Scourge is a great set. As bad as Legions
was, Scourge is equivalently good. It’s not the power level of the cards
that makes Scourge a great set, it’s that the cards are interesting.
So what does interesting mean? It means several things. First, it means
that the cards require careful consideration in order to use them to maximum
effectiveness. Second, it means that the power level of the cards is
about right –- they are not overwhelming strong, nor are they overwhelmingly weak.
Third, it means there are new ideas in Scourge. These ideas, described in the
new mechanics, instantiated in the cards, and developed in derivative decks,
will effect the metagame for quite some time.
For a trade value based set review this
presents an extra challenge; many of the cards are long-term in their scope.
This review will analyze this, but with a focus on the future.
For each new M:tG expansion I write an overview, designed primarily as a
trading aid, but also as a starting point to look at the new deck designs
that the current set will inspire. I group the rares into 5 categories:
Chase, Good, Neutral, Poor, and Abysmal. Chase rares are those which will see
play in several Tier 1 decks (usually in qty. 4) and have that special
uniqueness that distinguishes them from the pack. Good rares: there are
decks that will use 4 of them, but they don’t have the je ne sais quoi
chase rare, or their use is narrower. Neutral rares are mostly cards that
will come out of the Sideboard or require a special deck to make use of
them. Poor rares have very occasional uses. Abysmal rares will spend their
entire life in a binder or at the bottom of a box.
Of course, it's hard to tell how accurate any reviewer’s comments/valuations
are. As for myself the best guide I can give you are my previous results.
The last of which
(Legions) can be found in the Brainburst Archives.
I’d like to thank all those people who have gone over the set with me and
discussed it in painful detail. In magic, as in most things, no one
develops in a vacuum. I'm lucky enough to have steady feedback and
suggestion from friends across the US:
In Seattle: Gerald Linn, Jeremy "J.V." Virden, Sameer Merchant, along with
the Microsoft Cafeteria Magic Players. Thanks to Coyote Games in Redmond
and Cardhaus games in Seattle for providing Seattle players places to play.
In Oregon: Dave Meddish, Mons Johnson.
In CA & Elsewhere: Chris Cade, Sean Frackowiak, Rick Saunooke
In Atlanta: Andy Wolf, David Leader, and the ever reclusive Paul Sligh.
Eternal Dragon 5WW
Creature - Dragon Spirit
3WW: Return Eternal Dragon from your graveyard to your hand. Play this
ability only during your upkeep.
This card appeals to everyone. It fixes mana screw. It’s unique. It
appeals to Timmy. It’s tournament caliber. It’s hard to imagine a deck that plays
White that don’t want at least 2 of these main; it probably wants 4. Eternal Dragon
even inspires a Reanimator deck using White! (Don’t forget that Breath of Life
is in 7th)
Mischievous Quanar 4U
Creature - Beast (rare)
3UU: Turn Mischievous Quanar face down.
When Mischievous Quanar is turned face up, copy target instant or sorcery
spell. You may choose new targets for that spell.
Scourge is built for combo decks. This card is a serious combo enabler, not
to mention a remarkably efficient blue creature. He’s Mirari
+, as he can
opposing spells as well as your own. He’s more mana efficient for the
first copy than a traditional Mirari
, which is key for starting combo
engines. Also, as Blue creates go, he’s shockingly well-costed. Expect to
see him cropping up in dedicated decks, sideboarded (or even started) in
control decks, and as a regular in Merfolk decks. Currently he’s a little
undervalued, but expect that to change.
Counter target activated or triggered ability.
is a wrench. Specifically, it has 1001 uses in any deck, and
when it’s in a deck it’s designed for it’s truly insane. It’s a combo card,
LD, a counterspell, and/or a combat trick. It’s everything. If it says anything, I
couldn’t even approach listing all the cool uses for Stifle
description. Expect Stifle
to continue to rise in value over time.
Top 10 Countdown of Uses for Stifle
(drum roll please):
Form of the Dragon 4RRR
- #10 Single U Land Destruction, countering Krosan Verge, Wasteland, Dustbowl,
and fetch lands.
- #9 Countering the Madness trigger so that spells that are discarded with
madness stay in the removed from game Zone – i.e. plow that Arrogant Wurm.
- #8 Countering the Comes into Play or Leaves Play effects of Nightmares
- #7 Binding Pernicious Deed. It’s not fair that the Green Mage have all the
- #6 Reanimating Phage. Just counter the “lose the game” triggered effect and
Buried Alive/Stitch Together to your hearts content!
- #5 Keeping Nefarious Lich from killing you if it’s disenchanted.
- #4 Handling all those undesirable End of Turn triggered effects... like
say that one which brings the Exalted Angel back from a Slide.
- #3 Countering the Storm Mechanic. Why let them Storm anything? It’s a
- #2 Owning Extended. There are likely to be any number of broken Extended
decks that use and abuse Stifle but in case you’re looking for one, try the
Tog deck with 4 Parallax Nexus and/or Parallax Tide. Stifle turns the Nexus
into a Mind Twist for 3 and the Tide into a “Geddon you”.
- #1 Headaches for the Rules team, as when it requires errata before its first
day in use (at the Pre-Release), where they made the ruling that it can’t
counter the triggered draw that that occurs at the start of every draw
phase –- there was no justification for this errata as it doesn’t fit with the rules;
they just patched Stifle to prevent abuse on its first day out.
At the beginning of your upkeep, Form of the Dragon deals 5 damage to target
creature or player.
At the end of each turn, your life total becomes 5.
Creatures without flying can't attack you.
A moat that kills your opponent is a really good thing. This might
revitalize U/R as an archetype, and it’ll fit into Burning Bridges as well.
Not to mention, this card is unique enough to give it a very high trade
value. Do expect the value to decrease over time, though.
Forgotten Ancient 3G
Creature - Elemental
Whenever a player plays a spell, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Forgotten
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may move any number of +1/+1 counters
from Forgotten Ancient onto other creatures.
The meme has stuck that this is the card that “the players designed”, and
that gives this card high trade value. It also has a fairly unique ability,
and so it has a very good trade value. Expect its value to decrease over
time as it doesn’t have any real application in Constructed play.
Xantid Swarm G
Creature - Insect
Whenever Xantid Swarm attacks, defending player can’t play spells until end
A very strong creature: repeated Abeyance
s is a quality effect well worth G
and the vulnerabilities that occur from a 1cc creature. Expect these to be
used in the Sideboards of almost any deck with Green mana, aggro or combo.
Sliver Overlord WUBRG
Creature - Sliver Mutant Legend (rare)
3: Search you library for a sliver card, reveal that card, and put it into
your hand. Then shuffle your library.
3: Gain control of target sliver (this effect doesn't end at end of turn)
isn’t going to see a lot of serious tournament play. Your
opponent isn’t going to play Slivers in any format except Extended (making
the control Sliver ability more than useless), and spending 3 mana to search
out any of the Slivers that were printed in Onslaught
block isn’t that exciting
either. You can also do better in Reanimator than trying to reanimate a
7/7 creature (with no real ability). So why is this card listed so high?
Timmy value. This card trades higher than any other card at
the current time, and if past precedent is any guide (i.e. Sliver Queen
will hold its trade value. So know its value and trade it
accordingly. If you enjoy slivers, play with it... just not in a serious
Decree of Justice XX2WW
Put X 4/4 white Angel creature tokens with flying into play.
When you cycle Decree of Justice, you may pay X. If you do, put X 1/1 white
Soldier creature tokens into play.
This is the Decree that will see the most use in tournament play, in decks such as
Slide and U/W control. I wouldn’t even be
surprised to see a pair cropping up in White Weenie builds.
Call to the Grave 4B
At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, that player sacrifices a
non-Zombie creature. At end of turn, if there are no creatures in play,
sacrifice Call to the Grave.
Not quite The Abyss
, but it’ll do in a pinch. It will see some play in
Zombie-based decks in several formats, and occasionally in U/B control decks
Decree of Pain 6BB
Destroy all creatures. They can't be regenerated. Draw a card for each
creature destroyed this way.
When you cycle Decree of Pain, all creatures get -2/-2 until end of turn.
