Scourge of the Skyclaves
– Zendikar Rising
October 26, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 2.75
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I think this guy is standing upside-down on something, as though gravity isn’t even a thing. Well, he is from Zendikar, so I guess that is not out of the question. I do like his unusual power and toughness setting ability, as it’s almost like a puzzle in itself. If you’re playing an aggressive deck, your life total will often be higher than your opponent’s and so you’ll have to find a way to get it down; this is surprisingly easy, especially in formats with shocklands and the like. If you’re playing a slower deck, he might not always be the most relevant choice, but you can always go to the long game for his kicker effect and get yourself a seven-mana 10/10 or higher. There’s even sometimes something to be said for just running him out as a two-mana 3/3 after your opponent has attacked you once or twice: black doesn’t usually get Watchwolf stats on anything.
The references to Zendikar block are strong all over Zendikar Rising, and Scourge of the Skyclaves’ seeming reference is Worldwake‘s Death’s Shadow. Scourge gets stronger as the candles of life grow dimmest, and the theoretical maximum of this card is a two-mana 20/20 with “you don’t lose at zero life” effects in effect. That said, you’re not likely to have this be that massive, and its strength increases in a long game, as it’s only strong when all near death.
Scourge does come with a second mode: seven mana will halve everyone’s life totals as it comes in, and that can get it in as a pretty big body. This is a weird creature with a pretty big delta between its zenith and its nadir; it’s oft poor on turn two, but it can be a brutal cleaner in the right situation. No combat abilities can be a bit annoying, but big number is sometimes all you need.
Constructed: 3.25 (it’s unique, and Modern in particular might have some use for it given the self-destructive nature of its decks and land bases)
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