Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Using Planeswalkers in Magic
Planeswalkers are powerful Magic cards that employ various loyalty effects, often building towards a devastating ultimate ability. They enter with various amounts of "loyalty," which serves as both their health and resource for using effects.
Renowned planeswalkers like "Karn Liberated" and "Jace, the Mind Sculptor" are powerful but can cost over $50—which aces won't burn through your wallet? Here are ten formidable yet inexpensive rare/mythic rare planeswalkers in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Lord Windgrace
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 5
Cost (As of this writing): $3.50
Unlike most planeswalkers, Windgrace requires three separate colors: black, red, and green. However, he enters with a nice amount of five loyalty and can quickly gain more with +2, which discards a card then draws one, or two if a land was discarded. This preps for -3, which returns up to two lands from your graveyard to the field, and since they enter untapped by default, they can be used immediately for mana.
Finally, ultimate -11 destroys up to six non-land permanents, then gives you six 2/2 cat tokens with forestwalk, filling your field while ravaging opponents'. Windgrace is also one of planeswalkers able to serve as commander in EDH format.
9. Jaya Ballard
Jay's specific color needs and focus on instants/sorceries restrict her accessibility, but she dominates in her element. Jaya enters with a solid five loyalty and has two +1 effects; the first adds a whopping three red mana, though you can only use it for an instant or sorcery. Alternatively, her second +1 discards up to three cards, then draws as many, swapping out unneeded cards in hand.
This also prepares you for ultimate -8, which grants an emblem that lets you cast instants and sorceries from your graveyard into exile, essentially giving your one-offs the coveted flashback trait.
8. Ugin, the Ineffable
We've been looking at mythic rares so far, but Ugin's too tempting to ignore even at just rare status. While he requires six mana and only arrives with four loyalty, Ugin accepts any mana types and fits in any deck. He also has an excellent passive ability, reducing the cost of your colorless spells by two mana!
+1 impresses, creating a 2/2 spirit token and letting you (but not opponents) look at and exile your deck's top card, adding it to your hand when the token leaves the field. That's free creatures and eventual card advantage in one. -3 provides a solid removal able to eliminate most non-lands, destroying any permanent with at least one color.
Heck, I'd argue this Ugin is better than "Ugin, the Spirit Dragon", who costs nearly $50!
7. Domri, Chaos Bringer
Domri starts off strong by joining with five loyalty despite only costing four mana. +1 provides an excellent reusable loyalty trait, adding one red or green mana, and if used for a creature spell, that creature gains riot (giving your choice of a +1/+1 counter or haste).
Meanwhile, -3 lets you see your deck's top four cards, add up to two creatures from them to your hand, and place the rest at the bottom of your deck. That's a fierce amount of card advantage, especially for a non-blue effect. Finally, ultimate -8 grants an emblem that creates a 4/4 beast token with trample at each end step (including opponents'), making it only a matter of time before you overwhelm foes.
An easy choice for my own Gruul decks, Domri is one of today's cheapest cards, costing less than two dollars!
6. Kiora, Master of the Depths
One of my favorite Simic spells, Kiora bears a fair cost-to-loyalty ratio and a handy +1, untapping up to one creature and one land. If you run mana-tapping creatures, that's loads of ramp, or you can use it to untap an attacker and keep them available to block.
-2 offers excellent advantage, adding up to one land and one creature from your deck's top four cards to your hand (the rest go on bottom). Lastly, ultimate -8 gives an emblem that lets your creatures fight other creatures when they enter (each dealing their power as damage to the other), then creates three 8/8 octopus tokens. Talk about insult to injury; that's a 24/24 stat total—which your new emblem can exploit for three creature removals.
5. Vivien Reid
Vivien only needs one color, arrives with five loyalty, and has three handy abilities. +1 adds a creature or land from your deck's top four cards to your hand, placing the rest on bottom. -3 destroys an artifact, enchantment, or creature with flying, and ultimate -8 grants an emblem that gives your creatures +2/+2, vigilance, trample, and indestructible!
Not only are these simply strong effects, they compensate for some of green's weaknesses; the +1 provides rare green advantage while -3 offers much-needed removal. And that emblem makes your units nearly invincible; just remember they can still be exiled or returned to hand.
4. Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
Like Vivien, Jace requires only one color and wields five loyalty. His +1 scries one and draws a card, offering deck manipulation plus card advantage. -2 returns any creature back to hand, which can be used as enemy removal or to reactivate entrance effects on your own creatures.
Best of all, -8 grants one of the deadliest emblems in the game, countering the first spell each opponent plays every turn. Negating their first card each round makes it infuriatingly difficult to do, well, anything, providing a massive wall few overcome.
3. Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord
Despite only being a rare, Sorin's easily one of my favorite planeswalkers, providing all your creatures and planeswalkers lifelink during your turn! That quickly amounts to massive amounts of added life, and it stacks well with Sorin's +2, which deals one damage to any player or planeswalker (and thus gives you one life).
-X lets you remove any number of loyalty counters from Sorin to return a creature with cost X from your graveyard directly to the field, making it a vampire in addition to its other types. This helps maintain blockers to defend Sorin; combined with his starting four loyalty and ability to gain two more each turn, he's one of the sturdiest planeswalkers in the game.
2. Ral Zarek
Carrying a respectable amount of four loyalty, Ral's effects are simple yet potent. +1 taps a permanent and untaps another, shutting down opposing blockers while refreshing your attackers or lands. -2 deals three damage to any target, killing weaker creatures or diminished planeswalkers and players.
Ultimate -7 flips five coins, bestowing an extra turn for each heads! A single extra turn is a massive advantage that grants consecutive draws, combat phases, land plays, and more—gaining an average 2-3 at once practically guarantees your win.
1. Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants
Arguably the best of Ajani's many planeswalker forms, this version needs just one color and has four loyalty. +1 skillfully empowers your army, placing a +1/+1 counter on up to two creatures. Don't have any fielded? Use -2, which returns one with cost two or less from your graveyard to the field.
If you stockpile enough loyalty for -7, you get an emblem that creates three 1/1 cat tokens with lifelink during your end steps; not only does this provide continuous blocker fodder, it stacks well with white's numerous life-based effects and cat synergies.
Prebuilt Planeswalker Decks
One way to find planeswalkers is through prebuilt standard decks. However, these aren't always top-quality; I recommend commander prebuilts instead, which generally flow better and contain competitive cards like "Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury."
The War of the Spark expansion has a particularly high number of planeswalkers in its ranks, offering another great way collection tool. But for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next set of planeswalkers, vote for your favorite and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill