Ranking Every Battlecruiser Card (8 CMC+) with EDHREC – Part 26: The Wanderer (Not the War of the Spark One)

(Maelstrom Wanderer | Art by Thomas M. Baxa)

Allow Me to Create Some Hype!

Welcome all to this series where we rank cards based on the number of decks they have on EDHREC. I have been doing a poor job marking milestones this series, but that's changing now because this is the first article of the top 50! We've been doing this for over eight months, but within this next month, it'll all be over. We're talking the best of the flashiest cards in the entire game, so we should take a moment to bask in the awe of it.


Okay, that should establish the requisite amount of hype. Let's jam!

50: Maelstrom Wanderer: 11,547 Decks

(2,493 as a Commander, 9,054 Decks in the 99)

I wanna know who the heck came up with Cascade, because it makes cards like Maelstrom Wanderer really funny to evaluate. Sometimes your opponent casts Maelstrom Wanderer and hits, like, Pathbreaker Ibex + Avenger of Zendikar, then wins the game off casting one spell. Sure, that’s a fairly magical Christmasland scenario, but decks with Maelstrom Wanderer are built to try and make those types of turns happen every time. Anytime I see a deck led by Wanderer, that's basically Public Enemy #1 for me because the card is terrifying.

However, sometimes your opponent hits Birds of Paradise and Cultivate, and suddenly Maelstrom Wanderer looks very silly. “Yeah, nice Cyclops of Eternal Fury you have there, buddy. I’m glad you warped your deck to make sure you could cast that as quickly as possible." Bad Wanderer Cascades means I'm free to punish my opponents for their insolence, and I have to punish them, because they'll get Wanderer back in their hand eventually with a Temur Sabertooth or something and they can't get unlucky off hits forever. Killing them is often the right move, but you’re ultimately killing them for casting a million ramp spells and a 7/5. That’s all Wanderer accomplishes at its worst. The games where Wanderer dominates are far more often, but they make the games where Wanderer does nothing pretty funny.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I absolutely am not dissing this card. I’m bemused by the variety of experiences one can have with it.

49: Triplicate Titan: 11,572 Decks

I didn’t know Wurmcoil Engine could get bigger, but Triplicate Titan is here to smash. Obviously, if you have any synergies with Wurmcoil Engine, there’s a good chance you want Triplicate Titan too. Reanimation, sacrifice synergies, artifact copying, token shenanigans, all of those work just as well with Titan as they do with Wurmcoil. Heck, there are cases where Titan is better than Engine. Belbe, Corrupted Observer probably would rather spend a little extra mana for the extra stuff here. If Wurmcoil is in almost 30,000 decks and significantly more expensive, I think we can aim higher here.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Okay, now we need a 3/3 with first strike that makes a 3/3 with first strike when it dies, and the vertical cycle is complete. I will also accept a 12/12 with Banding, Rampage, Snow-Covered-Swampwalk, and Substance.

48: Sandwurm Convergence: 11,607 Decks

Sandwurm Convergence is not technically a Wurm, but it is Wurm-themed and definitely has that derpy Wurm vibe, so I think we can squeeze one more Wurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrm onto the list.

I am surprised an eight-mana enchantment with a reverse Moat and a souped-up Bringer of the Green Dawn trigger has a home in so many decks. I’m not even sure I can hit them all. There’s Ruxa, Patient Professor in his vanilla tribal deck. There’s Trostani, Selesnya's Voice for the big tokens. There’s Belbe, Corrupted Observer, which just needs expensive things to cheat into play. There’re pillowfort decks, like Phelddagrif, that need finishers that protect them. There’re enchantress decks, like Estrid, the Masked, which need enchantments that can close out games. Do any of these decks truly need Sandwurm Convergence as some critical glue to hold the deck together? No, but it's a quality card in all those decks. It’s frankly impressive how much ground this silly eight-mana enchantment can cover.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Also, did I mention it makes Wurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrms?

47: Archon of Cruelty: 11,765 Decks

In my ongoing quest to compare popular cards to cards that no one has ever heard of before, I'm curious if Archon of Cruelty is better than Baleful Force.

Hear me out: they're kinda similar cards in EDH. They both start gaining you value as soon as you cast them, they both are pretty decent if you stick them around for a while, and they both will win you the game if they stick, but they both need to stick around a while in order to do that. If Archon of Cruelty gets its ETB and then gets Infernal Grasped, you’re probably still pretty happy with it, but for eight mana, drawing a card and making an opponent sacrifice a creature is underwhelming. Thus, you either need to be able to protect Archon with stuff like Lightning Greaves to gain long-term value, or you need to Reanimate it so that it costs three or four mana in practice. When you do either of those things, Archon will be a pretty fantastic card, but generally, it's a bit fair and a bit slow.

Now, what write-up does that sound like? Oh yeah! The one I did for Baleful Force! The two cards are both expensive value engines on massive bodies. In fact, if you're not interested in attacking, I think Baleful Force is better at gaining value over time.

So do I give Archon an 'Overplayed' since it’s going in way more decks than Baleful Force, or do I give it a 'Just Right', since it's still very good and can do a lot of work even though Baleful Force does all the same stuff and isn’t reaching these same heights?

Eh, one of those is more contrarian.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: If I can't rate a card as "perfectly fine but not worth the amount of play it receives compared to a card of equivalent power level" then I might as well go with the rating that gets me the rage engagement.

46: Temporal Trespass: 12,172 Decks

I remember when I sold a copy of this for $2 because it was a pretty fair extra turn card. The upkeep cost of triple blue, even if you exile eight cards, meant that the extra turns decks can’t even get this down early, and the rest of the format probably would rather have Time Warp or Part the Waterveil. For how awkward the card was, $2 felt like a steal!

