Hello everyone! Today, I was hoping to do a little bit of something different for everyone! I was prepared to write another deck guide, but I was inspired by a question my wife asked (she dabbles in Magic) when I was playing “What’s the best Planeswalker?” I answered her pretty quickly so she asked what were the top 5. That took me a bit longer, but I still had an answer.
Finally, she asked, is naming the top 10 as easy? I thought about it, and it was really hard to do. What are the top 10 planeswalkers on Arena? After looking through all of them, ranking them, reranking them, I finally came to a decisive list I’m very happy with. If you wouldn’t know how to answer the question either or want to debate me, you’ve come to the right place!
Before I start, I’ll quickly go over my main criteria. The two things I’ll be looking at are: the impact it had on Arena and the overall power level of the card. These are both rather subjective, but I’m hoping that combining them can lead to a very solid top 10 list!
Let’s get into it!
10. Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God
Ironically, the 10th place was by far the most difficult slot to fill for me! There is a myriad of very good planeswalkers on Arena (hence the need to rank them!) so getting the final one was a big challenge. I’ll admit this is the ranking I have the least confidence in, but I think I have to give it to the big bad, Nicol Bolas.
In terms of mana cost versus effects, Nicol Bolas has got to be one of the best planeswalkers around. The passive on Bolas is pretty cool, but far from what makes it a great card. The +1 drawing a card and stripping the opponent of a resource is great, defending itself with a -3 is always welcome, and the ultimate will often, quite literally, win the game. It’s really hard to beat the power of Nicol Bolas, but it does have a glaring issue that always held it back, the mana cost.
Having all colored mana to cast is definitely very rough on a 5 mana walker and despite how hard it is to cast, it still saw reasonable play! It very likely would’ve seen more play if it weren’t for other entries on this list, but that’s hardly Bolas’s fault. Speaking of Nicol Bolas, whatever happened to them anyway?
9. Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord
Oh Sorin, how I loathe you. I have to pay my respects to the power level, but this is easily one of my most hated cards in Magic. Why? BECAUSE IT ALWAYS KILLED ME. The Standard where Sorin was legal was one of my favorite, and one of the best decks (if not the best deck) was Vampires. I won’t put you down a Bob article rabbit hole for my full reasoning, but the problem I had with Vampires is that it was a fine deck that turned unbeatable most of the time if they had a turn 3 Sorin.
The frustration of them going 1 drop, Adanto Vanguard, Sorin feels completely unmatched to me to this day as how in the hell can you beat that curve? Or if they didn’t have a great curve, they just minus and put in Champion of Dusk!
Listen, absolutely no hate for people who played Sorin, that was a smart move, but boy was it the bane of my existence back then! Nevertheless, Sorin is extremely narrow in application, but in the right circumstances, it’s power is certainly phenomenal.
8. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Now if we’re talking about objectively powerful Planeswalkers, you couldn’t possibly make a list without the most expensive planeswalker ever, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon! The first time Ugin came around, it was easily one of the scariest cards in Standard (this was back in Fate Reforged!) It would come down, wipe the board clean, and then threaten to win unless the opposing player had a way to deal with it. Many hated Ugin as it was so tough to beat in midrange mirrors, but in fairness, 8 mana is a lot of mana!
Years passed and eventually Ugin came back into Standard much to the ire of many players. The main difference this time though, is that it barely saw play as Standard wasn’t about midrange bouts anymore. It’s a shame that such a powerful walker went from format staple to fringe playable, but that’s just how it works out sometimes. Ugin is still a colossally powerful card, but definitely needs more of a forgiving metagame to shine.
7. Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast
Next up on the list is certainly another planeswalker of ire, Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast. For those who haven’t played with this card, it may be weird to say this is one of the best walkers on Arena. Just looking at the abilities, it kind of sucks, right? Well, you don’t use Lukka when you’re trying to do something fair. Lukka first broke into standard with my my most hated Standard meta of all time, Jeskai Fires. The deck played all token creatures so when you cast Lukka and minus, you would always hit your lone creature: Agent of Treachery. The play patterns with the deck were obnoxious and nothing actually beat the deck which quickly led Agent to getting the ban hammer.
I thought that would be the end of old Lukka, but it actually saw play again a year or so later in Temur Adventures to snag Koma, Cosmos Serpent from the deck as you only played Edgewall Innkeeper and the 3 mana Adventure creatures. Ironically, this was one of my favorite Standard decks as this was still an unfair application of the card, it was actually a really interesting deck to play and very far from unbeatable. So in totality, Lukka itself isn’t great, but the combo potential it had was extremely powerful, thus easily making the list.
6. Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Just coming in shy of our top 5 list, we have Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Chandra only got added into Historic, but she was an absolute powerhouse in her Standard format. In a metagame marred with unbelievably powerful cards, Chandra still stood out as one of the best of them. High starting loyalty, the plus draws cards or pressures the opponent, the minus defends so well, and the ultimate will be game winning 99% of the time. What else could you reasonably ask for out of a 4 mana planeswalker?
Despite being obscenely powerful, Chandra has a major thing going against it for this ranking: extremely limited Arena play. It’s popped into a a few strategies in Historic, but without it having the chance to shine in a Standard format, it’s hard to say that it’s had much of an impact on Arena.
