I have been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994 and have won a few draft tournaments in MTGO and MTG Arena.
1. Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Chandra was part of the original five planeswalkers released in the Lorwyn expansion. Although Chandra was popular due to her being part of the original five and her having several iterations through multiple expansions, she did not see much play in tournaments as other planeswalkers, as either her cards had high casting costs or had weak effects.
The Kaladesh expansion had Chandra's most powerful iteration so far. This version only cost two generic and two red mana. This made Chandra a candidate to make it to tournament decks as the planeswalkers there usually cost three or four. The cost also made it possible to splash it unto multi-color decks.
Planeswalkers typically have three abilities. They usually come with two average abilities and one ultimate ability. Chandra comes with four abilities. This immediately puts her head and shoulders above most planeswalkers.
The first ability lets you pick between playing the top card of your library or burning your opponent for two damage. This is an excellent ability as a weakness of red is that it runs out of ammunition in the mid and end game. If you choose to burn your opponent, you will effectively hit him for one-tenth of his starting life total.
The second ability is a good mana accelerator. Though the color is limited to paying for red or colorless mana costs, this ability is superb in powering decks such as "Red Rush" where you need quick mana to power your creatures or direct damage spells.
The third ability proves that this is a good planeswalker card. Good planeswalkers have the ability to defend themselves. They do this by either creating creature tokens or by creating effects that destroy or neutralize threats.
The fourth ability is Chandra's ultimate ability. This gives you an emblem which deals five damage to target creature or player whenever you cast a spell. This emblem is easy to trigger with red or blue as they have a lot of spells you can use and reuse with abilities such as flashback and jump-start. It has the potential to easily end the game for your opponent.
2. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Teferi was first mentioned in the Mirage expansion way back in 1996. He was a powerful mage that was involved with phasing things in and out of existence. Two decades and two years after, Teferi is now a powerhouse planeswalker.
At first glance, Teferi seems to be a very expensive planeswalker. Costing five mana with two different colors. Surely, such an expensive planeswalker will never make it to a tournament deck. Looks can be deceiving and you have to try him out to see how powerful and game-breaking he really is.
The first ability provides you extreme flexibility especially when playing a control deck. He immediately replaces himself with a card draw. He then gives back two of the five mana you spent playing him in order for you to respond to your opponents threats.
The second ability effectively banishes your opponents threat back to his library third from the top. This stalls your opponent and gives you time to draw a spell that will either counter or remove the threat. This can either save you from the jaws of defeat and give you an opening for a comeback or helps you seal the victory.
The second ability can also be used to prevent you from running out of cards. Teferi can repeatedly banish himself in order to keep your library from running out of cards and from you losing the game.
The third ability is game ending. With every card draw, you can exile a permanent of your choice. It does not matter if it is a planeswalker, creature, artifact, enchantment or land. Combined with card drawing effects such as Sphinx's Revelation, Chemister's Insight or Emergency Powers, you can quickly clear out your opponent's permanents and end the game.
3. Karn Liberated
Karn was a sentient silver golem created by Urza and Barrin. He was created in order to assist the two in their planeswalking experiments. This was because silver could pass through the different planes unharmed.
Unlike your standard box store automaton, Karn was sentient and could learn and grow. Karn grew from being a crash test dummy for Urza and Barrin into a powerful planeswalker.
Karn has a seemingly prohibitive seven mana cost. The generic mana cost however, makes it very versatile. While you can add him to virtually any deck, the best decks to add him to are tron or control decks.
The first ability is very disruptive as it can pluck off that planeswalker, creature or combo piece from the opponent's hand and sabotage his plans.
The second ability removes any card from the game. It can deal with anything from respawning creatures to powerful game altering artifacts to other planeswalkers.
The third ability allows you to restart the game with the stuff you exiled using Karn. This gives you a distinct advantage and will help you win the game quickly.
4. Liliana of the Veil
Liliana was part of the original five Lorwyn planeswalkers. Just like her compatriots, she has had multiple iterations.
Liliana became a tournament staple as she was a severely undercosted planeswalker. Her first ability is very good for discard decks as it constantly makes sure your opponent's hand is disrupted. Combined with Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek and Duress, your opponent won't be able to play much of his deck and hence cannot win the game.
It is also an enabler for madness effects and reanimation as you can select which card to discard and can pay its madness cost to use it or if it is a creature, you can stash it in your graveyard fro reanimation later in the game.
Furthermore, you can use the ability to quickly fill your graveyard so you can access threshold faster and use it to fuel delve costs.
The second ability is an indicator of a good planeswalker as Liliana protects herself from assault by creatures.
You can also use this effect on your own creature if you need its "leave the battlefield" effect.
The third ability enables you to destroy half your opponent's permanents and puts a severe dent on your opponent's resources. While this does not instantly win you the game, it handicaps your opponent and reduces his chances of winning.
5. Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Jace is part of the original five planeswalkers of Lorwyn. Through his different iterations, he has been given all sorts of abilities related to blue such as card drawing, library fixing, milling, bouncing permanents back to its owner's hand, creature control and the creation of flying creature tokens.
Jace, the Mindsculptor has been considered by many as the best iteration of Jace. He has also been considered as the gold standard for planeswalkers. Jace is reasonably costed at two generic and two blue mana and this makes him easy to add unto a multitude of decks.
While the average planeswalker has three abilities, Jace has four. This immediately places him head and shoulders above most of his brethren.
The first ability allows you to essentially scry 1 on your deck or your opponent's deck. This fixes your draw or sabotages your opponent's.
The second effect is a free brainstorm effect. It allows you to quickly sift through your library and fix your next three draws.
The third effect protects Jace from opposing creatures.It also protects your own if in case you plan to use a board wipe to destroy all creatures.
The fourth ability places your opponent on the clock as it decimates his library in one fell swoop. Since the maximum size of a player's hand under normal circumstances is seven, it places your opponent on a clock. Either win in seven turns or forfeit the game.
© 2019 Jan Michael Ong