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Top 10 Worst Planeswalkers in MTG – Riley Ranks

When Karn, Living Legacy was previewed, it provoked a discussion about what the worst planeswalkers of all time were. Poor old Karn – he’s had his time as a Modern powerhouse (Liberated), Standard engine card (Scion of Urza) and useful support card (the Great Creator), and now he’s just… bad. Not that bad, however – in my view, this new Karn doesn’t even break into the bottom 10 worst planeswalkers of all time. How can I possibly justify such a take? I’m glad you asked! Here is my list of the worst planeswalkers ever printed, which should put the issue to rest. 

Note: just like Seth, I’m not including intro deck planeswalkers or uncommon planeswalkers from War of the Spark. That wouldn’t be fair on the cards on this list, who must have worked very hard to be as bad as they ended up being. 

 

 

10. Chandra Nalaar

Chandra Nalaar

Chandra Nalaar isn’t just bad, she’s also… boring. Really boring. As the first red planeswalker ever printed, she set a precedent that would take years and years to break: red planeswalkers don’t do much other than deal damage. In any case, while some planeswalkers have aged well and have retained a certain power level over the years – Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Liliana of the Veil – compare this Chandra to Chandra, Awakened Inferno. For just one more mana, you get an uncounterable planeswalker that ticks up for damage as an emblem, sweeps the board and has an upgraded -X effect. To put it diplomatically, Chandra Nalaar has not stood the test of time. 

9. Samut, the Tested

Samut, the Tested

If this list were “top 10 planeswalkers you forgot ever existed,” Samut would probably be a lot higher than this, but all the same she appears here because she’s just so terrible. Unlike her creature version which actually, you know, does stuff, this planeswalker is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Sure, her -2 feels good when it picks off two one-toughness creatures, but a four-mana Forked Bolt is definitely not worth it. Her ultimate is super unimpressive unless you’re playing huge 10-drops, in which case you probably won’t have creatures to give double strike with her +1 – and even if you do, the first ability still sucks. Sorry Samut – you were tested, and the result is a resounding fail. 

8. Sarkhan the Mad

Sarkhan the Mad

Sarkhan is interesting, at least, when it comes to planeswalker design. There have been a couple of planeswalkers printed that don’t have a loyalty ability that adds counters – Lolth, Spider Queen and Kaya, Ghost Assassin, for instance – but Sarkhan was the first attempt at this and kinda missed the mark. His abilities are sweet, for sure, and quite powerful in the right situation (he’s an incredible finisher with a board full of Dragons), but in reality even a high starting loyalty of seven isn’t anywhere near enough to get value out of this version of Sarkhan. At least he got a bit better in future versions!

7. Nissa Revane

Nissa Revane

There have been some cracking Nissas over the years – Nissa, who Shakes the World, Nissa, Vastwood Seer – but there have also been some stinkers, and Nissa did not get off to a good start with her first version. Before she became the “lands matter” planeswalker, Nissa was into “Elves matter” – or, more specifically, “one specific Elf, Nissa’s Chosen, matters.” This was not a good career choice and Nissa quietly and very wisely moved on from it, and now her first iteration is like the embarrassing demo tapes that bands recorded before they made it big. Also: four mana for two loyalty? Yuck. 

6. Huatli, Radiant Champion

Huatli, Radiant Champion

We’re still waiting for a truly excellent Huatli planeswalker, as none printed so far are all that good. Her four-mana iteration, however, stands out as an absolute clunker, and for very good reason: it only functions if you already have a full board, in which case… you should be in good shape without a four-mana planeswalker that doesn’t affect the board. Sure, her ultimate is powerful once you get there, and with a bunch of tokens you can even ult her the turn after she comes down, but you could also just… play more creatures instead, or something like Ajani, the Greathearted or Nissa, Voice of Zendikar to juice up your board. Sorry Huatli – hopefully R&D are a bit kinder to you next time you appear. 

5. Chandra Ablaze

Chandra Ablaze

There have been a lot of bad Chandras over the years, before she hit her Chandra, Pyromaster phase and started to find ways to give players actual card advantage. Chandra Ablaze is a great example of the design space red planeswalkers desperately pushed into as they attempted to differentiate themselves from one another, and fails dismally in being even remotely up to scratch. Having to discard a card to deal four is ridiculous, and unless your opponent is playing hard control (in which case they just counter it anyway), using the -2 is going to be useful for them as they replenish their hand, rather than punishing them. Even a strong ultimate doesn’t make up for her terrible main abilities, and besides, you shouldn’t really evaluate planeswalkers by their ultimates. 

4. Ellywick Tumblestrum

Ellywick Tumblestrum

Man, they did Ellywick dirty in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Her -2 feels like it should be a +1 (see: Vivien Reid) and her +1 is so colossally misplaced, given that venturing into the dungeon is so firmly centered on the Esper colors. There were so many sweet things they could have done with this card, and it was such a shame to see one of the five ‘walkers from the D&D set end up so awful, especially when some of the others were exciting and inventive – not to mention powerful. Unlike Lolth or Mordenkainen, Ellywick undeservingly ended up as one of the worst planeswalkers ever printed.

3. Gideon, Champion of Justice

Gideon, Champion of Justice

Not so much a gigachad as a nanochad this time around, I think. Gideon, Champion of Justice has a lot of words on it that I can boil down for those without the time to read them: this card sucks, put it in the bin. Like Huatli, Radiant Champion, you already need to have a developed board for Gideon to do anything, and while he can hit hard with enough loyalty, you could just… play more creatures instead. People look at “exile all other permanents” and get excited, without recognizing just how much 15 loyalty is – and presumably, you’re exiling a ton of your own creatures to be left with a planeswalker that attacks for… two? Three damage? Nope – if you want to play with Ol’ Beefsteak, try Ally of Zendikar instead. 

2. Jace, the Living Guildpact

Jace, the Living Guildpact

When you first read this card, you could be forgiven for wondering what’s wrong with it. +1, draw a card, -3, bounce something… seems fine, right? Until you re-read the first ability and realize that it doesn’t draw you a card, oh no. Instead, it offers you one of the worst card selection abilities I’ve ever seen – if you have two bad cards on top, you’re still forced to draw one next turn. Before the Living Guildpact, all the Jaces printed so far ranged from pretty good (Architect of Thought) to the best ever printed (the Mind Sculptor), so this version came as a bit of a surprise. There’s not been a worse Jace yet printed (I would argue even the intro deck Jace is better), and with a bit of luck, there never will be. 

1. Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded

Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded

But the worst planeswalker of all time is, of course, original two-mana Tibbers. This card was and still is the butt of all sorts of jokes about terrible planeswalkers, and I personally think it’s warranted. For two mana you get a random looter that can’t survive dealing damage to your opponent for three whole turns. And while he’s ticking up, he’s shredding your hand and game plan because you can’t control what you discard, and his -4 does nothing if they have an empty hand, and the only situation in which his ultimate is good is if they have a full board, in which case… shouldn’t he be dead? With all due respect to Tibalt – which is to say, essentially none – this card absolutely stinks and is, for my money, the worst planeswalker in the history of Magic. 

 

1 thought on “Top 10 Worst Planeswalkers in MTG – Riley Ranks”

  1. LOL, this list was obviously inspired by the new Karn(as mentioned), but new Karn is definitely worse than Sarkhan the Mad and Chandra Nalar. The other PWs on this list look like PW deck versions of themself and the new Karn joins that list. The +1 is pretty good in an artifact deck, but who in the world thought the minus was at all good….at all.

    4 mana colorless PW shouldn’t be amazing since they can literally go in any deck, but they shouldn’t be this bad either lol.

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