5. Narset, Parter of Veils
Withour first entry into the top 5, we have Narset, Parter of Veils. Narset saw plenty of play in Standard and still sees plenty in Historic, but where it really shines is the eternal formats. The older you go, the better Narset tends to be! Why? The passive on Narset is one of the most brutal in Magic. Stuffing the opponent out of extra cards seems innocuous to most players, but some decks literally crumble in the face of a Narset on board. Furthermore, minusing Narset to find gas is obviously great as well making this a cheap and high impact planeswalker.
I was really stuck between Chandra and Narset for the 5 spot as Narset sees more play, but Chandra I would say is a more powerful card. All in all, I valued it’s play rate and the impressive resume it’s stacking up in older formats as well (even if it’s not part of the criteria) to make my final decision.
4. Nissa, Who Shakes the World
Coming in at an illustrious fourth place, we have Nissa, Who Shakes the World! Man oh man, this card is good. 5 mana to double a lot of your mana and make constant threats? Sign me up! Nissa was one of the best cards in Standard when it was around and made it very difficult for other non-green decks to be viable. I mean, it does so much so quickly! Untapping with a Nissa would very often be an instant win, and when you can accelerate it out on turn 4 or even 3, that’s a very tough card to deal with.
Despite this being so powerful, it still doesn’t crack our top 3! Those slots are reserved for some truly egregious planeswalkers!
3. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
I’m sure there is absolutely no surprise to see big Tef making it this high on the list. Teferi is messed up good and has been a staple in Standard, Historic, and even sees play in Pioneer and Modern! The power of Teferi really comes from two fronts: the plus ability is absolutely messed up and it can easily win games by itself.
The plus ability may be the best plus ability on any planeswalker in Magic’s history. Drawing a card and getting back 2 mana makes Teferi both a functional 3 mana planeswalker and almost always card neutral. That said, it’s very rare you would deploy a Teferi when it would be in danger or you can’t defend it which makes it even more brutal.
Second, the ability to win games by itself is truly unmatched by other walkers. Most people assume I’m referring to the ultimate ability which can definitely be game ending, no argument there. However, Teferi drew the ire of Standard players as the Control decks win con would be Teferi using it’s minus 3 to target itself, thus allowing someone to never mill out. Considering how much of an impact it had on Arena and the power of all 3 of the abilities, Teferi rightfully claims the third seat under the two problem children of Arena.
2. Teferi, Time Raveler
If a big Teferi wasn’t good enough to make it further on the list, how about a smaller one! Teferi, Time Raveler was an absolute monster in pretty much every possible format, Arena or otherwise. Being able to completely lock the opponent out at playing anything instant speed is an obscenely powerful ability that many decks happily utilized. Even decks that weren’t normally playing Blue and White would just splash one of them just to gain access to Teferi (looking at you Four-Color Reclamation), that’s how good Teferi is. If that’s all it did, it already would’ve been pretty insane, but having two good abilities on top of it pushed it over the edge.
The plus one allowed sorceries to be cast whenever, which was pretty innocuous for most decks, but was the foundation of Bant Scapeshift at the end of it’s Standard tenure. The real prize was the Repulse that Teferi had so if the opponent had one threat, you just play Teferi, bounce it, and very likely win the game from there. Teferi was so powerful that it eventually had to be banned in Standard, Historic, and Pioneer! Considering it got banned in 3 formats, what Planeswalker could possibly be better?
1. Oko, Thief of Crowns
Oh boy, now this one was a bit of a doozy. Oko is unequivocally the king of Arena as well as the best Planeswalker ever printed. It pressures amazingly well, it can downgrade creatures, upgrade creatures, steal creature, gain a bunch of life, have a massive starting loyalty, you name it, Oko has it. For those who didn’t get the chance to play with or against it, LUCKY YOU. It completely warped any game or format it was allowed to be in with it’s power level.
Now if I may, two funny anecdotes from the same day involving Oko where me and Chris tried it out as soon as the whole set was out. I was playing Boros Knights and he was on Simic Food, we both knew Oko was good, but didn’t know how good yet. I’m on the draw and he goes Gilded Goose, pass. I play land, pass. He plays Oko, and I instantly scoop. He got mad at me for scooping, “Why did you scoop already?” I asked him what could I possible do? I play a creature, he could take it or just make an infinite army of 3/3s, nothing I had is beating that. He wanted to disagree, but realized I was right. That was our first realization of Oko’s power level.
So I instantly scrapped my Boros deck and took Chris’s 60 to play the mirror. Game 1 I’m on the play and have some horrendous luck, had to mull to 4 as all previous hands were 0 landers. I end up with two lands, Gilded Goose, Oko. It’s the best I could ask for, but just these two cards aren’t going to be enough against a full grip of the same 60…or so I though. Chris has an ok start, and I absolutely rolled him by doing nothing else but using Gilded Goose and Oko. Once that happened, we both knew Oko was messed up good and pretty much everyone else found out around the same time. Oko is deservedly banned in pretty much every format and I can only imagine it’ll stay that way. Man oh man, what a card.
Thank you for reading!