Return To Scourge: Day 2 Of The Prerelease

I’ve already said that Cabal Interrogator is stronger than you might think, so let’s talk about a card I actually had: Unburden. Man, did I mess this card up. In this format, there’s a lot of expensive stuff cluttering peoples’ hands and discard can take out their biggest threat before it hits the table. I cycled this one more than I cast it, and had it cast against me many times to good effect, so I’m going to say I played it wrong. Draft this one, and cast it as often as you can.

Hello again! For those of you who read my article about the Saturday prerelease, welcome back – and for those of you who are just joining us, welcome to the report. This time, I’m writing about my second effort at Scourge, when I returned to the Days Inn of Butler just outside Pittsburgh for the Sunday Prerelease.

Sunday, I was riding with a different group of friends than the day before – a group who played a while back, but not so much anymore. We spent some of the time driving up and stopping at McDonald’s for breakfast, talking about the cards they had to watch out for (Sparksmith and Vitality Charm were high on my list) and the cool things they might see (Decrees and pit fighters). However, we stayed so long at McDonald’s that we didn’t even make the tournament site until about 10:30. Everyone else was deep in deck registration, but the judges allowed us to get in and we successfully entered the main event.

I don’t recall much about the deck I opened, but it did have a Dragon Mage, making me two for two in opening that card this weekend. The deck I got back was okay, and blue, red and black were all candidates for main colors. As the black and red had all the removal and went best in tandem, I went with those two and a splash of green. The decklist:

Battering Craghorn

2 Goblin Brigand

Goblin Sledder

Nosy Goblin

Searing Flesh

Solar Blast

Torrent of Fire

Words of War

Bladewing’s Thrall

Crown of Suspicion

Decree of Pain

Dirge of Dread

2 Lingering Death

Nantuko Husk

Reaping the Graves

Putrid Raptor


Zombie Cutthroat

Barkhide Mauler

Tribal Unity

7 Mountain

7 Swamp

2 Forest

Forgotten Cave

Goblin Burrows

As you may have already noticed, with a Sledder, two Brigands and a Burrows, plus both of the black free-morphs, this deck can get some pretty blazing fast draws. That’s basically the entire plan, as the longer a game goes the more likely I will be to get wrecked by bigger, fatter creatures. My only hope against serious fat is Decree of Pain – which really doesn’t want to be in this deck at all. It’s a very powerful card, but it’s incredibly expensive and my deck wants to be on the board as fast as possible. I can’t leave it on the bench, though, so I have to be satisfied with the bad synergy.

I also could have splashed blue instead of green for Ascending Aven and Shoreline Ranger, the same two cards I splashed the day before, but the bigger body provided by the Mauler was, I think, more necessary – and more than that, the Tribal Unity always has potential to end a game. In practice, though, the 4/4 Mauler proved to be a lot more useful than the Unity ever was. I did board the blue in at one point, but it was just for the Ranger and a Riptide Biologist against a beast-heavy deck.

If you read my report about the Saturday tournament… Well, first, I commend you for making it all the way through it, but you may also notice that the games in this report are much less detailed. This is because I decided not to take game notes in a notebook, instead resorting to scrawling down what I could on my score pad – and I did this because I was afraid that the constant writing on Saturday may have distracted or hindered me. There were at least two instances where I messed up something that I caught as I wrote the Saturday report, and the fact that I allowed a sorcery to be played as an instant (thanks to Gahnomen from the forums for pointing that out) and there may well have been many more. In the interest of trying to play a little better, I opted to concentrate on the games.

The event was much smaller on Sunday, with not quite fifty players as opposed to the a hundred and eighty of the previous day, and there would be only six rounds. And they start… Now.

Round 1: Carlos Chadha, B/G/w

Carlos is a regular at the Tuesday night drafts at CMU and took third place on Saturday. Nuts.

Game 1: Carlos mulligans once and sticks on a single forest for the entire game. ‘Nuff said.

Game 2: Carlos opens with Wirewood Elf, a morph, and Bladewing’s Thrall on his first few turns, I only get out a Husk and the Barkhide Mauler by the time he gets a Krosan Warchief down. I manage to Torrent of Fire the Warchief away, but Carlos plays Centaur Glade and I can’t race a stream of 3/3s.

Game 3: I don’t really have much in the way of notes here, but I eventually get Carlos down to eight life with Words of War and two morphs on the board and a Solar Blast in hand. Carlos plays a Wirewood Guardian and tries to bash through, but I stall for just long enough to Words of War him to two and Solar Blast him.


Round 2: Christopher Hartman, B/G

Game 1: I play first and stick on two swamps for a few turns while Chris beats me up. He eventually plays Nefashu and drops Dragon Fangs on it, and I Solar Blast it in response, but once I start drawing lands I don’t stop.

Game 2: I play a face-down Zombie Cutthroat and turn it up to kill a creature and we both play out some more guys. I get out a Husk and Putrid Raptor, and Chris drops a Twisted Abomination. I drop Lingering Death on it and play Battering Craghorn face up to block, which it does, and the Death does its job. We continue to race and we both end up at four, but I have the Torrent of Fire to end it.

