Ranking Every Battlecruiser Card (8 CMC+) with EDHREC – Part 22: Colossuses & Dreadmaws
(Polyraptor | Art by Mark Behm)
I Am The Captain Now!
Hello, and welcome back to this series where we rank every 8-CMC-and-up card based on the number of decks they have on EDHREC. Due to the longer length of this article, our writing team asked me to keep this intro shorter than normal to conserve space.
Well, screw you, EDHREC! I will not be tethered by reader retention and writing standards anymore! It's time to write my Magnum Opus. Now, our story begins with Legions of Lim-Dûl from Ice Age.
(The remainder of this intro has been cut to save readers' time, energy, and personal well-being.)
90: Maelstrom Colossus: 5,545 Decks
What are you hoping to hit off Maelstrom Colossus to make it worth the eight mana? When this hits, like, Mind Stone or Worn Powerstone in the artifact decks, that’s pretty not great. Even if it hits Hellkite Tyrant or Combustible Gearhulk, that’s definitely worth the eight mana, but the 8/8 isn’t adding a ton that just casting Tyrant or Gearhulk doesn't get you already. Eight mana for something that does nothing but Cascade once does not feel like it does enough.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Well, at least it’ll always have a home in the Cascade decks. Averna, the Chaos Bloom will take what it can get.
89: Darksteel Colossus: 5,560 Decks
Oh, Darksteel Colossus, why must you be $10? Sure, you’re no Blightsteel Colossus or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, or Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, or Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, or Kozilek, the Great Distortion, or Phyrexian Triniform, or Triplicate Titan, but gosh dang it, I would have a home for you! You would be loved as a big baddie for budget decks that's difficult to answer if you get cheated into play. It’s not like you don’t end games; you just don’t do it as well as most other finishers released these days, but all those finishers are super expensive! You could find a place in my heart if you also weren't super expensive! Why are you still $10? Nobody else wants you. I’ll settle for you.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Honestly, almost overplayed at this price point. Seriously, can we just put the dang thing in a precon already?
88: Wakening Sun's Avatar: 5,566 Decks
Y’know, Dinosaurs kinda got everything they needed from Ixalan. They definitely get better as the years go on, and we get the occasional Topiary Stomper to weed out the Majestic Heliopteruses, but a lot of the best payoffs for running Dinosaurs are all in Ixalan, and it's hard to see them getting outclassed anytime soon. Wakening Sun's Avatar is probably always going to have a home in Dinos. It’s a little awkward that it doesn't work when you flip it off Gishath, Sun's Avatar, but it clears the way for all your big Dinos to get in like nothing else. They really kinda hit it out of the ballpark on the first try with these.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Aaaaaaaaaaaand the card's ten dollars now. Sigh, why can’t we just let people smash heads in with cool Dinosaurs!?
87: Bogardan Hellkite: 5,617 Decks
If we are to believe random weirdos on the internet (I love you Jeremy), then there was a time when Bogardan Hellkite was a pretty big threat in EDH, which is news to me. By the time I was on the scene in 2014, Hellkite was already having some issues scaling in Commander. It was still good as a way to remove a couple creatures and present a decent threat, but you were already only seeing it in dedicated Dragon decks, or in decks like Feldon of the Third Path that can cheat the mana cost. Eight mana is just a metric ton for a format where the creatures are massive, and the life totals are bloated, so it was fairly clunky.
Now in the year 2022, it’s even more clunky. Even mid-lower power decks don't really wanna hard-cast this anymore; it doesn’t do enough. A 5/5 flier is not nearly the threat it once was anymore, and that's not even touching the growing toughness of creatures making the five damage way less impactful. Is there still a home for this card? I think so, although it ends up basically being more niche versions of the homes it had in 2014. Five-color dragon decks have moved far beyond Hellkite, but Gruul and mono-red Dragons are still a couple years from being completely bananas on staples, so Hellkite does its job fine enough. As for cheating it into play, Feldon still loves it, but beyond that, you gotta be going either very specific, like Zirilan of the Claw, or low-power, like a mid-tier Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded deck. It’s fine, but I’m guessing every few years, the piece of the pie for this card is only going to get smaller.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I’ll also give it some nerd cred points. I may not have nostalgia for it, but someone probably does.
86: Ashen Rider: 5,778 Decks
Is Ashen Rider niche? I know that’s a weird question to ask about a card that can literally exile anything, but the more I look at this card, the clunkier it appears.
Obviously, you’re not playing Ashen Rider in your Despark or Void Shatter slot. You’re playing it when you can abuse the fact that you can Ephemerate it or Reanimate it. So my first thought on seeing Ashen Rider was, “I think Cavalier of Dawn is just better.” The 3/3 doesn’t matter on Cavalier. The not exiling and not hitting lands kinda does, but five mana over eight seems well worth that downside in most cases. I’d rather have the Cavalier come down way earlier than stare at Ashen Rider in my hand.
Now, the real benefit of Rider specifically is that it also exiles something when it dies, but only when it dies. You don't get it off flickering it, so you have to be playing a graveyard deck that can buy it back multiple times to get the most out of it. Which one, then? It doesn't seem great in Karador, Ghost Chieftain since it's gonna cost you eight mana to get this back. Do you play it in Athreos, Shroud-Veiled? That’s better, but then the question is how do you get it in play in the first place? Eight mana for your value engine is a ton. The best home is, like, Sefris of the Hidden Ways that reanimates incidentally, but at that point, I’m kinda tempted to just reach for Skyclave Apparition instead. I’m not saying there’s no case where Ashen Rider is the best card. I’m saying it feels pretty niche.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: It’s not even seeing as much play as Angel of Despair. Kaalia of the Vast is a messed up commander, ba-byyyyyyyyyyyy!
