Planeswalkers as Generals: Is it time?

Commander (EDH) forum

Posted on April 15, 2019, 7:15 p.m. by twostarturtle

Wizards have been toying with planeswalkers as generals for sometime now.

With the release of War of the Spark there is an absolutely ton of new planeswalkers being released.

Is now the time for Wizards to release a blanket rule that ALL planeswalkers can be your General?

Tell me why you think it is time and why you think it is also a very bad idea.

I say it could be done. Planeswalkers are such a unique and wonderful thing that sets magic apart from other games, both the lore and gameplay. They could provide a massive influx into the general pool. Not only would this give players a ton of new options but this could also bolster archetypes that certain walkers specialize in.

I also say no. Planeswalkers are insanely good and being able to repeatedly cast one with reliability could warp the fabric of what EDH is supposed to be.

PlatinumOne says... #2

if the current competitive infinite loops and whatnot havent already "warped the fabric of what edh is supposed to be", then a planeswalker certainly won't.

i also think its incorrect to say "planeswalkers are insanely good". because its not correct to evaluate a card based on its typing. its not the card type that makes it good, its the effect. saying "planeswalkers are good" is like saying "creatures are good".

basically, a planeswalker as a commander won't really allow for a whole lot that isn't already happening in a superfriends deck anyway. so i say go for it.

April 15, 2019 7:34 p.m.

iAzire says... #3

I don't think it would change much. Planeswalkers are even easier than creatures to remove, and most aren't impactful enough for their mana cost.

April 15, 2019 8:49 p.m.

I mean... have you lot played against a tuned Daretti deck?

That's a planeswalker that was designed for the format, and is incredibly powerful. So much so that with a T1 Sol Ring, the game is won by T2-3. Planeswalkers are a free spell every turn, and are harder to remove than creatures. Blanket-okaying them as commanders would change quite a lot. Call me crazy, but I don't think people should have access to Elspeth, Sun's Champion in the command zone - with the tokens she spits out, she's hard enough to kill once, let alone again and again and again.

April 15, 2019 9:42 p.m.

Vman says... #5

I dont want to be at the table where one guy shows up with Sorin Markov and just gives one player a shitty experience.

is not about the broken-ness to me. its about the feelsbad things wotc tries to avoid nowadays.

April 15, 2019 10:18 p.m.

pskinn01 says... #6

Wizards did not make commander as a format. It doesn't control the way the format is played, except on its online playfor. It has no control over the paper ban list. All that is controlled by the people that helped create the casual format that is loved by many.

With that said, some walkers would be more warping than others if they were all allowed to be commamders..

April 15, 2019 10:58 p.m.

PlatinumOne says... #7

PhotogenicParasympathetic: Elspeth, Sun's Champion costs 6 mana. destroying her "again and again and again" means the elspeth player is paying 6, then 8, then 10, then 12 mana to cast her. that seems reasonable. just attack with creatures.

PhotogenicParasympathetic & iAzire: i'll let you guys duke it out about whether creatures or planeswalkers are easier to remove. there are more "destroy creature" effects than there are "destroy planeswalker" effects, but planeswalkers can be attacked.

Vman: Sorin Markov is 6 mana. by turn 6 in a format usually played with 3+ players, a player's life total is likely already approaching 10 to begin with. regardless, the sorin is left with 1 loyalty and then promptly attacked and killed. not to mention the player being limited to mono black. if a player "really" just wants to design their deck around no other purpose than draining 1 players life from 40 to 10 in one hit, thats fine by me because they'll likely just lose the game anyway. especially if the sorin player tries it with people they know, as they'll just be hated out of the game first.

April 15, 2019 11:12 p.m.

iAzire says... #8

Both Elspeth, Sun's Champion and Sorin Markov are 6 drops. That's pretty slow especially for abilities that don't warp the game. A couple of tokens? That's weak, her board wipe is more useful. Sorin can only hit one opponent, then what? Lose the game?

Planeswalkers can be attacked directly. There are enough Planeswalker removal spells which would replace other staples we use now. Hero's Downfall immediately comes to mind.

