Last updated on September 14, 2023
Esika, God of the Tree | Illustration by Collin Estrada
I started playing Magic at the kitchen table with friends. When I drew my first planeswalker I had no idea what it was, but I thought it was the coolest thing ever. My love for planeswalkers has continued, and they’re now the one or two cards I’ll grab from every new set. Superfriends has long been my favorite deck archetype in Commander and any format that it works in because of that.
Superfriends decks run a lot of different planeswalkers. A lot of superfriends decks I’ve built end up running over 20, while the number of creatures is in the single digits. The idea is that the deck relies on the versatility of various planeswalkers to get you out of any tight situation. Plenty also have powerful and game-ending abilities, meaning you have a few ways to pull off a win.
Despite its delightful name, superfriends is a polarizing deck to play. Some players don’t appreciate the relative power level these decks often have, and others don’t even like the concept of planeswalkers which leads to them to remove all your best permanents on sight. But I’ve been playing superfriends decks for a while and they definitely get hated off the table less than something like stax. Still, it’s worth checking with your playgroup before you build this or a similar deck.
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The Prismatic Bridge | Illustration by Collin Estrada
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Teferi, Temporal Archmage
Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury
Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Tamiyo, Field Researcher
Sorin, Grim Nemesis
Venser, the Sojourner
Kasmina, Enigma Sage
Tamiyo, Compleated Sage
Vraska, Relic Seeker
Vraska the Unseen
Liliana of the Veil
Temple of the False God
There are a few things you have to get used to in a deck that runs fewer creatures than usual.
First, you have to be okay with taking more damage while you get your board set up. That’s okay; life is a resource and what it buys you is more time. You also need to get used to considering your planeswalkers as disposable as you normally would creatures. Don’t be afraid to tick them down to remove a problematic creature, even if it means giving it up. You have plenty more, and likely a few other ways to win the game without it.
The mana curve in this deck is a little steep, but The Prismatic Bridge helps make up for this. It becomes a lot more reasonable to spend upwards of four mana for a lot of your spells once you get a free planeswalker every turn.
Esika, God of the Tree may technically be your commander for this deck, but it’s unlikely to make a lot of appearances. If you’re really mana screwed and need to play it for the ramp you can do that, but mostly it’s your commander just for the flip side.
The Prismatic Bridge is the true commander for this deck. Your early game will likely be spent trying to create a land base that allows you to tap for and get it out as soon as possible. Players know how powerful this is, so be sure to look out for potential opposing interaction when preparing to cast it.
Planeswalkers that generate creature tokens are a good way to create some blockers for you since you aren’t running a lot of creatures in this deck.
Jared Carthalion creates some of the most powerful creature tokens in this deck. Not only do they start as 3/3s with trample, but its -3 ability can turn up to two of them into 8/8s. While not as powerful as Jared, Vraska, Relic Seeker’s Pirate tokens can be pretty helpful. You generally want to keep tokens for blockers, but both of these walkers give you good offensive tokens if you do get an opening to attack.
One of your win conditions in this deck comes in the form of Vraska the Unseen’s Assassin tokens. This deck has a good amount of creature hate, so wiping the board and then activating this Vraska’s ultimate ability can be a good way to close out a game.
Doubling Season is mainly in the deck to help with loyalty counters, but it doubles as a way to get even more tokens out of your planeswalkers, making it one of your strongest cards.
Getting enough loyalty to activate your planeswalkers’ ultimate abilities is key to the strategy of this deck.
Doubling Season can often help you activate a planeswalker's ultimate ability as soon as they enter the battlefield since they'll come in with double counters.
Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider is even more helpful thanks to a slight difference in the wording of its effect. Vorinclex also doubles the number of counters a planeswalker gets when it activates a positive loyalty ability because it counts for any counters being placed on a permanent, not just counters placed by an effect.
Deepglow Skate can give you an absolutely explosive turn. Its ETB doubles the loyalty of all your planeswalkers, giving you several ultimate abilities to activate.
