Ranking Every Battlecruiser Card (8 CMC+) with EDHREC – Part 16: Dragon Tales

(Dragonstorm | Art by Kev Walker)

New Capenna is Pretty Sweet... Presumably

Good morning, world. Welcome back to this series where we rank every Battlecruiser card based on the number of decks they have on EDHREC. I would like to spend a moment talking about the cool new things going on in Streets of New Capenna.

Well, I would like to do that, but sadly I don't actually know what's in the set at the moment. I know roughly what's going on; there are some sweet three-color crime families, and I think I overheard Urabrask floating around somewhere? Honestly, though, I've been super busy for the last couple weeks, so I haven't kept up with spoiler season at all.

Y'know, we oughta stay at least a little topical here, so how about this: I'll pull up a random card from New Capenna, and you can get my first impressions on it right now. What goodies are in this set for me? HEre's our random card:

Lagrella, the Magpie!

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... I think I forgot how to read Magic cards over my break. Perhaps we'll just move on to the list, and see if my comprehension comes back.

150: Skull Storm: 1,860 Decks

I can’t decide if the Storm cycle is a really cool design, or if it only exists for the benefit of a couple dozen commanders out of the 1,200+ legends out there. In theory, I like it, since it mitigates the downside of having to cast your commander over and over again. In practice, casting your commander more than twice just very rarely happens, and when it does, you're rarely happy about it. Often, these Storm cards don't copy themselves enough to be worth playing.

How many copies of Skull Storm do you need for this to be good? What you want to do with this card is dome your opponents for half their life total a couple times. That’s very doable, and can be especially good if someone just cast a Wrath, but I doubt you’ll be casting Farewell and Skull Storm in the same turn a lot of the time. More likely, it’ll be late game, a turn or two after the Wrath has come down, which means that you should expect a few creatures out to eat through before the real fireworks happen - so that means, like, four copies to ensure you get to hit everyone? That mean you have to cast your commander three times, which seems difficult to do, and then also cast a nine-mana sorcery. It might happen occasionally, but not nearly enough for most of my decks to justify playing it.

Really, the only place I like for the "Storm" cycle are Partner decks. Skull Storm counts the number times you've cast each of your Partner commanders individually, so in most black-inclusive Partner decks, Skull Storm is insane. With some duos, it’s not impossible to get seven or eight copies of this card, and that'll probably win you the game on any board state. This card has a home, it's just more niche than I would like.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I should be clear: being very good for one specific archetype isn’t bad. That’s how a lot of cards are. It’s only disappointing for me since I dig the design and would like to do more with it.

149: Myojin of Night's Reach: 1,898 Decks

(6 Decks as a Commander, 1,892 Decks in the 99)

I went into this write-up planning to pick on Myojin of Night's Reach in discard decks, like Tinybones, Trinket Thief, and then move on. Discard decks are already running every way to cause discard under the sun. Between Bottomless Pit, Delirium Skeins, Liliana, Waker of the Dead, Necrogoyf, and many others, your opponents should be empty-handed long before this card gets into play. You want this effect so badly? Just play Sire of Insanity or Awaken the Erstwhile, which are cheaper and do more for you.

Now, I was content to just leave Myojin at that, but apparently, every deck in the world has decided Myojin is the perfect card to slot in, so there’re a bunch of minor unrelated sub-themes on this card’s page. Let’s run through them real fast:

  • Atraxa, Praetors' Voice: You tend to see this on all the Myojin’s pages since they can Proliferate the divinity counters, but here, it doesn’t seem worth doing more than once. Not into it.
  • Jodah, Archmage Eternal: Admittedly, Night's Reach seems like one of the better Myojin to cheat into play with Jodah, since it makes your board of massive threats much harder to deal with. Thumbs up.
  • Kamigawa Spirit tribal: Fine. OG Kamigawa doesn't give you much to work with, so why not?
  • Erebos, God of the Dead: The Myojin is kinda tricky in the average mono-black deck since you can’t reanimate it, so you need to cast it with your copious amounts of black mana. Some decks like Erebos certainly lean into that big-mana aspect more, so they can probably take better advantage of Myojin.
  • Kethis, the Hidden Hand: This and Karador seem to represent some sort of “cast from the graveyard” subtheme for Myojin, but it only gets the divinity counter if you cast it from your hand, so I don’t think these decks know what they're doing.
  • Nicol Bolas, the Ravager: Sigh, fine, we’ll let the Vorthoses have their fun.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: After all that, I’m still sticking with my original rating, but at least we’re more educated now. Isn’t it nice to know a lot? (And a little bit not.)

148: Primeval Protector: 1,951 Decks

Evertyime I read Primeval Protector, I expect it to cost less for each creature you control, but no. It cost one less for each your opponents control for some reason. Like, okay?

Where do you wanna see play, Prime Prop? +1/+1 counters decks, I guess? The rate of one counter and a 10/10 is not quite as punchy as I might like. I mean, this card is one activation of Felidar Retreat for possibly twice as much mana. Pretty down on this.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I know this isn't related at all, but it's all I can think of: everybody, but me, CHARGE!

147: Eldrazi Devastator: 2,010 Decks

145: Hand of Emrakul: 2,065 Decks

“Mommy, can we have Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger?”

“We have Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger at home.”

