Chandra, Pyrogenius – A Magic the Gathering Card Review

Chandra, Pyrogenius is one of two planeswalkers exclusive to the new Planeswalker Decks series which began with Kaladesh. These replace the old Intro Packs which were always rather underpowered to begin with. While you won’t find this Chandra or her Green counterpart Nissa, Nature’s Artisan in the actual Kaladesh set, both are considered cards that are part of the set, so they are indeed Standard legal just like the other cards in the decks.

Then again, these planeswalkers weren’t meant to be super powerful like the ones you find in Duel Decks, which are actual planeswalkers from Standard-legal sets, but in foil and with alternate art. Still, as far as these decks replacing Intro Packs went, these exclusive collectible walkers were much more of a draw than a foil of some random bulk rare and perhaps a few useful commons and uncommons. These Planeswalker decks were worth buying just for the exclusives, of which there are a few other cards in the decks besides just the planeswalkers. While they have proven under-powered as a competitive product, they’re still fun to play!

The big question, then, was Pyrogenius herself a good card actually playable in Standard? It’s probably pretty unfair to compare her to the Chandra in the set proper: Chandra, Torch of Defiance. So, let’s first consider Chandra, Pyrogenius on her own merits.

Is Chandra, Pyrogenius from the Kaladesh Planeswalker Deck a Playable Card?

Chandra, Pyrogenius Magic the Gathering card

Pyrogenius costs a total of six mana to cast, 4 colorless and 2 Red (4RR). She enters the battlefield with 5 loyalty counters, which is a decent enough number. Like most planeswalkers, she has three abilities. In her case, she has the traditional plus ability that adds counters, the minus ability that removes counters, and an “ultimate” ability that removes a good number of counters for a strong effect.

Pyrogenius has a +2 ability which deals 2 damage to each opponent. This is not a bad ability, considering that you can use it as soon as Pyrogenius enters the battlefield. It’s a good start. This is especially good in multiplayer games, as in a 4-player game, you’re spreading out 6 damage.

Her -3 ability deals 4 damage to a target creature. This is not a bad ability, although it brings Pyrogenius down to 2 loyalty counters, which can leave her vulnerable to most run of the mill burn spells and minimal attack. This could be the way in which she “protects” herself, however, by removing the biggest creature threat on the board. In that way, it’s a good ability, especially since the next turn she can just use her +2 ability.

The ultimate of Pyrogenius costs 10 loyalty counters. This deals 6 damage to target player and each creature he or she controls. If this ability sounds familiar to seasoned players, it should. In fact, the original Chandra Nalaar planeswalker from Lorwyn had this ability, but better. The original Chandra had an ultimate that cost 8 loyalty counters, but did 10 damage instead of 6. So obviously, this version is considerably under-powered.

Considering that Pyrogenius is basically a higher costed re-imagining of the original Chandra Nalaar, this doesn’t seem to bode well for her chances of seeing much Standard play. Let’s stack her up against Torch of Defiance’s abilities.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance costs only 4 mana (2RR) to cast and she enters the battlefield with 4 loyalty counters. She has two +1 abilities. One lets you exile the top card of your library, and you may cast it. If you don’t cast it, Chandra deals 2 damage to each opponent. This sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The second +1 ability adds two Red mana to your mana pool. So essentially, if you use this ability right after casting Chandra, Torch of Defiance, you basically paid 2 colorless mana for her. Wow.

The -3 ability looks extremely familiar. Torch of Defiance deals 4 damage to target creature. Like with Pyrogenius, it leaves her extremely vulnerable, but can also serve as her protection. But on a planeswalker with a +1 ability that can offer card advantage and a +1 ability that gives you free mana, this seems fine.

Torch of Defiance’s ultimate is pretty ridiculous. For a cost of 7 loyalty counters, you get an emblem. This emblem lasts for the rest of the game. It reads “Whenever you cast a spell, this emblem deals 5 damage to target creature or player.” Could it be a bit hard to obtain this? Perhaps. But it’s well worth it.

Obviously, Pyrogenius is an extremely watered down version of Torch of Defiance. Will this prove to be the case with all of these Planeswalker deck exclusives? I still think she’s a fun card, especially for newer players who are just happy to cast their first planeswalker. Is she worth casting for 6 mana? In a competitive environment, not at all.

Writing words, spreading love, Amelia Desertsong primarily writes creative nonfiction articles, as well as dabbling in baseball, Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, and whatever else tickles her fancy.
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