Last updated on May 23, 2023
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon | Illustration by Raymond Swanland
Planeswalkers are a card type like no other in Magic. They can be attacked directly, have access to multiple abilities at once, and sometimes have ultimate abilities with power levels beyond that of normal spells. Planeswalkers can result in high value the turn they come in. At worst they draw removal out from your opponent, but at best they give you multiple instances of value while still demanding action from your opponent.
Today I’m ranking the top planeswalkers in each color and giving some info on what makes them so great as well as how to include them in your own decks. My rankings are a “generalized best” and don’t take theme or archetype into account all that much. Some planeswalkers won’t be on this list because of their overall weaknesses even though they’re the absolute best card in a lifegain EDH deck, for example.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Best White Planeswalkers
The best white planeswalker is heavily determined by what kind of deck you’re playing and how well it incorporates that theme. Ajani Goldmane and Elspeth, Sun's Champion are two very powerful planeswalkers but mostly in their respective archetypes.
Ajani is much more powerful and crucial to your game plan if you’re a mono-white lifegain deck while Elspeth is just a strong bomb. This means you need to take the rankings for white with a slightly larger grain of salt than the other colors since they typically have more “generally good” planeswalkers available.
#5. Basri Ket
In fifth place we have Basri Ket, a sort of mini-Elspeth that makes 1/1 Soldiers and gives them +1/+1 counters. This card is pretty cheap at and can instantly give you a lot of value.
If you get to the point in the game where you trade Basri in for its emblem, you’ll probably be greeted with your opponent’s concession since getting a 1/1 and buffing your entire team every turn is just too much to handle. You’ll still be happy if you end up just doubling your token count before Basri dies to some removal, which is why this card is so good.
#4. Gideon Blackblade
White’s fourth place spot goes to Gideon Blackblade, a 3-drop Gideon that turns into a swell 4/4 indestructible attacker. It also gives another creature you control either vigilance, lifelink, or indestructible, which gives you a strong attack with up to two indestructible creatures.
Blackblade’s ultimate, if you can call it that, is pretty underwhelming. Exiling a nonland permanent for 6 loyalty is weak. But it isn’t hard to get to 7+ loyalty with a planeswalker that’s indestructible on your turn so you could still end up getting some value from this.
#3. Ajani Steadfast
Speaking of Ajani, Ajani Steadfast comes in at number three as an excellent creature-buffing planeswalker. Its +1 makes your chump blocker or boring 2/2 into a powerhouse creature that almost certainly gets value by attacking.
The -2 ability spreads a lot of power and is rapidly worth using the wider a board you have. Finally, Steadfast’s ultimate gives all your planeswalkers as well as yourself a nearly perfect bubble from all forms of damage, which is amazing if you get to that point.
#2. Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Now speaking of Elspeth, next up is Elspeth, Knight-Errant, a 4-mana white planeswalker that lets you drop a small 1/1 Soldier into play or give something +3/+3 and flying for +1 loyalty.
Like a lot of Elspeth cards, this one looks to create a strong board presence and finish your opponent off with repeated buffs with Knight-Errant’s secondary +1 ability or make an indestructible board with its incredible -8 ultimate.
#1. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
White’s first place spot goes to Elspeth, Sun's Champion! This version of Elspeth is basically a beefed-up version of Elspeth’s Knight-Errant form. Creating three 1/1s is usually enough to protect it for a turn or two given its high loyalty count.
At the very least you possibly wipe out a few large creatures your opponent controls with Champion’s -3, which I’ve done many times in 4-player EDH. Not to mention that its ultimate is as powerful as it seems. Having permanent +2/+2 and flying on your creatures is incredible, even if those creatures are little 1/1 Soldiers.
Best Blue Planeswalkers
Blue is one of the most powerful colors when you have access to all of Magic’s cards in formats like Commander. Its planeswalkers follow that general theme as well.
Most blue planeswalkers usually have some kind of card-advantage engine plus a way to protect themselves. The ability to protect itself when it comes out is what makes any planeswalker go from good to great and will be a common way to rank a lot of the planeswalkers I’ll be covering today.
#6. Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
First on the list for blue is Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. Tamiyo revolves around getting value from your opponents tapped creatures with its -2 ability to draw a boat load of cards while also being able to protect itself with its +1 keeping things tapped indefinitely.
Its emblem is incredible recursion which gives you infinite card advantage as removal and counterspells only delay your cards!
#5. Tezzeret the Seeker
Tezzeret the Seeker, while an extremely powerful planeswalker, is only powerful when you have some artifacts already in play to engage with it. But when those artifacts are mana rocks or have some kind of activated ability, the Seeker becomes an absolute powerhouse that needs to be answered immediately.
