Ranking Every Battlecruiser Card (8 CMC+) with EDHREC – Part 27: Rise of the Eldrazi

(Emrakul, the Promised End | Art by Jaime Jones)

Dearest Reader,

'Twas a long time since I last wrote to you. I embrace with determination this cherished opportunity to present for your amusement this series where we rank every Battlecruiser card based on the number of decks they have on EDHREC.

There is not much comfort in my life. Your sister, Elizabeth, has come down with a case of the measles, and your father, Yegor, has gone off to fight in the war. However, I will take these trials with joy, and go forth to apprise on the most wonderfully expensive cards in the format.

40: Desolation Twin: 13,214 Decks

Being both a cheap Eldrazi that people can jam to live the dream of not spending a million dollars on Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, and also being one of the biggest tokens one can make for Trostani, Girhed, Brudiclad, and Temmet gives Desolation Twin a fairly large piece of the pie. I wish the tokens did more than just being big, like having trample or vigilance or something, but I can’t be that picky when a card is doing this much.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I’ll take cheap cards that overlap with multiple archetypes when I can get them.

39: Sphinx of the Second Sun: 13,434 Decks

I am absolutely a biased judge when it comes to Sphinx of the Second Sun. I named it my favorite card of 2020, so if you’re looking for an objective view on whether this card is good, you’re in the wrong place, buddy.

Although, honestly, do you really care if Sphinx of the Second Sun is good? It’s an eight-mana Sphinx that gives you an extra untap so you can Seedborn Muse in mono-blue, an extra upkeep to trigger your Shrines, your Bringers, and your commanders like Zedruu the Greathearted, and it also gives you an extra draw step, because of course it does. I don’t know what else you could ask for.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Still haven’t gotten around to building a deck that wants to make as many copies of Sphinx of the Second Sun as possible, but it’s on the to-do list.

38: Pathrazer of Ulamog: 13,691 Decks

As a budget player, I'm not actually that annoyed Dockside Extortionist is $50 or whatever. Would it be nice if it was accessible to everyone? Sure, but that's never gonna happen; there's always going to be a demand for that card, and I don't need it. I can build whatever jank I desire without those Tier 1 staples and still do cool things in all but the highest-powered games.

However, when cards like Pathrazer of Ulamog are $5, that's the kind of thing that does bug me as a budget player. Eldrazi are inherently flashy, so a lot of decks would like to have one. Not having the upper echelon of Eldrazi, like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, is fine, provided that we have other options, but if even the second tier Eldrazi still cost $5, that's a tougher pill to swallow. $5 doesn't sound like a lot, but if you're building a deck for $50, then it becomes a card that's taking a 10th of your budget, and why? Pathrazer is a good card, but it's not a card that anyone is constantly seeking out because there're way better versions of this effect. At $5, a lot of budget players aren't even going to bother, and a lot of non-budget players aren't going to care since they can splurge on the big bois. There's no inherent value in having this card hold value.

This is a wide-reaching problem. Grand Coliseum is $3, Fellwar Stone is $6, Awakening is $5, Overabundance is $6. There are better versions of all these cards, and it will never be a selling point that any of these are getting reprinted, but, because of this, these card don't often get slotted into the Double Masters-style sets, where their price would get drilled into the ground. When I can't even get off-the-grid or strictly worse cards because they're $5, that's when budget building gets hard, and that's what I hope Wizards tries to fix in the future.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I'm not saying "stop reprinting Smothering Tithe", but don't forget about the smaller cards, too.

37: Kozilek, the Great Distortion: 14,315 Decks

(3,636 Decks as a Commander, 10,679 Decks in the 99)

It's about time that we got to the big legendary Eldrazi in this ranking series, and I guess it’s fitting to start with the Eldrazi that often leads the deck of big legendary Eldrazi. Newzilek is the most popular Eldrazi commander, and I’d wager that part of that is because Newzilek solves the colorless card advantage problem that Eldrazi decks run into, but I'd also wager it's the price tag that makes Newzilek attractive. All of the other colorless Eldrazi commanders are upwards of $50. It’s not like Newzilek is cheap either, but if you want to play colorless Eldrazi without taking out a second mortgage, this dude is probably your best bet.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: That’s also kind of the vibe off the play Kozilek is seeing in the 99. He’s the cheapest Eldrazi legend, and if you want an Eldrazi, he’s a fine choice.

36: Emrakul, the Promised End: 14,610 Decks

(429 Decks as a Commander, 14,181 Decks in the 99)

First thing that surprised me about Emrakul, the Promised End's page: it has a salt score. Now, it’s not a crazy high salt score, but a 2.0 is the same level as Dockside Extortionist & Scrambleverse. I guess people just really hate having their turn stolen, and I suppose I understand that. As I’ve said before, Mindslaver is a dumb Magic card, but Emrakul is no Mindslaver. Mindslaver is messed up because A: it’s on an installment plan that Emrakul does not have, and B: it’s trivially easy to recur over and over and take someone’s turn forever. Being an artifact that can be recurred by Academy Ruins is what truly catapults Mindslaver into problem territory. It’s not like you can’t do that with Emrakul, but it’s much harder to loop as a creature that needs specifically a cast trigger. Even when you do, your opponent gets turns in between you taking their turns. Emrakul is a lot closer to Worst Fears, and that card has no salt score at the moment.

