You CAN Play Type I #94: Sifting Through Scourge, Part IV – Enchantments and Artifacts

When the Scourge spoilers first came out, people took a look at two cards. Mind’s Desire was the first (and with good reason, if you caught Part II of this series), and Parallel Thoughts was the second. I thought too many people misread Parallel Thoughts, though. Again, if I’m talking about five mana, then I want something as gamebreaking as Morphling or Memory Jar – and many bombs cost less.

Humor from all over

At the risk of getting linked by the StarCityGames Forums’ “You know you’ve been playing too much Magic when…” thread, here are a few lines that were just too good to pass up:

(overheard on TheManaDrain.com)

Rakso:”Dear lord. I just realized that if they print a commemorative Type I proxy deck… They will all be in 8th Edition layout!!!”

Urza’s Child:”Oh God, you’re right… Maybe they’ll be nice to Type One and print it as normal; I mean, if they’re gold-bordered, the decks that win wont be using the new layout, and you can’t play with them, so maybe they’ll use the old printing one last time.

“/me prays”

theBruce:”Now, there’s a dilemma… Gold-bordered I can tolerate, but that hideous 8th edition layout…that’s really pushing it… Heck, I’d probably just shell out the grand for real power at that point.”

(overheard on Star City Forums)

You know you’ve been playing too much Magic if…

Cybercow22: Real life experience of a friend: Your first words to your girlfriend upon waking up are”Play or Draw?”

(overheard on #morphling.de, on EFNet IRC)

Roland Bode and Stefan Iwasienko, a.k.a. Womprax, were discussing how the Top 8 of the last Dülmen featured Frank Ritter’s Goblin Sligh, with Goblin War Buggy (I am not making this up) backing up Goblin Piledriver.

The funniest thread, though, was brought to my attention by randomly browsing Germans. The current decklist for Invincible CounterTroll (ICT) surfaced on, of all places, the MagicTraders forum:

ICT, Roy”Random-Miser” Spires, June 2003

4 Sedge Troll

4 Ophidian

4 Mana Drain

3 Chainer’s Edict OR Lightning Bolt

3 Nevinyrral’s Disk

3 Mana Leak

2 Misdirection

1 Force of Will

1 Fact or Fiction

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Time Walk

1 Timetwister

1 Tinker

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Mind Twist

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Memory Jar

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Emerald OR Mox Pearl

1 Black Lotus

1 Sol Ring

1 Mana Vault

1 Library Of Alexandria

1 Strip Mine

4 Mishra’s Factory

2 Island

3 Badlands

4 Underground Sea

4 Volcanic Island

2 Polluted Delta


4 Blood Moon

3 Shattering Pulse

2 Jester’s Cap

3 Masticore

3 Planar Void

Now, Darren Di Battista and I can push through with that planned Suck Netdecks tournament, to finally decide whether Sedge Troll or Noble Panther is the truly broken Type I creature.

Sifting through Scourge: Enchantments

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?

As mentioned in past articles, you usually just look at the power-to-mana ratio of creatures and mainly apply #1. Enchantments, however, usually try to do something new or something old in a new way, and we move to #2. Take note that Onslaught had a number of interesting picks, from Future Sight to Enchantress’s Presence and a few potential friends.

Parallel Thoughts

When the Scourge spoilers first came out, people took a look at two cards. Mind’s Desire was the first (and with good reason, if you caught Part II of this series), and Parallel Thoughts was the second. I thought too many people misread Parallel Thoughts, though.

Again, if I’m talking about five mana, then I want something as gamebreaking as Morphling or Memory Jar – and many bombs cost less. Now, admitted, stacking your next seven draws sounds terribly gamebreaking, but you have to look more closely.

Tutoring is good, but you normally want your tutors to cost less than the cards, which is why Demonic Consultation is incredible but Diabolic Tutor is iffy. You might tell me, again, that this is like seven Vampiric Tutors in a bargain pack, so we go to the next point.

