Superfriends: an archetype that most of the times is loved or hated due to the impact it can have on your Commander table.
If you want to play this type of the deck but you don’t know where to start, well… I think you might be in the right place. Here I will try to give you some base guidelines to start building your own Superfriends deck and develop your gameplay strategy.
Let’s start from the real basics:
What is a Superfriends deck?
Superfriends is the name that is given to decks that have as main objective to play tons of Planeswalkers and use their abilities to win the game. I think the origin of this name might be from the omonimous cartoon series.
In a Superfriends deck you will be playing your Planeswalkers and use their abilities to reach a state where you will get in control of the game and slowly grind your way to victory. You may ended up winning with Chandra, Awakened Inferno‘s emblems; or by exiling your opponents’ boards with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria‘s one; or even by knocking your opponents one via combat damage with Sarkhan the Masterless‘s +1.
Planeswalkers can really be scary for the table and so you need to have ways to support them, starting directly from your Commander.
Choosing your Commander
The ideal Commander for a Superfriend deck is something that can directly support the archetype by helping your Planeswalker have enough loyalty to do their ultimates as soon as possible, protecting them or letting you tutor for the ones you need.
The following is a small introduction to some cards that can be perfect Commanders for your Superfriends deck.
Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice
Let’s address the elephant in the room: Atraxa, Preators’ Voice is surely the most popular Commander for the Superfriend archetype and for a lot of good reasons. A 4/4 with four powerful static abilities for four mana is already something that could handle the protection of our Planeswalkers while also doing some offensive pressure on our opponents. Atraxa gives access to four of the five colors but what really makes it stand out as a Superfriends Commander is the Proliferate ability that will give one more loyalty to all our Planeswalkers at each of our end steps.
The only contraindications about running Atraxa are that you are missing the color red and that you are putting a big target on your head as it is renowned to be a really fearsome Commander. Missing the color red could not bother some people but I know that others would also love to play the various Chandra, Bolas and Sarkhan in their Superfriend decks.
Sisay, Weatherlight Captain
Sisay is a tutor for Planeswalkers, Oaths and other Legendary permanents in the Command Zone. Sisay enables a tool box strategy, where we can go and search for the Planeswalkers we need to answer to the boardstates of our opponents, and a combo one, where we are going to use her to find our combo pieces; both of them are supported by the access to all five colors that this Commander brings with its identity.
Sisay also works really well with Jegantha, the Wellspring as Companion; this can enable a chain of Planeswalkers put in to play if we decide to run the ones that can untap Jegantha with their ability, like Ral Zarek and Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner. If you don’t want to have the deckbuilding restriction that Jegantha impose to have it as Companion, you can put it easily in the 99.
Esika, God of the Three
Let’s say it right from the start: more than Esika, the real Commander of the deck is The Prismatic Bridge. The sooner we are able to play it, the better as it will start to put Planeswalkers from the deck to the battlefield at each of our upkeep.
Five colors gives us access to all the Planeswalkers and the deck needs to be well thought out to work well: we cannot put creatures that aren’t impactful enough for our game plan as we risk to pull them out instead of a Planeswalkers, wasting a Bridge trigger.
Tons of wrath effect and counterspell to prevent the bridge from being destroyed are the best cards to ensure that our deck will work.
You will rarely cast Esika herself but it could happen in a pinch to fix the mana or to protect a crucial planswalker.
If you want a Commander that goes for general value, after Golos banning, Esika is surely the best one. Other valid alternatives can be Niv-Mizzet Reborn and Ramos, Dragon Engine, both two nice protective bodies for the Planeswalkers, giving access to all five colors and with some value ability. Niv-Mizzet will give you the restriction of playing a variety of 2-colored cards to fully take advantage of its ability, but it will let you go 10 cards deep in the deck and look for your desired cards; Ramos instead will help you cast your Planeswalkers giving you tons of mana and giving you the possibility of Voltron as a plan B as it could become a really big creatures if you decide to leave the counters on it.
Pramikon, Sky Rampart
Pramikon doesn’t have any direct synergy with Planeswalkers or Legendary permanents in general and neither brings pure value to the table like Golos; however Pramikon can be a really valuable Commander for a Superfriend deck because it’s able to give protection to your Planeswalkers. Pramikon would give the possibility only to one player at a time to attack you and, by copying and/or by blinking it, you could easily create a lock that would protect all your Planeswalker from every attack: having another copy of Pramikon on the field will stop everyone from attacking and each time you blink Pramikon you can change its direction.
You can check out my own Pramikon deck to have a starting point to build the deck.
Aminatou, the Fateshifter
Aminatou brings the Planeswalkers right into the Command Zone. Aminatou is a superfriend Commander that enables a lot of synergies and combos thanks to her -1 ability to blink a permanent. Exiling one of your Planeswalkers and making it return immediately back to the field with make it count as a new card and so it will let you use their abilities more the one time per turn, while also resetting their Loyalty to the starting one, for this the choice of Planeswalker in an Aminatou’s deck tend to give more importance to the – ability that they can use as soon as they enter the battlefield and focuses a bit less on their ultimates.
Aminatou is also a combo piece directly in the Command Zone. With Oath of Teferi and Felidar Guardian you can go infinite by using two times Aminatou’s -1: the first time to blink another Planeswalkers while the second time for the Felidar Guardian that, upon re-entering the battlefield, will let you blink Aminatou and restart the process; with another Planeswalker like Teferi, Time Raveler on the field you could potentially put a lot of your opponents’ board back into their hands while also continuously draw, looking for the way to finish the game.
If you want to go more in depth about Aminatou’s combo deck you can read the primer written by darrenhabib.
Another Commander that play similarly to Aminatou but it does not go infinite as easily is Brago, King Eternal: you will preserve the blink sub-theme but you can reset your planes only during your combat when Brago deals damage.
Kethis, the Hidden Hand
Kethis, like Sisay, is another Commander that was created to support legendary permanents in general rather than specifically being designed for Planeswalkers decks.
Kethis will reduce the cost of our Planeswalkers while also giving recursion to them by giving us the possibility to replay legendary cards from the graveyard. This really helps to give resiliency to an archetype that could really suffer more than others at seeing their pieces removed.
Abzan colors in my opinion is more leaning to an aggressive kind of Superfriends decks; one that tries to win the game thanks to the token production of the various Elspeth and Garruk, pumping up their creatures with some Nissa and Ajani and trying to close the game thanks to emblems like the one of Vraska, Golgari Queen
Will Kenrith & Rowan Kenrith
Two other planeswalkers that can lead a superfriends deck directly from the Command Zone are the two Kenrith Brothers. The deck usually works around the -2 of Will, that makes us pay less to cast our Planeswalkers, and Rowan’s -8. Rowan’s Emblem will help generate tons of value by doubling the ability of our Planeswalkers and giving the possibility of going infinite in many different ways.
Kenrith Brothers are protection, ramp and Planeswalker synergy in you Command Zone.
If you want to go more in depth about Will & Rowan Superfriend you can read the primer written by darrenhabib.
Carth the Lion
Carth is a Commander that will give some card advantage upon entering the battlefield or when a Planeswalkers dies, but I think that the ability that makes it really suitable for a Superfriend deck is the ability of changing the cost of the Planeswalkers’ abilities, giving life to some really nice synergy.
Carth will let some Planeswalkers use their ultimate as soon as they enter the battlefield and could let us leverize our game on some minus ability that will not decrease the loyalty thanks to him. In Golgari colors planeswalkers focus mainly on three things: token generations, card advantage and hitting our opponents board and hands. This will lead to a more control type of deck where you will try to keep the board in check with removals or hand disruptions with your Planeswalkers.
Golgari colors don’t have many prison effects but luckily you will have some of the best wrath effects of the game; you are going to rely a lot on them to protect you planeswalkers.
You can check out ModeratelyAnonymousMTG’s Carth List for a starting point to build the deck.
Djeru, With Eyes Open
Djeru’s connection to Planeswalkers it’s pretty obvious as both his abilities are related to them.
Tutoring our best planeswalkers is really huge and plus Djeru will reduce each damage directed to them by 1.
Being mono-white a Djeru’s deck is more well-versed for an aggressive type of Superfriend, filling the board with Elspeth’s tokens and the various Gideon and then pump them up with the abilities of Planeswalkers like Ajani or Basri. Still we will have access to some more controllish Planeswalkers in the form of the colorless Karn and Ugin.
Tolarian Community College made a video about Djeru that you can watch if you want to get some ideas for your deck.
Vorinclex, Monstrous Rider
Doubling Season is surely one of the best cards for Superfriend decks and having it in the Command Zone in the form of Vorinclex surely is huge.
By doubling the counters we will be able to play the Planeswalker and use its ultimate immediately most of the time. Most green planeswalkers synergize really well with creatures and lands so having those as a sub-theme is a really nice way to capitalize on our Superfriends’ abilities. Vorinclex is even better then Doubling Season because its ability modifies the number of counter that will put on a permanent in any occasion and not only as results of effects; this means that even the counters a Planeswalkers get as a cost of their loyalty abilities will be doubled (and also the one that our opponents’ one will get from their abilities is halved)
Vorinclex is a nice body to protect our Superfriends but it also halves the counters that our opponents are going to put on permanents, effectively powering down our opponents Planeswalkers. He also doubles the counter we are putting on other players so a Infect sub-theme is also a really effective strategy.
Tolarian Community College also made a video on a Vorinclex Superfriend deck; check it out to get a general idea on how to play the deck.
There are other Legendary Creatures that could lead a Superfriends deck; I only talked about the aforementioned as they are the ones that are most commonly seen as Superfriends Commanders. For example you can check out this post of Guests for DinnEDH to see how is possible to build a Superfriend deck even with Red Akroma as Commander.
As for any type of deck, there are some cards that will work extremely better than others for that playstyle and so they will be almost omnipresent in those decks: the staples.
Here in this section I’m going to present you the most common staples for a Superfriends deck.
Oaths are a series of enchantments introduced with the Set “Oath of the Gatewatch”. Lore-wise they represent the vows that the members of the Gatewatch made upon joining it while, speaking about the gameplay, they are Legendary Enchantments that synergize with Planeswalkers.
The more powerful one is surely Oath of Teferi, that let us use the loyal ability of our Planeswalkers twice each turn while also blinking one of our permanents when entering the battlefield. Ajani‘s and Nissa‘s ones will help us cast our Planeswalkers by reducing their costs and fixing our mana, while Gideon‘s will make our Planeswalkers enter the battlefield with one more loyalty and put on the field to bodies to protect them. Oath of Jace will let us scry every turn a number of cards equal to the number of Planeswalkers we control. The other Oaths still synergize with Planeswalkers but are less relevant.
The Chain Veil
The Chain Veil is a legendary artifact that works a bit like Oath of Teferi; in decks that aren’t able to capitalize on it it would be like a worst version of the Oath by having an activation cost, but The Chain Veil can be much stronger if the deck is able to abuse it. If we have a way to untap it (like Tezzeret the Seeker) we can activate it multiple times in a turn, being able to use our Planeswalkers’ ability one more time for each activation of it. There is a whole cEDH deck based on abusing The Chain Veil with Teferi, Temporal Archmage so it is evident how powerful it can be if the deck is built in the right way.
Doubling Season is one of the best card to have in a Superfriends deck because it will double the number of loyalty counters of each Planeswalkers that enters the battlefield; with this card on the battlefield a large number of Planeswalkers will be able to use its ultimate as soon as they are played, making Doubling Season one of the most dangerous cards in play when facing a Superfriends deck. Beware though, Doubling Season will not double the counter that a Planeswalker gets when using one of its Loyalty abilities; this is because Doubling Season will double the counters that an effect will put on a Planeswalkers, while the “+X” counters of a Loyalty Ability are instead a cost to pay (yes, even when they get Loyalty, and not only when you have to remove it, is considered a cost).
All of the above is also valid for Vorinclex, Monstrous Rider and that is why it is a powerful Commander for a Superfriends deck.
