Hello folks! I hope you are having a good Tuesday today. I was jotting down some ideas for a Top Ten list, and one of them was to do a Top Ten List of the cards that cost ten mana. It was smooth, with the symmetry of the casting cost equal to the number of cards in the list feeling right. Then I started doing the research and we just don’t have enough cards to have a Top Ten List from. We only have 30. 9 CMC had a few more options, but still just 58. A Top Ton List of 58 cards doesn’t have the cachet of really being a Top Ten List. But 8 CMC cards? 173. There’s a lot more there, something I can sink my teeth into.
That seemed like a challenge. So I reviewed the cards, came up with twenty I thought were worthy of this honor, and then saved the list for two weeks and came back fresh. It helps to have a fresh perspective. When my calendar had this article slated for publication today, I pulled this article last Monday, reviewed it, and then began to trim the fat. There’s always something you add to a list like this that makes no sense in retrospect. Then I came up with my list and wrote for y’all!
What are the Top Ten Cards with a Converted Mana Cost of Eight? For casual, multiplayer, Commander, and general kitchen table brawling? Let’s take a looksee!
Honorable Mention – The Elder Dragon Cycle
Ah yes, the originals! They still have a strong impact on Magic today given that Commander used to be called Elder Dragon Highlander. There is a certain . . . rightness . . . to the game when you play Chromium or Vaevictis Asmadi. These creatures were the original power cards from their set, and were worth a ton of cash until they were reprinted in Chronicles. You can get those copies extremely cheaply if you need to save some cash. If not, pick up the originals and revel in that awkward wording from the early game that just pushes this quintet to another level of awesome.
10. Avatar of Woe / Verdant Force, et. All
The Avatar of Woe is the key member of a powerful cycle that really just has one other good entry, Red’s Avatar of Fury. The Verdant Force was so good it was called the greatest fattie ever printed, and it inspired four more Force cards like Tidal Force or Celestial Force. But really only Baleful Force and Magmatic Force hold a candle, as one draws you cards and the other is a win-con sort of like Verdant Force, only not as good. None of the other entries in these cycles are as big of a hit as the five above. But there is a lot of power here.
Obliterate defines the game as the most iconic and epic reset button. Now clever players have built around it in the past (have something phased out! Run enchantments! Creatures with death triggers that make more creatures (examples are Penumbra Wurm or Symbiotic Wurm)! Run something with indestructible! You get the idea).The combination of uncounterability and beefy removal including lands put Obliterate on the map as a major tool for players everywhere who think the board has gotten a little out of hand.
8. Eldrazi Conscription
Eldrazi Conscription plays into an interesting space. It’s arguably the most powerful aura in the game. It certainly is the most powerful one designed to be cast on your own creatures, as opposed to a Treachery or Faith's Fetters or something designed to hurt another creature. Nothing smashes as hard as +10/+10 AND trample and the annihilator is very annoying to boot and yields immediate card advantage when you swing. Where the Conscription is strongest is typically in two places. The first is in a Green deck where you can ramp it out fast, toss it on anything from a Llanowar Elves or Birds of Paradise on up, and then destroy things Green might not normally be this fast about. The other powerful home is in a deck that can abuse and smash with the auras. For example, there are legendary creatures out there such as . . .
Bruna, Light of Alabaster or Uril, the Miststalker are both cards for whom the Eldrazi Conscription sings, particularly Bruna. There are a number of aura enablers like the Aura Swap of Arcanum Wings or Academy Researchers or Sovereigns of Lost Alara or the even Nomad Mythmaker that will abuse an Eldrazi Conscription all day long.
7. Insurrection / Coalition Victory
Do you like to win the game? One of the tried (and arguably overused) standards for card evaluation in the game is if it’s above a certain cost, it needs to win you the game. Enter these two sorceries. Insurrection has arguably ended more multiplayer games than any other sorcery spell ever printed. But there are tables and game states where Insurrection may not win you the game. There are times when it just sits there in your hand unused, taunted by the Mark Zug artwork because it won’t do anything right now but be an 8-mana Threaten. On the other hand, if you like winning reliably, Coalition Victory spells victory! There are a few spells that can make this incredibly easy to win with, and it’s a great, reliable, and fun way to win the game.
