Phyrexia: All Will Be One Planeswalkers - Worth Playing? Or Not?

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ChrisCee · January 19, 2023 · 9 min
Phyrexia: All Will Be One Planeswalkers - Worth Playing? Or Not?

 

via Reddit

So… our “shock value” guesses were quite off track.

We predicted during the first preview of Phyrexia: All Will Be One last December that Jace, Kaya, Nahiri, Lukka, and the Wandering Emperor would be the next corruption targets. We only got three out of five. The actual compleated planeswalkers, based on the latest somewhat-still-recent leaks are:

As for the rest of the other “safe” planeswalkers newly revealed we also got the final tally in Kaya, Intangible Slayerimage, Tyvar, Jubilant Brawlerimage, and The Eternal Wandererimage. This article will provide a short rundown of each of their card effects, to see which of them got a potential shift the meta when Phyrexia: All Will be One finally drops next month.

Jace, the Perfected Mind


Jace starts with a very balanced cost for a planeswalker, with the expected 5 loyalty counters for a full casted version. His +1 is very simple, just your average blue-themed sorcery-speed combat trick, with the effect lasting at least one entire turn rotation. Not really the first thing that comes to mind after spending four mana. But in other setups, it can probably be viable.

The more likely effect to use as he drops down is his -2 (and his -X). Though, because his second ability requires a bit of setup to gain the best effect. Sure, well-focused mill decks can probably hit the triple-draw threshold on turn four. If you can't, you'd be hesitant to just draw one card afterward if the deck doesn't have any immediate gains from the triple mill.

His ultimate is immediately accessible, though of course its potency changes per selected casting cost. At its best, it's an instant 15-card mill, better than Jace Belerenimage, worse than Jace, Memory Adeptimage. Given a new alternative card of such mill efficiency, it becomes quite tempting to simply conclude that you'll always want to set off your first Jace, the Perfected Mindimage. Though, you'd most likely be better off to just set up other blue (or mill) cards equal in casting curve.

By design, compleated Jace really does seem like a decently efficient mill card. Pay four to mill 15 isn't something that you can immediately dismiss, or even mill 3 draw 3. But you're definitely not doing it in Standard, and certainly not just on any simple blue-splashed deck. Ah well, maybe Phyrexia: All Will be One will have an entire suite of dedicated mill toys to surround himself with.

 

Nissa, Ascended Animist


A cost of seven total mana is really starting to get tight for planeswalkers, though this is hardly the first time we ever saw one. Thankfully, with compleation, you have three modes for casting her, depending on which ability you would like to immediately access.

For her +1, paying 4 life still seems decent, as you get a 4/4 Phyrexian Horror token by default with a plus loyalty effect. That alone is already worth her effective casting cost. If you have a bit more mana to spare, you can just pay 2 life, and instead, get a 6/6 bruiser. The X value checks as the ability is activated, so we don't have to worry about Nissa's loyalty counters suddenly changing as her plus ability resolves, or if it changes later.

Paying her full mana cost grants you immediate access to her ultimate, which is basically just a game finisher if your opponent doesn’t interact with it. Though, you still gain yet another option to summon an even bigger 8/8 token, if that is somehow more viable.

Her -1 is the typical Disenchantimage ability. Pretty convenient and versatile, though nothing much to write home about.

As games in MTG tend to value modal flexibility a lot, it is easy to see how Nissa, Ascended Animistimage can be highly playable, even if we disregard easy access to ramp abilities. No crazy combos or exciting effects, though. She’s pretty straightforward as far as her main applications are concerned.

She also looks horrible by the way, in like, the best Phyrexian way possible.

Vraska, Betrayal’s Sting


Vraska opens with a mana cost at the typical upper end of the playability spectrum. Which we guess warrants sliding back to one spendable Phyrexian mana. But the reduction feels a quite less impactful. While she cannot directly gain loyalty counters, her +0 essentially functions for that purpose with Proliferate, with the added benefit of passing over the ability to any other target that tactically needs it.

The best part is perhaps her -2 ability. Not only is it potentially useful for protection and alternative removal that doesn’t trigger lingering effects. But it is also very flavorful for her character. You do have to wonder though; is it still petrification? Or a literal Aurificationimage?

Her ultimate basically cuts down the opponent down to 1 no matter what state they are currently in. Just proliferate the next turn, and you win. Not as universally usable, but will probably do weird wonders with cards like Vorinclex, Monstrous Raiderimage. Either double her ultimate’s poison counters, or double her loyalty counters for an instant ultimate (and instant victory).

All in all, compleated Vraska’s abilities aren’t bad with the casting cost, with no significant downsides even if you pay the Phyrexian mana to essentially become Ob Nixilis, Reignited. It is possible to build a deck around her without feeling like she's just an obligatory piece.

That being said, she probably works best as a support for a superfriends build. The template 5-mana-draw-plus-removal type of planeswalker is always welcome for such decks.

Nahiri, the Unforgiving


10496_nahiri-the-unforgiving.png

Nahiri comes close to the mana cost of the second compleated planeswalker: Ajani, Sleeper Agentimage, instead using her signature Boros colors. Her +1 looks like a generic force combat trick, but it specifically says “a player”. The ability points to an attack target of the affected creature. So more than just a Goad-type removal, she can protect herself by redirecting attacks to her owner.

Her other +1 is your typical reverse looting ability (discard first before draw), not much to discuss here. Could be an option if you missed drawing any of your red looting spells.

