Top 8 Best White Planeswalkers – Riley Ranks

With The Wandering Emperor already making herself known in Standard, I wondered to myself – how does she stack up against other white planeswalkers? There have been some pretty decent ones, over the years, and because it’s white we’re talking about, there have also been some real stinkers. Today, we’re going to have a look at the top eight white planeswalkers, and we might even go through each color in the coming weeks as well!



8. Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis

Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis

From the recent Theros Beyond Death set, the latest Elspeth was not the return to form that most people were hoping for. Elspeth has some very diehard fans, and the new four-mana version was… well, it wasn’t great. Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis saw a limited amount of play in Standard, but was rarely more than a one or perhaps two-of as a utility card that made use of the graveyard. Hopefully, future Elspeths will return her to her former glory days as a powerful cornerstone of constructed Magic!

7. Gideon Jura

Gideon Jura

Gideon Jura had a huge impact during the time he spent in Standard, as a monstrous finisher in slower control decks. Having a huge amount of loyalty, being able to manage the board and having a built-in finisher with his “ultimate” meant that the original Gideon came out swinging. There have been a ton of Gideons printed over the years – alas, no longer, goodnight sweet prince – but the first one ever printed remains one of the best, for his versatility and flexibility as a control piece and finisher. 

6. Elspeth, Knight-Errant

Elspeth, Knight-Errant

Believe it or not, Elspeth, Knight-Errant was once considered one of the best planeswalkers of all time – a decade or so ago, she was often put in third behind Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Liliana of the Veil, and was often seen in Modern! Times have changed since then – obviously – but being able to tick up while either slamming in for four in the air or sitting behind a wall of 1/1 chump blockers meant that she ended games quickly, particularly with that devastating ultimate. If you’ve never faced an Elspeth, Knight-Errant ultimate, let me tell you something – you’re not beating it. 

5. Gideon of the Trials

Gideon of the Trials

Gideon of the Trials is weird, for a planeswalker – he’s essentially a combo piece, much of the time. Some Historic control decks play him as a one-of, but even then it’s often paired with Pact of Negation as his third ability turns it into an actual free counterspell. Outside of this, however, Gideon of the Trials is often paired with cards like Ad Nauseam or other effects that would otherwise cause you to lose the game to take advantage of his emblem – of all the Gideons, this is the one least like the others as a combat-oriented threat. 

4. Ajani, Strength of the Pride

Ajani, Strength of the Pride

When it comes to life gain decks, Ajani, Strength of the Pride is about as good as it gets. Not only is he able to send your life total rocketing into the stratosphere once you have a decent board, he also helps create that decent board by generating Ajani’s Pridemate tokens. Ajani’s Pridemate is a life gain all-star, and having a renewable source of them like Ajani, Strength of the Pride often means you can race ahead on board and make them insurmountably huge. Then, on top of that, he comes down as a four-mana Plague Wind assuming you have 35 life – this Ajani is a total house in dedicated life gain decks. 

3. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

I’d argue that Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is the best of all the Gideons. He essentially defined Standard as the four-mana threat to beat during Battle for Zendikar Standard, thanks to his flexibility as a midrange card. He could come down and bolster the board with Knight tokens then start rumbling for five, or alternatively would assure your battlefield supremacy in a longer game with his emblem ability. Even if BfZ Standard wasn’t a standout format, this Gideon was its standout card, and was played in more or less every deck that could find room for him. 

2. The Wandering Emperor

The Wandering Emperor

Opening up sweet new design space, The Wandering Emperor is an extremely sweet planeswalker that does new and exciting things. Long gone is the formula of plus: small thing, minus: bigger thing, ultimate: win the game – this card demonstrates one of the new directions that planeswalkers are able to take these days. Going from an effective combat trick into a token generator or something that bolsters your board, The Wandering Emperor is excellent in a range of situations. At worst, she serves as pretty efficient removal: 2WW to exile a creature, gain two, and make a 2/2 is pretty good!

1. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Elspeth, Sun's Champion

As far as I’m concerned, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion is one of the best planeswalkers ever printed, not just in white. This card defined the Standard format after original Theros was released, and was so good at its job. Elspeth would flood the board with tokens and make it impossible for an opponent to connect on the battlefield, then eventually send them all skywards to win the game in a single attack. On top of that, she has a built-in sweeper to clear overwhelming boards – she’s good in every position, whether ahead, behind or at parity. At risk of sounding like a paper boomer, this card brings back such fond memories of a time when Magic was exploding in popularity, and will always remain one of my favorite cards of all time. What’s that? Personal bias, in a Riley Ranks article? Never!


1 thought on “Top 8 Best White Planeswalkers – Riley Ranks”

  1. there are like three mono white Ajanis better than Sun’s Nemesis, most of them probably better than Strength of the Pride –did SoPride ever top 8 a pro tour? the others did..

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