Can Planeswalkers Attack

Bob Roberts
• Wednesday, 11 November, 2020
• 12 min read

In the storyline of Magic: The Gathering, planes walkers are among the most powerful beings in the multiverse. Within the game, they represent the thematic identities of the players.

(Source: www.forbes.com)


Planes walker is also a card type within the game. Within the game, each player is supposed to be a planes walker, which is a point emphasized in the current marketing strategy (for example the intro packs description refers to your opponents as such).

Planes walkers borrowed their attack me to lower my loyalty” mechanic from something called structures that Richard Garfield made for Danica: City of Guilds, but had never been used. An earlier design for planes walkers, meant to be introduced in Future Sight would later inspire the design of Sagas.

Planes walkers enter the battlefield with a set number of loyalty counters, printed in the lower right of the card. A planes walker can be attacked, like a player, or be dealt damage by an opponent's spell or ability.

Damage dealt to a planes walker removes that many loyalty counters and a planes walker with no loyalty counters is put into the graveyard, unless they become a Creature by a spell or ability. In that case, they are put into the graveyard also for the reasons a creature is sent there, such as taking lethal damage or reducing the toughness below 1.

Planes walkers usually have three abilities: one ability that adds loyalty counters as a cost for a small benefit, one that removes a small amount of counters as a cost for a larger effect, and one that removes many loyalty counters for a big effect. The last effect is commonly referred to as the planes walker's ultimate ability and usually leaves the opponent in a devastated state.

spacewalker ii untitled airliners aviation
(Source: www.airliners.net)

The starting loyalty of a planes walker is commonly significantly lower than the cost of its ultimate and a player has to build up the loyalty to access it. Until War of the Spark, all planes walkers had been printed with the mythic rare rarity, except for Again Goldman, Race Relearn, Liliana Less, Chandra NASCAR, and Garry Wild speaker, which debuted in the Loren block when the mythic rare rarity did not yet exist.

War of the Spark featured rare and even uncommon planes walkers. All planes walkers in the set have a static or triggered ability.

In addition, the uncommon planes walkers have only a minus loyalty ability (no plus abilities), the rare planes walkers have a plus and a minus loyalty ability, and the mythic rare plane walkers have the usual three loyalty abilities. It is, for example, used to planes walk in the Plane chase format, as part of the Masters 25 expansion symbol, and hidden in car dart (e.g., Barren Glory and Omniscience).

It seems to refer to the different paths or planes that a planes walker can choose to walk. Specifically: five choices, as in the five colors of Magic.

On the other hand, Mark Rosewater has said that it also has a “five becoming one” aspect, to match Magic's ethos of the colors working together. The latter could also mean there is a connection to the Loren Five or the Gate watch.

magic gathering enchantments oath chandra card
(Source: hobbylark.com)

There used to be a symbol designed for planes walkers in Future Sight, but it was not used when the introduction of planes walkers was moved to Loren. A player who has priority may cast a planes walker card from their hand during a main phase of their turn when the stack is empty.

See rule 205.3j for the complete list of planes walker types. This rule has been removed and planes walker cards printed before this change have received errata in the Oracle card reference to have the legendary super type.

306.5a The loyalty of a planes walker card not on the battlefield is equal to the number printed in its lower right corner. 306.5b A planes walker has the intrinsic ability “This permanent enters the battlefield with a number of loyalty counters on it equal to its printed loyalty number.” This ability creates a replacement effect (see rule 614.1c).

Loyalty abilities follow special rules: A player may activate a loyalty ability of a permanent they control any time they have priority and the stack is empty during a main phase of their turn, but only if none of that permanent’s loyalty abilities have been activated that turn. Previously, planes walkers were subject to a redirection effect that allowed a player to have noncombat damage that would be dealt to an opponent be dealt to a planes walker under that opponent’s control instead.

This rule has been removed and certain cards have received errata in the Oracle card reference to deal damage directly to planes walkers. Damage dealt to a planes walker results in that many loyalty counters being removed from it.

titans mtg fall spark war mortality bonds gatewatch magic gathering oath planeswalkers draft limited chandra arena nissa guide gideon hug
(Source: dotesports.com)

If a planes walker’s loyalty is 0, it’s put into its owner’s graveyard. Planes walker Symbol The Planes walker symbol {PW} appears on the planar die in the Plane chase casual variant.

Planes walker cards used to have a similar rule to the legend rule “: If a player controls two or more planes walkers that share a planes walker type, that player chooses one of them, and the rest are put into their owners’ graveyards. This was called the “planes walker uniqueness rule”.

