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Play Any Scrapheap Scrounger Deck You Want

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Scrapheap Swarm

For me, this is the deck that started it all:

Scrapheap Scrounger
The original version I encountered was labeled "bw Tokens". Given that title I expected to see cards like Anointed Procession and Hidden Stockpile. Instead, Dominaria assaulted my eyes with newcomers like Benalish Marshall . . .  And History of Benalia. Okay, okay . . .  The deck was for sure down with the tokens aspect, but given the name I figured I'd see a couple of actual Black spells. There wasn't even one.

The closest thing I saw were some almost throwaway copies of Scrapheap Scrounger.

In this version, there were two in the main deck and two in the sideboard; not even a full four in the starting sixty.

I asked myself, if Scrapheap Scrounger -- and only two copies at that -- was worth any disruption in the mana at all.

But it's free. It's so free!

The not-Black of this allegedly Black-White Tokens deck is so free there is not a single Swamp in the mana base! DEBARTELME17 didn't even bother to register all four copies of Concealed Courtyard.

Black here was aggressively free.

In my personal correspondence, I started calling this the "White Swarm" deck given the still-legal status of the previous bw Tokens signatures. I don't know how important that name (or this deck) will end up, because a different Orzhov strategy has risen to such prominence in Standard.

bw Vehicles has recently ascended as the most popular bw deck in Standard. It actually stretches to multiple Black basics main, supporting not only the full four Scroungers starting, but Knight of Malice at the 2-drop slot as well. This is a "real" bw deck with so many Orzhov duals there is a Forsaken Sanctuary in the sideboard.


Between this "real" bw and the White Swarm deck's almost casual inclusion of the 3/2 thanks to Standard's fast and flexible mana options, I came to the only deck choice conclusion you possibly can for this format:

You Can Play Any Scrapheap Scrounger Deck You Want.

Scrapheap Summit

For most people at the tops of most tournaments, the Scrapheap Scrounger deck they want to play runs Dragonskull Summits.


The arguable apex of Scrapheap Scrounger builds in Standard is of course br. Not really confined to a single, static, sixty; today's br combines aggressive and mid-range elements sometimes unpredictably.

Here's an easy question: How many copies of Unlicensed Disintegration should you play? For me, playing this strategy, I'd snap "four" before my hand was finished shooting up to answer. But Simon Nielsen, winner of Grand Prix Birmingham, played only three.

Or how about Bomat Courier?

For me, coming off a summer playing a lot of Hazoret the Fervent decks . . .  I'd play four copies in the main. It has haste. It builds your hand back up after you've dumped your grip. Though a lowly 1/1 for 1 mana, it creates difficult forks for the opponent mid-game. Bomat Courier is even an artifact to set up Unlicensed Disintegration!

Of course some successful builds play all four in the main.

Others, opting to maximize Goblin Chainwhirler's ceiling (while simultaneously dodging other players' Chainwhirlers), play as few as zero copies in the main deck.

 . . .  And then you have Grand Prix Top 4 competitor Jennifer Crott running three Bomat Couriers in the sideboard!


I'm certainly not saying that is "wrong" or somehow "bad" (remember, I said I'd run mine main) . . .  Just hard to predict.

The artifact creature that is a four-of constant is of course Scrapheap Scrounger.

Black-Red makes for a great Scrapheap Scrounger deck for three reasons:

  1. It's actually a Black deck. Because the deck has so much dedicated Black, you don't need to "stretch" the mana as we saw White Swarm move into black. You don't need to stretch at all.
  2. With 3 toughness on 2 mana, Scrapheap Scrounger is a pretty good aggressive creature . . .  In a deck with a dozen or more other creatures. That is, it gets to re-buy through attrition frequently and fairly freely. White Swarm maybe under-invested in Scrapheap Scrounger at 2+2 . . .  But with only five other creatures main deck, the re-buys would be much less consistent than in br.
  3. Its strategy actually gets paid for its being an artifact. The whole point of this article is how you can play Scrapheap Scrounger in many different distinct colors and strategies. But I think br does the best in taking advantage of it as both a creature and an artifact. That latter, of course, turns on Unlicensed Disintegration.

The best thing(s) about br: It's awesome. It's synergistic. It gets a ton of free wins just by drawing two or more copies of Unlicensed Disintegration.

The worst thing about br: It's an artifact hog, greedily playing all of Heart of Kiran, Scrapheap Scrounger, and Walking Ballista.

Scrapheap StOmPy

I originally started exploring the "Mono-Green" deck as an alternative to br's artifact-hogging.

My initial thesis was that "at least Mono-Green doesn't play Walking Ballista", which would potentially open up an archetype for Team Standard Unified.

My guess on Team Standard is that the mode trio will play:

  1. A uw Control deck with 4 copies of Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
  2. A br playing all of, Heart of Kiran, Scrapheap Scrounger, and probably both Walking Ballista and Karn, Scion of Urza . . .  Alternately a bw deck with the same four dedicated colorless cards.
  3. A bad deck

"A bad deck" might be an inevitability for teams opting for both #1 and #2. Since Mono-Green doesn't play Walking Ballista (or Karn) it is at least conceivable to play three fully intact decks, but more on this another time.

Personally, I'm not super interested in being the guy stuck with an unplayable pile, so a little exploration into the land of Steel Leaf StOmPy felt worth the effort.

I started with this deck, just because it was essentially the first version I saw from performing tournaments:


Thrashing Brontodon
My initial reaction was that the only "trick" was Blossoming Defense. While often a blowout, Blossoming Defense still has a lot going against it. You have to have it when you need it. You have to have a mana open when you do. It's good against point removal, great against point removal on your turn . . .  Yet utterly worthless against Fumigate or Settle the Wreckage.

It turns out that the deck has a lot more play than you might initially realize. Rhonas, is, after all, indestructible. As long as you aren't running Rhonas (and Scrapheap Scrounger) into Settle the Wreckage at the same time, the deck can keep your offense thick through even substantial layers of point removal and sweep.

There is some fierce competition on two and three in this deck. Brandon's version played Merfolk Branchwalker and three main deck copies of Thrashing Brontodon. As the world's preeminent advocate of 3/3 for 1gg, far be it for me to criticize 3/4 + Naturalize for 1gg! But I am also the world's foremost Borderland Ranger fanatic.

Aside:

How much of a Borderland Ranger fanatic is Mike?

Mike has historically played any kind of available Civic Wayfinder or Borderland Ranger. So much so that when Pilgrim's Eye was initially spoiled -- despite his vociferous protestations -- Mike's Top 8 Magic podcast partner Brian David-Marshall predicted he would play it. Not only did Mike play it, he played it in a wide variety of decks. Most memorably, Pilgrim's Eye was a component of Mike's $5K win, innovating the original build of ur Splinter Twin, slaying Caw-Blade players all day.

Later, when Pilgrim's Eye was reprinted, he and Patrick Chapin were given the preview.

It should be no surprise that given the presence of a card like Jadelight Ranger, which combines Gnarled Mass and Borderland Ranger, he'd find a way to cram it into almost any deck.

End aside.

What I ultimately wanted to do was play both Jadelight Ranger and Merfolk Branchwalker. I figured this would do two things:

  1. Let me cut a land (24 seemed high for a low curve deck like StOmPy)
  2. Make this the best possible Scrapheap Scrounger deck

Playing a larger number of Explore creatures increases both the flow of lands you draw early and -- albeit with little short-term predictability -- makes Scrapheap Scrounger much stronger. Not only do you bin Scrapheap Scrounger itself, you do the same with random other creatures. After all, the deck is almost all lands (card advantage) or creatures (Scrapheap Scrounger or Scrapheap Scrounger fuel).

Resilient Khenra
I capped my changes off with adding Resilient Khenra.

Most of what made Scrapheap Scrounger extra good in this deck applied to Resilient Khenra. In fact, Resilient Khenra can be even better in certain long game situations.

It kind of depends on game plan. Against some decks you want to lean on Llanowar Elves and dump your whole hand as fast as you can. Against others you want maybe two threats and to punch at the opponent, forcing his hand two or three times, challenging him to have an answer for a fourth pair of punchers.

When playing this way, it can be really advantageous to get in with an extra four damage . . .  Especially when an extra four is really an extra thirteen. Imagine weathering a Fumigate with Rhonas and Heart of Kiran still on the table. Boom boom boom am I right?

Why should I play StOmPy?

If you're not specifically biasing your archetype choice around artifact distribution across multiple decks, StOmPy > Rakdos can still be reasonable.

I mean, Rakdos has Goblin Chainwhirler and Unlicensed Disintegration, but StOmPy has some aces of its own.

The obvious payoff question is whether you think Steel Leaf Champion on three is going to win more than Unlicensed Disintegration. These are the high commitment cards: ggg is playable in only a narrow band of decks; 1br only gets its payoff in the presence of Red mana, Black mana, and an artifact.

That tension is not the whole story, though. The real payoff to playing StOmPy is Llanowar Elves! It's not ggg v. 1br, it's ggg on turn two. Llanowar Elves on the play is monstrous against most Blue decks. Further, Ghalta, Primal Hunger is a pretty effortless inclusion in this strategy. You will want to side Ghalta out against decks with a ton of spot removal, but Steel Leaf, Rhonas, and Heart of Kiran tricks make it a surprisingly easy cast. Llanowar Elves is extra good with Ghalta, a source of mana and power simultaneously.

Once you've bought into playing this archetype, this is the version I would recommend:


In addition to moving Thrashing Brontodon to the sideboard, the most stark departure from other lists is the absence of Greenbelt Rampager. There is no energy payoff in this deck whatsoever, and Greenbelt Rampager is just a thing you do with your mana on the first turn. It's not bad-bad . . .  But it's not even a particularly efficient 3/4 in this archetype.

The other big payoff for StOmPy is Lifecrafter's Bestiary. There is a strong argument toward playing all four copies, especially in a Llanowar Elves deck. You can play the Bestiary on turn two! While not particularly efficacious against a uw deck that goes completely over the top (like Approach of the Second Sun), any deck that relies on attrition to control threats is going to be completely overwhelmed due to the creature density of this build. You can play two-creature puncher all day while always having reload monsters at the ready. The scry ability even lets you hit the land drops you need to take full advantage of all the extra creatures you're drawing.

So that's it: You can play any Scrapheap Scrounger deck you want -- The one I want is Mono-Green.

LOVE

MIKE


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