Last updated on August 31, 2023

Jeska, Thrice Reborn - Illustration by Chris Rallis

Jeska, Thrice Reborn | Illustration by Chris Rallis

Debuting in 2007’s Lorwyn, planeswalkers immediately changed the way Magic was played. You could snowball the game quickly if one went uncontested with a new permanent type that recurred value and was even harder to answer than things like creatures.

The original red planeswalker, Chandra Nalaar, introduced Magic to one of the longest-standing modern characters and gave red mages a recursive way to damage the opponent and quickly threaten to deal 10 damage to a target player and each creature they control. There have been over 75 red planeswalkers printed since 2007 and the power level has drastically shifted from the debut suite of planeswalkers.

But when looking at the best red planeswalkers, how do we decide what qualifies for our list? Let’s find out!

What Are Red Planeswalkers in Magic?

Chandra, Dressed to Kill - Illustration by Viktor Titov

Chandra, Dressed to Kill | Illustration by Viktor Titov

For the purpose of this list I’m only counting planeswalkers that are red and always have the “planeswalker” type. This excludes cards like Valki, God of Lies, Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, Mila, Crafty Companion, and Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh. While these are powerful cards, especially Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter, they don’t qualify for this specific list.

So, with the criteria out of the way, let’s dive into the best red planeswalkers in Magic’s history.

#23. Daretti, Scrap Savant

Daretti, Scrap Savant

One of red’s main effects is trading a resource you control to rebuy an artifact from the graveyard. Goblin Welder is a prime example of this ability, and Daretti, Scrap Savant borrows that and puts it onto a planeswalker.

Daretti is a great edition to any red deck playing powerful artifacts with the +1 also helping to sift through your deck and fuel your graveyard. This red walker can quickly lock out opponents, especially in decks that can threaten to reanimate lock-pieces like Ensnaring Bridge.

#22. Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Easily one of the most influential planeswalkers in its respective Standard, Chandra, Torch of Defiance helped power up the 4-color Saheeli Rai/Felidar Guardian combo deck along with acting as an important pivot card for Mardu () Vehicles post-board. Still a Pioneer and occasion Modern staple, this Chandra’s power level dwarfs most of the planeswalkers on this list that passed through Standard.

#21. Saheeli, Sublime Artificer

Saheeli, Sublime Artificer

While less powerful and not played as often in red-focused decks, Saheeli, Sublime Artificer acted as a great defensive pivot out of spell-based decks like Izzet Phoenix for years. This planeswalker was also one of the only ways those decks survived aggressive decks.

Saheeli is still a powerful effect in any spell-based control deck, even if it’s mostly played in Commander now.

#20. Domri, Anarch of Bolas

Domri, Anarch of Bolas

A mainstay of Jund () Dinosaurs in Standard and EDH, Domri, Anarch of Bolas helps aggressive decks power through with extra power on all your creatures while giving you a mana advantage and making your creatures uncounterable. Domri, is also a powerful threat for Gruul () decks with the -2 helping to clear the path.

#19. Dack Fayden

Dack Fayden

Dack Fayden is the greatest thief in the universe. It’s also a powerful Vintage and EDH staple that can steal powerful artifacts like Moxen and Sol Ring. While the looting ability can quickly draw you into powerful cards like Ancestral Recall or Time Walk, it can also help you fill your ‘yard for combo turns with various powerful effects like delve spells.

#18. Chandra, Awakened Inferno

Chandra, Awakened Inferno

One of control players’ greatest nightmares, Chandra, Awakened Inferno acts as a Pioneer sideboard card for various red decks as well as combo decks like Lotus Field to combat control decks. A planeswalker that starts at eight loyalty and persistently pings the opponent can quickly end a game, even if you only get one activation out of it.

This planeswalker can do it all for red decks grinding to the mid to late game with the ability to clear the board or take out a targeted creature or planeswalker. Or fighting against decks that want to reach that stage of the game.

#17. Jaya, Fiery Negotiator

Jaya, Fiery Negotiator

Jaya, Fiery Negotiator is a 4-mana walker that comes in at four loyalty as well. It has a few different abilities that can create tokens, generate card advantage, damages creatures, and an ultimate ability that gives you a spell-copying emblem.

All things considered, Jaya does too much. I mean that in the sense that she doesn’t do any one thing particularly well, and that leaves us with an underwhelming walker that just doesn’t pack enough of a punch.

