Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Using Planeswalkers in Magic: The Gathering
Planeswalkers have become some of Magic's most popular spells, using smaller effects to build loyalty for game-breaking ultimates. That said, since most planeswalkers are mythic-rares, they often fetch a pretty penny.
Ever since the War of the Spark set, planeswalkers can now have other rarities, but many still break the bank—which are costliest, and do their effects warrant their price? Here are the ten most expensive planeswalkers in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager // Nicol Bolas, the Arisen
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
Approximate Cost: $29
In his Ravager form, Bolas here starts off as a creature, and a darn good one at that. His stats are a respectable 4/4, he has flying, and he makes opponents discard a card on entry.
Any point after arrival, you can transform Nicol (at sorcery speed) into his Arisen planeswalker form by paying seven mana. He arrives with a fierce seven loyalty and four abilities; +2 draws twice, -3 deals 10 damage to a creature or planeswalker, -4 revives a creature or planeswalker from a graveyard under your control, and the lethal -12 exiles all but the bottom card of a player's library.
9. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound
Jace is another transforming planeswalker, remarkably affordable (mana-wise) at just two. His stats are a puny 0/2, but he has wizard synergy and can tap to both draw and discard a card; not only does this prep your graveyard, it transforms Jace into his Telepath Unbound form once five or more cards are in your graveyard.
For someone who only needed two mana, Jace arrives with a stellar five loyalty. +1 gives a creature -2/-0 until your next turn, -3 lets you cast an instant or sorcery from your graveyard into exile (basically giving it flashback), and -9 creates an emblem that mills five cards from an opponent's deck whenever you cast a spell.
8. Kaya, Ghost Haunter
This card's, um, striking artwork identifies it as one of the Mystery Booster test cards, which are only draft-legal (and ineligible for constructed formats). But despite her odd artwork and low loyalty of three, Kaya's worth a look.
+0 exiles Kaya to haunt a creature (which doesn't do much other than prep for her other effects) until it leaves the battlefield. -1 gives an emblem that deals three damage at your upkeep to the owner of a haunted creature, and -2 creates an emblem that gives you control of a haunted creature at your upkeep as long as it remains haunted.
Admittedly, Kaya's effects can't give her any more loyalty, so she can be frail, but she resets her loyalty after returning to field when the target of her +0 exits.
Exiles your hand, return and end of turn and draw one
Crack the Earth
Each player sacs a permanent
Deals one damage to opposing creatures
Gain five red mana
Dance with Devils
Create two 1/1 tokens that deal one damage to any target when killed
Deals three damage to players and non-flying creatures
Sac your creatures, creating that many 4/4 tokens
Give all creatures haste, untap them, and gain control of them until end of turn
Players shuffle their permanents into deck, reveal that many cards from it, and play any artifacts, creatures, lands, and enchantments
7. Tibalt the Chaotic
Tibalt has an interesting planeswalker history, being one of the worst in his original "Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded" form but eventually offering this beast of a test card. For three, he starts with a nice four loyalty, and his trio of his loyalty traits each cast one of three spells (for free) at random; check out their effects in the table above.
The mana costs of each card correspond to the loyalty involved; +1s cost one, -3s cost three, and -6s cost six, meaning you're gaining better effects the more loyalty you expend.
6. Karn Liberated
A personal favorite, Karn requires a hefty seven mana, but accepts any color. Plus, he gains loyalty like no other, entering with six and having an unheard-of +4 that exiles a permanent from a player's hand. Or, -3 exiles a permanent from the field.
Not only are these strong removals (exiling prevents graveyard recovery), they build towards Karn's -14, which restarts the game but puts all non-aura permanents he previously exiled into play under your control. That's a whopping advantage and currently the only effect in all of Magic that can remove emblems (resetting the game eliminates them).
5. Wrenn and Six
Wrenn and Six offer a rare two-cost planeswalker, one with three loyalty at that. +1 returns a land from your graveyard to hand, perfectly blending with fetch lands. -1 simply deals one damage to any target, a nice way to kill weaker creatures, and -7 gives you an emblem that grants instants and sorceries in your graveyard retrace.
Retrace means you can recast them from your graveyard by discarding a land and repaying their mana cost, and thanks to +1, you should have plenty of excess lands to toss.
4. Liliana, the Last Hope
Liliana arrives with three loyalty and a great +1, giving a creature -2/-1 until your next turn. This drastically stalls bigger threats or outright kill units with only one toughness, perfect for mana-tapping elves or other utility units.
-2 mills two cards from your deck, then lets you return a creature from graveyard to hand, and ultimate -7 gives an emblem that creates X+2 zombie tokens (2/2) at your end step, where X is the number of zombies you control. Even if you don't control any, you'll get two, then four, then six, and so on, overwhelming foes with an army of undead you can further support with Liliana's alternate form...
3. Liliana of the Veil
Bearing three loyalty, Liliana here is deceptively dangerous. Her +1 might not seem that bad, forcing all players (including you) to discard, but considering black's affinity for the graveyard, this is usually much more disadvantageous for foes.
-2 makes a player sacrifice a creature, a nice way to circumvent defenses like indestructible, and ultimate -6 has you separate all permanents (including lands) a player controls into two piles, forcing them to sacrifice one of their choice. What can I say; these are simply strong effects with reasonable mana and loyalty costs.
2. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Of all today's cards, Ugin's the one whose price most surprises me; he costs more mana (and money) than Karn, can't gain loyalty as quickly, and has arguably inferior effects. Still, he's far from bad; +2 hits a creature or player for three, a nice way to kill mid-game foes while amassing loyalty.
-X exiles each permanent with cost X that's at least one color (you can set X as zero to eliminate colored tokens), and -10 gives you seven life, draws seven cards, then lets you play up to seven permanents from your hand for free. All useful traits, but don't underestimate that eight-mana entry fee.
1. Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Despite a somewhat low starting loyalty of three, Jace impresses thanks to four loyalty effects, rare on mid-game planeswalkers. +2 is basically a scry for you or fateseal for an opponent, looking at a deck's top card and putting it back on top or on bottom. A small benefit, but useful for hoarding loyalty.
+0 is amazing, basically "Brainstorm" on a stick, drawing three cards, then putting any two from hand on top of deck. Not only does this boost your hand size, it's great for draw-rewarding abilities and lets you rig miracle effects.
-1 offers an excellent removal, returning a creature to hand (this usually costs -2, as seen on "Jace, Unraveler of Secrets"). Rarely will you be able to afford -12, but it's brutal when you do, exiling all cards from a player's deck, then having them shuffle their hand into their deck, both eliminating their hand and edging them perilously close to a deck-out loss. In short, I'm not sure Jace is worth $92, but he's certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Promo Planeswalkers in Magic
Like other cards, planeswalkers are often reprinted in various sets. Today, we examined the cheapest version of each; most have other prints that fetch an even higher price, so shop carefully to ensure you're getting the best deal.
Even if you can't afford today's spells, fear not— there's still plenty of great planeswalkers that cost less than five dollars. But for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next set of pricey planeswalkers, vote for your favorite and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2020 Jeremy Gill