Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Planeswalkers in War of the Spark
Planeswalkers have proved one of Magic's most popular card types, gradually building loyalty with smaller effects to unleash devastating ultimates. However, the units in MTG's War of the Spark expansion take a different approach, with many only carrying one or two abilities rather than the standard three.
However, to compensate, they automatically provide a passive benefit (similar to an enchantment), making them some of the strongest planeswalkers yet. Take this list with a grain of salt, as it was made right at WotS's release and before the cards were thoroughly tested, but here are my initial impressions on the ten best War of the Spark planeswalkers in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Tamiyo, Collector of Tales
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
Demanding both green and blue mana, Tamiyo enters the fray with a handy five loyalty. She also prevents opposing spells and abilities from discarding your cards and sacrificing your permanents, two powerful shields in one.
Plus, unlike many of Spark's planeswalkers, Tamiyo can add to her loyalty with +1, which lets you choose a non-land card name, reveal the top four cards of your deck, and add any copies to your hand. While tricky in commander, this rapidly searches spells in non-singleton formats like standard. As icing on the cake, Tamiyo can return a card from your graveyard to your hand with -3, a nice add-on to her primary traits.
9. Ral, Storm Conduit
Red and blue Izzet decks have long emphasized instants and sorceries, and Ral provides one of their best supports. He's another four-cost unit that arrives with a respectable four loyalty, and he automatically deals one damage to an opponent or planeswalker whenever you cast or copy an instant or sorcery.
Ral quickly increases his devotion with +2 (making him hard to kill), which simply scries the top card of your deck, admittedly not the best effect. But -2 impresses, copying the next instant or sorcery you cast during the turn—remember both the original and clones will also damage your rivals.
Useful in a variety of formats, Ral's won me more than one game, and he's much cheaper than most of today's units, costing well under a single dollar!
8. Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God
Infamous dragon Nicol Bolas gains yet another dominating planeswalker form. His downsides are a higher price (five) and lower starting loyalty (four) than many Spark planeswalkers, and his restrictive mana cost specifically needs three different colors with a black majority.
However, Bolas offers a passive alongside three loyalty effects. He automatically gains all loyalty abilities of other planeswalkers on the field, copying both allied and opposing traits. But his own are so impressive you might not need them; +1 both draws a card and forces each opponent to exile a spell from their hand or field. -3 simply destroys a creature or planeswalker, and -8 makes each opponent who doesn't control a legendary creature or planeswalker lose the game.
7. Ajani, the Greathearted
Like Tamiyo, Ajani boasts of five loyalty with just four mana. He also grants your army vigilance, letting creatures attack without tapping, and his +1 gifts you three life, bolstering your health reserves and triggering any lifegain effects you employ.
-2 gives a +1/+1 counter to each creature you control and a loyalty counter to your other planeswalkers; take advantage of Spark's numerous proliferate spells to rapidly multiple these counters and overwhelm adversaries. Even if your opponents manage to defeat Ajani, these counters will remain, meaning you're not as pressured to defend him as most planeswalkers.
6. Narset, Parter of Veils
For the same low cost as commander-banned "Leovold, Emissary of Trest," Narset mimics his devastating net, preventing opponents from drawing more than one card each turn. And unlike tri-color Leovold, Narset only needs one mana type!
While she can't add to her loyalty, she enters with five and provides a -2 search that searches a non-creature non-land from the top four cards of your deck. Combo her with spells like "Time Spiral" that draw a new hand of seven cards for each player—but opponents will now only nab one.
5. Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord
Like Ral, Sorin combines two colors, enters with a solid four loyalty, and quickly gains more with his +2, fortifying himself against assault. His ongoing trait grants your creatures and planeswalkers (including himself) lifelink during your turn, building enormous amounts of health. Then, Sorin's +2 deals one damage to an opponent or planeswalker, and thanks to lifelink, you'll gain one yourself.
Finally, -X returns a creature with CMC X from your graveyard to the field, making it a vampire in addition to its regular subtypes. In short, Sorin's impressive boosts empower any Orzhov structure, but he meshes especially well with lifegain and vampire strategies.
4. Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
While Jace only needs one color, he's a bit mana restrictive, making him somewhat awkward in multi-color decks. However, he arrives with four loyalty, and if you would draw a card while your deck is empty, you instead win. This powerful passive turns a general loss condition into an instant-win and absolutely devastates opposing mill strategies.
+1 also impresses, sending a deck's top two cards to the graveyard and drawing you one. Few planeswalkers this cheap can provide continuous hand advantage, and you can either mill yourself for Jace's reversed deck-out win, or opponents to edge them near a standard deck-out loss. -8 also draws seven cards and wins if your library is now empty. This ability is expensive, but can seal your victory with a deck on its last legs.
3. Gideon Blackblade
Needing a single color and just three mana, Gideon offers an impressive creature/planeswalker duo. During your turn, he's both a planeswalker and incredibly-defended 4/4 creature, bearing both indestructible and the ability to prevent any damage he would receive on your turn.
For his low cost, he arrives with a starting four loyalty, and he can gain more with +1, which grants an ally your choice of vigilance, lifelink, or indestructible for the turn. If you build to -6, you can also exile any non-land permanent. In short, you've got an indestructible 4/4 with creature-boosting and potential removal—for three mana!
2. Liliana, Dreadhorde General
Liliana needs a fair sum of mana, but only in one color and she has an excellent passive, letting you draw whenever a creature you control dies. This stacks beautifully with her effects; +1 creates a zombie token, and -4 has each player sacrifice two creatures.
The cool thing about -4 is that you can use it even if you don't control any creatures, and even if you do, the sacrifices will give you draws. Ultimate -9 forces foes to choose one permanent of each type they control (including lands!), then sacrifice the rest, a brutal removal few can bounce back from.
1. Teferi, Time Raveler
In both creature and planeswalker forms, Teferi's been excelling competitively with aces like "Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir" and "Teferi, Hero of Dominaria," and his Time Raveler mode continues his top-tier legacy. With just three mana, he enters with four loyalty and forces opponents to cast spells only when they could cast a sorcery.
This provides an enormous shield during your turn, guarding against pesky counterspells and other tricks. Teferi's +1 is only decent, letting you cast sorcery spells as though they had flash until your next turn, but it's a nice way to buff his loyalty and survive assaults. You can also utilize (and survive) his excellent -3 as soon as he arrives, which bounces an artifact, creature, or enchantment back to its owner's hand and draws a card.
Cheap cost, anti-instant shielding, removal, and hand advantage all in one, Teferi's a must for any Azorius theme.
Legacy of War of the Spark
Planeswalkers are more abundant in WotS than ever before, with many being only uncommon or rare rather than mythic rare. Proliferate cards also appear en mass, letting you replenish loyalty counters (and populate +1/+1s on creatures while you're at it).
All in all, Spark empowers planeswalkers more than ever, combining their standard loyalty effects with passive boosts normally found on enchantments. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of formidable planeswalkers, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill