Ranking Every Battlecruiser Card (8 CMC+) with EDHREC – Part 18: Commander Legends Also Has Jank

(Triumphant Reckoning | Art by Vincent Proce)

Hello, Darkness, My Old Frieeeeeeeeennnnd!


Good morning, and welcome back to this series where we rank each card with 8+ CMC based on the number of decks they have on EDHREC... My friends, WordPress has finally beaten me.

Yes, if you are a fairly acute observer, you might have noticed that most of my articles have been in the crisp, smooth, elegant font style of Arial, but over the last couple month or so, WordPress suddenly starting displaying my articles in the loose, lax, speakeasy Georgia font.

I know; this is a travesty, and I fought valiantly to keep my articles in the superior font style, but I can do so no longer. I have published too many articles without remembering to change the font, and so I must finally surrender to my fate. A moment of silence for what has been lost...

Yes, the font for my articles does matter, and it is getting this worked up about! Let me mourn!

130: Avatar of Slaughter: 2,725 Decks

This is the most Commander 2011 card I've ever seen. Avatar of Slaughter ends EDH games basically by existing. Everyone's creatures get double strike and know only violence! It doesn't even really matter what opponents have in play; so long as they have a couple decent creatures, their board becomes pretty game-ending with Avatar of Slaughter, and considering you have an 8/8 double striker in play, you'll likely have a decent blocker for at least the first combat cycle. Sometimes, you can't really play this because it'll make an opponent's big board into a game-ending one, but most of the time, it makes the game descend into anarchy while buffing all of your creatures a lot.

Given the generic chaotic nature of the card, it shouldn't be a surprise that Avatar of Slaughter is mainly seeing play in decks like Thantis, the Warweaver as a way to force the issue, but it's not an insane card to play in random big stompy decks. Well, let me qualify that: it's going to be bonkers chaotic in any deck, but it can also change the pace of the game in a way few decks are prepared for. Few decks can really handle the all out aggression of an Avatar of Slaughter, so if you think your deck is fast enough to handle that, (or if you have ways to break the parity, like vigilance), it's not a bad option to screw with opponents' defenses.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I'll give the rating I should give and not the rating I want to give. It's fun but very chaotic.

129: Thrasta, Tempest's Roar: 2,965 Decks

(194 Decks as a Commander, 2,771 Decks in the 99)

The only reason I know Thrasta, Tempest’s Roar exists is because it is an A+ Dino to hit off of Gishath, Sun's Avatar. When your alternatives are Sun-Crowned Hunters and Crested Herdcaller, Thrasta looks like the best Magic card ever made.

I guess I should pretend that I care about what Thrasta actually does and look at the other decks she sees play in. At the top of the food chain is Food Chain. It’s a one-card combo with Thrasta that generates infinite mana since the cost reduction overrides the commander tax. That’s the peak of this card’s power, but that's not all she can do as a commander. You can also use it as a soft “creature Storm” commander. A Memnite, a Shield Sphere, and an Elvish Mystic can get her down on turn two or three, and that’s cool! It’s a two-mana 7/7! There’s more busted things you can do with Thrasta, like get some Greater Good + Tangleroot loop going on, but on the scale of busted things you can do in mono-green, that's all ranking pretty low. Thrasta will probably helm an unfair deck, but it can be tweaked to be a bit more fair depending on the power level one desires. Aren't flexible commanders neat?

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I spent most of my time on Thrasta as a commander because y'all should know by biases by now, but the vast majority of play Thrasta actually sees is in the 99 mainly because it's a big dork you can cast for cheap. Everything from Yidris to Goreclaw to Xenagod is gonna be into that.

128: Piru, the Volatile: 3,007 Decks

(804 Decks as a Commander, 2,203 Decks in the 99)

Oh, hey! I forgot about Piru, the Volatile! This is technically the most played OG Elder Dragon if you consider it part of the cycle, and I do! It’s got the same text, mana cost, and three-color upkeep cost as every other Elder Dragon, and time isn't my dad! It can't tell me how to live my life. Piru is an Elder Dragon, fight me!

Although unlike her contemporaries, there’s a lot of niche rules stuff going on with Piru here. I only realized now in the process of doing this write-up that A: if you want, you can let Piru die to her own upkeep ability and basically treat her as a wrath with Suspend 1; 2: it only hits nonlegends, so you can keep your own legendary creatures alive; and Three: she'll gain life off the damage since Piru has lifelink! That's a lot of hidden synergy on a fairly innocuous-looking Dragon.

There’re a couple cute things you can do with Piru. Piru can simply be a creature version of a one-sided wrath. Kaalia of the Vast tends to have a lot of legendary Demons that will survive the Piru wreckage, and maybe Tariel, Reckoner of Souls can run her as a way to get more reanimation fodder, but where Piru most excites me is as a commander of Stuffy Doll tribal! Red and white get you the bulk of your good creatures to damage, like Truefire Captain and Brash Taunter, but black adds some neat combos with Piru, like Exquisite Blood and Gisa, Glorious Resurrector. All that delicious synergy, and you still get the traditional wins with Blasphemous Act and Repercussion that I love and crave. 

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: In a set like Modern Horizons 2, it’s easy for some dorks to fall through the cracks, but Piru is a real flexible and powerful commander and card in general! I look forward to Kyle having to eat his words!

