Sunday, 2 July 2017

The Top 8 Best and Worst Planeswalker Ultimates

Ral ZarekThis is a bit of an abstract top X list as it is looking at part of a card. As such it shouldn't have all that much baring on the cards overall potency. There are plenty of top rate walkers with terrible ultimates and plenty of weaker walkers with some of the best. Planeswalker ultimates are not commonplace at all. They take a long time to get to and are a high priority to disrupt for your opponent. Planeswalkers are generally pretty high priority targets themselves regardless of their proximity to thier ultimate. Those close to ultimate loyalty are generally a lot scarier and are therefore even higher priority! Although very powerful effects on the whole they generally don't have much baring on the cards overall viability. The cheaper more immediately useful abilities are so much more important to the cards function and power. Having the best ultimate wouldn't mean much if the other abilities are not enough to make the card playable. All this is to say planeswalker ultimates are generally pretty marginal, although certainly not all of them.

Teferi, Temporal ArchmageSo if this list isn't going to do much to help rate and rank cards what is the point of it exactly? By understanding what it is that makes an ultimate ability good or bad you should be in a better position to evaluate opposing planeswalkers threat level in a more useful contextual way. It will also help you to chose how best to use your own planeswalkers. As we don't see ultimates that often we don't have nearly as much experience with them and often misjudge the situation leading to play errors. You might be facing off against a planeswalker you have played with and against loads yet have never seen the ultimate in action. Usually this won't matter as the ultimate is not at all likely to occur however in those rare games where they do happen you need to be able to appreciate what that ultimate can do. Is it the case of game over if you let it happen? How can you play to win after it does happen? How much in the way of resources should I commit to stalling it? These questions are all pretty tough if you have no experience of the ability. Generally people fight pretty hard to stop the ultimate and generally this is correct but certainly not always. It might be a reasonable assumption, it may also be a fairly safe one as it isn't that often relevant, but you never want to be making assumptions in magic, that is how you throw games. Knowledge is power and so here we have a very obscure list indeed!

Ajani, Mentor of HeroesBefore diving in I want to talk about the things that I will be considering which lead to good or bad ultimates. It turns out that the effect of the ultimate is a lot less significant in determining the power of said ultimate than you might think. There are some pretty low impact ultimates that I consider pretty good and some utterly bonkers ones that I think are bad. The main determining factor for the potency of a planeswalker ultimate is how easy it is to use it! This in turn is contingent on several factors. The loyalty cost of the ultimate, the starting loyalty of the planeswalker and how much extra loyalty you can apply to the walker each turn are all big factors and all fairly easy to compare. Sadly you also need to factor in some more contextual aspects regarding how good the planswalker is at surviving making it harder to work out. Durability is a commonplace way to assess how good a planeswalker is in general, those that protect themselves well are typically the best ones. A good ultimate however not only needs a durable planewalker but also one that protects itself with a plus loyalty effect rather than a minus one.

Once you know how likely you are to fire off an ultimate with any given walker you can start to look at how powerful and useful that ultimate actually is. The nominal power is relevant but it is also balanced by the speed at which it might be fired off, much like casting cost of spells! If it takes 3 turns to get to your ultimate on your four drop planeswalker then at best that ultimate should be compared as a 7 mana spell, likely a little more in reality. That is only useful as a means to compare it to other things so as to appreciate its relative power. An ultimate that can be reached in two turns on a three mana planeswalker should as much less powerful than the previous four drop walker's ultimate as you might expect between a five drop and a seven drop card. If that was the case then they are relatively similar power level despite one being more nominally powerful. This is all quite minor compared to how good the planewalkers are in the first place however.

Jace, the Mind SculptorLastly you want to be looking at your ultimates in two ways. Firstly like you would evaluate other top end cards, how likely they are to win the game, how good they are at stopping you from losing the game, how much value or impact they afford and that sort of thing. Most of the best top end threat have a significant and immediate impact on the board and that trend does carry over somewhat to the world of planeswalker ultimates. The other way you want to look at your ultimate is in contrast to the other things your planeswalker does. Does it offer another angle of attack or is it just more of the same? Is it stand alone or does it need support, if so dose the planeswalker offer that support sufficiently? This aspect should becomes a little clearer with some specific examples.

I am going to start with the worst planeswalker ultimates however for this list I have been rather selective and only chosen to consider planeswalkers than are at least playable, ideally good, in cube. There are some really awful planeswalkers out there that have utterly unusable ultimates that we will never see because of their multiple levels of awful. As such it is more useful to only consider stuff we might actually encounter!


Sarkhan Unbroken8. Sarkhan, the Unbroken

This isn't a commonly seen planeswalker anywhere being five mana, three colours and Temur at that! While this guy has an awful ultimate much of that is to do with how damn good the rest of this guys package is. Once in play this is one of the best planeswalkers going. It covers all bases very well and very powerfully. It has abilities that are never dead. Basically, if you can't win with free mana, cards and 4/4 fliers then something is seriously up. You shouldn't ever need the ultimate on this card as it is just a weaker version of the other abilities. Simply put, paying -2 for a 4/4 dragon token upto four times is going to be a lot more impactful than spending 8 loyalty all in one go on the ulti. Although it would still see no use if it were making dragon tokens the fact that it needs you to have dragons in your deck makes it utterly useless. Comically it might actually kill you. Imagine somehow you have a couple of good dragons to pull out of your deck with the -8 and you do that and then you eat mass removal. You have removed most of your top end from your deck and will be drawing worse for the rest of the game. You over extended into mass removal. Oops. This is one of the worst ultimates there is for many reasons but being on such a rare walker it seemed unfair to put it atop the list where it may well belong. This is bad because it is deck dependent but it is also bad because it is doing something the card is already doing and somehow it is worse at doing it!

Vraska the Unseen7. Vraska, the Unseen

This is kind of a comedy bad ultimate. While you can find the text "that player loses the game" within it the ease with which you can do that is a problem. It is not that hard to get Vraska to her ultimate, she has a +1 that protects her and she starts with a fair whack of loyalty. The issue is that she is quite a poor planeswalker that has a pretty low threat level. The best Vraska plays are usually kill a thing right away, +1 next turn and then put her in the bin to kill another thing the turn after. She is pretty good anti planeswalker tech but she isn't much of a threat. The +1 offers no value so you can largely ignore it. The -3 is good but it isn't sustainable. A big part of why Vraska is able to hit her ultimate more often than you might expect is that she is so little of a threat. The +1 gains no ongoing value and the -7 is laughable. It is about as good as Sun's Champions +1.... As such, people just let you grow her and carry on doing their own thing. A lot of plansewalkers are good because they offer utility, either value or removal that can turn into a threat. Vraska's ultimate is so functionally bad that I play her as a removal spell and nothing else. As such I generally play Maelstrom Pulse instead. There are basically no decks that struggle in any way to hold off three 1/1 tokens that are massively broadcast and don't come online much before turn 6.

Xenagos, the Reveler6. Xenagos, the Reveler

This is another example of an ultimate like Sarkhan Unbroken. The ultimate on Xenagos isn't terrible it is just an overcost version of the other abilities. Xenegos is decent, he gives loads of mana or an ongoing supply of 2/2 haste dorks. He is well rounded and always able to offer some useful help to your game plan. As he is offering such good things from his other abilities by the time you ever get near to his -6 you should have destroyed your opponent with an insane mana advantage or swarmed them with satyr tokens. The -6 is just more mana and more dorks and as such shouldn't be helpful unless you are after a specific land or dork to power through. Often however your out card isn't one of those types and using the -6 is actually a good way to throw! Xenagos is a good walker but he might as well just have the first two abilities.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon5. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

This is not a useless ultimate however it might as well just say gain 7 life as that is the only reason I have ever used it. Ugin is just so good with his +2 and -X that you really shouldn't ever need the influx of cards or things on the board. You are generally much better off keeping him at high loyalty so you can react to more with the -X as you need. The +2 wins games, pretty quickly. Ugin is already a very heavy card, if you use the -10 to get more threats on the board you are almost certainly over extending. You really shouldn't need the personal Eureka either, if you have had an 8 mana thing in play for a couple of turns you are fine for mana... So yeah, against red burn decks a buffer of seven life is nice and will seal the deal on those games. In other matchups you just +2 and -X away anything they have and then go face with the +2. It is really hard to lose doing that. A very real issue with the -10 on Ugin is decking yourself. There is a good chance it is late game with you having 10 or more loyalty on an 8 mana planeswalker. That much draw is very likely to put you on a clock that you didn't need to. That could have been seven turns worth of just 3 to the face. As you can see, a lot of the ultimates featured here can actually cost you the game if used without care and consideration.

Nissa, Worldwaker4. Nissa, Worldwaker

This is pretty much just another case of an overly redundant ultimate. You can have hit them for 40 trample damage before you can use the ultimate. Even just untapping lands you should have won from the mana advantage by the time you get to seven loyalty. Nissa Worldwaker is a fantastic planeswalker, she wins most games she resolves in but she has never once used her ultimate. She is one of the more linear walkers for sure but she is good enough that you just don't care. An ongoing supply of hard to handle threats win games. The ultimate does have some perks in that you can thin your deck of lands but it also has some issues. You might eat a wrath and be overly short on lands going forwards. Having to wait a turn before you get to attack with the ultimate really takes the sting out of it, especially compared to just making more lands already in play into 4/4 tramplers and getting stuck in! Lastly, it is not inconceivable you don't have many basics in your deck either leading to a rather under powered effect as well. Like great, a pair of 4/4s... Rather like Xenagos, Worldwaker might as well just have the two abilities, she would be basically just as good.

Elspeth, Knight-Errant3. Elspeth, Knight-Errant

The problem with this ultimate is that it doesn't really do anything. It doesn't solve any problems and it rarely helps you win the game. It gives you a big edge in combat, it negates a bunch of removal but that is it. No extra value or tempo, just a bunch of time wasting. It doesn't stop tap down, bounce, counter, exile, sacrifice, -X/-X and so on. Unless you are in some stalemate on the board the ultimate has very very little value and if you are somehow in a stalemate with a massive Elspeth it is pretty unlikely that indestructible stuff is going to massively change that stalemate. Knight-Errant is absolutely one of the very best planeswalkers in cube but she is a bit of a two ability pony. Making tokens develops the board and gives some value, some inevitability and can empower the other +1. Sending things to the skies with a Giant Growth is massive, it is an immediate tempo swing a lot of the time, great reach and great planeswalker control. It is really hard to stop Knight Errant killing you with a +1 every turn. The growing loyalty is just a good way to ensure your massive threat stays alive rather than for threatening the ultimate. It is not a useless ultimate but it is very situational, very low threat and generally not the sort of thing you are looking to do. Most of the time Elspeth has just won the game before she gets to 8 loyalty. A rare example of a planeswalker that is just so powerful that the ultimate is pretty irrelevant. Not at all helped by the fact that it is also just a pretty irrelevant effect when it comes down to it.

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver2. Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

This one is rather alike Knight-Errant in that while not a useless ultimate you just never need it due to the effectiveness of the main abilities. Ashiok is a bit of an outlier in the cube as the +2 is far more threatening than it should be due to 40 card decks instead of 60. Either Ashiok kills people by taking away their key cards and just milling them brutally or she wins by being a huge wall of loyalty that throws out a couple of free random dorks. She is huge tempo and gross inevitability as you require. She is also a little like Ugin, you are better off keeping her on high loyalty for the extra safety and the ability to throw out a big -X should you want to. With no need to use her ulti and a good reasons not to you don't see much of it despite seeing a lot of Ashiok. Hand exile sounds useful but really isn't by the time you can -10 this thing. Graveyard exile is likely more useful at that stage! Given Tormod's Crypt as a comparison for cost of effect it is a very low value ulti if used in that way. The only thing that makes it interesting is that it allows you to get at more of your opponents things. Perhaps you really want a go on something in their bin - time to exile it with Ashiok for the -X! Thing is, if you have 10 + X loyalty on your Ashiok odds on they don't have much of a library. Ashiok is still entirely over powered in cubes despite having one of the lowest impact and lowest value ultimates on offer. A rare example of a walker that goes over her ultimate loyalty cost and still just carries on using the others.

