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Pojo's Magic: The Gathering TCG Tips,
Strategies, Rants, Thoughts
& Fun Stuff from Fans.

June 10, 2009

Scourged Earth Policy or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the (green) Bomb.

 

I really have no fancy introduction for this article, other than to state the obvious; I received a booster box of Scourge as an X-Mas gift. So of course, I immediately cracked it open, ran a Scourge-only draft and had a good ol’ time before promptly throwing the cards into my "to be sorted later" box.

 

‘To be sorted later’ ended up being seventeen months after the fact. Did I mention that when I say ‘X-mas gift’, I’m talking Christmas of 2007? (There may indeed be an article or two of mine on this here website discussing my inherent laziness. I would provide a link so Ye Pojo Editor doesn’t have to, but that would take, like, effort. Eh.)

 

So anyway. I recently came across my Scourge cards again, remembered the fun I had a year and a half previous and decided it was time for a little Christmas in July. (It’s early June as I type this paragraph, but who am I kidding? We all know mid-summer is the more likely point by which I send this to Ye Pojo Editor.) And awaaaaaay we go!

 

But first, Scourge in a nutshell. Released in 2003. The third and final part of Onslaught block. Originally hyped as "the dragon set." Ancestral homeland of landcycling. The birthplace of the storm mechanic. Bachelor pad of Siege-Gang Commander. Totally obsessed with a "high converted cost matters" theme.

 

It’s that last sentence I’ll be focusing on; Scourge encouraged players to play permanents with a casting cost of 6 or more. Green in this set is almost entirely built around that idea, while the red and blue commons in this set nicely take advantage of expensive permanents in play. How nicely? Here, let me show you.

 

1) Fierce Empath: A 1/1 elf for 2G that tutors a creature with a cc over 6 from your library to your hand.

 

2) Krosan Drover: A 2/2 elf for 3G that makes creature spells with a converted mana cost of 6 or higher cost 2 less. ("Four mana for a 7/4 trampler? I guess that’s some good...")

 

3) Wirewood Guardian: This cat is a 6/6 elf mutant ("To me, my X-men!") for 5GG, but he also has forestcycling. (Pay 2, chuck him and pluck a forest from your library to your hand.)

 

4) His little brother is Elvish Aberration, a fellow 4/5 elf mutant for 5G with forestcycling, but he can also tap to add GGG to your mana pool.

 

5) Titanic Bulvox is a 7/4, trampling beastie for 6GG with morph of 4GGG. Nice because you can either hardcast it from your hand or pay him face down as a 2/2, 3cc weenie that can be morphed once you have the mana.

 

6) Dispersal Shield: A 1B blue instant that counters a target spell if its converted mana cost is equal to or less than the highest converted mana cost among your permanents.

 

7) Rush of Knowledge is a 4B sorcery that lets you draw cards equal to the highest converted mana cost of permanents you control.

 

8) And last but not least, Torrent of Fire is a 3RR sorcery that deals damage to a target creature or player for an amount equal to the highest converted mana cost amongst your permanents.

 

Like I said, nice cards. Nice enough that these eight cards make up the basis for the following decklists. (Before we get started, let me just state up front that in the following decklists, the uncommons are marked with one asterix and the rares with two.) With that said and to quote Marvin Gaye, let’s get it ooooooon!

 

The scourge of, um...Scourge! Mark I.

(An all Scourge deck, of course. "Pre-con" format.)

 

GREEN

4 Fierce Empath

4 Krosan Drover

4 Elvish Aberration*

4 Wirewood Guardian

4 Titanic Bulvox

1 Ambush Commander**

1 Root Elemental**

4 Sprouting Vines

 

BLUE

4 Dispersal Shield

1 Rush of Knowledge

 

RED

2 Torrent of Fire

2 Carbonize*

1 Pyrostatic Pillar*

 

LANDS

12 Forest

4 Island

4 Mountain

4 Temple of the False God*

 

SIDEBOARD

4 Break Asunder (A cycling Naturalize.)

2 Claws of Wirewood* (And a cycling Hurricane.)

1 Pyrostatic Pillar*

3 Uncontrolled Infestation (Let’s call this "landkill.")

1 Decree of Savagery** (Steroids!)

4 Frozen Solid (A defensive countermeasure against any creatures bigger than mine.)

 

This was the first pass I made at this deck, using only cards from a Scourge booster. This is a green creature beatdown deck with a hint of controlish tendencies and as such the game plan is broken into three easy to understand steps.

