Innistrad: Crimson Vow is already upon us, and today I’m highlighting a powerful planeswalker that’s recently been previewed – Chandra, Dressed to Kill.
The first thing to notice is that at three mana, Chandra, Dressed to Kill comes down a full turn sooner than most of the planeswalkers we’re used to in Standard. With two +1 abilities, she’s difficult to kill, and can get out of control quickly. Historically, creating planeswalkers like this means playing with fire (get it?).
On the other hand, Chandra doesn’t have any ability to protect herself or impact the battlefield. At least not directly.
One dream scenario with Chandra is double-spelling when you cast her on turn 3. For example, using the +1 ability and casting a burn spell from your hand to kill off any creature which would have threatened her. If you happen to be playing a R/G deck with some two-mana acceleration, this plan becomes even more realistic.
However, at the end of the day, Chandra is like most planeswalkers in that she’ll be at her best when you’re ahead or even in the game, and more difficult to protect if you’re playing from behind. But in a low-curve, aggressive red deck, curving creatures into Chandra means attacking from multiple angles, and making it almost impossible for your opponent to stabilize the situation. Moreover, if-and-when you untap with her, you’re likely to have an extremely explosive turn.
It so happens that Goldspan Dragon remains one of the very best cards in Standard, and Chandra into Goldspan Dragon feels like a natural, and extremely strong way to spend turns three and four.
Let’s shift gears and take a look at her card advantage ability. Notably, you cannot play lands, or cast non-red spells with this planeswalker. This means introducing some randomness, and some possible disappointment into her second ability. To maximize your odds, Mono-Red will be her best home. And a lower-mana curve deck with a lower land count (say 24 lands) might even be a bit better than a “Big Red” deck with a higher land count.
Notably, Chandra does play well with double-faced land-spells, a category of cards for which I was already an advocate.
And finally, we have the -7 ultimate ability. Since you still have to spend mana to cast the revealed spells, I think it’s better to focus on the emblem, which sticks around forever. You will virtually always win a long game once you get this emblem, and under most circumstances you’ll win the game immediately with a flurry of spells.
Overall, Chandra, Dressed to Kill makes a good comparison to Chandra, Torch of Defiance, which is likely in the top 10 best planeswalkers ever printed. The new version lacks the minus ability which can kill a creature outright, but in exchange she requires a lower investment of mana, and comes down a turn sooner. Those things are very big deals.