Game 3: I have a turn 2 Brigand, and it serves a bit while Chris plays a Fierce Empath, fetching Krosan Tusker. I get Nosy Goblin out, and Chris plays a morph, obviously baiting the Goblin. I’m fine with that as, almost any morph is better than the Goblin, and I’m happy with dealing five or making him discard a zombie if he has a free-morph. What I didn’t count on was Proteus Machine, which I think trades with my Brigand. I get Barkhide Mauler out as Chris drops Nantuko Husk to go with his Elvish Warrior.

He plays another creature on his next turn and attacks, and I make a really dumb mistake: I block with the Mauler. I’m going to get card advantage, as he has to eat two creatures or lose the Husk, but I’m neglecting the Torrent of Fire in my hand. He eats a creature and trades the Husk with the Mauler, and I’m left with no permanent to Torrent with. I draw Goblin Sledder and play it, and a turn later I draw and am forced to play Reaping the Graves on my turn to get the Mauler back and play it just so I can block something. The problem was that he cast Reaping the Graves as well, getting two versions of it to my one, and the card advantage wrecks me.

1-1 (3-3)

Round 3: Rich Williams, U/W/b

Game 1: I have a turn 2 Goblin Brigand and turn 3 morph playing first, so I’m up a lot. He only has a turn 3 Disruptive Pitmage (face-up). He eventually gets a Gravel Slinger and a Mistform Wall into play, but my morph is Putrid Raptor (discarding a Nantuko Husk) and I break through for enough that I can Torrent of Fire him for six to win.

Game 2: He plays a turn 1 Imagecrafter and a turn 3 Whipcorder; I play a turn 3 morph. I play Words of War, which takes out the Whipcorder, and he plays a Zealous Inquisitor. However, he forgets to leave white mana up, and the Words takes that out, too. He plays Twisted Abomination; I Solar Blast it. He plays a face-up Exalted Angel, I Torrent of Fire it (with a little help from the Putrid Raptor I had turned face up earlier). I play a Barkhide Mauler, and both it and the Raptor get Guilty Consciences. However, I’m able to swing in with a Tribal Unity for beasts to get lethal damage.

2-1 (5-3)

Round 4: Anthony Casaldi, G/W

Tony is a friend of mine, one of the guys I rode up with. He was actually registered as Anthony”Casacde,” which we found sort of amusing. On a side note, green and white are definitely not the colors you want to be playing in sealed, but I had looked through his cards between some earlier rounds and it was really the best he had. Not to say it was bad; he had a lot of good cards. It’s not what you want – but when you get it, you do what you can.

Game 1: Tony is playing first and drops a turn 1 Frontline Strategist, turn 2 Glory Seeker and follows that with a couple morphs. I have a turn 3 Words of War, and get to work killing all his little guys, taking out a face-down Titanic Bulvox and a face-down Aven Liberator while taking control of the ground with Bladewing’s Thrall and Zombie Cutthroat. I kill a face-down Treespring Lorian with the Words, and manage to start attacking back, eventually dealing enough damage to fall back on the Words to kill him.

Game 2: Tony decides to play first, and I have a turn 2 Goblin Brigand, but I stick on two red mana until turn 6, when I draw another Mountain to cast a face-down Putrid Raptor. In the meantime, Tony has played a morph, a Gravel Slinger, and a Dive Bomber with Alpha Status. He blocks the Raptor with the Slinger and uses Piety Charm to help it live, and it picks off the Raptor, while I cycle Solar Blast to finish the Slinger. I play Words of War and kill the Dive Bomber, and he plays a Noble Templar. I play a face-down Battering Craghorn, but it gets hit with Pacifism and he unmorphs Snarling Undorak for the win.

Game 3: In this game, my deck simply unloads. Turn 1 Goblin Sledder, turn 2 Goblin Brigand, turn 3 attack with Goblin Burrows up. He has no blockers, so I just play a face-down Zombie Cutthroat. I attack again and he blocks the Brigand with his morph, so I pump up the Sledder, put damage on the stack, then sac the Sledder to save the Brigand. He plays another morph, but doesn’t block this turn and he drops to five. He unmorphs Snarling Undorak to block my morph – but of course it’s the Cutthroat, so it kills the Undorak and the Brigand hits for four, taking him to one. I kill him the next turn.

3-1 (7-4)

Round 5: Bernie Spada, G/R

Game 1: I win the roll and play first, and I have a nuts hand once again. Sledder, Brigand, and Cutthroat come down on turns 1-3 and the Burrows is there to help out. He plays a turn 2 Wellwisher and trades a Wirewood Savage for the Sledder (with Goblin Burrows pumping). Next turn, he Shocks the Brigand and I play Barkhide Mauler. He drops a Spitting Gourna and I play Nantuko Husk, looking to bust through enough damage to use the Searing Flesh in my hand (he’s currently at ten). He plays Lavamancer’s Skill on the Gourna, but I get through for some damage and end it with the Flesh.

