Ranking Every Battlecruiser Card (8 CMC+) with EDHREC – Part 4: A Return to Elder Dragon EDH.
(Palladia-Mors | Art by Edward P. Beard, Jr.)
Real Quick, Before We Start...
Welcome back to Ranking Every Battlecruiser Card with EDHREC. "Battleball" is a terrible nickname for Myr Battlesphere, and thus, it should be eratta-ed in order to change the name of the card to Sphere Battlemyr because it's funnier to say.
I will not be taking questions at this time.
285: Silver Seraph: 83 Decks
Ooh! Can I talk about Mono-White Reanimator? My favorite deck I’ve never built! You get to play all these weird reanimation cards, like Late to Dinner, Breath of Life, and Emeria Shepherd, to return creatures like Reya Dawnbringer, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, and Akroma, Angel of Wrath to the battlefield. Granted, it's a little hard to get these creatures into the graveyard - there’s some good stuff like Mesmeric Orb or Perpetual Timepiece, but you’ll quickly have to resort to Charmed Pendant and Avenger en-Dal to help smooth things along, and it’s why most people move into blue or green (or black, but that kinda eliminates the entire point).
This is all to say that Silver Seraph is a perfect card for this very specific deck. With any mill engine, this is always gonna be on, and it’s gonna be a very big flyer with the more fun half of Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite attached. It’s the type of card that’s worth reanimating, and also worth casting late game if you have to.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I guess I should promote more than my random pet decks and say that Silver Seraph has some less janky application in random Angel decks. You do need to have decent assurances that Threshold will turn on, but you can definitely get your mana's worth for the cost here. It’s gotta be better than the Brimstone Dragons of the world, at the very least.
284: Crimson Hellkite: 87 Decks
You know what commander I think is greatly underrated? Jiwari, the Earth Aflame. It’s absolute jank, but there’re tons of cool shenanigans with Stuffy Doll, Repercussion, or Gorgon’s Head effects. You get to knock out people with a very silly creature, and you should do it more.
Does Jiwari basically make Crimson Hellkite obsolete? Yes. Yes it does. Go build Jiwari!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Maybe Hellkite can go in a mono-red Scion of the Ur-Dragon deck?
283: Hearthcage Giant: 88 Decks
This one’s weird because a lot of the decks playing Hearthcage Giant are Giant decks. That doesn’t sound odd, but besides costing eight, Hearthcage isn't gonna do a much in Giant decks because those decks are running very few Elementals. The sac ability is probably only gonna get used twice, so it really only gives a Giant +6/+2. That's not bad, but when you have cards like Cyclone Summoner that actually do something, you don’t need this card.
However, I do like Hearthcage Giant in the Elemental decks. It still costs eight, which is still gross, but it can do a lot more. Elemental decks already kinda want to reanimate their Elementals over and over again, like Mulldrifter or the new Evoke cycle from Modern Horizons 2. Hearthcage is a free sac outlet for all those cards that also hits for a bunch, works well with blink cards like Ephemerate, and can even one-shot someone on the right board. It’s at least worth considering.
Where you really wanna play Hearthcage Giant, though, is in the 'Everything Tribal' decks. In those decks, the second ability basically reads “sac a creature, give a creature +3/+1.” With all the random derpy Changelings, it seems very easy for Hearthcage to give a lot of power to certain creatures, and it makes combat super difficult to parse. I think it could be very good there.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Little hard to justify this one since it’s also seeing playing in Giant decks where it’s mediocre, but the upside in both the Elemental and 'Everything Tribal' decks is hard to ignore.
282: Abundant Maw: 90 Decks
If/when we get some Commander-focused Emerge cards, I would guess those cards are gonna see a ton of play in our format. Emerge lines up really well with our format, but the mechanic ended up being mostly for Limited, so we get a lot of mediocre cards, like Abundant Maw, where, yeah, you can cheat this into play early, but why bother? It's got great synergy in decks like Meren of Clan Nel Toth, but it also has an incredibly mediocre effect. Boo.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I'm sure some decks just want an Emerge threat for some reason and don't care about the text at all.
281: Colossus of Sardia: 90 Decks
Pretty sure 80% of the decks playing Colossus of Sardia are just decks from Cure for the Common Game. He's a sucker for the classics, and Colossus of Sardia is generally better than the other big dorks of the time period, like Leviathan. It’s not quite Force of Nature, but, y’know, not everything can be that busted.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: There also does seem to be a Golem tribal theme, and that tribe's surprisingly deep.
280: Aladdin's Lamp: 92 Decks
I could have sworn I talked about this card already. Oh! No, that was Aladdin's Ring wasn't it? Boy, I sure am glad we got two crazy expensive Aladdin-based artifacts in the same set!
Aladdin's Lamp at least does something useful for less than a million mana, unlike Aladdin's Ring. Don't get me wrong, it's still a lot of mana, but you can use it as a funky Impulse every turn, which could be good. I still can't think of any deck that wants a ten-mana artifact that requires you to draw a card and spend more mana every turn and tap it to get one-shot card selection, especially when you could just run Tomorrow, Azami's Familiar, but I guess I can't say there isn't a deck that should play this card, sooooooooooooo... improvement?
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Still bad, though.