One protection Commanders have now, is if they are important to your game plan, you can keep them on the field. People have to use removal spells, whereas with a Planeswalker they can just kill it every turn in the Combat step.

Destroy all creatures power 4 or greater for 6 mana? Then for 8 mana? Then 10 mana? Are you going to win like that with Sorin? That is an especially horrible game plan.

Maybe some could be good, but like it was already mentioned, unless they were made specifically for the format, they probably aren't going to be very good. It's the same thing with creatures, those made for the format just make the best decks.

If I sit down at a table and someone wants to use a Planeswalker as a Commander today, I'll let them. Unless you're playing for prizes, let people do what they want.

April 15, 2019 11:15 p.m.

I mean I chose Elspeth specifically because she's hard to get rid of. "Just attack with creatures" ignores the part where her strongest asset is the fact that she spits out three blockers a turn, and can board wipe without hurting her blockers. She costs six, sure, but you are vastly overestimating the speed at which most commander games come to a close. If you think six mana makes a commander unplayable, Edgar Markov and Muldrotha, the Gravetide would like a word, both on EDHrec's top 10 commanders this very moment. So would Niv-Mizzet, Parun , so would Narset, Enlightened Master , so would Prossh, Skyraider of Kher .

The fact that her mana cost is the only downside you can come up with kind of proves my point.

April 16, 2019 3:56 a.m.

ShutUpMokuba says... #10

Honestly, i would appreciate if they released some but not too many. I don't want to go at my lgs to play only against pw commander decks. Because pw are appealing by themself, even if they suck they are seen by the majority of unexperienced players like the "super cards" you absolutely want to run in your deck.

Also talking abut game mechanics, i'm pretty against (and this is my opinion so don't get mad) PW as commanders because the starting order becomes an important factor. It often becomes a race about getting the ultimate of the pw and win thanks to it. Also now, with war of the spark, we are getting more pw removals so they don't have anymore the "protection" from removals unlike creatures (i know there are already PW removals but now with an Elder Spell i can destroy any commander and put loyal counters on mine).

So, in coclusion: yes to PW as commanders but without releasing a tons of them, war of the spark style.

April 16, 2019 7:21 a.m.

SynergyBuild says... #11

Idk. I think the feel bads with cards like Doubling Season , Deepglow Skate (Imagine Venser, the Sojourner with it...), The Chain Veil all reaching astronomical prices if they don't get banned forcing player out of important decks in the meta.

Even if they do get banned, banning is bad for EDH, and the EDH rules committee has said they don't want to ban more cards.

April 16, 2019 9:15 a.m.

That's a really good point SynergyBuild. The release of Atraxa, Praetors' Voice made Doubling Season spike about 20$. I can't imagine how expensive it would become in the weeks following a rule change to allow all planeswalkers to be commanders.

April 16, 2019 1:44 p.m.

mfogle says... #13

At Synergybuild and photogenicparasympathetic, all the cards you mentioned are incredibly good alongside walkers. But if your running them in your deck with that intent, you're playing superfriends. And on those decks run as many of the previously mentioned powerful walkers alongside ones that can ult/win if doubling season is out. The decks will still do the same things regardless of whether or not a walker is at the head or not. Arguably, you'd want a commander that could help you draw or search for doubling season rather than just another walker. If that made any sense. lol If they blanket statement "all walkers can be commanders" I think there'd be a lot of new decks people would try brewing to test them out and maybe a few might be competitive or cause issues. As a whole though, I think there'd be little balancing issues. Multiplayer is self correcting as a whole and people will build around new matchups. I would personally say all the cards photogenic mentioned earlier are far more powerful commanders than any walkers I can think of.

April 16, 2019 2:06 p.m.

SynergyBuild says... #14

Well, mfogle, Teferi, Temporal Archmage is a tier 1 cEDH deck, and some argue to be the best, or tied for best deck in the format, next to tempo lists like Najeela, the Blade-Blossom combo, Captain Sisay stax-combo, and Kess, Dissident Mage consultation lists, to name a few.

