Ranking Every Planeswalker with EDHREC – Part 16: Tamiyo Wins
(Teferi, Temporal Archmage | Art by Tyler Jacobson)
Keep your voice down! It's the Monday after Christmas, that means the Kaldheim spoilers are going to come out of hibernation any day now. You know what happened the last time we woke the spoilers before the content traps were made? People were making spoiler videos on cards before they even knew what those cards were, so hush up!
Unfortunately, I still have a job to do, so we'll still have an article where we rank every planeswalker based on their number of decks on EDHREC, but you have to imagine me speaking in a very quiet voice. If you imagine me speaking too loudly, you'll startle the spoilers. Got it? Good.
50: Chandra, Flamecaller: 4,820 Decks
I really want to like Chandra, Flamecaller. Starting at four loyalty means the -X is often a pretty good Wrath to protect her from all but the biggest boys, and the 0 is excellent. It never looks the strongest, but it always feel amazing when you can ship dead cards for gas every single turn. Very difficult to draw dead with Chandra in play.
It’s just the +1 is so ehhhhhhh. Sure, it’s six damage, but it can’t get through a defense slightly stronger than a dirt wall. Every time I see the +1 on her activated, it usually just deals a few points of damage, then Chandra dies and the game moves on.
I'm going to do something that will probably kill any credibility I might have ever had: I'm gonna compare Chandra, Flamecaller to Chandra Ablaze. Yeah, Flamecaller is better than Ablaze, but not for every deck, and honestly, I don't think by very much. Ablaze’s +1 can actually affect the board, whereas the +1 on Flamecaller does very little. The 0 on Flamecaller and the -2 on Ablaze fill similar rolls. Ablaze's -2 is much more situational, but when it goes right, the celling is much higher than the vanilla wheel on Flamecaller, and while Flamecaller can protect itself pretty well with the minus, Ablaze actually has a ultimate to work towards. Don't get me wrong, there's lot of situations where Ablaze does nothing and dies, but when she goes off, I think she's often powerful in a way that Chandra, Flamecaller can't be.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I was very negative on Flamecaller, but I still think she’s fine. Maybe in decks that can make the +1 have some more oomph, like Wort, the Raidmother.
49: Narset Transcendent: 4,829 Decks
I find myself baffled by this series a lot. Like, why is Narset Transcendent this high? Looking at her page, I can see the idea that some of her abilities synergies with different decks. “Oh, the +1 can draw me cards in Superfriends. Oh, the -2 works well in decks with Time Warp.” Like, you’re not wrong, but also, it’s not good?
Seriously, am I missing something? The +1 is gonna whiff 1/3 of the time on lands even if you’re running no creatures at all. More importantly, the Superfriends decks aren’t going to take much advantage of the -2, and the spell-based decks aren’t going to protect a 'walker like Narset so she can do the -2. Like, I guess you're playing Narset in some sorta weird taking turns deck that's also pillowfort-esque and also wants planeswalkers to double spells specifically?
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I don’t get it.
48: Vraska the Unseen: 4,843 Decks
I am so mad at Vraska the Unseen. That +1 should be bad. It is the opposite of protection. It does actually nothing. What should happen 99% of the time is Vraska ticks up and makes an opponent sacrifice two creatures or something, and then she should die. It looks bad, right?
So why, my beautiful viewer, my lovely listener, my companion down this pathway of insanity, is the +1 on Vraska the Unseen the most annoying ability I have ever seen?!