Game 2: Bernie plays first, but I’m on the board with a turn 2 Goblin Brigand, which trades with his morph when it attacks. We both play morphs, and I drop Words of War. He forestcycles and on his next turn plays Goblin Machinist. I attack, and he blocks the morph with the Machinist. I discard Nantuko Husk to turn up the Putrid Raptor and cycle Unburden into the Words to take out the goblin. I have the Searing Flesh in hand again and my next hit from the Raptor takes him to twelve. He plays Snarling Undorak and I Words the morph – an off-color Riptide Biologist. I drop Lingering Death on the Undorak and play another morph. He Torrent of Fires the Raptor away and hits me to nine. I hit him with my morph, taking him to ten, and play the Searing Flesh. On my next turn, I morph up the Battering Craghorn and Torrent of Fire him for the win.

4-1 (9-4)

I’m 11th at this point, and last of all the 4-1s due to my horrid tiebreakers. No drawing for me!

Round 6: Mike Sabatini, G/B/r

Game 1: I play first and drop Words of War on turn 3. Mike plays a morph, which I shoot on my turn, but it’s a Zombie Cutthroat. Mike plays Chartooth Cougar and Ravenous Baloth while I don’t do much. I can’t fight back with just lands, and it’s on to game 2.

I board out the two green cards for Shoreline Ranger and Riptide Biologist.

Game 2: I play again and get a turn 2 Brigand, which trades with Nantuko Husk. He drops Snarling Undorak and I Solar Blast it. I play the Shoreline Ranger, which he matches with Chartooth Cougar, but the cat meets with Torrent of Fire. We both play morphs as I beat down in the air. He kills the Ranger and flips up his Zombie Cutthroat to win the morph combat, taking him to three life. I have nothing to play for about three turns, and he drops Riptide Replicator for, if I recall correctly, 3/3 black beasts. Luckily, I finally draw Searing Flesh and finish the game.

Game 3: Mike is playing first, but I still manage to trade a turn 2 Brigand with a morph. I play Bladewing’s Thrall and Mike mountaincycles a Cougar. He drops Ravenous Baloth, but I hit it with Torrent of Fire and swing in to drop him back to twenty-one. Mike plays Krosan Drover and I risk letting it stay on the table, and I’m able to cycle a Solar Blast to kill a Cabal Interrogator.

(Aside: Cabal Interrogator is a card I have a lot of respect for. During the Prerelease, I saw it savage many a hand, leaving its controller in, well, control. While I don’t know how it may hold up in draft with Legions in the mix, it certainly seems like a strong card.)

He drops Twisted Abomination, but I have a Battering Craghorn to block and Lingering Death to kill it off. He plays Screeching Buzzard and Symbiotic Elf, and follows that next turn with Anurid Murkdiver. The game lasts a few more turns with Mike Erratic Explosioning my Thrall, but it’s basically over there as I’ve already spent my Torrent, Blast and one of my Lingering Deaths. I can try to race, but all I draw for the rest of the game is a Goblin Sledder, taking my total for that game to seven spells, eleven lands. Rats.

4-2 (10-6)

That was the end of my day, so my friend Mark, who had been eliminated in round 5, and I went home.

A few more notes before I conclude:

Battering Craghorn gained a lot of ground with me from this tournament. Any creature that can block Twisted Abomination is a big help and reduces the need for cards like Carbonize when discussing what I have dubbed the Twisted A-Bomb. Daru Lancer, Noble Templar, and Needleshot Gourna can all also handle the A-Bomb until you find some more permanent answer, and for that I commend them.

I already said my piece about Cabal Interrogator, so I’ll skip that and talk about a card I actually had: Unburden. Man, did I mess this card up. In this tournament, there’s a lot of expensive stuff cluttering peoples’ hands and discard can take out their biggest threat before it hits the table. I cycled this one more than I cast it, and had it cast against me many times to good effect, so I’m going to say I played it wrong. Draft this one, and cast it as often as you can. The cycling should be reserved for times of mana-screw or digging for an answer you absolutely need right now.

I should have said more about one particular card last time: Dragon Scales. I honestly think this might be the best of the Dragon Parts enchantments, just because of the incredible board advantage it gives, both by providing a bigger body and letting that body play both offense and defense in a very combat-oriented block. Even more than that, this card has incredible synergy with the rest of the white cards in the block. Battlefield Medic and especially Aven Redeemer now mess up your opponent’s combat step worse than before. Daru Stinger and Dive Bomber beat down and still hold back your opponent’s men. Whipcorder or Catapult Squad? Flat-out ridiculous. Put it on your morph before you attack, and it doesn’t matter if they have Zombie Cutthroat. While you can’t do the first strike/prevention tricks that Crown of Fury allowed, this card dominates on Deftblade Elite – and after all this, it hops back into play on your Grassland Crusader. I love this card.

Finally, Decree of Pain is an absolute house. This is a fact, and it is undisputed. Just remember what you’re playing before you windmill-slam it onto your draft pile. If you’ve got a beatdown deck rife with Embalmed Brawlers, Wretched Anurids, and Festering Goblins, you’re planning to win by turn seven anyway and that Zombie Cutthroat might be a better pick.

That’s it for me. Hope you’re enjoying Scourge, and if you’re coming to Grand Prix – Pittsburgh, maybe I’ll see you there.

Andy Clautice

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