Last updated on June 23, 2022
Serra the Benevolent | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve
Debuting in 2007’s Lorwyn, the planeswalker type has drastically changed the way Magic games unfold. These recurring engines of value have become staples in every set as well as the main element of Magic’s story and marketing as we follow these planeswalkers through the multiverse of Magic.
While maybe not as pushed as some other colors, white planeswalkers have still managed to pull their own. They’ve shown up across all formats at various times and helped shape a lot of top decks, even earning bans in several formats.
So, what defines a white planeswalker in Magic? Which are the best ones? Let’s find out!
What are White Planeswalkers in Magic?
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion | Illustration by Tyler Jacobson
I’m only going to look at white cards with the “planeswalker” type at all times for this list. This disqualifies cards like Mila, Crafty Companion and Kytheon, Hero of Akros. I’m also only looking at cards that were released for tournament play and Commander, so Un-sets aren’t included.
With that criteria out of the way, let’s jump into the most powerful white planeswalkers of all time!
#18. Calix, Destiny’s Hand
The premier enchantment planeswalker, Calix, Destiny’s Hand pairs well with any Pillow Fort-style strategies. It’s a rare example of a synergy planeswalker that doesn’t fit into most decks, even in its colors.
This is a change in philosophy to a degree with the power level of planeswalkers, and I think it’s a positive change considering the raw power level of some other walkers on this list.
#17. Ajani, the Greathearted
Ajani, the Greathearted is one of the best lifegain based Ajani’s ever printed. It gives all your creatures vigilance while providing you a steady stream of life. It can -2 to put +1/+1 counters on all your creatures and a loyalty counter on each other Planeswalker if you aren’t in danger.
This also makes the Greathearted a powerful card in Bant () planeswalker decks. This planeswalker is fantastic in EDH decks with lots of creatures or planeswalkers to power up with the -2 ability, even if it’s not as powerful as some of the other walkers on this list.
#16. Nahiri, the Harbinger
Immediately slotted into various decks in Modern upon printing, Nahiri, the Harbinger paired well with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn as a discard outlet and being able to fetch a hasty 15-drop for free. The various modes of its -2 give Nahiri versatility that keeps it in Pioneer Niv to Light decks to handle various difficult permanents.
Its +2 makes its very hard to kill quickly. While this Nahiri isn’t as immensely powerful as some of the other planeswalkers on this list, it’s one of the most versatile and the most likely to continue seeing play in various formats.
#15. Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord
A new addition to Greasefang, Okiba Boss decks in Pioneer, Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord has seen play in various places for a long time since the power of its static ability can instantly swing a race. Giving all your creatures lifelink for free is unbeatable in some matchups and can make it nearly impossible for aggressive decks to win against you.
The bonus of slowly chipping away opposing planeswalkers is helpful. And being able to reanimate creatures to keep your battlefield stocked makes Vengeful Bloodlord a great addition to any creature deck that can play it.
#14. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria has seen a tremendous amount of play from Standard to Pioneer to Modern. Hero of Dominaria is one of the strongest control finishers ever printed. It spawned creature-less control in Standard and is one of the most groan inducing cards players can face.
While not as prevalent as the smaller Teferi thanks to the mana cost, this version ends most games it comes down in where you untap with it even once. It can bury your opponent in card advantage, answer problematic permanents, loop to prevent decking, and the emblem is backbreaking. Being able to untap lands also helps to mitigate the danger of playing a 5-drop and can often lock the opponent out of having an opportunity to answer it cleanly.
#13. Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis
Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis was the rebirth of Elspeth from her betrayal at the end of the original Theros block. It’s one of the headline cards from the latest return to Theros in Theros: Beyond Death featuring the escape mechanic. A recursive planeswalker is a powerful tool that can make long games even more control advantaged. But the nature of Sun’s Nemesis is in creating multiple creatures and then pumping them up.
The play pattern of -1, -2, -2, escape, and -2 can lead to tons of damage and an easy kill. This Elspeth didn’t see as widespread play as some other versions even though it was still played in some Transmogrify shells to recursively create creatures to sacrifice, but it’s in that sweet spot of enjoyable and powerful without being game warping.
#12. Gideon of the Trials
Yet another Gideon, Gideon of the Trials is an interesting card. It has the traditional 0 ability to make Gideon a creature with indestructible, but it can also +1 to prevent all damage a target permanent would deal, already making it a more defensive Gideon than usual.
But the real power of this card stems from the second 0 ability, which gives you an emblem that prevents you from losing and your opponents from winning the game if you control a Gideon planeswalker. This effect has been used in Standard, Pioneer, and Modern to stop combo decks that have a hard time answering permanents along with slowing down aggro decks by diverting their offense and forcing an overextension into Wrath of God effects.
You’re also able to quickly protect and amass Gideons until losing becomes nearly impossible in formats like EDH where you can use cards that make attacking difficult.
#11. Basri Ket
Basri Ket has found a home in EDH mostly by making creatures bigger and giving them indestructible and then using the -2 to make an army of 1/1s equal to the number of nontoken creatures you control that are attacking. This planeswalker fits into most white aggressive decks since it can force through one large threat or instantly make an army.
The ultimate also gives you an emblem that creates a 1/1 white soldier at the beginning of combat on your turn, and then you put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control. Basri Ket is a great pickup, especially in go-wide decks.
#10. The Wandering Emperor
The Wandering Emperor has quickly taken a place in Standard, Pioneer, and EDH. This is just an incredibly powerful planeswalker that works perfectly in control shells since having flash allows you to hold up counterspells or removal and then surprise your opponent with a planeswalker.
