It has been announced that there will be 36 Planeswalkers in War of the Spark, and almost all of them have been revealed. Today, I'm breaking down the standout Planeswalkers of War of the Spark in terms of their Standard playability.
Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord is one of the Planeswalkers that can provide benefits to other Planeswalkers in play by giving them lifelink, but more often it will be far more relevant that it has lifelink itself and that it gives your creatures lifelink. Lifelink is something aggressive decks hate to play against, especially on a card like this that is pretty difficult to actually kill. It immediately gets up to six loyalty and that's a big deal. The only issue with the lifelink is it may not be all that relevant when playing against a control deck.
Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord's inability to ping a creature—only an opposing planeswalker or opponent—is why it isn't higher on the list. The tick up is pretty slow, though it will add up when the games drag on for many turns. I suspect many decks will have Planeswalkers, so being able to ping the opposing ones is relevant for sure. The best part about Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord is the minus ability.
Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord should be played alongside value creatures. Cards like Jadelight Ranger stand out as a creature you might want to return to the battlefield with Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord in play. Perhaps this will be at its best in an Abzan midrange style deck. Returning a creature directly from your graveyard to the battlefield is a big deal.
Super powerful Gideons aren't new, but since Gideon Blackblade is three mana, it isn't at the same power level as Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. This is first and foremost a threat. It could be good in a white control deck as a sideboard card in mirror matches. Three mana for a four-power creature that can later be used as a removal spell in theory sounds awesome. Gideon Blackblade's biggest issue is that it has trouble protecting itself.
This makes it really good versus control decks that can't pressure it properly, but perhaps not that strong against aggressive strategies. That is why it stands out to me as a powerful sideboard option. It is pretty cool that you can both use its ability and attack with it in the same turn. Getting rid of a permanent can happen once getting to six loyalty, though seven is really the magic number since you can remove something and still keep your Planeswalker on the battlefield.
Welcome back to Standard, Nissa! Nissa, Who Shakes the World is going to work best in a deck that can produce a lot of mana and also has lots of Forests. Keep in mind that these don't have to be basic Forests however, so, for example, Stomping Grounds works perfectly with Nissa, Who Shakes the World.
Making extra mana is sweet though, and works best in ramp style decks where you have ways to make use of that additional mana. Hydroid Krasis comes to mind as a card that will likely be played alongside Nissa, Who Shakes the World. In fact, Simic colors seem like a great place for this card, I could actually see it in Simic Nexus for additional mana and an alternate win condition. Being able to start turning lands into creatures is pretty powerful later in games once your lands aren't nearly as important generally.
The biggest battle facing Nissa, Who Shakes the World is that we are talking about the same mana slot currently occupied by Vivien Reid. Vivien Reid is very powerful, and still likely gets the nod as the Planeswalker of choice in something like Sultai Midrange.
I have heard mixed reviews on Ral, Storm Conduit, and I fall somewhere in the middle. There is a combo Ral, Storm Conduit enables with his static ability of dealing one damage to target opponent each time you cast or copy a spell. The way it works is by having a way to get two copies of the Expansion part of Expansion // Explosion onto the stack. The most common way of doing this may be for instance cast Ral, Storm Conduit. Next turn play something like Opt or Shock, target that spell with Expansion, hold priority, now cast a second Expansion targeting the first Expansion. Continuously create copies of Expansion targeting the other Expansion all while pinging the opponent. It is a pretty sweet combo in my opinion, though it may be difficult to pull off. You can do this without two Expansions if you have something like Doublecast or The Mirari Conjecture instead.
The nice thing is that the combo isn't necessary to make Ral, Storm Conduit good. Ral, Storm Conduit is another four mana Planeswalker that immediately gets to six loyalty and becomes tough to kill, similar to Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord. Being able to copy your spells is also a really powerful effect Ral, Storm Conduit will likely see play in decks with lots of non-creature spells. Perhaps a deck like Jeskai Control would want access to a card like this. Being able to, say, copy a Deafening Clarion later in games to kill a Carnage Tyrant is one example of a nice use of the minus.