85: Ancient Stone Idol: 5,942 Decks
"Attacking.” Not “attacking creatures your opponents control." You can reduce the cost of this by attacking with your own creatures. I guess that’s neat.
Uh, I feel like people have been trying to sell me on Ancient Stone Idol since it came out, (even Doug’s a fan of it, and Doug’s a hipster) but I’ve never really seen it. It’s cute in forced combat decks when you have a bunch of goaded creatures running around that give you a 12/12. That's neat.
That’s about the one place I can see it. Anywhere else, if you’re getting attacked with enough creatures to make this cheap, you’re probably going to be dead fairly quickly. If an opponent is getting attacked with enough creatures to make this cheap, those creatures are going to be attacking you pretty soon, so you’re probably going to be dead fairly quickly. If you’re attacking with enough creatures to make this cheap, then good for you! That means you’re probably winning; why do you also need a 12/12?
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: And for the people trying to convince me to run this in Brudiclad, I just… no. Just no. We get, like, 50 cards that become auto-staples for Brudiclad every year. You can run 400 cards in Brudiclad before you ever have to reach for Ancient Stone Idol.
84: Scion of Draco: 6,302 Decks
Scion of Draco certainly keeps up the Draco family name by being a big expensive colorless creature that can be slammed in any deck without regard to the text or abilities on the card, but much like Tiberius Gracchus to his father, Scion of Draco would like to do something different besides coasting off his father’s name.
The references are for me and they always have been.
The point is that Scion of Draco has card text that matters. If you can afford the mana base of Triomes, Shocks, and Duals (which makes this $2 completely out of range for most budgets, but whatever), you get a big flier that selectively gives creatures a smattering of abilities. Hexproof and lifelink are the most interesting, and granting the others is all upside, but it’s a little bit awkward that Scion only gives certain abilities to certain creatures. If you want a way to give hexproof to all creatures, for example, you're better off playing Privileged Position unless you're playing so many multicolored creatures that you can guarantee this card gives multiple abilities to most of your creatures.
There is another way to play Scion, though. You can just treat him as a two-mana way to give your five-color commander vigilance, hexproof, lifelink, first strike, and trample. I'm more into that mode buffing a Cromat or a Scion of the Ur-Dragon. It's especially funny on Progenitus, but it's less good in stuff like Niv-Mizzet Reborn, where the attacking is more upside than the plan of the deck. It doesn’t feel worth the card there even if it costs two mana and is kinda bonkers for what you’re getting. Overall, Scion seems good, but it's no five-color staple.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Of course, you can always ignore the text and play it in Volrath the Fallen should you decide you don't want to send the Roman Republic into hundreds of years of civil strife.
83: Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker: 6,355 Decks
Since we last checked on Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, it’s continued to gain decks, but it still lags behind all its counterparts, which is a shame. As I made clear in my planeswalker series, I love every Nicol Bolas, but I think Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker is the best of the original four to throw into any random deck. People play Karn Liberated and Ugin, the Ineffable as expensive removal spells. Bolas basically does that, but then also does a bunch of other really good stuff. I am aware that he costs eight mana, so he doesn’t go in every deck, but if you want to play a Bolas - sorry, when you want to play a Bolas - he's the one that I would recommend.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Did you hear about the Ten-pins team that Bolas created in Boston? He called them the "Nicol Bowla's"
(May Nicol Bolas never show up in another series I do again. I've run out of puns.)
82: Polyraptor: 6,510 Decks
Of the random Dinosaurs, Polyraptor is one of the most applicable to play in non-Dino decks. For you young’uns, this was basically the Scute Swarm of 2018 where the goal is just to try and make as many of these as possible. Powerstone Minefield and Forerunner of the Empire were my preferred choices, and Pyrohemia with this card is a delicious combination.
However, it is pretty easy to make this go infinite. Aether Flash or Marauding Raptor go so infinite that it draws the game without a way to stop it, which was the reason I had to take Aether Flash out of my Dino deck. Any sac outlet stops the combo though, as does anything like Impact Tremors. It is primarily a Dinosaur card, but it’s got enough goofiness attached to it that you can happily slot it in any damage deck and it will do work.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Dino are too expensiiiiiiiiiiiive
81: Deep-Sea Kraken: 6,592 Decks
OK, so, what if you took Tidal Kraken, and made it cost three mana? You’d have one of the best big fish for big fish tribal.Even if opponents are only casting one spell a turn, you’re still getting this in a little more than two turn cycles, and frankly, it’s pretty common to get this out the same turn cycle you Suspend it on.
Now, does that make Deep-Sea Kraken a busted Magic card? Nope! I will continue to remind you that Avatar of Fury is a two-mana 6/6 flier with upside that is in less than 1,000 decks. Keeper of Keys also still exists, and it’s often going to be more efficient if that’s what you’re interested in. Kraken barely counts as a win condition unless you desire Fish or massive creatures. However, plenty of people desire both Fish and massive creatures, so Deep-Sea Kraken has plenty of homes.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I couldn’t decide between Deep-Blooper Sea, Deep-Sea Driving or just the fact that the Deep Sea is legitimately horrifying, so you get all three!
Nostalgia and Terror: My Brand!
...And that's why Uncle Istvan could beat Nicol Bolas in an arm wrestling match. Phew, clearly such an intro cannot be commented on, so feel free instead to comment on the cards in this article. Do you have a cool Polyraptor deck? Am I sleeping on Ashen Rider or Scion of Draco? Let me know in the comments if you can dare speak after my masterpiece. Until next week!