Everybody loves new planeswalkers, and War of the Spark added a large number of the card type into Standard. Now, Core Set 2020 is adding even more planeswalkers. We already saw spoilers reveal three new Chandra cards. Today, we saw a brand new Ajani: Ajani, Strength of the Pride!
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For 2 white and 2 colorless, Ajani, Strength of the Pride comes in with 5 loyalty and 3 abilities. 5 loyalty is quite a lot for 4 mana, so he’ll be difficult to deal with once he’s on the battlefield. On the upside, he does not have a static effect like most War of the Spark planeswalkers have. This will be a relief to many players who were afraid that this was the new normal. Ajani’s +1 ability seems incredibly strong in Standard, gaining you life equal to the number of planeswalkers and creatures you control. Decks are already playing large amounts of planeswalkers, so having a payoff for them is very powerful on its own.
Ajani’s -2 ability lets you make a token: Ajani’s Pridemate. One of the signs of a strong planeswalker is that it can protect itself. This ability does just that, on top of giving you a powerful creature. Even better, the token will grow bigger every time you use Ajani’s +1 ability.
For his ultimate, Ajani lets you exile all creatures and artifacts your opponents control if you have 15 more life than you started with. Interestingly enough, the ultimate does not change his loyalty at all, but exiles himself. In other words, once you have over 35 life (or 55 in commander) you can wrath your opponent’s board, but you lose your planeswalker. It’s a big downside, but the ultimate costing 0 loyalty means it’ll always be available as long as your life is high enough.
Ajani, Strength of the Pride is highly likely to see play in Standard. He’ll be a natural fit in a deck like Jeskai Superfriends, which already plays massive amounts of planeswalkers. The card is generically good in many ways, and it could maybe spawn a life-gain-centric deck.
As for eternal formats, it’s a bit iffier. He’s way too slow for Legacy, but Modern could maybe find a home for him in a deck like Soul Sisters or Martyr Proc. Both of those decks could easily turn on the ultimate ability and benefit from the token he makes. Commander players may also find a home for Ajani, Strength of the Pride in their superfriends decks, or in a go wide token/life-gain deck (like Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice).
What do you think about Ajani, Strength of the Pride? Are there any sweet decks you’d like to try him in? Let us know down in the comments below!