It does this because it combos with The Chain Veil , a card that goes infinite with it, as well as the commander's synergy with Stasis / Static Orb / Winter Orb in a stax prison deck with combo plan-b.

Just taking that approach, Saheeli Rai combos with multiple cards, such as Liquimetal Coating + Altar of the Brood , is in great colors for an artifact list, and helps in getting to the combo, with scry (not much, but not little), while being incredibly cheap to cast.

Then there is Tezzeret the Seeker , which both fetches The Chain Veil , and having combos with it. It also has a combo with a Rings of Brighthearth , Goblin Cannon , and Basalt Monolith setup if you need me to explain that one.

Outside of that, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria makes an incredible stax-control build abusing the untap effect with Stasis , Winter Orb , and Static Orb , while drawing you extra cards, mostly removal and countermagic to protect it after it hits. Untapping two blue sources holding up a Counterspell would be incredible alone, but with the stax synergy and card draw it just makes it really easy to break.

For pure value commanders that would pub-stomp LGS's if a player just wants to spend the money, there would then be Jace, the Mindsculptor. That sounds fun, doesn't it! Mono-blue control always is the pinnacle of EDH fun.

Think that's it? Dack Fayden , vintage allstar, cEDH allstar, greatest thief in the mutliverse, and incredible Careful Study / Faithless Looting every turn or a Steal Artifact once in a while.

On R/U walkers, Ral Zarek . The legacy Stasis walker. Now in EDH, where Stasis is legal. Seems nice. Harmless.

Even from the new set, there are incredible busted walkers. Ashiok, Dream Render allows you to shut off tutors and graveyards with relative ease. It is so good at stopping combo decks, and yet because it doesn't affect the user, it will just be run in a combo deck, blue/black has a plethora. Honestly if this was legal in cEDH, I'd imagine it tier 1.5.

Ral, Storm Conduit makes a great storm EDH commander, possibly better than some alternatives. Cards like Doublecast , Fork , Twincast , etc. all can be copied infinitely targetting each other, which allows Ral to go infinite damage. It is a sweet combo deck, another very competitive walker.

Teferi, Time Raveler could actually see very competitive play, like the original Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir was occasionally thought to with Knowledge Pool , really with the addition of minor removal/draw, some worse flash enabling IMO, and white added into the color identity, and a cheaper cost. This means Enlightened Tutor , cards like Rule of Law or other stax, etc. can combo.

So mfogle, do you really think a tier 2 deck like Prossh, Skyraider of Kher , some tier 4 deck like Edgar Markov , tier 3 Muldrotha, the Gravetide , or tier 2.5 Niv-Mizzet, Parun or Narset, Enlightened Master are so much better than any walker throughout Magic History?

April 16, 2019 2:53 p.m.

ShutUpMokuba says... #15

At that point you would have two categories of decks: 1) PW decks with Chain Veil and other PW power ups. 2) Non-PW decks with The Immortal Sun and PW removals. I don't think i would like to have to add anti-PW cards as staples.

April 16, 2019 3:12 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #16

I have and will always support this, with one caveat: ban Ugin, the Spirit Dragon . Colorless decks running him = free non-conditional one-sided boardwipes endlessly.

Ban Ugin. The rest are fine.

April 16, 2019 4:44 p.m.

skoobysnackz says... #17

SynergyBuild, those all look very strong, but the only one I think would be too strong from this list is Tezzeret the Seeker , that seems nuts. Stax sucks to play against, regardless of the commander, and 2-3 card combos are already common with creature-commanders. The only things that really scare me are tutors and one sided board wipes in the command zone. I would be in favor of letting planeswalkers be commanders with a list of a few, like Tezzeret the Seeker , Ugin, the Spirit Dragon , and maybe Elspeth, Sun's Champion , that can't be used as commanders. To me it makes no sense that a creature can be your commander but not a planeswalker, which feels much more like a commander or "general" in both lore and gameplay.

April 16, 2019 6:48 p.m.

Or, we could do what makes far more sense - just let Wizards print planeswalkers that are specifically designed to be played in the command zone. Of the 11 walkers they've given that ability to, 3 (Teferi, Daretti, and Freyalise) are very powerful, two more pretty strong (Saheeli and Windgrace), and the others (Nahiri, Ob Nixilis, Estrid, Aminatou, and the two Kenriths) are all playable. Teferi and maaaaaaybe Daretti are the only ones approaching broken.

Blanket okaying all walkers is asking for trouble. Saying we're okay with some but that bans have to happen means that cards like Tezzeret the Seeker and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Elspeth, Sun's Champion are removed from the game, despite being entirely reasonable as part of the 99.

I think a good creature comparison would be Kokusho, the Evening Star . If he shows up out of the 99, he's strong. He's irritating to deal with, and there are other cards that can make him better (reanimate, etc). But if I hit him with Utter End or Bojuka Bog , he's handled. As a part of the 99, he's strong but acceptable.

When he's in the command zone, he's oppressive and devastating. The deck can be built to reanimate time after time, and all the normal ways to answer him just put him back in the command zone to try again.

The same will be true of walker-decks. Sure, mfogle, Doubling Season currently only sees play in superfriends. But why not stick one in your Ajani, Mentor of Heroes deck to gain 100 life instantly. Or your Arlinn Kord  Flip deck to ult her one turn later. Or your Garruk, Caller of Beasts to turn every creature spell into a second creature immediately. Perhaps we could turn Kiora, Master of the Depths into a reliable four-mana emblem plus three 8/8's.

My point is this. The reason Doubling Season is so good in superfriends is that it wins the game with most->all of the walkers in the deck. If one of those walkers is in the command zone, do you really think people won't run it? Or the Chain Veil? The deck stops being built around walkers-in-general and gets to be tailored to whichever one fits a players playstyle, whether that's weenies with Elspeth or stompy things with Garruk.

April 16, 2019 7:12 p.m.

PlatinumOne says... #19

PhotogenicParasympathetic: never said her mana cost makes her "unplayable", nor was that my "only" point. and her "blockers" are 1/1's. idk about your playgroup, but mine has a healthy amount of trample and other evasive abilities.

as for your comparison to kokusho, it kinda disproves your own point. theres already tons of "broken" combos in commander, a few more isn't going to change a lot. if everything is OP, nothing is OP. i mean sure you could say "such and such combo is powerful", but unless its noticeably more powerful than every other powerful combo, that doesn't mean much. take a look at modern. if you were to take any given tiered deck and show it to a new player, they'd say "whoa thats too powerful!", not realizing that there are plenty of other decks that are also "too powerful" that keep the format balanced and healthy. the fact you mentioned numerous uses of Doubling Season proves that point perfectly.

TypicalTimmy: ugin is fine. its not "free endless board wipes". its 8 mana. and being a colorless deck is its own disadvantage. not saying a good colorless deck can't be made, but i also feel like it'd just "build itself" since theres a limit to colorless cards that are useful.

April 16, 2019 9:33 p.m.

PlatinumOne: Wow, you're so right! If only Elspeth were in colors that were good at dealing with enemy creatures. Like if she shared a color with Path to Exile or Swords to Plowshares or Wrath of God or Day of Judgment or Fumigate or Akroma's Vengeance or Austere Command or Terminus or... need I go on?

You're counting on having creatures to attack with, and then counting on them being evasive enough to get around her blockers, AND counting on them being hasty enough to get in good hits before she minuses to kill them/casts any one of white's infinite wraths. Turn five Fumigate -> turn six Elspeth is going to make that very, very hard.

Your playgroup isn't a good comparison for the health of the format overall. Sure, your meta might have the tools to deal with a planeswalker commander. Others won't. The argument is that overall, having access to cards as powerful as walkers repeatedly, without recourse to end the threat permanently, is dangerous. The point isn't that there are no possible answers to planeswalkers - the point is that planeswalkers as commanders warps the meta in unhealthy ways, to the point where decks unable to consistently, not just once or twice, but every time, answer a walker will not really be viable anymore.

April 17, 2019 1:24 p.m.

