Ranking Every Planeswalker with EDHREC – Part 8: EDHREC is Definitely Not a Cult

(Kaya, Ghost Assassin | Art by Chris Rallis)


[INSERT GREETING]. Welcome back to this series where we rank every planeswalker based on the number of decks they have on EDHREC. [INSERT JOKE]





Well, I'm sure you're all excited for [INSERT LATEST PRODUCT OR EVENT]. Well, I think that [INSERT 500-WORD LOOSELY RELATED RAMBLE]. I mean, isn't it obvious?!


Anyway, let's get back to it. I wouldn't want you all to [INSERT PUN].

(There. Now I just let the editor fill in the blanks! Probably should have let them know ahead of time, but I'm sure they're cool with it. I'm going to lunch.)

130: Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage: 1,454 Decks

So Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage is pretty clearly a card for discard decks. Not Wheel decks. More stax-y decks that want to keep opponents empty-handed with stuff like Bottomless Pit. Last year, I would have said that's pretty niche, but then the EDH community suddenly decided to latch on to a hip new commander that embodies the discard archetype. I'm sure you know who I mean...

That’s right, Nebuchadnezzar! Truly he’s such a chad!

No, of course I mean Tinybones, Trinket Thief! I’m not sure why the Magic community collectively lost their mind over this dork, but hey! I’m all for new deck idea, and Davriel is pretty on-theme for him. If people ever actually get their hands on Jumpstart, we'll probably see more of Davriel in the future.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Maybe check with your playgroup before building our smol friend, though. Slowly dying over many turns with no way to actually interact with the game isn't exactly an enjoyable experience.

129: Gideon Jura: 1,528 Decks

I always want Gideon Jura to better than it actually is. I'm already a sucker for anything that screws with combat the way Gideon does. You pick the opponent with the biggest board state and make them swing all their dorks in, not only making them waste their combat, but also leaving them wide open to the other players' aggression. With a decent chunk of loyalty, he'll probably be able to do this a couple times, and if you pair Gideon with stuff like Thantis, the Warweaver, or Lightmine Field, Gideon can make opponents suicide their boards into your death traps every turn!

That is how the card works in theory. In practice, I find Gideon is just a five-mana Fog. I never have the board state to take advantage of Gideon. There's never quite enough defense on my side to protect him, and never quite enough advantage to making an opponent's shields go down. The +2 often just isn't worth it, and his other two abilities are almost never worth doing, so when it comes down to it, he's often just five mana to do absolutely nothing.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Even now, I look at Gideon, and still think that perhaps I just didn't find the right deck for him, but alas. Maybe someone else can find him a home.

128: Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast: 1,568 Decks

I forgot Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast existed until a few months ago, and I was shocked that I'd never seen it in play before. I mean, I know why I wasn’t playing it. I play Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer. You can’t be an EDHREC author without building Brudiclad. It’s a rite of passage. Along with slaughtering a Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, and bowing to the altar of the precon effect. P̵r̸a̸i̴s̶e̵ ̸t̵h̵e̶ ̶i̶n̴f̵l̸u̵x̸ ̵o̷f̸ ̸d̴a̶t̶a̴!̴

Where was I? Oh, right, Daretti. Obviously, there's a lot of artifact color combos like Esper, mono-blue, and Izzet that Daretti can't see play in, but there's still color identities like four-color-sans-green or Grixis that would love to play Daretti. If he comes down early, it’s super easy to turbo to that ultimate, and that’s almost always doing something broken in an artifact deck. If you don't want to do that, you can just make a bunch of sacrifice fodder, and then eat the biggest thing on the board with the -1. Even if all Daretti does is kill something and then die, that's still Terminate that also puts Ichor Wellspring in the graveyard. Late game, he’s still great to snipe particular things, and artifact decks can easily protect him with stuff like Ensnaring Bridge. He’s even great in non-artifact decks like Shattergang Brothers as just a sacrifice outlet that also gains value. Of all the artifact planeswalkers that they've made, he’s gotta be top 3, and I’ve never seen it in play.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Daretti might be the second-best Tezzeret they’ve ever made

127: Elspeth Tirel: 1,572 Decks

Elspeth Tirel is kinda like a more fragile Magus of the Disk, itself a more fragile Nevinyrral's Disk. Nothing else she does is very impressive, so it seems like she's mainly seeing play as a delayed board wipe, but she's so fragile for something that white does really well anyway. Yeah, occasionally, in the right deck, leaving tokens alive might make the ability Plague Wind, but I don't think it's worth having your wrath only happen sometimes.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: There is one deck that I'd maybe play it in: Djeru, with Eyes Open. He plays like a cross between a control deck and a midrange punchy punchy deck. I see him a lot. I like him a lot. I’m gonna go build him. Just gotta go get a Karn, Liberated and... nevermind.

126: Garruk, Caller of Beasts: 1,640 Decks

So the -3 is the most "ooh!" part of Garruk, Caller of Beasts. You immediately start dreaming of putting something like Progenitus into play, but ironically, I think it’s his worst ability. It’s not really going to “cheat” anything into play when you already payed six mana for Garruk. Sure, if you have no way to protect Garruk, you'll do it, but since it leaves him with so little loyalty, it’s not something you wanna do if you can avoid it.

