers good for obvious reasons. Ajani, Strength of the Pride says what it does on the tin. It's one of the best cards for life gain you could play. It doesn’t do a ton if you’re behind, but if you’re ahead, this card demolishes opponents. What lifegain deck is not going to try and get up above their starting life total? That's, like, their whole thing! Heck, Ajani can even help. Yeah, the longer the game goes on, the worse Ajani gets, but it's not like he does nothing, and the upside is that Ajani makes all your opponents' boards evaporate! I'm telling you, he's worth it!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I imagine Ajani is never going to be a fast mover, but within the next three years, I'd betcha he's in the top 50 'walkers.
Well, I'll leave you with this link in case the spirit of EDHREC inspires you, but while you're doing that, you can let me know what you think about this article. Is Jace, Architect of Thought still the Superfriends staple I want him to be? Can we blame Liliana of the Veil for the reputation of planeswalkers? Let me know in the comments! Until next week!