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Monday, July 24, 2017

EDH Bombs Clash of the Planeswalkers Part 1 – The First Five

February 28, 2013 by  
Filed under FAQ, In-Depth FAQ, Strategy

Hi fellow EDH-ers, for this article I would like to talk about the group of cards called Planeswalkers. They may not be necessary for all EDH decks but whenever the color fits, they are usually the bomb of your deck. Any one of them hitting the battlefield is trouble for your opponents. Having one by your side in normal variant is already like having another player by your side playing on the same team as you. And in EDH, having a “player” on your side is always a good thing.

 

History

Urza's Rage New Art

Gods of the Past

Planeswalkers used to be god-like beings in MtG storylines. Players were referred to as Planeswalkers. As a card type, Planeswalkers debated in the Lorwyn set with the five core members each representing a color of the game. They are namely Ajani for White, Jace for Blue, Liliana for Black, Chandra for Red and Garruk for Green. But the very first mention of the card type was even earlier on the card Tarmogoyf from the expansion set Future Sight. Tarmogoyf power and toughness depend on the number of card types in all graveyards but there were no Planeswalkers in Future Sight then. This move by Wizards helped prepare the players for the card type and also sort of previewed it for us. There was no new Planeswalkers thereafter until Shards of Alara. From then on, more and more Planeswalkers appear in the sets to come, though sometimes missing in some expansion sets in a block.

 

Cream of the Crop

Planeswalkers-The-Core-5

Not just your regular card

Card for card, Planeswalkers are considered bomb spells. As a permanent threat, they are considered the best among permanent types (Artifacts, Creatures, Enchantments, Lands, Planeswalkers). As the basic design of a Planeswalker, each comes armed with a set of loyalty counters, which could be altered by the abilities on them. There are usually three abilities for most of them; some has FOUR (we come to that later), two which are small minor effects, and the last one which we refer to as the Ultimate of the Planeswalkers. This Ultimate is usually devastating effect which requires a lot of loyalty counters to activate, so before any one of them could activate it, you will have to store up on loyalty counters first. Thus by using those abilities, you actually saved up on your mana allowing you to cast more spells per turn. Due to the huge power they have, they have a restriction too. Planeswalkers have a Legendary rule unique to them. For Legendary rule, no two Legendary card of the same name can be on the battlefield, and if that happens both will die instantly. Planeswalker rule is the same except that you are looking at the subtype of each Planeswalker. No two Planeswalkers with the same subtype can be on the battlefield. Though it is not a hard and fast rule to play them, but it is always good to include them whenever possible, using them as a removal for opposing if your opponent so play the same Planeswalker.

 

Combo Alert

Doubling Season

Double the benefits

Doubling Season: – This seemingly harmless counters and tokens doubling Enchantment was nothing much before the Planeswalkers came along; in the beginning it was just a couple of charge counters or tokens doubling, but that changes to include doubling the Planeswalkers’ loyalty counter as they enter the battlefield. This usually means that the said Planeswalker will enter the battlefield all ready to use his or her ultimate straightaway. As the Enchantment is Green, it is usually combo with Green Planeswalkers in Green-based Generals; or for the more adventurous, used in 5c Generals.

Proliferate: – This ability helps in building up not just Planeswalkers but also other stuff you have which work on counters. Since you could add loyalty counters during your turn and Proliferate at your opponent’s turn, it is a major speed up for most Planeswalkers.

 

Meet the Fantastic Five

Next up we shall look at how all these powerful allies could help with your EDH decks. As mentioned before, five Planeswalkers debuted as the representative for each color. They would go on to become the main core Planeswalkers for sets to come. Most storylines now revolve around them travelling from Planes to Planes, often times encountering some other Planeswalkers along the way. Below are each of the first five and their various versions.

 

White

Ajani Goldmane

Ajani Goldmane

Bringing the best in each Individual.

The very first Ajani who introduces us to him as one who could empower his allies’ souls; either by empowering or healing them. This is shown in his abilities to gain you life and give your army +1/+1 counter. He even gives your army Vigilance until end of turn in the process. This is very good if your EDH deck focus on Creature horde tactic, overrunning your opponents with tokens. His ultimate of creating a White Avatar token with power and toughness each equal to your life total can be quite underwhelming though. As mass removal is very common in EDH, it might not be beneficial to use the ultimate unless you are able to give it Haste so it can kill on the same turn it enters the battlefield. Mainly more recommended for Life Gain and Token decks.