Another effect that will double the number of counters on your Planeswalkers is Deepglow Skate and so this is another powerful card to add to your deck to get one of your Ultimates out of nowhere.
Having the possibility to increase the loyalty of the planeswalkers not only with their abilities is surely huge as it gives them more resilience and speeds up the process of activating their ultimate ability. An ability as Proliferate can then be extremely powerful in a Superfriends deck; not for nothing, Atraxa is one of the most popular Commanders for this archetype. Your deck surely will benefit from having repeatable ways of Proliferating, like for example with Flux Channeler.
A card that can go in any deck is in the form of Karn’s Bastion, a nice utility land with an activated ability that lets us Proliferate.
Protecting the Planeswalkers
Planeswalkers are really powerful cards that can really net you some advantage and so a lot of times they will be the targets of the other players. Planeswalkers are also one of the most fragile types of Permanents as they can be directly attacked by our Opponents’ creatures; if I can decide to preserve my creature by not attacking or blocking with it, exposing it only to removals, this isn’t doable for Planeswalkers. So we need ways to protect them from the attack of creatures.
One of the most radical ways to protect our Planeswalkers is to completely remove creatures from the field and so Wraths are cards that are omnipresent in Superfriends decks and in a higher number compared to other archetypes. Wrath effects, for those who don’t know, are the spells that remove all creatures from the field, getting the name after Wrath of God.
Some decks will still want to have their Commander around even after a Wraths hit the table; in those cases you should consider to run cards like Slaughter the Strong and Urza’s Ruinous Blast, keeping in mind that also your opponents could save some of their creatures.
Another way to protect your Planeswalkers is to use cards that apply Prison Effects on the field. The cards that gives the name to this effect is Ghostly Prison but unfortunately it doesn’t protect our Planeswalker but only us. Prison effects that also protect Planeswalkers are, for example, Norn’s Annex or Sphere of Safety. Pramikon is a good Superfriends Commanders because it basically has a Prison effect on itself, limiting the number of creatures that can attack us. Sarkhan, the Masterless is a Planeswalkers with a somewhat Prison effect on it, if we have the right amount of Dragons we can prevent attacks going at us by killing the creatures before they get to deal damage.
Ensnaring Bridge is another powerful piece of Prison Effect that will however need a somewhat dedicated deck building as you will need to have your hand empty most of the time to prevent attacks. In a deck with this card you will need to focus on other types of card advantage that aren’t purely drawing or have means to discard your hand.
Lastly there is the most simple method that is to have creatures to block the attacks. Usually adding them for the sole purpose of protecting them isn’t efficient but there are a lot of Planeswalkers that will create Creature Tokens with their abilities, like Garruk, Primal Hunter.
Choosing your Planeswalkers
Choosing which Planeswalkers to play in your deck can also be a tricky part of your deck-building process. A general advice I can give you on that is to look for Planeswalkers that have, first of all, a strong ultimate that can win you games and, second, a useful plus ability that can help you throughout the game while you are increasing their loyalty. A good example of this is Teferi, Hero of Dominaria that nets us some good advantage with his +1 and the Emblem he creates will help us win games.
Speaking about the lesser negative abilities, having them to be also useful to your gameplan is really nice (Teferi’s -3 can save you in many situations) but I think that is generally less important than having good ultimate and good positive abilities. Decks with a Blink sub-theme like Aminatou will surely take this approach differently as the reset in Loyalty the Planeswalkers get when blinked will make you lean more on abusing the negative abilities that they can use as soon as they enter the battlefield.
Another good criteria to choose your Planeswalker is seeing if they are able to protect on their own, like for example with abilities that create tokens or that will reduce the power of attacking creatures. With a Planeswalkers being able to protect itself you will need to invest less resources in the protection of your piece and so this will let you control the board and advance your plan more easily.
This is the end of this beginner’s guide to Superfriend.
I really hope this post could help many people getting started with their planeswalkers deck.
Feel free to leave questions in the comments and even your decklists if you want me and maybe other readers to check it out.