Ranking Every Battlecruiser Card (8 CMC+) with EDHREC – Part 28: Expropriation: Everyone's Favorite Thing!

(Expropriate | Art by Zach Stella)

I Have a Lot of Power Here

Y'know, you have a lot of trust that I'm going to present MTG content to you every week. What if I just didn't write an article? What if I just filled the write-ups below this with a bunch of recipes for various baked goods? Would you keep reading looking for a real article? What if there never was one? Could I make you scour the article looking for the MTG content that never existed? Hmmmmmmmmmm...

Nah, that'd just be cruel. I'd never do that. Hello, and welcome to this series where we rank every card based on the number of decks they have on EDHREC. Let's get started.

30: Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur: 18,628 Decks

(224 Decks as a Commander, 18,404 Decks in the 99)

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 2 Tbs of baking powder
  • 1 tbs & 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk

Okay, that's enough messing with you. Let's actually start this thing.

30: (For real this time) Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur: 18,628 Decks

(224 Decks as a Commander, 18,404 Decks in the 99)

Depending on how punchy I was feeling, I might say that Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur is the best Commander threat. I think the only card that comes close to the game-winning power here is Craterhoof. If you can get Jin in play, and it doesn't die immediately, it gains a ton of value and then screws over opponents enough that it basically wins the game entirely on its own. It’s backbreaking in a way that few cards really are.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I used to play this card in a deck where every card began with the letter J. I never cast it because the ramp that starts with J tops out at Juniper Order Druid, but because of that, it's the only Praetor that I own.

29: Decree of Pain: 18,864 Decks

General EDH culture has been moving away from Decree of Pain as an eight-mana Wrath for quite a while now, preferring more efficient or flexible Wraths. I can't fault people for doing that, but I think that’s mainly because people were playing it in decks in which it didn’t belong. I don’t think Decree is ever the Wrath of choice as a way to clear the board. Rather, it’s the Wrath you play when you know you can make a million mana and can afford to play a longer game. Erebos, God of the Dead mono-black goodstuff is where this card shines, not Yahenni, Undying Partisan aristocrats that needs an emergency reset button. You can’t wait for eight mana to protect yourself, but you can wait till eight mana to slam your card advantage machine and completely screw up the table’s plan. That’s where you wanna slam Decree. Don’t play fair.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: While we’re at it, can we get Geth, Lord of the Vault out of random Orzhov decks?

28: Expropriate: 18,876 Decks

People tend to shorthand to Expropriate for an expensive spell that just wins you the game when you cast it. Usually they do this in comparison to something else. “Oh, you don’t wanna play Sanguine Praetor. For that much mana, you want things like Expropriate that win the game.” That sort of thing.

Maybe I’ve just gotten very lucky, but I’ve both cast Expropriate and had it cast against me, and they’ve never won the game immediately on cast. They sometimes accumulate enough value that two turns later someone has won the game, but people make it sound like you might as well concede when it's cast against you. It's presented like the Insurrection for 2022, and Expropriate has not been that for me. Games have gone on after someone has cast Expropriate, and sometimes, those games end with a different player winning. Heck, I had one insane game where we forgot this card exiled itself, and someone cast this card twice, and that player still lost. I’ve rarely seen this as a one-card win condition or anything like that.

Now, I will qualify this opinion with a couple things. One: I’ve seen someone other than the caster pick Time exactly once (that person was me: I really needed my Tatyova). If multiple people are picking Time on this a lot, I could see that making the card more busted than it should be.

Two: my playgroup is not a high-power group. My average game is a group of focused but slightly durdlely decks punching it out (Maybe like a group of 7 out of 10's?) Perhaps Expropriate is a lot more potent in higher power games, but based on what I've heard from people smarter than I, this sees no play in cEDH, so how high power can you really be for this? I’m honestly a bit flummoxed how little the general perspective and my own experience line up, and I feel like I’m missing something; Blatant Thievery and Time Warp rarely win the game. I will acknowledge that stapling the two cards together is a ludicrous effect that warps games when it's cast, but as some type of mythical game-ender that we all should play at the top end of every blue deck, I personally have never seen that pan out.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I could 100% be wrong about this. I’ll say again, the card is busted. I’ve personally just never gotten the level of vitriol and hype behind the card.

27: It That Betrays: 19,237 Decks

Can I still play It That Betrays without getting dirty looks now that Tergrid, God of Fright exists? It’s kind of a Notion Thief thing where I played that card for years without wheels and no one batted an eye, but now that Hullbreacher exists, people are not too happy about even a watered-down version of that same effect.

Are we gonna do the same thing with this now? It costs 12! Surely that makes up for the feel-bad of having your stuff stolen. I won’t even run a ton of ways to make you sac stuff. Maybe one Death Cloud just for the cool combo. Is that okay? Can I get away with that?

Sigh. No, probably not.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Honestly, it’s probably just getting the rep it deserves

26: Army of the Damned: 19,549 Decks

Army of the Damned reminds me a lot of Rise from the Grave in that I don't think it's the best way to end a game, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t end games. It costs eight mana, it’s weak to removal, counterspells, or pillow fort cards like Propaganda, and it might not even stop you from dying to a Spellslinger or Voltron opponent. 

