Dealing With Planeswalkers

By Jake Nash

26 April 2020

There are currently 2,857 cards on Magic Arena, and 98 of those are planeswalkers. With only 205 of these game winning bombs made in the 25 year history of the game, in gladiator the density of playable planeswalkers is higher in our format than in any other. With War of the Spark in the format it’s essential to ask when deck building: how does this deck answer planeswalkers?

So I dug into the database and am providing the list below with some comments, enjoy and keep brewing!

Cards that Target a planewalker to:

Exile it:

Devout Decree ; Sorcery speed and super conditional. If rakdos/mardu aggro or midrange are dominating, then sure you can run it, but it could just be dead

Despark ; Good removal at instant speed. Flexible because it can hit big permanents, but it won’t hit a Gideon Blackblade or a Teferi, Time Raveler. Color costs make it hard to splash

Eat to Extinction ; Premium removal, gives some card selection as upside. Single black pip makes it splashable. You should be playing this if you have black mana

Vraska’s Contempt ; Excellent removal with slight upside, double pips make it less splashable, but play it in any Black X deck.

Elspeth Conquers Death ; It’s first activation will hit any planeswalker in the format, but it is a double pipped 5 drop. Probably better for a midrange deck than a control deck

Conclave tribunal ; good sorcery speed removal, splashable and gets better with lowdrop creatures. Soft to enchantment removal

Hieromancer’s Cage; Gets a permanent at 4 mana, pretty standard

Ixalan’s Binding; This pioneer sideboard all-star is just another copy of Heiromancer’s Cage in the format

Banishing Light ; at 3 CMC, best rate for white permanent removal slapped on an enchantment

Destroy It:

Assassin’s Trophy ; Arguably the best removal spell in the format, at least until we get Fatal Push. Play it if your mana base supports it

Bedevil ; Rakdos decks will want to play this, Mardu will generally prioritize access to white mana by turn 3, but can still run this

Meteor Golem ; Seven Mana is a lot, but the variance in the format makes for slower games than Pioneer or Standard. Any color deck can play this so unless you are in an aggro strategy this should be able to find a home. Since it’s a creature it has upside with graveyard recursion strategies

Ugin, the Ineffable ; Like Meteor Golem above, doesn’t care about what colors you’re running, and destroys almost every planeswalker except other Ugin’s and Karn’s

Vraska, Swarm’s Eminence ; Hybrid mana makes this card splashable but the planeswalker deathtouch on the creature tokens it creates may be a little hard to pull off.

Spark Harvest ; a splashable removal spell that gets cheap in token or low drop creature strategies, should see play in almost all black decks

Swift End/Murderous Rider ; this card is the stone nut, a Murder with a creature attached to it. If your mana base can support the double black, put it in your deck

The Elder Spell – Super Duper planeswalker removal, with huge downside if your opponent has no planeswalkers. Double black makes it harder to cast, but in control or midrange mirrors this has major potential, and could ultimate one of you own planeswalkers. Or it will be a dead card that will make you question all your deck building decisions.

Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering ; this card makes you jump through so many hoops it should be in the dictionary next to “Bulk Rare.” If you are building a deck with a bunch of Dominaria “legendary matters” cards maybe you can consider it

Casualties of war; This card costs a lot of mana and does a bunch of things. Outside of a Golgari deck will be almost impossible to cast, but if you want to make your opponent feel like they just lost a game of Commander play this

Price of Betrayal ; Not exactly a kill, but removing counters on planes walkers is like damaging them, and at 1 mana it’s a great rate, and can creatures beefed up with counters

Edict Effects

single combat ; Letting your opponent keep their best planeswalker for 5 mana isn’t exactly what you want to be doing, but maybe this card will see if superfriends becomes more dominant in the metagame

Angrath’s Rampage ; Modal cards are great, if you are running Rakdos this likely has a home.

Board Sweepers

Mythos of Snapdax ; Like Single Combat above, letting your opponent make a choice is never good. Excellent in Mardu, playable in control maybe

Planar Cleansing ; Do you hate non-land permanents? This is how you get rid of non-land permanents. All of them. Triple white in the casting cost also makes this less playable in three color decks and even 2 color if they are not base white

Ravnica at war ; um, multicolored permanents are generally powerful, so you could slam this in your mono white deck and have it do something maybe, but it doesn’t hit Questing Beast or mono-red sooooo

Counterspells?

No Escape ; just play Convolute

Steal it!

Mass Manipualtion ; If your playing blue, and I mean REALLLY playing blue, and they land something underneath your barrage of counterspells, you could steal it with this, but you probably could be doing other things with your mana

In Bolas’s Clutches ; This card is likely to hard to cast, and relies on your opponent having something worth taking. Stealing a 3 mana creature for six mana seems like a bad way to try and win

Damage Them!

Always play:

Shock

Lightning Strike

Questing Beast

There are a load of other damage dealing spells that hit planeswalkers, so presented below in no particular order are:

Redcap Melee

Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor

Chandra’s Triumph

Heart Fire

Scorching Dragonfire

Fight With Fire

Goblin Barrage

Chandra’s Outburst

Lava Axe

Sarkhan’s Catharsis

Star of Extinction

Underworld Fires

Fry

Mythos of Vadrok

Storm’s Wrath

Purphoros’s Intervention

Jaya’s Immolating Inferno

Channeled Force

Carnival/Carnage

Bedeck/Bedazzle

angrath’s fury

Domri’s Ambush

Thrash/Threat