Last updated on February 2, 2021
Ah, planeswalkers. They’re an integral part of Magic nowadays, even though they didn’t always exist. They do sometimes tend to be a little overpowered. 3/3 Elk, anyone?
I’m never gonna stop clowning on Oko. I’m not sure what you expected.
Planeswalker bans are pretty common, from Standard to Pioneer to MTGA’s Brawl. Yes, I am in fact using the exact same intro theme as my green planeswalkers spiel. Wait, you thought I was going to be original in an article that’s identical to its green counterpart other than covering a different color? You should probably lower your standards a bit. I’m really very simple.
BBC Doctor Who
What was the next thing I talked about in the last one? Oh, right, I remember: Planeswalkers, just like every other card type, come in all of MTG’s colors and color combos. As the title suggests, though, we’re gonna focus on black planeswalkers.
I have mentioned many a times how much I love black. I may or may not be slightly obsessed with the death-related themes. Take from that what you will.
Can you tell that I’ve just given up at this point
As a color in Magic, black is just about what you’d expect. It’s all about life-leeching, graveyard shenanigans, sacrificial rituals, and the intertwining of life and death. Expect to see a decent amount of messing with your or your opponents’ graveyards, deathtouch and/or lifelink, life play, and vampire/zombie-specific effects. There’s also quite a bit of card-draw-related nonsense, which isn’t entirely expected but not wholly unappreciated.
Despite black’s rather… dark themes, it does a lot of bringing things back to life. Which, on second thought, is often rather morbid. Isn’t that what makes it so great though? Let’s talk about that.
I will never stop using this as a transition from intro to article. Fight me
Complete List of Black Planeswalkers
All right, it’s time to take a look at all of the black planeswalkers. Just like we did with green, we’re counting multicolor planeswalkers that have some black thrown in there as well as the pure ones. Something about that sentence felt so deeply weird to type out, so we’re just gonna move on now.
If you’re the kind of person who wants information before enjoying the beauty of aesthetic, I can’t relate but this is for you, I guess. Enjoy.
I. Want. Pictures. Let me look at the pretty people. Specifically Lilliana Vess.
Some Very Scientific Rankings
I drooled all over Nissa in my green rankings. Can you guess who I’m gonna spend the next 1500 or so words simping for? If you guessed anything other than Liliana, I feel like you’ve kinda missed the point. Ashiok can also get it, though.
We’re sticking to black-only planeswalkers outside of the multicolor category. Please keep in mind I’m not a competitive player and prefer to mess around with dumb jank combos that would probably never work outside of very weirdly specific scenarios. Take my word with the grain of salt that it was intended for.
With that being said, here are the best of the best.
Graveyard and Resurrection Champs
Third Place: Liliana, Heretical Healer / Liliana, Defiant Necromancer
Our first transforming black planeswalker, and she’s pretty epic if you ask me. Liliana starts off as the Heretical Healer, a 2/3 creature with lifelink who transforms when one of your nontoken creatures dies. She also plops a 2/2 zombie onto the battlefield while she’s at it.
As the Defiant Necromancer, Liliana ascends to planeswalker status with 3 loyalty counters. Her +2 ability has everyone discard a card, which has the potential to screw you over but is also a good boost for her loyalty. Her minus ability is a wildcard that allows you to put a creature from your graveyard onto the battlefield, but you pay their converted mana cost against Liliana’s loyalty which isn’t super great.
Her ultimate, though, lands her a spot here. For -8, you get an emblem that returns creatures that just died to the battlefield at the beginning of the next end step. As long as they’re not exiled, your creatures are now immortal. Nice.
Second Place: Liliana, the Necromancer
Are you surprised that Liliana places third and second in the graveyard/resurrection category? She also tops it, just to warn you.
Liliana comes in with 4 loyalty and equal plus and minus abilities. Her +1 sucks two life from the player of your choice. Good if you’re going on the offensive but could also potentially be used to fuel some self-life-loss shenanigans. Her -1 ability returns a creature from your graveyard to the battlefield. Nice and simple.
Her ultimate, though, is a -7 that not only destroys two target creatures, but also grabs up to two creatures from your graveyard and plops them onto the battlefield. This has the potential to turn the tides of a tough spot.
First Place: Liliana Vess
Liliana’s first form, and she’s undeniable the best of this category. At least, according to my opinion based solely on how epic her ultimate is if you can get her there. She comes in with 5 loyalty, which is a pretty good start.
Her +1 ability is simple, forcing a target player to discard a card. -2 allows you to put a card from your library right on top for you to grab next turn. Pretty average. Her ultimate, though, is what really excites me. For -8, you get to pluck all creatures from all graveyards and place them on the battlefield under your control. That’s pretty sweet if you ask me.
Tribal Bosses (Vampires & Zombies & Demons, Oh My!)
Third Place: Liliana, Death’s Majesty
I already mentioned that I loved Liliana. If you’re surprised she pops up so much, I don’t know what to tell you. She also kind of dominates the black planeswalker field in general. As Death’s Majesty, she comes in with a decent 5 loyalty.
Her +1 ability mills two cards but also pops a 2/2 zombie token onto your side of the field. Her minus ability yoinks a creature card from your graveyard onto the battlefield for -3 loyalty and bestows it with zombie status. Finally, her ultimate wipes out all non-zombie creatures from the battlefield for -7, which pairs very nicely with her plus and minus abilities and is a great addition to any zombie deck.
Second Place: Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord
Sorin is, of course, the face of vampire tribal. Coming in with 4 loyalty, his +1 ability starts off strong with the bestowal of deathtouch and lifelink to one creature for a turn. Also, if they’re a vampire, they get +1/+1 to top it off.