Decree of Pain
is a solid removal spell that almost can’t help but gain you
card advantage. As such it will see tournament play. However, due to its
high casting cost (for either effect), the number which any tournament deck
will use is likely to be less than 4.
Soul Collector 3BB
Creature - Vampire
Whenever a creature dealt damage by Soul Collector this turn is put into a
graveyard, return that card to play under your control.
Reasonably priced via its unmorph (in mono black he’s a 3cc spell with
Echo), this creature isn’t bad to mix with Zombie Cutthroat
s. He also has some Timmy appeal. In addition, there
may be a block deck that uses him in combination with Lavamancer's Skill
Due to his wording, this is an extremely powerful combination with which to grab an
opponent’s creatures or defend your own.
Decree of Annihilation 8RR
Remove all artifacts, creatures, lands, graveyards, and hands from the game.
When you cycle Decree of Annihilation, destroy all lands.
Decree of Annihilation
fills the role of Obliterate
, but in a block
that doesn’t really need it. However, expect it to trade at a value similar
, based entirely on its Cycle effect.
Dragon Tyrant 8RR
Creature - Dragon
Flying, Trample, Double Strike
At the beginning of your upkeep, pay RRRR or sacrifice Dragon Tyrant.
R: Dragon Tyrant gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
Entirely uncastable, this is the biggest hitter for a Reanimator deck,
excepting Sutured Ghoul
. Expect to see him in some Reanimator decks, and
of course played by little kids everywhere.
Sulfuric Vortex 1RR
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, Sulfuric Vortex deals two damage
to that player.
Whenever a player would gain life, that player gains no life instead.
A great sideboard card, better than Forsaken Wastes
as Red is better able to
take advantage of this effect than Black could. Expect this to have a place
in the board of Sligh/Goblin decks and Burning Bridge.
Bladewing the Risen 3BBRR
Creature - Dragon Legend
When Bladewing the Risen comes into play, return target dragon card from
your graveyard to play.
BR: All Dragons get +1/+1 until end of turn.
A potential card in Dragon Reanimator, and even possible to cast via normal
means, Bladewing will see some tournament play. Combined with his Timmy
value, this card will trade solidly.
Karona, False God 1WUBRG
Creature - Legend
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player untaps Karona, False
God and gains control of it.
When Karona attacks, creatures of the type of your choice get +3/+3 until
end of turn.
Creatures with 5 different mana symbols seem to attract and hold trade
value. Karona is also playable in Reanimator decks (Buried Alive
Bidding – Legends). I suspect Karona’s trade value would be higher if there
wasn’t stiff competition from the other Timmy rares.
Dawn Elemental WWWW
Creature - Elemental
Prevent all damage that would be dealt to Dawn Elemental.
will see occasional sideboard use, although I suspect it
will be a deck design mistake when it does. Dawn certainly should have had
“does not tap to attack” considering the casting cast. However, it has a
fairly unique property and that will give it some value.
Day of the Dragons 4UUU
When Day of the Dragons comes into play, remove all creatures you control
from the game. Then put that many 5/5 red dragon creature tokens with flying
When Day of the Dragons leaves play, sacrifice all dragons you control. Then
put the removed cards into play under your control.
This card will rarely, if ever, see constructed play. However, it’s a fun,
unique card with Timmy appeal. That’s enough to provide long term value and
Parallel Thoughts 3UU
When Parallel Thoughts comes into play, remove seven cards from your library
from the game, put them in a face-down pile, and then shuffle the pile and
shuffle your library.
If you would draw a card, you may instead put the top card from the pile
into your hand.
The question is, when (if ever) will this be better than Future Sight
are occasions, specifically in combo decks that are looking for a key card
(put copies of the key cards in a pile along with 3 Brainstorm
look at it as a card engine, but rather an improved Insidious Dreams
will be a deck that uses it and it will be brutally efficient. If I knew
what the deck was I’d move Parallel Thoughts
into the Good category.
Consumptive Goo BB
Creature - Ooze
2BB: Target creature gets –1/-1 until end of turn. Put a +1/+1 counter on
Good name, and Goo is reasonably balanced. It’s probably the best of the
Invokers and might see occasional play because of it. However, it’s not
earthshaking in any deck.