Despite the fact that I probably crushed all your dreams, I still think you should play this card. That +1 can draw you 2-4 cards in the right deck, and that’s the +1. Doing that, like, three times is probably worth six mana, and if you get it, the -7 will easily you the game since your hand's now stocked with creatures. And hey, maybe you'll even do the -3 occasionally when you need to apply more pressure. He may not a big dumb idiot that cheats giant dorks into play, but he is a big dumb idiot that helps cast giant dorks fairly. Still a win in my book!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: It’s a tough sell as a six-mana green 'walker that’s not a creature, but just look at him. He's so big!

125: Ashiok, Nightmare Muse: 1,665 Decks

I’m honestly a sucker for Ashiok planeswalkers in general. Ashioks are generally decent value engines across the board, and Ashiok, Nightmare Muse is no different. Dimir works pretty well with planeswalkers, as they like playing slow and grindy and can protect 'walkers really well, so Ashiok doesn't need to do much more than just generate value. The +1 makes a decent blocker, even if the exile text doesn’t matter unless you get to Ashiok's ultimate. The -3 is Recoil, and who doesn’t love Recoil? It can be punishing as a tempo play to bounce the Caged Sun or Cast Through Time an opponent was hoping to go off with. The ultimate is fairly easy to get to, and with the tokens that Ashiok makes, and other random exile like Rest In Peace, it’s almost always going to be good, if not game-winning. Maybe I’m biased because Ashiok does a lot of what I want to do in Commander, but I think Ashiok is a pretty fine card for any Dimir deck.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed:  Ashiok is the type of 'walker that doesn't have to single-handedly win you the game. Just gaining generic value can be enough.

124: Huatli, Warrior Poet: 1,687 Decks

None of the abilities on Huatli, Warrior Poet are very good in Commander. Wanna gain life in your punchy Dinosaur deck? Wanna have Seismic Stomp as a planeswalker ultimate? Actually, I think I'd prefer Seismic Stomp over Huatli's ultimate. As far as I can tell, the only reason she sees play is because her 0 makes Dinosaurs, and it's on-theme for a Dinosaur deck, but nothing else she does makes that 0 worth it, so why not play other cards with more synergy?

"But Joseph," you proclaim, "you could say the same thing about Huatli, Dinosaur Knight and you said that card was underplayed.Well, I can't actually hear you, so I don't know why you're talking to your computer, but if I could hear you, I would say yes, Huatli, Dinosaur Knight was also mainly seeing play because it said Dinosaur on it. However, that 'walker actually did cool things. It was janky, and not great, but it had unique synergy with the deck. Warrior Poet has none of that. It makes Dinos, but you know what else makes Dinos? Gishath, Sun's Avatar, so not only is this Huatli bad, it's boring and superfluous.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: If you want to play a 'walker that's themed around Dinos, you might as well play the planeswalker deck one for the hipster cred.

123: Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants: 1,688 Decks

I tend to prefer planeswalkers that do one thing really well. If an ability on a 'walker is pretty good, even if it’s the ultimate, it often makes up for the other abilities being fairly lackluster. By contrast, Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants doesn’t really have a bad ability, but none of his abilities make me want to play him. The +1 is pretty typical creature pump. The -2 is okay in most creature decks, but pales in comparison to stuff like Idol of Endurance. These decent-but-boring abilities would be elevated if Ajani has a really strong ultimate to work towards, but while the -7 is still good, it's too slow to really be worth the effort. This Ajani is like bland mashed potatoes. Fine elements, but none of them done well enough to be worth it.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I don't think you’d have to change much to make this Ajani good, but as is, he's just not worth the calories.

122: The Royal Scions: 1,729 Decks

The Royal Scions is good. There’s no joke, or qualifier for that. It’s just good. If you play it early on, you can probably loot with it a few times while opponents try and kill it. If you play it later on, it’ll get to the ultimate fairly quick. In spell-based decks, it fills the graveyard. In combat decks, it helps get through for damage. It’s not a showstopper, but for Izzet decks, it’s a decent filler option for any deck under the sun, and it should probably see more play.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: It's one of those cards that's just difficult to talk about. Like, did you read it? Okay, um, it seems good, right? Yeah... let's move on, I guess.

121: Kaya, Ghost Assassin: 1,829 Decks

Last Kaya 'walker on the list and an excellent one to go out on. Just the fact that Kaya, Ghost Assassin is good at flickering things should be enough to get her into the top 100 'walkers. Kaya does a pretty good Conjurer's Closet impression by flickering something every turn, except unlike Closet, on a empty board, she still does stuff. She can accrue value overtime and can reset herself super easily. Decks like Aminatou, the Fateshifter could easily benefit from running Kaya as a permanent way to flicker things. 

She's also an excellent 'walker in superfriends. Kaya can blink other 'walkers that used a -2 or -3 and bring them back to peak loyalty, ready to use those abilities all over again. She keep 'walkers alive way longer than they should be allowed, and good luck killing Kaya, herself, because if nothing else, she can just blink herself forever and ever until she can be protected. In the right scenarios, Kaya is all the best things about 'walkers with none of the downsides. I desperately hope they reprint her. I want to run her in some budget decks!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: You do not know true pain until they play Kaya with Oath of Teferi out. You might as well just throw your hopes and dreams in the garbage


Well, I'm sure that [INSERT OUTRO JOKE]. Man, aren't I just so funny? Anyway, let me know what you think about this batch. I think there were some criminally underplayed 'walkers here so let me know if I sold you on Kaya, Daretti, Garruk, or any other 'walker down below. 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.

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