Ranking Every Battlecruiser Card (8 CMC+) with EDHREC – Part 25: And Now a Bigger Dragon!

(The Ur-Dragon | Art by Jaime Jones)

Everyone Look At This Walrus!

Isn't he great? He is the best Walrus because he is the only Walrus and I hope he remains the only Walrus for the end of time because he is great. He's very happy to be alive. I named him Steve. He looks like a Steve.

Anyway, welcome back to this series where we rank every Battlecruiser card based on the number of decks they have on EDHREC. This series doesn't include Steve, but if it did, he would get an 'Underplayed' because he is fabulous.

60: Apex of Power: 9,735 Decks

When Apex of Power first came out, I thought it was getting chucked straight into the dustbin of history. It looked like an even worse Overflowing Insight with a bunch of extra hoops to jump through. You only got the cards for one turn, you only get the mana to cast those if you cast Apex from your hand, you only got to make one color of mana. I thought it’d never see play when we have things like Epic Experiment or Blue Sun's Zenith or even Commune with Lava.,

The community has proven me wrong, though. Apex of Power has become a bit of an indie darling. I often see it filling the hole of “thing to do with way too much mana.” Perhaps I was underrating the mana ability? People tend to think of it less like a Commune with Lava and more like a Genesis Ultimatum to cheat things into play

So am I on board with the street rat now that he’s a Hollywood film star? Nope! Sorry, Apex. While the amount of play you're receiving has made me pay a little more attention, I still think you're much worse than other options. Even as a way to cheat things into play, you’re never gonna go truly bonkers when you're limited to seven cards with ten mana of one color. There are too many limitations to this card that Genesis Ultimatum or Genesis Wave don't have.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I respect you slightly more, Apex of Power, but not nearly enough to match your hype.

59: Reya Dawnbringer: 9,920 Decks

(70 Decks as a Commander, 9,850 Decks in the 99)

Reanimating Avenger of Zendikar tends to be pretty synergy-agnostic, but my favorite use for Reya is as a sweet target for Reanimator decks. Now your Exhume doesn’t just hit Void Winnower, it hits Reya, then Void Winnower, and then something else if Reya sticks around. There’s always the danger that someone kills Reya before she can grab something, but a lot of other Reanimation threats have that same problem, and Reya doesn’t need more than a turn or two to pay off your initial investment.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Both a fair card and an unfair card. Solid resumé overall.

58: Phyrexian Triniform: 10,127 Decks

Huh. This must have been one of the cards that fell through the cracks for me during Commander Legends spoilers, because it feels like I’m reading this for the first time.

This card seems good! It’s the definition of an army in a can. 12 mana in an artifact deck isn’t that hard to make happen, and if you Encore this, you get to swing at everyone for 9, and then make 27 power of colorless tokens. That feels like a good use for 12 mana.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I think I’m mostly interested in setting up the Encore ability.

57: Titanoth Rex: 10,253 Decks

A nine-mana 11/11 trampling Dinosaur would probably see play in Gishath, Sun's Avatar even without any extra text. Giving it the ability to grant eternal trample to Skullbriar or put itself right into the graveyard for Mimeoplasm while being recur-able by Hua Tuo, Honored Physician is that extra bit of sauce that ties the whole dish together.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I don’t remember a time when Krosan Cloudscraper was the best green creature, but I like to pretend I do.

56: Metalwork Colossus: 10,282 Decks

Similarly to Living Hive's existence in the busted Standard that was Mirrodin, I have a lot of respect for Metalwork Colossus existing in the Standard environment where Energy and Felidar Guardian combos ran rampant.

Granted, Colossus is a much better card than Living Hive. It's not only trivially easy to get this to cost basically zero mana, it’s also trivially easy to get back by sacrificing some random Thopters. However, at the end of the day, you're getting back a vanilla 10/10. It’s a 10/10 that synergizes really well with everything from Bosh, Iron Golem to Padeem, Consul of Innovation, but it’s still a vanilla 10/10, and in the face of Energy and two-card combos that win on turn four, a creature whose main draw is being a big/big is quaint. In other words, this doesn't just go in any artifact deck. I like it.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: To ruin the quaintness, I am surprised there are no combos for this card showing up on the Commander Spellbook EDH combo search engine. You'd think that a free creature that can recur itself would have some type of popular infinite combo, right???

55: Ulamog's Crusher: 10,609 Decks

Ulamog's Crusher feels closer to Eldrazi Devastator than Breaker of Armies, but I think it’s still better than Devastator. It’s also the only common Eldrazi, and the most reprinted one, so I’m inclined to let it slide, since it's the Eldrazi that people are more likely to own. Annihilator 2 is no Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger trigger, but it'll get the job done.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I’ll stick with the OG art, though. The art from Rise of the Eldrazi makes the Eldrazi look utterly foreign and terrifying, as opposed to the Ultimate Masters printing, which is a little too bright and humanoid for my taste

54: The Ur-Dragon: 10,791 Decks

(8,259 Decks as a Commander, 2,532 Decks in the 99)

Hey. Have I told you I like Dragons? I don't know if you've picked up on that yet from the fact that I shoehorn in a Dragon write-up every time I assemble one of these ranking series. Let me be explicit: I like Dragons. A lot.

I'm clearly not alone, as Dragons are the 2nd most popular tribe according to EDHREC, and The Ur-Dragon is currently the 7th most popular commander on the site. My personal five-color lord of choice is still Scion of the Ur-Dragon, and there was only a brief window of time where I could have bought an Ur-Dragon before he shot up to his current price of Way Too Freaking Much, so I've never actually built The Ur-Dragon before. That’s the great thing about Dragons, though: there isn’t really a default way to build them.

