Momir Planeswalker is a new format on MTG Arena that was introduced as part of War of the Spark Saga I, the first of five week-long chapters in the War of the Spark Chronicles event series on MTG Arena. You’ll have to play Momir Planeswalker this week in order to obtain unique stained glass card styles for Vraska, Swarm’s Eminence (three wins), Tibalt, Rakish Instigator (nine wins), and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries (15 wins).

This is an odd and confusing format, but don’t worry—we’re here to help you make sense of it and get to 15 wins as quickly as possible.

Welcome to Momir

So what exactly is Momir, anyways? Momir, or Momir Basic as it was originally known, which was an online-only variant of Magic that was originally launched as part of Magic: the Gathering Online’s Avatar format. The Avatar format was a quirky way to play Magic with different starting life totals, hand sizes, and and special abilities. Momir Vig, the legendary former leader of the Simic Guild on Ravnica, has a very unique Avatar ability:

In traditional Momir Basic, which you can still play on MTGO, each player would build a deck of exactly 60 basic lands (you had control of the mix of lands) and then compete in a battle of pure skill to determine who had more luck with the Momir mechanic.

What is The Momir Mechanic?

In addition to taking normal Magic actions (like playing lands, attacking, etc), the Momir mechanic allows you to pay X mana, discard a card, and get a token of a random creature. It’s pretty simple when you put it like that, but if you want to master the format you’ll want to have a firm grasp on when to use the mechanic and how much mana to pour into it.

There are currently 944 creatures in Standard and presumably you can generate every single one of them using Momir Vig’s emblem ability. Of course, you don’t really want to get most of the creatures since most of them are basically useless. The goal is to find the most interactive creatures—creature that would be limited bombs, essentially—that will help swing the tide in your favor.

The Momir Planeswalker Variant

The Momir Planeswalker format takes Momir Basic and changes in two basic ways. First, your deck will have 12 of each basic land in it, rather than a mix that you choose. Second, your deck will also include a copy of each of the 36 planeswalkers from War of the Spark.

That means, in addition to the normal Momir discard-a-card-for-a-creature-token gameplay, you’ll also be able to play your planeswalkers as normal. Or, if it’s a particularly bad (or uncastable) planeswalker, you can just discard it to make a creature token.

Basic Momir Strategy

Playing a game of Momir isn’t exactly like a normal game of constructed Magic. Let’s cover some basics:

This Format is Driven by Luck

There’s absolutely no getting around the fact that Momir is heavily reliant on luck when discussing the format. While it’s become a bit of a meme to blame the card shuffler for losses, you can absolutely blame random chance for your losses in Momir. What’s a good example of this? Well, there are 203 creatures with a converted mana cost of four, but I promise your opponent will always manage to get Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, while you’re summoning Charity Extractor.

Welcome to Momir.

Oh, and you only get to use the mechanic once every turn, so you’re stuck with whatever you get until the next turn.

It’s Often Correct to Quit as Soon as You Fall Behind

It’s not uncommon to fall behind in a normal game of Magic—but that’s okay, because you built your deck to have chard to you get back in the game.

That doesn’t apply in Momir. Your Standard or Draft decks may be chock full of two-for-ones and you can always bank on your opponent hitting a pocket of lands. In Momir, you can count on your opponent playing a creature every single turn, and random chance could make that fact even more painful.

Because this format is free to enter, and the goal is to get to 15 wins to collect our three stained glass card styles, I highly advise that if you fall behind by a card or two to just pack it in and roll the dice another time. After all, rolling the dice is what Momir is all about as a format.

So if your opponent plays a card like Teferi, Time Raveler, bounces your best creature, and follows it up with The Wanderer, well, there’s no reason to let that drag on any further. Sure you could top-deck Liliana, Dreadhorde General and maybe start to make up ground, but by the time you recover your opponent will have ticked up Teferi for a second use. It’s just not worth the time investment—concede and move on to the next match.

(Almost) Never Take a Mulligan

I’m not Frank Karsten, but I’m fairly confident that with 96 cards in your deck (12 of each basic land plus 36 planeswalkers) it’s statistically unlikely that a random six-card hand is going to be better than whatever seven cards you’re holding. Even if you have three basic Islands to go with four non-blue planeswalkers, you can still roll the dice with the Momir mechanic, discarding those uncastable planesalkers, and summon creatures on-curve. Going down to six cards still has the same basic odds of having garbage but now you’re going to miss an on-curve play.

The only exception to this rule is if your opening hand consists of nothing but planeswalkers. Even if I had one land and six planeswalkers on the draw, I would keep that hand, because you have 89 more cards and 59 of them are lands, meaning you should see one in your next two draws (66% each draw). If you have one land and six planeswalkers on the play, then you’re taking a risk, but again, you came to this format to take risks. That’s the “beauty” of the format.

The Advanced Topics in Momir Planeswalker

Counting Cards

Counting cards is important in Momir and it’s easy to get the hang of. The rule for counting is simple but it can really help you organize your strategy—that is as much of a strategy as one can have when playing a format completely ruled by random chance. Here’s how it works:

If you play a land every turn and use the Momir mechanic every turn, then the maximum value you can spend on X for the Momir mechanic is six if you’re on the play and seven if you’re on the draw.

How did we come up with that? It’s pretty simple. Playing a land increases the maximum value of X and costs you a card. Using the Momir mechanic costs you a card from your hand. Drawing a card for the turn adds a card to your hand. So every turn you can increase your Max value of X and you reduce your hand size by one. Except if you’re on the play you don’t draw a card on the first turn so your hand size decreases by two.

So what does this mean for your “strategy”? For starters, if you’re on the play and you want to be able to pay seven mana into the Momir mechanic at some point, you’ll need to skip a play on one turn in order to do so. If you’re on the draw and you’re okay stopping at seven mana then you can make a play every single turn.

There are a lot of effects that affect this math. Mulliganing, which you should avoid at all costs, reduces your number of cards by one, therefore negatively impacting your highest value of X. Similarly, forcing your opponent to discard will negatively impact their maximum value of X, while finding effects that allow you to draw cards will increase your maximum value of X.

The core goal of any game of Momir is picking your target maximum value of X and surviving long enough to get there.

Converted Mana Costs

Because you won’t be using the Momir mechanic every turn, and because you’ll eventually want (or be forced) to stop playing out basic lands, you need to understand what creature tokens you’ll get at each converted mana cost. Even though this is Momir Planeswalker and the walkers are important, the random creatures are still the lifeblood of the game. So let’s break down each CMC.

One Mana: There are 72 creatures at this cost but only a handful of them are useful. If it doesn’t get you a land or ramp your mana or draw a card, a one-mana creature basically a waste. That leaves us just Arboreal Grazer, Benthic Biomancer, Llanowar Elves, Portcullis Vine, and Saruli Caretaker. That’s 5 out of 72, or just under 7%. There are a few decent cards, but for the most part you can skip this CMC.

Two Mana: There are 226 of these and most of them are terrible. Only 26 of them have flying. Yes, you could get Merfolk Skydiver and basically win the game, but odds are you’ll get a Hydroid Krasis for zero or just a generic bear. The main consideration for making a two-drop is getting a creature on board to either pressure your opponent’s planeswalkers or protect your own, so it is generally worth making one despite their weak stats.

Three Mana: There are 212 of thesem and while 36 have flying (an improvement over two-drops, for sure), it’s still a crap-shoot. However, if you haven’t played anything by now and you don’t have a three-mana planeswalker you’ll have to make a three-drop to keep pace in the game. Luckily, you have some very powerful creatures  at three mana like Benalish Marshal and Deputy of Detention, so hitting threes is usually worthwhile. At least there aren’t any bears.

Four Mana: Here we start to get to good stuff. 46 flyers in 203 cards means you have more than a 20% chance of finding a creature with evasion, which is critical in this format because evasive creatures can kill opposing planeswalkers without getting mired in a ground battle. Also, the Elder Dragons are at four mana and Nicol Bolas, the Ravager is ridiculous.

