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Against the Odds: Scarecrows


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode thirty-nine of Against the Odds! Last week on our poll, Scarecrows in Modern squeaked out a win over Werewolves (who are apparently very good at coming in second), with over 4,000 votes cast! Surprisingly, our Legacy option—Donate—came in third, meaning it gets another shot at glory this week, while our two Standard options came in at the bottom of the pile and will be replaced. What this means is that this week, we're going Scarecrow tribal and looking to reap some wins in Modern!

We'll talk more about Scarecrows in a minute, but first a quick reminder. If you enjoy the Against the Odds series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel.

Against the Odds: Scarecrows Deck Tech

Against the Odds: Scarecrows Games

The Deck

Scarecrows is somehow both one of the hardest and easiest decks to build. On one hand, there really aren't that many Scarecrows in Magic (40-something, I believe), so it's not like we're digging through 15,000 cards in an attempt to find the best options. On the other hand, most of the Scarecrows are horrible, and the few good ones don't necessarily work all that well together, so building a Scarecrow deck that actually has a chance of competing in Modern is super hard. As a result, we ended up with a pretty weird mash-up; our deck essentially has three different parts, each built around one of the "good" Scarecrows, but the parts only lightly synergize with each other. 

Part One: Scarecrow Beatdown

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Plan A with Modern Scarecrows is to play a typical tribal aggro strategy by playing a bunch of Scarecrows and then following them up with a Reaper King to pump the team and hopefully push through enough damage to win the game. The problem is there simply are not a lot of aggressive Scarecrows in the game of Magic, so we are left beating down with 3/2s for four-mana like Shell Skulkin. Plus, our lord costs somewhere between five- and ten-mana, depending on how many different colors of mana we can generate. The good news is that Reaper King is really powerful when it sits out on the battlefield, allowing us to Vindicate a permanent whenever another Scarecrow enters the battlefield. 

Part Two: Infinite Scarecrows

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It seemed silly to build a Scarecrow deck without taking advantage of the combo potential of Pili-Pala. While we certainly are not a combo deck, and we aren't playing any tutors or Transmute cards to find our combo pieces, we can just randomly draw into Pili-Pala plus Grand Architect, which gives us infinite mana in any combination of colors. How does this work, I hear you asking? Well, first, we turn Pili-Pala into a blue creature with the first ability on Grand Architect; then, we tap Pili-Pala using the second ability on Grand Architect to make two mana to be spent on artifacts or artifact abilities. Finally, since Pili-Pala is an artifact, we can use the two mana to activate Pili-Pala's untap ability to make a mana of any color. Then, we do this over, and over, and over again, generating 1 additional mana each time we go through the loop. If we have a Whisper of the Muse, we also have the ability to draw our entire deck. 

Interestingly, this combo creates an interesting Against the Odds sub-game, since pulling it off is immensely time intensive on Magic Online. As a result, it's definitely possible for us to go infinite but not be able to win the game before running out of time. Assuming we can beat the clock, how do we actually win the game with infinite mana? 

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Sooner or later, as we are drawing our entire deck, we'll find a copy of Painter's Servant, which turns everything into a color of our choice when it comes into play. We choose Red and then keep drawing through our deck. Eventually, we'll find our single copy of Jawbone Skulkin, which can give a red creature haste for two mana. So, we simply make a bunch more mana with Pili-Pala, give all of our Scarecrows Haste, and attack for lethal!

Part Three: The Sideboard Plan

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Finally, plan C involves a sideboard made up of cards that hate on specific colors like Celestial Purge and Flashfreeze. Since we have four copies of Painter's Servant, the idea is that we can change everything to whatever color we want and then use Celestial Purge to destroy any of our opponent's permanents, or Flashfreeze as an even better Counterspell. While there's some risk that we never find a Painter's Servant and end up with a bunch of dead cards rotting in our hands, when things work out, we have a bunch of two-mana Vindicates, some Sinkholes, and ways to protect our Scarecrows from removal and counterspells like Autumn's Veil

The Matchups

It feels sort of strange to break down the matchups for a deck that didn't win a match, but we might as well give it a try. The first thing that jumps out about our deck is that it's fairly slow (assuming we don't randomly combo off on Turn 4) but doesn't have much interaction before sideboarding, so it seems unlikely we'd ever beat Burn, Infect, or aggro decks like Zoo or Merfolk. On the other hand, most slower, controlling decks have a ton of removal, which means it's going to be hard to stick a Reaper King or combo off with Pili-Pala, so I'm not sure control is good either. 

What we really want is a deck that's slow but also lacking in removal, which likely means our best chance is against slower combo decks like some builds of Scapeshift. Otherwise, we are pretty much hoping that we get a really good draw and our opponent gets a bad draw. If we can get to the point of sticking Reaper King and start attacking our opponent's lands, we have a pretty good chance against most non-aggro decks in the format. The problem is that untapping with a Reaper King isn't very easy. 

The Odds

Overall, we won 4 of 14 games, good for 28.57%, which isn't all that bad. Unfortunately, we didn't manage to win a single match. Oddly, every single game we won was a game two. In fact, our game two win percentage was a staggering 80%, while we won 0% of our first and third games. I can't think of any real reason for this pattern, although we do get some more interaction after sideboarding, so it seems that this is most likely just a weird coincidence, rather than a meaningful discovery about the deck. 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive, or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com. 

 

 


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