Superfriends

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'Superfriends' is a deck archetype in which a player will assemble multiple planeswalkers onto the battlefield, using those planeswalkers' abilities to create game-winning advantages over their opponents. The strategy derives its name from the eponymous TV show Super Friends, which features multiple superheroes joining forces with one another. These decks contain an extremely high density of planeswalkers cards and will often feature cards that provide those planeswalkers with additional loyalty counters, or effects that allow those planeswalkers to activate loyalty abilities multiple times per turn.

Superfriends decks are most common in color combinations that include white, green, and/or blue.

Popular Cards & Commanders

Popular Superfriends cards include:

Popular Superfriends commanders include:

Strategy

Superfriends decks must find a proper ratio of planeswalkers, cards that assist them, and cards that will help defend those planeswalkers from their opponents. Superfriends decks can be created in any color combination, often in five-color decks, and may sometimes even be led by a planeswalker with the text "This card can be your commander." Superfriends decks will often contain an average of 20 or more planeswalkers in their decks.

Additional Activations

A planeswalker-heavy deck may use cards that let them avoid the usual once-per-turn, sorcery-speed timing restrictions of loyalty abilities. These effects can allow a Superfriends player to accumulate extra loyalty or climb to a planeswalker's "ultimate" abilities (that is, the ability on a planeswalker that costs the highest number of loyalty counters to activate) more quickly.
  • Extra activations: The Chain Veil and Oath of Teferi explicitly allow a Superfriends player to activate loyalty abilities multiple times in a turn, allowing them to double the expected output of their planeswalkers.
  • Blink: Some Superfriends decks will use cards that exile and immediately return a planeswalker to the battlefield, such as Brago, King Eternal or Aminatou, the Fateshifter. Because the planeswalker will count as a new game object when it re-enters the battlefield, this can allow a player to activate that planeswalker's loyalty abilities multiple times in a turn.
  • Timing restrictions: Some effects, such as the final ability of Teferi, Temporal Archmage allow a Superfriends player to evade the normal timing restrictions of planeswalker abilities and activate them during other players' turns.
  • Extra turns: Planeswalker decks may also use effects such as Time Warp to take additional turns, allowing them to activate planeswalkers multiple times in a row.

Extra Loyalty Counters

Planeswalker decks make frequent use of effects that add additional loyalty counters to their planeswalkers, allowing them to activate that planeswalker's "ultimate" abilities much more quickly that their opponents anticipate. Some example include:
  • Deeplglow Skate can double the number of counters on any type of permanent, including planeswalkers.
  • Doubling Season will double the number of loyalty counters that a planeswalker enters the battlefield with. Notably, it does not double the number of counters that are place upon a planeswalker when it uses a positive loyalty ability, as adding those counters is considered a cost, not an effect. (This is distinct from cards such as Pir, Imaginative Rascal, who does not make a distinction between costs or effects when adding extra counters.)

Defense

In setting such as EDH, planeswalkers are vulnerable to attacks from multiple opponents. It is therefore a core part of Superfriends decks to assemble a meaningful defense before they begin to deploy planeswalkers onto the battlefield, rather than risking the planeswalker being attacked and removed after just a single turn. Superfriends decks commonly use cards that prevent all combat damage (such as Angus Mackenzie or Arachnogenesis), prevent players from attacking (such as Peacekeeper), deploy 'chump blockers' to block attacks directed at those planeswalkers, or perhaps use a high number of Mass Removal spells that keep the battlefield free of potential attackers (such as Wrath of God or Nevinyrral's Disk).
Importantly, popular Pillowfort cards such as Propaganda often do not prevent opponents from attacking planeswalkers.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths

  • Outside of combat, planeswalkers are a very resilient permanent type that many opponents may find difficult to remove. Mass Removal spells also rarely destroy planeswalkers en masse. With a high density of planeswalkers in play, opponents will also struggle to meaningfully remove those planeswalkers even during combat,
  • Planeswalker "ultimates" are often game-changing abilities, especially when those abilities create emblems, which cannot be removed directly. Though planeswalkers traditionally take several turns to accumulate enough loyalty counters to activate these abilities, Superfriends decks can bypass that time very easily and activate uniquely powerful abilities that eternally impact the game.
  • Planeswalkers are a consistent source of value even if a player has no cards in hand. A superfriends deck that assembles multiple planeswalkers onto the battlefield will have a wide array of versatile game actions that they can take, often outpacing the number of game actions any of their opponents are able to take on any given turn.

Weaknesses

  • Superfriends decks can be slower than other archetypes, which may allow quicker decks to enact their plans more efficiently than the Superfriends player. Since planeswalkers tend to have somewhat expensive mana costs, it is difficult to put multiple of them into play at once, which can allow enemies to easily attack and pick off those walkers before they have a chance to pick up steam. Additionally, without the assistance of cards that add additional loyalty counters, most planeswalkers have a fairly minimal impact on the battlefield on the first turn they enter play.
  • Planeswalkers can be lightning rods at a table, drawing a lot of attention from each opponent. If a Superfriends deck has not assembled a proper defense, they may find themselves unable to stick any planeswalkers in play at all, as every one of their opponents will likely be invested in removing planeswalkers from play.
  • Superfriends decks may occasionally struggle to properly end the game. Though planeswalker "ultimate" abilities can be powerful and game-changing, they do not provide immediate victory. Planeswalker decks may accumulate multiple emblems but still not yet have a way to bring enemy life totals to 0 very quickly. This can occasionally allow their opponents the time they need to find a way to defeat the Superfriends player, even despite their many emblems.


References: