What. A. Card. 

I am always one for powerful planeswalkers, especially when they impact the board immediately. Even as the “dreaded” power creep started making its way in, introducing planeswalkers at uncommon rarity in War of the Spark and completely changing the way we think about them, four mana has been largely considered the sweet spot when it comes to impactful planeswalkers. From Garruk Wildspeaker, to Jace, the Mind Sculptor, to Chandra, Torch of Defiance. The list goes on and on. 

When I look at a four mana planeswalker in competitive Magic, my rules have mostly been the same throughout the years. It needs to either protect itself, or effectively win the game on the spot if it can’t. It also needs to give me some form of card or board advantage, preferably with agency via synergy. Now, I know it’s a fairly strict set of rules, and not a lot of planeswalkers fall under this ruleset. But powerful formats and powerful decks require powerful tools, both in a vacuum, and in context. 

A week ago, Wizards of the Coast unveiled one of the best four mana planeswalkers I’ve ever seen. Archangel Elspeth. Now, it’s going to be hard to evaluate how good she’ll actually be in each format, mostly because we don’t know a lot of the set, and how cards around her will play out, but she certainly is equipped to do well. Right off the bat, she checks the boxes I want in this kind of card, with her +1 being a way to protect herself, and pushing her to five loyalty. You’d have to work pretty hard to swing back at her on curve, even if you can, she leaves a lasting impression on the board by providing a mini Angelic Destiny effect. This could be the difference between losing the game and stabilizing the board. Her value in the late game is also pretty potent, as her -6 is a great comeback ability which will work with most aggressive creature based decks, or even some midrange decks which operate on a relatively low curve. Something like Hammer Time in Modern, or Selesnya Angels in Pioneer could use her somewhere in the 75. 

In Commander, I can see her being utilized in any deck that wants a wide board presence, without sacrificing momentum. Or in a deck that cares about inevitability, some type of Grinding Station shenanigans and the like. I don’t see a deck that cares about counters using this, as she is relatively narrow in that role. But maybe she’ll fit right into a lifelink-matters style of build. Ultimately, she will probably be niche, but firmly potent within those niches.

I think Archangel Elspeth can be the next multi-format powerhouse. I do think she needs a little bit more help in her own set. But she doesn’t need much to get going, especially if you’re trying to establish a board presence early, or maintain control in the mid game. She has all the tools she needs to sustain herself, and the player casting her, and I’ll certainly give her a try in my Commander deck, as well as some competitive events down the line! 

Anthony Lowry (they/he) is a seasoned TCG, MMORPG, and FPS veteran. They are extensively knowledgeable on the intricacies of many competitive outlets, and are always looking for a new challenge in the gaming sphere.

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