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Set Information
Set symbol
Symbol description A dragon skull
Design Brian Tinsman (lead),
Worth Wollpert
Development Randy Buehler (lead),
Brandon Bozzi,
Mike Elliott,
Brian Schneider,
Henry Stern
Art direction Jeremy Cranford
Release date May 26, 2003
Plane Dominaria (Otaria)
Themes and mechanics "Mana value-6-or-more matters", Decrees, Dragons, Creature types
Keywords/​ability words Cycling and landcycling, Double strike, Morph, Storm
Set size 143 cards
(55 commons, 44 uncommons, 44 rares)
Expansion code SCG[1]
Development codename Jack[2]
Onslaught block
Onslaught Legions Scourge
Magic: The Gathering Chronology
Legions Scourge Eighth Edition
For the book, see Scourge (novel).

Scourge is a small expansion and the third set in the Onslaught block. It is the 29th Magic: The Gathering expansion and was released on May 26, 2003.[3][4]

Set details[ | ]

Scourge contains 143 black-bordered cards (44 rare, 44 uncommon, and 55 commons; 1 rare and 1 uncommon less than Legions). Its expansion symbol is a dragon skull to reflect its dragon theme.[5] Like its preceding expansions, Onslaught and Legions, the set featured a theme that focused heavily on "tribal" cards, or cards that are concerned with creature types.[6] Scourge was notable for having a focus on cards with high converted mana costs ("cost matters" or "size matters") and dragon/dragon-related cards.[4] With Bladewing the Risen, the set even featured a dragon lord.[7] Scourge was the last set to feature the old-style card faces or a storyline set in Dominaria until the release of the Time Spiral block.

Marketing[ | ]

Scourge was marketed as the '"Dragon Set". The cards were sold in 15-card boosters (which featured art from Dragonstorm, Dragon Tyrant and Bladewing the Risen), in four preconstructed theme decks and a fat pack. At the Scourge prerelease (May 17–18, 2003), a foil Soul Collector was handed out.[8][9] The set was accompanied by the novel of the same name.

Flavor and storyline[ | ]

Main article: Scourge (novel)

With the vicious war between Phage and Akroma, and their followers, over with their deaths and fusion into Karona, an incredibly destructive and powerful avatar formed from all five colors of mana, Otaria is, once again, torn by various militant factions, all keen to claim Karona for themselves.[10] In addition to this, the continent that was spared from a majority of the devastation occurring elsewhere on the plane of Dominaria during the events of Apocalypse, remains poisoned by the profuse perfusion of mana from the Mirari, with warping effects upon the populace; the weapons and armor of soldiers are merging with the soldiers themselves to produce virtually featureless, greatly muscle-bound living juggernauts; wizards becoming insubstantial and tenuous, as though they consisted of water or energy; elves, becoming taller, stronger, and wilder, begin to resemble the trees amongst which they live and that they protect; and, more grotesque variations of zombies, with more heads, limbs, and other appendages, are seen.

On top of this, from the explosion that spawned Karona, the Sliver Overlord, a new leader of the slivers, controlling others via the hive-mind, was born.

Kamahl frees his sister, Jeska, from both Karona and Phage, her undead form, and Karn returns to Otaria, Dominaria, to take her to Argentum (or Mirrodin), a plane that he substantially shaped. Karn intimates that Jeska is a planeswalker and beseeches her to travel the multiverse as his companion. Initially, she is reluctant to leave Argentum, until Karn informs and shows her Memnarch, a golem that he forged from the Mirari and the guardian of the plane.

Tokens[ | ]

An Angel Token with Flying for Decree of Justice was offered as a Magic Player Reward.[11] Token art was also produced for Magic Online: a green 4/4 Beast for use with Hunting Pack.[12]

Themes and mechanics[ | ]

Themes[ | ]

Tribal and creature types were the main theme of Onslaught.[6]

Creature subtype Tribe name Primary color Secondary color(s)
Beast Red ({R})
Green ({G})
Blue ({U})
Black ({B})
Birds Aven (in white and blue only)
White ({W})
Blue ({U})
Black ({B})
Red ({R})
Clerics White ({W})
Black ({B})
Dragons Red ({R})
Elves Green ({G})
Goblins Red ({R}) Black ({B})
Illusions Mistform (or Mimics)[note 1][13] Blue ({U})
Soldiers White ({W}) Blue ({U})
Green ({G})
Slivers All colors ({W}{U}{B}{R}{G})
Wizards Blue ({U}) All other colors ({B}{R}{G}{W})
Zombies Black ({B})