Dack Fayden1. Dack Fayden

This is the clear number one. This is by far and away the ultimate I have had most options on and then declined. It is comic how little it generally does. Most of the spells you will have that target will also remove the thing in question. Best case is that your burn turns into Control Magics. That is, the burn that doesn't kill the things. Fire / Ice is like the only card in cube that is reliably good with this ulti. You can steal one of anything and draw a card or steal two creatures with two or more toughness. It is pretty easy to play around and really has a lot less things that work well with it than you might imagine. Even when you have like four or more things you might be able to get value with left in your deck (which is a lot, more than the average for sure) it is so often the case you don't see them when you need them and you have a blank ulti. Certainly it is not useless but it is narrow, situational, dependent, unreliable, capped in potential and generally just pretty weak. It is good design as it stops Dack really being a threat. He might grow in loyalty but he does't grow in power or danger. If Dack isn't winning the game through card quality or stealing their artifacts then he probably isn't winning you the game. I have taken to giving my opponents loots over using his ulti on more than one occasion simply to have a chance in the decking war. I say this is good design and that is because Dack is so nutty good in cube. He would be overpowered if he actually had a potentially game ending ultimate. Being one of the few planeswalkers that is purely utility is a nice change.

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
For the best walkers I have also considered how often you actually see the ultimates used, not just in total (as the older walkers have a big edge there) but also relative to how often they are cast. This is interesting but does rather break down when it comes to the "cheap" ultimates that can be fired off right away or on the next turn. Gideon for example is somewhat hard to consider as all of his viable iterations have an instantly usable (if not always usefully so) ultimate, which in a lot of cases also costs no loyalty at all. Only really Ally of Zendikar feels as if he has a proper ultimate out of the playable Gideons and you can still fire it off right away. As such it is one of the most commonly seen ultimates, it certainly scores well on the how easy it is to fire off metric! The thing is it is very low power, akin to a 3 mana card. It is also situational and deck dependent. It can be good, having it as an option from the outset is lovely and makes Gideon, Ally of Zendikar a lot better as a result but it does feel a lot more like a normal ability just in power level. Original Sorin also had a -2 to get an emblem with a minor stat buff effect but that clearly wasn't the ultimate. Anyway, Ally for Zendikar gains more value as a card from his "ultimate" than almost any other walker. In theory this makes it one of the best. Its low nominal power and non-ultimate feel makes me want to not have it on the list though.


Kiora, the Crashing Wave8. Kiora, the Crashing Wave

Kiora isn't the best planeswalker at all, she is fine. The thing is she has a very solid protection +1 and as such has a pretty easy time getting to her ultimate compared to many a planeswalker. She is one of the few walkers you often see just going +1 a few times and hitting her ulti as fast as conventionally possible. While vanilla 9/9 tokens are not insane the fact that you get one a turn gives you great inevitability. They might deal with a few, they might stall a couple for a while but every turn is too much to beat unless you are very ahead to begin with. The 9/9s also provide some security as well. Lots of impact, good offense, and reasonable defense. Kiora is very much an all rounder, a pretty threatening win condition, a source of value or a source of protection and stall. Her ultimate does very much contribute to her overall quality, without it she would be much less worthy of play.