#16. Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast

Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast

A Cube and EDH staple, Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast carries on the Daretti, Scrap Savant trend of caring about artifacts. But this time Daretti turns excess artifacts into removal for other artifacts or creatures.

This planeswalker protects itself and can quickly produce fodder to turn into removal by making an army of disposable 1/1 artifacts with defender. Ingenious Iconoclast acts as a better midrange card paired with other sources of advantage and removal, even if it’s less combo-enabling than Scrap Savant.

#15. Sarkhan the Masterless

Sarkhan the Masterless

The planeswalkers’ planeswalker, Sarkhan the Masterless fits the War of the Spark theme well by turning all your walkers into 4/4 red dragons with flying. While Sarkhan is normally the only one becoming a 4/4 dragon, now it turns all the other planeswalkers into damage threats as well.

The Masterless still works as a surprise finisher in planeswalker-heavy decks, and it was even part of several Jeskai Fires of Invention decks in the past.

#14. Jeska, Thrice Reborn

Jeska, Thrice Reborn

Jeska, Thrice Reborn can be your commander and has partner. With two powerful abilities including tripling the damage of target creature, Jeska can start by acting as a creature pump and end by killing players at the table with its minus.

A powerful commander and something you can pair up with a powerful creature to make sure you always have something worth tripling the damage onto.

#13. Chandra, Hope’s Beacon

Chandra, Hope's Beacon

Chandra, Hope's Beacon is one of the newer iterations of Chandra, printed in March of the Machine. Like so many other Chandra cards, it costs 6 mana and comes with five loyalty counters. It has a passive ability which copies your instants and sorceries once per turn, which is quite powerful at the pricepoint. It has three abilities. A +2, which adds any two mana pips, a +1, which generates some card advantage, and an ultimate -X that lets you cash out as much loyalty as you’re willing to part with in order to deal X damage spread across up to two targets.

Overall, it brings a lot of passive power to the battlefield and pairs it with a mix of card and mana advantage to further take advantage of itself. I really like this card, and you should too!

#12. Lord Windgrace

Lord Windgrace

Another commander planeswalker, Lord Windgrace can quickly ramp you with its minus or enable you to refill your hand by looting lands into two cards. While Jund isn’t always focused on putting lands in the graveyard, this planeswalker pairs beautifully with cards like Life from the Loam, Grisly Salvage, and Satyr Wayfinder to enable both modes.

#11. Xenagos, the Reveler

Xenagos, the Reveler

Xenagos, the Reveler has a special place in my Magic journey. A powerful planeswalker that saw plenty of play in Standard almost entirely for the 0 ability to create hasty 2/2 Satyrs, no decks found use for the +1 ability quite like Gruul Devotion in Standard.

The last game of Grand Prix Providence ended with the creation of a 2/2 Satyr and attacking for lethal, so the Reveler will always stand as a great planeswalker in my eyes. No matter how far we’ve come in terms of power level.

#10. Wrenn and Six

Wrenn and Six

You thought 3-mana Planeswalkers were good? How about this 2-mana planeswalker that enables 4-color decks in Modern and has led to a seeming domination of the format with 4-color Money Pile?

Wrenn and Six was an instant staple across multiple formats as soon as Modern Horizons released. One of the most expensive planeswalkers early in its printing, this card was the Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer of the first Modern Horizons, and the quality of the card matched the price tag.

This is one of the most powerful and ubiquitous planeswalkers printed and it stands atop the planeswalker power level scale, especially at only two mana.

#9. Nahiri, the Harbinger

Nahiri, the Harbinger

Part of several powerful decks in its Standard, current Pioneer, previous Modern decks, and EDH, Nahiri, the Harbinger is a versatile all-star planeswalker. Nahiri found a home in Jeskai () Modern decks with a combo finish of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn by being able to loot away cards.

Along with answering problematic permanents, several decks use this planeswalker in a fair way, like to help clear sideboard hate cards like Eidolon of the Great Revel and Roiling Vortex in Niv to Light. The Harbinger is still a powerful tool to consider in Boros () decks, even if its play rate has declined as newer planeswalkers debuted.