These are all things you can tell yourself when someone plays it against you, and you will still lose to it when people cast it. Twenty-six damage is a large threat. That’s often enough to end games, and that’s before you talk about flashing it back, and that’s without talking about synergy. Whether it be in Zombie decks that can pump the tokens to large amounts to make it lethal very quickly, or in spell decks that can copy it to deal even more damage, or in decks that care about the high CMC, or in decks that care about having sac fodder, Army of the Damned wins games. It’s not the best way to win by a country mile, but it’s a card that gets reprinted often, and it wins. What more do you want?

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: This is one of those write-ups where I can’t tell if I am cooler on the card than most, warmer on the card than most, or if no one actually has thought about this card as much as I have.

25: Omniscience: 20,163 Decks

Here’s the thing: you don’t need Omniscience to have Omniscience. Any infinite mana combo, like Freed from the Real and Bloom Tender, will give you exactly the same ability to cast anything you desire. Heck, it’s probably better than Omniscience because you can't cast things like X spells or use abilities like Flashback with Omniscience alone. If you want to cast whatever, you can do it for cheaper than this.

However, it’s not the same. The flashiness of having this busted ability on a single permanent makes Omniscience one of the coolest cards in the entire game. There will always be Jodah, Archmage Eternal decks that want to cheat this into play, but there will also always be random mono blue deck that want to get up to ten mana for the feeling of getting everything else for free. Plus, there will be Sisay, Weatherlight Captain decks that want to kill people with some crazy Rise from the Grave + Scholar of the Ages + Doom Blade + Blood Artist combo, and Omniscience is still the easiest way to make that happen. Omniscience exists for everyone who has a spark of joy in their heart.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I've never played a game of Legacy, but my favorite time in that format was when people were cheating Omniscience into play to cast Cunning Wish to go get Release the Ants with an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn on top of their library. This was a real thing in Legacy at one point, and I love it.

24: Ondu Inversion: 20,165 Decks

Call me a curmudgeon (and you wouldn't be wrong), but I still maintain that Ondu Inversion and a lot of the other MDFCs are not the bee’s knees. Inversion is fine, but I still don’t understand the people who are saying this is a white staple that should see play in any deck. It’s a white tapland with the upside of being a super expensive Wrath. When Farewell and Vanquish the Horde and Austere Command and even Wrath of God exist, you cannot tell me you need this card. Sure, if you have synergy like if you can bounce the lands back to your hand, then Inversion can be a great choice... but 20,000+ decks? Really?

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Why can’t you all love Riftstone Portal the way you love this card?

23: Apex Devastator: 20,520 Decks

Unlike Maelstrom Wanderer, the odds of you hitting at least one good thing with Apex Devastator is pretty high, but it’s still along the same lines. Sometimes you’ll hit Avenger of Zendikar, Craterhoof Behemoth, Pathbreaker Ibex, and Akroma's Memorial, and Devastator will feel like the best Magic card ever made, and sometimes you’ll hit Edge of Autumn, Rampant Growth, Electrodominance, and Temur Ascendancy, and you’ll wonder why you put this do-nothing 10/10 in your deck.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: The variety of experiences on this card remains my favorite.

22: Rise of the Dark Realms: 20,921 Decks

I forget Rise of the Dark Realms came out in Magic 2014. I honestly can’t imagine a Commander format without this card. It’s been a top tier casual finisher for basically as long as I’ve been playing the format. I heard stories of Insurrection being the best card in EDH, but this was the card that most often sent everyone home for the night in my group.

My goodness, even now I cannot believe they printed this card. All graveyards? What the heck? This just wins games. Have you ever cast this against a Meren of Clan Nel Toth? I haven’t, but one of my opponents did, and I think they had fun. I was too busy getting sent to the shadow realm to really tell.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Yeah, faster format filled with a wider variety of decks, lots of which might not be running as good creatures, combined with a move to online play is gonna make the card worse... buuuuuut you can still slam this in basically any black deck, and it will probably still be good.

21: Void Winnower: 21,041 Decks

Okay, how the heck does Void Winnower have a lower salt score than Emrakul, the Promised End? Emrakul only screws up one opponent; Void Winnower screws up everybody.

Honestly, it might not feel as smashy as an Eldrazi titan, but I think it's one of the better Eldrazi to cheat into play. If you're not getting the cast triggers off the Eldrazi you want to put in with Braids, Conjurer Adept or Satoru Umezawa, then the titans need an entire turn to be worth their investment, whereas Winnower does something straight away. Heck, you can Reanimate Winnower. It's a lot harder to reanimate Kozilek, Butcher of Truth due to the shuffle trigger. There're probably a lot of decks that would rather be jamming full salt with Winnower here than the partial salt of the titans

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Hmmmm, this is yet another good EDH card from Battle For Zendikar. You know, for the amount of hate this block got when it was released, it sure did do a lot for EDH. Maybe someone should write an article on that someday...

Foreshadowing That Might Contribute to Nothing!

I promise not to bombard you with any more biscuit recipes, so let me know in the comments what you think about this batch of cards. Am I utterly wrong about Expropriate? Have you gotten people with Army of the Damned? Let me know 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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