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Pojo's Magic The Gathering
Card of the Day

Daily Since November 2001!

Cursed Scroll
Image from Wizards.com

 Cursed Scroll
- Tempest

Reviewed July 1, 2014

Constructed: 4.00
Casual: 3.40
Limited: 4.10
Multiplayer: 3.50

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale:
1 - Horrible  3 - Average.  5 - Awesome

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Cursed Scroll

The obvious intent here is that you're gambling, but in practice it's anything but. You activate Cursed Scroll when you have one card in hand (or all your cards are the same card) and you're guaranteed the 2 damage. A colorless, repeatable source of damage. That was more valuable back in the day because there were a lot of 2/2's with protection from a color running around.

Nowadays, hexproof is the primary reason you can't tag an opponent's creature, and this doesn't solve that. Then again, colorless direct damage has only gotten worse (Flamecast Wheel? Really?) so if you've got a chance to run one of these, I'd say go for it.

Plus, you can name a card that would wreck your opponent's strategy (or that you want him to play around) when you don't have it, and act disappointed when he doesn't reveal it. How good are you at bluffing?

Constructed- 3.5
Casual- 2.5
Limited- 4
Multiplayer- 3.5

David Fanany

Player since 1995

Cursed Scroll

The "open a scroll and find that its contents are so horrendous they stream off the page and injure you severely" trope is very common in fantasy. As in, it probably actually originates in mythology if you look into it - I'm pretty sure it was already around for Jack Vance's stories, which is probably how it got into Dungeons and Dragons and thus into Magic. This can be thought of as a colorless analogue to yesterday's card Hammer of Bogardan, and though it requires significantly more fiddling to use, anything that allows a Merfolk deck to burn somebody to death requires respect, and even fear. In almost any aggressive deck, it's not hard at all to get down to one card in your hand, and once you do your opponent will have a hard time stopping the Scroll. Much as I like versatile cards, I also have some appreciation for cards that do one thing well, and Cursed Scroll is one of the most effective cards in Magic.

Constructed: 4/5
Casual: 4/5
Limited: 5/5
Multiplayer: 4/5

Michael "Maikeruu" Pierno

Today's card of the day is Cursed Scroll which is a one mana artifact that for three and tapping has you name a card then target opponent reveals a random card from your hand, if it is the named card the Scroll deals two damage to target creature or player. This was a top card when it was current and still sees play in more open formats in decks that empty their hands quickly to leave only one option to "randomly" choose from. As removal or direct damage support this is solid by being reusable and having a reasonable activation cost.

In a Limited format that allows this it may not be as easy to empty the hand out, but it has a small psychological aspect of naming a card you don't have to possibly impact an opponent's other choices. In general it is better to aim for damage, even with the reduced odds when multiple cards are in hand. If this only removes one creature it is worth the first pick in Booster as removal and the four mana for the play with activation. There is also no reason not to use this in Sealed as a play on off turns or weak topdecks and it fits in every deck.

Constructed: 4.5
Casual: 4.5
Limited: 4.0
Multiplayer: 4.5


Deck Garage

Cursed Scroll
If you're not familiar with Cursed Scroll, at first glance it might seem like an unpredictable, fairly weak card. Just play against it once in a deck that's designed to use it, and you will see how deceptively powerful it is. 
In most decks, you want to keep as many cards in your hand as possible. But sometimes - like in a red burn deck - you are often going to find yourself with few cards in hand. The idea is to play the scroll, drop all your cards except one, then activate the ability naming the only card you have in your hand. Boom. 3 mana, 2 damage. Then, play your one remaining card. Next turn, you draw your card and activate the scroll naming your newly drawn card, and get in 2 more damage. 
Repeatable damage - especially colorless damage - is an extremely valuable commodity. By playing this card, you're saying "deal with this, or it's going to haunt you every turn until you die". 
Constructed: 4.5
Casual: 2.5
Limited: 3.5
Multiplayer: 2

Michael Sokolowski

Happy Canada Day*!

(*This one's simple, Canada's birthday. It's the day when parliament passed the law which turned Canada from just a bunch of British colonies into one united country, although we sort of spent the next 100 years or so slowly becoming more and more independent, getting our own flag and national anthem and money and stuff over time. It's super similar to your 4th of July, right down to the lots of fireworks, and they're even pretty close together date-wise too! Funny how it worked out that way.)


Cursed Scroll is another card that modern players might look at and wonder "Why would anyone want to run this?" 3 mana activation cost, and there's a chance it whiffs and does nothing? How can this possibly be a good card?

And yet, it was.

Originally released in Tempest back in 1997, Cursed Scroll saw a lot of play. As I mentioned yesterday, repeatable damage will always be good to some degree. What escalates the Scroll over Hammer of Bogardan is largely in the cost, or rather cost efficiency. 1 mana to cast in the first place makes it super easy to bring out whenever you want, even on the first turn if you have no better plays. 3 mana to activate is reasonable, even if you only get a 'maybe 2 damage' instead of a 'for sure 3 damage' with the Hammer. But then the Hammer takes a total of 8 mana to use a second time, while Scroll will always only be 3. And that starts to add up pretty quickly.

There's still the problem of paying the 3 mana and potentially getting nothing in return. Or is there? The trick to successfully using Cursed Scroll - and really what makes it not bad in the first place - is understanding what deck it's supposed to be in. And the answer to that is generally going to be very aggressive fast-playing red decks. The reason for this is simple. Red tends to be a colour that plays out its hand very fast. Be it aggressive attacking creatures, cheap but efficient burn spells, whatever it may be the fact is red likes to go on the offensive. And the traditional weakness they face is that they'll run out of gas. They'll play all of their cards, and then either the opponent is already dead or they're alive and red enters the topdeck wars at a disadvantage.

Cursed Scroll turns that disadvantage into an advantage.

Revealing a card at random from your hand might sound risky, and it certainly is if you've got a decent sized hand. But what if... what if they were only 1 card left in your hand? What if you played out your whole hand, save for 1 card, and then every turn you used the Scroll for an easy 2 damage? That's the real power here. Twisting the odds in your favour, and turning a risky play into a sure thing. Even having 2 cards in hand would work... if they're multiples of the same card. Then you get the extra fun of giving your opponent a false choice. Watch them sweat and squirm as they try to decide which of the wrong choices they should make!

For some extra mind games, you could try naming a card you actually DON'T have in your hand, but want to trick your opponent into thinking you do. Naming Day of Judgment might trick your opponent into thinking you have it, causing them to play less creatures as they start holding back a bit. But the repeatable damage in fast-playing red is probably better. The fact that Cursed Scroll's damage is colourless was also pretty relevant back in the days of various Circle of Protection cards being a thing.

It's still not really an uber card in my mind. There could easily be plenty of times where you have more than 1 card in your hand, and Cursed Scroll ends up being a 3-mana sink that does nothing. And it's definitely not for every deck. And 3 mana for 2 damage might not seem efficient by the standards set by Lightning Bolt's brief return, and the various 2 mana for 3 damage cards.

But consider a red deck on turn 8 with nothing on the field and only a single Mountain in hand and the opponent is at 4 life. What would you rather topdeck? An Incinerate, or a Cursed Scroll?

I wonder what could be written on a scroll that would be so awful that it would deal 2 damage to the person that reads it?

Maybe the Twilight novels.

Constructed: 3.5
Casual: 3.5
Limited: 4
Multiplayer: 3.5

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