Sure, the 'best' commander for Dragons is probably going to be The Ur-Dragon; you could remove all his text except the Eminence ability and he would still probably secure that slot. Ultimately, though, a deck led by The Ur-Dragon will look different than a deck led by Tiamat, which tends to be toolboxy, and those will both look different than one led by Scion of the Ur-Dragon, which can get into combo territory. Each of those will differ from the Gruul beats of Dragonlord Atarka or the Dragon-Reanimator fusion of Bladewing the Risen. You can play teeny Dragons with Lathliss, Dragon Queen, sneak some into play with Zirilan of the Claw, or even make some non-red Dragon deck. All these decks will feel very different from one another, and the world is open to you!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Sure, these are all flavors of the same essential gameplan (play a bunch of Dragons and punch people in the face), but they’re unique enough that you can tailor a list to whatever you want it to be. If you don’t want to play (or can’t afford) The Ur-Dragon, you really don't have to.

53: Akroma, Angel of Wrath: 11,039 Decks

(60 Decks as a Commander, 10,979 Decks in the 99)

There was once a time when Akroma, Angel of Wrath was the most popular legendary creature ever printed. If you ever want to feel completely fascinated by the passage of time, you can look up the You Decide poll that Wizards ran on magicthegathering.com in 2006 where over half a million votes decided that Akroma, Angel of Wrath was the best legendary creature over Kokusho, the Evening Star, Sliver Queen, Captain Sisay, and every other legend printed before 2005.

I feel like I need to explain this baffling bit of Magic history. Nowadays, I think even fans of Akroma will acknowledge it is by no means the best legendary creature ever printed on any metric. It’s big, with big keywords. In Commander, you need to do more than be good in combat to be worth playing, but Commander wasn't really a format when this was printed. This was in 2003, when casual Magic still meant 20 life and 60 cards (mostly), so Akroma was not only a super elegant design, it swung the game in your favor incredibly well. It was never a barn-stomper that warped formats, but when synergy wasn’t quite the king it is now, it was generically good, and she also played a huge role in the story, so Timmy, Jenny, Spike, and Vorthos could all unite around how cool Akroma was.

Now I kinda feel like I’m talking down to you, readers. Are you as enamored with the flying Angel that has a million keywords as I am? It’s still showing up in over 10,000 decks, which would seem to indicate that it's more than just nostalgia that earns this card a lot of play. Akroma still ends games. She’s absolutely outclassed in that department, but she's evasive, she hits hard, and she even does a decent job protecting herself from removal. The enjoyment you get from playing her is still basically the same that you got playing her in 2005. Can y'all see why Akroma was the best legendary creature at one point in time, or am I just staring at a reality none of you can actually conceptualize? I honestly can’t tell.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Outside of being a big top-end, she’s also a good choice if you care about keywords. If nothing else, Kathril, Aspect Warper lets Akroma relive the glory days.

52: Zacama, Primal Calamity: 11,144 Decks

(1,759 Decks as a Commander, 9,385 Decks in the 99)

Some people were surprised I didn't mention Zacama, Primal Calamity when talking about the best Dinosaur commander. I’ll acknowledge that I’m biased because I think Gishath is the best Dino commander one could possibly hope for, but even ignoring that, Zacama doesn’t synergize with Dinosaurs at all. Her abilities are much more suited to lead a deck full of mana-doublers and infinite combos with Temur Sabertooth. You don't have to do that, but that's what people are going to assume you're doing when you jam Zacama in the command zone, and therefore they're going to try and kill you fast. Why not then avoid the targeting and play Gishath?

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Zacama's fine in the command zone or in the 99 for decks with a ton of mana-doublers, but she's not a great Dinosaur commander.

51: The Magic Mirror: 11,421 Decks

Oh, I know what card The Magic Mirror is paying homage to! It’s a rare from one of the early Core Sets. What was it called? Mind's Dilation? No wait, that’s the seven-mana one from Shadows over Innistrad that everyone said was bad and then turned out to be really fun in Commander. What other cards begin with “Mind’s?” It’s not Mind's Eye, I remember that one. I think Minds Aglow is the card draw spell with Join Forces. Boy, that mechanic fell pretty flat. Maybe it didn’t begin with Minds. Is it Ideas Unbound? Nope, that’s the card that saw some weird play in storm for a while.

Uhhhhhhhhhhh, screw it, I’ll just Scryfall it. Oracle search for “Draw a card for each…” with enchantment type aaaaaaand ahah! Mind Unbound. No wonder I couldn’t find it. It’s only in 1,000 decks. I remember seeing Mind Unbound a fair bit, but I guess time has not been kind to this card....

What were we talking about? Oh yeah, the Mirror. It's meh.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I mean, the reason Mind Unbound doesn’t see much play is because it’s glacially slow. In a control deck, it’s pretty good, but you need to stay alive for a while to do that, so it costing six doesn’t really mean much. If it cost less, it wouldn’t really change anything.

I Will 100% Forget The Name of This Card by Next Week

Well, I kinda can't believe it, but we're approaching the end of this series. The top 50 is all that's left, so I will see you next week for that. In the meantime, what do you think about the cards that fall just outside it? Are you a fan of Dragons? Are you an Apex of Power Stan? Let me know below. 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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