6. Woodfall Primus
I just want to take a moment and apologize to the Woodfall Primus. “Hello, Primus? I am sorry that I initially missed how good you were even in a deck that wasn’t mostly or exclusively Mono-Green. I dismissed you due to your mana cost. That was wrong of me, and I apologize. After about six months I began to run you in more and more decks than ever before, and you made the cut and worked wonderfully in my favorite deck of all time, Abe’s Deck of Happiness and Joy. Very few creatures combine threat and answer as well as you do in a single package. The persist you offer is so much better than it looks when I play you, and you are my favorite creatures persist of all time. I hope that you will accept my most humble and abject of apologies Primus!”
5. Avacyn, Angel of Hope
If this list is exclusively for multiplayer or even Commander, then Avacyn it’s at the top spot. But it’s not, it’s just a general good stuff list with an eye for everything casual, multiplayer and Commander included. Avacyn shines at proactively protecting your stuff. She’ll keep both you and your stuff safe. In multiplayer, that level of protection is worth a lot more, where it often means that people will target their removal elsewhere, resulting in a big fat win for you. She’ll keep your artifacts safe from a Vandalblast, your lands safe from an Armageddon, and more. She is wonderfully amazing. You can easily build around Ms. Avacyn.
4. Craterhoof Behemoth
Very quickly after its release, Craterhoof Behemoth settled into space as the ideal ramp target for most Green decks. Since it has haste gas, it swing as well, and it pumps itself, so if you controlled 3 creatures before it arrived, they all get +4/+4 and trample, and the Behemoth is swinging for 9 damage. That’s a classic good game move. It became both a key card in some tournament magical circles as well as a casual darling at the kitchen table. In places like Commander and multiplayer, it did a lot for people, and brought a lot of ground shaking to the table. It earned this spot.
#3. Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Akroma, Angel of Fury, Artifact Akroma (aka Sphinx of the Steel Wind)
The three Akromas are among the most iconic and classy creatures to cast at the kitchen table. The first was so popular that it won a contest for the most popular legendary creature (I thought that Kokusho, the Evening Star should have won.). It was reprinted in Time Spiral block and was side-printed and then memorialized by Akroma's Memorial so every set in that block had an Akroma card in it. Akroma, Angel of Wrath has been the cornerstone of decks like Oath of Druids, casual fun times, and more. I have called it, along with Darksteel Colossus, as one of the fundamental enemies your creature removal has to be able to handle at a kitchen table to be able to not-die. The board presence these three bodes bring is just nasty. And Sphinx of the Steel Wind was clearly made in Akroma’s image, as an 8 cost 6/6 with four keywords and protection from two colors.
It’s going to be hard to rank higher than the triad of Akromas. It’s hard to be better, classier, or more iconic than Akroma. Griselbrand is. This Demon has such a powerful board state after arrival, that he was banned in Commander and dominated older formats that can cheat him into play. He is so stupidly powerful that he took cards that were junk rares, like an arcane Stream of Life variant in Nourishing Shoal, and turned them into powerhouses. Much like Akroma, Gris has been the subject of many an Oath of Druids or Show and Tell and so forth. He has earned his reputation. Gris is.
1. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon / Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
The fighters from Tarkir have arrived. In this corner, Ugin, the eight-cost Spirit Dragon who was powerful enough to help imprison the Eldrazi. Ugin has three strong abilities from bolting something for +2 to exiling stuff a drawing epic-ton of cards. And Ugin’s colorless-ness is great at finding homes in tons of decks out there. Meanwhile in this corner we have one of the single most powerful Planeswalkers of all time, with a great board presence. Between destroying a non-creature to stealing a creature, it had handle anything. And the ultimate will devastate another player and punish them for daring to challenge you.
And there we have it!
What did I miss? Was there something you expected to see on this list that I missed? Did you want Sundering Titan or the iconic Commanders like Karador, Ghost Chieftain and Maelstrom Wanderer? Are you sad to see Scornful Egotist go the entire article without being name-dropped?
I’d love to hear your feedback! And as always, thanks for reading!