Check Out the New Ajani Planeswalker (Includes Deck Building Tips)
June 16, 2012 | Posted by Dee
On the latest The Magic Show, Evan Erwin spoiled a new planeswalker from Magic 2013: Ajani, Caller of the Pride.
This new Ajani planeswalker only costs three mana, making him only the third planeswalker with that cheap casting cost. His abilities are very creature oriented so he looks like a card for aggro decks.
Check out Ajani, Caller of the Pride below.
The previous three mana planeswalkers, Jace Beleren and Liliana of the Veil, saw a lot of Standard play so that’s a plus for Ajani. Having a lower cost than most other planeswalkers is a big advantage.
Now at two mana, Tibalt has not seen much competitive play but that’s not too surprising. Wizards wanted to make sure their first two mana planeswalker was not overpowered since having such a cheap cost is often a characteristic of broken cards.
Some people don’t think Ajani is very good because he can’t protect himself. He doesn’t have the creature killing ability of Liliana of the Veil or the creature making ability of Garruk Relentless. But Jace Beleren couldn’t protect himself either.
Both Ajani and Jace go up to five loyalty after activating their first abilities. Five loyalty is a lot for a planeswalker that comes down on turn three. You could argue that a high loyalty is in some sense a way for a planeswalker to protect itself.
Plus, while Ajani may not directly protect himself, his first ability makes your creatures better able to protect him.
Ajani’s first two abilities seem decent enough. His ultimate is usually game ending unless your opponent has a mass removal spell. When you add his cheap casting cost and high loyalty, I think Ajani is a powerful card. He doesn’t seem insanely good but he’s definitely not mediocre.
I think Ajani fits the best in aggro decks because his non-ultimate abilities require a creature to be effective. You need to build a deck with a lot of creatures to take advantage of Ajani.
You’ll want enough creatures that cost two mana or less so you can have a creature for Ajani’s first ability when you play him on turn three.
One idea is playing 4 Birds of Paradise and 4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim so that you can drop Ajani on turn two. Then, you +1 Ajani and put a +1/+1 counter on the mana creature.
Apart from just attacking for more damage, Ajani’s +1 ability is pretty good right now because Gut Shot is a popular removal spell.
Here are a few rules tips for Ajani’s first ability. You can still activate it whenever you have no creatures on the board. The ability is says “up to one target creature” so you can choose zero as your number of target creatures. This play brings Ajani closer to his ultimate and gives him more loyalty counters in case you want to activate his second ability multiple times.
You can target your opponent’s creature with Ajani’s +1 ability. This could actually be a good play in some situations. For example, if you need to kill a Phantasmal Image, Ajani’s +1 can do the job. Or you might want to put a +1/+1 counter on your opponent’s undying creature so that it doesn’t come back from the graveyard when it dies.
Ajani’s second ability interacts well with high power creatures relative to their casting cost and creatures with powerful triggered abilities when they attack.
You want high power creatures because they deal a lot of damage with double strike. I recommend looking at cards like:
Champion of the Parish
Delver of Secrets
Delver is a tricky one because you need to play enough sorceries and instants to transform him reliably. Therefore, I would play sorceries and instants that produce creatures so that Ajani has more creatures to target. Cards like Gather the Townsfolk and Midnight Haunting are good cards to play in an Ajani deck with Delver.
Of couse, you can throw in more expensive creatures with high power like Sublime Archangel, Thragtusk, and Sun Titan. With these big creatures, Ajani’s -3 ability turns into a mini ultimate as you’ll be attacking for 10 or more damage.
Sublime Archangel points us to the exalted mechanic, which seems like a great mechanic to go with flying and double strike. I would keep an eye out for other exalted creatures in Magic 2013.
Sun Titan is an especially synergistic card with Ajani because it can bring back the planeswalker from the graveyard.
As far as creatures with powerful triggered abilities, I would look for cards like Geist of Saint Traft and Hero of Bladehold. You want to keep these cards alive during the combat phase so they can attack again on your next turn. Giving them double strike and flying definitely makes them harder to kill by blocking.
Ajani’s -3 ability is vulnerable to instant spell removal spells like Doom Blade and Vapor Snag. Therefore, I recommend trying out Grand Abolisher to keep your opponent from using these spells on your turn.