Dragon Mage 5RR
Creature - Dragon Wizard
Whenever Dragon Mage deals combat damage to a player, each player discards
his or her hand and draws seven cards.
There are some Reanimator decks that will want to use him to refill their
hands after going off. Generally, though, it’s preferable to simply inflict
massive trauma on your opponent. Timmy value is high here, as well.
Search your library for a Dragon card and put it into play. Then shuffle
Vastly overpriced and the Storm effect might as well not be there. However,
it has some Timmy trade value.
Siege-Gang Commander 3RR
Creature - Goblin (rare)
When Siege-Gang Commander comes into play, put three 1/1 red Goblin creature
tokens into play.
1R, Sacrifice a Goblin : Siege-Gang Commander deals 2 damage to target
creature or player.
This card was a valiant attempt and he’s almost in the Good category. The
only problem is that Sligh decks just don’t have room for any 5cc creatures.
This was pretty much true when Goblin Lackey
was in Type II, and will
probably hold in Goblin decks playing 4 Warchiefs. There’s a slight chance
that some builds will find a way to squeeze in 1 or 2 (perhaps the extended
builds that have Goblin Lackey
s and Goblin Warchief
s). I hope they do, as
he’s really funny with the Warchief and a Piledriver. The bottom line is
he’s no Goblin Goon
and the Goon tops out the Goblin mana curve.
Mana pools don't empty at the end of phases or turns. (This effect stops
An interesting card which appeals to Timmy as well. I suspect it has almost
no Constructed value, thanks to being overshadowed by cards like Mirari
’s Wake and
being symmetrical (helping both players). ...Not to mention the vulnerability
it gives you over the course of several turns if you want to use it
effectively. It is, however, interesting and unique enough to trade well, and will
do so for quite some time.
Players can't cycle cards.
Right now this trades higher than a Neutral value, however I expect
to settle down as a Neutral value card. It’s an answer for a
single deck, and that’s a pretty narrow use for a card. Also, there are many
ways to answer a Slide deck and most of them are more effective than a
non-cantrip artifact which is just asking for a Break
. So if you can get a Good rare for Stabilizer
do so. You’ll have a pretty good trade on your hands in the near future.
Ageless Sentinels 3W
Creature – Wall
When Ageless Sentinels blocks, it becomes creature type Giant Bird (this
effect doesn’t end at end of turn).
All that keeps this from being complete binder fodder is the ability of Blue
to enable walls to attack (i.e. Imagecrafter
) and the fact that the Ageless
Sentinels become Birds.
Dimensional Breach 5WW
Remove all permanents from the game. As long as any of those cards remain
removed from the game, at the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player
returns one of the removed cards he or she owns to play.
I guess I just don’t see the deck that “makes” this card. Without that deck
the Breach is just a tease and Wizards R&D is still keeping the cool White
spells overcosted by 2.
Force Bubble 2WW
If damage would be dealt to you, put depletion counter on Force Bubble
instead for each point of damage that would be dealt. If Force Bubble has
four or more depletion counters on it, sacrifice Force Bubble.
At end of turn, remove all depletion counters from Force Bubble.
Of marginal use in tournament play and overcosted by at least 2 if not 3.
Decree of Silence 6UU
Whenever an opponent plays a spell, counter that spell and put a depletion
counter on Decree of Silence. If there are three or more depletion counters
on Decree of Silence, sacrifice it.
When you cycle Decree of Silence, you may counter target spell.
Don’t confuse this with a tournament caliber card. It’s not. For 20% more
mana you can take two additional turns. For 3 less mana you can gain
considerably more than 3 for 1 card advantage. This card is just not
tournament playable and not especially attractive to the casual players.
Raven Guild Master 1UU
Creature - Wizard Mutant
Whenever Raven Guildmaster deals combat damage to a player, that player
removes the top 10 cards of his or her library from the game.
He walks the line of being completely useless. However, he’s interesting as
people do want to make the Mill deck, and so will continue trying to use him.
They’re not going to get anywhere, but due to the attempt Raven will hold
some trade value.
