Last updated on April 30, 2023
Paliano | Illustration by Piotr Dura
Imagine all your friends are planeswalkers, and your deck of MTG cards represents the spells you can cast. You’re also on a given plane doing battle, so you could be on Alara at a given moment but then planeswalk to Tarkir, and after that planeswalk to Ravnica, and so on. It’s valid to think that in each plane the rules of engagement are different, right?
This feeling and flavor are exactly what the Planechase game mode was created to convey in 2009, where players are now battling on a plane, represented by a plane card with special rules. Fast forward some 12 years, and March of the Machine Commander has given us awesome reprints of Planechase planes and some entirely new ones!
What exactly are plane cards, and what do you do with them? Stay with me, and let’s planeswalk straight to the rules of plane cards and all the different planes!
How Do Plane Cards Work?
Glen Elendra | Illustration by Omar Rayyan
Plane cards only work when you’re playing by the Planechase variant rules. In Planechase, each player brings along a planar deck with the regular deck. You can play with the planar decks separated or in a mixed pile of planar decks.
There’s always a plane card in play that represents the plane on which the battle takes place. Plane cards have a static ability that always impacts the game along with a chaos ability that’s activated by the planar die, which can be rolled by the active player at sorcery speed. Things get wackier when you do, depending on which side comes up:
- 4 blank faces on the die are blank and don’t affect the game or change the current plane.
- 1 chaos face activates the current plane’s chaos ability. The ability resolves with the active player choosing controlling it and choosing how it resolves (picks its targets, etc.)
- 1 planeswalker face that has you planeswalk to a new plane by putting the current plane card facedown on the bottom of the planar deck and revealing another. The static ability of the old plane disappears while the static ability of the new plane takes effect.
Why should you roll the planar die? Either to get advantages with the chaos face or to planeswalk away from a plane that’s not favorable to you.Alara
That’s a lot of words, so lets’ go over a concrete example: Alara is a plane that heavily favors artifact players with the artifact cost reduction. The chaos ability is also nice since your artifact creatures get a huge benefit.
But your friend doesn’t have artifacts, so they want to planeswalk to another plane. You each roll a die with the same faces, but you’re looking for different outcomes. And you could both wind up rolling what the other wants, giving them the advantage or taking away your own.
The History of Plane Cards in MTG
The first plane cards were printed in the original Planechase product in 2009, with four 60-card decks and 40 different plane cards. The supplementary product was well received, so WotC released Planechase 2012 in, well, 2012. This set had 32 new planar cards and, for the first time, 8 phenomenon cards.
In 2016, the Planechase cards were reprinted in Planechase Anthology, a set that reprinted the 72 plane cards along with 6 new ones, for a total of 78 different planes. MOM Commander reprinted some planes and added 25 new plane cards. There are five Commander precon decks in MOC, and each deck has 5 new plane cards, bringing the total plane count to a whopping 103 cards.
What Are Planar Types?
Each plane card has a subtype, and that’s its planar type.
How Many Planar Types Are There?
There are 62 planar types in total. The planar types are:
- The Abyss
- Bolas’s Meditation Realm
- New Phyrexia
- Serra’s Realm
If you’ve been following March of the Machine and the new battle cards, 36 of those planar types have also been represented on battle cards.
Are Planes Permanents?
No. Planes aren’t permanents, so they can’t be interacted with (bounced, destroyed, exiled, etc.)
Can Planes Be Cast?
No. Planechase’s rules state that you can planeswalk to a plane, or planeswalk away from a plane. In these situations the plane isn’t cast, so you couldn’t counter a plane using Counterspell, for example.
Who Controls a Plane Card?
The controller of the plane card is the active player. You can only activate the abilities of planes during your turn at sorcery speed.
When Riptide Island is the current plane, for example, each player creates two 1/1 Sliver tokens during their upkeep. When on Cliffside Market, a player can exchange life totals with another player during their upkeep.
A special case in Planechase rulings happens when the active player is eliminated from the game. In this case, the plane’s controller becomes the next player that’s still in the game, in turn order.
Where Do Plane Cards Exist?
Plane cards exist in the command zone. When a player planeswalk into a plane, the top card of the planar deck is put there, and when the player planeswalk away from the plane, the top card is put at the bottom of the planar deck is then replaced by the next top card.
What if a Plane Card Would Leave the Command Zone?
When you or another player rolls a planeswalker symbol on the planar die, the plane that’s currently in the command zone is put facedown at the bottom of the planar deck and replaced by the top one. Effects that say “when you planeswalk away from a plane or to the next plane” resolve at this time.
There’s also a small chance of finding a phenomenon card while planeswalking. In this case, the effects from the phenomenon card are resolved in between.
What Are Chaos Abilities?
Chaos abilities trigger when the active player rolls chaos in the planar die. When that happens, the plane’s chaos resolves.
For example, if the plane currently in the command zone is Akoum and the active player rolls chaos, they destroy a target creature that isn’t enchanted. The new plane cards from MOC created the new term “chaos ensues” to refer to the chaos ability resolving. So chaos ensues is the same thing as rolling chaos on the planar die.
What if a Plane Card Would Be Turned Facedown?
When you planeswalk away from a plane, the plane is turned facedown and put on the bottom of the planar deck. It’s then replaced with the top plane from the planar deck. Since planes aren’t permanents, it’s impossible to interact with them otherwise.
When Can Plane Cards’ Abilities Be Used?
It depends. Chaos abilities can only be used on your turn if you roll chaos on the planar die, while static abilities on plane cards are always active.
The plane Astral Arena, for example, won’t let players attack or block with more than one creature, and that effect is active regardless of the planar die roll. Some planes also trigger effects when you planeswalk to or away from them. Other planes trigger effects at the beginning of your upkeep, at the beginning of combat, or at the beginning of the end step.
Are Planes Legal in Commander?
Planechase cards aren’t legal for Commander play in the sense that you’re not adding these cards to your 100-card Commander deck. They’re only legal in casual play if players agree to play the Commander Planechase variant, where players have individual or shared planar decks and play with the effects of the planes.
The Planechase variant can be added to any casual MTG, be it a 2-player battle or a 3+ battle royale.
How Many Plane Cards Are There in MTG?
There are 103 cards with the “plane” type printed in MTG across the sets that printed plane cards:
- Planechase 2012
- Planechase Anthology
- March of the Machines Commander
Best Plane cards
#11. Astral Arena
Astral Arena is the Silent Arbiter plane, which is a staple in stax/prison decks. This plane is a variant on the Bant () idea, and it works very nicely with exalted, the samurai themes in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, or just a big vigilant creature.
#10. The Pit
The Pit makes each player have their choice of a 3/3 Angel or a 6/6 Demon that requires a creature sacrifice, and that’s flavorful of siding with angels or demons thing: choose between good and evil.
Chaos makes players sacrifice creatures, which makes for some interesting choices. Those who chose to live with a demon will either have to give it up or thin out their fodder for its upkeep.
#9. Hedron Fields of Agadeem
I like the tension that Hedron Fields of Agadeem provides since the big creatures can’t enter combat, but hey, if chaos ensues you get a free 7/7 with annihilator 1. Players are rolling the die to get a free 7/7, but you’re in trouble if you planeswalk and don’t have big creatures.
#8. Glimmervoid Basin
Glimmervoid Basin allows players to copy an instant or sorcery similar to the effect of Zada, Hedron Grinder, except it targets every single possible target. This plane can be a natural amplifier of removal spells, or effectively nullify other instants or sorceries.
The synergy with Ral, Storm Conduit or any magecraft creature is insane; you can make multiple copies of a single spell with no effort. Keep in mind that spells that don’t target, spells that say each player, or even spells with multiple targets like Electrolyze won’t trigger this plane’s special ability.
