With several powerful cards and effects, Scourge promises to easily make more of an impact than its forerunner Legions, at least in 5-Color. On a percentage basis, Scourge may even have more of an impact, card for card, than Onslaught.
Anyway, for those who are new to my set evaluations of cards with 5-Color potential, here are a few rules: Firstly, I don’t mention every card; I have neither the time nor the inclination to do so. Instead, I include cards that I think will have an impact, and cards other Five players are talking about.
Secondly, you might ask how can I know whether or not a card will impact an environment? The answer is simple – in the largest environment possible, it is much easier to tell whether a card will have an effect on the environment. Take Carbonize, for example. 5-Color has Lightning Bolt, Incinerate, Chain Lightning, and every other burn spell, all of which are cheaper than Carbonize and do the same damage. Do you think that Carbonize will see much play? Of course not. Rakso (er….Oscar Tan) sums several principles up very well about evaluating new cards against established standards, so go read his work if you have further questions. Type One and 5-Color are similar in this regard, because both have huge card pools.
Lastly, any review of 5-Color comes with a caveat: There are a lot of 5-Color decks out there that are strictly casual, and literally any card in Magic can be found in those decks. However, the cards here are ones that I expect to see played at least on a semi-regular basis. Anyway, without further ado, I bring you Scourge’s best. We’ll start with the new abilities, then head into a breakdown of cards.
In any environment where dual lands are alive and well, landcyclers have the potential to fill out your mana. And since these bad boys cycle for colorless mana, they can fix any part of your mana curve if you have a full set of duals. 5-Color’s largest issue is a sturdy mana base, and the Onslaught block will have done wonders for it in Onslaught and Scourge.
Alas, not all landcyclers are created equal. Since a deck running a lot of duals can basically get any mana with any cycler, only the cream of the crop will be used. I expect that some of the cyclers will simply be overshadowed by others. One manacycler is heads and tails above the rest, and I expect to see it as much as Krosan Tusker – which is to say, a lot. See the individual cards below if you are curious.
One last comment: Since these cycle for colorless mana and get another color, they make excellent cards for a splash color. Fulfilling your eighteen required red slots by playing Chartooth Cougar seems like a viable strategy. And so it is with all of the landcyclers.
Is storm good or bad for 5-Color? I suspect that like many abilities, some cards will be highly abusable, but most fall under the cutting knife. Fading, for instance, gave us a lot of crap cards, with a few good cards tossed in.
As an ability, storm is not bad – it makes for highly broken turns when combined with effects such as Yawgmoth’s Will. However, many storm effects are big and splashy, but not that viable. There are, however, a few valuable storm effects that will be discussed when we examine individual cards.
Honestly, I’m tired of seeing crappy cards that cost all five colors of mana. Last Stand? Atogatog? Karona is just as bad, despite how they are building her up on their website. And Sliver Overlord is no Sliver Queen. Maybe I feel ruined, but we had Sliver Queen and Coalition Victory – two decent cards that use all five mana. We still haven’t had a good one. Karona is not an end to our plight.
In tribal decks of the appropriate type, I figure that they are auto includes. The more crowded tribes, like goblins, have much more breathing room in 5-Color, and the warchiefs will fit right into even those decks. They won’t have that big of an impact outside of casual Five, however.
We continue the thread of having all of these tribal cards, outside of the warchiefs. I could list the good ones below and say about each that they are”Good in an X creature deck, but bad otherwise.” However, I’ll spare you that singular commentary and just save space by mentioning that there are good cards for thematic decks in the set that are not listed below.
Individual Cards – White:
White normally can make a good run at Worst Color in the Set for 5-Color. However, there are several major cards in Scourge, and possibly the best card in Scourge for 5-Color is a white beater/mana-fixer/dragon. Nice combo.
Despite some play they are getting, I don’t think that this will get more than a few more looks before people go elsewhere. Phantom Monster costs the same, is -1/-1, can attack from the get-go… And no one plays it. Tons of fliers are simply better. When you can slap down Serendib Efreet on the offensive, why play this? Defensive decks have better creatures to cast than janky 4/4 quasi-walls.
The casting cost is way too white for most serious Five decks to foot. Unless you are base white and splash everything else, I doubt this is your idea of a fun card. Even then, it’s cute. But just cute.
Decree of Justice
The cycling part is pretty good. Although we have Squirrel Nest, Kjeldoran Outpost, and other effects, this draws a card as an instant and makes dorks. Not too bad.
I like how everybody is oohing and aahing at the bigger, splashier cards running around. Eternal Dragon is one of the best cards in the set – get them now, while people are too busy picking up the flashier cards to notice. This is quite possibly the best card for Five in the set – and if it’s not the best, it’s still top three material. Get some.
I think that Force Bubble has seriously strong potential. If I played a lot of control, I might playtest it and see. You hear set reviews say,”It’s either crap or pure gold and I’m not sure.” I’ve reviewed several sets of cards, and this is the first time you’ll have ever heard me say it: It’s either crap or pure gold. And I’m not sure.