Which brings me to the second surprise I have on this card’s page: this card is seeing way more play than Mindslaver. Slaver is the best version of this effect, but is also the most salt-inducing. Worst Fears is the worst version of this effect, but it's way less salt-inducing, and is only $4 at the moment. Emrakul is over $60, is apparently still annoying for people, but doesn't do its job as efficiently as Mindslaver, so it feels like a poor middle ground for a lot of decks. I can see the appeal of a fairer Mindslaver-esque cards, but if people are apparently still salty about having their turn stolen even if it’s attached to a creature that's harder to abuse and the effect itself slightly softer to the victim, then it doesn’t seem like playing Emrakul actually relieves much salt.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Every time I see the art for this Emrakul, the final boss music from Yoshi’s Island starts playing in my head. Somebody better get some eggs and start chucking them at Emrakul’s head.

35: Reshape the Earth: 14,663 Decks

The most played of the Commander Legends nine-mana sorceries is Reshape the Earth because it's basically a worse Scapeshift.

Okay, I’ll admit, that's a bit unfair. There’re some decks that would rather have Reshape over Scapeshift. It turns your temporary ramp cards, like Jodah, Archmage Eternal, into permanent ramp that's harder to destroy. That’s usually pretty good.

However, if you’re only using this to find a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and combo kill everyone, then just use Scapeshift. The one advantage Reshape the Earth has is that it’s monetarily cheaper than Scapeshift, but it’s still $5, and most Landfall decks don’t seem to care a ton about the budget at this point.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I suppose you could argue it’s a lower power Scapeshift that you could play to avoid the feel-bads, but Reshape has all the same feel-bads.

34: Stormtide Leviathan: 14,764 Decks

Stormtide Leviathan is in a close contest with Scourge of Fleets for my favorite sea monster. Island Sanctuary skipping your draw is always really awkward, but it shuts down a good majority of combat (unless you’re against a Dragon or Angel deck, then you start weeping). Taking that, but then also stapling on an unblockable 8/8, and also making a good majority of your other sea creatures unblockable, makes this a real game-ending card in a lot of scenarios. Unlike a lot of the other Leviathans, this one is well worth the eight mana.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Of course, most of its play is still going to be in Sea Creature tribal with a solid undercurrent of Braids, Conjurer Adept decks.

33: Zetalpa, Primal Dawn: 17,146 Decks

(119 Decks as a Commander, 17,027 Decks in the 99)

I recall some people saying that Wizards should stop reprinting Zetalpa, Primal Dawn so much, and I respectfully disagree. I consider Zetalpa to be the modern incarnation of Akroma, Angel of Wrath. They’re very similar cards in essence. Akroma was the most popular legend of all time at one point because big stats, hitting like a truck, and being inherently swingy speaks to at least a third of all Magic players. Zetalpa is similarly easy to grok. It’s big, it flies, it’s tough to deal with, and it wants to end people as fast as possible. That's a really important thing to have in precons. You show a new or more casual player a Pitiless Plunderer, and they aren't gonna see why the card is so sought-after. You go up to that same player and say, “Hey, here’s a big massive Dinosaur that kills people,” and that’s the thing that is going to convince that player to play the game and might continue to be the reason that they play it. Zetalpa is the type of card that's easy to pilot while being good enough to make really good stories.

Does it have a home in more tuned decks? Not many. Dinosaur decks and keyword soup decks like having this card. Not many other decks are going to seek this card out, but that's not why Zetalpa exists. She exists to be a massive combat-finisher, and not only is that critical for new players, that’s kind of an eternal desire for a lot of players. This card is doing exactly what it need to.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Keywords!

32: Ezuri's Predation: 17,306 Decks

Are we anti-Ezuri's Predation now? I was always a big fan of this card as a soft Plague Wind against opponents, but I feel like the tide has turned and people are no longer high on this card because it doesn’t kill everything. It’s true, there’re a lot of board states which Predation doesn't line up well against, but there’re also a lot of board states where this wipes out most of the creatures and also leaves you with a massive board. I feel like that aspect doesn’t get sold as much. Treat it like a way to make a bunch of 4/4s and kill a majority of the creatures. That’s still going to give it a lot of homes, from Esix, Fractal Bloom to Kamahl, Heart of Krosa. I’m still pro-Ezuri's Predation.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Also, if you wanna be mean, it’s very good in Jolrael, Empress of Beasts.

31: Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger: 17,384 Decks

(181 Decks as a Commander, 17,203 Decks in the 99)

Alright, here’s a peek behind the curtain for you from Past Joseph: I tend to write these write-ups in a different order than they end up being ranked, so despite the difference in rank they probably now have, I’m doing this write-up right after having done Emrakul, the Promised End, and gosh dang, it is refreshing. I don’t have to decipher why Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger has a 2.75 salt score or is seeing play in 16,000 decks. Turns out mana-doubling is good, and making opponents' lands glacially slow is good. There are no secrets to decipher, and therefore, my job is easy. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: The word count for whatever future article has Vorinclex in it will be grateful.

It Still Was a Heck of A Thing To Cut Down!

My dearest reader. I beg for you to write me soon regarding what you think of these cards. Do you have any sweet Eldrazi decks? Is Zetalpa still a flashy card for you? Please submit your reply to the nearest post office or online comment section.

Until next week,

Joseph Megill

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.