#7. Quicksilver Sea
While you’re in Quicksilver Sea, scrying 4 is a huge benefit, and players won’t be short of stuff to do. Just sending lands away or selecting their best cards is an invitation to a high-powered game.
Plus you can even roll chaos and cheat something into play with all the scrying.
#6. Bloodhill Bastion
If you’re here, then get ready to fight and be smacked. Bloodhill Bastion gives every creature that enters the battlefield double strike and haste. Getting there is nice, but be prepared if you don’t have a creature to play right afterward.
#5. Naar Isle
The longer players stay on Naar Isle, the more dangerous it gets. Life totals quickly dwindle here, and the art on the card reflects the situation well with the lava going up.
When you roll chaos, you get to Lava Spike someone.
Tazeem is a really, really dangerous place to be. No matter how many creatures you have, you can’t block. It’s very nice to planeswalk to Tazeem if you already have good creatures, but if you’re behind on board, get away from it as soon as possible because you won’t get any benefits.
#3. The Aether Flues
The Aether Flues is all about cheating big creatures into play. You’ll either polymorph a weaker creature into a better one, or roll chaos and put a creature from your hand. It’s awesome to planeswalker to this plane with a full hand.
But yeah, Planechase is super random, so a lot of times you get a bad creature and your opponent gets the best creature from their deck.
The monarch ability creates this subgame where players want to be the monarch and hold onto the monarchy. The plane of Paliano makes players care about being the monarch even though none of the players have a card that gives them this effect.
If you roll chaos you get a 1/1 deathtouching, hasty assassin. Perfect for reclaiming the monarchy or punishing the monarch player for free.
#1. Norn’s SeedcoreNorn's Seedcore
Norn's Seedcore is awesome because it creates a multiplanar game. If you thought staying on one plane was already complicated, this makes it so that every time a player rolls chaos, another plane is added to the mix while maintaining all the previous ones. Oh, and you’ll resolve the chaos effects of other planes too.
Be prepared for a lot of rules interaction and different layers being affected by the different rules. I’m sure some players will get fancy and play with this effect as the general rule, just for fun.
Decklist: Naya Slivers in Planechase
Norn's Dominion | Illustration by Igor Kieryluk
Predatory Sliver x4
Sinew Sliver x4
Manaweft Sliver x3
Cloudshredder Sliver x3
Crystalline Sliver x3
Bonescythe Sliver x2
Brood Sliver x2
Spiteful Sliver x2
Constricting Sliver x2
Muscle Sliver x2
Rally the Peasants x3
Swords to Plowshares x2
Temple Garden x4
Stomping Ground x4
Sacred Foundry x4
Jungle Shrine x4
Evolving Wilds x4
Let’s take a look at a tribal deck and play to its strengths. This is a simple Naya (} slivers deck. The choice of planes includes Norn's Dominion because that’s too ridiculous to ignore, some wacky phenomenon cards (we can have two of them), and planes that benefit from having small creatures, Naya creatures, or tribal interaction.
If you play EDH with Planechase rules, a deck with Sliver Queen or The First Sliver is a nice choice. The idea here is just to fill the board with creatures, traverse the planes as best as you can, and strike hard when a favorable plane appears.
Bloodhill Bastion | Illustration by Mark Hyzer
And there we have it, the best and most wacky plane cards in Magic! Planechase is one of my favorite ways to add some spice to a multiplayer game, and I fondly remember crazy matches decided by a chaos roll or a timely planeswalk. In the end it didn’t even matter if I won or lost, just how much fun I had. And because of that, I’m glad WotC brought planes back to Commander precons.
What are your wildest experiences with Planechase? What are your favorites among the planes released in MOM Commander? Let me know in the comments below, or over in the Draftsim Discord.
Thanks for reading, folks, and I’ll see you around!
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