 

Ajani Vengeant

Ajani Vengeant

The Storm before the Calm

Ajani v2.0 brings us back to his origin in the Naya shard of Alara, a more violent one instead of the calm Ajani (probably due to the Red in him at that moment). Ajani v2.0 has a more controllish power in that he could taps down a single permanent threat. His Lightning Helix like ability is also very good against smaller threats and keeps you alive. The ultimate is a killer on a single player; destroy all his or her Lands, a powerful ability if you are Land-D themed. Mana is cash in MtG and without mana, you cannot do anything. Ajani v2.0 is also quite weak for having a low loyalty, putting him at high risk as you can only tap down one attacker and there are many other opponents’ turns before yours. Ajani v2.0 is very suited as support for Lock Down and Land-D decks, both denying your opponent of their resources.

 

Ajani, Caller of the Pride

Ajani, Caller of the Pride

With Great Loss, Comes Great Leadership

Ajani v3.0 is a very powerful support to Voltron styled decks. The first ability pumps up the attacker and the second ability gives it evasion for the strike. And that is both Flying and Double Strike. As Voltron uses the Commanders to attack, this could easily bring the game to an end for your opponent. The ultimate gives Life Gain styled decks a way to win. Now you have some use for gaining that huge amount of life. And even without the life gain, a starting life of 40 is already a very powerful army. That translates into 40 2/2 Cat tokens. Ajani v3.0 joins the low 3cc gang of Planeswalkers and is very much recommended for play as long as your color permits it.

 

Blue

Jace Beleren

Jap Jace Beleren

The mind the Limit

The introductory Jace, the master of the art of mind controlling is depicted as a cunning and devious man who cares more about his own agenda than others. Although he has a low loyalty, he is the least possible to be kill Planeswalker to hit the battlefield. His first ability of letting EVERYONE draw a card is your political tool against other players. The second ability allows you to further concrete the politic bond with one player. Everyone likes a free card draw. His ultimate may bring you enemies though as you may mill away a vital spells of a player with it and EDH decks don’t have a lot of copies of a spell in it. Again this could play both ways too; if the target is playing graveyard based decks then it is an advantage to him or her too. This Jace is notable for being the first Planeswalker with the lowest casting cost of 3cc among the first five. He is also recommended for play if you like to use political in EDH.

 

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

“Don’t think. I will do that for you.”

Sought by many as the Planeswalker with the highest price tag and for real good reasons, Jace v2.0 has four abilities to support that price tag. Had it not be for the fact that Planeswalkers can only use their ability at Sorcery speed, still that doesn’t prevents Jace v2.0 from being the powerful Planeswalker he is. His library manipulation ability besides being lethal at keeping players from getting their bomb spells, also builds up fast towards his ultimate. His Brainstorm like ability is balanced by the fact that it does not change his loyalty. The next ability of returning a Creature to its owner’s hand allows you to deal with opposing Commanders. The ultimate can kill a player outright if he had an empty hand. This is presuming that Jace v2.0 ever survived till then. Usually Jace v2.0 is the number one target when he hits the battlefield due to his overpower-ness. More often than not, he is going to draw the fire away from you to him. There is really no weakness for adding Jace v2.0 to any EDH decks which can play him or pay the price to buy him, proxy anyone?

 

Jace, Memory Adept

Jace, Memory Adept

Attacking the Head

Jace v3.0, as can be seen from the abilities on him, focus heavily on the ability to mill players instead of drawing cards. The first ability draws you a card while at the same time allowing you milling a player. You could also mill yourself if you so see fit. The second ability pushes the mill up to ten cards at the cost of no change to loyalty. The ultimate is very politic as you get to choose who gets to draw twenty cards; one of those might be the one with less than twenty cards in his or her library, therefore outright taking that player out of the game. Otherwise you can fill up everyone hand and leave the most overpower one out, giving everyone else a chance at that tyrant. Milling really works two ways here. You could mill your opponents or you could mill yourself. Self mill is well-suited for graveyard decks. A full graveyard is a treasure to a graveyard deck. In EDH, milling can be very lethal if the hit players are not playing graveyard theme, as you may mill away his or her key cards. Due to the nature of all his abilities, Jace v3.0 would shine more in a Mill deck.