Karn Liberated7. Karn Liberated

An odd ultimate ability for sure. While you can do it two turns after making Karn the fact that Karn is himself a seven mana card rather detracts from any notion of speed you might have for this ulti. That isn't much of an issue however as Karn's ulti is one that scales with the amount of time and use he has prior to using it. If you use his -14 with only two exiled cards it is mostly just tedious. If however you pop it with six things exiled it is near impossible to lose. Both Karns other abilities fuel it and both keep Karn very safe with either a huge +4 loyalty gain or the clean exile of a threat. Going to 10 loyalty is huge and even going down to 3 is usually cool if you are dealing with anything at the same time. Although a little convoluted Karn's ultimate does exactly what you want an ultimate to do. It solves every single problem you might be facing, it is indeed currently the only way to get clear of emblems. It is the ultimate in staying alive. While not the fast win it isn't so much an issue if you start the game with a bunch of free stuff, you are super unlikely to lose. Karn is able to attack your opponents resources at every level and thus gives you all the control you generally need to pilot Karn to his ultimate or just win with your other cards at least. Karn is nicely rounded off by his game ending ultimate, if it were only defensive then Karn would not be such a complete package and would lose a lot of value. It doesn't seem offensive because it is so slow but in reality most people are scooping if you go to start a new game with a couple of lands and a couple of other things in play from the start.

Nissa, Steward of Elements6. Nissa, Steward of Elements

I am taking a bit of punt with this one as yet she remains rather untested. There are several things that stand out with this one as to why it should be really good. One is immediate impact, you get to swing in the air for 10 right away. That will simply end a lot of games and those that it doesn't it should establish planeswalker control or significantly change any race dynamics in your favour. Immediate impact and game ending potential are two important qualities in the effect of the ultimate. More importantly however are the ease with which you can get to your ultimate and Steward of Elements shines in that department as well. She is a three mana walker with a +2 ability, in green as well making her not infrequently a turn two play. This means she is able to grow quickly and early. So far so good. Late game she adds a whole new dimension by potentially coming out with six or more loyalty. As such she is a planeswalker who's ultimate you need to respect at all times. Most are incredibly broadcast while this one can just happen off the top and end the game. This ultimate can be threatened in a number of different ways and is a great deal punchier than most. It might not be the most busted for the loyalty price tag but being so direct and so accessible makes it very impressive. I expect this to end a lot of games, that is impressive enough for an ulti. What is even more impressive is that I expect this to affect how people play without even being in play!

Nahiri, the Harbinger5. Nahiri, the Harbinger

Several things add up to make Nahiri a very good all round planeswalker and one of those is her ulti. While -8 is a lot and Nahiri's protection effects are a loyalty cost rather than a gain she has a very good +2 ability and a healthy starting count. Left alone Nahiri can ulti two turns after hitting play. Going to six loyalty is somewhat of a protection ability in itself so you have several options when she lands as to keeping her in play and getting value from her. Between her rounded and powerful removal effects and her leaping gains in loyalty Nahiri is a lot easier to go ultimate with than she might look. If you build around the ultimate it is game ending, and by build around I typically mean including an Eldrazi in your list. If you just have some traditional top end it is still a huge value and tempo swing and still has great odds on winning the game. Especially when you have had a Nahiri about for a while! Nahari's main two abilities are a fantastic pair that give great control over a game but don't offer a way to win. Having an ultimate ability that threatens a win is very important in making Nahiri rounded and playable. A good +2 ability is rather wasted if you don't have good things to work towards. Fortunately Nahiri doesn't waste her +2 at all. The only time the ulti is bad is when you are playing a beat down deck with basically no real top end. Even then it can be enough but generally if you are threat dense the combination of plus and minus two on a Nahiri will enable you to win without need of getting to the ultimate.

Tamiyo, the Moon Sage4. Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

This is an ultimate you see more often than you might expect. Tamiyo has a healthy amount of starting loyalty and a surprisingly good defensive +1. It might not seem like much but Tamiyo is really hard to shift when your most appropriate thing is on lockdown. Usually you need an overwhelming board advantage, spot removal, big haste dorks or multiple haste dorks and/or burn spells to take her down. Unlike Ajani Vengeant or Ral Zarek Tamiyo both taps and prevents untapping allowing her to lock down anything new that might present itself. She is great at holding off fliers and man lands which most other walkers struggle against. All her own safety is of course on top of her being blue which means all sorts of disruption and trickery are going to support her. Being so hard to one shot you typically give the blue player the chance to untap with Tamiyo still alive which means even if you got her low there is a high chance of some Confluence, Command, Cyclonic Rift or other tedium that is going to ensure she lives longer still. The ultimate itself is pretty good but it is both slow and contingent on you having useful things to do with it. Usually if you are blue, playing Tamiyo and got her to ultimate you have the kind of deck that has lots of great things to pair with her. All of the instants mentioned so far in this list as a small sample! If you are holding something like a Cryptic Command it is so hard to lose. Even a simple burn spell is massive and should lead to a win in most cases. Despite not being quick to get to her ultimate compared to some nor winning that quickly with it the ultimate does work well with the kinds of things it is played with and works well as a win condition even if indirectly.

