You CAN Play Type I #91: Sifting Through Scourge, Part III – Creatures

Yes, we saw a handful of Legions cards in noncompetitive play and especially in theme decks. However, Carl Devos, a.k.a. Professor X, the Belgium chapter of the Paragons, is the only Type I player on the planet happy with the set, having used a few Morph triggers in his Vengeur Masque. (Apparently, some people see the silver lining in anything.) Anyway, Scourge is probably a more exciting set as third sets are wont to be

As far as stack boo-boo stories go, I’ve accumulated a few playing against the new Academy Rector-supported Trix (Illusions of Grandeur/Donate), or Rector-Trix for short. This was a relatively new deck that came up during the rise of Growing ‘Tog, and one you should have encountered in the past weeks. To the best of my knowledge, it was developed and publicized by Max Joseph a.k.a. Westerdale a couple of months back.

Cabal Therapy doesn’t look as strong as Duress, but I missed one key interaction: It was the missing link Academy Rector-based decks were looking for. It replaced less-than-useful maindeck Rector-sacrifice tools like Phyrexian Tower and Claws of Gix. With a first-turn Therapy ready in the graveyard, this new combo is very difficult to stop unless you can keep a counter in hand for the Rector itself.

Unfortunately for control players, the four-mana Rector brings the deck closer to the original Type I Trix with unrestricted Necropotence. The key enchantments in the deck, to be sure, are not the Illusions, but Necropotence and Yawgmoth’s Bargain. If the deck tutors for an early Necropotence, it can be hard to stop the Therapies and Duress that clear the way. Rector for Bargain is a win right there as well – and note that the life gain from Illusions makes aggro attacks on the life total tougher than it looks.

I had one unfortunate game against a Turn 1 Necropotence, and my opponent played out land after land, waiting to hit four mana for Illusions (then pay the upkeep, go up to five, and cast Donate). An early Duress revealed an impotent hand after fighting over the Necro, so he confidently cast his Illusions on Turn 4.

I could almost picture the look on his face when I said,”Resolves.”

I could picture the look on his face when I immediately added,”Life gain on the stack.”

To any Type I player who played Trix back in 1999, those words mean only one thing and he knew it. The 2003 version has me using my own four mana for Cunning Wish and then Red Elemental Blast, stacking the life loss on top of Illusions’ life gain, winning the unwinnable game.

I had my own boo-boos as well, though. Not having played against Trix in years, I was a bit rusty, and a bit too confident in Swords to Plowshares, which doesn’t send Rector to the graveyard.

My opponent cast a Rector and, seeing only mana producers on his end of the board, I confidently let it resolve. What I forgot, though, were the two Therapies already in the graveyard, and I wouldn’t receive priority before he could cast one and turn Rector into Yawgmoth’s Bargain.

Fortunately for me, that happened only once, and I had fun responding to Rector with Cunning Wish for Ebony Charm, then killing it with Swords to Plowshares. I even”countered” an early Yawgmoth’s Will with only Cunning Wish in hand that way, too.

Again, this resurrection is fairly new, but you’d be interested to know that 2001 World Champion Tom Van de Logt won the most recent Eindhoven tournament with it, muscling past Growing ‘Tog and”The Deck”:

Rector-Trix, Tom Van de Logt, Champion, May 25, 2003 Eindhoven, from Morphling.de

Black (12)

4 Cabal Therapy

3 Duress

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Necropotence

1 Yawgmoth’s Bargain

Blue (16)

4 Illusions of Grandeur

2 Donate

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Time Walk

3 Brainstorm

4 Force of Will

1 Rushing River

White (4)

4 Academy Rector

Mana (29)

4 Dark Ritual

1 Black Lotus

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Pearl

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Diamond

1 Lotus Petal

1 Sol Ring

1 Mana Crypt

1 Mana Vault

1 Tolarian Academy

4 Gemstone Mine

4 Flooded Strand

3 Underground Sea

2 Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrubland[/author]

Sideboard (15)

1 Balance

1 Timetwister

1 Mind Twist

1 Abeyance

1 Duress

2 Blue Elemental Blast

2 Hurkyl’s Recall

4 Phyrexian Negator

2 Seal of Cleansing

Keep an eye out for it and the stack tricks. Also note that you have to alter your anti-combo strategy for it; Red Elemental Blast is less useful, for example, despite the significant blue component.

Sifting Through Scourge: Creatures

We experienced a motherlode of Type I tech thanks to Legions and its creatures, so I’m sure you’ve been eagerly awaiting the Scourge review.

Yes, we saw a handful of Legions cards in noncompetitive play and especially in theme decks. However, Carl Devos, a.k.a. Professor X, the Belgium chapter of the Paragons, is the only Type I player on the planet happy with the set, having used a few Morph triggers in his Vengeur Masque. (Apparently, some people see the silver lining in anything.)

Anyway, Scourge is probably a more exciting set as third sets are wont to be. As usual, we go back to our two rules:

  • Is the card more efficient than an established benchmark? (Or, do I get more bang from my buck?)

  • Does the card do something no past card ever did – and if it does, is this new card playable?

And as discussed in past reviews, creatures usually go through Rule #1.

Silver Knight

It’s a late parallel to Black Knight, but its predecessor is past its prime, anyway. Black Knight would still be better since it slips past The Abyss and might hold off a Psychatog or Nantuko Shade for a couple of crucial turns. Silver Knight might stall a red deck’s 2/1s, but those usually come with Cursed Scroll. You might keep this in mind for certain store metagames, but otherwise, it’s better noted as one of the few cheap but powerful creatures in the entire expansion.

Zealous Inquisitor

Just noting that this is a watered-down reprint of Visions’ Zhalfirin Crusader, so you can use that unless you need a Cleric.

Dawn Elemental

Beginners might get attracted to the ability, considering it’s a better Cho-Manno, Revolutionary as long as the creature type is irrelevant. Still, it doesn’t deal damage very well for a four-mana play, and is killed by every non-Bolt spell out there. Morphling will come with The Abyss, and Phyrexian Dreadnought and Psychatog will come with Trample, and so on. It might be fun with Pariah, but don’t waste money on this unless you know you’re just looking for kicks (that went for almost every new white creature out there, anyway).

Xantid Swarm

Some players may be attracted to this, as a cheap City of Solitude effect. I just note that, among other things, Pygmy Hippo hasn’t been used since ProsBloom (based around Squandered Resources, Natural Balance, and Cadaverous Bloom) mirror matches in 1997 Type II.

If your combo deck can make the early green, sure, test it over the City or Defense Grid. Just note that an intelligent control player will keep some way to remove creatures handy, hedging against sideboarded a Phyrexian Negator or Call of the Herd.

Raven Guild Master

This has a very scary effect, but Rootwater Thief is more dangerous to the decks most vulnerable to it. The original Mike Long flies, its ability kicks in crucial turns earlier, and it’s on better terms with Lord of Atlantis.

Undead Warchief

This is an interesting twist on the old”Lord” cards, since it gives a bonus other than +1/+1. Although the”Costs one colorless mana less to play” ability is not very useful on a four-mana play, a three-power creature that doubles the power of all other Zombies might make for an interesting theme deck. With this ability, you might slap together a decent creature base with Sarcomancy, Carnophage, Crypt Creeper, Wretched Anurid and Rotting Giant as the foundation, plus one of the gold 2/2s from Invasion Block (Putrid Warrior, Vodalian Zombie, Shivan Zombie, and Llanowar Dead). You have others available from Graveborn Muse to Phyrexian Scuta, and even Feast or Famine gets a lot better.

Daru Warchief looks weaker, though.

Cabal Interrogator

This living Disrupting Scepter might be something to add to your Zombie theme deck as another trick.

Carrion Feeder

A rare black one-drop you might use in a Zombie creature base since an opponent’s removal spell turns it into a pain-free Carnophage.

Soul Collector

Old hands will see this as an improved Krovikan Vampire, and that theme deck is amusing with Arena.

Dragon Mage

I’m not very sure why they put Wheel of Fortune onto this much bigger Shocker. The original spell is something that you want to time very carefully, and it worked best with cheap spells so you could Wheel and restock your hand while your opponent didn’t gain much. It makes you reminisce, but you don’t want to help your opponent draw a solution to a 5/5 flier, do you?

And to continue the segue about the much-hyped dragons, Wayne Alward must be ecstatic that they actually used Double Strike in Scourge. Maybe the mechanic won’t sink as deep into obscurity as Banding and Rampage if they just made Dragon Tyrant a better reanimation target. Too bad; it’s a non-Psychatog method cool enough to deal twenty damage all by itself in one blow.

Siege-Gang Commander

The best decks with Goblin Lackey are those that don’t make the creature base more erratic by adding high-cost Goblins, like those centered around Goblin Piledriver instead. Still, if you want to go that route and Goblin Mutants look boring to you, Siege-Gang Commander may be a better Goblin Marshal for you.

Goblin Warchief doesn’t boost power and is no Suq’Ata Lancer or Ball Lightning, but you might find it cute in this sort of deck, too.

Goblin Brigand

In case you’re asking, this is strictly worse than Goblin Piledriver, Mogg Flunkies, and even Goblin Raider in the two-slot of a Goblin deck. Not being able to block is better than getting suckered into a defensive creature before you can bring in some friends to alpha strike and swamp the blocker.

