Thanks for joining me in the very first edition of the Planeswalker Deck Project! If you missed Monday's kickoff article, make sure to check it out!

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Let's take a look at Ajani, Caller of the Pride. Although it doesn't have any super overt signals—no tribal synergies per se, except for the occasional Ajani tendency to make cats as the ultimate ability, and no references to specific mechanics—there's a lot to be gleaned from just reading the card about what we should be doing with it.

First, it only costs 3 mana, a signal that maybe we want our curve to be a little lower than normal. Next, both of its first two abilities bolster creatures in such a way that heavily incentivize attacking. The ultimate ability indicates that it would be nice to keep our life total high when possible.

So we're looking at a White aggressive deck that wants to commit to the board early and attack often. We're also looking for ways to reward connecting with the opponent, since Lil 'Jani's second ability grants some evasion. That's a lot to go on.

Submitted for the approval of the Planeswalker Society:

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Ajani, Caller of the Pride by Andy Hurst

'Ajani, Caller of the Pride' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Andy Hurst

Event:

Rank:

Freeform (Casual)

Market Price: $22.02

Cards

Abolish

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/36915_200w.jpg

You may discard a Plains card rather than pay this spell's mana cost.
Destroy target artifact or enchantment.

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Angel's Trumpet

Market Price: $0.50

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/6280_200w.jpg

All creatures have vigilance.
At the beginning of each player's end step, tap all untapped creatures that player controls that didn't attack this turn. Angel's Trumpet deals damage to the player equal to the number of creatures tapped this way.

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Infantry Veteran

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145375_200w.jpg

{T}: Target attacking creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

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Glory

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $1.79

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/10163_200w.jpg

Flying
{2}{W}: Choose a color. Creatures you control gain protection from the chosen color until end of turn. Activate this ability only if Glory is in your graveyard.

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Consul's Lieutenant

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/100341_200w.jpg

First strike
Renown 1 (When this creature deals combat damage to a player, if it isn't renowned, put a +1/+1 counter on it and it becomes renowned.)
Whenever Consul's Lieutenant attacks, if it's renowned, other attacking creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn.

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Path to Exile

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $2.63

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128479_200w.jpg

Exile target creature. Its controller may search their library for a basic land card, put that card onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle their library.

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Abzan Falconer

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222658_200w.jpg

Outlast {W} ({W}, {T}: Put a +1/+1 counter on this creature. Outlast only as a sorcery.)
Each creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it has flying.

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Abzan Battle Priest

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145351_200w.jpg

Outlast {W} ({W}, {T}: Put a +1/+1 counter on this creature. Outlast only as a sorcery.)
Each creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it has lifelink.

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Charge Across the Araba

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/12409_200w.jpg

Sweep — Return any number of Plains you control to their owner's hand. Creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn for each Plains returned this way.

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War Oracle

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/100352_200w.jpg

Lifelink (Damage dealt by this creature also causes you to gain that much life.)
Renown 1 (When this creature deals combat damage to a player, if it isn't renowned, put a +1/+1 counter on it and it becomes renowned.)

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Stalwart Aven

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.03

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145385_200w.jpg

Flying (This creature can't be blocked except by creatures with flying or reach.)
Renown 1 (When this creature deals combat damage to a player, if it isn't renowned, put a +1/+1 counter on it and it becomes renowned.)

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Guided Strike

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145374_200w.jpg

Target creature gets +1/+0 and gains first strike until end of turn.
Draw a card.

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Remote Farm

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.21

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/6655_200w.jpg

Remote Farm enters the battlefield tapped with two depletion counters on it.
{T}, Remove a depletion counter from Remote Farm: Add {W}{W}. If there are no depletion counters on Remote Farm, sacrifice it.

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Ajani, Caller of the Pride

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $3.73

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/69874_200w.jpg

+1: Put a +1/+1 counter on up to one target creature.
−3: Target creature gains flying and double strike until end of turn.
−8: Create X 2/2 white Cat creature tokens, where X is your life total.

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Deftblade Elite

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.34

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/10694_200w.jpg

Provoke (Whenever this creature attacks, you may have target creature defending player controls untap and block it if able.)
{1}{W}: Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt to and dealt by Deftblade Elite this turn.

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Celestial Flare

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/100331_200w.jpg

Target player sacrifices an attacking or blocking creature.

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Impeccable Timing

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.01

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/129528_200w.jpg

Impeccable Timing deals 3 damage to target attacking or blocking creature.

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Leonin Warleader

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $2.72

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/169218_200w.jpg

Whenever Leonin Warleader attacks, create two 1/1 white Cat creature tokens with lifelink that are tapped and attacking.

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Topan Freeblade

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145396_200w.jpg

Vigilance (Attacking doesn't cause this creature to tap.)
Renown 1 (When this creature deals combat damage to a player, if it isn't renowned, put a +1/+1 counter on it and it becomes renowned.)

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Leonin Battlemage

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/11742_200w.jpg

{T}: Target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
Whenever you cast a spell, you may untap Leonin Battlemage.

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Prison Term

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/47466_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
Enchanted creature can't attack or block, and its activated abilities can't be activated.
Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under an opponent's control, you may attach Prison Term to that creature.

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Devouring Light

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/90958_200w.jpg

Convoke (Your creatures can help cast this spell. Each creature you tap while casting this spell pays for {1} or one mana of that creature's color.)
Exile target attacking or blocking creature.