 

Jace, Architect of Thought

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Tops @ having all four abilities on one face

Jace v4.0 again proves that the Blue Planeswalker really has it all. Not only was he the first Planeswalker to has four abilities, he was also the first Planeswalker to have his fourth version. The first ability sort of protects you and him by reducing your opponents’ army power by 1 for each Creature. This way the smaller Creatures, like those 1/1s, are all effectively 0/1s, rendering them useless in an attack on you. The second ability, a watered down version of our favorite Fact or Fiction is good card advatnage. The ultimate is umber imba here in EDH especially in multiplayer. Not only do you steal a nonland card from each opponent, you also get to cast it for free if you want. v4.0 is definitely going to draw as much attention to him as v2.0, as no one would like to see you use his ultimate at all.

 

Black

Liliana Vess

Liliana Vess PS3

“Join the Dark Side. Because that’s where I’m at.”

The very first Liliana, a sexy Necromancer cursed by four Demons. Her first ability of target discard is not really anything powerful to talk about. Single discard doesn’t really have such a huge effect especially when you are playing multi-player. But her second tutor ability is a bomb in EDH. EDH decks are so big that sometimes to draw into that spell you need; or that combo piece you want can prove very difficult, often times leading to frustrating moments to lose the game without ever drawing that card you need. This Liliana solves all that by being your permanent tutor. The ultimate is wicked when you combine it with board sweepers. It may take a while to activate but the reward is worth as you throw the very threats that were a problem to you back at the sources. Due to her tutoring ability, she is a very powerful alliance for any Black EDH decks.

 

Liliana of the Veil

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“Darkness was never more Sexier till I came along.”

A powered up version of Liliana v1.0, here we see her in Innistrad where she is looking for one of the Demons who owned her soul. The global discard ability can be a nuisance to everyone which can get her kill fast. Left uncheck this ability could fully control a lot of players as you empty their hand during your turn leaving them all on top deck mode. The second ability of forced sacrifice on target player is good for killing Voltron styled decks since most of the time these usually uses Hexproof, Indestructibility and Shroud to protect their only one Creature. The ultimate is sort of overkill but in EDH, it is quite hard to fulfill. Given the devastating effect the ability can has on anybody, everyone is gonna aim her from the start. Liliana v2.0 also join the gang of Planeswalkers to has a 3cc casting cost. If you need a control element, Liliana v2.0 is a good choice. Recommended themes are Control or Prison.

 

Liliana of the Dark Realms

Liliana of the Dark Realms

“It’s dark out here. Wanna come out and play?”

Liliana v3.0 works on getting more Swamps for power. The more you have on the battlefield, the more powerful her ability is. The first ability works on the ramping part while the second ability reaps the rewards from the ramp, working both ways either by pumping up your Creature or killing your opponent’s Creature. The ultimate is super powerful for Big Mana Black decks, something Manferd’s Chainer deck would be very happy with. Very recommend for Black Big Mana decks. And in case some of you may be wondering, the Emblem stays even when the Planeswalker who created it leave the battlefield.

 

Red

Chandra Nalaar

Jap Chandra Nalaar

“When in doubt, Just Burn.”

The first of the fiery temper Chandra, as the Red Planeswalker, she really lives up to her Red heritage, dealing damage with all her abilities. First ability of pinging the opponent for one is nothing fantastic and kinda of slow as a buildup to her ultimate. The second ability though, is your Creature control. For 3RR, she is 6 damage against a Creature. And since the activation is X, you can customize that damage to suit leaving her alive for more. The ultimate is a powerful board sweeper on one player as very little Creatures have toughness which exceeds that much damage, unless they have Regeneration or are indestructible (or has protection from Red or Planeswalker), a good damage source for any Red EDH decks.

 

Chandra Ablaze

Chandra Ablaze

“Fire is my Best Friend.”

Chandra v2.0 comes with an upgrade on almost all her stats. She now has a higher casting cost (4RR instead of 3RR). She also deals more damage with her first ability, but relies heavily on you playing Red. Since you need to discard cards to use that ability, she is also a good discard outlet for graveyard decks. Her second ability plays a bit of politics here. You can help the other players who had unloaded their hand to refill their hand with three cards, in the process also crippling players who have a full hand switching their hand with three new cards. All these discarding helps you to build up to her ultimate where you can cast any of those discard red Instants and Sorceries for free. If it is set up properly, the ultimate can outright kill one or two players when used, or sealing off the game there by blowing up the world (Jokulhaups; Obliterate). Can be use to set up Combo involving Red Instants and Sorceries.

