Ranking Every Battlecruiser Card (8 CMC+) with EDHREC – Part 8: Game So Bad That Divinity Intervened
(Divine Intervention | Art by Amy Weber)
We Need to Talk
I have a confession to make. It’s been a really hard year, and I feel like I need to come forward about some things. I want you to know that I am a changed person and that there are certain things about my previous conduct that don’t reflect who I am now.
Okay, here we go: I don’t write the openings of these articles first. When I say, “Welcome back to this series where we rank every battlecruiser card based on the number of decks they have on EDHREC,” I’ve already written the entire article beforehand. The opening in a gigantic lie!
I hope you can forgive me for this breach of trust. Don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe.
233: Benthic Behemoth: 287 Decks
Hey, we’re getting better at least. At least, Benthic Behemoth doesn’t have a massive downside, like Leviathan and Polar Kraken. That’s how you know we’re moving up in the world!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Sea creature tribal has to have better monsters than this, yeah?
232: Spirit of the Night: 304 Decks
(16 Decks as Commander, 288 decks in the 99)
This is apparently the article series of classic monsters that people loved when they were seven, because here’s Spirit of the Night, the OG control finisher! Protection from black got around a lot of the best removal at the time, and it was a hasty 6/5, so opponents were not long for this world. That’s cute, but it’s certainly not Akroma, Angel of Wrath levels of absurdity, which is to say that Spirit of the Night doesn't quite have that same Timmy/Tammy feeling it had back then.
Still perfectly playable. The Mimeoplasm and Volrath the Fallen are big fans of the big'uns, and Iname, Death Aspect doesn’t have a ton of great Spirits to reanimate anyway. I’ll give it a thumbs up overall.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: *YuGiOh voice* I ACTIVATE URBORG PANTHER'S ABILITY, SACRIFICING BREATHSTEALER AND FERAL SHADOW TO SYNCHRO SUMMON... SPIRIT OF THE NIGHT!
232: (Tie) Sphinx Sovereign: 304 Decks
Did you know there was a cycle of eight-mana shard-colored bombs from Shards of Alara? I feel like these should be more well-known. I always thought it might be fun to "rule zero" these creatures as commanders and build decks around them. Most of them certainly have the splash factor for it. I’d be super into that if someone wants to build that.
Unfortunately, if you're not "rule zero"-ing Sphinx Sovereign, there’s not much else for it. I would love to live in a world where Sphinx Sovereign is a scary artifact to cheat into play with Trash for Treasure or even to ramp out on turn five, but few artifact decks are really in the market for that. Artifact decks don’t really cheat big monsters into play. They overwhelm you with Combustible Gearhulk + Mirrorworks synergies or Mindslaver shenanigans. Sphinx Sovereign does nothing compared to those.
Maybe you play it anyway. It’s not awful, but it’s not really worth the eight-mana price tag
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I wouldn’t say don’t play it. I would say just be aware what you’re doing.
232: (Tie) Archangel's Light: 304 Decks
Oh, look! It’s the worst mythic rare of all time. Picture this: you’re a deck that wants to fill the graveyard and can make this gain, like, 100 life. Great! Now shuffle that graveyard back into your library because it’s not like you had synergy with that graveyard, did you? This card has no best-case scenario.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I don’t think this will ever be dethroned as the worst mythic. It’s head and shoulders above everything else.
229: Drownyard Behemoth: 307 Decks
This series is funny because sometimes you get Overwhelming Forces, which is sneakily good but is held back by the price tag and is absolutely worth talking about, and then a few cards later we have Crab, who is a Crab, and sees play because Crab, and has more play than other jank tribes because Crabs are not Homunculi but are in fact Crabs.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Crab.
228: The Unspeakable: 308 Decks
(11 decks as Commander, 297 Decks in the 99)
With the upcoming Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, I feel like I (as the resident MTG history nerd) ought to spend a little time outlining why Mark Rosewater spent the past ten years saying we would likely never return to the plane of Kamigawa. There’re plenty of things to like in Kamigawa, but there’re a lot of reasons it flopped hard when it came out, and one of the big reasons comes from one of the main mechanics of the set: Arcane spells.
Arcane spells had two problems. One: they were parasitic. The big reason to play Arcane spells was because they had a companion ability called Splice onto Arcane that allowed you to basically put the text of one spell onto another. The issue is that you could only use Splice with Arcane spells. If you didn’t have an Arcane spell, Splice did nothing, so to make Arcane work, you had to go all-in on it. Other mechanics, like Flashback, work just as well whether I’m in a typical spellslinger deck or I go real deep and run stuff like Secrets of the Dead. Arcane has no such flexibility. If I want to play Reweave, I either have to ignore the Splice ability entirely, or I have to make the rest of my deck Arcane cards to make sure I can use the Splice ability. That severely limits my options when building around these cards. It’s all or nothing.
That’s a problem, but it’s not a death sentence. There’re other parasitic mechanics, like Energy or most tribal decks, that are fan favorites. The second issue with Arcane, though, is that it is very underpowered. The rewards for going full Arcane spells are frankly terrible. Your pure Arcane cards range from strictly worse versions of other cards, like Eye of Nowhere, to some of the worst cards of all time, like Terashi’s Cry. Your Splice spells aren’t much better. The best thing to Splice is probably Evermind, which makes everything a cantrip, but even that costs a million mana to do when you’re casting other spells. The rest of the Arcane spells are closer to Roar of Jukai levels of power. There’re a few cards that are kinda cool, like Goryo’s Vengeance, but those cards are probably gonna be better outside the confines of the Arcane deck.
