First off, I just wanted to thank everyone for the awesome feedback on my last article, The Legend of Chuck. We had some great discussions on the Star City Forums thread and I appreciated those who took the time to chime in. Thanks, guys! I will definitely be posting more group game-related stuff from now on, since obviously there are plenty of fans of the more casual formats.
Now onto more tournament-minded stuff…
This past weekend brought us the very first major tournament featuring Scourge in the mix for Onslaught block – and those of us who are going to be slogging it out at the PTQs for New Orleans turned an eager eye towards Grand Prix: Detroit in the hopes of learning more about how the metagame is shaping up in the real world.
As a quick aside – what’s the deal with the Sideboard sending one gentleman to cover this pivotal event? Sure, Josh Bennett is a One-Man Crowd and did pretty amazing work for a One-Man Show… But to skimp on coverage for an event as important as this is pretty unforgivable. Thank God StarCityGames chose to cover this event in-depth – and boy, did they do a good job! Again, this is not Bennett’s fault in the least, but Thomas Pannell should really be embarrassed at the disparity.
While I imagine the top decks from Detroit will be dissected and analyzed in depth, I decided to zero in on how Scourge has While I imagine the top decks from Detroit will be dissected and analyzed in depth, I decided to zero in on how impacted the metagame. I compiled all of the cards used in the Day 2 decklists to see what Scourge cards had the most impact. We’ll start with the Top 10:
#1: SILVER KNIGHT
98 copies were played in 26 different decks, it’s pretty obvious why this superstar saw play. I playtested Goblins at my shop this weekend, and the only games I lost were when an opponent dropped a turn 2 Silver Knight. Not only is this guy a great Goblin-killer who laughs off Shock and Threaten, but he thrives in decks that also pack red for Starstorm and Slice and Dice, making his first strike ability even better. There are many reasons Bob Maher Jr. ended up winning Grand Prix: Detroit, and Silver Knights are four of them.
#2: WING SHARDS
Nipping close on the heels of the new Knight on the block is arguably the best white removal to be printed since Swords to Plowshares and Wrath of God. 97 copies of Wing Shards showed up in a whopping thirty decks in day 2. While some or all copies sometimes occupy the sideboard, rarely are maindeck Shards a bad idea in a format full of fierce creatures entering the Red Zone. Many popular creatures have Haste – an ability that plays right into Shards’ strength.
#3: GOBLIN WARCHIEF
The raw power of this little fella ties directly to the success of the #1 and #2 cards on this list. Ninety-six copies of this card showed up in twenty-four decks, showing that if you were throwing a Goblin party you wanted four copies of the Warchief for maximum fun. A pivotal card that can enable turn 3 kills in goblin decks, the Warchief defines the speed of this format. You either pack plenty of early removal in your deck or don’t bother to show up.
#4: SIEGE-GANG COMMANDER
A Deranged Hermit for Goblins? Sign me up! 93 copies of Siege-Gang commander showed up in twenty-five decks. While many initially dismissed the quality of this card, Skirk Prospector and Warchief allow this guy to come out early enough to overwhelm an opponent, while at the same time being a fantastic late-game topdeck.
#5: TEMPLE OF THE FALSE GOD
Another sleeper hit from Scourge, it seems so obvious now in hindsight, a land that enables your six-mana bombs to start hitting on turn 5 is All Good. The trick is playing enough other lands to not get Temple-screwed, but how many Temples is optimal? With ninety-one copies being played in twenty-nine different decks, I’d say three seem to be the right number.
#6: ETERNAL DRAGON
I find it interesting that the very best landcycler creature went to white instead of green… And it’s most certainly not a weenie. I don’t begrudge white getting this card, as it’s certainly been lacking in quality tournament cards lately; it just seems a little out of whack flavor-wise. At any rate, with ninety-one copies showing up in twenty-seven decks, this incredibly powerful and useful card has quickly caught on whether it was put to use in Slide, MWC or other white-based control decks.
#7: SULFURIC VORTEX
Mostly used as a sideboard card in goblin decks to face down lifegain, eighty-seven copies in twenty-three decks is a pretty strong showing. While some of the pros are skeptical about this strategy (advocating larger fat creatures instead), there’s no doubt that it’s powerful enough to still win.
#8: DECREE OF JUSTICE
Nearly all the Decrees are obscenely powerful if you can muster the mana, but it makes sense that the Justice would come out on top. With sixty-four copies in twenty-six decks, Decree was a natural fit in cycling-hungry Slide and other mana-ramping decks. Temple of the False God brings this card online much faster.
Obvious hate for the Pro Tour: Venice-winning deck, fifty-seven copies of Stabilizer made it into eighteen decks. The hoser card just couldn’t keep a good deck down, though, with three Slide decks making it into the top 8 of Detroit.
#10: SPARK SPRAY
In his Scourge review, Zvi advocated this card as a great one-mana cycler… And players took his advice to heart. Fifty-five copies showed up in fourteen decks, including Slide and the mono-red Bad Form deck.
These cards showed up in fewer numbers – but being in decks that made Day 2 proves they are also solid Scourge additions:
Arguably the second-best of the landcycler creatures, I was a bit surprised that relatively few decks sporting Twisted Abomination made it to Day 2 since Zombies seem like they have the tools to really rock the block.
One of the most-hyped cards from Scourge, Dawn Elemental’s casting cost forces you into a hard choice: You have to go monowhite to use it, thus forsaking the power that other colors could give you.
A relative newcomer to the tech block, Decree of Pain is a staple of the B/W control decks popping up lately. I expect this card to rise some in popularity as B/W gets more refined.
Slide decks flirted with Decree of Annihilation in the sideboard, and Grand Prix: Detroit runner-up Eugene Harvey tossed one into his maindeck. In a mana-hungry environment, an instant Armageddon effect has the potential to be downright busted.
Alex Shvartsman piloted his Mono-red Control deck,”Bad Form” to a top 8 performance, with the powerful but dangerous Form of the Dragon playing a lynchpin role. If his deck catches on, expect this card to rise in profile.
Apparently, Scourge’s red and white cards were powerful enough to chase green right out of the format. A few brave souls tried to harness the power of surprise by playing blue. Black isn’t going down without a fight. Detroit has certainly turned this metagame on its ear; it will be interesting to see how the PTQ season progresses!