How Do Planeswalkers Work In MTG? Planeswalker Card Rules

April 3, 2023 · Your Playmat
planeswalkers magic cards

Magic: The Gathering is one of the most popular card franchises on the planet. Every day, thousands of players visit the MTG forums and create new strategies and decks for the game.

Due to the huge number of cards, players have to improve their deck-building skills. A large number of characters enables variety during battles. And it provides a huge strategic advantage. But this approach does not relieve players of the difficulties in using planeswalkers.

So, one of the strong cards in MTG is Planeswalker. With this mage, you can influence the game's outcome and manipulate your opponent. But the use of such a card requires certain knowledge.

This article will tell you about the Multiverse traveler’s abilities and how it works. Read the article until the end to become invincible in MTG.

Understanding Planeswalkers

mtg planeswalkers

Undoubtedly Multiverse travelers are strong cards. With the help of such cards, you can get a significant advantage on the battlefield during the battle. But to get a profitable strategy and strong attacks, you should:

  • Understand what a Multiverse traveler is;
  • Be able to read card design;
  • Know how the cards work;
  • Be able to distinguish between types of card characters.

This section will tell you about this and other useful card functions. Using planeswalkers knowledge in practice, you can get a profitable advantage. This will make them surrender in any battle with you.

What Are Planeswalker Cards?

Before we get to the Planeswalker rules, we should find out what this card is. Those cards are a unique type of card in the popular trading card game MTG. It first appeared in the Lorwyn expansion in 2007. Multiverse travelers represent powerful characters or entities within the game's fictional multiverse. They use magical abilities to manipulate the battlefield and impact the game.

In MTG, players are mages who use their spells and creatures to battle against one another. The game is set in a vast multiverse with different planes of existence. Each has its inhabitants, landscapes, and magical energies. They are beings who can traverse the multiverse. And they draw on its magical energies to cast spells and summon creatures.

According to Planeswalker rules, one who casts a Multiverse traveler card summons a powerful ally to their side. It can help them control the battlefield. They have a set number of loyalty counters. It represents the amount of influence they have over the game. With each turn, players can use one of their abilities. Depending on the ability's effect, they can add or subtract loyalty counters.

Multiverse travelers have had a significant impact on the game of MTG. Before their arrival, players could only summon creatures and cast spells. Multiverse travelers added a new layer of strategy to the game. This allows players to manipulate the game's mechanics uniquely.

The introduction of Magic: The Gathering Planeswalker coincided with the storyline in MTG's lore. It’s known as the "Lorwyn-Shadowmoor'' block. This block introduced players to a new world of magic. It filled it with powerful faeries, elves, and other mythical creatures. Their characters included:

  • Ajani Goldmane;
  • Chandra Nalaar;
  • Garruk Wildspeaker;
  • Jace Beleren;
  • Liliana Vess;
  • Nicol Bolas.

Since their debut, Planeswalkers have become a staple of MTG. They appear in almost every new expansion and set. There are currently over 200 different Multiverse traveler cards available. Each has its unique abilities, loyalty counters, and art.

Types of MTG Planeswalker

There are three main types of Magic: The Gathering Planeswalker cards:

  • Mono-colored;
  • Multi-colored;
  • Colorless.

Mono-coloured Multiverse travelers focus on a single color of magic. And they're typically less powerful than their multi-colored counterparts. But they are easier to cast and can be useful in decks that rely on a specific color of magic.

Multi-coloured Multiverse travelers are more versatile. And they can be in a wider range of decks. They typically need a combination of two or more colors of magic to cast. And they have abilities that reflect their multicolor nature.

Colorless ones are a relatively new addition to the game. And they're typically artifacts, meaning they can be in any deck regardless of color. They often have unique abilities. Those reflect their lack of color. It can be the ability to generate large amounts of mana or deal direct damage to an opponent.

Special Magic: The Gathering Planeswalker cards are known as "flip cards" or "transform Multiverse travelers." You can play these cards in their normal form. But they also have a "flip side" that you can activate under certain conditions. When you meet these conditions, the card is "flipped''.

How Do Planeswalker Cards Work?

Each card has a set of mechanics. It makes it different from other card types in Magic: The Gathering. Multiverse traveler cards have a few essential characteristics:

  • Name. Each card has a unique name. It represents the specific Multiverse traveler it represents;
  • Type. Multiverse traveler cards have a unique card type called "Planeswalker." This card type is distinct from creature cards, sorcery cards, and other types of cards in the game;
  • Abilities. Each card has a set of abilities. They allow players to use powerful spells, effects, and other abilities. Each Multiverse traveler card has a set of abilities. There are usually three to four of them. And players can use these abilities by adding or removing loyalty counters;
  • Loyalty Counters. Multiverse traveler cards have a unique mechanic called loyalty counters. These counters represent the loyalty of the Multiverse traveler to the player. Players can add or remove loyalty counters from a card. This is to activate or deactivate its abilities.

Each Magic: The Gathering Planeswalker card has a set of abilities. Players can use them by adding or removing loyalty counters.

There are three types of abilities that cards can have:

  • Loyalty Abilities. You can call them "activated" when you add or remove loyalty counters from a card. These abilities usually have a cost. They are adding or removing loyalty counters. Or it can be paying mana. They all allow players to use powerful spells, effects, and abilities;
  • Triggered Abilities. They work when you meet specific conditions. The last one can be when a player casts a spell, or a creature enters the battlefield. Triggered abilities can be powerful, but they usually only activate once;
  • Static Abilities. They're always active abilities, providing ongoing effects that affect the game. For example, some Multiverse traveler cards have an ability that increases loyalty counters.

Understanding Loyalty Counters Of Planeswalker Cards

Loyalty counters are a unique mechanic of Multiverse traveler cards. They represent the loyalty of the Magic: The Gathering Planeswalker to the player. And players can add or remove these counters. This is to activate or deactivate the card's abilities.

At the beginning of a player's turn, they add one loyalty counter to each Multiverse traveler card. But those cards should be on the battlefield. Players can use loyalty abilities by adding or removing loyalty counters.

If a Multiverse traveler card has zero loyalty counters, put it into the graveyard. Players can also use spells or abilities. They are to remove loyalty counters from a card. This reduces its effectiveness in the game.

Examples of How Planeswalker Cards Work in Gameplay

Let's take a look at some examples of how Multiverse mage cards work in gameplay:

  • Chandra Nalaar. Chandra Nalaar is a card with three loyalty abilities. Her first ability deals one damage to the target player or creature. The next ability deals damage equal to the number of loyalty counters on Chandra Nalaar. Her third ability deals six damage to each opponent;
  • Liliana Vess. Liliana Vess is a card with four loyalty abilities. Her first ability allows a player to search their library for a card. At the same time, her second ability forces an opponent to discard a card. The last ability allows players to return a creature card from their graveyard. With her ultimate ability, you can put all creatures from all graveyards onto the field. But they will be only under their control;
  • Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Jace, the Mind Sculptor, is a powerful Magic: The Gathering Planeswalker card. It has four loyalty abilities. His first ability allows a player to draw three cards and then put two cards from their hand on top of their library. His second ability allows a player to revoke a creature. His third ability allows a player to look at the top of their library and put any number of cards back on top in any order. His ultimate ability allows players to exile all cards from an opponent's library.

Planeswalker Card Design And Artwork

Multiverse traveler cards are some of the most sought-after and powerful cards in MTG. They feature powerful characters from lore and allow players to summon them. They unleash their unique abilities and spells on the battlefield. The design and artwork of these cards are a crucial part of their appeal. This helps to bring the game's rich and complex universe to life.

The artwork on a Multiverse traveler card is just as important as its design. Each card features a stunning illustration of the character it represents. It captures their personality, appearance, and unique powers. Some of the most talented artists often create artwork in the game. And the attention to detail and creativity on display is truly remarkable.

One of the most popular Magic: The Gathering Planeswalker card designs is that of Jace Beleren. It's a powerful mage from the game's lore. It's known for his intelligence, cunning, and mastery of mental magic. And this card provides abilities to manipulate opponents' hands and decks. The artwork on Jace's card is equally impressive. It features a striking image of the mage standing atop a rocky outcropping. His robes billow in the wind as he surveys the battlefield.

Another popular Multiverse traveler card is that of Chandra Nalaar. It's the fiery pyromancer who wields the power of the flame. Chandra's card features a set of abilities. They allow them to deal damage to opponents. And also, players use them to control the battlefield with walls of fire and other fiery spells. The artwork on Chandra's card is equally impressive. It has a dynamic and powerful illustration. This is the mage wreathed in flames as she prepares to unleash her devastating powers.

Planeswalker Card Rules

3 planeswalker mtg cards

Any novice player in MTG or other card game wants to get the strongest cards to fight in the first place. And this has its reasons. With the help of strong cards, you can gain an advantage during the battle. But the strongest MTG characters also need:

  • Focus;
  • Tactics;
  • Control.

As with any new element, Multiverse travelers also come with their own set of rules and mechanics. In this block, we'll provide an overview of the basic card rules. We will explain how to cast and resolve Multiverse traveler cards. And we will provide details on how to use those cards’ abilities.

Basic Planeswalker Card Rules

A Multiverse traveler card is a permanent card like creatures, lands, and artifacts. But cards have unique characteristics that set them apart. Each card has a loyalty value, which is a number printed in the bottom right corner of the card:

  • It shows the number of counters that the Multiverse traveler enters the battle with. Planeswalker cards also have a subtype;
  • It indicates which Multiverse traveler it is, such as Jace, Chandra, or Garruk;
  • Finally, Multiverse traveler cards have an ability called a "planeswalker ability." You can use it once per turn and activate it at sorcery speed.

Casting and Resolving Planeswalker Cards

To cast a Multiverse traveler card, you must pay its mana cost. And also, follow the same rules as you would for casting any other spell. Once the card is cast, it enters the battlefield. It enters the number of loyalty counters indicated on the card. When a card enters the battlefield, it becomes permanent. And it follows the same Planeswalker card rules as other permanents.

This means that spells and abilities can target it, and creatures can attack it. Players can deal damage to a Multiverse traveler. But then, they can choose to remove loyalty counters from the card. It will be equal to the amount of damage dealt. If a loyalty count ever reaches zero, put the card into its owner's graveyard.

Using Planeswalker Card Abilities

Multiverse traveler abilities are the unique aspect of cards. Each card has a set of abilities. You can activate them once per turn at sorcery speed.

These abilities can be either loyalty abilities or triggered abilities. It depends on the wording on the card. A loyalty ability is an activated ability. You can activate it only if the Magic: The Gathering Planeswalker has enough loyalty counters to pay for it. Each loyalty ability has a cost, which a minus sign by a number indicates it. When a player activates a loyalty, they remove many loyalty counters from the card. And then they follow the instructions of the ability. A triggered ability automatically triggers when you meet a certain condition. For example, a card might have an ability triggering when it enters the battle.

These abilities do not need the Planeswalker to have any loyalty counters. It's vital to note that when players activate the ability, they are not casting a spell. This means they do not need to pay the mana cost or follow the timing restrictions for casting a spell. Instead, the activated ability resolves immediately. And the effects of the ability take place.

When a player activates a loyalty ability, they must follow the instructions on the card. This means that if the ability requires the player to target a creature, they must choose a legal target. If there are no legal targets, you can't activate the ability.

One key strategy for using planeswalkers abilities is to protect the card from damage.

Players can also use abilities to:

  • Draw cards;
  • Gain life;
  • Deal damage to their opponent's creatures or Planeswalkers.

Advanced Planeswalker Card Rules

To use Multiverse traveler cards, you must be familiar with advanced rules. This includes:

  • The differences between activated and triggered abilities;
  • How priority and the stack work;
  • How cards get damaged.

Multiverse traveler cards have two types of abilities: activated and triggered.

Activated abilities are in the MTG format "[Cost]: [Effect]." Only the player who controls the Magic: The Gathering Planeswalker can activate it. And it can be only during their main phase when the stack is empty. Activated abilities are always preceded by a colon (:). And they can be identified by the fact that they are in the card's text box.

Triggered abilities are in the format "Whenever [Trigger Event], [Effect]." These abilities trigger automatically by specific game events. And any player can activate them in response to that event. Words like "when," "whenever," or "at" in the card's text box identify Triggered abilities.

When a player casts a spell or activates an ability, that action goes on the stack. The stack is a zone in the game where all actions are in the order in which players take them. When a player takes action, they receive priority. It means they can take another action or pass priority to their opponent.

If a player casts a spell or activates an ability during their turn, they receive priority first. If they pass priority, their opponent then receives priority. If both players pass priority consecutively, the top item on the stack resolves. And the game moves on to the next item. Players can respond to any item on the stack by casting a spell or activating an ability. It creates a new item on the stack.

Rules on Dealing Damage to Planeswalker Cards

Mage cards are unique. Players and creatures can attack them directly. When a player or creature deals damage to a mage card, that damage goes to the card's loyalty points. It works instead of the player's life total.

A player with many mage cards can choose which one to assign the damage to. If a creature is attacking a player and that player has a Multiverse traveler card in play, the attacking creature's controller can choose to attack the player or the Multiverse traveler card. If the creature's controller chooses to attack the mage card, the defending player can block with creatures as normal.

Magic: The Gathering Planeswalker card's loyalty can be zero. In this case, put it into a graveyard. Spells and abilities that specifically target Multiverse travelers can also target mage cards. These spells and abilities can either damage the traveler card directly. Or they can remove loyalty counters from it.

Planeswalker Card Interactions

Multiverse traveler cards are one of the most dynamic and complex card types in Magic: The Gathering. These cards can interact with other card types in a variety of ways. This creates complex gameplay situations.

We will find out:

  • Planeswalker interaction rules;
  • How they interact with the stack and priority;
  • What are the common interactions between mage and other card types are.

Interaction with Other Card Types

Multiverse travelers can interact with other card types in many ways. Creatures can attack mage cards. It deals damage to the loyalty points. Spells and abilities can also target Multiverse traveler cards. And spells and abilities can damage the mage or remove loyalty counters.

Enchantments and artifacts can also interact with mage cards. For example, a card like "Oath of Nissa" can make magician cards easier to cast. While "Pithing Needle" can prevent a traveler card's abilities from being activated. Also, some Magic: The Gathering Planeswalker cards can interact with other card types. For example, "Gideon, Ally of Zendikar" can create creature tokens and give them a +1/+1 bonus. And "Nissa, Worldwaker" can make lands into creatures.

Interaction with the Stack and Priority

Magician cards interact with the stack and priority in the same way as other cards. When you activate a mage ability, it goes on the stack. And players receive priority to respond to that ability. But a player can respond to the ability. Their response goes on the stack above the ability. If no one responds, the ability resolves, and its effect occurs.

Magician cards can also interact with the priority system when creatures are attacking. When declaring attackers, choose which player or mage card the creatures are attacking. If a creature attacks a mage card, the defending player can block it. If no creatures block the attacking creature, it damages the loyalty points.

Common Interactions with Other Card Types

There are several common interactions between mage cards and other card types. One of the most common interactions is between Planeswalker cards and creatures. Creatures can attack planes walkers cards directly. And some cards have abilities that allow them to create creature tokens. Some traveler cards can give creatures a bonus. Or they allow them to attack without tapping.

Another common interaction is between mage cards and spells that target creatures. Many spells that target creatures can also target magician cards. It deals damage or removes loyalty counters. For example, "Lightning Bolt" can deal 3 damage to a creature or Planeswalker card. While "Hero's Downfall" can destroy a creature or Planeswalker card.

Planes walker cards also interact with enchantments and artifacts. Some enchantments and artifacts can make world traveler cards easier to cast. At the same time, others can prevent their abilities from activating. For example, "Doubling Season" doubles the loyalty counters the magician enters the battlefield with. While "Pithing Needle" prevents mage cards from activating their abilities.

Examples of Planeswalker Card Interactions

One example is the interaction between "Jace, the Mind Sculptor" and "Counterbalance." "Jace, the Mind Sculptor" allows its controller to look at the top card of their library. And you can put it back on top or on the bottom of their library.

"Counterbalance" is an enchantment. It allows its controller to reveal cards from the top of their library. And then you can counter spells with the same converted mana cost as the revealed card.

In this interaction, if the opponent casts a spell with a converted mana cost of two, the player with "Counterbalance" can reveal the top card of their library and counter the spell. But if the player with "Jace, the Mind Sculptor" uses its ability to put a card with a converted mana cost of two on top of their library, the opponent's spell will be countered without the "Counterbalance" trigger.

Another example is the interaction between "Chandra, Torch of Defiance" and "Abrade." "Chandra, Torch of Defiance" deals 4 damage to the target creature or planes walker. And "Abrade" is a spell that deals 3 damage to a target creature or destroys a target artifact.

The opponent can control a card with three or fewer loyalty counters. And the player with "Chandra, Torch of Defiance" can deal 4 damage to the card. Then the opponent can respond with "Abrade" to destroy "Chandra, Torch of Defiance." But they should do it before its ability resolves. But "Chandra, Torch of Defiance'' can deal 4 damage to a creature instead. In this case, the opponent cannot respond with "Abrade" to destroy the magician.


Mage cards are a great addition to the core MTG gameplay. But, as with other MTG cards, you need to use traveler one properly. For your winning strategy, follow the basic Planeswalker rules. Only in this case will you get improved card synergy and increase their impact on your opponent.

And to be more confident in MTG playing and collecting, read our previous articles about: 

And how many Black Lotus MTG cards are there?


How To Play A Planeswalker In MTG?

To play a planeswalker, you first need to have a planeswalker card in your hand. You can play it during your main phase when the stack is empty, and only if you have enough mana to pay its mana cost. When playing a planeswalker, put it onto the battlefield with a number of loyalty counters on it. They should be equal to the number in the lower right corner of the card.

How Do I Activate A Planeswalker Card Ability?

First, you must have a planeswalker on the battlefield. During your main phase, use one of its activated abilities. The cost and effect of each ability are on the card. Note that activating a planeswalker ability is a special action. And it can be only done at sorcery speed.

Can I Activate Many Planeswalker Card Abilities In The Same Turn?

Yes, you can do it. But you need the loyalty counters and the mana to pay for each ability. You can only activate each ability once per turn.

How Do I Calculate The Loyaly Counters On A Planeswalker Card?

The number in the lower right corner of the card indicates the number of loyalty. When you play a planeswalker, it enters the battlefield with that many loyalty counters on it. You can also add or remove loyalty counters from the planeswalker by using its abilities.

Can I Target A Planeswalker Card With Spells And Abilities?

Yes, you can target a planeswalker card with spells and abilities that specify a target. If the spell deals damage, it will deal that damage to the planeswalker's loyalty counters. But it does it instead of the player or creature. Note that some spells and abilities specifically target planeswalkers. But others may target any permanent.

How Does A Planeswalker Card's Ultimate Ability Work?

A planeswalker's ultimate ability is its most powerful ability. And it's usually listed last on the card. It requires a high number of loyalty counters to activate. And once activated, it triggers a powerful effect. Once the ultimate ability is on, the planeswalker's removed from the battlefield. And you cannot activate any of its other abilities.