PlatinumOne says... #21

PhotogenicParasympathetic: i could really do without your snarky sarcasm. and you do realize that wrath effects would kill her "blockers" too right? having enough creatures to attack her is quite easy. your statement "as powerful as walkers" is grossly incorrect. cards are powerful because of their effect, not their typing. cards don't automatically become good just because they have the planeswalker type. the simple fact of the matter is that walkers as commanders does not warp the format. it just doesn't. period. "you" may not be able to deal with it, but other players can. planeswalkers as commanders won't open up any new combos we don't already have. any interactions players may try to use with a planeswalker commander won't be any more broken than what is already being used anyway. there are competitive commander decks that can win turn 3, and you're worried about a planeswalker that costs twice that much mana? does that not seem bizarre to you? are you this adamant about banning the cards that make those turn 3 wins possible? because if not, you're being biased and hypocritical.

April 17, 2019 9:58 p.m.

PlatinumOne: The existence of combos is completely irrelevant to this discussion, but since you bring it up: combos require good draws and good deckbuilding, not "I have a powerful spell in my command zone." I'm not here to ban infinite combos, and I don't care that sometimes decks get a good fast start and can't be stopped. I care about the idea that decks might get a consistent advantage off of a rules change.

You're just wrong about planeswalkers. First: they ARE powerful because of their typing. They represent spells, turn after turn, for free. You pay once, and as long as they are protected they continue to pay back in ways that other card types just don't.

You can condescend all you want about wraths wiping away Elspeth's blockers, but Elspeth makes more with no further investment. Your attackers cost mana and time to get through to her. It's a poor comparison. And again, you're saying "having enough attackers is easy" without, I dunno, engaging at all with the argument. Look, this is a walker that dominated standard for exactly this reason - she was incredibly hard to deal with and could stall the board until she won. Fortunately, in standard there were answers, and once she died she stayed dead. That wouldn't be the case in EDH when she can return to the command zone. Your argument is just wrong, and proveably so.

April 18, 2019 3:09 a.m.

SynergyBuild says... #23

PhotogenicParasympathetic (love the name, forgot to mention that prior)

I think we are in agreement. Wizards should print walkers that aren't busted in the command zone from time to time, but not just make all walkers commanders. I love Aminatou, Teferi (the one that can be your commander), the commander Saheeli, the Izzet partner commanders, etc. I just don't think retroactively adding the commander text to all walkers is smart.

PlatinumOne I hope you didn't play in Theros Standard with Elspeth. It was a card that, due to its high mana cost, and lack of immediate impact, outside of a Captain's Call , wasn't expected to be strong. It took over standard, however, because if you didn't have creatures to deal with it, you'd die to tokens. If you didn't have creatures with trample, you'd get chump-blocked. If your creatures with trample don't have at least be ~4/4, they'd get triple blocked and killed. If the opponent DOES have those creatures, they get swept.

There were weaknesses, small evasive creatures, with flying, etc. can get in, removal for walkers is strong, giving them just the Captain's Call of value, or just a sort-of sweeper. Counter it. Fine. You won't be able to beat it though because it is a commander. It can be recast. It has value forever and is incredibly potent. UW Control in Modern, most every white standard list at the time, etc. It has shown to be a potent card.

I will say I agree with you on a lot. Kokusho, the Evening Star isn't a broken commander. It is a vulnerable deck, and isn't a strong deck compared to cEDH decks, nor is such a one-card engine like Elspeth that it can have a lackluster deck behind it and still do well in casual circles. You need to run reanimation, and most good reanimation costs a lot of money, so the deck sort of requires the money that would generally place it in higher circles than the casual crowd.

I only mentioned that cards like Doubling Season might be a problem for its price. Not effect. There are 20 worse combo enablers I can think of off of the top of my head. Laboratory Maniac / Demonic Consultation / Tainted Pact ... ugh. Anyway, for price concerns, I think you can see the issue, but if it got reprinted into the ground, along with Deepglow Skate / The Chain Veil , I would have no issues with it as a card.

