Ranking Every Battlecruiser Card (8 CMC+) with EDHREC – Part 2: ALL HAIL THE GREAT LORD EGOTIST

(Scornful Egotist | Art by Jim Nelson)

Daaaaaaah, da da dah daaaaaaaah daaaaaaaah....

Dearly beloved, welcome back to this series where we rank every Battlecruiser card based on the number of decks they appear in according to EDHREC. We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of Innistrad: Crimson Vow and the Commander format. They were truly made for each other, and I expect we will all bestow our blessing on this holy matrimony now that the set has been released as of the 19th.

Yeah, I'll repeat that: the set's only been out for four days. The prerelease, the MTGA release, and all the Crimson Vow spoiler content? None of that was when the set actually released! It's all laying the groundwork for something that hasn't actually happened until this moment. Time continues to be an illusion. At least there's wedding cake.

314: Axelrod Gunnarson: 30 Decks

(10 decks as commander, 20 decks in the 99)

Okay, here’s the thing. I’m going to talk about how to build a Axelrod Gunnarson Commander deck, and while I’m doing so, you’re inevitably going to think “Wow, this is a lot of work for a creature that does nothing.” Yes, that’s 100% correct. This card is always going to be terrible, and you must accept that from the outset for any of this to be fun or interesting. Got that? Cool!

So Axelgun Rodarson is obviously gonna need ways to help him damage creatures. Most creatures are gonna either never block him because they'll die, or instantly block and eat him, so we’ll need some ways to grease the wheels. Lure cards, like Nemesis Mask, will force blocks on the small fry, and cards like Dead Iron Sledge make sure that even the biggest dorks will die. To keep him around we'll also need protection cards, like Kaya’s Ghostform. This is also gonna take a lot of set-up, so we'll usually need something like hexproof to keep him safe.

What’d be even better for Axelson Roddergun is if he could damage things outside of combat. Pinger cards help, like Fire Whip, and Arcane Teachings will let him ping things outside of combat. Cards like Burning Anger are better because they let him kill things without deathtouch. Things like Chandra’s Ignition and Arcbond are the best because they deal damage to all the creatures. Since some of these cards tap Gunelgun gunnargun, it’d also be nice to untap him, so Thornbite Staff and Thousand-Year Elixir are good inclusions. Oh, shoot, our opponent might not play creatures at all. That’s okay, we’ll just run Forbidden Orchard to give them creatures, or Tombstone Stairwell so we’ll have our fodder to kill.

What’s the end goal here? Trigger Axel-Guns and Roses, son's ability as many times as possible. Will this win? Almost assuredly not, but you will generate very silly board states, and you'll will make creature decks cry one out of maybe 100 games, and that’s really why we're here.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Sonelgun Axerrod. Okay, I’m done. 

313 (Tie):Wolf Pack: 34 Decks

I think this is the first time I've seen a four-way tie. Yeah, the next four cards all appear in exactly 34 decks. It's apparently a real high-stakes fight down here for the 310th spot on this list. I mean, look at the contenders! A $200 Deathcoil Wurm that's also a terrible creature type?! Clearly, Wolf Pack is giving everything it's got!

Over, Under, or Just Right: Just Right: The more Werewolves we get, the more Wolves technically get better, but also the more you probably end up asking, “Why don’t I just play Werewolves instead?”

313 (Tie): Cognivore: 34 Decks

Sometimes things look weird at eight mana when viewed through our modern lens, but were probably appropriately costed for the time that they came out.

Cognivore is not that. Even in 2003, there’s no reason for this to cost eight mana. The other members of its cycle cost, like, three or four mana, and then this one sticks out like a massive sore thumb. What the heck?

Over, Under, or Just Right: Overplayed: I know someone’s gonna bring up the Extended deck Justin Gary had with this card, but that’s only because Oath of Druids is a dumb card.

313 (Tie): Ashen Firebeast: 34 Decks

An eight-mana creature version of Pyrohemia is still a Pyrohemia. Sure, it costs way more mana to get going than Pyrohemia, but when Pyrohemia is good, it’s the best card in your deck. It combos with all your Embermaw Hellion-type cards, it triggers your Repercussion, it damages all your Enrage Dinos at will, it works really well with dumb enchantments like Fiery Emancipation... the list goes on and on. Ashen Firebeast can be an intrinsic part of many Rube Goldberg machines. Heck, being a creature, there's probably some specific combos that you can do with Firebeast that you can’t do with Pyrohemia. Sure, it’s a million mana to set up, but we all gotta live in Magical Christmasland sometimes!

Over, Under, or Just Right: Underplayed: I am very sad this card is not a Dinosaur that can be fetched off of Gishath, Sun's Avatar.

313 (Tie): Scornful Egotist: 34 Decks

It is apparently my lot in life to eventually talk about every single card with a reputation for being absolutely terrible. So far, I’ve done Sorrow’s Path, Ice Cauldron, Razor Boomerang, and now we have Scornful Egotist! At this point, I might as well do “Ranking Every Magic Card No One Understands” so I can talk about Dead Ringers.

Alright, I do think I ought to stand up for this card a little bit. This card is often thought of as one of the worst cards ever printed. It quickly became a meme based on how garbage it looks, and sure, it looks bad - okay no, it is bad, it’s an eight-mana 1/1, for crying out loud - but it had a purpose. You were never supposed to cast Egotist for eight mana. You were supposed to Morph it, flip it up, and then have an eight-drop in play that combos with things like Rush of Knowledge or Cabal Conditioning or Torrent of Fire. Y’know, all those cards that were in Scourge, the same set that Scornful Egotist was printed in!

They knew what they were doing when they printed this. They wanted you to be able to cast cards that cared about high CMC earlier than turn eight. Was it a good plan? Not really. You’d still probably get run over before Egotist matters, but the card has weird synergy with a lot of other interesting cards. I get why the card became a meme. It's super dumb, but look, I could imagine unironically playing this in some really dumb In Search of Greatness deck. I could never see doing that with Pale Moon or Break Open or Shelkin Brownie. Those cards are only notable for being utterly pointless, and I don't think Egotist is that bad. Laugh at Egotist, but at least give it a bit of credit.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Certainly still not something you wanna play in most scenarios, but ALL HAIL THE GREAT LORD EGOTIST!

309: Crash of Rhinos: 35 Decks

You know, I wasn’t expecting Rhinos to be as close to a real tribe as they were. To be clear, they aren’t close. They still need a lot of work, but they have some very good cards within their ranks, like Loyal Guardian, Dauntless Escort, Mirror Sigil Sergeant. Heck, they’ve even got a commander, Roon of the Hidden Realm! Unfortunately, to make a tribal deck, you’re still eventually gonna have to resort to playing Crash of Rhinos and friends, but if we get another 10 or so good Rhino cards, I think I could convince my brother to play it.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Just Right: I was going to end this segment with the Rhystic Studies/Saffron Olive 34 Rhino's song, but then I wrote this sentence and decided, "No, all that without context is the joke."

308 (Tie): Guardian of Vitu Ghazi: 37 Decks

Guardian of Vitu Ghazi doesn’t have the superior printed text of "your creatures can help you cast this spell” that modern Convoke cards have, and therefore I hate it.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Overplayed: “Your creatures can help you cast this spell.” Gee thanks, "my creatures"! That’s so thoughtful!

308 (Tie): Boulderfall: 37 Decks

I started playing in Theros block, and even as a newbie Magic player, I knew that Boulderfall was bad. It’s like Rolling Thunder if Rolling Thunder never let you cast it for less than a million mana. It’s weird to find an utterly bad card from a set released within the last ten years. My brain says they don’t make cards that are so obviously bad anymore, but no! We still get cards like Boulderfall once in a blue moon.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Overplayed: I’ll play Riddle of Lightning instead thanks.

306: Tunneler Wurm: 38 Decks

Y'all ever realized how awesome Wurms are? Something about the tribe gels really well with my inner Timmy/Tammy. They all do such big splashy things. For example, Charnelhoard Wurm can Regrowth anything on attack. Novablast Wurm blows up all the creatures every turn. Tempting Wurm gives all your opponents a free Eureka that they’re gonna use to kill you. Panglacial Wurm has an entire subgenre of rules conversations that gives judges headaches. Impervious Greatwurm is just big. How can you not love these cards? Even the commander for Wurm tribal is dumb; I've never played a game where Grothama, All-Devouring didn’t completely destroy any sense of order. In conclusion, y’all should build Wurm tribal.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Just Right: Also, I can't look at the art on Tunneler Wurm without thinking of Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Roarrrr!

305: Volley of Boulders: 41 Decks

Well, it’s better than Boulderfall, I guess, but I’m sorry, is that a sextuple-red-pip Flashback cost? Was 5R just too hipster? I feel like we need to put this in a frame and just stare at it for a while until we understand that we live in a world where the Flashback cost for Volley of Boulders is red, red, red, red, red, red! 

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Oh look, I found a card to cast with Irencrag Feat.

304: Polar Kraken: 43 Decks

If you were going to outline the worst Magic mechanics, you’d have to put Cumulative Upkeep on that list, yeah? Barring weird corner cases, like Psychic Vortex and Braid of Fire, the mechanic is strictly downside, and it’s a really bad-feeling downside. I shouldn't have to tell you that when I play Magic cards, I would like them to keep them, and that I would not like them to destroy themselves for no reason. You can keep Polar Kraken around for a couple turns, but there’s gonna be some point where you can’t keep paying this, even if you want to. The worst part is they put Cumulative Upkeep on 88 cards! It's an unfair world where Delve only gets 28 cards and Cumulative Upkeep gets 88!

Over, Under, or Just Right: Overplayed: Of the three sea monsters we’ve looked at so far, this is by far the worst, and that it a scathing critique when the ones we saw before were Deep Spawn and Thing from the Deep.

303: Avatar of Will: 44 Decks

Remember the Winds cycle from Prophecy last week? Well, guess what? That was not the only overly-expensive cycle that Prophecy had. Arguably, it's not even the worst one. That honor goes to the Avatar cycle! You're probably familiar with this already because of the card Avatar of Woe, but I'll spoil it now, the rest of the cycle does not live up to Woe's hype. I'm sure I’ve played a game where somebody wound up with no cards in hand, but I honestly can’t remember, and even if that happens, all you get is a two-mana Mahamoti Djinn. Wooooo.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: These are not nearly as fun as the Winds.

302: Maelstrom Djinn: 47 Decks

If Morph decks weren’t so busted already, I think you could make an argument for Maelstrom Djinn as just a giant dork that can flip up and hit for 10 total damage over two turns. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I suppose) Morph decks have way too many options for this card to be playable. Morph decks are so far away from random combat wins (and way closer to infinite mana combos with Temur Sabertooth) that a random flyer that attacks twice is actively terrible. You'd have to be playing real powered-down EDH to find a slot for this.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Sorry, buddy.

301: Stratadon: 48 Decks

Fun to end on a card I really like, even if I like Stratadon for reasons that have nothing to do with the text. This is a colorless artifact that costs 10 and is less than 25 cents. Some decks like Volrath, the Fallen or Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder are silly enough to need that, and a lot of the alternatives are either green or expensive, so get in, you dork!

Over, Under, or Just Right: Underplayed: You might even cast this one sometimes!.


Well, the wedding reception calls our name! Before we head out, let me know what you think about this batch. Have you engaged with the great Scornful Egotist? Done anything cool with Ashen Firebeast? Let me know somewhere on the internet. 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.