Too-Specific Top 10 - Power Beyond Power
(Augur of Autumn | Art by Billy Christian)
When Shall We Three Meet Again?
Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Ghalta, Primal Hunger is the only mono-green creature with 12 power?)
Overall, I must say that I personally was not a fan of much in the Innistrad: Midnight Hunt set. In the days where every set is imminently forgettable because you know the next set is coming in the next two weeks, Midnight Hunt felt especially so. Despite the cool setting of werewolves, witches, and humans all desperately trying to merely survive, I think I'd be hard-pressed to name more than two or three cards from the set, even after having done a portion of the EDHREC set review.
One thing did grab my attention, though: Coven.
It's not the most exciting mechanic, and the text of it was written so poorly that I spent an hour poring over spoilers looking for what exactly these "powers" were, but once I understood that it was referring to power and toughness, and accumulating different numerical amounts of powers on creatures, it really got my gears turning.
Which of course led me to this Top 10! What are the best creatures in Magic with different powers?
Top 10 Creatures with Different Powers
This week we'll have a pretty different way of running a Top 10 list, because by definition, once you have one creature on your list, you've eliminated one of the powers from contention. In other words, we're going to have to go from the top creature in all of Magic, eliminate its power (e.g., 2) from contention, and then look at the remaining numbers (e.g., 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc.) to determine the next best creature. From there, it's as simple as eliminating a number with every spot on our Top 10, which should also tell us what the best powers in Magic are as we go along!
Criteria: Creatures with a different power than a creature that has already appeared higher on the list. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.
10. Nezahal, Primal Tide (7 Power)
(Helms 223 Decks, Rank #583; 15,416 Inclusions, 5% of 334,597 Decks)
Well, color me surprised! When thinking of the best creatures at various powers, Nezahal, Primal Tide wasn't even on my radar for creatures in general, much less 7 power specifically. Looking through the list of sevens, though, maybe I shouldn't have been surprised. While the obvious stuff that immediately jumped to my mind are on the list, like Sliver Queen and Maelstrom Wanderer, they're pretty far down because of restrictive color identities. Once you look at the mono-colored options, it's a lot of very expensive cards, a lot of which don't actually do that much. Sure, End-Raze Forerunners does a reasonable impression of Craterhoof Behemoth that may win you a game in token decks every once in a while, but that doesn't really compare to the control powerhouse that is a Nezahal coming down in uncounterable fashion, drawing you a fistful of cards, and protecting itself anytime someone tries to remove it. We're just lucky that Upheaval is still banned, otherwise plopping Nezahal down to then remove the entire board as you attack for 7 every turn would probably be a very popular means of 'ending' a game of Commander!
9. Terastodon (9 Power)
(17,819 Inclusions, 6% of 320,326 Decks)
The ultimate big boi, Terastodon routinely changes games in one fell swoop, putting 18 power down on the board and removing crucial engines and problems from enemy battlefields all at once. I feel like when someone is looking for a top deck to help them out of a tricky spot, and they start thinking through all the cards in their green deck, Terastodon is the card they're hoping for 99% of the time. It just solves problems, and failing that, it can be its own win-con, too.
8. Vilis, Broker of Blood (8 Power)
(Helms 517 Decks, Rank #352; 17,865 Inclusions, 5% of 336,822 Decks)
Despite Vilis, Broker of Blood being a fairly new card that costs eight mana, it has taken Commander by storm. A lot of that is due to black's easy access to reanimator effects, which can just ignore the eight-mana restriction, but there are also a fair number of decks pulling out their Nirkana Revanants and Cabal Coffers and doing it the hard way. However you get him into play, Vilis is sure to turn things in your favor if he stays there. As an 8/8 flier, he can take out players with ease, especially since he can remove problem blockers with his activated ability. The real way he's going to win you the game is by drawing two cards every time he takes out a random Thopter token; that card advantage engine is powerful even without having to rely on his large body.
7. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite (4 Power)
(Helms 437 Decks, Rank #392; 20,120 Inclusions, 7% of 295,900 Decks)
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite might not have as large a body as Vilis, but she makes up for it by making your entire team bigger while making everyone else's smaller. Elesh Norn is one of those cards you have to play against to fully understand just how powerful it is. It doesn't just kill all the utility creatures when it comes down, it makes all the ones in enemy players' hands and decks useless as well, all while making every single aspect of combat go your way. A four-point power and toughness swing is absolutely back-breaking, and while you wouldn't think that it would affect traditionally huge creatures, like Dragons, it absolutely does in reality. Somebody swinging in with their Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund might think they're the biggest baddie in the air, but even two base 2/2 fliers (or a single base 3/3 with flying) would be enough to take it down. With combat odds like that, who can win while Elesh Norn remains?
6. Plaguecrafter (3 Power)
(33,138 Inclusions, 10% of 336,822 Decks)
That's right, Plaguecrafter has officially overtaken Fleshbag Marauder. We all knew it was coming. I'm just shocked that it actually took this long. While it's not technically "strictly better", the specific circumstance of someone having a planeswalker that they want less than their available creatures is rare. What's much less rare is playing a Plaguecrafter after a board wipe and snagging a couple planeswalkers, along with 2 toughness being better than 1 toughness.
5. Avenger of Zendikar (5 Power)
(44,414 Inclusions, 14% of 320,326 Decks)
We're really starting to hit the staples hard here, but I must say, I was surprised to see Avenger of Zendikar topping out the 5 power list. Some of that surprise is borne from the fact that I don't know what Avenger's power and toughness is, because it's rarely the relevant part of the card, but a lot more of my surprise comes as a result of just how stacked the 5 power slot is.