Stacking your library is also good, but some manipulation cards are better than others. Brainstorm results in no loss in card advantage, while Sylvan Library can actually let you draw. Some more obscure cards result in a loss of card advantage, though, like Ancestral Knowledge and Lim-Dul’s Vault, which is why you see them used less.

Parallel Thoughts is in the second category, and while you’ve tutored seven times, you’re forced to topdeck your picks for seven turns, something all the more laborious when you’ve already had to get a five-mana enchantment into play.

For all that effort, it’s better to just draw cards without being too picky. Some people proposed Academy Rector, but that only underlines the point: Why bother with any other enchantment when Yawgmoth’s Bargain is there?

Pyrostatic Pillar

This is another enchantment that looks very interesting at first glance, and I got a good number of e-mails about it. The first thought that entered my mind, though, was that it can’t possibly be good because the original Spellshock hasn’t exactly seen heavy use.

You might think that Pillar is best in Type I, where the large card pool means the most efficient spells are so cheap. First, however, the symmetric damage makes this useful only against control and combo. Second, a number of spells in these decks do cost more than three, such as Force of Will.

While it will deal damage, the simplest argument against Pillar is that Scald is just more effective, other alternatives aside.

I did get a casual test run in with the Morphling.de crew. Stefan Iwasienko, a.k.a. Womprax, slipped four Pillars into his sideboard. Hilariously enough, I even won one game where I matched his Pillar with my Circle of Protection: Red and, later, a Morphling. Guess who took more damage?

After the laughs died down, Oliver Daems suggested trying it against combo. While you can fantasize about having this in play against a Hurkyl’s Recall-based deck, consider they can play draw and take a few hits, then find a Rushing River or Seal of Cleansing before going off.

Sulfuric Vortex

This is another symmetric card some players took a hard look at. I’ll critique it along the same lines: If Pyrostatic Pillar is Spellshock, Sulfuric Vortex is Forsaken Wastes.

I still think the classic Wastes are better, even though Vortex deals more damage, assuming you’d need either.

First, Forsaken Wastes is the splashable card. Only decks with heavy red can run Vortex, but I doubt these need them with the available selection, and with built-in Gorilla Shaman or Goblin Vandal against Zuran Orb.

Second, Forsaken Wastes is an Enchant World, meaning it kills The Abyss.

Third, Forsaken Wastes is life loss that cannot be prevented by Story Circle and Circle of Protection: Red.

Finally, the built-in protection when you try to destroy Forsaken Wastes is just too amusing.


Yet another card that received tremendous early hype.

But let’s tear the ability apart. Upwelling lets you use more mana than usual, but it doesn’t generate any of it.

Follow my train of thought: If you actually need more mana than you can play in a turn, you’re probably putting some powerful combo deck together. However, not only do these generate loads of mana, they’re also perfectly capable of pouring them into a kill that same turn.

This is a wasted slot in the same way that Library of Leng is a wasted slot in a control deck with a powerful draw engine. It doesn’t help you win, just”win more,” at best.

Call to the Grave

This doesn’t quite substitute for The Abyss, but it’s a fair twist. I’ve noted in past reviews that the Zombie bench has greatly increased in depth, and you can make a number of interesting theme decks. This is yet another addition.

Note, incidentally, that the wording of Call to the Grave is quite different from that of The Abyss. In simple terms, this kills Morphlings.

Force Bubble

This is a curious card, but anyone familiar with the old Soul Echo or even Worship would think about it a bit. At first glance, it seems to prevent up to three damage per turn, but goes to the graveyard the moment you hit four or higher.

The twist is that it prevents all damage dealt to you by one source before it goes, and it doesn’t technically”prevent,” meaning a handful of things like Urza’s Rage don’t work. It might sound cool to negate a Rage with kicker, Phyrexian Dreadnought or Psychatog for one turn, or a massive Fireball, but many opponents won’t deal that sort of massive damage in one blow (though I admit it would be fun).

The funkiest way to use this seems to be to pair it with bounce or some other stack tricks to reuse it, reminiscent of Nevinyrral’s Disk/Reality Ripple. It sounds far more cumbersome and inflexible compared to other methods such as Pariah and en-Kors, though, so I doubt even casual decks will really have fun with it.

