Ranking Every Battlecruiser Card (8 CMC+) with EDHREC – Part 20: Primal Serge Yager
(Primal Surge | Art by David Rapoza)
Got Absolutely Nothing To Do
Oh, hello. What are you all doing here?
What? The article? Oh, shoot! I have an article! I completely forgot!
Hi and welcome back to this series where we rank every 8-CMC-plus card based on the number of decks they have on EDHREC! It's fine! We're fine! I didn't forget to write this week's article and am writing it on the fly as we speak! YOU FORGOT TO WRITE AN ARTICLE THIS WEEK! LET'S GO!
110: Lorthos, the Tidemaker: 4,028 Decks
(63 Decks as a Commander, 3,965 Decks in the 99)
I've played with Lorthos, the Tidemaker a fair bit, and I've never payed the eight mana to activate this ability. I’ve also never seen anyone pay the eight mana to activate this ability. I imagine that if you do that, it’s probably pretty sweet, but eight mana after casting an eight-mana creature that doesn’t do anything else is a tough sell.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I mean, if you just want to play it because it says "eight" a bunch of times, I can’t fault you.
109: The Cauldron of Eternity: 4,111 Decks
The Cauldron of Eternity is the fairest Meren of Clan Nel Toth I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t come down until you have a very full graveyard, and then it completely neuters any other recursion you might have. The effect is powerful, but I don’t know if it's worth all the upkeep here. Maybe in something like Runo Stromkirk that doesn’t have a lot of synergistic value loops but still wants some graveyard recursion? Mmmm, I don't know. It feels like there’re much better ways to reanimate things.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I think it’s pretty telling that the most popular commander is Grenzo, Dungeon Warden, and that’s only because he can go infinite with Dockside Extortionist and a sac outlet.
108: Bosh, Iron Golem: 4,182 Decks
(520 Decks as a Commander, 3,662 Decks in the 99)
It has been a very long time since I’ve seen a Bosh, Iron Golem in play. Was this a Commander titan of old, like Sorin Markov or Prossh, Skyraider of Kher? People always spoke like it was kinda scary when I started, but I have no emotional attachment to it, and I don’t ever remember it being super impressive. Maybe someone can fill me in on this in the comments.
That intro sounds pessimistic, but I like Bosh as a commander. He’s not great as a sacrifice outlet. If you’re just looking to get things into your graveyard, you don't really wanna pay four for it, but as a pseudo-finisher, he seems fine. Again, not every artifact deck needs to be as combo-tastic as Breya, Etherium Shaper. It seems fun to throw Metalwork Colossus at someone to finish them off, or chuck Bosh, like, seven times from the command zone. It’s not a great finisher, but it seems fun. Why not?
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I guess he also wins with infinite red mana as a commander, but that’s going pretty deep.
107: Colossus of Akros: 4,215 Decks
Every time I look at Colossus of Akros, I just wish Darksteel Colossus was cheaper. I will play, and have played, Colossus of Akros as a top end creature that I want to cheat into play, or ramp into, that will win me the game in a budget deck, but I’m never happy about it. It takes basically a full extra turn of mana to get the 20/20 indestructible that this card wants to be. Otherwise, it just sits there blocking all day, and when I work to get something in play, I kinda want it to do something.
That said, if you want a colorless finisher that is agnostic and cheap, this is about the best you can do, which is frustrating, because I know there’s a better card I could be playing: Darksteel Colossus. That card isn’t really that sought-after and would be fun to jam in some decks, but is also way too expensive to be worth getting for my nonsense. So, back to Colossus of Akros I go. Sigh.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I’ll say this now so I can get out ahead of the comments: Arcades, the Strategist does not need this card. It has so many creatures that can rival or outdo this in term of power for way less mana.
106: Primal Surge: 4,224 Decks
Primal Surge is a fun thing to see happen exactly once. The challenge around building a Primal Surge deck is to make sure that your entire deck is permanents, so no instants or sorceries. That’s definitely something you’ll have to actively try to do. Even Nikya and Ruric Thar often have a Triumph of the Hordes or two floating around in the decklist, but it’s not that hard to build a deck entirely out of permanents. You can fulfill all your removal, card draw, and instant-speed interaction with creatures without trying that hard.
Your reward for doing so is that you basically have a one-card win condition. Primal Surge might have the highest correlation between games cast and games won of any card. A haste enabler, a Thassa's Oracle or enough Persistent Petitioners can ensure you win on the spot basically every time. You don’t even hard to try very hard to find this card. The games where you don’t find Primal Surge are games where you still make a massive board of creatures that threaten to eat an opponent's face off, and then when you do find Primal Surge, it’s pretty spectacular. You put every permanent from your deck into play and win with incredible overkill and pomp. It’s fun…
...for the first time, because Primal Surge very quickly gets monotonous. It might be a flashy spectacle, but it boils down to “when I cast Primal Surge, I win the game.” What does that sound like? Craterhoof Behemoth, Demonic Consultation, Expropriate. Yeah, suddenly our Jenny/Johnny win condition doesn’t feel so Jenny or Johnny anymore. You'll get sick of it pretty quick, and your opponents will start scooping in response to save time. Plus, unlike Craterhoof, you're restricting yourself by quite a bit to play Surge. Again, it's not a large restriction, but it's still a restriction. When Surge gets dull, you might as well pull out a few of the more mediocre permanents and replace them with either more fun cards, or better cards. Either way, Surge is probably going to start hampering your deck after a while for not much benefit. I've see a lot of Primal Surge decks cycle through my meta, and I think almost all of them got taken apart after a few games. It’s fun exactly once, and then you can check it off the bingo board.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I’m glad it exists, but I’m kinda over it now.
105: Elder Deep-Fiend: 4,207 Decks
I think Elder Deep-Fiend is probably the best Emerge creature in EDH until Wizards decides to make another one (hint hint, nudge nudge). Tapping four things at instant speed is pretty mediocre, but that doesn’t really matter. It's an eight-mana flash creature that can be cheated into play early with the Emerge to trigger your Rashmi, Eternities Crafter or Runo Stromkirk while also being less than 50 cents. Oh, and it’s a sea creature.
Is Deep-Fiend significantly better than Lashweed Lurker or Vexing Scuttler? Erm, I don’t think so? Lurker and Scuttler do more on their cast trigger. They don’t have flash, which probably gives the edges to Deep-Fiend, but it’s not going to be a huge enough deal that I would say Deep-Fiend deserves to be this high while Lurker or Scuttler or even Wretched Gryff and Mockery of Nature are not.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I mean, it’s still a very good card for certain decks, so I won't see the play is unwarranted. Plus, again, it’s an Octopus.
104: Soulfire Eruption: 4,225 Decks
When I started this series, Soulfire Eruption was the least played of the Commander Legends sorceries, and that felt very wrong. Eruption is like Apex of Power and Chandra's Ignition had a very weird baby. Wrath the board, draw a bunch of cards, and dome opponents for a smidge to boot!
I think this card is legitimately game-winning whenever you cast it, so it didn't deserve to be the least played. Now's it's in the middle of the pack, which is better, but I still think it could be closer to Mnemonic Deluge's numbers. It comes down to whether you can afford to play a nine-mana sorcery that doesn’t win you the game the same turn you cast it, but considering the amount of spell-based ramp and ways to cast spells on the cheap, like Spelltwine, it absolutely seems like you can make this card work in whatever you want.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Just be careful about making too many copies of this card. You will deck yourself.
103: The Tarrasque: 4,227 Decks
(82 Decks as a Commander, 4,145 Decks in the 99
What’s the difference between ward 10 and hexproof? Why even bother at that point? Just give it hexproof! I've never played DnD, but I don't think it's a lore thing. Is it just because you don't wanna use hexproof anymore, Wizards? Well, that doesn't make sense, because you freaking used hexproof in the same set! I don't get it. It feels like RoboRosewater made this card.
What’s the card play like? Well, it's a Dinosaur for one, and a good one to cheat into play with Gishath, Sun's Avatar, though not getting the abilities is pretty awkward. It's also a neat card for fight decks. Costing nine mana is dicey, but it does just trigger your Foe-Razer Regent and usually live to tell the tale. I wish it had trample or something else besides just the fight trigger and the protection, but I can see it in the decks that have synergy with it. Not as good as Thrasta, Tempest's Roar, but good enough.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I have now done a write-up where I spent as much time complaining about schematics as I did actually talking about the actual Magic card, and I think that sums up my series as a whole.
102: Stonehoof Chieftain: 4,268 Decks
So take Dolmen Gate and Primal Rage, make them cost way too much mana, and then stick them on an 8/8. Eh? Stonehoof Chieftain seems fine, but eight mana is a ton for what this card actually does. Every time I cast this card, it did more work as an 8/8 indestructible than as a way to get my creatures through, and there're much better beat sticks than this.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I was very happy when this card spiked because it meant I could sell mine.
101: Icebreaker Kraken: 4,346 Decks
In another installment of "You Should Not Trust Anything Anyone on EDHREC says,” Mason questioned in the Kaldheim set review if Icebreaker Kraken would even cross 1,000 decks, and it’s now crossed more than 4,000. We are all hacks hired by netdeckers to make EDH a homogeneous blob!
Honestly, I agree with Mason, though: I’m not quite sure why Icebreaker Kraken is just outside the top 100 of these Battlecruiser rankings. You technically don’t have to play it in a dedicated snow deck, since any random deck can play snow lands to cast this, but that seems pretty clunky. Kraken is pulling a Kefnet's Monument, where it only makes sure things don’t untap, without actually tapping them. That’s pretty "meh" on an 8/8 that's probably going to cast six or seven mana, and you’re very rarely gonna wanna bounce the three lands to make this happen more than once. I can’t think of a deck that wouldn’t rather have Stonehorn Dignitary or something like that. Even sea monster tribal can do better than this. Is this really what you’re going to spend $30 on fancy basic islands to have access to? I won’t even do that for Dead of Winter, what makes you think I’ll do that for this?
In the snow decks, maybe it’s playable just because snow cards aren’t exactly plentiful. It’s on-theme, and will probably be cheaper than it would be otherwise, but even if every snow deck decided it wanted to play this, that’s only covering a third of the decks playing this. Why this card in particular?
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I mean, I love Pearl Lake Ancient more than Mana Crypt, but that doesn’t make it better than Mana Crypt.
It's Got Prowess!
Phew. Glad I got that done in the nick of time... uh, I mean, I totally got this done weeks ago! Before I even started this series, actually, so you better let me know what you think about it in the comments! Any love for Lorthos, the Tidemaker? Have you had any longer flings with Primal Surge? I expect prompt responses down below. Until next week!