Carth the Lion not only gives an extra loyalty counter for each positive loyalty ability, it also reduces the cost of negative ones. This makes it easier for you to protect your planeswalkers using their negative abilities. It also turns 0-cost abilities like Jace, the Mind Sculptor’s brainstorm into +1s. This means you no longer have to choose between loyalty or a good effect that normally wouldn’t add counters.
Both Oath of Teferi and The Chain Veil can technically get you extra loyalty by allowing you to activate planeswalker abilities twice per turn. This also stops you from having to choose to keep a planeswalker alive or activate its ultimate ability. You can now tick the planeswalker up, get it high enough to survive the ult, and then activate it.
The Prismatic Bridge is incredibly helpful in accelerating your game plan, so it’s important you have ways to get all five colors of mana.
Chromatic Orrery and Timeless Lotus can both be tapped to produce on their own to make it easier for you to cast The Prismatic Bridge and bring it back out if it gets destroyed. Chromatic Orrery has the added bonus of allowing you to spend mana as any color, meaning you no longer have to worry about restrictive mana costs on cards like Genesis Ultimatum.
Getting planeswalkers out for free is a subtheme in this deck. Deploy the Gatewatch, for example, can get you a few planeswalkers for free and isn’t likely to whiff in a deck with so many of them.
You can easily activate Ugin, the Spirit Dragon’s ultimate ability in this deck thanks to all the planeswalker support, and you’ll get a lot of free permanents. Tamiyo, Field Researcher goes a step further by allowing you to play any card from your hand for free once you’ve gotten its emblem on the field.
Narset, Enlightened Master is one of the few creatures in this deck, but it more than earns its spot. At the very least it'll likely get you a few free planeswalkers or other spells. It can really speed up your game for you if you choose your attacks well and keep it alive.
Creatures are your worst enemy in a superfriends deck. Because you might not have that many blockers, your opponents can easily swing in and take out your important planeswalkers.
Vanquish the Horde is an especially helpful card since it won’t cost you too much to play later in the game. Damn is similarly helpful because it can be cheaply cast to destroy a single threat, or you can choose to turn it into a board wipe if need be.
Cyclonic Rift won’t destroy any creatures, but it will slow your opponents down significantly when cast overloaded. Don’t be afraid to play it on a single target if it means keeping an important planeswalker on the board.
The even meaner version of this move is Jokulhaups. Printed back before planeswalkers existed it only hits creatures, artifacts, and lands. Your most powerful cards are planeswalkers and enchantments, both of which are fine after playing this.
Playing this card with a board full of planeswalkers is a great way to win the game since you're still doing a lot on your turns while your opponents have to rebuild their land base.
Getting to five colors in this deck is incredibly important, so you’re mostly going to be running 2- or 3-color lands that can be fetched. This means Triomes like Spara's Headquarters and shock lands like Overgrown Tomb make up a good chunk of your lands. You’re also running fetch lands to help find these multicolored lands more easily and ensure you have the colors you need.
The mana rocks you want to run in this deck are the ones that can tap for any color. That means you can ditch Sol Ring in favor of cards like Arcane Signet and Chromatic Lantern. Having access to all the colors will be more helpful than extra colorless mana in this deck.
Mirari's Wake is very helpful in this deck to just get some extra mana out of all your lands. It also buffs your creature tokens, making them slightly more effective blockers.
The fun part about a superfriends deck is that a lot of your strategy is dependent on which planeswalkers you draw and what opponents you’re facing. With such a wide range of abilities to choose from, a lot of your turn-to-turn strategy likely changes a bit in each game, making this deck feel fresh even if you play it a lot. That said there are some evergreen strategies you’ll want to employ as well.
When deciding to keep an early hand you’re going to want to look for cards that help you quickly get all five colors of mana. The faster you get The Prismatic Bridge out, the more value you’ll get out of it. Cheaper planeswalkers like Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Liliana of the Veil with built-in protection are also good early plays. Dack Fayden is quite helpful too since it can steal you some mana rocks early on.
