Hello folks! I hope you are having a fun post-Halloween week, filled with the thoughts of candy past. Two weeks ago I began a look at the Top Ten Vanguard cards of all time, and I wanted to continue that theme today with the Top Plane Cards. Next week, I’ll look at the best Schemes to sort of finish this trilogy.
I have to use the term “Planechase Planes” because I’ve looked at the actual planes before in a recent Top Ten article, and that’s confusing as it is the name of the card type, card of another card type, and then actual places we visit, and names of sets. It’s all confusing.
Ixalan — This is a set of Magic cards
Ixalan — This is a plane in the story that Ixalan takes places on.
Jund — This is a plane card in the game of Magic.
Jund — This is a partial plane, as one of the Shards of Alara
Domri Rade — This is a Planeswalker card
Otaria – This is a plane card
So, these issues in the nomenclature are rough. Sorry about that. We also have an issue with searching for Plane cards. Searing for the card type “Plane” on anything from Gatherer to CoolStuffinc.com also yields all of the “Planeswalkers” as well. It’s a little wonky. I wound up referring to a wikia article. I digress.
What are the best plane cards out there? Which ones are so good you often find yourself not leaving?
I am looking for the Plane that best combines the given ability on the card with the chaos roll ability for the best overall Planes. Not all Planes are created equally. Here let me show you two different ones to demonstrate:
This is Aretopolis . . .
So, as you add scroll counters to Aretopolis, you either gain life equal to the number of scroll counters, or chaos add a counter and draw cards. You usually Planeswalk away well before anyone gains any quality amount of life, and then the potential card drawing only gets better for others until you walk away. Invariably, one person draws two or three cards, a few people gained between 1 and 5 life, but you don’t know who, and then you leave. It’s a weak card.
Here’s another weaker card. This is Quicksilver Sea . . .
So the free trigger is scry 4. Not bad, and you are happy to do it, but you’d prefer something bigger and better. And your chaos roll? If you set up the scry, then you get something big for free, so great, right? Except if you don’t roll chaos, and you gave yourself something expensive off the scry, then you might wind up drawing something later you can’t cast. I’ve seen a ton of people try for chaos and lose, or go for something smaller that’s cast-able, so you wind up just putting Indrik Stomphowler on top rather than that Artisan of Kozilek. So it works as a bit of a letdown as you play with it.
On the other hand, this next plane is a strong card, you won’t find in my Top Ten today, but perfectly feasible.
This is The Maelstrom
As you can see, you get the free permanent when you arrive or in your upkeep, not for the chaos roll, so it’s a lot more reliable. Your chaos roll can return a permanent to the battlefield from your graveyard. It’s solid, it’s reliable, and it makes an impact on the board. You are always happy when you roll the planar symbol, and head away and then flip over The Maelstrom.
Some planes are great in some contexts, and lousy in others. Here’s a few examples:
Akoum loves enchantments
The Hippodrome shuts down going wide strategies like token creatures.
If you have flying or islandwalk creatures, move to the head of the line.
You get the idea. Lots of these are enablers for some decks at the cost of others. So, they are major wins for a lot of players, and major losses for others. That’s fine.
What I want are the true powers. Board impacting stuff you want to see.
Honorable Mention #1 – Takenuma
So close! You almost made it Takenuma! The benefit here is that you control the card flow. Have a Sakura-Tribe Elder or another self-sacrificing creature? Great! Draw a card, you’ve earned it! And it works on any form of leaving the battlefield, so you can bounce or exile or even shuffle it into your library, so it works with effects as diverse as Terminus, Fleetfoot Panther, and effects like Goblin Bombardment and Crystal Shard. By the way, this is my favorite plane to hang out in when I am playing my Commander version of Equinaut that abuses self-bounce stuff like Equilibrium, Cloundstone Curio, Azorius Aethermage, and cards like Whitemane Lion and Fleetfoot Panther. It loves Takenuma!
Honorable Mention #2 – Pools of Becoming
This Teferi's Puzzle Box for everyone’s end step is annoying. Most people don’t want it or like it. But what is amazing is the nasty chaos die, the strongest in the game by fair. Most chaos abilities are amazing. Here, I’ll run this experiment three times. I have a stack of planes in front of me to write this article. I’m going to shuffle my plane deck and do three different flips . . .
Random Chaos #1
Reveal the top three cards of my deck and put all creatures into my hand
Target land becomes a 4/4 creature.
Target player can’t cast spells until someone Planeswalks away from a plane
Random Chaos #2
Deal 3 damage to target player
Flicker target creature
Put a -1/-1 on one creature, a pair of them on another, and three of them on a third
Random Chaos #3
Creatures you control get +0/+2 and trample
Gain life equal to the cards in your hand
Your creatures are indestructible until the end of the turn
The power of this card is when you flip it over, and can hit people who are unprepared for being attacked by your Llanowar Elves and Silver Myr as well as that Silklash Spider or other creatures that you relay on for playing defense or for their abilities. I love attacking and getting a few cards from a tapped down player who was not expecting me to open myself up. And the chaos roll here is obviously inspired and strong. And that is the problem. Everyone wants the chaos, so we invariably roll off Undercity Reaches too soon. Which makes it better for the person who flipped it over by far, as you are the first to take advantage of it.
