Why Nobody Loves Scarwood Bandits But Me

Scarwood Bandits isn’t a bad card from The Dark… But it was never good enough to be used in tourney play, like Ball Lightning was, and never was bad enough to be broken by crazed deckbuilders, like Sorrow’s Path. It doesn’t fit a theme, like Grandmother Sengir. It’s just… Lost.

Everybody has a reason why they play Magic. For some people, Magic is about competition. Maybe it’s about vanquishing their opponent through a huge creature, or maybe it’s about winning the as much as possible, regardless of methodology. Some players want to break powerful cards, while others view the weakest cards as a deckbuilding challenge. Some people use Magic as a social glue, playing multiplayer and casual formats to just have fun and be with friends; Limited, Type 2, Extended, and Type 1 each have their adherents proclaiming that one format is the best.

And I admit that I like winning. And I like casual play. And I love drafting a deck. But I don’t play Magic for any of those reasons.

I play it for Scarwood Bandits.

When Extended rotated The Dark, Fallen Empires, 4th Edition and Chronicles out, I felt a great sadness. Many power cards were leaving, which I fully supported, and the environment was changing – which was okay, since I think Extended can be awfully stagnant at times. (Not any more – The Ferrett) Instead, what I took issue with was the loss of Scarwood Bandits and all of its friends from Magic altogether. Scarwood Bandits is emblematic of many cards that have fallen through the Cracks of Magic.

I would not be surprised, by the way, if you need to look up what Scarwood Bandits does, so I’ll just go ahead and put it here:

Scarwood Bandits


Creature – Bandit



2G,{Tap}: Unless target artifact’s controller pays 2, gain control of that artifact as long as this is in play.

The problem is that Scarwood Bandits appeals to practically no one. Casual players might find space for Grandmother Sengir in a Legend or Vampire deck. Players who build decks around bad cards will focus on some of The Dark’s more infamous members, king of which is Sorrow’s Path. In what casual deck do the Bandits go in? There are only three total Scarwood cards in Magic, so you can’t even build that. And, it’s not like the Bandits saw their heyday once, because I can honestly say that I have never seen one person play with the card since it came out. Except for me.

Scarwood Bandits has been relegated to the backwater of sanctioned Magic – Type 1.5. Only about twenty or so creatures total appear in competitive decks in Type 1, and maybe another thirty creatures do temp jobs. It doesn’t take reading Oscar Tan You CAN Play Type One series to tell us that the Bandits are not Type One material. Therefore, only 1.5 offers the Bandits sanctuary.

And it’s not like the Bandits suck or anything; I have loved them in multiplayer, where they can force opponents to keep mana open or lose their trinkets. They can assault your opponent for two every time if that person has Forests. Overall, Scarwood Bandits never makes anybody’s top anything list, always being one of many nondescript cards at the back of the binder.

I guess I identify with the Bandits. Therefore I have taken up their cause. When was the last time you have played the Bandits? Or when was the last time you have seen Scarwood Bandits in a deck? Heck, when was the last time you even saw Scarwood Bandits?

When was the last time you read an article on Scarwood Bandits?


The secret is that Scarwood Bandits are not alone. While I think it is safe to say that the Bandits have never seen serious play anywhere, nor much casual play, this Green Forestwalker has also never been honored with a”worst of” epitaph, either. Instead of being a skill tester, it is simply the card you open in your The Dark pack and say,”What the hell?”

From just The Dark alone, there are cards like Worms of the Earth, Season of the Witch, With Hunter, Whippoorwill, Tracker, The Fallen, Scarecrow, Necropolis, Reflecting Mirror, Psychic Allergy, Niall Silvain, Miracle Worker, Savean Elves, Mana Vortex, Lurker, Knights of Thorn, Grave Robbers, Frankenstein’s Monster, Curse Artifact, and City of Shadows. Each of these cards was never played, except maybe casually right after The Dark came out. But unlike Sorrow’s Path or Standing Stones or Fire and Brimstone, the cards above were never so bad as to warrant mention. Each of the above cards has some use, and many are the only card to exist that does its particular task.

Someday, I have to build an all-The Dark deck. Just for nostalgia.

There are cards in other sets too, of course. Each set has its own Scarwood Bandits. From Haunting Wind to Possessed Nomad, there are a lot of these cards out there.

I remember once playing a multi-player game and I pulled out a deck that had four maindeck Antiquities Energy Fluxes, and no artifacts. I absolutely crushed the table, many of whom were relying on artifacts to fix mana, draw cards, as creatures, and so forth. The following week when we played, three of us were packing a full set of Energy Fluxes.

And that is why I play Magic. In order that I might play a card and have players closely scrutinize it – and then after reading it, ask,”Where can I get some of those?”

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