Ranking Every Planeswalker with EDHREC – Part 3: 'Tis the Season

(Gideon, Martial Paragon | Art by Daarken)

Zendikar Rising Definitely Exists

Wow! Zendikar Rising looks so great! These spoilers are totally hype-inducing! What do I like about the set? Uh, it's got Magic cards, I assume? There's some creatures and lands. Very excited for all those. Presumably there's some red cards, and gasp, green cards! Wizards, you truly have such innovative ideas!

Yeah, I still haven't seen a single thing from the set yet. Ranking every planeswalker based on how many decks they have on EDHREC is an unstoppable force (although it's nothing compared to EDHREC's set reviews), so we must sally forth! I'll catch up with spoilers later!

180: Vraska, Scheming Gorgon: 586 Decks

So here’s a secret game I have to play with this series: when do I talk about Doubling Season? Because you can’t talk about planeswalkers without mentioning Doubling Season. It's the "I win" card for any Superfriends deck. Season doubles all counters, including loyalty counters, so that means that any random planeswalker like Vraska, Scheming Gorgon that has starting loyalty equal to at least half of their ultimate ability is suddenly a card you can’t dismiss without someone bringing up “But muh Doubling Season!“ I'm certain that I’ve missed 'walkers that could combo with Season before this one, but if I mentioned every 'walker that worked well with Doubling Season, that would get staler than Wastes or Manalith ever got, so yes, I wouldn’t recommend this Vraska, but she does combo with Doubling Season.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Now we wait and see how long it take for me to mention Season again.

179: Ajani, Valiant Protector: 598 Decks

I can't look at Ajani, Valiant Protector without thinking about that Standard deck on Against the Odds from 2018. The idea of the deck was the +1 on Ajani will always find you the same creature, provided you only have one creature in the entire deck. Like, say, Timestream Navigator, which also conveniently puts itself on the bottom to be found by Ajani again. Voila! infinite turns! I don't even play Standard, but that one deck always stuck out to me.

Suddenly I have a terrible idea: has anyone tried to build that combo in Commander? Vivien, Nature's Avenger has a -1 with a similar ability, and Atla Palani, Nest Tender just needs a sac outlet. Obviously, we'd need a way to give Navigator haste, but that's super easy to accomplish. Then you just need to run no other creatures, which you can totally do in a Superfriends-style deck. I know that there're way easier ways than this to take infinite turns, but there are few that sound this fun to pull off!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Where Ajani is actually seeing play is in Selesnya counters decks, and it's fine. It doesn't do much the turn you cast it, but if it sticks around, you'll probably get a ton of mileage out of the +1. He really just needs some more Timestream Navigator on his page.

178: Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis: 625 Decks

Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis is one of the most fair degenerate cards that I've seen in a while. She's a planeswalker that you can recast over and over, but she does nice things, like make tokens and gain life. She doesn’t even fuel Escape in anyway. You’d have to use some real jank in order to meaningfully abuse her abilities.

None of the abilities on Elspeth are exciting on their own. By far, the token ability is the best. Four tokens for four mana is a decent exchange, but if you don’t get that, Elspeth is pretty lackluster. However, just the fact that it's possible to cast her multiple times means that I'm hesitant to disregard her. The Escape cost is pretty low. There may be a weird mono-white deck that can fill the graveyard well, and Elspeth is kinda appealing if she's cast more than twice.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Maybe a year from now I’ll change my mind, but I’d like to see if she does anything.

177: Nahiri, Storm of Stone: 638 Decks

The uncommon 'walkers from War of the Spark are very interesting to evaluate. They all have statics abilities, so one way to approach them is to consider them a type of temporary enchantment. For example, the static on Nahiri, Storm of Stone is actually pretty good. I’d definitely play an enchantment with the static ability to make my Equipment cheaper to Equip. However, being temporary makes it much worse. Even if she sticks around a few turns, she's probably only gonna save you a couple mana before she dies.

The other way to look at them is like one-shot spells. All of the uncommon 'walkers only have a single minus ability, and if you only manage to activate that minus once or twice, that still might be good enough. Unfortunately, Nahiri isn’t very good on this front, either. I definitely wouldn’t spend four mana to kill a single creature that probably already punched me.

Obviously, the uncommon 'walkers are somewhere in between these extremes, but I do think it highlights how these 'walkers often play out. For example, I’m not very happy if Nahiri make my Equip abilities cheaper for a bit and then dies, and I’m not very happy if Nahiri kills a thing and then dies, so I don’t think I’m very happy with Nahiri.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I’m serious, Wizards. Just make a three-mana enchantment with Nahiri’s static ability. I would windmill slam that card!

176: Angrath, Minotaur Pirate: 645 Decks

I actually like Pirates as a tribe. Admiral Beckett Brass is a commander that encourages aggression and still lets Grixis do tricky combo things, but Angrath, Minotaur Pirate, is not nearly a “payoff” for the tribe. If you’re playing it just because it says “Pirate” in the name, I guess that’s just sticking to the brand. If you playing it to buyback Pirates with the -3, just use Liliana, Death’s Majesty, which actually has a plus that does something.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Even if you ignore the 492 decks led by the Pirate Queen, there's still a couple hundred decks unaccounted for.

