I have been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994 and have won a few draft tournaments in MTGO and MTG Arena.
1. Ajani Goldmane
Ajani Goldmane is not one of the more powerful planeswalkers and is not even one of the most powerful versions of Ajani. This in no way means that this card is bad. The card is just average.
For four mana, you get four loyalty counters, this is a fair deal. Ajani shines in white weenie and life gain based decks.
If you are against burn, Ajani can quickly turn the tables on your opponent because he can gain you life and can make your lifelinked creatures larger to offset life loss from burn.
The first ability gains you two life. This helps you withstand the early barrage of red direct damage spells Red Rush will throw at you. It also helps you recover from life lost from early attacks from aggro decks.
The second ability makes your creatures bigger and gives them temporary vigilance to boot. This allows you to get ahead in the damage game or allows you to do in your opponent with those final points of damage.
The third ability creates you a token, which is like a Serra Avatar. It may not have any evasion or abilities, but it is a large creature in lifegain decks. If Ajani survives and keeps gaining life, the avatar will grow even bigger.
2. Garruk Wildspeaker
Garruk Wildspeaker became a part of the tournament scene when it came out in Lorwyn.
It is easy to see why. With the first ability of untapping lands, Garruk just effectively costs just two mana as the other two mana gets freed up for you to do something else. Furthermore, with green able to produce mana, you can get in Garruk as early as turn three.
The first ability untaps two lands. While this is good on its own, it becomes downright unfair when the land is enchanted with mana enhancers such as Overgrowth or if the land itself can produce several mana such as Gaea's Cradle.
The second ability creates a 3/3 creature. If you use Garruk purely for beast tokens and let him run out of loyalty, you get a total of three 3/3 beast tokens for a mere four mana. Still a good value.
The second ability gives credence to the adage that a good planeswalker has the ability to protect itself.
The third ability is basically Overrrun. This is easy to get off as it takes only two turns including the turn Garruk is summoned. This is an excellent finisher as it essentially gives Giant Growth to all your creatures and gives them trample.
3. Liliana Vess
Liliana is a decent card for control decks, but the high casting cost keeps many players from using this version of Liliana. It does not say that there is no room for five cost planeswalkers, but you need to be exceptional to cost more than four mana.
Liliana could be used in a variety of decks such as discarder decks, Dimir, Esper, and reanimator decks.
The first ability has several purposes. If it targets you, it enables you to place creatures in your graveyard for reanimation. It also enables you to place spells in your graveyard for Flashback. It also is n excellent Madness enabler. If it targets the opponent, it disrupts him and may lead him to discard that key spell or combo piece.
The second ability lets you tutor for a card that you need to complete your combo or to be an answer to your threats, such as a large creature.
The third ability can end the game for your opponent as Liliana uses her powers of necromancy to resurrect all creatures in all graveyards and place them under your control.
4. Chandra Nalaar
Six loyalty for five mana is not bad. However, the five mana cost prevents many players from using Chandra Nalaar. Unless a planeswalker is spectacular, five mana for a planeswalker does not cut it.
The first ability deals one damage to a player. This is an extremely limited ability as it does not target creatures. Had this been able to pick off Delver of Secrets, Birds of Paradise and Llanowar Elves, this ability would be infinitely more useful.
The second ability at least protects Chandra by using loyalty counters to burn opposing creatures. This is good for picking off low-cost creatures. However, it is near useless against gigantic creatures such as Ghalta, Primal Hunger, or Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre.
The third ability roasts your opponent and all his creatures for 10 damage each. This takes three turns to get off but is a solid play if you already have Doubling Season in play, and you use the ability the turn Chandra comes into play. This can finish the game for you.
5. Jace Beleren
Jace Beleren was Wizard's first attempt in creating a cheap planeswalker. It was a relatively good attempt as this version of Jace was a tournament staple for a while due to its card drawing abilities. Jace generated a very good card advantage for control players who looked to reload their hand with counterspells and answers to their opponent's threats.
The first ability grants each other a card each. While giving your opponent free cards is not the best way to win games, you are mostly a control player anyway, so the card drawing will lead you to countermagic and other answers to stall your opponent.
If you are playing mill, it helps empty out your opponent's library faster.
The second ability lets you get on the card drawing action on your own. A lot of players used ability one and two alternately to make sure Jace does not run out of loyalty counters.
The third ability mills a player of your choosing. If you mill your opponent for twenty, that is a third of his library. This can win you the game if you are using a mill deck. If you use it on yourself, you can use your graveyard to power Crackling Drakes and Enigma Drakes by placing instants and sorceries in your graveyard.
© 2019 Jan Michael Ong