Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
The Best Black Planeswalkers in Magic
In Magic, black cards offer powerful effects at low prices, though some require costs like discarding or losing health. Black's planeswalkers follow suit, letting you destroy enemy cards, recover creatures from the graveyard, or force discards, occasionally spending your own life to activate their loyalty abilities.
The group is largely dominated by Liliana's various iterations, and remember that you can only control one planeswalker of the same name (even in different forms). We'll soon see how many of black's best planeswalkers are surprisingly cheap, letting you cast them even in the early stages of the match.
Top 10 Mono-Black Planeswalkers
But with dozens of units available, which cards reign supreme? These are the ten best mono-black planeswalkers in Magic: The Gathering!
- Ob Nixilis Reignited
- Sorin Markov
- Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath
- Liliana, Untouched by Death
- Liliana Vess
- Liliana, Death's Majesty
- Liliana of the Dark Realms
- Liliana, Heretical Healer/Liliana, Defiant Necromancer
- Liliana, the Last Hope
- Liliana of the Veil
10. Ob Nixilis Reignited
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 5
Ob Nixilis offers several impressive creature forms, and his two planeswalker modes aren't half-bad either. He enters with a fair loyalty-to-mana ratio, and his +1 lets you draw a card, although you'll lose one life. -3 simply destroys a creature, a basic yet useful removal, and ultimate -8 gives an opponent an emblem that drains two life whenever anyone draws a card.
None of Ob's abilities are spectacular, but none are bad either, giving him a well-balanced spread for any black deck.
9. Sorin Markov
Considering his substantial fee, Sorin only begins with four loyalty, but his excellent +2 hits any target for two damage and grants you two life. This can finish off weakened opponents or creatures—or even attack other planeswalkers—and it amasses loyalty more quickly than most units.
Meanwhile, -3 makes an opponent's life total 10, particularly brutal with the higher starting life of commander format, and ultimate -7 seizes control of an opponent during their next turn, letting you cast their own spells against them. Overall, Sorin's demanding and disloyal nature are easily overlooked thanks to his multitude of powerful effects.
8. Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath
Ob's alternative planeswalker mode enters with a disappointing starting loyalty, but he can quickly attain more. +2 saps one life from each opponent, adding that amount to your total; use this in multiplayer for the biggest return. -2 forfeits two life but creates a formidable 5/5 demon token with flying, more than a worthy trade-off.
-8 isn't the best ultimate, giving an emblem that lets you spend mana and sacrifice creatures to draw and gain life, but it's overshadowed by Ob's other tempting effects. As icing on the cake, he's one of few planeswalkers who can serve as commander in EDH, further asserting his dominance.
7. Liliana, Untouched by Death
Kicking off the Liliana power hour, we have her Untouched by Death form, whose +1 mills the top three cards of your deck into your graveyard, then saps two life from each opponent (adding it to your own) if at least one was a zombie. -2 hinders a creature for the turn by -X/-X, where X is the number of undead you control, an excellent removal that can bypass the indestructible defense. Then, -3 lets you cast zombies from your graveyard that turn, a useful way to access your milled monsters.
Liliana's Death form really only boosts zombie decks, but she's brutal in her element. For non-undead armies, try alternative forms like . . .
6. Liliana Vess
Vess carries a solid loyalty for her price, and her +1 simply has a player discard a card, a useful and repeated way to assault your opponents' hands. -2 searches your library for a card and places it on top of your deck, which can help set the effects of cards with miracle (which are cheaper immediately after being drawn).
Then, ultimate -8 places all creatures from all graveyards under your control. Considering the discards you've been enacting with +1, there should be plenty of fodder for you to rejuvenate, quickly overwhelming foes with your massive band.
5. Liliana, Death's Majesty
Death's Majesty offers another five-cost Liliana form with a nice starting loyalty. Additionally, +1 both creates a 2/2 zombie token and mills the top two cards of your deck into your graveyard, a useful way to swarm while prepping your discard pile.
Meanwhile, -3 returns a creature from your graveyard to the battlefield as a black zombie. This combos great with -7, which destroys all non-zombie creatures, a devastating field wipe that will hopefully leave most of your own team unscathed. In short, Death's Majesty works particularly well in zombie themes, but her powerful effects function well even outside her specialty.
4. Liliana of the Dark Realms
Dark Realms only carries three loyalty, but her +1 searches a swamp from your deck, ensuring you never run out of lands, and note it can even be a non-basic swamp. Then, -3 grants either +X/+X or -X/-X to a creature for the turn, where X is the number of swamps you control, a versatile trait that either buffs an ally or hinders a foe.
Finally, -6 grants an emblem that lets your swamps tap for not one but four mana. With this, you should be able to afford anything you need, especially since you'll already have several lands through Liliana's first effect. Dark Realms is a fine addition to my own mono-black decks, especially since she's cheaper than some of Liliana's upcoming forms (which approach triple digits), costing less than ten dollars!
3. Liliana, Heretical Healer/Liliana, Defiant Necromancer
This transforming card begins as a surprisingly competent creature. For just three mana, Heretical Healer offers a solid 2/3 with lifelink, and she's easy to morph, flipping over when a different non-token creature you control dies.
At that point, Liliana becomes the Defiant Necromancer. Her +2 has both players discard, which doesn't seem great but sets up for -X. This subtracts a loyalty value of your choice to return a non-legendary creature from your graveyard with that much CMC to the battlefield. Or, if you can afford -8, you get an emblem returning all creatures that die (including your opponents') to the field under your control whenever a turn ends, overwhelming rivals with your eternal army.
Necromancer's decent abilities combine with her impressive creature form to offer a cunning spell, although you can skip her metamorphosis and go straight for three-cost planeswalkers with cards like . . .
2. Liliana, the Last Hope
Last Hope's low price already catches the eye, and it's only bolstered by her great +1, debuffing a creature by -2/-1 until your next turn. This drastically discourages attacks (if not killing the troop outright), making it a prime defense.
-2 mills two cards from your deck, then lets you add a creature from your graveyard to your hand, and ultimate -7's emblem creates a number of zombie tokens at the end of your turn equal to your current zombies plus two. Thus, even if you don't possess any, you'll still get a pair, and from there, your undead army will rapidly expand until it corners your rivals with sheer numbers.
1. Liliana of the Veil
Liliana's weakest trait is her lackluster +1, which has both players discard. However, her low price and great secondary effects more than compensate, with -2 forcing a player to sacrifice a creature, a great early creature removal. Then, -6 has you separate all an opponent's permanents (including lands, creatures, and so on) into two piles, making them sacrifice a pile of their choice.
If you're hit by this, you're probably losing more than a few lands, setting you back several turns and nearly ensuring your defeat. Thus, whether serving as continuous creature removal or building for her game-winning ultimate, Veil puts pressure on foes early in the match and remains the premiere Liliana option.
Supporting Black Planeswalkers in Magic
Today we've seen formidable mono-black planeswalkers, but remember that pairing with other colors expands your options; for instance, blending with white accesses aces like "Sorin, Grim Nemesis" and "Sorin, Solemn Visitor." Additionally, try supporting your mages with the Oath spells and green's "Doubling Season" enchantment, which lets your cards enter with twice the loyalty, swiftly harnessing ultimate planeswalker effects.
Either way, be sure to guard your titans with big creatures to discourage attacks, and remember to field only one Liliana form at a time. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of black planeswalkers, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill