Planeswalker Spark: A Magic: the Gathering Variant

Over the last 18 months or so I’ve been working on a Magic variant called Planeswalker Quest. It combines the concepts of the limited universe format with the ability scores and experience points commonly associated with roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons. In this time, we’ve continuously iterated and over 50 players have started their journey through the multiverse. While I have hoped to be able to bring this format wider exposure and introduce it to players at other stores, the logistics of that are daunting and honestly my web development skills aren’t up to the task at the moment. The good news is that all this work and experimentation has led to the creation of simple fun variant that you can include in your games today!

In the Planeswalker Spark variant each player augments their deck with a number of abilities that change the way Magic is played. These abilities allow you to use conspiracies and the hero tokens from the Hero’s Path events alongside your regular Magic games. You can combine these rules with any Magic format but there are some additional considerations for limited which I will address later.

How It Works

After you decide what format you are playing, whether it’s Standard Constructed or Commander, each player receives 10 ability points. These points can be spent to augment your deck using the table below. You can choose the same ability as many times as you like as long as you have points remaining.

Point Cost Ability Effect
1 Endurance Increase your starting life total by 1.
3 Wealth You begin the game with a colorless artifact token named Gold on the battlefield. It has “Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.”
5 Honor You begin the game with the hero token of your choice on the battlefield.
1, 2, or 3 Cunning You begin the game with a common, uncommon or rare conspiracy card in the command zone.


Wealth and Gold Tokens

These tokens are created by a few magic cards, but they are essentially [mtg_card]Lotus Petal[/mtg_card]s. If you spend points on the Wealth ability, you get to start with one or more on the battlefield. I highly recommend you use real physical [mtg_card]Gold[/mtg_card] tokens to avoid confusion.

Honor and Heroes

If you’re not familiar with the hero card type check out the rules page on the PWQ site. In brief, they are token permanents that begin the game on the battlefield, can affect the start of game procedure and generally allow very powerful affects. For the purpose of this variant it doesn’t matter which hero tokens you use, but if you use more than one they must each have a unique English name. I also suggest that you either ban the hero Bow of the Hunter or use the errata we issued for Planeswalker Quest. Here’s the complete rules for heroes:

  1. Hero is a card type seen only on tokens. Only the Hero’s Path, Planeswalker Spark, and Planeswalker Quest game variants use heroes.
  2. At the start of a game, before decks are shuffled, each player may put up to three different hero tokens onto the battlefield.
  3. Abilities of heroes may effect the start-of-game procedure.
  4. Heroes are permanents.
  5. Heroes can’t be cast or included in a deck. If a hero phases out or would move to a zone other than the battlefield it ceases to exist. Heroes that aren’t in the game can’t be brought into the game.
  6. Heroes have no subtypes.
  7. The owner of a hero is the player who put it onto the battlefield.

Cunning and Conspiracies

These cards originally appeared in the multiplayer limited product called Conspiracy. Each one is a Magic card and has a rarity. For each conspiracy card you want to use you must spend a number of ability points based on its rarity. A common conspiracy is 1 point, an uncommon is 2 points and a rare is 3 points. Also note that if you are playing a limited format such as draft or sealed deck, you should only include conspiracies that are part of your limited card pool. As these are cards you must also obey any format restriction such as the singleton limit in Commander games. Finally, one conspiracy, [mtg_card]Worldknit[/mtg_card], only functions in limited formats since the term “card pool” is undefined in constructed formats.

Endurance and Starting Life Total

This final ability was added to make up for any odd numbers that might arise from mixing and matching different abilities. It should be noted that using The Slayer hero is more efficient at increasing a player’s starting life total than spending points on Endurance. That is intentional.

Putting it All Together

If you’re like me and love to spice up your games of Magic with variants like Vanguard or Planechase I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what this variant has to offer. The variety of heroes and conspiracies can lead to great deck building challenges or just simply increase the power level of your existing decks. I’m very excited to finally publish this article and hear what you have to say so please sound off in the comments below or hit me up on twitter or Facebook!

Thanks for reading and have fun!