The only true combo I see being broken is Tezzeret the Seeker never has mono-blue had a commander fetch the whole of a combo on its own, with just mana to cast it. Arcum Dagsson takes artifact creatures, and roughly 20 more cards in the deck to go off than a Tezzeret the Seeker deck, and Teferi, Temporal Archmage being the only deck close to Tezzeret, of which Teferi being a tier 1 cEDH deck I'd argue is only about ~2/3rds the power of Tezzeret is the issue. If the best decks in the format are only ~2/3rds the power of a deck (up to debate of course), then that deck is the new best deck in the format, with no decks equal to it.

Because of Fast mana and proper comboing, I expect this deck to average wins with interaction on turn 2-4. The average cEDH fast-combo deck can wins on turn 2-4 without interaction, and turns 3-5 with interaction from the opponents. I play mostly cEDH, and can say this deck is really scary. Against the current field I'd estimate a near 40% winrate, up from 25% for an average 4 player game.

That is my fear. Can you at least say ban Tezzeret or just not get mhim to be a commander if we make this change?

BTW Ugin sounds sweet as a commander.

April 18, 2019 9:15 a.m.

iAzire says... #24

I think its largely irrelevant to keep arguing. I think anyone that thinks they would be OP should just build a deck and playtest it in their group.

If you want to argue OP Planeswalkers, you should probably argue for something that isn't Elspeth, Sun's Champion which would be really bad no matter how you spin it. She makes a couple tokens, or board wipes, for a ridiculous amount of mana. She doesn't have any innate combo potential with The Chain Veil , she can't run Doubling Season or Deepglow Skate . Some Planeswalkers would be powerful, Elspeth would be pretty damn Casual. Let's not even get into the fact, Mono-White...

You need abilities that impact the game in a significant way. Teferi, Temporal Archmage is good because he has abilities that can win the game, and he can run Stax effects without hurting himself much. Any deck worth it's weight can give Teferi a run for his money though. He shouldn't be banned, because he isn't that oppressive. He wins games, sometimes, and there are plenty of decks that can beat him.

Think about how many Planeswalkers are actually worth running, then figure out which of those would be good in the Command Zone. Are those you have left over ban worthy? I don't think so.

I play cEDH and I have Atraxa Superfriends to play as my pimp/Casual deck. Planeswalkers are cool, they are fun, and I love them, but Planeswalkers =/= Competitive. 95% of them would be perfectly find in the Command Zone, and a few would build really good decks, but I don't see any as oppressive as Leovold, Emissary of Trest for example.

April 18, 2019 9:26 a.m.

SynergyBuild says... #25


Teferi, Temporal Archmage isn't even that good in comparison to Tezzeret the Seeker , Elspeth was only argued because of how easy it would be in casual circles.

April 18, 2019 9:38 a.m. Edited.

PlatinumOne says... #26

PhotogenicParasympathetic: my argument is correctly, and i've already proven so. to say that planeswalkers are powerful because of their typing is blatantly false. tibalt anyone? is tibalt tearing up modern? no? but hes a planeswalker right? and planeswalkers are powerful? so then tibalt must be powerful right? hmm but hes not. gee. my point proven. also i never said "combos are irrelevant". im saying that any interaction you can think of with a planeswalker commander is A) already in existence, and B) not any more significantly powerful than other pre-existing combos. you cannot compare standard to commander. you just can't. do you also compare standard to vintage? no? gee maybe its because they're different formats. yet both vintage and commander allow cards from all the same sets. so you can't say "oh it was good in standard therefore its also good in commander" if you wouldn't also try to say "oh it was good in standard, therefore its good in vintage". both statements are equally silly.

April 19, 2019 12:34 a.m.

mfogle says... #27

Synergybuild, thank you so much for pointing out specific examples. Most of those never occured to me. Ultimately, I do agree that wizards specifically making that blanket statement would be a bad move. But I do encourage people to test this idea out among their playgroups. It could really spice up gameplay and could help settle peoples opinions on the matter.

May 5, 2019 12:39 p.m.

Sparko says... #28

Well, the Oathbreaker format fills this gap, and has been gaining traction. If Wizards decides to make it an official format like they did for Commander, then there won't be anything to worry about for balancing in Commander. It's even already a listed format here on Tappedout.

May 22, 2019 5:16 p.m.

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