Before you even start getting to the epic Dragons, like Terror of the Peaks, there's mono-green competition in the form of Craterhoof Behemoth and Nyxbloom Ancient. Maybe the best chance at overtaking Avenger of Zendikar soon is sitting in the #2 slot right now, with 31,170 deck inclusions according to EDHREC: Syr Konrad, the Grim. Although just like Craterhoof, maybe he won't ever quite make it there, simply because of how well he synergizes with Avenger itself.
4. Sun Titan (6 Power)
(53,032 Inclusions, 18% of 295,900 Decks)
Sun Titan needs no introduction, especially since he's been at the top of three different lists I've put out over the years, and shows up in the Top 10 of at least two more. It should come as no surprise, then, that Sun Titan is also destroying the competition in the 6 power slot, coming in at over 20,000 inclusions ahead of runner-up Rampaging Baloths. That's before you even get to mono-red all-stars like Etali, Primal Storm and Purphoros, God of the Forge.
What really got my gears turning is seeing how far ahead of Grave Titan the Sun Titan was. So of course, now I have an excuse to hide a list inside of my list!
Top 5 Magic 2011 Titans
- Sun Titan - 53,032 decks
- Grave Titan - 17,788 decks
- Inferno Titan - 10,100 decks
- Frost Titan - 2,508 decks
- Primeval Titan - 0 decks
Didn't even realize how mean I was being to the banned Primeval Titan when I started that list. Sorry, big guy.
3. Birds of Paradise (0 Power)
(78,081 Inclusions, 24% of 320,326 Decks)
I knew when I started this list that I'd end up with a 0-power creature instead of a 10-power creature, and that it would inevitably be Birds of Paradise at the top. That spot is well earned. One-mana mana dorks are at a prime in general, and BOP has always been the cream of the crop in that category. A single green mana to get you access to all five colors, one that can also be a late blocker when someone starts swinging Angels and Dragons at you, or can be suited up as a pseudo-Dragon of your own.
What's really interesting to me is how many good 0-power creatures there are in EDH, because some of them actually could give Birds of Paradise a run for its money:
Top 10 Zero-Power Creatures
- Birds of Paradise
- Blood Artist
- Spark Double
- Walking Ballista
- Faeburrow Elder
- Phyrexian Metamorph
- Incubation Druid
- Clever Impersonator
- Mesa Enchantress
Of course, there's an entire other list there if you don't count the +1/+1 counter shenanigans, but still, that's quite the lineup.
2. Sakura-Tribe Elder (1 Power)
(89,362 Inclusions, 28% of 320,326 Decks)
Steve has been ubiquitous since the first days of EDH. He's persisted through the death of damage on the stack, and is the best two-mana ramp spell in the game.
...Or is he?
For a mere $59 more (remind me to dig up my Mystic Intellect precon), you could get half a dozen Treasure tokens instead of one measly land! Over time, with some much-needed reprintings (or a possible banning), it will be interesting to see where the race for the best 1-power creature will end up. Will it be the classic pace of Sakura-Tribe Elder, or the blistering sprint of Dockside Extortionist?
My bet's on neither. We'll power creep our way into something even better before long.
1. Solemn Simulacrum (2 Power)
(111,737 Inclusions, 17% of 652,841 Decks)
For the fourth time, we've done the most obvious thing ever here at Too-Specific Top 10: we've made a list of creatures that has the most popular creature in Magic at the top of it. Great work, team. Drinks all around!
Kidding aside, Solemn Simulacrum was always going to be at the top of this list. It's not just the best creature with 2 power - leaving Eternal Witness in the dust by 22,000 inclusions - it's undeniably the best creature in Magic when it comes to the Commander format. Yes, yes, a lot of people have been cutting it for faster ramp or more synergistic value options, myself included, but there's still no questioning that if you want both, Solemn Simulacrum is the best option available, and just like the old Masticore design issue, it can be put it in literally any deck. Even with the whole format speeding up precipitously, I think Sad Robot is here to stay for the long haul.
We've obviously missed some numbers here, so why not continue?
Top 8 Creatures with Different Powers Greater Than 9
- Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
- Artisan of Kozilek
- Blightsteel Colossus
- Emrakul, the Promised End
- Worldspine Wurm
- Impervious Greatwurm
- Infinity Elemental
This is missing some Marit Lages and the like, but overall the big bois are dominated by, unsurprisingly, Wurms and Eldrazi. Way to make it a contest though, Un-cards!
Finally, one of my favorite things to do with a brand new set is sit around and hit refresh periodically in the first few weeks after its release, to see what's currently at the top of the EDHREC scores. So, given that we just did a whole list based off of the Coven mechanic, let's see what's currently on top there, shall we?
Top 10 Coven Cards
- Augur of Autumn
- Sigarda, Champion of Light
- Leinore, Autumn Sovereign
- Ambitious Farmhand
- Duel for Dominance
- Sungold Sentinel
- Dawnhart Mentor
- Contortionist Troupe
- Dawnhart Wardens
Overall, this list is about what I expected, with the exception of a couple white cards that'd gotten some initial hype. Stalwart Pathlighter and Wall of Mourning are at least worth a try, people!
Nuts and Bolts
There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.
What Do You Think?
I totally get why Coven may not be everyone's cup of tea. It smacks of the same thing we've seen in mechanic after mechanic, where it just looks at an arbitrary criteria and provides some benefit to it. Even worse, it reminds me of the go-wide problems of Rally, requiring you to have three creatures on the board before it does anything at all.
Even so, it scratches some sort of Johnny itch for me, and I find myself drawn to it. Surely I'm not alone?
Finally, what is your favorite Coven card? What decks you own does the mechanic already fit into seamlessly? Which creatures do you think will take over as the "best" in their power?
Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the table that seems to have four legs at all different heights.