Creature - Zombie Mutant
When Nefashu attacks, up to five target creatures get -1/-1 until end of
There are folks who think the attacking ability of Nefashu
is relevant. I
don’t seem to be able to find the circumstances where this is so but this
belief gives Nefashu
some value. Trade him for what you can, while you can.
Grip of Chaos 4RR
Whenever a spell or ability is put on the stack, reselect its target at
random if it has a single target.
An amusing and unique card. However, cards
that are only usable in fun decks don’t hold a lot of trade value.
Ancient Ooze 5GG
Creature - Ooze
Ancient Ooze's power and toughness are each equal to the total converted
mana cost of other creatures you control.
For reasons that can only be remotely speculated at, this card holds some
marginal trade value. Trade him away while that value is still there
because he’s terrible. All together now, “Large Green Creatures without
trample suck.” They’re not fun, they’re not good, and sadly they’re not
Decree of Savagery 7GG
Put 4 +1/+1 counters on all creatures you control.
When you cycle Decree of Savagery, put four +1/+1 counters on target
People seem to trade a bit for Decrees no matter how poor they are.
Exiled Doomsayer 1W
Creature - Cleric
Morph costs cost 2 more to play.
Not fun. Not Good. Overcosted. Exiled to the bottom of a box deep in a
Trap Digger 3W
Creature - Soldier
2W, Tap : Put a trap counter on target land you control.
Sacrifice a land with a trap counter on it : Trap Digger deals 3 damage to
target attacking creature without flying.
He’s dug his own hole. Now he’s the one to fill it. Again, not fun, not
good, overcosted. Speaking of filling holes, did I mention that he’s not
recyclable (nor are any M:tG cards). They really should be (especially the
). From a correct perspective this card is a fascinating
metaphor on recycling, the environment, and Wizards products.
Mind's Desire 4UU
Shuffle your library. Remove the top card of your library from the game.
Until the end of turn, you may play this card without paying its mana cost.
My Mind’s Desire
is that this had 2 less in its casting cost. Erratic card
advantage and not very much of it (2 maybe 3 for 1 and all the spells have
to be immediately playable) is not worth 6 when Future Sight
has a converted
cost of 5 mana. There will be some initial interest, in this card, so if you
find someone who wants it, trade it.
Cabal Conditioning 6B
Any number of target players each discards cards from his or her hand equal
to the highest converted mana cost among permanents you control.
The Cabal should make a rinse too. Need something to get this stuff out of
my hair. Overcosted by 2.
Final Punishment 3BB
Target player loses life equal to the damage dealt to him or her this turn.
How I wish. However, I suspect I’m still going to be tormented by
overcosted, erratic damage, non-removal Black burn spells for many
expansions to come. I just wish they wouldn’t occur in the rare slot.
Lethal Vapors 2BB
Whenever a creature comes into play, destroy it.
0: Destroy Lethal Vapors. Skip your next turn. Any player may play this
I think it’s safe to say Wizards R&D lit a left cheek sneak with this card.
Ambush Commander 3GG
Creature - Elf (rare)
Forests you control are 1/1 Green elf creatures that are still land.
1G, Sacrifice an elf : Target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn.
So named because he led the Elves into an ambush. In Black alone he’s
asking for an Infest
, Bane or Decree that will not only kill all the elves
but ‘Geddon them as well.
Primitive Etching 2GG
Reveal the first card you draw each turn. If it is a creature card, draw a
Definitely a primitive card, reminiscent of numerous other useless 4cc Green
enchantments from the caveman days of card design which draw a bonus card
when the stars are in perfect alignment.
Root Elemental 4GG
Creature - Elemental
When Root Elemental is turned face up, you may put a creature card from you
hand into play.
Ummm, Trample? Wait I know how this works, for 3 mana and exposing this guy
as a 2/2 for a turn you can then spend 5GG to put an Ancient ooze in play.
That way you’ll have two 6 power non-tramplers in play on turn 7. That’ll
scare, well, no one.
Card texts are from
The Official Scourge Spoiler
Thank you for your time,
Questions? Comments? Feedback? Please check the FAQ
to contact me.