175: Chandra, Pyrogenius: 647 Decks

Her plus punches a thing, and then the minus punches a things, and the ultimate punches things really hard, so she’s pretty committed to punching things, but if you wanna punch things, punch girl here has many varieties that can punch things better. I'd expect my six-mana punches to be more punchy, so unless you’re on punch girl tribal, you can prolly find a better way to punch things.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: If you actually punch something after reading this, I’m not liable for it.

174: Narset of the Ancient Way: 648 Decks

I have no idea what to think about Narset of the Ancient Way. Her +1 is the main appeal for me. Jeskai’s not exactly overflowing with ramp or creatures, so having a four-mana mostly unconditional ramp piece that does other things is neat. The problem is that nothing else is very exciting. Her -2 is kinda underwhelming; it’s a way to protect herself, but it’s awkward to discard a real card instead of a random land in order to kill a thing. Plus, it leaves her at 2 loyalty, which makes her pretty dead to any aggression. The ultimate is also just okay. It’s good over the course of the game, but it’s a lot of effort for that effect, when you could just play something like Guttersnipe.

So since the other abilities are definitely upside, but don’t exactly make me jump for joy, is it worth playing a fragile four-mana rock that can have some upside? I don't know. I don’t think she quite cuts it in the average Jeskai deck, but maybe in pillowfort stuff like Pramikon, Sky Rampart she makes the cut? I think I’ll say she’s fine right now, but she's not a stellar card.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: She’s, like, right on the edge of overplayed. I’m not underwhelmed by Narset, I'm decidedly whelmed.

173: Teferi, Timebender: 663 Decks

Cast your mind back to the far off year of 2018 and the release of Dominaria. There were a ton of excellent commanders to choose from. There were the obviously good ones like Muldrotha the Gravetide, there was some cute build-arounds like Garna, the Bloodflame, and there was even top tier Jank like Yargle, Glutton of Urborg. Obviously, there was an abundance of good options! Do you want to know what I was building around?

Niambi, Faithful Healer. Yup, every planeswalker deck features one card that can tutor up that deck’s specific 'walker, and while everyone else was freaking out about Tatyova, Benthic Druid, I noticed that, for some reason, they made this card legendary in the Teferi Planeswalker deck. My “reward” for building around Niambi was basically having Teferi, Timebender as my general. On its own, not the worst 'walker in the world, but not super exciting. However, since I was running Niambi, I could kinda "build around" him. Being guaranteed to have him in hand makes it easier to build around protecting him with stuff like Embargo. Proliferate cards can help do the -3 as many times as we want, and the +1 can improve cards like Basalt Monolith, and Reveka, Wizard Savant? Look, it’s still not good, but it’s good enough that I can do something unique and not completely fall apart against an average EDH deck. Just seeing the card again makes me want to go finish building it!

Surprisingly though, that's not why this card appear to be this high. It’s apparently seeing play in Superfriends. Maybe in a more budget-friendly version, Teferi, Timebender is good enough for the -3, but why on earth is it seeing play with Doubling Season? Teferi, Timebender isn’t even in the top ten most broken ultimates to cheat out with Doubling Season.

And for those of you that said I wouldn't even get through the article without mention Doubling Season again, congrats! Buy yourself a cookie!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Other than that which should not be named, I don't see any glaring reasons Teferi shouldn't be as high as he is, but mainly I'm giving it a pass so we can see more janky Niambi decks!

172: Gideon, Martial Paragon: 669 Decks

Stop! I know your eyes probably glazed over on seeing another Planeswalker Deck 'walker and you were gonna scroll on by, but hold on, because this one’s actually pretty good! Mainly because it solves the problem that these aggressive 'walkers have, and actually does a really good job protecting itself. The pseudo-vigilance means that creature decks can swing with their many dorks and still have them untapped to protect Gideon. Seriously, I played against this a couple times, and without evasion, it’s really difficult to kill Chad here. He can very easily turbo to ultimate and deal some massive damage.

That’s just in a random creature deck. If you have synergy with the untap, like Vehicles, or Wizards, then Gideon suddenly becomes one of your best cards, because it lets you do those abilities all over again! There's a reason that Intruder Alarm sees play in almost 5,000 decks. Gideon single-handedly made me take another look at these Planeswalker Deck 'walkers when I played against him. Get this 'walker now: I expect him to get expensive some day.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: You know where else he's good? This Niambi pinger deck to untap all your dorks. Come on! You know you want to!

171: Nissa, Genesis Mage: 722 Decks

Whooboy! Look at that +2. That can easily make you five or six mana, sometimes more in the right deck, and it can protect itself! Now, it does cost seven mana, so you might think that you don’t need even more mana after that, but mono-green will always find a use for more mana, whether it’s tucking it inside Omnath, Locus of Mana, or pumping up the dorks with Ezuri, Renegade Leader. On top of that, while the -3 isn’t very exciting, the ultimate is a pretty good reward to work towards. In a nice, big, green stompy deck, I can envision slamming this card down. Sounds like fun!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Is it just me or does Nissa look massive in that artwork?

Nissa, Queen of Monsters

As alluded to above, next week is EDHREC's Zendikar Rising set reviews, so I'll be taking next week off, but in two weeks' time, we'll get right back to the ranking! In the meantime, let me know what you think about this article below. Have you played against Gideon, Martial Paragon? What do you think of the uncommon 'walkers? Post those, or any other thoughts in the comments. 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.