Five-Plus Mana: The highest CMC in MTG Arena right now is Ghalta, Primal Hunger, at a whopping 12 mana. So if you want a 12/12 trampler, you know where to find it. However, there’s nothing with a CMC of 11 (so you won’t get anything if you activate the Momir ability with 11 mana) and at 10 you only have Impervious Greatwurm, a 16/16 Indestructible creature…with no evasion or trample. What that means is that you really don’t have to get past nine mana in this format.

Why does that even matter? Well, you need to manage your resources properly in a game of Momir and that means picking your target mana cost, reaching that target, and then pumping out creature token after creature token from that pool of creatures. We just established that the answer to this question is no higher than nine. On the flip-side, it’s also no lower than six. As your game progresses, you’ll want to pick between six, seven, eight, and nine mana as your targets for X.

At nine, you only have access to three creatures: Arboreum Elemental, a 7/5 with hexproof, Molderhulk, a 6/6 that ramps you up a land, which is a useless ability at this point, and Zacama, Primal Calamity, a 9/9 with vigilance, reach, and trample, as well as two useful activated abilities. So you have a 33% chance of getting something useful at nine mana.

What about eight mana? Is that a better traget? There are 11 creatures at this CMC and I would argue that all but one of them (I’m looking at you Ancient Brontodon) are pretty good. The remaining 10 are impactful, but not necessarily the best selection you can get. They’ll all immediately affect the board and if your opponent can’t match you, then you’ll likely cruise to victory.

However, none of those 10 creatures have the most valuable ability in Momir formats: the ability to destroy enemy creatures. At seven mana, we find one of these in the form of Meteor Golem. That’s only one of 25 possible creatures, though, and in all my games I never got one. Unfortunately we can’t rely on our creatures to have an immediate impact all the time, so we have to instead rely on which creatures are the most difficult to deal with, and at seven mana you have a 33% chance of getting a creature with evasion (flying or trample).

Ranking the Planeswalkers

The 36 planeswalkers add an interesting twist to the format. They let you create some semblance of a strategy and also have wildly powerful effects on the board. However, you may find yourself in a position where you aren’t sure which one to play or if you should even discard one of them to the Momir mechanic. So to help I’ve organized them into tiers to provide some guidance on how good each one is in this format.

Planeswalkers in platinum-tier and above should usually be played rather than discarded. The gold and silver tiers are useful role players, but are probably better off being discarded later in the game. The bronze tier, on the other hand, should always be discarded.

Sarkhan Tier: Sarkhan, the Masterless

Mythic Tier: Ajani, the Greathearted, Liliana, Dreadhorde General, Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God, Nissa, Who Shakes the World

Diamond Tier: Angrath, Captain of Chaos, Domri, Anarch of Bolas, Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter, Kaya, Bane of the Dead, Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted, Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord, Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, Teferi, Time Raveler, Ugin, the Ineffable

Platinum Tier: Arlinn, Voice of the Pack, Chandra, Fire Artisan, Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor, The Wanderer, Tibalt, Rakish Instigator

Gold Tier: Ashiok, Dream Render, Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage, Gideon Blackblade, Jaya, Venerated Firemage, Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner, Samut, Tyrant Smasher, Teyo, the Shieldmage, Vraska, Swarm’s Eminence

Silver Tier: Dovin, Hand of Control, Nahiri, Storm of Stone, Ral, Storm Conduit, Saheeli, Sublime Artificer, Vivien, Champion of the Wilds

Bronze/Discard Tier: Huatli, the Sun’s Heart, Karn, the Great Creator, Narset, Parter of Veils

Final Thoughts on Momir Planeswalker

This format is a ton of fun if you embrace the random chaos and don’t feel bad about losing to random chance. The event costs nothing to enter, the matches are over pretty quick, and if you spend a few hours at it you’ll walk away with some lovely stained-glass styles for a few planeswalkers.

My only gripe is that unlocking the stained glass styles didn’t let me actually use them in Momir Planeswalker. Other than that, I had an absolute blast playing this for a few nights to unlock that sweet stained-glass Jace style.

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