Ranking Every Battlecruiser Card (8 CMC+) with EDHREC – Part 13: I Am No Fun

(Nullstone Gargoyle | Art by Glenn Fabry)

It Is Time!

Greetings, Mortal! Welcome back to our eternal task of ranking every Battlecruiser card based on the number of decks they have on EDHREC. From deep inside my ancient chamber I have waited for you to enter the fabled domain name EDHREC.com and navigate the labyrinth of web links to locate my sacred site. Now, Mortal, I, the divine ranker from fables of old, will now bequeath to you a quest that will span the entirety of Magic as a whole!

What? You'd really just like me to stop wasting time and get to the list?

Ugh, fine. Far be it from me to have a little fun. Grumble grumble.

180: Possessed Portal: 1,087 Decks

How did over 1,000 people convince their playgroups to let them play Possessed Portal? I’m not calling you out, I love this card, but y’all must have the most up-for-anything group on the planet if they're putting up with this nonsense.

I freely admit that sometimes I run Omen Machine for the first ability alone because it's hilarious to slow the development of resources to a trickle. Deny people access to card draw, and it basically restricts them to the cards in play they already have. It makes the resources that a player has access to way more limited and less powerful. Portal takes that dynamic and then starts taxing the cards in play too, so basically no one gets anything! When people say they want games to go longer, I don’t think this is what they mean.

I assume the idea Wizards had when making this is that because this happens on each end step (that's four times a turn cycle in EDH, so good luck keeping anything for more than two turns), the player controlling the Portal will eventually have to sac this. Yeah, no. That’s not how this works. I mean, that's how I would play it. As mentioned, I play Commander for weird, unique scenarios, and it's hard to get weirder and more unique than the "fair" Possessed Portal.

But it's also incredible easy to break. All it takes is a Reassembling Skeleton and you’ve shattered the parity. Alternately, you can just get around the draw restriction by playing it with a draw replacement commander, like Tomorrow, Azami’s Familiar, or hey, just play it with Tergrid, God of Fright and make those sacced resources your own. This has all the makings of a card that some content creator is going to spotlight as an underplayed commander combo card.

Oh, wait. I guess that’s me.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Sorry.

179: Grozoth: 1,097 Decks

Technically, since I’m gonna rank every card that costs nine mana throughout this series, I could choose to not rank Grozoth until the very end and create a long-running cliffhanger on whether Grozoth is actually good. I could have EDHREC's resident article and video editor Joey make teaser trailers that say, like, “Last time on 'Ranking Every Battlecruiser card with EDHREC', Joseph concluded that Shambling Attendants was not very good. Will this hurt Grozoth’s long term playability?” Hmmmmmmm....

Nah, not worth the continuity. Spoilers! Here’s everything Grozoth can get. There’re definitely some cards worth getting that cost nine, like Expropriate, Darksteel Forge, or Rise of the Dark Realms. Those are probably worth searching for, but technically Grozoth is two tutors in one, since he has the cast ability and the Transmute ability. If you only care about the Transmute ability and you only have, like, 1-3 targets for the ability, then you’re prolly better off with even a Diabolic Tutor that isn't restricted by mana cost.

No, if you're into Grozoth, you're seeking much grander plans than this. Cast Grozoth and you can find all five Bringers, three of the five Eldraine artifacts, all five of the Commander Legends instants, multiple Eldrazi creatures, the Wind cycle from Prophecy that everyone dearly respects; you get the picture. When you’re committed to splashy cards, Grozoth is nine mana to draw the best 10 cards in your deck. Sure, it costs nine to do so, but if you’re playing 10 nine-drops anyway, you’re kinda committed to bad mana curves.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Seems very funny in Jodah, Archmage Eternal.

178: Myojin of Cleansing Fire: 1,138 Decks

Why is Myojin of Cleansing Fire seeing more play than Myojin of Infinite Rage? It’s an eight-mana wrath that leaves a dork behind. It’s not even a very good dork, it’s a vanilla 4/6. You can play Realm-Cloaked Giant or Mageta the Lion over this.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I guess there’s also the political aspect of leaving this card out and waiting for people to develop, but for eight mana, that feels pretty late to start playing politics.

177: Broodstar: 1,141 Decks

Now this is a slightly better flyer than Qumulox for artifact decks, isn’t it? I can see this as a decent finisher for a lower power artifact deck. Not every artifact deck wants to be a Breya, Etherium Shaper high power, all foil, minted-by-the-tears-of-your-opponents, combo deck. Sometimes people wanna jam Darksteel Juggernaut and not get targeted immediately and die. Those decks need cards that reward them for having artifacts, and Broodstar definitely rewards you even if the reward is a big goof. Here's to you, low-power artifact decks, and your Broodstar finishers!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Also, this card reminded me that Lonis, Cryptozoologist exists, and oh my gosh, I need to build that Clue tribal deck already!

176: Bringer of the Blue Dawn: 1,191 Decks

Sometimes the simplest effects are the best ones. Bringer of the Blue Dawn may just be a personal Font of Mythos, but that's probably the best that the Bringer cycle gets. It's a pretty dang good effect that’ll basically always be relevant. The Bringers are heavily restricted by technically having a five-color identity in EDH, though.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: And it works extra well with the double upkeep cards like Paradox Haze.

175: Khalni Hydra: 1,210 Decks

Here’s another Windmill Slam piece of trivia here: I think Khalni Hydra is the card with the most colored mana symbols in all of Magic. This information will probably never be useful to you, but at least it’s neat.

That trivia is unfortunately also the most interesting thing about this card. In any other format, a free 8/8 is probably a good enough payoff, but Commander is the "weird uncle that smells like fish" of Magic formats, and thus the Hydra's not going to be as impactful as it could be. When you already need a ton of green creatures to make the Hydra super cheap, there's not much more it can add to your board.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Outside of Renata, Called to the Hunt, there’s not a ton of special use for this card.

174: Filigree Angel: 1,236 Decks

I have a deep resentment for Filigree Angel. It’s not nearly the most busted thing an artifact deck can do, but it is the one I dread most because it's always the card that makes my chances of winning slip down the drain. I'll be playing a game against an artifact deck, I'll hit them down a bit, I'll control their value engines while applying pressure against them. It'll look like I will just barely kill them before they can start assembling their engine...

...and then my opponent will untap, cast Filigree Angel, copy it with Mirrorworks, gain 40 life, then sacrifice the Filigree Angel to Barrage Ogre or something, get it back with Goblin Welder, copy it with Mirrorworks again, then cast Sculpting Steel to make two more Angels, and many minutes later, they're at 200 life and I'm looking at the Avenger of Zendikar in my hand and sighing at how little I can do now.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: This card might not look like it should cost eight mana, but it should definitely cost eight mana.

173: Ethersworn Sphinx: 1,342 Decks

Ironically, despite having two of the most busted mechanics of all time on it, Ethersworn Sphinx is far too fair for most artifact decks. Being a cast trigger makes it a lot harder to do more than once, and that’s pretty poor value for the artifact deck when it can be casting Etched Oracle over and over and over again. Even the lower-power decks that are jamming Broodstar can get more bang for their buck than one Cascade trigger.

I guess that leaves Ethersworn Sphinx for the Cascade decks. They usually have a few artifacts to shrink the cost on this, so the ones that wanna go all out on playing every Cascade card can probably find a slot for this for the memes if nothing else.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Hey, with Modern Horizons 2, we can update the Cascade train! Cast Apex Devastator into Ethersworn Sphinx into Maelstrom Colossus into Enigma Sphinx into Etherium-Horn Sorcerer into Bituminous Blast into Bloodbraid Elf into Ardent Plea into Bloodbraid Marauder into Flying Men, and you still have three more Cascades to play around with. I think you can cast every card that has Cascade with one spell if you try hard enough.

172: Blinkmoth Infusion: 1,355 Decks

Affinity for artifacts is such a weird mechanic. It's ostensibly one of the most busted mechanics of all time that wrecked a Standard format back when wrecking Standard formats was a notable event, but then you look at the cards that actually have the mechanic, and 85% of them are pretty bad.

For example, Blinkmoth Infusion is a fourteen-mana card that basically says “win more" on it. Making it cost less doesn't add much to it. This is a singe use Dramatic Reversal at its best, and at its worst, this does actively nothing. 

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: The only reason this card is $7 is because people are playing it with Calibrated Blast in Modern.

171: Nullstone Gargoyle: 1,379 Decks

As I mentioned when I talked about Reverse the Sands, it's pretty easy to protect yourself from creatures or lock out creatures entirely. Creatures are stopped by everything from Lethal Vapors to Dawnstrider to Dictate of Erebos. Almost any deck can find a way to keep creatures down. Noncreatures, though? That's a bit trickier. Most decks have some creatures that make cards like Propaganda do something most of the time, but it’s harder to justify a Rule of Law when it doesn’t slow down the artifact decks very much. It’s harder to justify the Hum of the Radix when the Spellslinger deck goes off through it. It's generally trickier to play these silver bullet cards for noncreature strategies because there're far fewer decks they affect on average.

Given that, I’m a little surprised I don’t see more Nullstone Gargoyles in the format, which is a pretty flexible "screw you" to any noncreature-based decks. It hits so much of the format: enchantress, artifacts, Spellslingergroup hug, superfriends, self-mill, X-spell, heck, it even stops the Primal Surge decks. It’s not unbeatable. Sometimes your opponents throws a Ponder away to cast their Enter the Infinite, but they will not have the resources to throw too many spells into this. It’s far more likely your opponent will be looking at a hand of Mortify and Pull from Tomorrow and will be stuck with a real bad choice. If you have enough ways to protect Gargoyle, like Temur Sabertooth or Dauntless Bodyguard, I think this can do a ton here.

I struggle to see why this card doesn't see more play. Is Nullstone Gargoyle too mean? I guess, but it can’t be meaner than Constant Mists. Not being able to attack at all feels worse to me than losing some spells to a nine-drop. Is it because it's symmetrical? There're so many ways to tilt the scale in your favor, though. Even ignoring commanders like Nikya, that don't care about the downside, or Mishra, that can cheat the downside, most generic creature decks will happily give up their Nature’s Claim and such to slow the rest of the table down by a lot. The only thing I can think is that people don't play it because it costs nine mana, but for what it does, I think it absolutely justifies that cost.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I haven't been this baffled by not seeing a card before since Riftstone Portal. Why the heck does no one play this?

I Are Confused

Well, Mortal! Let us see if you are lucky enough to return to this temple next week! To mark your victory this time, post your feeble thoughts in the comments on these battlecruiser cards. Is Nullstone Gargoyle worse than I thought? Is there some cute combo you have with Blinkmoth Infusion? Proclaim your weak attempts at glory in the comments. Until next week, if you dare!

Joseph started playing in Theros Block but decided that the best way to play the game was to learn every single card and hope that would somehow make him good at Magic. It hasn't. He is a college student in Santa Fe, New Mexico and also enjoys reading and other games of all shapes and sizes.

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