Wizards of the Coast has included a vertical cycle of planeswalkers within Core Set 2021, featuring five Magic: The Gathering planeswalkers and three signature spells in each color.
A total of six planeswalkers are in the M21 set, one in each color of Magic, along with the reprint of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. The five monocolored planeswalkers each have three signature spells of different rarities from Uncommon to Rare. In Magic, this is a vertical cycle in which each card is of a different rarity that shares the same color. And each monocolored planeswalker has a CMC of four.
It’s hardly necessary to include each of the signature spells with the planeswalkers in every build, but they exist as a means of support no matter what Magic format you’re playing. And not every vertical cycle synergizes the same.
From Teferi warping time to Garruk trampling over enemies, here are the M21 planeswalkers and their signature spells.
Teferi, Master of Time
Teferi’s plus-one ability allows his controller to draw a card. This is a staple ability for Teferi that’s supported by his signature spells: Teferi’s Ageless Insight, Teferi’s Tutelage, and Teferi’s Protege. Control decks rely on card draw for tempo, and in conjunction with Teferi’s Ageless Insight, the plus-one ability on Teferi, Master of Time has an even greater impact.
The three loyalty counter planeswalker has also reintroduced the mechanic Phasing to Standard with his minus-three ability. In “Phasing a target creature out,” the creature and anything attached to it ceases to exist until it’s “phased back in.”
Basri Ket is a new planeswalker via White in the M21 set. The three loyalty counter planeswalker has a thing for +1/+1 counters, similar to Ajani, and synergizes with go-wide token strategies.
- Plus-one: Put a +1/+1 counter on up to one target creature. It gains indestructible until end of turn.
- Minus-two: Whenever one or more nontoken creatures attack this turn, create that many 1/1 white Soldier creature tokens that are tapped and attacking.
His three signature spells are Basri’s Lieutenant, Basri’s Solidarity, and Basri’s Acolyte. Supporting both of Basri’s abilities via ETB and Death Triggers, Basri’s Lieutenant is a solid signature spell that seemingly can hold its own on the battlefield with Vigilance and protection from multicolored. The other signature spells support +1/+1 counters, with Basri’s Acolyte being the better of the two.
Chandra, Heart of Fire
Chandra returns in the M21 set with a new planeswalker card that has two +1 abilities.
- Plus one: Discard your hand, then exile the top three cards of your library. Until end of turn, you may play cards exiled this way.
- Plus one: Chandra, Heart of Fire deals two damage to any target.
Her Rare signature spell is Chandra’s Incinerator, a six CMC Elemental that will likely be extremely powerful with Chandra, Heart of Fire in Mono-Red Burn decks. Its casting cost is reduced by “X,” where “X” is equal to the amount of noncombat damage dealt that turn to an opponent. And once it’s on the battlefield, it deals damage equal to the noncombat damage dealt that turn to a creature or planeswalker.
Chandra’s other signature spells are also solid cards, with Chandra’s Pyreling gaining +1/0 and Double Strike until the end of the turn when noncombat damage is dealt that turn. And Chandra’s Magmutt is a two CMC 2/2 who can tap to deal one damage to either a player or planeswalker.
Liliana, Waker of the Dead
Liliana, Waker of the Dead may be the weakest planeswalker in M21. Entering the battlefield with four loyalty, her abilities include forcing players to discard and returning creatures from the battlefield.
- Plus-one: Each player discards a card. Each opponent who can’t loses three life.
- Minus-three: Target creature gets -X/-X until end of turn, where X is the number of cards in your graveyard.
- Minus-seven: You get an emblem with “At the beginning of combat on your turn, put target creature card from a graveyard onto the battlefield under your control. It gains haste.”
Her signature spells are also mediocre, using multiple themes associated with Liliana while weakly supporting Liliana, Waker of Dead. At Uncommon, there’s Liliana’s Steward. Common has Liliana’s Devotee, while Liliana’s Standard Bearer is in the Rare slot. Of the three, only Liliana’s Standard Bearer might see gameplay in Limited or Constructed.
Fans of the Green planeswalker will likely be pleased with Garruk Unleashed in M21 since it highlights his bond with beasts and creatures. And his signature spells align well with Garruk, capitalizing on his ability to add +3/+3 counters and search your library for a creature card to put onto the battlefield via his ultimate.
His Uncommon signature spell, Garruk’s Uprising, synergizes best by drawing a card for creatures with “four or more” power on the battlefield and giving all creatures you control Trample. Garruk’s Gorehorn, the Common, is the weakest of all three spells but may see some gameplay in Limited.
Garruk’s Harbinger is the Rare signature spell, having Hexproof from Black and a 4/3 statline. Whenever it deals damage to a player or planeswalker, it allows that player to look at that many cards at the top of their library and put either a Garruk planeswalker or creature into their hand if found among those cards.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon was first printed in Fate Reforged and last seen in Standard via War of the Spark. He doesn’t have any signature spells in M21 but can hold his own on the battlefield thanks to his powerful abilities.
As a colorless mana planeswalker, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon can slot into a variety of archetypes and is able to protect himself once on the battlefield with his first two abilities.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is respected by many players in Magic. Frank Lepore from ChannelFireball ranked him the No. 2 big-mana planeswalker of all time.