Rock Jockey

I noted this here because it’s a very interesting drawback. If you can’t visualize it and are not that familiar with Sligh-type decks, consider that the drawback simply slows your development and defeats the purpose of a three-mana 3/3 in the first place.

Ambush Commander

Everyone likes a good Elf theme deck and this may be interesting in a theme deck with Skyshroud Poacher, or one with a lot of Elves and Coat of Arms. Onslaught Block, I must note, did a lot for Elves, and I’ve seem some colorful updated Elf themes in local card stores, with Rofellos and Llanowar Sentinel getting a bunch of new friends.

Ancient Ooze

Just noting that this is a very interesting, if overcosted, rehash of the old Keldon Warlord.

Krosan Drover

In case you didn’t read the first Back to Basics article cautioning you on high mana costs, your creatures should cost at most as much as Krosan Drover, unless you have a very, very good reason.

Note this is same the reason why Timmy, Power Gamer – oops, Elvish Piper – is weak.

Fierce Empath

If you’re a newer player checking this out for your casual green deck, let me direct you to the venerable Natural Order.

Coast Watcher

This might interest some who remember Freewind Falcon and Duskrider Falcon. Outside Bird decks and very casual environments, though, Protection from Green doesn’t edge out the few blue two-power creatures, and abilities from Cloud of Faeries to Coral Fighters.

Trap Digger

Well, Heavy Ballista this isn’t, but they sure made it interesting! They made it rare, too.

Mischievous Quanar

This doesn’t look like a terribly powerful card in Type I, but the ability is something you’d just love to put beside Vesuvan Doppelganger in less competitive pursuits. I was thinking of going to the Sunday Prerelease (though they were in pretty far malls) just to see local judge DJ Paculio handle rules questions on this one (and watch someone keep track of them Trap counters).

Scornful Egotist

A lot of players laughed at this one, but a college friend, Ted Suaco, actually loved it after his prerelease run. Scourge has a bunch of effects that look for the highest-costed permanent you have, such as Rush of Knowledge. This doesn’t make it good for Type I, but I thought I’d note for the people (like me) who were too lazy to go to the Prerelease that this doesn’t reflect on R&D’s present smoking habits.

Sliver Overlord

The king has one creature type over the Sliver Queen, being a whopping”Sliver Mutant Legend.” The Queen’s Sliver creation is probably the stronger ability, though, and that can be used outside Sliver decks, such as in Reanimator decks, where it generates its own chump blockers. The King’s ability isn’t very useful with Survival of the Fittest available if you want the ability. Besides, you want a 7/7 to clean house, not call for help.

Sifting through Scourge: Creature Enchantments

If we have trouble looking for strong creatures, creature enchantments have to go through the eye of the needle. That’s because they allow your opponent to kill two of your cards for just one of theirs. Moreover, creature enchantments forcibly replace crucial creature slots, and since you still need a lot of creature slots so you can have targets for the enchantments, there’s rarely room.

Dragon Breath

Since Rancor is one of the few playable creature enchantments in Type I, you’d think these Dragon imitations would merit a look.

Haste is probably the ability you’d look at for fat, but having six-mana creatures is a hard condition to work with. The only decks that might have them are German Tools ‘n’ Tubbies (Triskelion) and miscellaneous Reanimator decks. Both are capable of putting Anger into the graveyard, and that improves non-fat like Goblin Welder as well.

Guilty Conscience

This little common will catch old-school players’ eye because it’s a twist on the venerable Spirit Link.

If it did more than catch your eye, though, note that Spirit Link and Pariah are more flexible in enchantment-based decks like Deck Parfait. (Outside enchantment-based decks, you’d be looking for other things to go with Swords to Plowshares.)

Well, that’s it for this week. I just began class again, so Magic is on the backburner while my brain makes the transition from vacation mode.

Incidentally, faithful readers might note that”You CAN Play Type I” is approaching its hundredth column, if you count the four Back to Basics and the Control Player’s Bible subseries.

I’d simply like to ask what readers want to make that one special. Some might want a particular match analysis or strategy discourse, but I imagine a lot more may want it a bit more personal.

For example, should I write about the international circle I correspond with?

Give a glimpse of my personal life outside Magic, noting the recent articles with the words”Magic players” and”anti-social”?

Post a photo of my dog?

Kindly post your thoughts on this forum thread.

Oscar Tan

rakso on #BDChat on EFNet

University of the Philippines, College of Law

Forum Administrator, Star City Games

Featured Writer, Star City Games

Author of the Control Player’s Bible

Maintainer, Beyond Dominia (R.I.P.)

Proud member of the Casual Player’s Alliance