I swear, whenever an opponent plays Vraska and ticks up, it feels like I can’t kill it without losing half my board, and I'm always the one that has to deal with it, too. Opponents usually suss out who has the biggest board, so when I happen to be the one with a decent board state, that's always when Vraska comes down and starts dismantling it by existing. It’s not like I can leave Vraska alone, either. She’ll quickly ultimate and put a loaded gun on the table. Yeah, maybe you'll have blockers for the Assassins, but do you wanna chance it? Maybe your other opponents might say, you know, hypothetically, "Hey, Luke, if I kill Joseph's blocker, then you can kill him with the Assassins, and that would be funny, wouldn't it?" All because you didn't suicide your board to kill her. When that happens, you'll remember this card. Oooh, you'll remember this card for a loooooooong time.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Ahem. Vraska also got the Vindicate as a minus for Superfriends decks, so she does have some practical application other than just being super annoying to me
47: Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh: 4,848 Decks
Is Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh actually a super amazing 'walker? Not really. His +2 is pretty bad. Even as a newbie Commander player, I quickly figured out that Stolen Goods was pretty bad because you often hit like Cultivate off of it. The other abilities are better, but none of them are really worth 7 mana. If you just want to play the most objectively powerful cards, Bolas is not that.
But you should know by now that not a single soul playing Nicky B is worried about power level concerns. Nicol Bolas will never not be the coolest thing. When you cast an Expropriate or Obliterate off of the +2, you will feel like a god. When you Mind Rot everyone every turn with the +1, you will remember the despair in your opponents' eyes. When you ultimate Bolas and take from your opponents any shred of hope they had left of winning the game, you will cackle maniacally. How often will these things happen? Almost never, but they could happen, so go forth and try.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Did you know Nicol used to be an archer? Unfortunately, he got sick of it quickly. He wanted to bow-less.
46: Aminatou, the Fateshifter: 4,949 Decks
(2,364 Decks as a commander, 2,585 Decks as a card)
It’s funny to look back on Aminatou, the Fateshifter, because the precon deck she was made for was pitched as “Top of Library” matters, but that’s probably the least impressive thing about Aminatou. The +1 is cute. You can do cute things like Entreat the Dead or Oracle’s Vault, but she's not Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign. The payoffs for Aminatou as a top-of-the-library general are fine, but not worth building a deck around, and if you don't see any of those payoffs, the +1 is just bad.
No, I always found it funny that the -1 is the star of the show. Turns out, Esper never had a blink commander to get Gonti, Lord of Luxury and Cloudblazer together, and now they do, so people ran with that, and they never spoke of the +1 again. Woohoo!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Between that and the Superfriends decks, where Aminatou can blink 'walkers and reset their loyalty, she's made a good niche for herself, even if the +1 ends up being mediocre.
45: Nissa, Steward of Elements: 5,093 Decks
Speaking of top-of-the-library shenanigans, a Simic Crystal Ball? I mean, the 0 is maybe gonna find something neat, but only if you scry in advance, and even then you have to get kinda lucky. It’s probably safe to assume that you want to abuse the top of your library when you’re playing Nissa, Steward of Elements. That’s easy, though: Crystal Ball sees play in over 4,000 decks, there’s a huge niche for the card. All we gotta do is find generals like Jalira, Master Polymorphist or Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow that provide strong payoffs for Nissa. What options does Simic have?
Rashmi, Eternities Crafter, and... nothing else? Okay, maybe Imoti, Celebrant of Bounty, but Nissa is terrible to Cascade into, and don't anybody try and tell me Thrasios, Triton Hero is a payoff. That's kinda a big stumbling block for Nissa, isn't it? Maybe you can branch into three colors for her in Intet, the Dreamer or Illuna, Apex of Wishes, but there's still only a few commanders that can play Nissa that also really want Nissa. I think if we get a few more Rashmis in the Simic color pie, she'd be an excellent 'walker, but right now, the well is pretty dry.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: You can’t even put her in Superfriends. Her ultimate is garbage.
44: Teferi, Temporal Archmage: 5,155 Decks
(409 decks as a commander, 4,746 decks as a card)
I could write out a couple thousand words on Teferi, Temporal Archmage as a commander. Mainly connected to the combo he has with The Chain Veil that made him a cEDH general. Basically, by exploiting the way The Chain Veil and 'walkers that are recast being new objects, you activate Teferi infinite times, make infinite mana, and draw your whole deck. I really don't have the space to do it justice; just read this primer, I'm sure this is the Teferi most people see when they see this card.