 

Chandra, the Firebrand

Chandra, the Firebrand

Burning Desire

Chandra v3.0 comes back to basic for her first ability but can deal it to Creature too this time round. The spell copying second ability is very versatile for many deck types. You could use it to copy ramp spells; burn spells; token producing spells; etc. The possibilities are endless. The ultimate is a bit low on the damage as compare to Chandra v1.0 but it more than puts up to it by dealing 6 damage each up to 6 targets. This can be used politically to deal with threats which other players can’t deal with to gain their alliances, another good addition to any deck which can play her.

 

Green

Garruk Wildspeaker 

Garruk Wildspeaker

Hunting the Best of the Planes.

The first Garruk, a personal favorite, plays into the Green theme of both mana acceleration and Creature horde. Garruk v1.0 first ability of untapping two Lands will help you ramp into the bomb spells you packed into your deck. This is insane when you untaps Lands which produce more than one mana, not a rare sight in EDH with the likes of the most commonly played Temple of the False God. The second Beast producing ability fits into horde tactic which allows you to kill better with the ultimate of overrunning your opponents with Creatures. Although powerful, Garruk v1.0 is one of those Planeswalkers whereby you seldom use his ultimate as his other abilities are more useful. Very good ramp and army growing Planeswalker, definitely worth the add to any deck which can play him.

 

Garruk, Primal Hunter

Garruk, Primal Hunter

Feel the Primal Heartbeat.

Garruk v2.0 continues with his interaction with Creatures. This time pushing the second ability as the first one as a plus loyalty ability. The second rewards you for playing with high power Creatures, something not uncommon in EDH. The ultimate is a standstill breaker for EDH games. Usually when everyone had exhausted their resources trying to neutralize, everyone will be at a standstill waiting for a breakthrough. His ultimate does just that and does it well too. Unless your play group has a Land-D player, Lands are usually abundant in EDH games, by the time you activate his ultimate, you will have tons of Wurms to bash your opponents with. At the very least, you should have five Wurms to work with. All in all, being the hunter that Garruk v2.0 is, he really rewards you for playing with Creatures and big ones too. If you need a big horde, this is the Garruk to go for. Another worthy add for any EDH decks which can play him.

 

Garruk RelentlessGarruk, the Veil-Cursed

Garruk Relentless // Garruk, the Veil-Cursed

Once touched by Death; No Longer the Same Cool Dude.

Garruk v3.0, who had chased after Liliana to Innistrad for a cure to his curse from her, is a very special one. He is notable to be the first Double-faced Planeswalker. Functionally, whenever Garruk Relentless loyalty drops he transform into Garruk, the Veil-Cursed, technically making him a 5 abilities Planeswalker if you count both faces of him. Looking first at Garruk Relentless, he is basically a Planeswalker that works fine even without transforming. You can use his second ability of creating Wolf tokens to keep on pumping out Wolves to beat your opponents with. The first ability is also good for controlling zero power Creatures with annoying abilities. Sometimes Creatures which doesn’t attack can be even more dangerous than those that attack. On the flipped side, Garruk, the Veil-Cursed is a more aggressive Planeswalker compared to his former self. His Wolf tokens are smaller in size but upgraded with Deathtouch, making them excellent blockers to protect you and him. Now as you all know that EDH decks are huge, so his second Birthing Pod like tutoring ability is very powerful in that you can find the right Creature for the right situation. The ultimate is more of a late game finisher ability as it does little early in the game, acting as a counter and comeback against board sweep spells. Much like Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Garruk v3.0 also has no significant weakness to playing him as long as your color permits. It is to be noted though that the color identity of this Garruk is both Black and Green (counting both sides of the card) and not just mono Green.

 

Beyond the Five

That’s all the versions of the First Five Planeswalkers for now. As you can see from just these five Planeswalkers that each is a bomb in their own right, they could really help out any decks and grow even more powerful the longer they stay on the battlefield. We shall end Part 1 here for now but will be back for the other Planeswalkers. So till then, may the power of the spark be with you.

 

This is yours truly, Edward “Reaper King” Leong, signing off.

:D~

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