No minus ability here, instead we get a second +1 that gives you the chance to sacrifice a vampire in exchange for Sorin leeching three damage from any target into three life for you. Right in line with the vampire aesthetic. His ultimate is pretty minor as a little -3, but it gives you the chance to drop a vampire creature from your graveyard onto the battlefield.
Honorable Mention: Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath
Old Ob gets an honorable mention mostly because I just wanted to use ‘demons’ in the title for this section and he’s the obvious pick. He’s not super demon-focused, but his -2 ability does net you a 5/5 Demon creature token which would be nice fuel for a tribal demon deck. Just sayin’.
First Place: Liliana, Untouched by Death
My beautiful Liliana tops this list as well, coming in clutch with zombie tribal. She enters with 4 loyalty, which is respectable. Her +1 mills three cards and rewards you for having tons of zombies in your deck. If one of the milled cards was a zombie, all opponents lose two life and you gain two.
The middle ground comes in with a -2 ability that capitalizes on zombies galore by bestowing +X/+X onto one creature, where X equals how many zombies you’ve got on your side. Finally, her ultimate allows you to cast zombie spells directly from your graveyard for the modest price of -3 loyalty. Not only useful, but also pretty on-brand.
Third Place: Angrath, the Flame-Chained
Okay, we gotta diversify a little bit and break away from the pretty lady of death. Angrath is chill, coming in with 4 starting loyalty. His +1 ability is a simple discard and loss of two life for your opponents. -3 sees you steal an opponent’s creature for a turn, giving it everything it needs to attack right away and even getting rid of it afterwards if it’s got a CMC of 3 or less.
The Flame-Chained’s ultimate of -8 is my favorite. Fueled by his plus ability and hopefully some other discard or mill action, it could pack a punch by dealing damage to an opponent equal to how many cards are in their graveyard. Potentially game-ending if you can pull it off.
Second Place: Ashiok, Nightmare Muse
Ah, Ashiok. My favorite horned baddie. They enter the battlefield with 5 starting loyalty, which is pretty good. Their +1 ability starts off strong by creating a 2/3 flyer that forces opponents to exile the top card of their library whenever it attacks or blocks. This thing is the bane of my existence when I play against it and my favorite when it’s on my side.
Muse’s -3 ability takes it a step further by returning a nonland card to your opponent’s hand before forcing them to exile something from said hand. Their ultimate then cashes in on all these exiles by giving you the chance to cast up to three spells from among them for free for -7 loyalty.
First Place: Nicol Bolas, the Ravager / Nicol Bolas, the Arisen
Nicol Bolas, the biggest bad of all. If you’re familiar with Magic’s lore, you’ll know exactly who this is. We love to hate him, and you’d be crazy to deny his power. Partially because he is powerful, but also because he wouldn’t hesitate to smite you where you stand if you dared to mock his name.
Another transforming planeswalker, Bolas comes in as the Ravager, a 4/4 flyer which sees your opponents discard a card when he enters the battlefield. To transform him, you’ll need to pay a hefty mana price as a sorcery.
Do it, though, and you get his Arisen form. He starts out with an impressive 7 loyalty and is nothing to laugh at. His +2 ability is very simple as a basic draw two. He’s got two different minus abilities, neither of which are to be underestimated. The first, -3, deals a whopping 10 damage to a player or planeswalker. The second is a -4 that steals a creature or planeswalker from any graveyard and places them onto the battlefield under your control.
His ultimate, though, is the true power. Should you manage to keep him alive long enough to get enough loyalty for a -12, you effectively mill your opponent down to their last card, giving them one final chance to end you or the game is yours.
Actually the Most Powerful
Third Place: Sorin Markov
I’m gonna keep these fairly short because I know my opinion on this particular list is not the majority. Look, Sorin is epic in general, but his original form is a straight-up BAMF. His plus ability is a simple leeching of life, his minus drops an opponent down to 10 life, and then his ultimate lets you play an opponent’s turn for them. That’s pretty epic.
Second Place: Vraska, Scheming Gorgon
While Liliana may have almost my entire heart, Vraska also gets a sizeable chunk of it. Her plus ability gives all your creatures a little extra punch for a turn and her minus is some simple creature removal. Her ultimate, though, is where it’s at. All your creatures get deathtouch for the turn and will win you the game if your opponents take a hit.
First Place: Liliana of the Veil
Weird dress placement aside, Liliana is killing it here. A lackluster plus ability for an extra card draw, but her minus ability is some more early creature removal. Her ultimate is what’s really impressive. Separating an opponent’s permanents into two piles, they then have to choose which to save and which to sacrifice. They’re definitely going to lose some lands, which will set them back at the very least and cost them the game at the most.
Planeswalk Away, Take 2
Can you tell that I was feeling very snippy when this came out of my brain? My sarcasm has a mind of its own at this point. How is quarantine treating you?
I am very biased towards black, but I can admit that my bias means just about nothing outside of jank and for-fun play. That being said, comparing the power level of planeswalkers between colors really just depends on what you’re trying to do. Sure, the current meta is going to shape what works and what doesn’t. But the meta changes all the time, so just do what’s fun for you. Unless winning is what you’re aiming for. In that case, you’ll wanna decipher the meta and do what works. Have fun with that.
I’ve said my piece, though. It’s time for my closing spiel. Ready? Okay. Ahem: Your support is seriously appreciated, no matter how you choose to show it. All sarcasm aside, it really is. I’ll even go a little off-book and suggest you check out our Discord for a good ol’ chat. We don’t bite. Promise.
To be honest I pretty much just lurk there
I’m down to talk in the comments, though, if that’s more your speed. Feel free to critique my rankings. I can take it. I know I’m an idiot.
All right, well. Have a good day I guess. Stay safe and all that. See ya✌