5 Reasons Huatli, Radiant Champion Will Not See Competitive Standard Play

Whenever a new Planeswalker gets spoiled, there's a lot of speculation on how powerful it will be. Will Huatli be a powerhouse walker in Standard? People guess wrong a lot. Many speculated that Liliana the Last Hope was a weak planeswalker, and it ended up becoming one of the most expensive and played with cards in Standard. I don't believe this will be the case for Huatli. In fact, I feel like Huatli is one of the least competitive Planeswalker cards since Tibalt was released. Here she is:So why won't it see competitive play? Here are 5 important reasons:

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  1. Huatli doesn't protect herself well

    What is the hallmark of a great walker? #1, it has to be able to protect itself. That's a pretty broad requirement. Afterall, there are many ways a Planeswalker can use an ability to prevent itself from being dealt lethal damage. Gideon of the Trials can stop damage from one permanent for a turn, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar can create tokens that can chump block, Liliana of the Veil can make an opponent sacrifice a creature, Liliana, the Last Hope can shrink a creature. If you look at almost every great Planeswalker, they interact with opponent's creatures in a way to prevent themselves from being killed in combat next turn (provided all else being equal). There are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, Saheeli Rai was played despite having no good way to protect itself. But Saheeli was part of an instant win combo. There are not many walkers that can provide a win using a non-ultimate ability. Yes, Huatli does have some protection in the fact that her +1 loyalty ability will give her more loyalty. However, with no creatures, the +1 only gives you +1 loyalty. That's not good at all.

  2. Her plus loyalty ability does nothing

    Huatli's +1 is literally a do nothing ability. +1 loyalty abilities usually aren't amazing, but on good Standard Planeswalkers, they usually do something. On Huatli, all it does is build loyalty. And on an empty field, it only adds 1 loyalty. We've seen Gideon, Champion of Justice with a do nothing +1 before. But, at least Gideon's +1 added loyalty for opposing creatures. That means it had a little bit more of a form of protection. If you are falling behind in anyway, Hualti's +1 is far less useful. Essentially, it is a win more ability. You need to have creatures on your side of the field, plus this Planeswalker. In any other deck, having 3 or more creatures and a Planeswalker is a dominating position. In the case of Huatli, you need this dominating position just for its +1 to be useful.

  3. Her minus loyalty ability also does nothing

    My opponent cast a board wipe, but I draw a Planeswalker! That should help me recover, right? Well nope... Not if that Planeswalker is Huatli, Radiant Champion. Not only does its +1 do nothing if you control no creatures, its -1 does nothing as well. Let's say your deck curved out. You played a 1 drop creature, a 2 drop creature, and a 3 drop creature. That's about as close to an excellent curve as you can get. Let's also say by some magic, your opponent cast no removal, and doesn't have a board wipe. That's asking a lot, isn't it? Well given those circumstances, a turn 4 Huatli does what? It can give a creature +3/+3 until end of turn. AKA Giant Growth. Not very impressive is it? And that's under the best of circumstances.  Let's compare that to another 4 mana White Planeswalker, Elspeth, Knight-Errant. Not only does Elspeth, Knight-Errant protects herself with a chump blocker with its +1 ability, its second ability gives a creature +3/+3 and flying! That's right! A perfect curving Huatli under perfect conditions isn't even as good as Elspeth's 2nd loyalty ability under worse circumstances. Elspeth ability even gives creatures flying, despite the fact its use ADDS LOYALTY instead of taking it away.

  4. Her Ultimate isn't worth all the trouble

    Alright, so you have some do nothing loyalty abilities. Well, if the first ability adds loyalty quickly, maybe we can quickly get Huatli to do a devastating Ultimate! Hardly. At least the seldom played Planeswalker Gideon, Champion of Justice had a truly epic Ultimate ability he was working toward. Exiling all your opponent's permanents is certainly a game-ending ability. Huatli, on the other hand, has a much more marginal effect of drawing you cards whenever you get a creature in play. This doesn't end the game quickly, and if you draw non-creature cards for a few turns, you can easily lose. Imagine spending your first and second turn with Hualti on the field by adding up her loyalty toward an Ultimate. Then on turn three with Hualti on the board, you Ultimate her. This means after three turns of having Hualti on the board, she has created:

    1. Zero changes in board state

    2. Zero changes in damage dealt

    3. Zero changes in card advantage

    And on top of that, you need a card in play that generates creatures or to have cards in hand to generate card advantage after using her Ultimate. That's a lot of work for little reward. That's also a long time for Huatli to payoff any card advantage, even under the best of situations.

  5. All of her abilities are win more

    The final nail in the coffin of Huatli's uncompetitiveness is that her abilities are only useful if you are winning. Her +1 does nothing without having a horde of creatures in play. Her -1 does nothing unless you have a horde of creatures in play. Her Ultimate does nothing unless you are able to play a horde of creatures. If you have a horde of creatures in play and more on the way, you should play a game-winning card. Huatli at best gives you a Giant Growth a turn. If you are lucky enough to be sitting on a board of creatures, you shouldn't be casting a Giant Growth for 4 mana. You should be playing an Ovverun like card to win the game. Afterall, how long can you expect your creatures to remain untouched? Eventually, your opponent might cast a board wipe, or start removing your creatures from play. And when that happens, you are left with a do nothing Planeswalker on your side of the field. For these reasons, Hualti is one of the least competitive Standard Planeswalker to be released. But hey, don't let that stop you from some casual kitchen table brews. Just don't expect to be winning any Grand Prix with this card anytime soon.

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