Untapping something like Mana Crypt or Grim Monolith creates an incredible mana advantage that you can exercise over your opponent. On top of that, being able to tutor an artifact with mana value four or less onto the battlefield immediately after playing it is incredibly valuable.
#4. Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
In case you haven’t noticed a trend, most of the best blue planeswalkers are one variant of Jace or another. In this case we have Jace, Unraveler of Secrets as my 4th pick.
Five loyalty is a healthy amount to stay alive when it comes in and going up to six by cantrip-ing with its +1 is a good start to extracting lots of value. Alternatively, bouncing a creature and passing with 3 loyalty is very protective, which gives Unraveler a high chance to stick through an entire opponent’s turn and makes this iteration quite strong.
Its ultimate, a counterspell emblem, is incredibly strong and will outright win the game if you’re not far behind. But you’re unlikely to reach 8 loyalty that much with only a +1 loyalty generator.
#3. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy / Jace, Telepath Unbound
Great as a commander or a 2-drop, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy lets you dig deep through your library and get choice cards into your graveyard for future recursion. It also lets you recover already-cast spells when it transforms into Jace, Telepath Unbound through its -3 ability which is basically Snapcaster Mage on a stick.
Telepath Unbound’s +1 is a weaker version of Jace, Architect of Thought’s +1, but still a strong defensive option. Its -9 that turns your spells into a mill engine is exceptionally strong, but the ultimate ability typically isn’t what makes any card particularly strong like with most planeswalkers.
#2. Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Jace, the Mind Sculptor has long been one of Magic’s most infamous cards and being banned for an incredibly long period of time only added to that effect. Mind Sculptor is strong for several reasons.
First of all, it goes up to five loyalty for four mana while simultaneously giving you info on your opponent’s next card. This is strong enough protection to allow Jace to live an extra turn. It can also brainstorm for 0 loyalty or outright bounce a creature with its -1 to create a large tempo swing in your favor.
Mind Sculptor’s ultimate is rarely used. You’ve generated so much value that you’re probably about to win anyway if you can get to 12 loyalty. But you’re just about to win anyhow if you manage to exile your opponent’s entire library.
#1. Narset, Parter of Veils
Coming in at first place as the best blue planeswalker is Narset, Parter of Veils. Narset is so dominant in nearly every format it’s legal in from Legacy to Commander and is extremely valuable to have in play. It’s incredibly common to be able to draw extra cards per turn, especially in evergreen formats like Commander, but Narset completely shuts this down.
The ability to also generate card advantage twice through an ability that digs deep, is extremely relevant to Narset’s power level. A 3-mana no-extra-cards planeswalker would be good, but the fact that Narset replaces itself with a new card in your hand and possibly goes card-positive is what takes it from good to the best.
Best Black Planeswalkers
#7. Ob Nixilis Reignited
Coming in fifth place for black planeswalkers is Ob Nixilis Reignited. A simple planeswalker with about half as much text as Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Ob Nixilis gives you straightforward value.
Want to kill something? Sure. Want to draw some cards? You got it. Want to ruin card draw for your opponent? Ob can do that. It’s everything you want in a mono-black planeswalker!
#6. Sorin Markov
What kind of planeswalker list would this be without Sorin Markov? Sorin is one of the coolest planeswalkers in black and also excellent in formats like Commander.
Possibly dealing an effective 30 damage on turn 5 or 6 is too good to pass up. Its -3 ability is actually better than its ultimate. Its +2 is also pretty strong, but let’s be real, we’re here for the -3.
#5. Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath
Ob Nixilis returns, and this time it’s in the form of Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath, another planeswalker than can be used as your commander should you want to! Ob’s +2 hits all opponents so this is usually deal-3-gain-3.
Its -2 puts a 5/5 flier out which usually blocks anything coming at it by turn 5, which is solid protection. Finally, its emblem that lets you sacrifice cannon fodder for life and cards is excellent in most mono-black EDH decks, and superb in aristocrat-themed Orzhov decks!
#4. Liliana, Dreadhorde General
I’ve grown to really enjoy playing Liliana, Dreadhorde General recently. It offers great card advantage, can protect itself, and comes in at a really high loyalty count. These are all great reasons to play a planeswalker, even if it only has two of them!
I was a little underwhelmed with the -4 ability until I saw that it hits each player. Normally I’d be upset about losing two of my creatures, but drawing two cards and the fact that I’ll probably be playing this in a sacrifice-based Commander deck makes it a great ability.