If you like to draw cards, then the Panopticon is for you! I’d argue that this card is the most elegantly designed Plane card as well. It’s deceivingly simple, and yet, quite good. Multiplayer generally, and Commander especially, are a very card advantage sensitive format. Cards matter more when playing against people that outdraw you. The dream here is obvious. I myself have walked to the Panopticon, spent my entire turn tapping out, drew three or four cards total and we left. It was like a self-Tidings for free, with no investment of a card up front. This is one of the best cards to flip, and to be passed to you as well. In fact, there are games where Panopticon gets flipped, and it sticks because everyone wants a Howling Mine out for a few turns. I’ve seen games where half the game we ran Panopticon.
Most of the cards that hit today give you card advantage potentials from various angles, and then you can try to play around them the best way you can.
8. Selesnya Loft Gardens
You don’t have to play a deck that is intended to bust Doubling Season in order to have a deck that does precisely that. Any Planeswalker, token maker, creature with +1/+1 counters, artifact with charge counters, and so much more is downright abusive when fighting at the Selesnya Loft Gardens. It’s a great place to party.
I want you to forget the “white” and “nonwhite” clauses for a moment. Imagine that anytime one of your creatures died, it would pop right on back to the hand at the end of the turn. Did you sacrifice a Sakura-Tribe Elder? What about a Burnished Hart? Did you have something die in combat, either to blocking or when you swung? No worries! You can get them all back to your hand! And, of they happen to be White, then you get a super great bonus. They hit the sweet spot battlefield instead of your hand. Net more enters-the-battlefield triggers and more fun times playing that casual game that we all know and love.
6. Stairs to Infinity
Forget the chaos roll, this plane card is mostly about the first two abilities. Draw a ton of cards, and then you have no hand size requirements while you do. Sure, you can scry the next plane to help figure out what would be the best for you, and that’s a good thing. But this is all about that sweet, sweet card drawing.
5. Trail of the Mage-Rings
All right, top five time! These cards are the best of both chaos and other abilities. And Trail certainly qualifies. Did you cast an instant or sorcery? Great! Give it rebound and store another copy for later. Anything you put into your deck, other than situational spells like Counterspell, is going to be something you want again. Demonic Tutor? Wheel of Fortune? Beast Within? Utter End? The card advantage potential of a simple Harmonize going again is nasty. And the chaos is a tutor for an instant or sorcery, which works with the rebounding and gives you the perfect spell to cast and rebound from your entire deck. This thing is good.
Better than rebounding instants and sorceries, by far, is drawing cards for everything you cast. Planeswalkers, artifacts, creatures, instants, and more. Turning every spell in your hand to a cantrip is a powerful place to hang out for a battle with your peers. And if you hit chaos, then folks can return some Blue cards for more Minamo’ing triggers. That keeps this plane from Top 3, because you don’t want to see that if you aren’t benefiting from it.
3. Windriddle Palaces
Ah yes. The one card that’s not about pure, sheer power or card advantage battles to (mostly) make this list. It’s about fun and casting each other’s stuff. I can play Graham’s Forest, Steve’s All is Dust and my own Birds of Paradise. It’s a great card, and again, the chaos plays nicely because you can mill one card from everyone and get another card. Quite simply, Windriddle Palaces is the most fun you are going to have in a plane, and I haven’t had any card stick more often than it, because it’s essentially fair, interesting, and intriguing. And a whole hoot of fun!
2. Isle of Vesuva
Isle of Vesuva is a fun place to kick up your heels and battle on. Getting duplicates of any creature that arrives on the battlefield is awesome. Double Mulldrifters, double Shivan Dragons and double Solemn Simulacrums. Only double legendary creatures isn’t that great, and you’ll still rack up two enters-the-battlefield or cool death triggers. Take a look at stuff like Tuktuk the Explorer, Godo, Bandit Warlord, or Pia and Kiran Nalaar for some examples of such legendary creatures. Getting Clone tokens is awesome! And then you layer in the removal on chaos and that’s solid. The chaos removal can pop a bunch of tokens, if your foe has 10 Soldier tokens from a Decree of Justice or something. But taking out both is solid as well. The result is a powerful plane card that just creates an intoxicating board state!
There is no question about it — Otaria’s chaos is the best in the planes. Getting a Time Walk is a powerful chaos roll. We get it. But don’t sleep on Otaria’s flashback either. We all have cards we want to flash back, and getting additional value from cards you played a long time ago is great. A flashback cost equal to their casting cost is really a Yawgmoth's Will. Only it works for just instants and sorceries, not everything. Otaria can net you a lot of extra power from those forgotten spells that have been lingering in your graveyard just lurking. It’s a great card and a greater concept. Otaria for the win!
And there we have it!
I hope that you enjoyed our little trek through all things planar. What did you think of my list? Where did I go wrong? What did I miss? And as always, thanks for reading!!!