The last time the lovely Kaya planeswalked into a Standard-legal Magic the Gathering release, she left quite an impact. First released in the Conspiracy: Take the Crown set, all three of Kaya’s first planeswalker cards were playable to some degree, especially Kaya 3.0, Kaya, Orzhov Usurper. Kaldheim brings the 4th Kaya Planeswalker card in Kaya the Inexorable, a 5-mana White/Black planeswalker who enters the battlefield with 5 loyalty counters.
Kaya’s first ability is somewhat reminiscent of the card Kaya’s Ghostform from War of the Spark, but the effect is significantly different. Her first and only plus loyalty ability reads: “+1: Put a ghostsform counter on up to one target nontoken creature. When it dies or is put into exile, return it to its owner’s hand and create a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying.”
Being able to protect one of your best creatures by allowing you to get it back to your hand whether it dies or is exiled is good enough. But, getting a flying 1/1 token on top of that is even better. Note that you could use this ability on an opponent’s creature, too, although I’m not entirely sure why you would.
Kaya’s second loyalty ability is quite straight forward: “-3: Exile target nonland permanent.” This is reminiscent of Kaya, Bane of the Dead’s ‘exile target creature’ ability, but is significantly better. It seems likely that this ability will be used a lot when Kaya hits the board. This means all you need to go is put one ghostform counter on a creature, then exile two nonland permanents. That’s a solid value for 5 mana, especially as you’ll get a 1/1 flying token in many cases, too, which can chump block to protect Kaya the Inexorable.
So, this Kaya planeswalker already defends herself somewhat and can take two permanents out of play more often than not. What about her ultimate ability?
“-7: You get an emblem with ‘At the beginning of your upkeep, you may cast a legendary spell from your hand, from your graveyard, or from among cards you own in exile without paying its mana cost.”
Wow. That’s powerful. Even from exile? Play a strong Legendary spell Elspeth Conquers Death straight from your hand, graveyard, or even exile? Seems legit. With this ability, Kaya pretty much pays for herself, not to mention you get to protect two of your creatures in getting there.
Right away, Kaya the Inexorable looks like a massive win for many Commander decks in her colors. Of course, there are so many Legendary spells running around Standard these days that if you get her to 7 loyalty counters, you’re getting a free spell. In fact, there are Legendary spells in Kaldheim itself that should see play alongside this Kaya walker.
Companions, for example, can be retrieved from exile or the graveyard after they’ve been cast at least once with Kaya’s ultimate ability. That means decks that play Yorion, Sky Nomad and Lurrus of the Dream Den will probably be happy to have Kaya the Inexorable around. Esper Doom Foretold, which has been a top deck in Standard, would be happy to have her, with the aforementioned Yorion and Elspeth Conquers Death key cards in that deck. It doesn’t hurt that Kaya herself could exile a pesky Enchantment like Doom Foretold in the mirror match. Also, Yorion, Sky Nomad can “blink” Kaya, resetting her loyalty after using her -3 ability!
It also appears that Angel Tribal decks will be a real thing in Standard with Kaldheim, and as they appear to be in White and Black, Kaya the Inexorable will probably become a mainstay in those decks.
Kaya the Inexorable is one of the better White/Black planeswalkers that we’ve seen in awhile. Her abilities are so versatile that she doesn’t even really need a specific deck for her to work, besides the fact you’ll want spicy Legendary spells to make her worth playing, which isn’t really a big deal. It’s possible we even see her played in Modern in midrange Abzan (White/Black/Green) or Mardu (White/Black/Red) decks.
While five-mana means that she’s probably better in the late-game, that seems to be the best spot for this Kaya planeswalker to enter into anyway. While she’s not as easily splashable in Modern unlike Kaya Orzhov Usurper is in Modern being a graveyard hating three drop, Kaya the Inexorable should see plenty of competitive play on release.
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