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A Complete Review of ScourgeScourge is the final set of the Onslaught block and, like its predecessors, it focuses on creature types. Unlike Legions, Scourge does have non-creature cards, which is a great relief. After all, there's only so much you can do with creatures.
There are a few new keyword mechanics in Scourge. After a drought of them for the past few years, new keyword mechanics are coming in at several per set now. I'm not sure how I feel about that. There are interesting ones, like Morph, but also ones like Provoke and Double Strike that could have just as easily been described on the card, without the need for a new word for new players to learn.
Anyway, the new mechanics in Scourge are the following:
Plainscycle: Discard the card and pay the indicated cost to search your library for a Plains and put it into your hand. Also Mountaincycle, Islandcycle etc.
Storm: When you play this spell, copy it for each spell played before it this turn. You may pick new targets for the copies.
Plainscycle sounds like a low-key mana helper, but storm has the potential to be huge in casual play. The combination that jumps to mind immediately is Shrieking Drake, which can be cast and recast for U each time and any useful card with storm, which can then be copied effectively for U per copy.
As always, the spoiler is curtesy MTGNews.com and I will give every card a rating of 1 (Wood Elemental) to 5 (Weatherseed Treefolk) stars, depending on how much potential I think it has for casual play.
Conclusion:These are the Scourge stats:
1 star: 13 cards
2 stars: 23 cards
3 stars: 40 cards
4 stars: 45 cards
5 stars: 22 cards
It's not easy to tell from these stats, which are only a bit better than normal, but I have a good feeling about Scourge. It has almost as many 5-star cards as Onslaught, which is more than twice as large a set as Scourge.
But Scourge isn't perfect. Far from it. Although a lot of the cards in Scourge are a lot of fun by themselves, they aren't really playable if you're looking for a long, interesting game. From seven mana and up, some of the spells in Scourge are downright ridiculous powerwise. I doubt that'll ever be an issue in tournaments, but if you're just playing some weird deck for fun, it's easy enough to get to 10 mana or more. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind powerful cards, but when the power gets up to the deal-with-it-or-die level it takes the fun out of the game. Instead of winning by clever play or good deck design, you just win by getting to seven mana first.
Another problem I have with Scourge is a bit vague, but bare with me. Previous sets had a better defined plot. I'm not talking about the novel here, it's the Scourge cards that I can't find a plot in. Scourge seems to be more focused on a theme ("Dragons") and not on conflict ("Good vs Evil", "Death vs Life", "Brain vs Brawn" etc). Maybe that's just because I haven't seen most of the flavor texts yet.
I would have liked to have seen some more awe-inspiring big creatures, rather than just the basic combat creatures Scourge gives us. Especially the dragons are bland. Where are the new, fresh ideas? Ditto for green's creatures. In a set where green is totally focused on creatures with a casting cost of 6 or more, green doesn't get anything all that fresh, just big. I would have liked to have seen something more interesting, like this:
Seed Elemental 6GG
Creature - Elemental 6/6
When Seed Elemental comes into play, remove all Forests and Treefolk in your graveyard from the game. Put a +0/+1 counter on Seed Elemental for each card removed from the game in this way. When Seed Elemental leaves play, put a 1/1 green saproling token into play for each +0/+1 counter on Seed Elemental.
Well, you get the idea, something more original than Woodcloaker and Wirewood Guardian at any rate.
But those are just minor quibbles. The bottom line is, that Scourge has a lot of fun stuff to play with, so I'm definitely getting a box.
The next set, Mirrodin (if I spelled that right) is going to be very interesting. A lot of collectors are probably going to stop when the new cardface is introduced. I personally like the new cardface, although not all aspects of it. For me, the bottom line is that it gives more room to the picture and the bigger pictures look very good, from what I've seen. But, even if everybody loves the new cardface, a lot of collectors that want to get out of Magic anyway will have a good cut-off point with the new cardface. No squinting at the set's symbol to see if it's one you're collecting and such. At any rate, I'm hoping Wizards recognized this danger and decided to make Mirrodin the best set ever, so any losses from quitting collectors are compensated for by the players buying more. Well, it's a nice thought, right?
Meanwhile, with all those dragons around, it's time to dust off my Rashida Scalebanes!