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger at home:

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I understand the desire to play big Eldrazi, and I understand that most of them are uber expensive, so you might want some cheaper alternatives. That said, there are much better Eldrazi that you can play that are about as expensive as these two. Without even touching the stuff we're gonna see later on in the list, cards like Deceiver of Form or Endbringer, or even non-Eldrazi, like Metalwork Colossus, will do way more than these.

146: Mindleech Mass: 2,053 Decks

Only in Commander can you realistically cast Mindleech Mass and still expect opponents to have cards in hand to cast off it. It’s not a guarantee, but late game, there’ll usually be one opponent that’ll have some cards in hand that do something. Plus, think about the best case scenario for this card: catch that Expropriate someone tutored for on the previous turn! Yeah, that's the good stuff. Four out of five games, this card dies as soon as it's cast, but that fifth game, it could run over the entire table.

Look, do you really need an excuse to play Mindleech Mass? Obviously, the reason it's ranking pretty high on this list at the moment is because Satoru Umezawa just released, and that's a really good place for this card, but I'd play this in literally any low-to-medium-power Dimir deck, because why not? Sure, it dies to every removal spell under the sun, but if I want to play a high-power, focused game, there're hundreds of cards I can find that work best in that meta. There're not quite as many that can go as bananas as Mindleech Mass. You may laugh when you cast your Swords on it, but I will laugh when I cast Soulfire Eruption off it. We’ll see who ends up having more fun.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Sometimes, EDH is exactly the format you think it is.

144: Dragonstorm: 2,074 Decks

Dragonstorm in EDH is pretty weird. It’s split between two archetypes, and neither really needs it. The Dragon decks don’t really want to jam this card since it’s a nine-mana sorcery that scales with the rest of the cards you play. Dragon decks are not exactly known for their cheap spells, so you’ll get, like, three Dragons off this on a good day. That’s fine, but it can be done for much cheaper.

On the flip side, the Storm decks don’t want to run a bunch of Dragons. Like, sure, Neheb, the Eternal Storm style decks will get up to six or seven copies of this card, but they’re likely not going to want to play six or seven Dragons in the 99 just to search up with this effect. Most Storm decks would rather have a card like Tendrils of Agony, or, more likely, a big ol' Comet Storm to the face. Both of these archetypes are kinda lowballing if they’re playing Dragonstorm.

You may think I'm saying that I don't like this card, but you would be very wrong. What I’m advocating for is to see more dedicated Dragonstorm decks, because the half-measures described above aren't the way to make this card truly shine. When you go all-in on Dragonstorm, that becomes a really sweet deck, towing the line between combo, stompy, and jank. It’s fantastic, and that’s where we should be with this card.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Also, as EDHREC's resident Magic historian, I have to bring up that Dragonstorm is a part of not one, but two of the best competitive Magic moments of all time. Yeah, Dragonstorm was a competitive card for a while. I love Magic so much.

143: Worst Fears: 2,097 Decks

Here's your daily reminder that Mindslaver probably should not exist. Seriously, how did this card happen? When you can make an eight-mana sorcery that does exactly what Mindslaver does, exiles itself, can’t be done in installments, and has no artifact synergy, and it's still a card that elicits groans when it resolves against you, that says a lot about the state of affairs, doesn’t it?

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Just because you can’t recur it doesn’t mean you can’t make multiple copies of it. 

142: Bringer of the Black Dawn: 2,101 Decks

I’ll be honest readers, I’m a little disappointed by the Bringers as a whole. I knew they existed before this series, but as I reviewed them, they’ve all kinda been mediocre. They aren’t all that interesting in Commander, even with the flashiness of the alternate cost. Maybe I should have expected that from the tonally-confused Fifth Dawn; you tell me there’s a cycle of pseudo-five-color cards that cost nine mana on their own? I wanna get excited, but then they don’t let me. Sigh.

Oh, well, Bringer of the Black Dawn at least gets close to the level of flash that I’ve been looking for. Having a tutor every turn is obviously very good. It’s why Liliana Vess has been a casual staple for years. There’s not really a specific 'deck' for Bringer, it’s more about whether decks can faff about with a five-color card that needs a full turn before it does anything. If you do, then you might as well jam this and see what happens.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I’m not super excited about this card, but it at least matches its mana cost. 

141: Torgaar, Famine Incarnate: 2,208 Decks

(150 Decks as a Commander, 2,101 Decks in the 99)

I would play Torgaar as an eight-mana creature that had this trigger as an ETB. You can flicker it to get everyone, and eventually do it to the whole table. The fact that you can also sacrifice creatures to make it even cheaper if you’re playing Torgaar as a commander (or if you need to get it down quicker) is delectable. Not much more to say. I’m happy to jam this in any deck that can get it down and flicker it a lot!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Gosh, what power creep! Blessed Wind was a nine-mana sorcery that halved a player's life total once. Torgaar, Famine Incarnate halves a players life total off an abusable ETB trigger, and you get a big creature? How could we let Wizards do this?

This Is Why Magic Sucks Now!

"When Lagrella, the Magpie enters the battlefield, exile any number of other target creatures controlled by different players...." Nope, still have no idea. If you know what this card does, or any other card that we talked about this week, let me know in the comments. Done anything cute with Torgaar, Famine Incarnate? Any cool stories with Mindleech Mass? The comments are there for all that information. Until next week!

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.