She doesn’t have any minus loyalty counter ability. In fact, she doesn’t really have what can be considered an "ultimate". Her +0 ultimate instead unearths any creature or equipment card in the graveyard in the form of a copied token with equal or less mana value than her loyalty counters.

Pretty interesting ability, because as we all know, such effects are always an open gateway to replaying ETB effects, or supplying cost fodders to other things. Might get funny if you can somehow create a copy of Danitha, Benalia's Hopeimage with her “ultimate”. You effectively get both types of cards by just activating it once (albeit the equipment is attached to Danitha).

Compleated Nahiri is a very nice card that reintroduces the flavor of her kor legacy pretty nicely with a potentially exciting “reanimation” effect, even at the expense of being considerably less aggro than expected. Will be looking forward to whatever viable combos would pop up for her as the set official becomes available.

Lukka, Bound to Ruin


On point to his now Gruul identity, compleated Lukka enters the battlefield basically as a 2-mana/3-mana permanent at turn four or five. With the condition of course that you already have something in mind for his +1 creature ramp ability. Not exactly exciting, but at least it doesn’t demand a built board state like Xenagos, the Revelerimage.

Being able to put a 3/3 Phyrexian Beast with Toxic 1 in play at just -1 looks somewhat good as a board investment. Since, at his minimum casting cost, you can potentially create three of them. But the chances of his +1 having the higher priority most of the time are quite high. Thus, it would most likely end up being used only once before Lukka gets sucker punched.

Having access to his -4 ultimate when cast for five mana is theoretically nice. But we’ve seen more impressive variable damage abilities from other permanents that rely on creatures, even if a bit of setup is required. The part where it only checks as the ability is activated is nice, at least, as no removal can ever instantly get you at a -2 disadvantage.

Well... corrupted Lukka may not be that useless in the end. But at the moment, it doesn’t seem like he can do anything that other Gruul cards of similar design can’t do better or more efficiently.

Kaya, Intangible Slayer


That 7-mana casting cost is already an immediate eyesore to her otherwise very impressive ability set. First, as a planeswalker with Hexproof, there’s basically no cheap way of eliminating her without access to her color identity. Second, drain for 3 at +2 loyalty is really effective, as it allows sudden swings of the game in her controller’s favor, plus bulking up her defense to do it again later.

Her +0 is the typical card advantage trick. Usable, but most certainly not your first priority just right after spending seven mana to cast her.

Not sure about the -3. Exiling the biggest threat and then copying it to your side as a 1/1 flyer to block a second threat is nice, plus you get additional goodies in case it was something like Sheoldred, the Apocalypseimage or Titan of Industryimage. But the investment still seems a bit too heavy. You are most likely winning at this stage anyway, or probably about to lose regardless even if you go for a last-stand move.

Overall, Kaya is a theoretical good late-game bomb for a grindy game. Something that you could probably drop to immediately end a current stalemate. Without sacrifice effects or board wipes, your opponent will not be able to eliminate her quickly enough, while she attempts to press for cumulative/exponential advantage no matter which ability she uses.

A specific reanimation build-around for her is, of course, another option.

The Eternal Wanderer


First off, six mana. Not good, not bad. It all depends on her value as a pay-off, which by default, is in form of a nigh-complete protective barrier against combat damage. Good luck punching her to zero with weenies, or even attempting to whittle down her loyalty through some other manual workaround. Even worse, her +1 effectively pushes away one more target already on the field, making it even harder to touch her without access to removal.

Of course, offensive applications for this ability also work very well. First, all of the traditional and obligatory blink-for-advantage shenanigans. Second, your opponent loses access to their (key) creature for two entire turns. You can then decide to choose the same target again to keep it in limbo practically forever.

Her original Samurai token generation ability returns here, this time as a +0. Vigilance is replaced by double strike, which fits her skill set quite better.

Finally, her -4 is an easy sacrifice board wipe. Pretty straightforward, immediately usable, and very much exploitable within her color identity. Plus, her mana value is just about right for any sorcery-speed mass removal (should you choose to use this immediately), especially since it can still blow up indestructible creatures.

To conclude, The Eternal Wandererimage is essentially Elspeth, Sun's Championimage, with its token generation value and immediate access to a board wipe ability. Even better, this version 2.0 has double-layer protection in the form of her passive and +1 ability. Quite excited to see her perform in a variety of formats.

Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler


Ah yes, the Tenacious Underdogimage, both in effect and flavor (at least art-wise), though he Blitzes 2-mana value creatures instead of himself. Synergistic 3-mana planeswalkers are always a treat for the current meta, and Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler has the potential to be a Golgari staple with an almost perfectly aligned skill set.

His passive ability is already good enough on its own, especially for his color identity (and in-lore creature type). Combined with his +1, he can effectively speed up or multiply a lot of small, additive effects. Just like, oh you know, some green tribal deck that likes to ramp while drawing their whole deck along the way.

A good chunk of his speed combos will also come from his -2. For example, playing a Bloodtithe Harvesterimage for turn two, then saccing it to be revived by Tyvar next turn. Keep in mind that you’re not restricted to the milled cards when reviving.

Uhh, nothing really much else to say, actually. Probably not the most anticipated in terms of flavor or potentially broken gameplay. But Tyvar will very likely see play in a lot of formats just like The Eternal Wandererimage.

About ChrisCee:

A witness since the time the benevolent silver planeswalker first left Dominaria, ChrisCee has since went back and forth on a number of plane-shattering incidents to oversee the current state of the Multiverse.

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