I believe that I can say with authority that this card will see play. Red has more targeted removal that black, so it’s a probable play alongside its cousin. Long overdue.
Quite possibly the strongest storm card in the set for 5-Color. You can kill multiple attackers with a single swoop. Quite dangerous – yet it’s also very tame when you compare it to Swords to Plowshares. It doesn’t look like anything will ever replace the better white removal spells, though.
Individual Cards – Green:
Green has several overhyped cards. Forgotten Ancient, Upwelling, Ancient Ooze – none of these are as strong as some people would want you to believe. As such, the color is weaker than normal because of the hype. Pretty sad, but the best green card may end up being an enchant creature card for tribal decks.
This card simply asks one question. Are you playing a tribal deck? If so, why not play a Mythic Proportions for only three mana? (Well, except for that whole lack of trample bit, which is significant – The Ferrett) Since it includes all creatures in play, you can benefit off your opponent’s creatures. You don’t even need a major theme for it to work. Simply having a large selection of, say, zombies in a beatdown deck will give you a significant bonus off the Alpha Status.
A big beater post-Living Death. However, this is a very crowded area. There are a lot of cool reanimation cards. The Ooze, while admittedly big, might lose out when compared to tons of other cards.
The current crop of Disenchant effects yield card advantage – Dismantling Blow, Orim’s Thunder, and Hull Breach. This does not yield card advantage. However, it can be pitched if there are no targets. Maybe that makes it playable, although I don’t think so – not outside of cycling decks, anyway.
Probably not a legitimate contender. With all of the pitch lands, Land Grants, Lay of the Land, landcyclers, Krosan Tuskers, Fellwar Stones, and Tithes running around, I don’t think that there is a need for a temporary Pulse of Llanowar. Maybe I’m wrong.
I have to wonder about this guy. There are an awful lot of expensive creatures that have alternate uses. However, getting just a 1/1 body to get one of the big ones is probably not better than the instant Eladamri’s Call. So the Empath loses out.
Not forgotten at all, actually, since everybody wants some. Broken in multiplayer, but not in, say, duals – which is where the majority of Five play takes place. Hardly a great card; expect to see him for a while, before he goes the way of Utopia Tree.
One With Nature
I think this is too restricted a card to see major play. However, it has the potential to tax several lands out of your deck – and any spell with that sort of potential has to be taken seriously.
For no mana, you have a possible extra card every turn. Just like Rowen. Was Rowen so good that we wanted another with a similar ability? This works well with Sylvan Library and Future Sight – but of course, Abundance works better with the Library.
Being an instant allows it to take advantage of its Storm ability. Getting several lands is nice, but you can’t use it well until later in the game when multiple spells are played. By then, you will have lost to mana screw, or the lands are superfluous. It needs to cost another green mana and put the lands into play.
*Sigh* Everybody go ahead and wonder at the marvel that is… Oh… Wait. Upwelling might not have any major impact on 5-Color?
Yeah, I suppose that you’re right; Upwelling only gives you more of what you have, not other colors of mana. True – there are a lot of Disenchant effects running around because of the possibility of combo. Yeah – it does take a few turns to work well, thus giving your opponent a chance to find disruption. True – Abeyance would be a bad predecessor to Orim’s Thunder. All right; Upwelling will probably see play then, but only for as long as it takes for people to calm down and the hype to end.
Individual Cards – Red:
In this set, red is the color of big, splashy effects. As such, red suffers from the same overhyped issues as does green. However, red doesn’t even have the strength or depth that green has – and as such, it may be the worst color in the set.
Decree of Annihilation
Well, we actually have Armageddon and its variants in this format. If you want to play with a red ‘Geddon, you have Impending Disaster. However, this is instant, cantrip, uncounterable-by-anything-other-than-Stifle ‘Geddon – which is decent, and it may see occasional play.
I keep trying to figure out what combo players can do with seven new cards every turn. It’s not pretty. Dragon Mage may get more play because it can refill a hand than practically any other beater in the set.
I wish that people would stop talking about the Tyrant as if he is a reanimation target. Reanimation targets are things like Reya, Dawnbringer, Akroma, Angel of Wrath, and Scion of Darkness – not something with four red in its upkeep.
Form of the Dragon
Because it has a lot of useful abilities combined, people are playing with it. But Moat needs to cost much less than seven mana, three of it red, to shut down ground creatures. Too much mana means it takes too long, and you die. Dealing five per turn is pretty good, but not that good. And going down to five life places you in range of burn, although someone needs to do five in one turn to kill you. Intriguing, but expensive to play. It’s not even a good Academy Rector target, unlike Future Sight, which is another enchantment that costs three colored mana.
I can definitely see this card in the metagame. It really hurts 3-2-1 Contract, since most of their cards cost three mana or less. It forces them to find an answer now. Since it only costs two mana to play, you can get it out quite early – often on the first turn with Moxen assistance. However, while it fills a niche, it may not be worth the loss of a slot against other decks.
While Scattershot has the potential to do a bunch of damage or knock off a few creatures, it ends up not being all that good when you look at how limited a play it is. Even when it’s good, it’s not that good.
