A little delayed but never mind… On to the Top 10!
10. Sarkhan the Mad
You wouldn’t like him when he’s mad. Well, you would, maybe not quite as much as when he’s just going under his boring regular name, but you’d still like him. In the context of Rise especially, you’d love him. In a format full of o/1 tokens sat around often not doing much, I know let’s make them into dragons. Yes please. Best experience playing with the crazy s.o.b. was on MTGO, getting my face kicked in by Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief only to turn her into a dragon. Seems odd, but worked out pretty well as I then made two of my own and killed Sarkhan off finding my bounce spell. Dark Confidant without the life loss or creature vulnerability + a steady supply of dragons is pretty powerful. Good times.
9. Gideon Jura
He doesn’t have a sweet ultimate? Burn. He has 3 abilities you can play straight away and which all go together really nicely? Sweet. Big Gids is really good because he’s a combat damage and burn-resistant 6/6 for 5 mana that also Assassinates guys and forces your opponents into terrible attacks. Big Gids is also cool in that he can both clear a path to victory and then be the win con himself. A starting loyalty of six also means that he doesn’t take too much protecting – especially given that he protects himself. Gideon really needs some good support cards to be busted, but you never want to be facing one of them down.
8. Sarkhan Vol
This card picture has been cut and pasted way too many times in this article. Just where does Vol sit on the scale? At first I had him really far up, then I realised that his ultimate wasn’t -5 as I had foolishly misremembered. If it had been, well… As it is, Vol’s never really seen much constructed play but we’re not concerned with that. I do correctly remember losing to this guy in draft many times – as long as they have any sort of protection for him, then you’re on a virtual 4-turn clock when they play him. His ultimate requires a wrath/evacuation effect to get around, and in draft they’re nearly as high-priority as planeswalkers. He can also nick your best thing to smash you with, which is a pain. What he doesn’t do very effectively is survive when you have no guys. I wish I had a better idea whether this is the right slot for him or not.
7. Venser, the Sojourner
In my first ever SOM draft in-store at Inner Sanctum Collectibles, myself and store owner Graham were fighting over red and white, until P2P1 where he opened a Koth and I opened a Venser. We ended up playing against each other in the second round, and he didn’t draw his planeswalker once, whilst I managed to get
David Tenant’s Venser’s ultimate off via the blinking of a Lumengrid Drake (whilst I had metalcraft obviously). I’m a massive sucker for blink effects, and this is why Venser, though very powerful, could not possibly be in the top five. Without a decent number of 187 abilities and other synergy in your draft deck, he doesn’t actually do very much. Blinking one of your attackers to block with doesn’t really count as protecting himself efficiently either. That said, exiling stuff for free is broken and amazing fun!
6. Sorin Markov
There’s a reason that Sorin ended up on the house banned list for Elder Dragon Highlander at ISC, and it is because he is good. Very good. And in triple-Zendikar draft, the colour that you ideally wanted to be in as well (there’s some nuts statistic knocking about on the internet of how many times Vampire Nighthawk got picked 1st and how many winning draft decks it was a part of). He has three very powerful abilities, as Magister Sphinx and Mindlsaver at will are pretty powerful, so I hear. The best one by far though is his +2. A ramping ability that allows a planeswalker to protect himself is the sign of a great one – the only reason he isn’t higher up the list is because triple black is asking a fair bit.
5. Ajani Vengeant
Is Ajani V really better than all the planeswalkers already mentioned? Maybe not, but I have a severe sweet spot for this little guy as he has been a part of many of my favourite decks, including the first few times I managed to Top 8 an event. However, he does protect himself in two different ways, disrupt your opponent, act as removal, as burn and lifegain and can Armageddon your opponent. That’s a pretty nifty selection of abilities, making angry Ajani an excellent top deck in almost any conceivable game state. That’s why he’s so high on my list really – versatility.
4. Elspeth, Knight-Errant
I’ve seen people lose to Elspeth in the most depressing of manners. Wall up, lay an Elspeth, make a lot of blockers, pop her ultimate, play more walls, wait. And wait. And wait. Eventually your opponent realises that they will die to the fact that you have 41 cards in your decks and they don’t (or whatever). It’s not a good way to go out. Of course most people just take the angelic blessing every turn to kill you super quick option. As I alluded to, her ultimate is not so much about winning the game as making sure that your opponent can’t. That can be just as crushing, and Elspeth has all the tools to protect herself and put your opponent’s on the back foot – and thus much less likely to attack into her.
3. Jace, the Mind Sculptor
If it’s good enough to play in Vintage, it must be good enough to play in Limited, right? Jace 2.0 is an incredibly powerful card, and almost certainly the one current planeswalker with the most far-reaching and permanent applications in constructed Magic, grabbing himself a hefty price tag to boot. As a result, I own zero Mind Sculptors. Seriously though, brainstorming for free every turn in limited is absolutely ridiculous. The fact that when you’re ahead you can stay ahead is nice, and he has a degree of self-protection with his -1 ability. There are very times when you wouldn’t want a Jace on your side of the board, and if I was to see him in Cube for example I’d pick him over the next two walkers in the same pack (busted pack, much?).
2. Garruk Wildspeaker
There’s a very strong argument that would suggest that I got this totally wrong; that Garruk should be the fairly undisputed #1. The man in green does everything – he furthers your mana, he creates guys for your board and he provides a win condition. He’s also at the four, or ‘playable’ as I like to refer to it, mana cost. Don’t get me wrong, that mainly only applies to constructed and limited is much more forgiving when it comes to solid gold bombs like the G-man. I can’t actually specify any real reason why this guy isn’t at the number one spot, so much as I will try to explain why Koth deserves to be there more.
1. Koth of the Hammer
Power creep! It’s power creep I tells ya! Actually, it’s not. But Koth does top my list… just. The reason is this: without anything other than four basic mountains you can still destroy your opponent. He doesn’t need X creatures to be beneficial, he doesn’t want combo pieces, he doesn’t care about walling up. He can make you an enormous amount of mana, he already makes 4/4s every turn (that you can leave untapped for whatever bolt/shock variant is in limited at the time in order to protect him), he only takes three turns to murderate your opponent – seriously, got Ravages of War? No? Then just lose. If you get an emblem from Koth for Christmas, then you sir, have already won. You’re a winner!