Dominaria United Planeswalker Survival Odds

Dominaria United: which Planeswalkers will survive?

Chris CornejoMagic Story

Dominaria United has brought together many Planeswalkers, and as we’ve already found out, not all of them are going to make it out of this storyline in one piece. This looks to be a major shakeup for the characters of Magic, and I’m here to give my best guess as to how likely it is that any given planeswalker in the story will come out the other side alive. 

I’ll be going through every planeswalker that has so far appeared in the Dominaria United storyline, and a couple of others who feel very likely to show up. This all is based off the highly scientific process of “what I felt sounded right at the time,” and as such any deviation that happens in the actual story is probably a series of very large typos.  

Also, if you aren’t caught up on the DMU storyline so far, spoilers ahead! 

Jaya Ballard — Chance of Survival: 0% 

One of the original mascots of Red Deck Wins players everywhere, Jaya’s death near the end of the DMU story is a classic heightening of stakes. Reversing it would take a lot of the wind out of the narrative, and Chandra is already around to keep the fire going, so to speak.  

The fact that Jaya’s death comes at the hand of Ajani also makes me think some last-minute miracle is not in the cards. Should Ajani somehow pull through the story (more on that below), having Jaya’s death hanging over his head should matter. 

There is also the possibility she comes back compleated, revived and turned into a phyrexian in much the same manner as Braids and Ertai. If so, given her personality, I think it’s unlikely she flees some climactic battle to fight another day. She’s the sort to go down swinging, so I put her chances of survival at nil.

Karn — Chance of Survival: 10%

Oh, Karn, you gentle soul. Originally a pacifist, the Phyrexians are enough to make him try to fight back. He even went so far as to unearth one of the most devastating weapons ever built in the multiverse to try and eliminate the threat. The plan doesn’t exactly work, and he is once again captured by the Phyrexians, likely forced back to New Phyrexia. 

The Phyrexians obviously have plans for Karn, although the specifics aren’t quite clear yet. In the original Scars of Mirrodin/New Phyrexia story, they were looking to corrupt him to gain access to a Planeswalker spark. Since then, they’ve managed that goal already with others. So if Karn has a vital role to play in their machinations, it’s likely something new. 

That said, Karn was built to bring about the downfall of the Phyrexians, and it feels like there will need to be some sacrifices along the way to make that happen. I can very easily see Karn giving his life in an effort to stop all this once and for all. Or, if he is corrupted, I can also see his body becoming a new vessel for Yawgmoth or something along those lines, putting him square in the crosshairs of who the heroes need to defeat.  

Either way, Karn feels too central to everything going on, so I put his chances of survival at a pretty slim chance. 

Teferi — Chance of Survival: 50% 

Ever watch the old, animated Transformers movie? Spoilers for that, if you care, but they kill off a lot of the main cast, and a crew of newer, younger Transformers rise up to take their place. Now, Transformers was a property built to sell toys, so cleaning house to make room for a new line of action figures makes sense there. It’s a very cynical way to tell a story, but them toys don’t sell themselves.

Magic isn’t exactly in the same boat. Yes, the base goal is to sell more cards by releasing new sets and getting people to buy more product. You don’t necessarily need to kill off anyone to do this — you can just keep making new cards with the same folks on them over and over again. Magic players will probably keep buying them anyway.

That’s why I’m giving Teferi an even shot at making it through the story. He’s become one of the major players in Magic after a significant absence, but he’s also beginning to suffer from a little exposure fatigue — much like the Gatewatch (which he was also a part of, incidentally). 

Story-wise, Teferi is kind of overpowered. His ability to manipulate time allows for really cool ideas like going back to the Brothers’ War to ask Urza exactly how this Sylex works. But once that level of time travel is thrown into the mix, it’s hard for the stakes of any story featuring Teferi’s involvement to be anything other than apocalyptic. Otherwise, if he isn’t constantly on the verge of being overwhelmed, he can theoretically win any fight. This storyline feels like a good spot for him to go out in a well earned blaze of glory.  

At the same time, he could also make it through and go spend some time with his family, popping up in a mentor role every now and then. Nothing bad ever happens to mentors, right? 

Jared Carthalion — Chance of Survival: 75% 

If the good side wins the war, I’m pretty sure Jared survives. He’ll take his place as a king and help a united Dominaria rise from the ashes of this latest apocalypse alongside Danitha, Meria, Jhoira and whoever else is still standing in a position of authority. 

If the good guys lose and the Magic story goes in a darker direction for a while though, he’s probably toast. 

Elspeth Tirel — Chance of Survival: 80% 

Elspeth needs to be the one who gives Ajani peace. The Ajani we knew up to this point would find his recent actions abhorrent, and he would want to be stopped. Elspeth’s apparent job in the Magic storyline is to just endure heaps of trauma over and over again, so killing her mentor and longtime friend is right in line with what she normally goes through.  

Her spark was ignited due to the Phyrexians invading her home plane when she was a child, so I can see how her going out in a blaze of light could be instrumental in stopping them. However, I think the more interesting choice would be to have her help stop them and then have to figure out what to do with her life now that the largest threat she’s known is gone (alongside her stalwart voice of guidance). I want to see Elspeth on a journey of self-discovery, finally able to deal with and process the past on her own terms. 

Liliana Vess — Chance of Survival: 99% 

Liliana is, if nothing else, a survivor. And she’s not really tied too closely into the main story, as she only appeared in a side story, so far. It was a very nifty side story that ties into a lot of deep Dominaria lore, but she doesn’t necessarily have a ton of reasons at the moment to jump into the fray where she’d be in danger.

Ajani Goldmane — Chance of Survival: 1% 

So here’s the thing: I don’t want there to be a cure for compleation. I don’t want someone to reverse the process. In the previous Phyrexian storyline, it took an act of supreme sacrifice on the part of Venser to stop the process of Karn’s compleation at the last possible moment, and that was a hail-mary that barely worked. Don’t change a good thing. 

However, he is one of the Lorwyn Five, the first set of Planeswalker cards in the game. I don’t see him surviving the story in his current state, so if he is going to pull through, there would have to be a method to reverse what’s been done to him. But that would render a lot of the threat and lingering repercussions of the Phyrexians null and void, so I don’t think that’s going to happen. At least, I hope not. 

Tamiyo — Chance of Survival: 60% 

Tamiyo’s compleation was a huge shock to the Magic storyline, setting the stage for current events and greatly increasing the Phyrexian threat. That said, Tamiyo has often been a little more aloof when it comes to her involvement in the main story, mostly preferring to watch from the sidelines as much as possible. 

I think it’s more likely that, while present, she’s mostly in the background. And as the story accelerates to its conclusion, she falls off the radar a bit… which will make her perfectly placed to continue the Phyrexian threat in the background of the Magic story for years to come as she slips away from this war to observe events in a much more sinister way than before.  

Tezzeret — Chance of Survival: 40% 

And if Tamiyo becomes the new Tezzeret-like figure in Magic, that means there’s not a ton of need for Tezz to stick around. He has been a very useful figure in the storyline for tying very long threads together, but he might be starting to overstay his welcome in that role. 

I’m putting his survival largely contingent on what happens to Tamiyo and how involved they both get in the actual story. More screentime for Tezzeret will make me think this is his swan song. 

Saheeli Rai — Chance of Survival: 100%, Or Else 

Saheeli remade the Sylex after Ajani broke it, and I see no reason for her to get much more involved or put in harm’s way, and if she is, we riot. We already lost Venser. Stop killing all the STEM-oriented Planeswalkers. NEXT! 

Urza — Chance of Survival: Either -1,000% or Absolutely Making It Through 

We’re going to meet up with Urza in the Brothers War — that much is a given. Famously, nothing ever goes wrong in stories when time travel is involved, so if he’s only around for this set before continuing on with his story as we already know it, then…well, we already know his fate. He dies after a lot more happens, but he still dies. 

If he gets more involved with time-shenanigans, then there’s two possibilities as I see it. One: The modern Phyrexians, having a memory of Urza, kill him well before he’s supposed to die, throwing the whole timeline into disarray and sowing chaos. That’s honestly a pretty nifty option. 

Then there’s path number two: Urza comes back to the present somehow in a way that preserves the timeline. Once the Phryexians are defeated, Magic is in a spot where most of its major villains have been dealt with one way or another over the past five or so years. That just leaves a few others plus Urza, who I must remind you is not a good person. 

Urza is, in fact, fairly monstrous. And if the version of him that comes to the present is an arrogant, younger version that didn’t go through the whole Legacy storyline through the Weatherlight Saga, then we might have our new big bad for Magic going forward.  

Venser — Chance of Survival: I’ll Take the Smallest Glimmer of Hope 

I know, I know — he’s dead. But I can totally see him being brought back, Phyrexianized, for shock value. And if any of the other compleated Planeswalkers can by un-completed, then so can he. I can have my good, good boy back. 

As I’ve noted above, I am rooting for compleation to a permanent problem, but if they don’t go that way, the least they can do is to fix this kind hearted scholar. 

End step

So there you have it — my predictions for who makes it out of the Second Phyrexian War. Some of these definitely have a little more thought put into them than others. I truly would like to see Urza become an out-and-out villain in the current story, while I’ll also admit at the same time not being overly invested in what happens to Jared. 

But what do you think? Do you have a different idea for the story than what I’ve laid out? Let me know what you think over on twitter at @fridaynightmeh.