127: Kederekt Leviathan: 3,045 Decks

I cannot describe to you how good it feels to be playing a self mill deck and to mill a Kederekt Leviathan because, my goodness, you feel pretty invincible. Seven mana to bounce everything is no Cyclonic Rift or Consuming Tide, but the upside of Leviathan is that regardless of how bonkers any opponent's board state might be, no matter how close you are to dead, you always have a way to reset everything and buy yourself some time that you can find simply by milling yourself. You can be working towards your primary gameplan while also incidentally having this great protection piece ready to go at any time. It's soul-crushing for opponents, but pretty great for you!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: This and Ixidron are in a close race for most underrated "mass removal" spell.

126: Decree of Annihilation: 3,094 Decks

Well, take your pick. Do you want a ten-mana spell that exiles almost all permanents and then also eats opponents' hands, basically slowing the game to a crawl unless you build around enchantments or planeswalkers, or do you want a seven-mana, instant-speed, uncounterable Armageddon that draws you a card and costs zero mana in Gavi, Nest Warden? Depending on my mood, I'll say either, "Both please," or, "Get this as far away from me as possible."

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Should be fairly obvious the deck/mindset you need to want a card like Decree of Annihilation, though I am a little surprised I've never seen this card in an enchantress deck.

125: Warp World: 3,123 Decks

Warp World is very similar to The Great Aurora but even more chaotic and even harder to slant in your favor. Again, in theory, you can build around it by putting a bunch of permanent into play (token-makers, like Tireless Tracker, are real good), and you can play cards that are particularly good hits with Warp World. (Did I mention that Tireless Tracker and the lands you hit off Warp World enter play at the same time?) You can try and harness the power here, but you're still going to have a lot of games where you flip into a bunch of lands and an opponent flips into Tamiyo, Field Researcher + Evolution Sage. Your odds for utter chaos are quite high.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I might prefer The Great Aurora slightly to Warp World, since it tends to have a bit more strategy for a chaotic crater-making card, but I've definitely had some real good Warp World games too!

124: Triumphant Reckoning: 3,149 Decks

Hey! It's a cycle of expensive janky Magic cards that most of you might actually recognize, because yes, it’s the cycle of nine-mana sorceries from Commander Legends...

Y'know we can't give the Winds or the Avatars much over this cycle, but we can say they at least have better naming conventions.

Anyhoo, for a nine-mana sorcery, Triumphant Reckoning isn't doing anything particularly unique. They basically took Open the Vaults & Primevals' Glorious Rebirth, smooshed them together, and then threw the legendary creatures back in the bin. Nothing wrong with that, though! It's still very powerful. I wouldn’t play this in enchantress decks or artifact decks since Brilliant Restoration and even Resurgent Belief do the same thing for less mana, but Superfriends decks, or even random control decks decks with 5-10 'walkers, will also often have very good artifacts and enchantments to get back. This card will usually win you the game and then some.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Originally, I was going to make a comment about white not having the least-played card in the Commander Legends cycle, but then it lost some decks, and now it is the least played card in the cycle. We cannot win.

123: Profane Transfusion: 3,172 Decks

I think I’d rather have Reverse the Sands than Profane Transfusion? Maybe? Like, the creature you get off Transfusion is probably big beef. If I’m paying a bunch of life into Selenia, Dark Angel then I’ll make the biggest dork off this, but then I'm not really trying to win with that dork anyway. I’m trying to win by throwing all my life into the garbage and then bludgeoning someone to death with that garbage. Given that, I think I’d rather just have Reverse the Sands, which does that just as well as Transfusion but also has the potential to screw over your remaining opponents! 

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: That said, most Selenia, Dark Angel decks are going to play both these and all the other life payment cards, too, but Transfusion isn't quite as flexible outside those decks as Reverse the Sands is.

122: Breaching Leviathan: 3,263 Decks

Breaching Leviathan is no Cyclonic Rift or Consuming Tide (or Kederekt Leviathan, he said still trying to convince you that card is good), but it's still prolly got a home for itself. Similar to Dread Cacodemon, I’d expect a card like Breaching Leviathan to see play in decks that can make massive board states and can use a one-sided pseudo-wrath like this to close the game out. Lo and behold, one look at the card’s page shows a bunch of sea monster decks, like Arixmethes and Thyrx basically confirming exactly what I expected. Seems dece.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Remember when we were looking at Polar Kraken in this series? Oh, how far we’ve come.

121: Karador, Ghost Chieftain: 3,318 Decks

(2,303 Decks as a Commander, 1,015 Decks in the 99)

Continuing the theme of "Commander 2011 was, like, sneakily a very impressive set," we got Karador, Ghost Chieftain, the premier Abzan graveyard commander. You could make an argument for Nethroi, Apex of Death stealing that crown, but that's more often an Aristocrats deck leaning harder on things like Blood Artist. When you want a real deal grindfest, you're still more likely to reach for the flexibility and power of Karador. He never costs eight. He costs, like, four or five on a bad day, and Karador can often be cast and then immediately get back your Ravenous Chupacabra or Spore Frog or Reclamation Sage or Sidisi, Undead Vizier or Luminous Broodmoth; shall I go on? Karador gets to jam all the best Abzan creatures and then see what can be done with them if you cast them seventy times.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Actually kinda surprised it's seeing so much play in the 99. I mean, he's probably good in the 99, but I guess I never made that connection before. No one tell my opponents they can just play Karador in the 99.

Cardoor, Ghast Cheftaste

If you excuse me, I'm going to go sulk. It would help me feel better if you let me know in the comments what you think about this article. Had any fun games with Avatar of Slaughter? Were you playing when Karador, Ghost Chieftain was top dog in the format? Let me know in the comments. 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.

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