However, to discuss Teferi as a card, you know, where most of his play actually comes from, I'd need only three words. Good in Superfriends. He's got a super funny ultimate that works well with Doubling Season and other planeswalkers. That's it. That is way less interesting, frankly.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I feel like the fact that the most interesting tidbit about Teferi makes up a very small amount of his actual playability says a lot, but I'm not sure what.
43: Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord: 5,226 Decks
Look, I know you desperately want to be in the Vampire deck, and you're trying, and trying, and trying so hard, but it's just not gonna happen. Vampires do not, nor will they ever want, a clunky, grindy 'walker like you. What are you trying to sell them on this time? Lifegain? Come on, man, you wanna be a Windbrisk Raptor? What happened to Sorin Markov, bringer of nightmares? If you keep making these subpar Orzhov 'walkers in EDH, I’m gonna start thinking of you as that Sorin from Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice, and that one’s greatest claim to fame was climbing the side of a blimp.
Actually, that's pretty metal. Forget I said that. Look, the point is, it's time to move on, Sorin! Edgar Markov is not calling you.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: If you’re in the market for a Sorin in a grindy deck where you can buy him back a couple time like Kethis, the Hidden Hand, then I guess this Sorin can do some work with the -X. Otherwise, stop encouraging him.
42: Lord Windgrace: 5,247 Decks
(3,360 Decks as a commander, 1,887 decks as a card.)
So I originally had a giant exploration into Landfall and how Lord Windgrace was the ultimate Landfall commander and why he shook the format, but like... it's Lord Windgrace! He's within the top ten most built commanders of the past two years. His every orifice oozes Landfall. You've probably been whooped by him before, or you're the one doing the whooping, so you know what? You do the write-up.
Go on. Image the best, most comprehensive Lord Windgrace write up. I'll give you a moment, just use your imagination.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Wow! I couldn't have said it better myself! Bravo!
41: Tamiyo, Field Researcher: 5,340 Decks
Okay. Pack it up. Everybody can go home. This series is over. We found the winner of the “Works well with Doubling Season” award: Tamiyo, Field Researcher
Remember when everybody told you that you aren’t supposed to judge 'walkers based on their ultimates? You can officially take that idea and chuck it in the garbage, because the ultimate is basically the only reason Tamiyo sees play. Someone might say they play Tamiyo because the +1 works well their creatures, or the -2 is a decent way to stop aggression against 'walkers. They are lying. They want to get an indestructible Omniscience. Oh, and also draw three cards, because why not? Omniscience sees play in over 11,000 decks, so that should tell you that Commander loves this effect. Name a bad MtG combo or a 10-minute-plus turn that ended in extravagance, and I guarantee it involved either an Omniscience or infinite mana, which is basically Omniscience with extra steps. There's a market for insanity.
So yeah, people wanna cheat out the ultimate, and it’s not just Doubling Season. It's the one I always reach for in this series, but unlike most other two-card combos, you can easily sub it out for Deepglow Skate, Gilder Bairn, Evolution Sage, Inexorable Tide, or even classic uptick to the ultimate. Look, it may not be super easy to ultimate in every deck, but if I tell people not to play Tamiyo, Field Researcher, I'd be telling myself not to play Tamiyo, Field Researcher, and quite frankly, I'm not gonna do that!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Let's be honest, Commander is just the format for those of us that never actually wanted to learn the big kid rules. Not the actual game rules, I mean the responsibility rules. Running more than 60 cards is bad for consistency, don't keep risky hands, and don’t play 'walkers just for their ults. All things I have never, and will never, learn.
I Regret Nothing!
Shh! You imagined that one too loud!
Better. Now, quietly let me know what you think about this article in the comments. Can I finally escape all the Black/White Sorins? Is my hatred for Vraska justified? Let me know in the comments. Until next week.