Nissa is one of the most popular green Planeswalkers in Magic the Gathering. She has a total of eight different cards, seven of which are mono green. Her abilities revolve a lot around untapping and reusing lands, restoring her controller’s life total, and providing reliable card advantage. So, without any further ado, let’s explore the abilities and uses of Nissa’s various incarnations.
Nissa Revane: This form of Nissa is somewhat restricted to an elf tribal deck, and when compared to other elves or Nissas, she hardly brings anything game changing to the table. While Nissa Revane’s first ability can reliably tutor for a card, she’s restricted to searching for a specific card. Which really limits the ability’s usefulness.
Nissa’s second ability, which gains her controller life equal to the amount of elves they control, is much more impactful than her first. However, it is limited to an elf tribal deck. Which prevents this version of Nissa from really having much of an impact outside of specific strategies.
Lastly, Nissa Revane’s final ability takes five turns to charge up, and that’s if she avoids getting attacked. If it is pulled off, her final ability can be somewhat broken, as it allows her controller to summon an army of elves. Which could lead to an infinite mana combo, or just a of beaters that can easily overwhelm an opponent.
Overall, Nissa Revane can be a good card, but the mostly useless first ability, coupled with her niche second and third abilities, really hold her back a bit. Unless you are playing elf tribal in EDH or some other niche deck, this Nissa is not the best option to play.
Nissa, Genesis Mage: Being able to untap both lands and creatures is a great ability that is useful on any occasion. This can lead to getting that extra two mana you need to cast a game-changing spell, or setting up blockers to protect against oncoming attacks.
Her second ability is a bit less useful. But being able to give a creature +5/+5 can be a bit intimidating and can cause opponents to avoid using their creatures to block your attackers.
Her final ability is a bit risky, as she could end up scrying away ten cards, but the reward is well worth the risk since the cards go to the bottom of the library instead of the graveyard.
All that is said and good, and her abilities are useful. However, Nissa, Genesis Mage’s casting cost is the biggest thing holding her back. Aside from Commander, it is incredibly difficult in most formats to actually have enough mana to cast this card. In fact most games will be over by the time this card even comes online. With that in mind, even though Nissa, Genesis Mage’s abilities are powerful and useful, her casting cost really holds her back.
Nissa, Nature’s Artisan: This form of Nissa is extremely similar to Nissa, Genesis Mage. The only changes are that this form lacks the untap ability that Nissa, Genesis Mage has, and the land search and boosting abilities are switched. Her life gain ability can be useful, but in most games it won’t really do much. Her land search ability is less risky than Nissa, Genesis Mage’s ultimate, but it lacks real reliability to actaully get lands onto the battlefield.
Nissa, Nature’s Artisan’s ultimate is what makes up for her lackluster first and second abilities. She can buff her allies by giving all of them +5/+5 and trample, giving her controller a dominating army until the end of the turn. This partners well with token decks or other types of swarm decks, but sadly she has little use elsewhere.
Generally speaking, this Nissa’s casting cost is also too high to really see play outside of EDH or similar formats. She is just too slow to be relevant in most formats.
Nissa, Sage Animist: Getting an extra card is usually never bad, and Nissa, Sage Animist can get her controller one each turn. To top that, if the card is a land, her controller gets to put it straight into play. Her ability to create tokens is nothing special when there are other green cards that pump out tokens like a factory, but the irrelevance of her second ability doesn’t matter as much when she can produce a free card each turn. Additionally, just when her controller thought that they had enough mana, Nissa, Sage Animist can even untap lands and turn them into elementals, which can either produce more mana or swing for six damage each.
There’s just one catch… Nissa, Sage Animist has to be transformed from Nissa, Vastwood Seer. Though Nissa, Vastwood Seer searches for a land when she’s cast, there still have to be at least seven lands on her controller’s battlefield for her to transform immediately. Luckily, green has numerous land searching effects, which makes it a lot easier to get the planeswalker side online.
Overall, Nissa, Sage Animist is definitely worth the trouble, and can be a really powerful play.
Nissa, Steward of Elements: The first non mono green Nissa. She is actually very similar to Preordain combined with Shardless Agent. Her mana cost of X can give her a ton of loyalty counters on casting, which allows her to start creating tokens and cheating things into play right away. Not to mention, she only costs a minimum of three mana, which means she can very easily be fit into a Modern, Standard, Vintage, or Legacy deck.
If Nissa, Steward of Elements has enough loyalty counters, and her scry ability is used correctly, she can get almost anything onto the battlefield. Overall, she’s definitely powerful, and should be considered for almost every green and blue deck, especially if that deck has an infinite mana combo to take advantage of Nissa, Steward of Elements’ X cost.
Nissa, Vital Force: Though there are other forms of Nissa that have better untap abilities, Nissa, Vital Force’s ability is still nothing to mess around with. It can provide an extra mana or a 5/5 elemental in order to quickly close out a game. Her second ability can reanimate a fallen comrade immediately as she comes into play, without even getting rid of all of her loyalty counters. She can even use her ultimate after using her first ability only one time. Her ultimate is very powerful, and creates an emblem which allows its controller to draw a card every time a land enters the battlefield. Additionally, since the draw is optional, the emblem won’t accidentally deck its controller. Overall, Nissa, Vital Force is a very brilliant card that can support any green deck well.
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar: This form of Nissa is the Nissa that makes tokens like a factory. Not only can Nissa, Voice of Zendikar pump out tokens like no one’s business, but she can also power them up along with any other creatures on her controller’s side of the field. She’s great for green token decks and partners well with other forms of aggro deck. When she’s done pumping out plants and turning them into killing machines, she can even spend seven loyalty counters to restock her controller’s hand and give them a bit of life at the same time. In all, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar is a very powerful and impactful form of Nissa.
Nissa, Worldwalker: Being able to turn lands into elementals without untapping them is a mediocre ability. However, being able to untap four lands a turn is great and is always appreciated. Nissa, Even though Nissa, Worldwalker’s untap ability is limited to forests, since she’s green that’s most likely what will be on the battlefield anyways. So that shouldn’t affect her playability much. Her ultimate is really useful as well, since it produces an armada of elementals that can be used to produce mana or close out a game. Her final ability takes a while to charge up, but the benefits of her second ability make the wait not so bad, especially since the rewards from the final ability are so spectacular.
Overall, some versions of Nissa are really good. She can provide a player with valuable card advantage, tokens, mana, life, and lands. The mana costs of her different forms can be expensive, but in most cases the advantage that they provide is worth the cost. While some Nissa’s are mediocre and lackluster at best, the good ones are very very good. I highly recommend considering a few copies of Nissa in most green decks, especially in EDH.
But what are your thoughts on Nissa? Do you think she can improve? Have you ever tried using her? Give us some feedback in the comments below.