The Toolbox – Cream of the Crop

(Cream of the Crop | Art by Howard Lyon)

I am the Cream of the Crop

Welcome back to The Toolbox! Here we take a look at underplayed cards and evaluate where they ought to see more play. Today we are taking a look at another odd enchantment, Cream of the Crop. This enchantment has a criminally low inclusion rate for the powerful card selection that it offers. Where does this power really shine? Let’s take a look!

Cream of the Crop is a two-mana enchantment that allows you to look at the top X cards of your deck every time a creature enters the battlefield under your control, where X is that creature’s power. You can put one of those cards on top of the deck, and ship the rest to the bottom of your deck in any order. It’s like a really big scry, basically. What makes this card special? Why not just play Mirri’s Guile? I’ll tell you why!

Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire is Cream of the Crop‘s most-played commander, but even there, it only shows up in 27% of his 448 decks, so I consider it underplayed even with its top commander. With Vaevictis, you can stack the top card of your deck simply by playing creatures! How is this not played more with Vaevictis?! Alternatively, Ghalta, Primal Hunger allows you to see 12 cards, and if you have Elemental Bond out, you get to draw the card you put on top. All you have to do is just keep putting creatures into play for these two decks to run away with the game.

Those are two obvious inclusions for this enchantment, but where else is it worth spending a slot on it?

Wolf Friend

I would want a Wolf friend if I was the heart of the wilds! Selvala draws you cards when you play powerful creatures, and gives you even more mana for them, too. Obviously there’s no denying her power level; her price tag reflects that pretty well! What could make her even more powerful though?

Just picture this: you play a big ol’ Worldspine Wurm. You draw a card with Selvala, but maybe it’s a land, and now you’re out of things to play. Now imagine you had Cream of the Crop in play and got to look at the top 15 cards of your deck and select the best one to draw from Selvala’s trigger. If you have Cream of the Crop in this deck then every draw off Selvala is pretty much a guaranteed hit.

Of course, Selvala’s draw ability is less consistent than effects like Soul of the Harvest or Beast Whisperer, which is why her deck loves them so much, too. At first, Cream of the Crop might sound redundant; why use an enchantment to select cards when you could just draw them instead? However, I think this enchantment enhances those abilities extremely well, guaranteeing that you always get what you need and that you never run out of gas by flooding out with a handful of lands. Additionally, when paired with an effect like Vizier of the Menagerie, you can churn through your deck by always putting creatures on top!

Take a look at the decklist to see what other fun synergies you can use with Cream of the Crop!

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Oh, Dream Weaver

I believe you can get me through the night! Or at least this article! Intet, the Dreamer is our next contender.

Intet is a flying 6/6 Dragon for six and when he deals combat damage you can pay three mana; if you do, you exile the top card of your deck. Then you can look at it and play it for as long as it is exiled without paying its mana cost. I feel like this one is pretty obvious but let’s get into it!

This is pretty much the same story as Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire; you are trying to play a bunch of free spells from the top of your deck. The play is clear: run out a big creature before you attack, stack the top of your deck with Cream of the Crop, and get the card you want from Intet’s ability!

Intet has a lot of great options for topdeck manipulation, from Mystical Tutor to Worldly Tutor and even Sensei’s Divining Top, but frankly, the more the merrier, especially since Intet decks often like to use a lot of big creatures to beat down their enemies! If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the decklist to see all the amazing draws you can stack on top of your deck with Cream of the Crop!

The Dreamer

Commander (1)
Creatures (24)
Instants (9)
Sorceries (11)
Artifacts (8)
Enchantments (8)
Planeswalkers (2)
Lands (37)

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Cultivate Your Deck

Kestia, the Cultivator is next, and Cream of the Crop is both a good card for her deck and a flavor home-run. She likes enchantments, creatures, and enchantment creatures, so let’s see what she can cultivate with our two-mana ditty, shall we?

Play enchantment creatures, use Cream of the Crop to filter the top of the deck, then draw cards with Kestia? Sounds good to me. Additionally, 92% of Kestia decks are playing Eidolon of Blossoms, 79% are playing Enchantress’s Presence, and 70% play Tuvasa the Sunlit, all excellent card advantage engines. There is absolutely no shortage of ways to draw the cards that you specifically choose with Cream of the Crop, ensuring that you don’t just draw a bunch of lands, but rather are able to chain a bunch of creatures and enchantments together to continue your value engine!

What more could you want in a deck? Just take a look at the decklist to see all the value just waiting to be abused!

Cultivate the Cream of the Crop

Commander (1)
Creatures (26)
Enchantments (24)
Instants (4)
Sorceries (6)
Artifacts (2)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (36)

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Let’s Get Harvesting

Thank you all for your continued support of the series! I hope that you all enjoy reading this and that you’ve found a new home for Cream of the Crop. Do you think that these commanders pair well with Cream of the Crop? Do you think I’m over-evaluating this enchantment, or do you agree it’s highly underrated? What other underrated cards do you think others should have in their toolbox? Please share your thoughts in the comments below, and as always, have a great day!

Elijah is a mildly obsessive EDH player from Georgia. He started playing during Battle for Zendikar with Green/Black Eldrazi Aristocrats and still pays tribute to the plane with his Omnath, Locus of Rage storm brew. He is always excited to innovate and try new things in Magic and Life. Elijah is currently a full time student looking to go into Computer Engineering but also has a bit of an artistic streak.