MTG’s De-Sparked Planeswalker Legendary Creatures Are Mostly Underwhelming

MTG Karn official artwork and Karn, Legacy Reforged card

Magic: The Gathering is exploring a bold new era with Wizards of the Coast shaking up the rules that underpin the entire multiverse. MTG‘s planes are now interconnected via the omenpaths, creating a more cohesive multiverse, while many of MTG‘s iconic Planeswalkers have been “demoted” to creatures, taking the lore in a bold new direction and opening up countless new gameplay options.

However, with March of the Machine: The Aftermath on the horizon and all the cards revealed, it looks like the upcoming de-sparked Planeswalker creature cards are mostly lackluster and underwhelming in their design. Fans on reddit noticed that for the most part, the upcoming Planeswalker creatures are just run-of-the-mill, on-color legendary creatures with boring abilities. At this point, MTG is packed with generic legendary creatures that don’t really feel iconic or exciting, and it’s time for Wizards of the Coast to step things up with more interesting card design.


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MTG’s Planeswalker Creatures Needed to Be More Impactful

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With the exception of Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin, which enables an infinite combo with All Will Be One, MTG‘s de-sparked Planeswalker creatures in March of the Machine: The Aftermath feel underwhelming. These creatures are only adequately powerful in gameplay terms, and they only loosely feel like the Planeswalker characters MTG fans know and love.

Sarkhan, Soul Aflame can imitate Dragon creatures, and Kiora, Sovereign of the Deep cares about big sea creatures like Krakens, but fans are mostly disappointed by the upcoming cards. Lore-wise, it’s an interesting idea to weaken these characters’ plot armor by demoting them to creatures, but their design and abilities feel too far removed from the original Planeswalkers.

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Fans are discussing a variety of possible fixes, many of which could lead to exciting new gameplay styles. One solution suggests Planeswalker creatures should have more activated and triggered abilities that mimic what their Planeswalker abilities once did, which would give them a lot more utility and flavor. Creatures like Deathrite Shaman already feel like Planeswalkers without loyalty counters, so future versions of MTG‘s de-sparked Planeswalkers could follow a similar course.

Wizards of the Coast could also do the inverse of what Magic Origins did, and make Planeswalker cards that transform into creatures. Fans suggest these Planeswalkers would have low starting loyalty and only +0 or -X abilities, so they will inevitably transform into a creature and resume the fight as a non-Planeswalker. By now, transforming and double-faced cards are beloved by fans and a staple part of the game, as the Magic Origins Planeswalkers showed, so the reverse is surely possible too. This would open up new design space for Planeswalkers while also making Jace, Nissa, Sarkhan, Nahiri and Karn feel more connected to their old selves.

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Magic: The Gathering Needs More Experimentation

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>MTG Planeswalker Creatures Narset and Karn

It makes sense that Wizards of the Coast prefers to stick to its strengths by emphasizing its best features and most successful ideas. This gives the game more cohesion and keeps the fans happy, especially with regularly returning tried-and-true mechanics like cycling and kicker. However, MTG is openly designed to be many games in one, and this calls for significant diversity and creativity in card design, as well as bold experimentation.

MTG‘s most niche or unusual effects always find a home somewhere, even if only a handful of players use the cards. However, MTG‘s new Planeswalker creature cards feel too timid, being generic legendary creatures with on-color abilities that don’t push any boundaries. Their tepid design goes against Planeswalkers’ themes of being iconic and distinctive characters with impactful abilities.

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Wizards of the Coast needs to put the “legend” back in legendary creatures and make them totally novel. Nowadays, too many legendary creatures are designed just so players have more strategic options for their Commander decks, but that’s a waste of potential for these de-sparked Planeswalker creatures.

For the sake of strong lore and memorable card design, characters like Narset, Sarkhan, Karn and Nahiri are the best candidates to breathe new life into the concept of legendary creatures and show players what these humbled Planeswalkers can really do. A few design flops now and then should be a fair price to pay to keep legendary creatures exciting and memorable, rather than just Commander fodder.


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