[edit] Overview

Planeswalker cards are a new Card Type first seen in the Lorwyn Set, but alluded to in Future Sight (see Tarmogoyf). They have the type line Planeswalker - (Planeswalker Type).

Planeswalkers are Permanents and come into play with a number of Loyalty counters indicated by the number in the bottom right hand corner where a Creature's Power & Toughness would be. If a Planeswalker has zero loyalty counters on it, it is sent to the Graveyard as a state-based effect.

Planeswalkers are NOT creatures, meaning they are not effected by anything that effects solely creatures, such as Wrath of God. They may also NOT be targeted by spells only able to target Creatures.

[edit] Abilities

Most Planeswalkers have 3 abilities, usually with one Add Loyalty Counters effect, one Minus Loyalty Counters effect and one big Ultimate. Exceptions to this include Jace, the Mind Sculptor (4 abilities), Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Nissa Revane (2 Add LC abilities). In order to use a Planeswalker's ability, that many Counters must be added or removed from it. All of their abilities are Activated Abilities. If a Planeswalker does not have enough counters to use a Minus Loyalty Counter effect, then that effect can not be used until sufficient Loyalty Counters can be removed. It is possible to remove all the Loyalty Counters when using an ability, sending the Planeswalker directly to the Graveyard. Planeswalker's abilities can only be played once during your own turn at Sorcery speed (when nothing is on the Stack) and can be used the turn the Planeswalker comes in.

[edit] Dealing with Planeswalkers

As previously mentioned, Planeswalker are sent to the Graveyard when they have no Loyalty Counters on them. There are several methods of killing a Planeswalker.

  • Firstly, damage dealt to a Planeswalker causes that many Loyalty Counters to be removed from it. There are 2 methods of dealing damage to a Planeswalker.
  1. They can be attacked with creatures; when declaring attackers you declare whether each creature you are attacking with is attacking the Defending Player or a Planeswalker they control. Not all creatures you are attacking with have to attack one or the other, for instance if you have two attacking creatures one can attack your opponent and one can attack one of their Planeswalkers. The defending player can block as normal for a Planeswalker they control.
  2. The second method of dealing damage to a Planeswalker is a little different. If a Spell or Ability you control would deal damage to a Player, you may choose to redirect that damage to a Planeswalker they control. You must direct all of the damage at the Planeswalker, you are not able to divide damage between Player and Planeswalker. For instance, I target my opponent with Lightning Bolt, and as it resolves I choose to redirect damage to their Planeswalker.
  • Planeswalkers also have special rulings similar to Legendary Permanents. If two Planeswalkers are in play that share a Planeswalker type, they are sent to the graveyard as a state-based effect. This is called the Planeswalker Rule.
  • As a Non-Land Permanent, all Planeswalkers are susceptible to cards that can effect these. For example, Into the Roil can return a Planeswalker to its owner's hand, Oblivion Ring can Exile a Planeswalker (at least temporarily) and Rootgrapple can destroy a Planeswalker straight off.
  • Cards capable of removing counters from Permanents are also efficient ways of dealing with Planeswalkers, these cards including Aether Snap and Vampire Hexmage.
  • Also, because all of the Planeswalker's abilities are Activated Abilities, Pithing Needle naming a Planeswalker is an effective way of nullifying a Planeswalker.

[edit] History

Planeswalkers were first alluded to on a Future Sight rare called Tarmogoyf. Because one of the types on Tarmogoyf hadn't appeared before, but appeared in Future Sight (Bound in Silence, a Tribal card), it was assumed that Planeswalkers (not present in Future Sight) would be printed in the near-future.

No-one knew quite how soon, as both Tribal and a cycle of Planeswalker cards appeared in the first set of the following block, Lorwyn. There was a Planeswalker printed for each colour, with only the white Planeswalker being non-human (Ajani Goldmane is a Leonin). Because Lorwyn was a heavily Tribal-themed block, it was evident that none of the Planeswalkers were denizens of the Lorywn plane, merely showcasing that Planeswalkers could appear on any Plane. The cards printed were all Rare:

New Planeswalkers weren't seen until Shards of Alara, where we saw both Multi-coloured Planeswalkers (Sarkhan Vol) and the re-visiting of an already seen Planeswalker, Ajani Vengeant. Ajani Vengeant is a past form of the already seen Ajani Goldmane, showing Ajani after he has awoken his Planeswalker spark fuelled by the murder of his brother. This cycle of Planeswalkers was the first to include Wizards' new Mythic Rare rarity, and all Planeswalkers since have been Mythic Rare as well. It is also noted that each of the 4 Planeswalkers fell into one of 5 Shards:

This however, left Grixis unaccounted for. The cycle was completed in Conflux, with the appearence of Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker the first tri-coloured Planeswalker. He is the main driving force of the Shards of Alara story, forcing the reforming of Alara.

After the Shards of Alara block came Magic 2010, containing reprints of the original 5 Planeswalkers at Mythic Rare.

Zendikar was the next block to feature Planeswalkers, containing 2 completely new Planeswalkers and the revisiting of Chandra Nalaar.

Worldwake added one heck of a powerful Planeswalker and it's also a revisit from the past. Jace Beleren returns, ready for a fight.

Rise the Eldrazi introduced the last planeswalker from this block. Like in Worldwake, it's a revisit, but not a friendly revisit. Sarkhan Vol is angry and meaner than ever!

Scars of Mirrodin added three planeswalkers to the list. One of which is a revisit from the past, one a remake of an old card featured in Future Sight and a completely new planeswalker all together!

In the Magic: 2012 core set we got three new planeswalkers, or rather revamps of past ones.

[edit] Planeswalkers in Media