Tezzeret the Seeker3. Tezzeret the Seeker

This is a very narrow planeswalker, Without artifacts in your deck, lots of them and specifically some mana rocks, the Seeker is unplayable do nothings. When you have things like Mana Vault in your deck the Seeker becomes pretty unfair. You ramp into him and then off him immediately as well leaving him ultimate ready. I have cast Timewalks off the remp he provides and won without my opponents getting a turn to react to the Tezz.  Turn two Tezz is pretty common in cubes and super tedious. I have won a lot of games turn three with nothing more than Tezz and a bunch of cheap artifacts. The raw speed you are able to fire this ultimate off means you care a lot less about Tezz being poor at protecting himself. Tezz can ulti the turn after you make him and it is lethal with a mere four artifacts should they have no blockers. If you cast Tezz off the back of artifact mana he is rarely more than a 2 mana investment and he lets you further develop on that turn so as to setup the fatal for next turn. You put people in really awkward positions where they have to just shock the Tezz to keep him off going ulti, just treading water at the cost of cards basically, while at a massive mana disadvantage too. Tezz is oppressively powerful in cubes with lots of artifacts and mana rocks. He is a do nothing in those without. As he is so polar in this regard a lot of his stats look really good and could be used to argue for him being in the number one slot. If you don't consider narrow to be an issue then this is absolutely the best ulti on offer here. I think narrow is a big drawback and have reserved the top slots for much more rounded walkers.

Elspeth, Sun's Champion2. Elspeth, Sun's Champion

Loads of starting loyalty combined with one of the best +1 abilities going. Making a team of three 1/1s holds off most ground based aggression and usually gets value in the process. More often than not it gives you the board control and is enough to win with all by itself. Either ways, with 5 loyalty, 3 blockers and 3/3 worth of stats on those blockers it is very hard to take Elspeth down in combat. Elspeth is hard to kill, you need a decent board lead and ideally a range of dorks with a range of evasion. That or spot removal. Being so hard to kill Elspeth is pretty good at getting to her ultimate and getting there in good shape. You should have a good board and your life total shouldn't have been under much pressure either. If you have much of a board at all the ultimate is usually a win on the spot. It is for this reason you see her ulti a little less, people just scoop rather than waiting it out. If you know you can't keep ahead of the 1/1s or directly kill Elspeth you are ultimately going to die to a lot of 3/3 and larger fliers. The ulti is sufficiently good that it gets a lot of concessions a couple of turns ahead of it being an option. Although this is another ulti that needs support the fact that Elspeth makes loads of tokens herself very efficiently  rather negates that. I have not yet seen an Elspeth ulti lose. I certainly haven't seen one that isn't able to buff up several creatures. This ulti is rapidly game winning, works well with the +1 and very easy to get to courtesy of the strong board controlling nature of the +1. While Elspeth will be able to win eventually just by making 1/1s the ultimate speeds that clock up vastly which is actually pretty important in cube. So many random things can happen and just utterly swing a game or otherwise wreck you in cube that one of the safest lines of play is winning quickly! A plan RDW has been enjoying the perks of for years.

Garruk Wildspeaker1. Garruk Wildspeaker

So, the prize for the best ultimate goes to this original offering. It is very like the ultimate of Tezzeret the Seeker except it is far less narrow. Every green deck basically has dorks and lands so this ultimate is typically very threatening. Being available from the turn after you lay Garruk means they have very little time to react. You can force bad attacks just from the threat of the ultimate. The +1 is also great, it gets you at least two mana which lets you develop further and help make Garruk pretty safe. Two manas worth of stuff is on average a lot better than any plus loyalty effect on a four mana planeswalker. When you don't have enough board to threaten instant death with Garruk's ultimate you can just make 3/3s and mana. This will protect things and help you develop. I have seen a lot of turn four Wildspeaker wins with basically just some cheap dorks, one of which has to ramp you to 4 mana.