#9. Gideon Jura
Gideon Jura has seen play in Standard and Modern as a powerhouse control finisher that can soak tons of damage from offensive decks, pick off tapped creatures, or quickly close out the game as a 6/6 creature. While not the most prevalent Gideon now, this card saw tons of play in the past and was one of the primary win conditions for Modern control decks before other planeswalkers and creature lands became the more common end game for those decks.
While sort of a forgotten card nowadays, Jura still powers up midrange and controlling EDH decks in need of a card that can make other players’ combats awkward.
#8. Gideon Blackblade
The final story of Gideon is that of Gideon Blackblade and the Gatewatch defeating Nicol-Bolas in War of the Spark. This version of Gideon automatically becomes a 4/4 each turn with indestructible, a trait that nearly all Gideons have in common. But this time it’s a static ability rather than an activated ability.
Blackblade can give one other target creature vigilance, lifelink, or indestructible, helping you create an offense that’s difficult to answer and that suits whatever needs you have. I’ve almost never seen its -6 used since you usually leverage the +1 to force through multiple indestructible creatures and threaten an opponents’ life total.
This card was a player in Standard and now resides primarily in EDH decks. Not the most impressive Gideon, but one that works very well paired with any other aggressive white creatures.
#7. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar dominated its Standard and even saw Modern play out of midrange sideboards. This card was so prevalent that it immediately meant another full season of Gideon dominating when WotC reverted an earlier decision to have Standard rotate faster.
Ally of Zendikar was a common discussion point in ban talks among local card shops before the more regular bannings that have come to Standard. I always owned four copies from the first time I played with this planeswalker, because a deck playing four was likely to burst onto the scene as the best thing to do in Standard.
#6. Serra the Benevolent
One of the straight-to-Modern planeswalkers from Modern Horizons, Serra the Benevolent can make a powerful Serra Angel to protect itself, which is already strong on rate at four mana. But your creatures get flying and +1/+1 until end of turn if you use its +2.
Serra can help you catch up when behind or end the game if you’re ahead or in a board stall thanks to its first two abilities. And its ultimate can happen the second turn it’s in play and gives you an emblem version of Worship, an incredibly powerful effect that a lot of decks leveraged as a sideboard option in the past.
While this Modern-designed planeswalker doesn’t see the same level of play as its counterpart in Wrenn and Six, Serra is a powerful Limited and EDH card that quickly can lock out creature-centric decks.
#5. Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Elspeth, Knight-Errant is one of the most powerful white planeswalkers of all time and was a shockingly strong planeswalker during its time in Standard. This Elspeth even saw play in Modern midrange decks in the early days of the format.
With two plus abilities, this Cube all-star can make chump blockers or jump creatures off the ground with +3/+3 and flying to destroy opposing planeswalkers or players. This walker pairs beautifully with cards like Armageddon or Wrath of God once it’s able to ultimate thanks to its backbreaking -8 emblem that gives your artifacts, creatures, enchantments, and lands indestructible.
While Knight-Errant has been largely surpassed in terms of power level, it was a long-standing example of an incredibly powerful planeswalker that could protect itself and win the game by itself.
#4. Ajani, Strength of the Pride
A staple of lifegain decks, Ajani, Strength of the Pride can gain heaps of life, create Ajani’s Pridemates to quickly grow into massive threats, and comes down to instantly sweep up opposing boards if you have 15 or more life than your starting life total.
The first Strength of the Pride will help you stabilize and take over the game. The second can instantly end it.
#3. Teferi, Time Raveler
Banned in Pioneer and Explorer, Teferi, Time Raveler creates gameplay that’s difficult for fair decks to interact with in any meaningful way. We’ve seen the massive impact this card has on any format it’s legal in from its time in Standard, Pioneer, Modern, and Legacy.
This is undisputedly the strongest 3-mana planeswalker in white and likely fits into the top three of white planeswalkers without much contention. I’d say that Teferi, Time Raveler has had the most impact overall of all the Planeswalkers on this list.
#2. The Wanderer
While maybe not as powerful as its newest version, this War of the Spark uncommon planeswalker manages to have two unique modes that are very powerful in EDH. The Wanderer prevents all noncombat damage dealt to you and other permanents you control, helping shield from damage-based wraths, burn spells, and things like fight spells on your creatures. It also helps protect you from big creatures that could answer your threats with combat damage by exiling a creature with power 4 or greater twice before staying around as a static protection card.
While this edition of the Wanderer won’t win you a game by itself, its utility and protection can help you maintain a superior board position.
#1. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion was the premier control threat for years during its time in Standard. It was also an insurmountable card for aggro decks to wade through and helped to propel Azorius () control back into the top echelons of Standard. Sun’s Champion became a part of the various Abzan () control shells once Abzan made its presence known with the release of Khans of Tarkir and the rest of that block.
Nahiri, the Harbinger | Illustration by Aleksi Briclot
White planeswalkers help to level up several types of decks, from aggro decks using them as a top end to control decks leveraging their recursive value. While most white planeswalkers top out at format staples for a time but never break into that upper echelon of “top planeswalker of all time,” that’s not to deny the effect they’ve had on various parts of the game. WotC are still upping the power level of white planeswalkers with the latest addition of The Wandering Emperor, and they aren’t done pushing the envelope in white.
What’s your favorite white planeswalker? Did I miss a powerhouse in my rankings, or do you think something should have been rated differently? Let me know in the comments below or over on the Draftsim Twitter.
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