Starting with Italian, this rule was abandoned. All planes walkers past, present, and future gained the super type legendary and became subject to the “legend rule”.

This has also enabled planes walkers without types to be printed, such as The Wanderer. There are no current plans to create nonlegendary planes walkers.

Up until Rivals of Italian the following rule was in place: If noncombat damage would be dealt to a player by a source controlled by an opponent, that opponent may have that source deal that damage to a planes walker the former player controls instead. Starting with Dominatrix this “planes walker redirection rule” was removed.

prophet mad arena planeswalkers clarifications rulings
(Source: www.heroscapers.com)

Older cards received errata to have “player” changed to “player or planes walker”, and similarly for “target opponent”. Most others that could previously target a “creature or player” would now refer to simply “any target”, defined to include creatures, players, and planes walkers.

When your planes walker spell resolves, it enters the battlefield under your control. All planes walkers have super type legendary and are subject to the “legend rule”.

Planes walkers with the same subtypes can exist under your control as long as they are not of the same name. You can activate a loyalty ability of a planes walker you control only at the time you could cast a sorcery and only if you haven't activated one of that planes walker's loyalty abilities yet that turn.

The cost to activate a planes walker's loyalty ability is represented by a box with a number inside. Boxes with a point facing up contain positive numbers, such as “+1”; this means “put one loyalty counter on this planes walker”.

Boxes with a point facing down contain negative numbers, such as “-7”; this means “remove seven loyalty counters from this planes walker”. Damage dealt to a planes walker causes that many loyalty counters to be removed from it, unless they are also creatures (in that case, creature rulings apply).

planeswalkers duels magic
(Source: www.gamespot.com)

R&D have decided that they don't want to have to rein in other card types because they might impact planes walkers in a dangerous way. They decided not to add these other types when they chose to not make Earn an artifact Planes walker.

5 of these were printed in Commander 2014, their subtypes being Dart, Realism, Nair, Nihilism, and Refer. Two additional planes walkers with such ability were added in Battle bond, which they can partner with each other that making both become commanders at the same time, their subtypes are Will and Rowan.

Commander 2018 has four additional planes walkers that can serve as commanders, with subtypes being Sahel, Wind grace, Amino, and Est rid. Black is the primary color that can destroy planes walkers, its cards often using the text “destroy target creature or planes walker”.

Green doesn't call out the planes walker type by name (Nissan's Defeat being an exception), but can destroy non-creature permanents. Red is not listed here because it uses damage to deal with planes walkers rather than destroy them outright unless used along with black.

There is one planes walker card (The Royal Scions) that has two subtypes, as it depicts two different planes walker characters (the twins Will and Rowan Kennith). There have been at least five printed planes walker cards for each of the two colored pairs.

standard planeswalker right mtg manaleak davis thomas magic
(Source: www.manaleak.com)

Seven planes walkers have been printed with a color identity of three colors: Nicole Bolas, Tami yo, Markham, Wind grace, Market, Amino, and Est rid. In addition, Again, Gamut, Hustle, and Nissan have been associated with three colors, but not all at the same time, and Markham has an association with four colors across all his cards.

Additionally, Ursa's silver-bordered card has all five colors. Gideon, Race, Liliana, Chandra, Nissan, and Nicole Bolas have all been printed as double-faced cards that are legendary creatures on one side and planes walkers on the other, depicting them in the moments when their sparks first ignited.

Jay Ballard, Earn, Market, Nicole Bolas, Ob Nihilism, Gamut, Refer, Ursa, Denser, Jersey and Menages have all been printed as both planes walker cards and legendary creature cards, either because their creature cards were printed before the planes walker card type was introduced (Jay, Earn, Bolas, Refer, Denser, and Ursa's first creature card), or because their creature cards depicted them at a time when their spark wasn't currently active (Market, Ob Nihilism, Gamut, Menages, Jersey and Ursa's second creature card). However, it should be noted that Ursa's planes walker card was silver-bordered and is not a canonical representation.

Razor, Dalton Black blade, Ravi, and Slob ad are all planes walkers who've been printed as legendary creature cards, but not as planes walker cards. Except Razor, their cards were all printed before the planes walker card type was introduced, while Razor was printed as a legendary creature because his card depicted him after losing his spark.

Some characters are favored more than others, usually resulting in a higher amount of unique cards representing them. The largest number of abilities a planes walker card has had so far is four.

mtg planeswalkers
(Source: www.deviantart.com)

Race, the Mind Sculptor, Garry, Apex Predator, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Nicole Bolas, the Arisen and Nicole Bolas, God-Pharaoh have four loyalty abilities. Nicole Bolas, Dragon-God, Liliana, Dread horde General, Tizzard, Master of the Bridge Chandra, Awakened Inferno, Else, Sun's Nemesis, Nike Arms, Ty var Well and Tybalt, Cosmic Impostor have four abilities total, with three loyalty abilities and one static or triggered ability.

