It’s that time of the week again! Welcome back to Tiny Tuesday! Today we’re going to be taking a look at Varolz, the Scar-Striped. Varolz has two rather unique abilities, but at this point in Magic‘s history we’re pretty well equipped to make both abilities strong with a few of the wonkier cards ever printed.
Immediately, the scavenge ability tells us that we want a fully stocked graveyard. Golgari has plenty of ways to enable this.
Anything with dredge is also worth considering, though I wasn’t particularly impressed with any of the options available. Darkblast and Life from the Loam are both awesome options for the sideboard. I really like having Loam there with a Ghost Quarter to combat the Lands decks, but I have eschewed them from the maindeck.
The other thing that we want to do is have creatures available to sacrifice in case Varolz falls victim to any manner of destroy effect. Luckily, there are two creatures that make it exceptionally easy to always have a body around to use for regeneration shields.
Lastly, we want some bodies that can scavenge very efficiently.
No matter what you do with Varolz, these seem like absolute staples. They die naturally if you just cast them at most stages of the game and scavenge for absurd bonuses. Force of Savagery and Hunted Horror are also interesting options, but I chose to stick to just the tools that function most cleanly and efficiently. Of course, scavenging with these creatures leaves us with a big Varolz that can just be chump blocked, so I like running a Rancor and a Loxodon Warhammer to force some damage through.
Finally, we round things out with a bunch of abstractly powerful cards, some discard spells and a couple protection effects to block things like Swords to Plowshares, and we end up with this:
Cavern of Souls doesn’t do its best work here, but making Varolz uncounterable covers you in a way that no other card can. Cavern is definitely set to be a Tiny Leaders staple, and will likely be showing up in a ton of lists. The card is already a little pricey, but it’s going to just continue creeping upwards. If you need them, don’t sleep on buying this one.
A lot of the other includes here seem pretty obvious, but I’d like to take a second to highlight Smother. It wasn’t something that I immediately thought of when I started looking at Tiny Leaders, but as soon as I saw it in decklists it became immediately obvious that it’s a staple for nearly every black deck. It’s literally terminate here. Foil copies already demand a high premium, so I don’t know that there’s much of an investment opportunity here, but it’s something that should minimally be on your radar for deckbuilding.
For budget builds, the Tarmogoyf can easily be replaced by any of the cards that I mentioned above as not quite fitting my liking. Alternatively, I like Terravore and Nyxathid as the cards that most closely match the functionality. Terravore even has trample to boot, and may even deserve a spot in my list.