Something tells me that Wizards of the Coast is trying to focus on planeswalkers. I don’t know what it could be… ok maybe I do.
We’ve seen cards that interact with planeswalkers before, but in most cases that is an indirect interaction, the proliferate mechanic for example. It adds counters to anything that already has them, whether they are +1/+1 counters or loyalty counters. We’ve even seen direct planeswalker removal before on both Dreadbore and Hero’s Downfall. But we haven’t seen this level of planeswalker interaction in one set before.
In Garruk’s Wake: We’ve certainly seen direct planeswalker removal, but never in a mass removal way that doesn’t also hit every other permanent. Something like Planar Cleansing gets rid of everything but land. Here we can get rid of just creatures and planeswalkers, and it isn’t a complete board wipe. All of the caster’s creatures and planeswalkers are left alone! That said it costs nine mana… you better win pretty soon after In Garruk’s Wake resolves!
Ajani Steadfast: Ajani Steadfast’s -2 ability states “Put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control and a loyalty counter on each other planeswalker you control”! Nothing has directly added loyalty counters to planeswalkers except for Gideon, Champion of Justice, and he only adds counters to himself. Ajani gives a loyalty counter to every planeswalker that you control except for himself. That is probably a good thing, or he would be completely broken.
Garruk, Apex Warrior: Garruk is hunting planeswalkers. It is the storyline for the whole set. It makes sense that he has “Destroy another target planeswalker” as an ability… but to make it a +1 ability! That is pretty insane. And, if there aren’t any other planeswalkers on the battlefield, you can still pump up Garruk’s loyalty by putting a 3/3 beast with deathtouch onto the battlefield!
The Chain Veil: This card actually punishes you if you don’t use your planeswalkers. But, it also lets you activate ALL of your planeswalkers one additional time EVERY TURN!!! Sure, you are spending four mana to do it, but I would pay that to activate Jace the Mind Sculptor twice! The downside to this card is that it relies on planeswalkers. If you don’t have any it actually hurts you. In other words, it is a very conditional card. In limited, since it is mythic and all planeswalkers are mythic, you are unlikely to ever use it, and even if you have The Chain Veil and one planeswalker, there is little reason to include the Veil in the deck. In constructed you can build around the card and maximize it’s potential, so I can’t wait to see some of the standard FNM decks that get made around planeswalkers. Commander is a different story. It falls somewhere between standard and limited in the effective use of The Chain Veil. Obviously, if you have a planeswalker-centric deck, then the Veil will make it in, but what is the magic number of walkers that you need to include it? In my opinion it will be somewhere in the 4-6 range. Any less than that, and the Veil is likely to be a dead card in your hand most of the time… unless you can give it away with Zedruu the Greathearted when you run out of planeswalkers!
Why now Wizards? Why include not just one card as you have done for the past couple of years, but four cards that interact directly with planeswalkers? My speculation? Khans of Tarkir just may be a planeswalker-centric set… perhaps we will get our first rare planeswalkers? Here is my idea for a rare planeswalker:
Planeswalker – Krenko, Rare
+1: Put a 1/1 red Goblin creature token onto the battlefield.
-4: Put three 1/1 red Goblin creature tokens onto the battlefield.
Starting Loyalty: 2
What are your thoughts on a fair, rare planeswalker?