#3. Liliana, Death’s Majesty
There’s about to be a lot of Lilliana. First on the Liliana train and third on this list is Liliana, Death's Majesty. This version of Liliana has a strong zombie theme, creating 2/2’s, filling your graveyard, and giving you a very strong recursion mechanic that adds the zombie creature type to your non-zombie cards in the graveyard!
#2. Liliana, Waker of the Dead
Liliana, Waker of the Dead actually isn’t a zombie-themed planeswalker despite what the name might make you think. Waker of the Dead is actually graveyard-themed, which I guess is still on theme.
Its +1 pressures opponents who can’t discard by taking a chunk of their life, its -3 kills most creatures as long as you have some mill or dredge action going on, and its ultimate is an incredible reanimator emblem pulling back any creature in your graveyard turn after turn. This card is sweet, and it mitigates any discard affects you may have suffered from.
#1. Liliana of the Veil
Ah, Liliana of the Veil. The best black (and Liliana) planeswalker there is!
is incredibly cheap for a planeswalker of such power and is a large factor in it getting first place. Four loyalty and your opponent loses a card from their hand puts you in a very sweet spot at turn 4. Should your opponent only have one early creature out, Liliana’s -2 acts as a pseudo-Doom Blade which only further solidifies its board presence.
Its -6 is more fun than it is powerful, and this usually just ends your opponent if you’ve managed to keep Liliana up for three turns and have made your opponent discard three.
Best Red Planeswalkers
#6. Daretti, Scrap Savant
First up for red is Daretti, Scrap Savant. Daretti is a planeswalker-commander combo, which gives you the option even if it may not be your first choice.
Daretti’s +2 ability lets you rummage any number of cards, including 0, which means you aren’t pressured to discard good cards in your hand just to give it more loyalty. Its main artifact theme also gives you two different ways to get some recursion action going with its -2 or its ultimate emblem that gives you the ability to consistently return artifacts from the graveyard. Daretti is a really strong card, especially if the artifacts are things like Shrine of Burning Rage or Memory Jar!
#5. Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
Next on red’s tier list is Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker. This card is super sweet. Being able to become a dragon and fly over your opponent’s creatures in play to get in for four — or blow something up with four damage — is great.
It’s ability to protect itself which in turn gives power level and value is also awesome. Sarkhan’s ultimate emblem letting you draw an extra two as long as you discard at your end step is okay.
You want to make sure you’re playing this in a fast red deck that heavily capitalizes from every ability here. If you’re playing this in a slower Grixis or Izzet control deck, that ultimate only ends up hindering you unless you’re in the ultimate late game where you can reliably cast three or more spells a turn.
#4. Koth of the Hammer
Koth of the Hammer is practically a red Nissa. Your lands become 4/4s, you easily get a lot of mana, and its ultimate gives all your Mountains the ability to ping for one damage. Koth is most powerful if you play him with, say, seven or more Mountains already out on the battlefield since you can quickly ramp out high amounts of mana for a powerful burn spell like Banefire.
Either way, Koth is great in any mono-red EDH deck unlike the previous Daretti, Scrap Savant, which is why it’s a slot higher!
#3. Chandra, the Firebrand
It wouldn’t be a list of red planeswalkers with Chandra, the Firebrand. This 4-mana Chandra does exactly what you’d expect a Chandra to do and does it well.
Firebrand pings a creature or player for 1, copies your spells, and has an ultimate that absolutely blows up anything that stands in your way. A classic Chandra card you’d be happy to play in any aggressive red deck wins-style build.
#2. Jaya Ballard
Second place goes to the wonderful Jaya Ballard. Jaya makes an excellent addition to any red or Izzet spellslinger deck. Its ultimate is an incredible emblem that you always want to get if possible since getting to flashback everything in your graveyard forever is usually just an unbeatable combo, assuming your deck has the spells to get you there.
Jaya’s +1 abilities aren’t anything to pass up on either. Triple red is a lot of mana to cast cheap spells with and looting with its other +1 ability keeps your hand (and graveyard) stocked up.
#1. Chandra, Torch of Defiance
First place, as you might have guessed, goes to Chandra, Torch of Defiance! This is another 4-mana Chandra that does Chandra things, but this one does it better than all the others.
Its +1s give you the option to either burn all other players or get double red for free, both of which are very important in any aggressive red deck. Torch of Defiance’s -3 has the ability to protect it when it comes in, which adds a lot to its power level. Finally, its emblem definitely wins you the game if it resolves since casting four spells will quite literally kill your opponent.
Best Green Planeswalkers
#5. Nissa, Who Shakes the World
Nissa, Who Shakes the World starts my list of the most powerful green planeswalkers at the number five spot. Its passive, which gives an additional for every Forest you tap, means that it’s most powerful in games where you’re mono-green.
Nissa protects itself by making an army of lands that aren’t as strong as individual creatures but have the bonus of gaining +3/+3 if you target the same land. Its ability to generate blockers means the odds of you tutoring out all your Forests with its -8 ultimate becomes much higher if you have an unbreakable wall around it.
#4. Garruk Relentless / Garruk, the Veil-Cursed
Garruk Relentless, one of the first double-sided planeswalkers, is a very unique card that actually wants to be attacked. If you can get it to two loyalty or less, it transforms into a much stronger version that lets you make a deathtouch chump blocker, tutor out creatures, or buff your entire team with trample, which usually just kills your opponent.
#3. Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury
Coming in at third place is the commander-planeswalker Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury! Freyalise specializes in elf decks.
Being able to make a pseudo-Llanowar Elves is exciting and the possibility of drawing 5+ cards when you use its -6 ultimate is also pretty good. As a side bonus, being able to blow up enchantments or artifacts is pretty strong in its own right, even if you probably already have Reclamation Sage in your deck.
#2. Garruk Wildspeaker
One of the best Garruk cards ever, Garruk Wildspeaker gives you options. Letting you untap two lands which could mean more than two mana when you’re in green or create a 3/3 Beast are both solid openers that are worth the four mana.
Even better is the fact you could use Garruk’s ultimate to buff your team and overpower your opponent the next turn makes this an incredibly strong planeswalker.
#1. Nissa, Vastwood Seer / Nissa, Sage Animist
Finally, my first-place spot for the best green planeswalker is Nissa, Vastwood Seer. Nissa coming in with a land is great, and it’s pretty easy to flip it if you have any other acceleration in your deck, which is almost certain given her theme overall.
The card’s flipside, Nissa, Sage Animist, is an incredible card. It either generates 4/4 Elementals or gives you free cards, both of which are great. Its ultimate is an absolute game-finisher and always hits max value since you’ll have 7+ lands anyway as the prerequisite to flip Vastwood Seer.
Like most green planeswalkers, Sage Animist is best in a typical mono-green deck where you likely have interaction and ramp that works well in conjunction with it. Great overall!
Best Multicolored Planeswalkers
#7. Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
Starting off my multicolored list is the ever infamous Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker! Nicol Bolas has seen many iterations, though not as many as Jace, with each one taking a similar theme.
This one only comes in at five loyalty for but instantly goes up to eight as long as you choose the insane +3 ability to destroy a non-creature permanent. Yes, you heard that right, it hits lands. In case that wasn’t enough, you have the loyalty to use its ultimate -9 and keep it at 2 loyalty after just two turns, which usually puts you a game-winning amount of card advantage ahead of your opponent who just discarded their hand, lost all of their permanents, and took seven damage. Pretty sweet.
#6. Xenagos, the Reveler
At sixth place is Xenagos, the Reveler, a super powerful creature and ramp-based planeswalker. Xenagos helps you generate loads of mana with its +1, create blockers or Craterhoof your creatures with its 0-loyalty ability, and potentially gives you a lot of permanents if its ultimate ability goes off.
#5. Dack Fayden
Ah, Dack Fayden. An excellent card to take multicolored’s fifth place spot.
Dack is an excellent one-of-a-kind planeswalker that specializes in looting and stealing artifacts. Being able to steal your opponent’s Sol Ring or pitch a bad mulligan are both incredible options. As a bonus, this is the Magic card that most resembles Indiana Jones, which is my favorite part.
#4. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is an excellent 5-drop planeswalker that gets you card advantage and lets you keep mana up for interaction. The added bonus of being able to tuck away a non-land permanent for 3 loyalty is an added bonus that guarantees some level of protection for itself.
This card is excellent if you’re already ahead since it lets you play cards on your turn while not sacrificing mana for counters or kill spells later on.
#3. Wrenn and Six
Wrenn and Six is my third best multicolored planeswalker coming in at a low cost of . But that’s the only low cost of this card. This planeswalker currently sits at about $110 for lightly played, making it quite an expensive card to play!
But you’ll definitely get value out of this card. Wrenn’s +1 returning a possible fetch land quickly gets you ahead on mana and being able to ping a small creature with its -1 is also pretty good. Value all around, this is an excellent card.