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Pianna, Nomad Captain

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.52

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/9314_200w.jpg

Whenever Pianna, Nomad Captain attacks, attacking creatures get +1/+1 until end of turn.

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Dawn Charm

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.21

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227259_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn.
• Regenerate target creature.
• Counter target spell that targets you.

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Boros Elite

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67337_200w.jpg

Battalion — Whenever Boros Elite and at least two other creatures attack, Boros Elite gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

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Ardenvale Tactician // Dizzying Swoop

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198997_200w.jpg

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Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227283_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

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Decommission

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/126320_200w.jpg

Destroy target artifact or enchantment.
Revolt — If a permanent you controlled left the battlefield this turn, you gain 3 life.

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Veteran Armorer

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/68313_200w.jpg

Other creatures you control get +0/+1.

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Armored Ascension

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/35384_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 for each Plains you control and has flying.

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Kinsbaile Balloonist

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/15546_200w.jpg

Flying
Whenever Kinsbaile Balloonist attacks, you may have target creature gain flying until end of turn.

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Serra Avenger

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $1.21

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/59885_200w.jpg

You can't cast this spell during your first, second, or third turns of the game.
Flying
Vigilance (Attacking doesn't cause this creature to tap.)

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Desert of the True

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212377_200w.jpg

Desert of the True enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {W}.
Cycling {1}{W} ({1}{W}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Shefet Dunes

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/135093_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{T}, Pay 1 life: Add {W}.
{2}{W}{W}, {T}, Sacrifice a Desert: Creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery.

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Alley Evasion

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/126454_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Target creature you control gets +1/+2 until end of turn.
• Return target creature you control to its owner's hand.

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Knight of the Pilgrim's Road

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/100032_200w.jpg

Renown 1 (When this creature deals combat damage to a player, if it isn't renowned, put a +1/+1 counter on it and it becomes renowned.)

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Healer's Hawk

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.29

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216367_200w.jpg

Flying, lifelink

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The Game Plan

We are looking to turn guys sideways, frequently, and use a mix of combat tricks and onboard abilities to keep them around and repeat until we get a concession.Our creature base is a fair mix of enablers and payoffs, with the enablers helping our troops in combat or helping them connect (Deftblade Elite, the spell half of Ardenvale Tactician, Kinsbaile Balloonist, the Abzan guys) or creatures we want to be connecting with (the Renown team). The creature base is mostly divided into two main categories: the assistants, and the beaters. The assistants - Deftblade, Veteran, Pianna, Balloonist, and Battlemage - help let our creatures connect or simply thrive in combat, while the beaters do the major damage, pick up Renown counters, and serve as the major threats. We have two heavy hitters in Armored Ascension and Charge Across the Araba to seal the deal, and two copies of Shefet Dunes that do a slower, slightly worse version of the same effect. Remember that the Abzan guys synergize conveniently with Ajani's +1 or the Renowned creatures.

The removal suite in this deck is pretty robust, with an honest to God all-star in Path to Exile, and a bunch of other decent combat-related options. If you've never mauled someone with a Guided Strike, you're really missing out. Don't forget that you can move Prison Term around if your opponent plays something frightening—but also that you're not obligated to do so.

The Rares

We don't have the Aether Vial to cheat this lady out like we might in Modern or Legacy, but that's okay! She's plenty good when cast honestly. The potential curve of 2-drop, 3-drop, Avenger + combat trick is devastating, and her stats make her a threat whenever she shows up.

I started playing competitively around Odyssey Block, and I always thought Pianna was really cool. I like a card that shows you exactly what your game plan should look like, and coincidentally that plan fits this deck like a glove.

So you're telling me we have a cat that likes to attack and generates even more attackers, all while bolstering our life total? Flavorwise, this could not be a more perfect rare to pair with this Planeswalker.

Like I mentioned above, Odyssey Block was my first stab at competitive Magic. Glory was one of my first rares from the Judgment Prerelease, and boy did I spend a lot of time discarding this guy that summer. We don't have ways to utilize that synergy; if our Glory is getting to the graveyard it's doing so honestly, but that's totally fine. It's either a perfectly serviceable 3/3 flyer, or your opponent deals with it and gets railroaded. Remember: Glory's ability is not once-per-turn! Or sorcery speed! It owns combat steps/removal/your opponent—and if it's not, it's at least getting in there for 3.

Unsung Hero

Leonin Battlemage is a relic of a bygone era. They've largely done away with onboard tricks (which I think may correspond with White's weakness in several recent Limited environments, but that's a discussion for another column) due to fear of complexity, and the Battlemage here is a fine example of what a headache such effects can cause. Its untap trigger is also something very rarely seen on a White card, and can lead to catastrophes for your opponent in combat.

Imagine a scenario where you attack with multiple guys, trying to get a Renown trigger in. You have a Battlemage and you're representing a combat trick. How is your opponent possibly supposed to block profitably? The ability to assign a minimum of +1/+1 for no mana while also contending with various tricks and the threat of additional activations will often be simply too much to deal with. Leonin Battlemage doesn't scream "game changer", but then you'll actually see its effect in real time, and he will be the reason your opponent can never get the better of your creatures when it's time to square up. And in a deck built around attacking, what more could we ask for?