Possibly one of the better morphs from the block. After played as a morph, it can be a Fireblast for three damage. It offers good Arc Lightning removal as well. And it’s capable of swinging for three after it morphs. Not bad at all, but probably only gets played in a red-oriented deck.
Forsaken Wastes is better, and gets played on a regular basis. But if you need more in your deck, you now have another option.
Individual Cards – Black:
The problem with black is that it lacks the cards with real power. However, it is a very deep color with a lot of good cards. While I doubt that cards like Bladewing’s Thrall, Call to the Grave, Clutch of Undeath, and Putrid Raptor will see much play, each is a very solid card. As such, while not good at the top, black may be one of the better colors of the set. Black also has an overhyped card in the Zombie Cutthroat.
Like an inverted Fevered Convulsions. Of course, Fevered Convulsions was a bit mana-hungry; so is the Goo.
Decree of Pain
Wrath of God, meet Dregs of Sorrow; Opportunity, meet Insta-Infest. Interesting, and may be among the most playable cards in the set in 5-Color.
Reaping the Graves
Possibly a better storm card than most. However, unlike many other storm cards with a powerful effect, this one is instant, and that’s pretty good. Very few Raise Dead variants are instants. That’s definitely a strong point for this new entrant. May get pushed out by other recursion spells, however.
Tendrils of Agony
With one spell played, a Soul Feast. Any more makes it a pretty impressive life swing. Having Tendrils as a sorcery probably keeps it from being broken too easily… But it might be a card worth trying out.
Although the tempo games that our friendly Zombie can play are interesting, I can’t help but wonder at it’s best ability – to be a 3/4 for 3 colorless mana. Still, for three mana, I can get Phyrexian War Beast or Serendib Efreet – both 3/4s, and without the five life price tag. Phyrexian War Beast even costs three colorless mana, so it is a very analogous card to the Cutthroat.
Individual Cards – Blue:
Ah, blue. One of the best storm cards in the set, Brain Freeze, is a very bad choice for most 5-Color decks. It’d probably help your opponent more than hurt him. Even a mighty decking machine like Raven Guild Master won’t do much against a 5-Color deck. Nevertheless, there are several intriguing cards, and I have to give it the title of Best Color in the Set.
Day of the Dragons
Another flashy card that might have some power. In a small beatdown deck that’s predominately blue (like, say, fish), it will turn those little Merfolk into massive beating machines. Although expensive, a deck can meet the triple blue requirement if it already shifted its mana base to accommodate cards like Future Sight and Arcanis the Omnipotent.
Decree of Silence
Most people claim that Decree of Silence is pretty bad, but there are a small number of people who really like its ability. While it is an intriguing Rector target, I have to agree with the masses on this one; it’s just not that good of a card.
Has there been a creature kill spell in blue this good since Psionic Blast? Your creature is locked down… And if it takes damage? Well, no more creature. Definitely a very strong card for blue. And it can take out any creature, regardless of color. However, it still plays second fiddle to creature kill like Swords to Plowshares and Expunge.
I have a very simple question – how bad must a tutor be before it can’t be restricted? Not a tutor that can only get specific cards, of course; Goblin Matron is not restricted, because it only gets goblins. I mean a card that can get anything. Gamble is restricted. Diabolic Intent is restricted. Insidious Dreams is banned. Is this bad enough to warrant play in four copies, or is it also going the way of other tutors? One way or the other, expect to see it played.
The sheer number of combo ideas that this card has generated boggles my mind and I have to expect some of them to migrate to 5-Color.
Another in the line of combo-oriented cards, I think that this one is less of a big deal. However, the Quanar will get played because it has potential to be more than simply cute.
It mirrors the recently-unrestricted Mangara’s Tome. However, unlike the Tome, it requires no additional usage of mana. Also unlike the Tome, you can’t choose the order of the cards. So the question will have to be whether or not to restrict our new enchantment. Personally, I am on the fence right now; I see how a Contract in hand turns this into a tutor for seven cards. That’s pretty good, but I need to play with it for a while to find out how broken it is.
If all the Aura did was turn a creature into a Morphling, I’d wonder what the big deal was. We can play with the original, after all. But, it can also be used as creature kill, and that makes for a versatile enchant creature. Thirdly, it can fuel a combo engine a la Horseshoe Crab. Ergo, it may find a home somewhere.
Rush of Knowledge
You’ll certainly draw some cards; how many is up to what you play. Most decks will rarely draw more than four, but there are decks out there with higher casting cost creatures. Reanimation decks with Akroma, Hypnox, Draco, and Teeka’s Dragon may have an interesting new card to play with.
Because it does something that has never been done before, it deserves a little play. It’s also pretty cheap. With the large number of applications available, I’d be surprised if somebody didn’t play it. It may develop into a staple like Counterspell. R&D has once said that they use the short and simple names for cards that may get reprinted someday in the basic set. I’ll let you decide what the application is here….
So, folks, get to that Scourge. The set looks like a lot more fun than Legions – and I am sure that it will have a greater impact on Five!