#2. Teferi, Time Raveler
In multicolored’s second place spot is Teferi, Time Raveler. An incredible Azorius planeswalker and my personal favorite), Time Raveler not only works as a stax effect to shut down your opponent’s interaction, it also gives you additional interaction by turning your sorceries into instants.
If that wasn’t enough, the ability to bounce nearly any non-land permanent and draw a card as its -3 ability is a great alternative tempo play. It’s important to remember that Teferi’s passive effect essentially acts as a blanket counterspell to anything not being cast in your opponent’s main phase, which gives you an incredible (and often game-winning) advantage in all other moments of the game.
#1. Oko, Thief of Crowns
It might’ve been obvious what the best multicolored planeswalker is. Oko, Thief of Crowns’s power level is thanks to its incredibly high loyalty count of 5 or 6 at just . Your opponent simply won’t be able to take care of Oko in one turn unless aided by both a cheap creature and something like a Lightning Bolt.
By the time your opponent has managed to deal with Oko, you’ve already either generated a 3/3 blocker to protect it, turned their threat into a simple Elk, or gone up to a whopping 6 loyalty which is incredibly difficult to deal with. Oko’s incredible durability combined with immediate value and board presence are what puts it at my number one spot for the best multicolored planeswalker.
#0. Minsc & Boo, Timeless HeroesMinsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes
Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes have come out swinging from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate. Its had a tremendous impact on Legacy of all formats, and completely sets the pace of a game whenever its in play. I wish I could say I was suprised, but getting high loyalty, a great creature, and a bunch of card draw on an appropriately priced planeswalker is the Legacy player’s dream.
Best Colorless Planeswalkers
#5. Ugin, the Ineffable
First on the list and ranked number five in terms of power is Ugin, the Ineffable. This smaller, cheaper version of Ugin reduces the cost of all your colorless spells. This includes both artifacts and Eldrazi, making it an absolute staple in your Kozilek EDH deck.
Ugin’s +1 is all right, though you lose the card in the process until it dies, which may not be for some time. But its -3 is much more powerful since it hits practically any nonland permanent.
#4. Karn, the Great Creator
The first Karn on the list and arguably the weakest out of the three is Karn, the Great Creator. This Karn shuts your opponent’s activatable artifacts down with a sweet stax-effect passive while animating your artifacts to create a strong board presence.
Interestingly, this Karn also grabs cards out of exile for you, which is one of the few cards in all of Magic to have this effect. Great for recovering your Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre that was Path to Exiled a few turns back.
#3. Karn, Scion of Urza
Number three goes to Karn, Scion of Urza. This card has a little more power than Great Creator. Scion generates card advantage through its +1 and -1 combo, but what you’re really after is creating 0/0 Constructs.
You’re already playing this Karn in a colorless artifact-heavy EDH deck, and these Constructs are about the best non-Eldrazi creatures you can get. They’re very powerful, especially in multiple numbers, which is why I bet you’re also running Urza's Saga.
#2. Karn Liberated
Colorless’ number two spot is taken up by Karn Liberated, otherwise known as pantsless Karn! This Karn is one big boy and has big loyalty abilities to go with its big mana cost.
For +4 loyalty (yes, that’s +4) you get to exile a card from an opponent’s hand, or for -3 you can exile any permanent. These are good on their own and going up to 10 loyalty makes this Karn exceptionally tough. But its -14 ultimate is like no other effect in Magic.
Pantless’ ultimate literally restarts the game but leaves you with all the permanents and cards you exiled under your control. If you get this off and manage to come back with any powerful creature like an Eldrazi titan or Blightsteel Colossus, it’s over.
But be warned however: this ultimate bugs out on Magic Online a lot, so use it at your own risk!
#1. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Finally, the best colorless planeswalker is Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. This Ugin is big, costing to cast and coming in at 7 loyalty.
Its +2, a pseudo-Lightning Bolt, is okay for its size. Its Spirit Dragon’s -X that really does the work. It exiles everything except colorless permanents, which means you’re going to be entirely untouched if you’re playing a colorless EDH led by something like Kozilek or Ulamog. It’s also just plain good if Ugin is your only nonland permanent since lands are colorless and won’t be hit anyway.
Wrenn and Six | Illustration by Chase Stone
That’s the list! What did you think? Were there any personal favorites of yours that weren’t on the list that you were hoping to see? I’m a big fan of Jace, Architect of Thought, but maybe that’s because I give special treatment to cards from my favorite sets and blocks
If there were any other planeswalker you wanted to see, feel free to leave a comment below or head over to Draftsim’s Discord to talk about it there.
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