Nair, the Lithomancer, Refer, Temporal Arch mage, Ob Nihilism of the Black Oath, Dart, Scrap Savant, Realism, Llano war's Fury, Amino, the Fateshifter, Est rid, the Masked, Sahel, the Gifted, Lord Wind grace, Jersey, Thrice Reborn, and Teeth Seat, Doom of Fools technically have four abilities as well, as they all have a static ability which allows them to be a commander. Similarly, Will Kennith and Rowan Kennith technically have five abilities: they also have a static ability which allows them to be a Commander, in addition to another static ability that Partners them with one another.

Until War of the Spark, all planes walker cards had at least three loyalty abilities. Since then, there have been three mythic rare planes walkers with only two loyalty abilities: Vivien, Monsters' Advocate, Race, Mirror Mage, and Nissan of Shadowed Boughs.

Until War of the Spark, all but three planes walker cards had positive loyalty abilities (i.e. loyalty abilities that gave them more counters). The only exceptions were Markham the Mad, Kaya, Ghost Assassin, and the front side of Garry Relentless, which only had neutral or negative loyalty abilities.

However, Kaya's card had an ability that allowed players to exile it and return it to the battlefield (thus restoring its starting counters), and Garry's card had positive loyalty abilities on the backside, making Markham's card the only planes walker that couldn't gain or restore counters on its own. This changed with War of the Spark, which features 20 uncommon planes walkers who only have negative loyalty abilities.

tamiyo mtg moon researcher field magic gathering planeswalkers sage eldritch japanese bant alternate control forums human ravnica elspeth deck aged
(Source: tappedout.net)

Gin, the Spirit Dragon, Nicole Bolas, God-Pharaoh, and Nicole Bolas, the Arisen have the most loyalty counters (seven) when they enter the battlefield, not counting 'diminishing' planes walkers (those who can 't gain or restore counters) or the event exclusive Garry the Slayer (who was meant to be played by itself, without a deck). This was likely done to highlight the fact that Gin and Nicole Bolas are exceptionally powerful, even by planes walker standards.

Markham the Mad, Arline, Voice of the Pack, Kiowa, Behemoth Beckoned, Kaya, Bane of the Dead, and Hustle, the Sun's Heart also start with seven loyalty, but they have no way to regain loyalty counters. All of these have different design impetuses for the high loyalty: Markham is primarily a draw engine, with situational negative activated abilities.

In a low-curved deck, the 7 loyalty allows for more probable activations. Kaya has the most powerful activated ability with the worst passive, so to balance proliferate in the format it requires two proliferates for another activation.

Kiowa and Hustle are designed in reverse, with draft-around passives, so their high loyalty is to give them longevity, with activated abilities as minor upsides. Arline sits in the middle, with the activated ability, passive ability, and high converted MANA cost going towards a strong uncommon proliferate payoff, balanced by the fact that she requires three turns to maximize loyalty value, with the first activation giving an under-curve creature.

Nissan Re vane, Tybalt, the Fiend-Blooded, Kiowa, the Crashing Wave, and Mu Yanking, Sky Dancer have the fewest loyalty counters (two) when they come onto the battlefield. Thanks to the X in the MANA cost, Nissan, Steward of Elements may enter the battlefield with fewer than two loyalty counters, or with more than seven.

blast magic hero
(Source: magic.wizards.com)

Similarly, Jersey, Thrice Reborn enters with a number of loyalty counters equal to the number of times you've cast your commander from the command zone. Planes walk on the Wild Side, Part I “.

It feels like the sagas are the original planes walker design from future sight. Designing Rivals of Italian Planes walkers “.

Can you talk about what the symbology of the Planes walker symbol is? Having multiple versions of the same planes walker character out seems 'wrong'.

Do you think it's a flavor fail to be able to summon more than one of the same legendary character from the Multiverse? Odds & Ends: Italian, Part 2 “.

How soon will we see the planes walker redirection rule change implemented? Dominatrix Frame, Template and Rules Changes “.

magic weird card gathering latest mtg brutal powerful zendikar blast nerdist gatewatch plane competitive pic2
(Source: archive.nerdist.com)

(Internet Archive snapshot) Erik Later (October 19, 2007). “ The Nineteen Principles for Developing Planes walkers “.

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