When discussing the best Planeswalkers in War of the Spark, the rares and Mythics aren't the only ones worth mentioning. Saheeli, Sublime Artificer stands out, and not just because she's uncommon. An easy card to compare Saheeli, Sublime Artificer to is Young Pyromancer. Saheeli, Sublime Artificer can create a lot of tokens in the right deck; for example, an Izzet Arclight style deck capable of playing a ton of spells including jump start spells. I can see cards like Goblin Electromancer and Radical Idea working really well alongside Saheeli, Sublime Artificer.
While I think the most important part about Saheeli, Sublime Artificer is the static effect, she also has an ability. You need an artifact to target with the minus, but most of the time I suspect that will end up being a token already created by Saheeli, Sublime Artificer herself. If you are able to make your servo token into, say, a Crackling Drake, that seems like it could be pretty great in this style of deck. Saheeli, Sublime Artificer has lots of potential.
Liliana, Dreadhorde General is a very reasonable curve topper in a midrange or control strategy. First of all, the loyalty Liliana, Dreadhorde General comes into play with is high, and later in the game it will be difficult to remove her from play without a card like Vraska's Contempt. Generating expendable creature tokens is essentially card-draw, and when you do go for the double Diabolic Edict effect, those additional cards are quite relevant. Liliana, Dreadhorde General's last ability is interesting, though I suspect games will rarely get to the point it comes up.
Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter is one of the coolest Planeswalkers in the set in my opinion. On the surface it may be tough to see all the benefits, but there are many cards in Standard Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter synergizes with. I see Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter as a Simic card; alongside cards like Incubation Druid or Growth-Chamber Guardian, the turn-three minus should be quite effective. using your creatures to ramp into Hydroid Krasis in the late game seems quite nice. There is a ton of untapped potential here, and I'm excited to see what Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter is capable of. Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter does require having multiple creatures in play to be at its best.
Jace, Wielder of Mysteries is a well designed card. Drawing a card each turn is why this is so strong. The mill aspect of Jace, Wielder of Mysteries is an added bonus. I could see it making sense in some decks to mill yourself in order to turn on a card like Search for Azcanta. There will also be players who try to put this card in a more dedicated mill deck. I do like that this can be a win condition, though relying on it to mill out either yourself or your opponent isn't going to be easy. The primary strength is in my opinion the continuous stream of cards Jace, Wielder of Mysteries provides.
In terms of where Jace, Wielder of Mysteries will fit, I see it being at its best in blue decks that don't also play white. Azorius decks already have Teferi, Hero of Dominaria for card advantage, though of course eventually Teferi, Hero of Dominaria will rotate out. Jace, Wielder of Mysteries certainly is good enough to see play, it will have some competition though.
Another Teferi, and it's a good one! Azorius decks of all sorts will want this in their 75. The static effect that forces the opponent to act at sorcery speed is amazing against countermagic. This is the part of the card that is so strong versus control. Being able to cast your own sorceries at instant speed is the least relevant part of Teferi, Time Raveler, but will be used frequently anyway because it is the only way to gain loyalty.
Teferi, Time Raveler reminds me a lot of Reflector Mage, which ended up getting banned in Standard. Teferi, Time Raveler can also bounce artifacts and enchantments in addition to creatures, and that will come up. The fact that Teferi, Time Raveler's minus allows you to draw a card is a big deal. Teferi, Time Raveler is a card to watch out for both in maindecks and sideboards.
If Wizards of the Coast wanted to make Grixis better they certainly did that. This Nicol Bolas has a lot going on, and Grixis decks should be able to cast this fairly reliably. This card not only plays well alongside other Planeswalkers, but it is also a trump to them. This will essentially always be the best Planeswalker in play.
Not only does Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God gain the abilities of other Planeswalkers, including the opponents, it can also tick down and simply destroy a Planeswalker. Playing this and immediately using it to remove the opponent's best creature or Planeswalker from play will be a common play pattern.
The last ability on Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God is a whammy. Getting to eight loyalty isn't easy but it is possible to gain abilities from other Planeswalkers that allow you to gain loyalty more quickly. Expect every Grixis deck to play multiple copies of Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God. We will see it in the same decks as Nicol Bolas, the Ravager and that's pretty scary.
Thanks for reading,