The set featured a prominent dragon subtheme, as reflected by the higher-than-usual number of dragons cards, auxiliary or support cards (e.g., Bladewing's Thrall, Dragonspeaker Shaman, Dragonstorm), and other dragon-related cards (e.g., Day of the Dragons, Dragonstalker, Form of the Dragon).[14] In addition, Scourge featured a theme dealing with high converted mana costs ("cost matters") and, specifically, mana-cost-6-or-more,[15] and various cards were printed to support this theme and reward players for utilizing costly cards, such as the cycle of Dragon auras, Accelerated Mutation, Ancient Ooze, Fierce Empath, Krosan Drover, and Kurgadon, and other cards, such as Pyrostatic Pillar, punished players for utilizing cheaper cards.

Mechanics[ | ]

Scourge introduced the novel keyword abilities landcycling and storm.[16][17] Landcycling, a variation upon cycling, is an activated ability that allows the owner of a card with landcycling to discard the card and pay a cost to search their library for a card with a specific land type. Landcycling is itself a specific case of typecycling, which was featured on cards in Future Sight, as Slivercycling on Homing Sliver and Wizardcycling on Vedalken Æthermage, and the Alara block, as landcycling and, more generally, basic landcycling.

Cost matters was a theme that encouraged players to use spells with high mana costs. In addition to providing numerous creatures and other spells with converted mana cost 6 or greater, several cards were printed that enhanced or facilitated them.

Storm, designed by Brian Tinsman,[18] is a triggered ability on instant and sorcery cards that triggers when the spell is cast. It allows the controller of a spell with storm to put copies of the spell on the stack (with new targets). A number of cards with storm in Scourge, namely Brain Freeze, Mind's Desire, and Tendrils of Agony,[19] were so powerful, particularly with 0-CMC spells (e.g., Ornithopter), virtually free spells (e.g., Cloud of Faeries), and other cheap spells, that they essentially formed the crux of a deck archetype that dominated the competitive Magic.[20] In retrospect, Head Magic Designer Mark Rosewater, amongst others, have regarded storm as one of the most, if not the most, "degenerate" or "broken" abilities or mechanics thus printed.[21]

Creature types[ | ]

No new creature types were introduced in Scourge.

Cycles[ | ]

Scourge features six cycles.

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
"Cost matters" spells Reward the Faithful Dispersal Shield
Rush of Knowledge
Cabal Conditioning Torrent of Fire Accelerated Mutation
Each of these non-permanent spells has an scalable effect that is dependent on the highest converted mana cost amongst permanents its controller controls.
Decrees Decree of Justice Decree of Silence Decree of Pain Decree of Annihilation Decree of Savagery
Each of these expensive, game-changing rare cards features Karona in their artwork [22] and may be cycled for an effect that is similar to their original effect, albeit at a smaller size ("supercycling").[23]

The initial concept of the Decrees is the inspiration of the Resounding cycle (Resounding Silence, Resounding Wave, Resounding Scream, Resounding Thunder, and Resounding Roar) in Shards of Alara; each of which featured a smaller base effect and a larger, cycling-triggered effect.
Dragon auras Dragon Scales Dragon Wings Dragon Shadow Dragon Breath Dragon Fangs
Each of these common auras costing {1}M confers a bonus to the enchanted creature. Furthermore, to further the theme of "cost matters",[4] if the aura is in a graveyard and a creature with converted mana cost of 6 or more enters the battlefield, the aura may be returned to the battlefield enchanting that creature.

These auras, particularly Dragon Breath, were used to great effect in reanimator decks, often with Sutured Ghoul as the reanimation target.[24][25]
Landcyclers Noble Templar Shoreline Ranger Twisted Abomination Chartooth Cougar Wirewood Guardian[note 2]
Each of these common creature cards costing at least {5}M may be cycled for {2} for a land with a basic land type.
Common storm instants Astral Steel Hindering Touch Reaping the Graves Scattershot Sprouting Vines
Each of these common instants has storm.
Warchiefs Daru Warchief (Soldiers) Mistform Warchief (Illusions by default)[note 3] Undead Warchief (Zombies) Goblin Warchief (Goblins) Krosan Warchief (Beasts)
Each of these uncommon creature cards allows its controller to cast creatures of a shared creature type for {1} less mana than normal. In addition to this, each warchief has an additional ability.[note 4]

Reprinted cards[ | ]

Goblin War Strike, first printed in Portal Second Age

Color shifted[ | ]

Strictly better[ | ]

Notable cards[ | ]

Preconstructed decks[ | ]

Main article: Scourge/Theme decks

Scourge has one monocolored and three bicolored theme decks.

deck name
Colors Included
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Goblin Mob R
Storm Surge W U
Pulverize U R
Max Attack B G

Trivia[ | ]

  • The art for Unspeakable Symbol (Scourge) and Wipe Clean (Scourge) depict two scenes in the same location, and are both illustrated by Arnie Swekel.
  • Pemmin's Aura is an anagram of "I am Superman." It refers to the card Morphling from Urza's Saga which had the nickname of "Superman". The enchantment grants the enchanted creature the ability of Morphling.[27]

Notes[ | ]

  1. Mistform creatures all have the ability to change their creature type.
  2. Alternatively, if Elvish Aberration is considered as the green member of this (then no longer common-only) cycle, each of these creature cards cost {5}M and have landcycling.
  3. Mistform Warchief can reduce the cost of casting any creature that shares a creature type with it, and its creature type may change with its "{T}: Mistform Warchief becomes the creature type of your choice until end of turn." ability.
  4. Two other cards from the expansion, Dragonspeaker Shaman (Dragons) and Edgewalker (Clerics), similarly grant a discount for casting creature or tribal spells that share a creature type with them or are associated with their creature types; these cards are not, however, members of this cycle.

References[ | ]

  1. Wizards of the Coast (August 02, 2004). "Ask Wizards - August, 2004". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater (August 12, 2002). "Codename of the Game". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Brian Tinsman (May 19, 2003). "The Creation of Scourge". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. a b c Mark Rosewater (May 12, 2003). "The Bigger, the Better". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Brady Dommermuth (October 31, 2006). "Ask Wizards". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. a b Mark Rosewater (September 23, 2002). "Tribal's in Your Court". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Randy Buehler (May 02, 2003). "The Undead Dragon". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Brian David-Marshall (May 12, 2003). "Scourge Prerelease Primer". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Wizards of the Coast (May 19, 2003). "Scourge Prerelease Card". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Rei Nakazawa (May 05, 2003). "Scourge of Otaria". Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Magic Arcana (November 17, 2003). "Upcoming Magic Rewards tokens". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Magic Arcana (June 19, 2003). "Scourge tokens". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Mark Rosewater (October 14, 2002). "Creature Feature". Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Mark Rosewater (April 28, 2003). "Dragon Racing". Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Randy Buehler (May 16, 2007). "Little Man, Big Tricks". Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Mark Rosewater (May 5, 2003). "Birth of a Notion". Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Wizards of the Coast. "Scourge Frequently Asked Questions". Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Mark Rosewater (July 2, 2012). "Old Timers". Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Mike Flores (March 10, 2011). "Three Formats, Three Decks". Wizards of the Coast.
  20. Bill Stark. "Feature: Vintage Championship Top 8 Coverage". Wizards of the Coast.
  21. Mark Rosewater (August 22, 2011). "State of Design 2011". Wizards of the Coast.
  22. Magic Arcana (March 24, 2004). "Scourge Decrees and Karona's shadow". Wizards of the Coast.
  23. Randy Buehler (May 9, 2003). "The Supercycling Decrees". Wizards of the Coast.
  24. Brian David-Marshall. "Live Coverage of 2005 Pro Tour Columbus". Wizards of the Coast.
  25. Neil Parker. "Round Thirteen Feature Match: Mike Abraham vs. Gabe Walls". Wizards of the Coast.
  26. Mark Rosewater (August 4, 2023). "How Trivial with Mark Rosewater (Video)". Magic: The Gathering. YouTube.
  27. Mark Rosewater (January 9, 2023). "Trivial Pursuit: What's in a Name?". Wizards of the Coast.

External links[ | ]