You have to balance letting planeswalkers die, taking damage, and using your board wipes and removal while you’re setting up your board. Planeswalkers that can help you win like Karn Liberated and Liliana Vess should be priorities to keep alive while early-game walkers like Jace Beleren don’t necessarily need to stay around as long.
In the late game you’ll be looking to either close out the game with an ultimate ability or just overwhelm your opponents with all your different planeswalker abilities. A well-timed Jokulhaups can easily seal the game for you, especially if you have walkers producing powerful token creatures like Jared Carthalion.
There are no infinite combos in this deck. You’re already taking some long turns trying to correctly sequence all your planeswalkers’ abilities, so adding infinite combos on top of that felt a little disrespectful to the rest of the players’ time. That said there are some good bits of synergy in this deck that you can look out for.
Vraska the Unseen’s Assassin tokens can win you the game, but you need to get their attacks through. Combine them with Venser, the Sojourner’s ability to make all creatures unblockable for the turn and you can win the game with a single combat step!
There are a few planeswalkers that can easily draw you cards, like Jace Beleren and Jace, Unraveler of Secrets. Combine them with Liliana Vess’ ability to tutor cards to the top of your library and suddenly you’re getting cards directly to your hand.
Attaching Luxior, Giada's Gift to any planeswalker with a good ultimate ability can help keep them safe while you wait to get enough loyalty. Your opponents can’t attack it directly once the card is no longer a planeswalker. You can just choose not to block with it and it’s safe for a few more turns.
Of course this opens the planeswalker up to creature removal spells, so it might be best to go this route as a last resort to protect them.
While Jokulhaups is a great way to win, it's also a card a lot of players might take issue with. Mass land destruction is something a lot of players hate, so it’s definitely worth discussing with a table before playing.
You can swap Jokulhaups out for another form of creature hate if you want and keep the rest of the deck the same since there’s only one card in this deck that does it.
Ancient Tomb is a very expensive card and doesn’t necessarily need to be in this deck. Temple of the False God is a good option if you want to replace it with a cheaper version. You can just replace it with a basic land to cut down on price.
Vampiric Tutor and Demonic Tutor are two of the more expensive cards in the deck. While they’re nice for finding specific cards when you need them, they aren’t necessary. They'd be a bigger loss in a deck that's looking to search up a combo but they’re more of a luxury that you can easily replace with something cheaper here.
You can also cut down on the number of fetch lands you’re using. Bloodstained Mire and Flooded Strand are the two most expensive fetches right now, so you can cut and replace them with bond lands like Undergrowth Stadium.
One popular change some superfriends decks make is to gravitate away from token-generating planeswalkers and lean more heavily into creature hate. This means including cards like Overburden and Tainted Aether to punish players for playing creatures.
Another way to take superfriends builds would be to lean more heavily into land destruction with cards like Armageddon since your planeswalkers don’t need land to function once on the field. Including Wrenn and Six and Wrenn and Seven in this kind of deck is helpful. You can also run Crucible of Worlds to grab lands from your graveyard.
I personally stay away from this and creature hate because they can be contentious and less fun for the people you’re playing against.
Other Superfriends Commanders
There are a few other commanders that can be fun to play in a superfriends deck.
Sisay, Weatherlight Captain can be a lot of fun because it fetches specific planeswalkers from your deck. This is more mana costly than The Prismatic Bridge, but it gives you more control over what planeswalkers you’re getting.
Jared Carthalion is another option as your commander if you want to be more thematic and use only planeswalkers.
Chromatic Orrery | Illustration by Volkan Baga
Superfriends is a very fun way to mix up your Magic games. It might be time to change up your routine and give planeswalkers a try if you’re used to playing a lot of creature-heavy decks. Superfriends decks can also be incredibly powerful, but you may want to have some Rule 0 talks if your deck looks like it's getting a bit too mean.
What planeswalkers would you like included in a superfriends deck? What are your thoughts on how planeswalkers affect Magic in general? Let me know in the comments or on Draftsim’s Twitter.
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