 

Step one: Get the mana needed to cast yourself some fat ASAP, with "mana" being defined as "tutoring for forests and casting cards that will smooth my mana curve." The Drover falls into the later category. He should be played as soon as possible, for his ability to reduce casting costs. (If you can swing it this early in the game, consider casting Root Elemental, a 6/5 for 4GG that morphs for 5GG and allows you to free play a creature card from your hand when he goes face up.)

 

Don’t be afraid to the send the elf mutants (Wirewood Guardian and Elvish Aberrations) into the forest looking for trees. It can be scary to pitch 6 and 7 mana fatties straight into the graveyard, as your first instinct will be "I can’t pitch that for land! I’ll need him to smash face and power up my spells!" However, keeping your hand stuffed with uncastable forestcyclers in the early game is the surest way to defeat. Cycle them often until you have at least one Krosan Drover and five lands out. At that point you can relax a bit and actually start playing them as threats to the board. The Aberration himself can tap for mana once he’s on the table.

 

Also, the deck is running Sprouting Vines, a 2G instant that lets you search for a basic land and put it into your hand. It also has storm. Use it to fetch forests as soon as possible. Storm it up if you can, but also don’t be afraid to cast it to fetch only a single land.

 

Step two: Find and play at least one huge creature on the board, also to be done ASAP. Your library should be quite nicely thinned out by this point, thanks to forestcycling and Sprouting Vines, so you should be drawing nothing more potential threats than land. Now’s the time to drop a Fierce Empath and tutor for the creature of choice. I prefer Titanic Bulvox, but any of your fatties will do just fine.

 

Step three: Go for the kill while defending your creatures with your support spells. At this point, Titanic Bulvox should be tapping for seven and perhaps we still have some elf mutants lying in wait. Let’s not forget about Ambush Commander, which can transform your forests into elves and can convert "elves" into a Giant Growth effect for a game-ending effect.

 

Obviously you won’t win the game if your attackers are neutralized, so be ready to defend them with the countermagic of Dispersal Shield. The card acts as a Mana Leak with only an Empath or Drover on the table and becomes almost 99.9% impossible for your opponent to work around with a fat boy on the table.

 

The multiple Torrents of Fire allows you to burn out really big game. (Turn that frown upside down with an injection of Bulvox.) Carbonize is around to provide burn at a cheaper price and a Pyrostatic Pillar helps keeps the weenie swarms in line. Rush of Knowledge can (and very often does) draw out the extra threats you need to keep the beatdown going. (Eight cards for five mana? Thank you, Titanic Bulvox!)

 

The sideboard offers support in the form of Break Asunder and Claws of Wirewood (slower versions of Naturalize and Hurricane respectively, but both with cycling.) Four Frozen Solids act as a defensive countermeasure against any creatures bigger than what we’ve got. A trio of Uncontrolled Infestations (um, let’s call this "landkill"), an additional Pyrostatic Pillar and a lone Decree of Savagery round things out.

 

So that’s one way to go about abusing Scourge’s high casting cost theme. It’s pricey, though. I’m talking financially here, not mana wise. (Six year old sets aren’t that much more expensive than current ones, but still...) Could my cheapskate brothers and sisters build something similar? I’m so glad you asked.

 

The scourge of, um...Scourge! Mark II.

(Pauper Magic Extended format and M:TG Online legal.)