Sigh. No. Don’t sell extra turn cards. It doesn’t matter what they do. That Alchemist's Gambit card from Midnight Hunt? Hang onto that, because even though it’s pretty mediocre when compared to all the other extra turn cards, it will be sought after in the future by somebody. Don’t sell extra turn cards, and especially don’t sell one that also domes people for 13 in Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow. Learn from my mistakes.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Like I said, I don’t think the card is that good (outside of Yuriko), but being an extra turn card that can occasionally be three mana probably is going to keep it here forever.

45: Parhelion II: 12,284 Decks

Can we still play Parhelion II as a battlecruiser stompy card? This card put a nice big smile on my face to see this in a random Boros deck ready to smash! Yeah, it doesn’t do anything when it comes in, you need another creature to Crew it, and it’s super fragile, but it’s awesome! It’s an Angel-making machine that wrecks face! It’s a flying castle! Like, come on!

Is there anyone actually still doing that, though? Is it Greasefang, Okiba Boss and Kotori, Pilot Prodigy all the way down? I can't remember the last time I've seen a fair Parhelion II. Is there anyone on the page still playing this just for the fun of it? Anybody?

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Is anyone listening to me? Hello?

44: Archetype of Endurance: 12,478 Decks

Archetype of Endurance is weird. It definitely should cost eight, but it also never feels worth the eight mana I spend to cast it. If I tell you something costs eight, you might be thinking of something that swings the game in your favor. You don’t have to be thinking Craterhoof Behemoth or even End-Raze Forerunners. Think of Cast Through Time or Brinelin, the Moon Kraken. Those are slow, and need other cards to do their thing, but casting them impacts the game and puts you in a very good position.

I think you can argue Archetype of Endurance fits that description, but it doesn’t have nearly the same impact. It doesn’t make your board significantly better. It doesn’t make the cards in your hand better. It doesn't really gain value. It protects the stuff you have while protecting itself. For eight mana, I don’t really want to play a protection piece. I want to play things that swing the game in my favor harder. Why don’t I just play Lightning Greaves instead of this card? I know why: because Greaves doesn’t protect everything, because Greaves doesn’t protect itself, and because Greaves isn't a 6/5. Fine, that’s why Archetype cost eight, but that’s what makes it weird. It’s a high-tech version of something I’m not really sure I want to be high-tech.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: This is one of those case where I feel like I can’t quite hit the nail on why this card bothers me, and that’s literally my job, so, y’know, that’s kind of a bummer.

43: Kamahl, Heart of Krosa: 13,136 Decks

(2,449 Decks as a Commander, 10,687 Decks in the 99)

Kamahl, Heart of Krosa is not as fun as Brinelin. It does cost eight, but it feels less "battlecruise-y," and more “mono-green-y.” The card’s just a good finisher in any Elfball or token deck, which makes him one of the more played Commanders from the set. Not quite in Rograkh or Malcolm tier, but still pretty high up.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Turns out a tutorable Overrun that doesn’t have to attack is worth playing.

42: Eldrazi Conscription: 12,559 Decks

You don't often see Battlecruiser style cards in Voltron decks. In fact, I'd argue that Voltron really only has three true Battlecruiser cards, but they are all titans of the format: Argentum Armor, Colossification, and the queen of them all, Eldrazi Conscription.

Conscription is the EDH Aura. The Aura that anyone who has played a Voltron deck has tried to get on their creature. For most of EDH's existence, you didn't really have other splashy Auras to cheat into play with things like Bruna, Light of Alabaster. Maybe Celestial Mantle, but that was fairly tame, all things considered, and outside of that you had… Mythic Proportions? Indrik Umbra? None of those scaled well to Commander, so you would be hard-pressed to emulate that expensive flair in Voltron decks were it not for Eldrazi Conscription. This was the Aura that opponents dreaded seeing slammed onto your Voltron creature. It wasn’t a card you were playing if you wanted to win unless you could cheat it into play, but plenty of Voltron decks just jammed it in there, and even today, a lot of decks still jam it in for the same reason that there’re random blue decks playing Omniscience with no way to cheat the cost: it’s fun to cast and will destroy everyone if you can get it into play.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: It’s really hard for me to say that casual Commander is dead when this card ranks so highly on this list.

41: Apex Altisaur: 12,700 Decks

Someone walk me through the reasons why this card is seeing so much play, because I don't think I get it. It seems like you’re playing this either because A: it’s a Dinosaur; B: it’s a green pseudo-Wrath; or C: it’s a big creature to put into play. I've got no beef with this in Gishath, Sun's Avatar, but I don't get the other two. You’re usually only hitting two or three creatures with the trigger, so it’s not really a Wrath in the vein of Ezuri's Predation or Perilous Vault. It’s a lot closer to a removal spell, and a ten-mana removal spell is pretty lackluster. It’s a bit better if you can cheat it into play, but when you’re cheating things into play, a 10/10 that blows up two creatures is only okay. Ulvenwald Tracker does most of what this card is going to do for just two mana. Maybe it’s fine in slower games, but I’m surprised to see over 13,000 decks on this at the moment. It feels like too much.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Although again, it’s 100% worth it in Dinosaurs. This and Temple Altisaur are best friends.

Eventually I'll Run Out of Excuses To Talk About Dinos

Well, that's a pretty strong start to the top 50, and we're only moving up. What do you think about these top-tier smashers? Any cute combos with Eldrazi Conscription? Any cool stories with Parhelion II? Let me know your heart's desire 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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