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10 best planeswalkers in Magic: The Gathering

Sorin to new heights.
Image: Wizards of the Coast

The most powerful beings in the universe of Magic: The Gathering are the planeswalkers. These strange beings can travel freely across the multiverse and wield a vast array of magicks that make your standard creature - even the most impressive ones - look like chumps. The best MTG planeswalkers are the ones that can ascend beyond the confines of what they think is possible, and go on to do greater things than anyone ever imagined.

MTG best planeswalkers

It’s not just in Magic: The Gathering's lore that planeswalkers are overpowered. Plenty of them are obnoxiously powerful in the game itself, too. While not every one of these cards gets to become a staple of a format, they tend to all have some kind of ability, or a combination thereof, that ends up overcharging one playstyle or another.

The planeswalkers in this list are the ones that have proven their worth countless times. All of these cards have been an integral part of ruining someone’s day at some point in time and, more often than not, players will have looked at them with disdain (providing they weren’t the one playing them).

1. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Ally of value

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Ally of Zendikar turns the always dependable Gideon into one of MTG's best planeswalkers. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Gideon has always been a fairly decent planeswalker in MTG thanks to his ability to become a creature, turn sideways and just slam into nearly anything without having to worry about it. His invulnerability and usefulness as a creature alongside whatever the supporting abilities were always made him good, but Gideon, Ally of Zendikar was great.

This version of Gideon could not only become a creature and throw down, but spit out 2/2 creatures as well. Even that’s not what made him really special. What pushed him into nearly every worthwhile deck around the time of his release in 2015’s Battle for Zendikar was the fact that he could lay down an emblem, which permanently buffed every creature on your side of the field with one extra point of power and toughness. What made this even more absurd was the fact that you could do it as soon as you played him if you wanted to.

2. Oko, Thief of Crowns

You’re an elk now

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Oko is a cheap card to bring onto the battlefield, and a pain to face thanks to his abilities. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Oko is a thirst trap. Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about this utter pain in the butt of a card. Oko is annoying to play against for a few reasons. For starters, he only costs three mana but comes in with four loyalty (his health, basically) and can immediately put himself up to six loyalty. This makes him very hard to kill, because most creatures at this point of the game can’t deal six damage in one hit. That’s irksome.

The other thing that makes him hard to deal with is his abilities. Making a food token (which is an artifact) isn’t much, but his other plus ability lets him turn any artifact or creature into a 3/3 Elk. That big scary monster your opponent has? It’s now an Elk. He can also swap an artifact or creature you control with a creature your opponent controls. That means you can give your foe a bit of food in exchange for a creature, and that’s just kind of mean.

3. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Absolutely not

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Hero of Dominaria is a fantastic planeswalker card, as well as one of the top picks for a control deck. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Teferi kind of disappeared from a lot of players' minds for a long time. While he was always a cool character, it wasn’t really until Dominaria came out in 2018 that he cemented himself as a worthwhile card, at least outside of Commander.

Hero of Dominaria is one of the most perfect control cards in existence. It lets you draw cards, helps you keep mana up to cast counterspells, removes threats from the battlefield and eventually gives you an emblem that lets you exile everything your opponent controls. It’s a true horror to face off against because it usually means you’re going to lose - but probably not for another 20 minutes.

4. Karn Liberated

We can try this again on my terms

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Karn Liberated is a strong card by itself, but as part of the Tron deck it's particularly formidable. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Karn Liberated is a colourless card that a lot of Modern players know and fear. He’s the crown jewel of a deck known as Tron, which assembles three lands (the Urza lands) that give you a total of seven mana on turn three if all goes well. Karn happens to cost seven mana. This isn’t a card you want to see ever really, but especially not so early on in a game.

Karn can exile cards from your hand, exile permanents from the battlefield and, eventually, restart the game with the controlling player able to put everything that Karn has exiled into play under their control. It feels an awful lot like cheating and, while the character of Karn is great, nobody likes this planeswalker card who isn’t playing it.

5. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

No to everything

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Ugin's ultimate ability is especially dangerous in Commander, but it's one of the best planeswalkers in any format. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Ugin is another colourless planeswalker that generally heralds the end of the game once they’re played. They cost eight mana, but each one of their abilities is pretty incredible. Their +2 ability lets them deal three damage to any creature or player. You can easily finish off a player with that alone. Their second ability is the one that often feels the most unfair, though, as it lets them exile all permanents below a certain mana cost (of your choosing) that has one or more colours.

Finally, their ultimate allows you to gain seven life, draw seven cards and then put seven permanents into play for free. Honestly, you’re rarely going to encounter that ability used outside of Commander games, but it’s one hell of a flex whenever you do see it.

6. Jace, the Mind Sculptor

I’m in control here

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Jace is one of MTG's most iconic planeswalkers - and for good reason. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Jace was the poster boy of Magic: The Gathering for a very long time. With a card like this, it’s very easy to see why. For only four mana you get access to a planeswalker with four abilities, which is still rare even now. You can decide whether or not you want your opponent drawing their next card, choose to draw a card of your choice from your top three cards or return a creature back to its owner’s hand.

You can also exile all cards from a player’s library. They then have to shuffle their hand into their library, which means they usually have nothing to do but wait until they’ve drawn themselves out of the game. Each of these abilities is powerful - together, they make Jace, the Mind Sculptor one of the best planeswalkers in MTG by a fairly large margin.

7. Wrenn and Six

Sorry, what?

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While Wrenn and Six don't have a single game-winning ability, their combination of powers makes them a flexible pick in formats such as Modern. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Wrenn and Six are a tree and a person. We think. They’re also only two mana, which is incredibly cheap for a planeswalker given how many options each one gives the player. In this case, you can return a land card from your graveyard to your hand, deal one damage to any target and give yourself the ability to recast instants and sorceries in your graveyard.

None of these abilities is necessarily preposterous on their own, but each gives a different option - and in formats such as Modern and Legacy (the latter of which this card is banned in) they build up into an insurmountable advantage.

8. Nissa, Who Shakes the World

We put some mana in your mana so that you can make more mana with your mana

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If you're lacking mana, Nissa is the planeswalker you need. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Green is the colour of ramp, which is when you end up with far more mana than you're meant to have. It's also one of the best colours for weaponising your land. Nissa, Who Shakes the World might just be at the pinnacle of both of these things, and she doesn't even have to try.

Just by being on the battlefield she makes every Forest generate one extra green mana. Her first activated ability lets her place counters on a land to turn it into a creature with Vigilance and Haste. Her second ability not only makes all of your lands indestructible, but also lets you put any number of Forest cards from your library into play. It's ramp to the nth degree, and it makes her kind of obscene.

9. Sorin Markov

That was easy

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Sorin Markov isn't great in every MTG format - but in Commander, he's tough to beat. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Most of these planeswalkers are on the list because they’re good in more than one format. That’s not the case with Sorin Markov, but in Commander, Sorin is a hard card to beat. This is because of two of his abilities in particular.

His first ability, which deals two damage and gives you two life, is good but not game-ending. However, his next ability - and this is the one you’ll likely see used - makes a target opponent's life total 10. There’s very little you can do to combat this because it can be used the turn he is played. This means your 40 life points, the total you start with in Commander, is suddenly a quarter of that. On top of that, his ultimate allows you to take control of a player during their next turn. It’s all quite silly, but in the best possible way.

10. Liliana of the Veil

No resources for you

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Liliana sits at the heart of some of MTG's most powerful decks. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Our final planeswalker is none other than Liliana of the Veil. She’s a mainstay, along with Wrenn and Six, in a Jund deck in Modern that is both absurdly expensive and ridiculously powerful. Her abilities are all about reducing the resources your opponent has. She makes people discard cards, sacrifice creatures and eventually choose around half of their permanents to sacrifice.

She’s not flashy, but she gets the job done in a way that is very hard to argue with. She’ll likely always be a part of the most powerful decks in MTG, and she should always appear on any list that has the best planeswalkers on it as a result.


Jason Coles avatar

Jason Coles

Contributor

Jason spends a lot of time shuffling, sleeving up cards and playing decks that are bad. It's for this reason that he loves card games, even if they don't always love him. His poison of choice is Magic: The Gathering, but he'll play anything really, as it doesn't pay to be picky.

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