279: Palladia-Mors:93 Decks
(25 Decks as Commander, 68 Decks in the 99)
The original Elder Dragons of Elder Dragon Highlander! Before Strixhaven’s Elder Dragons, Ikoria’s colossal Beasts, Rise of the Eldrazi's rising Eldrazi, and Onslaught's old fogies, we had a bunch of old, derpy legendary Dragons from Legends. I’m sure it’s a story you’ve heard before, but the original idea for the EDH format came from these five old Dragons from Legends. You picked one of these Dragons (and these were the only legends you were allowed to use), built a 60-card 'highlander' (a.k.a. singleton) deck, and smashed face. That was EDH in 1996.
I think you could argue that the Elder Dragons were not really the ultimate cause that moved the format from Adam Stanley's small crew of friends to Sheldon Mennery, and then eventually to the multiplayer juggernaut it is today. When Sheldon adopted the format, the Elder Dragon restriction was long gone, which I think we can agree was a solid move. These Dragons are certainly big, but they got outclassed very quickly. I already mentioned the Onslaught Dragons, which were much, much better than these, and that set released in 2003. Heck, even in Legends, there were cooler legends to build around, like Rubinia Soulsinger, Dakkon Blackblade, and Sol'kanar the Swamp King. The Elder Dragons are big and they fly, but the format migrated away from them quickly and for good reason.
Still, they straight -up named the format, and provided a lot of the flavorful ethos that gave the format room to grow, so we ought to give them a bit of credit.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Of the five, Palladia-Mors is probably the least impactful, but even she deserves a little bit of the nerd cred.
278: Lava-Field Overlord: 100 Decks
I’m glad I can keep pushing off any discussion about Assist until later. I really don’t know how to decipher this very strange mechanic, but Lava-Field Overlord is often gonna be a poor Flametongue Kavu whether Assist does its work or not.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Then again, if you get someone to pay seven for this card, that’d be a fun story, if nothing else.
277: Suncrusher: 101 Decks
I think Suncrusher would see way more play if it just had “this creature enters with three +1/+1 counters" instead of having Sunburst; yet another reason that Sunburst is such a nothing mechanic. I mean, if you can get counters on this, this does a reasonable impression of Visara the Dreadful, except that it costs mana to activate. That's fairly bad, but it’s got value if you’re able to put counters on it. If it came with three counters, I might try it in colorless decks since those decks always need removal. Of course, the world is unfair, and you either need Sunburst, or you need to be able to put counters on it yourself to make this work. At that point, I just throw my hands up and move on.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: If you are an avid reader of this series and you haven’t read Jeremy’s colorless Sunburst article, you need to get on that.
276: Deathcoil Wurm: 102 Decks
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Wurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrm....
275: Living Inferno: 107 Decks
Living Inferno is one of those cards that has the silliest applications, and I love it. You increase its power and suddenly it becomes a one-sided wrath. You give it indestructible and it becomes a repeatable kill spell for anything. You play it with Enrage creatures, and it gives you an Enrage trigger every turn. You play it with Brash Taunter or Arcbond, and you can possibly kill the entire table. It requires a lot of setup, but when the stars align, it hits this level of jank I just adore.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I love this card, but it's not a very good one. There’s an argument for playing it in Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded as a 'Wrath' effect, but the average deck isn’t gonna do much with it.
274: Krosan Colossus: 108 Decks
Ah, yes, it’s Titanic Bulvox again... again. Of the three green Morph creatures we've seen, I guess Krosan Colossus is the best. The stats are the best of the three, and Morph means it could sneak in some combat trickery, but again the Morph decks are far too busy for a random 9/9 to really matter.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: That mono-green Morph deck is getting better and better each article!
273: (Tie) Denizen of the Deep: 108 Decks
Here’s another big fish that was supposed to be in that traditional vein of 'giant creature with massive downside', except they ended up giving it a real weird application. If you can’t abuse Denizen of the Deep, then the downside is probably on the level of Leviathan, but this creature could have a ton of fun synergy in Blink decks. Imagine the Magical Christmas Land scenario where you flash this in with Leyline of Anticipation in response to a Wrath, and it saves your entire board, and then, on your turn, you bounce Denizen with Aether Adept and you create the silliest value loop you’ve ever seen, reusing your Agent of Treachery and Terastodon every turn.
On average, this card is going to be much, much, much worse than that. There’ll be some board states where you can't even cast Denizen for fear of sending yourself back to the Stone Age, but there’s not many other creatures that can mass bounce like this, and I’m sucker for originality.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: When you want this nonsense, you’ll know.
272: Horncaller's Chant: 111 Decks
Hrmmmm. That’s, uh, that’s basically just two 4/4s for eight mana. I mean, that’s not horrendous, and the token decks want 4/4 tokens, but like… there are so many other, better tokens you can make. Why would you waste time on this?
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I used to play Horncaller's Chant when I didn’t know how the rules worked, and I assumed that Populate made a copy of all my tokens, not just the one I choose. That has nothing to do with anything, but I felt like I need to share it.
271: Goliath Spider: 113 Decks
I was a little worried about ending on Goliath Spider since it's hard to be anything but ambivalent toward a 7/6 with reach, but then I decided that ambivalence would be the write-up. Sometimes you need a little bit of apathy in your life, so here, take some for the road.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Might play it in Spider Tribal, I guess?
I have absolutely nothing to answer for, but do feel free to let me know what you think of this article. Got a janky combo with Living Inferno or Denizen of the Deep? Have you tried Silver Seraph or Hearthcage Giant in anything fun? Let me know in the comments. Until next week!