 

GREEN

4 Fierce Empath

4 Krosan Drover

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Wirewood Guardian

1 Rootbreaker Wurm

1 Scaled Wurm

4 Titanic Bulvox

1 Accelerated Mutation

 

GOLD

2 Streetbreaker Wurm

 

BLUE

4 Dispersal Shield

1 Rush of Knowledge

 

RED

2 Torrent of Fire

4 Fling

 

LAND

12 Forest

4 Island

4 Mountain

4 Rupture Spire

 

SIDEBOARD

4 Break Asunder

4 Icefall

4 Frozen Solid

3 Simoon

 

Version 2.0 of the deck is built for the Pauper format. Yup, all commons and playable online in Pauper Extended or Classic or whatever format they call it that allows ‘em to use cards released over two years ago. The game plan is still the same as noted with the first deck, with noted concessions to the format. So let’s note.

 

1) Mana: Llanowar Elves have replaced the Elvish Aberrations. Why? We’re trading greater speed at mana production for weaker bodies. First drop ‘em early and often and they’ll become Forests numbers 13-16.

 

Also, this deck runs 4 Rupture Spires, the brand new contender for the poor man’s City of Brass. It’s not too shabby as a multi-land on its’ own, either.

 

2) The Wurms Rootbreaker, Scaled and Streetbreaker: 7, 8 and 5 mana critters, respectively. The Streetbreakers have no synergy with Krosan Drover or the Fierce Empath. They do act as relatively cheap beef for the early game, however and will power up the Torrents and Dispersal Shields nicely.

 

The Rootbreaker has trample, acting as a fifth Bulvox. Why the Scaled Wurm? I’m giving him flying lessons. Oh, was that a transition? Cue segueway into...

 

3) Please note that I have omitted any traditional burn spells. We do not need them. We have the power of Fling. In this deck, this card read "Sac a creature: deal 6 (or 7) to the dome."

 

4) Accelerated Mutation is a 5 mana Giant Growth that gives a +X/+X bonus based on the converted mana cost of the highest permanent. Here for giggles, basically. Or to Fling a really huge slab of beef at your opponent’s head (Hehehe!)

 

5) Break Asunder and Frozen Solid remain in the sideboard. Icefall has replaced Uncontrolled Infestation as proper landkill while Simoon subs for Pyrostatic Pillar as an answer for weenie swarms.

 

Y’know, this article has been fun to write, but working only with a box of boosters and just commons hasn’t left me satisfied. Let’s see what happens when I add some money to the deck.

 

The scourge of, um...Scourge! Mark III.

(Wherein I use whatever I want. Format? I got your format right here!)

 

GREEN

4 Fierce Empath

4 Krosan Drover

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Wirewood Guardian

4 Elvish Aberration*

4 Titanic Bulvox

 

BLUE

4 Dispersal Shield

2 Rush of Knowledge

 

RED

4 Torrent of Fire

 

LAND

12 Forest

4 Breeding Pool**

4 City of Brass**

4 Steam Vents**

2 Gemstone Mine*

 

SIDEBOARD

4 Creeping Mold*

3 Hurricane*

4 Counterspell

4 Anarchy*

 

The game plan for the third iteration of the deck remains the same as its predecessors. Make mana. Find Beef. Smash! This build does away with the one and two-offs of Wurms and Elementals. It’s an Elf deck with Titanic Bulvoxes still acting as the main kill card. Torrents of Fire and Dispersal Shields are still around with an additional Rush of Knowledge added.

 

The biggest change has been the addition of rares in the mana base. The Ravnica block multi-lands Breeding Pool (blue or green mana) and Steam Vents (red or blue mana) eliminate the need for Mountains and Islands. We don’t need Rupture Spire when the real City of Brass is around. Gemstone Mine gives the deck a (temporary) fifth and sixth City.

 

The multi-lands provide great flexibility in the sideboard. Creeping Mold pulls triple duty as artifact, enchantment and landkill. Three Hurricanes act as our anti-creature swarm card. Anarchy is included to hose the white mages in frustrating ways. I would hope that Counterspell is self-obvious. (And yes, it probably should be maindeck, but dammit! Scourge, remember?)

 

In conclusion: three variations on the theme of asskicking with overpriced green cattle, across a number of formats and media, just in time for Christmas shopping season. Heh.

 

You’re welcome.

 

B. Siems.

 

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