I Need a Mint

Posted in Feature on May 1, 2003

By Mark L. Gottlieb

Dragon Breath

Scourge previews! Woo-hoo! Party time!

Dragon week! Rock on! Super keen!

Creature enchantment! Woo-hmmmm . . . Perhaps Dragon Breath isn't the most exciting Scourge card I could have been handed. I've seen the set, and it might actually be the least exciting Scourge card. But it's still pretty neat.

Dragon Breath has a lot going on for a 2-mana creature enchantment. It grants both haste and firebreathing, and it has a twinge of free graveyard recursion. You've gotta like a plucky little card like that (and four other cards that may or may not be in a cycle with it). Unwilling to accept the fact that as a creature enchantment, it's supposed to be card disadvantage waiting to happen -- it dares you to use it multiple times without any extra cost. If you slap something silly like Granite Grip onto one of your creatures, your opponent smiles, thanks you politely, and sweeps both of your cards off the table with a single Dark Banishing. But if your opponent (who sounds like he really needs to be taken down a peg) tries that with your Dragon Breath - enhanced creature, he'll have to spend the rest of the game on the lookout for hasty, pumpable behemoths popping into play on your side.

A hasty firebreathing Silvos. Now we're talking.

So what does a deck need to take advantage of this card? A good share of expensive creatures and the mana to play them seems like a good start. But to squeeze the most juice from Dragon Breath, we want to use it over and over. Firebreathing isn't usually a game-winning mechanic on its own, and haste is wasted on a creature after its first turn in play. So we need a way to plop Dragon Breath back into your graveyard so it can plop itself back into play. (Hey, in order to get recursion, you've gotta start with cursion, right?) One way to do that is to feed Dragon Breath to a Thaumatog (mmm, tasty); another is to kill the creature Dragon Breath is sitting on. A great way to toss aside old critters is to actually toss them aside . . . at your opponent's head thanks to the hefty right arm of Bloodshot Cyclops. And wouldn't you know it, Mr. Contact Lens has a converted mana cost of 6!

Other fantastic fatties to use include Krosan Tusker (it's card-drawing at instant speed early or a hasty 6/5 firebreather late) and Rockshard Elemental (it's a 2/2 dork early or a hasty 4/3 double-striking firebreather late). Double strike really lets you get the most mileage out of pumpable power, and the versatility of cycling and morph guard against an opening hand of cards you can't afford until turn 12.

The following deck is one way to harness the power of halitosis, and it doesn't even have any of the other Scourge cards that emphasize the attribute of enormousness.

Check My Breath

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I normally don't list Birds of Paradise in my decks because even though they're ridiculously good, they're also quite extravagant. I figure that those of you that have them will know when to fit them into a deck. I especially like them here, though, because your little birdies might just wind up spitting flames out of their beaks. Take that, Ensnaring Bridge!

A rareless version of this deck would be more straightforward and more tribal. (No fancy-shmancy Elementals stealing spots from rough 'n' ready Beasts.) Without the Bloodshot Cyclops, the deck relies less on tricks and more on trample.

Beast Breath

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Of course, green isn't the only color with scale-breaking monsters. Black has its fair share. I can think of some good uses for hasty Visaras and Silent Specters. Well, not really; I can actually think of only one good use for them. It involves tapping.

Versatility is again the key to a deck bursting with beef. You want a hand packed with 6-mana creatures, but you don't want a hand packed with cards you can't use until turn six. This time, the cycling option is played by Gempalm Polluter, while Silent Specter, Imperial Hellkite, and Rockshard Elemental volunteer to be Gray Ogres. It's more important for this deck to be able to play its creatures early because it has no mana acceleration.

Bog Breath

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And now that you've read that black-red deck, forget about it. It's a fine idea, it hopefully gets you thinking, and it'll be completely outdated by the time you see the rest of the Scourge set. A nice chunk of that deck would be thrown out in favor of Scourge cards that fit in a little better and give you a little more. I have one perfect card in mind as I write this, and it's really twisted that I can't tell you what it is -- in fact, it's an abomination! But that single Scourge card is only a small element of what will soon be possible. For fans of decks like this, the horizon stretches far and wide with a golden bronze sunrise and a couple of wispy white clouds that remind you of the entrails of your pummeled opponents.

Until next week, savor the anticipation.


Mark may be reached at houseofcardsmail@yahoo.com. Please send any Magic rules questions to ask@wizards.com.

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