Scourge, the last set in the Onslaught block, is known more for its spells than its creatures. While Scourge did push the limits on what monsters can do, it is notorious for unleashing the Storm mechanic on Magic, changing every set that it touched. Scourge also had a heavy Dragons theme, with cards like Day of the Dragons and Form of the Dragon. This made it a clear fan favorite, and though the aforementioned cards aren't worth anything, they're great fun and full of flavor. But we're not here for flavor, we're here for cash, so let's take a look at the cards in Scourge that are worth a bit of money!
Ambush Commander is the Elf answer to Siege-Gang Commander. It lacks a lot of the board impact of the Goblin, but it can amplify any elf effects that count the number of creatures. Look to Alpha Status in the same set or reach for Timberwatch Elves to see the benefit of making five or more Forests count as elves. Though it doesn't see play in competitive Legacy elves decks, the Ambush Commander is interesting enough to pop up in casual decks.
A lot of players have Dragon decks, and in them, they pack many different kinds of winged lizards. However, the central problem with a deck full of dragons is that you don't have much to do before turn 6. Dragonspeaker Shaman makes all those fatties come out to play much earlier in the game. Where you might have a dozen different dragons in a dozen different dragon decks, all of them play this red accelerator. The thought of having two out and landing Shivan Dragon for RR is exciting, after all.
When it was printed, Dragonstorm looked like a bit of a joke. When are you going to cast this for more than one copy? Red at that time had no Rite of Flame, no Seething Song, no Desparate Ritual. The best Dragon to summon with it was Rorix Bladewing, and that guy is Legendary! Along came the aforementioned accelerators, along with Bogardan Hellkite and a reprinting in Time Spiral, and that pushed Dragonstorm all the way to the top. One now needed only three spells before the Dragonstorm to go lethal, so it was elementary to ramp the mana for it. Other players used Spinerock Knoll and burn spells to cast the expensive Storm spell, which resulted in four or more Dragons hitting the field and a lot of fire flying around.
I like the Dragon a lot, primarily because he can nab dual lands. He was part of some misguided monowhite Legacy control decks, but it has rightfully been sent to the casual field at this point. Later in the game, it just comes back over and over for the most expensive Ivory Gargoyle you could think of. Eternal Dragon is just a great example of a card that you want to cycle early on and actually cast when you have the resources.
Many moons ago, Wizards ran some you-design-it card contests. This was the first to be made, and it has proved a fan favorite. Like Quirion Dryad, it grows with spells, but this grows a lot faster and it can make a lowly Birds of Paradise into a giant flying threat. Players also helped design Crucible of Worlds, but Vanish from Memory is roundly terrible, and I don't fault Wizards for taking a break from asking for fan contributions. The Ancient is eminently splashable, so he shows up in a lot of casual decks.
Goblins, as a modern competitive deck, is possible only because of this creature. It makes Goblin Matron a playable card and pushes Goblin Piledriver over the line on power level. It costs about as much as Daru Warchief, even though it's much more playable. I think the reason for this is that people know that the Warchief is worth money, so they are more likely to pull it out of boxes that they are looking through. Make sense?
Did you know this junk is worth money? People love their milling effects! Sure, I see the surprise of unmorphing it, but do you think someone will neglect to block it later?
Full disclosure, I have lost drafts to people pairing this with Crafty Pathmage.
Of all the Sliver legends, this is probably the best Commander. Paired with things that can change creature types, you can take opponents' creatures with it. It also usually wins in a fight against another Sliver EDH deck that doesn't have ready access to it. The Overlord got reprinted in the all-foil Slivers set, but that set sold poorly and there are not many copies of the reprint floating around. That makes Sliver Overlord still worth a pretty good deal.
Man, am I miffed that they haven't reprinted this card again. Stifle is a solid anti-fetchland card, though it's rare that you want to blow a Stifle on anything less. It also shuts down Storm triggers, which is highly relevant. That Stifle remains so expensive with having only a marginal playability in Legacy boggles me.
Red has few answers to lifegain and even fewer card drawing solutions. What do you do when the opponent stops that last bit of burn and stabilizes? Sulfuric Vortex has been a reliable answer, sort of a reverse Howling Mine that lets you draw a Shock every turn. It shows up in Zoo and Burn decks all over and really frustrates an opponent who hasn't planned for it.
Tendrils is the banner Storm kill spell and revolutionized Vintage when it was printed. Previous combo decks like Academy relied on getting sixty or so blue mana and then casting Braingeyser (which was restricted!) to deck the opponent. This led to all sorts of goofy restricted cards like Hurkyl's Recall – can you believe that used to be considered too powerful? Now, all you had to do was make nine spells, which was easy to do when half of them were Dark Rituals and Yawgmoth's Will gave you double the castings. Will was powerful before Scourge, but the ability to Xerox your spell count was what made it ridiculous. Some decks, like the Standard deck called DNA, used Tendrils without any Black mana in the deck, just to cast it through the Mind's Desires. Tendrils is just that good.
Like Soldiers, Zombies need a Warchief and this is the most aggressive one that they have. Zombies tend to cost more mana, too, so this is useful addition to their collection.
This little bug is the center of many near-infinite mana combos with Elf decks. It bounces Elves to make new bugs with Wirewood Hivemaster, it untaps your Priest of Titania to make more mana, and it keeps people back for blocking after an attack. It makes the deck hum and I'm grumpy about its existence because I kind of disrespect Legacy elf decks without cause.
As if Storm wasn't already a great way to beat decks with counters, Scourge gave Vintage a way to shut down all the counters that a combo deck could expect. They're often referred to as “bees,” leading to the aftereffect of a Swarm attack being called “covered in bees!,” a reference to an old Eddie Izzard joke. It's about all the humor you can muster when you're looking at a dead Force of Will and the opponent just resolved Yawgmoth's Bargain.
Scourge might as well have been called Storm because that's been its long-lasting effect on the game. Just about none of the Storm spells were fun to play against because people could orient their decks to get the most out of the storm copies. Even getting nailed with five copies of Temporal Fissure was a total kick in the junk. What were your favorite cards from Scourge? What have you traded from the set recently? Post your response below!
Next week, we look at Mirrodin, a block that nearly killed Magic. Seriously.