You need five 1/1s, four 2/2s or three 3/3s and a Shock to do 20 to zero with a Garruk ultimate. Often they will do a bit to themselves and you will get in for a little bit before hand as well. Things have to go pretty well and pretty unopposed for those turn four kills with Garruk however you can still effectively win the game with it even if they don't die on the spot. You can force so many bad blocks that you get like 10 face damage and a one sided Wrath of God from your ultimate.

Wildspeaker is never dead, he can set him self up, he can protect himself in a number of ways and can he easy threaten his ultimate with only one turns notice and a mere two mana investment. His ultimate adds value to any small mana and support creatures you already want to be playing. His ultimate is very capable of ending the game on the spot and works very well with what green likes to do. The very real threat of haste creatures screwing up your math on being able to survive the ultimate also makes it something you really really have to respect. Against Garruk you either need to keep the board very clear, kill him or at least keep him away from 4 loyalty. This has absolutely been the ultimate responsible for the most wins in cube. Not shocking given this is one of the oldest walkers and one of very few than can ultimate so quickly. Particularly given how cheap he is and how likely he is to be played with ramp! He is still pretty comfortably at the top of the number of ultimates per cast rather than the nominal measure with only Tezz perhaps challenging that and Tezz doesn't count as he is so narrow.

Liliana of the VeilWhile adding in the pictures I feel like some honorable mentions need to happen for both lists. Jace has a surprisingly good range of ultimates on most of his better incarnations. Due to library size in cube most of them actually threaten a solid win condition. They are not overly common to see as typically Jace's draw cards and that ends games before ultimates tend to. Ajani Vengeant has a great ultimate. It is quite a long way to get there but it is utterly devastating! A lot of the other Ajani's have joke ultimates like the original which makes a single token... Chandra typically has low value ultimates but being so on theme with red they are reasonably effective. A bit like blue and the drawing, mostly the game is over from damage before a Chandra gets to ultimate. Ral Zareks is certainly the most fun but it is really hard to fire off and can be a bit of a do nothing. Teferi is also immensely satisfying and even more able to do total nothings! Teferi himself can't win a game at all so you really want other walkers to go with it! Certainly bad but until you have said the words "in response, activate my Jace", you haven't lived! You thought Mind Sculptor was good? Try it twice a turn and upgraded to fully instant.... Liliana of the Veil feels rather missing from this list although which one? She is an odd one. She can't win the game but her ultimate is very damaging and feels very threatening. It is certainly a more common one to see as Lili is cheap and often played. Most control players fold to it but aggro can almost ignore it. Midrange can absolutely survive it too. Certainly it is gross but it isn't really doing any of the things you want from an ultimate. It is just another drain on resources, all be it a big one that can hit everything else the other two abilities can't. It doesn't solve problems very effectively either. It certainly makes the card better and makes the +1 a lot more relevant. It isn't good enough to push that list but it certainly isn't as weak as the ones on the weak list. It mildly improves the card but is a very small part of why the card is good. I would say it is below average for an ultimate but probably around average on ultimates actually in the cube.


  1. nissa worldwaker isn't that bad..... she's pretty good actualy

    1. She is great, but her ultimate isn't.

    2. I think her ultimate is op. It gets u like 15 4/4's

    3. The issue is two fold. Firstly they don't have haste so you line yourself up for a massive blowout to some mass removal which in turn can leave you with no outs as you are very land light and drawing few to none. Secondly, in 40 card decks you are looking at less than 10 lands in a good case and often much less. Green is good at stripping the lands out of the deck anyway and getting 4 extra loyalty on a 5 drop walker with only a +1 effect takes some doing! I have been in a number of situations where I can get a couple of land at the cost of seven loyalty and found I would just rather use the +1 and have my land ready to attack.