Thus, a card like The Unspeakable, which could be a super cool payoff for a different mechanic, isn’t worth building around because I have to play Sift Through Sands, Reach Through Mists, and Peer Through Depths to find him, and he’s only ever gonna buy me back cards like Lifted by Clouds. I am all for a unique and janky win condition, but I need it to do something. Otherwise, I’m just being silly for the sake of being silly.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: This has been another installment of “Old Man Trapped in Body of a College Student Rambles About Magic Cards.”
227: Explosive Welcome: 313 Decks
Good ol' New Card Syndrome inflating new cards simply because people have them. Otherwise, there’s no real reason we’d see Explosive Welcome this high. Even for budget Zaffai, Thunder Collector decks, stuff like Searing Wind is gonna do more. Very mediocre.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Rowan is enjoying the light show, and Will very much just wants to go home.
226: Empyrial Archangel: 326 Decks
If Empyrial Archangel had come out just a couple years later when they were using hexproof and not shroud, it'd be so much better! The idea is that thing this makes combat real difficult for opponents until they kill it, but because it has shroud, the only option is to kill it through combat. That's cool! The issue is that you can't target it either. Normally, you’d combo a card like this with Mother of Runes or Heart of Light for long-term locks on damage. That doesn’t work here. You have to work a bit harder for it with, like, Bubble Matrix.
At that point, it's probably better to just go with the mono-color Protector of the Crown. If you’re not combo-ing off with Empyrial Archangel, it’s basically an eight-mana Fog. Most alpha strikes will probably kill this, so there’s just better things to do for eight mana even if you wanna slam a big flashy Angel that doesn’t really affect the board.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Although, similar to Sphinx Sovereign, I'm 100% on board if you wanna "rule zero" this as a commander.
225: Autochthon Wurm: 327 Decks
The cheaty-faced answer to what creature in Magic costs 15 mana: Autochthon Wurm. Cute trivia, not a great card. Selesnya doesn’t have a ton of use for a card that costs 15 mana. It’s the wrong color for Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder or Ghalta, Primal Hunger, so there’s not much of an argument for playing this thing. If you like big, there’s no shortage of big in Selesnya that does way more than this card.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: It’s not even the biggest Wurm anymore. Shame on you, Autochthon Wurm. Shame!
224: Walker of the Grove: 323 Decks
I see Elementals and I see commandeers that like big expensive spells on Walker of the Grove's page. Elementals feel like they can do better than a 7/7 that makes a random 4/4. As for Imoti, Celebrant of Bounty and friends, it’s not like those decks struggle with expensive spells anyway, so why bother playing a subpar five-mana spell for your triggers when you could just jam an eight-mana good card? In conclusion, I don't like anything here and that’s impressive.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Is it even walking in the art? It could be slithering on its belly for all I know.
223: Divine Intervention: 352 Decks
Divine Intervention, the rascal child of Magic cards! Were it not for the price tag, I think Intervention would have been banned in Commander long ago. There’s an entire archetype around playing enchantments to keep yourself alive, and basically preventing anyone from doing anything until you win. Replace “until you win” with the phrase “until Divine Intervention goes off, and basically invalidates every decision any player made before that point”, and you’ve basically built a Divine Intervention deck. That’s not even going full shenanigans, like tutoring it with Academy Rector or speeding up the process with Clockspinning or Hex Parasite.
Is Intervention as easy way to 'win'? Oh, Heliod no! It’s eight mana and requires two turns or another card, but you miss the point. People win with Barren Glory and Near-Death Experience in this format. Divine Intervention is 100 times easier to make work than those, and the reward is much more than winning. The reward is making opponents walk away from the table in a daze as they try to piece together what just happened. You may hate the Reserved List with a passion, but it has done one positive thing: it has saved you from playing against this card.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I wish to proxy a Divine Intervention deck, draw the game once, and then never play it again.
222: Bringer of the Green Dawn: 358 Decks
What are we up to? The fourth cycle of big, bad, expensive creatures in this series? To be fair, this cycle is gonna cost five mana most of the time, and that’s a big difference. Anybody playing against Jodah, Archmage Eternal knows that WUBRG can be assembled easier than nine mana!
Of the Bringers, Bringer of the Green Dawn is the least powerful. They all trigger on upkeep, so they all start pretty slow, and this one just makes you a bunch of big, stompy Beasts, which the five-color deck doesn’t really want. It’ll still run over a game if given the opportunity, but not in a super unique way, and not in a way that other cards don’t do better.
Really, you’d only play it in a Bringer style deck, and yes that is a thing. Paradox Haze, Strionic Resonator, a bunch of other upkeep cards, and the Bringers to just enable all the nonsense. Sounds good to me!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: The Bringers are the most mythic rare creatures before the mythic rarity even existed.
222: (Tie) Soulscour: 372 Decks
Oh no! This card is an expensive Wrath that blows up all nonartifacts. If I’m not playing artifacts, it won’t keep my things. What a pity. How will we solve this large problem?
Was that enough sarcasm to get across what to do with this? Good.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: You’d probably rather have Ruinous Ultimatum, but I don’t think anyone will complain about having a slightly worse Ruinous Ultimatum
Just to cover the results of the poll from last week, looks like a majority of you are into doing the whole retrospective shebang, so I’ll be going dark next week, but when I return, I will be ranking the mana rocks that came out in 2021!
As for the present, let me know what you think about this batch! Have you played against a Divine Intervention deck? Are you excited to brew something around Sphinx Sovereign and Empyrial Archangel? Let me know in the comments. Until we speak again!