How does The Wandering Emperor work in Magic: The Gathering?

A planeswalker with Flash can be deadly.

Image via [WotC] (

Planeswalkers are some of the most powerful cards in Magic: The Gathering, allowing players to use a variety of abilities each turn. Some can easily destroy enemy creatures, while others can provide other benefits like drawing cards or gaining life. Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty introduced The Wandering Emperor, a powerful planeswalker with unique benefits. 

Let’s break down The Wandering Emperor’s textbox and each of the card’s loyalty abilities to understand how it works. 

The Wandering Emperor

The Wandering Emperor has Flash, meaning it can be played anytime you can play an instant spell. You can also activate any of its loyalty abilities at any time you could cast an instant spell, giving it tons of flexibility. 

The planeswalker’s plus-one allows players to put a +1/+1 counter on one target creature, which gains first strike until the end of turn. Adding a counter to a creature at instant speed can be deadly, especially when The Wandering Emperor enters the battlefield after your opponent has declared attackers. The +1/+1 counter with first strike can help creatures take out attackers with ease before they can deal damage. 

The minus-one ability allows players to create a 2/2 Samurai creature token with Vigilance. This is another option if you need a blocker in a pinch or want to add another creature to the battlefield to stall for another turn. 

The Wandering Emperor’s minus-two ability allows players to exile a target tapped creature and gain two life. This is another way to deal with attackers at instant speed and remove them from play before doing any real damage. The life gain is also a nice benefit and can help maintain a healthy life total. 

The only downside to The Wandering Emperor is its four mana cost. Aggro White decks typically avoid leaving this much mana open, but control decks can easily use this card to their advantage.