Decree of Silence

R&D normally pads a card’s mana cost by two if they make it cantrip, and then another two if they make it uncounterable. Thus, the main ability is fairly costed. That said, if you spend six mana to counter a card, you’d probably be on the losing end of the deal in most cases, and that’s assuming a cheaper threat hasn’t slipped past in the meantime.

You probably know it’s too expensive and that the Hesitation-on-steroids enchantment isn’t that hot, either… But uncounterability can be attractive and it helps to take a more critical look.

I suppose you might build some casual deck that can recycle the enchantment or reset the counters, but you’d have to be even more evil and sadistic than the usual blue mage.

Day of the Dragons

Just checking.

Faces of the Past

Some people will be reminded of old Intruder Alarm-based combos. This one interacts with the graveyard, though, and has an additional tribal restriction, so it demands a bit more creativity for theme play.

Grip of Chaos

If anyone can put together a halfway decent deck that wins with this, I am seriously interested. I can imagine it’s potent in a format like Reject Rare Draft.

Form of the Dragon

Just checking again.

Primitive Etchings

Call of the Wild wasn’t exactly hot in its day, and green draw spells aren’t ever going to come close to Survival of the Fittest.

Unspeakable Symbol

Despite Bennie Smith best efforts, I just don’t see this as the Scourge card with the funkiest options for less competitive pursuits. Heh… Kidding, Bennie.

Sifting through Scourge: Artifacts

R&D learned to tone down the artifacts since Masticore and Memory Jar were printed, so we don’t expect too much from this category these days.

Ark of Blight

This is arguably the most interesting of the three artifacts in the set, right? I think it’s a good test of your understanding of certain fundamental concepts.

Ark of Blight is essentially a knockoff of Strip Mine. Compared to the original, you pay five mana instead of losing a land drop, and you can’t tap it for mana in the meantime. If you understand exactly why this is bad, you’d explain that to gain the ability to destroy more basic land in the early turns, you have to spend two turns’ worth of mana.


I’m noting this in case you don’t tune in to Type II discussions and have a pesky Fluctuator combo player in the local store.

That said, it’s funny that the most common”cycling” card in Type I, Fire / Ice, isn’t Stabilized.

Proteus Machine

This isn’t a particularly effective theme card, though it does add an artifact creature that can dodge The Abyss (though why would someone play The Abyss against your theme deck, right?).

I just had a funny experience with it: Shortly after the Prerelease, a guy played a casual Zombie deck against me and played a Morph. Out of habit, I went through the possible black Morphs from Grinning Demon to Skinthinner, and after all that trouble, he just un-morphs it into a Zombie. Sheesh. (But hey, it’s a good habit.)

The Forgotten Creature, Forgotten Ancient

I got a good number of inquiries about this one, too. Sorry… since this was being talked about for the longest time already, I actually thought it was already printed in Legions.

The immediate comparison is Mr. Babycakes’ ancestor, Quirion Dryad. The original is obviously better, but some people suggested pairing the two green creatures together to streamline the colors of decks like Growing ‘Tog.

I don’t think the obvious route is the best, though, because the doubled mana cost means you have to adjust the entire mana base to accommodate the alternate threat. For example, it might be far simpler to add the Phyrexian Dreadnought/Illusionary Mask combo instead of Forgotten Ancient and extra mana, and neither adds colors to a Dryad-based deck.

Outside being set up in an aggro-control deck, I don’t see where Forgotten Ancient can fit in right now (it’s not straightforward enough for both aggro and control, for example). Old players like myself who’ve tried to make Spike decks will be first in line for a set, though, for sure.

If you’re not satisfied with Forgotten Ancient, go write Jordan Kronick. Apparently, he has a few worthwhile thoughts. Bah… What kind of blue player would prefer Rewind to Dismiss, right?

Well, that’s it for this week. Back to the drudgery of 200-page International Court of Justice opinions for me!

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