#8. Koth of the Hammer

Koth of the Hammer

Koth of the Hammer was one of the first planeswalkers to animate lands and turn them into threats. Repeatedly making 4/4s can quickly kill opponents when paired with the various burn cards of red decks, but the biggest danger this planeswalker imposes is its ultimate. You get an emblem that turns your Mountains into pingers after you pull its ultimate, which is nearly impossible to beat in an extended game.

This card was an all-star in its respective Standard and is one of the most punishing red planeswalkers, even if it hasn’t found the same success in other formats.

#7. Saheeli Rai

Saheeli Rai

The cat-combo enabler itself, Saheeli Rai left a long-standing mark on Standard and Pioneer by introducing a turn 4 or 4 one-turn kill when paired with Felidar Guardian. Leading to a ban in both Standard and Pioneer, this planeswalker hasn’t found too much success outside of being paired with Felidar Guardian. But for a while that was good enough to even see Modern play.

#6. Angrath, the Flame-Chained

Angrath, the Flame-Chained

Angrath, the Flame-Chained is a powerful sideboard threat that started seeing a resurgence in Pioneer thanks to Rakdos () Midrange. The +1 can slowly kill and limits the power of controlling or combo decks while the -3 enables surprise kills and pairs with sacrifice cards to steal your opponent’s best threat and then kill it after combat.

While five mana is a little costly for Pioneer, Angrath, the Flame-Chained certainly acted as a great tool for midrange against control decks in Standard.

#5. The Royal Scions

The Royal Scions

Another powerful planeswalker from Throne of Eldraine, The Royal Scions managed to fall to the wayside thanks to the overwhelming power of Oko, Thief of Crowns. The card eventually started seeing fringe play in Izzet () tempo decks before falling out of favor entirely once Lurrus of the Dream-Den came into the picture.

While we haven’t seen this royal pair since, I could see them coming back as a value card in Death’s Shadow again now that Lurrus of the Dream-Den is banned.

#4. Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast

Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast

A card that has led to more copies of Agent of Treachery and Terror of the Peaks entering the battlefield than almost any other card, Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast is a combo piece with tokens and adventure creatures to power out high end threats. We’ve seen several decks in Standard and Pioneer leverage the additional Transmogrify effect to create a more consistent creature-combo deck.

#3. Domri Rade

Domri Rade

One of the original cards that helped push Jund Monsters into the higher tiers of Standard, Domri Rade was a power planeswalker that helped fuel your midgame, kill troublesome blockers, and ultimately threaten to turn your board into double strike, trample, hexproof, and haste monsters.

Domri is a great way to make sure your creature decks have staying power against the field at large. It would likely still see play in formats like Pioneer if it always drew a card.

#2. Chandra, Dressed to Kill

Chandra, Dressed to Kill

Chandra, Dressed to Kill has quickly found its way into the top echelons of Pioneer after the Lurrus of the Dream-Den ban led to mono red becoming the top aggressive deck in the format. With repeated burn and mana-advantage built alongside card advantage, Dressed to Kill immediately threatens the opponent, and the game will just end if it ultimates.

An incredibly powerful 3-mana planeswalker, the latest Chandra is the strongest new addition to this list.

#1. Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God

Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God

The ultimate planeswalker from War of the Spark, Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God has powerful abilities but can also use any loyalty ability from other planeswalkers on the battlefield. This allows you to draw cards, destroy creatures or planeswalkers, or steal the best ability at the table.

If you can manage this planeswalker’s difficult casting cost in formats like Standard, Pioneer, and EDH, you’ll instantly have the best planeswalker at the table.

Wrap Up

Saheeli, Sublime Artificer - Illustration by Wesley Burt

Saheeli, Sublime Artificer | Illustration by Wesley Burt

With that we’ve ventured the annals of Magic history to look at the various powerful red planeswalkers. While there are currently more than 75 red planeswalkers and more printed every set, we haven’t seen a red planeswalker quite break into the premier tier of powerful cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Oko, Thief of Crowns, or Liliana of the Veil.

Maybe we could have seen Valki, God of Lies make the list if we included some of the disqualified planeswalkers, especially during “Cascade Week.” But there are still plenty of powerful red planeswalkers to choose from across various formats for now.

What’s your favorite red planeswalker of all time? Do you have any fun stories about red planeswalkers in your current or old decks? Let me know in the comments down below or over on the Draftsim Twitter.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to stay safe!

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