Murkwater Scourge is the Monthly Reward card for March 2019. It has been about a year since the Gobbos got some love from the Legends card designers. In fact, Goblins received a substantial downgrade after the Goblin Skulk nerf in patch 2.5 in December 2018. Now, we are getting a 4-cost 3/1 Goblin who puts up to two Curses into your hand. That’s certainly attractive, but whether that is enough to bring back Goblin tribal decks to the ladder? The answer is most likely not. Let’s dig into the detail using Quadrant Theory…
Murkwater Scourge during Opening is a Killer!
Murkwater Scourge is not a great body in itself. A 4-cost 3/1 is massively discounted in stats which suggests a strong special effect. Elusive Schemer is an obvious choice to compare to the new card. Let’s weigh the differences: Murkwater Scourge draws no card from your deck, so it does not help with finding combo pieces, unless your combo can use Curses. The Scourge does, however, ensure that you know what you are getting, oftentimes maybe even two Curses.
And a Curse is absolutely not a bad card during Opening. On the contrary, you can remove Harpies, Wardcrafters, Graystone Ravagers, Morag Tong Aspirants, Breton Conjurers or any Elusive Schemers on the spot. Just to name a few! Or reduce Fighters Guild Recruit to a 0-power Lethal which allows for a great trade. All of this works even still during the same turn, because you get the Curse when summoning Murkwater Scourge. This is a powerful effect, although it’s definitely not designed for aggressive decks but more for control or midrange decks.
However, you need to be aware, that the second Curse is always at risk of being ping-silenced.
Murkwater Scourge At Parity has only Situational Value…
At Parity, when both players rely on their top deck and the board state is evened out, a Murkwater Scourge can allow you to remove a 1-health creature in certain situations. Maybe this is enough to finish off a bigger threat you have wounded before but haven’t finished off yet? A 3/1 body at Parity, is absolutely not that great. Equally, Curses are not consistently helpful during this phase of the game unless your deck has substantial synergy from mini-combos. Better don’t rely on the Scourge to help you during this phase of the game.
Murkwater Scourge when Winning – Not a Threat…
As the game progresses you might have managed to put your opponent on a 2-turn clock. In this case, you would prefer to draw a card that has some reach or can defend your creatures on board that are able to swing face. Murkwater Scourge also does very little during this phase. A 3/1 body does need to be looked at during this phase, but the Scourge is very easily removed by any damaged-based removal actions, by ping effects, so it is likely not going to survive long. In this phase, a Curse is of not much use (unless it’s a combo piece!) because you already have board control. Potentially, you can remove a smaller threat that could otherwise trade up into one of your bigger threats, however, I would still prefer to draw a 4-cost 5/5 body at this stage.
Murkwater Scourge When Losing – Situational Value Again…
When you are looking for a turnaround, Murkwater Scourge’s first Curse can remove a small creature. In particular, the Scourge might help to neutralize one or two of your opponents threats from a Tullius’ Conscription. You would most likely need a Sacrifice action or a full lane to over-ride him with a second (cheap) creature to get both Curses on the same turn, but every point of damage taken off the board might help. When played to Shadow Lane, the Scourge can also potentially trade up into a larger 5/3 creature, for example. However, there is no guarantee, that you will get the desired value out of him, when you are losing.
The following table shows an evaluation of Murkwater Scourge by quadrant on a 1-5 scale.
Scale: 1 – Very Weak. 2- Weak. 3- OK. 4- Strong. 5- Very Strong.
Note, these ratings have been given, by evaluating the card in a vacuum. In certain decks with enough synergies certain ratings will be higher, for example when you are able to put the Curses generated from Murkwater Scourge to more effective use. Which leads us into a look at some of the synergies (not an exhaustive list).
Murkwater Scourge – Synergies
Goblin Tribal Decks
An immediate thought is to put Murkwater Scourge into a Goblin deck, for example Goblin Archer or Goblin Assassin (please see Goblin Archer – In Depth or Goblin Assassin – In-Depth for more details on this archetype). Recently, Training Grounds and Ring of Lordship have given tribal decks a little more interest. Goblin decks are very aggressive decks, that used to have an explosive start with Skulk and Murkwater Goblin followed by Murkwater Skirmisher.
As mentioned earlier, Goblin decks have been hit hard by the Goblin Skulk nerf and haven’t yet found a way to fill this gap. They have become slower and neither Training Grounds nor Ring of Lordship has really supported the aggressive nature of the deck. Murkwater Scourge is conceivable as a replacement to Murkwater Shaman in Goblin decks. However, more recent builds from 2018 have not even included the Shaman. There is some synergy with Murkwater Guide on board, which would generate an additional Curse for you.
Swindler’s Market Combo Decks
Swindler’s Market decks are fun combo decks that use Swindler’s Market and a larger number of zero-cost cards to burn your opponent. Such decks have been conceived as Market Archer, where Nord Firebrands are easily generated as 0-cost tokens. Similar decks have been developed for Assassin, leveraging Lilandril Hexmage, Lesser Ward and other 0-cost actions (like Contracts and Curses) to form an equally fun combo deck. Note, these decks are usually not as successful on the ladder, as the supports are rather difficult to protect, and these decks usually have no second win condition.
Wood Elves and the Wounded in Ping Archer
The Wood Elf ability to kill wounded enemy creatures (Leaflurker, Falinesti Reaver), the Finish Off action, or other cards providing Reach with a Wounded creature in lane, can definitely help to close some of the gaps, Murkwater Scourge when you are Winning or Losing a game. Silvenar Tracker is the best 2-cost charge creature if you get to proc it’s ability consistently. Ping decks now may have an option to test if Murkwater Scourge adds enough consistency to these archetype.
While technically not a Wood Elf, it is worth mentioning Shearpoint Dragon in this context as well. The Dragon’s special ability allows you to cast -2/-2 Curses at your opponent’s creatures. This increases the likelihood of removing or stalling your opponents assault as well.
Triggering Plots or Cheap Discards
You can also use the Curses generated by Murkwater Scourge to trigger Plot abilities. In a match-up where your Control-opponent is running a smaller amount of creatures, this might be a good use for the Curse during early game. If you are running the “Kill the Wounded” package consider to keep a Curse for mid- to late-game to remove a bigger Guard or one of your opponent’s finishers.
Another use is to keep a Curse when your deck is running Cornerclub Gambler who requires you to discard a card to draw two if she survives a turn.
Increasing Summon/ Last Gasp Value in Control Decks
Ulfric Uprising, Doppelganger, Dark Rebirth, Necrom Mastermind and the Altar of Despair are all examples of cards getting additional value out of cards with strong Summon / Last Gasp effects. Additionally, cards that benefit from your own creature sacrificies, will like the two Curses that can be earned. This includes Cruel Firebloom but also Eager Torturer, who gains a +2/+2 buff for every creature being sacrificed.
The Mushroom Tower Curses
Mushroom Tower provides all your actions the Betray keyword, meaning that you can sacrifice a creature to cast another copy of the action for free. With cards like Balmora Spymaster, Berne Clan Nightstalker in Telvanni, there might be some ridiculous combos possible that increase the value of the card in a vacuum.
Items – Sword of the Inferno Curses
Depending on the match-up, items can provide some additional survivability for Murkwater Scourge. Steel Scimitar can turn him into a 5/3 and Cloak & Dagger into 5/3, 3/3 or 5/1, depending on the situation. If you have a few tokens that need removal, equip Sword of the Inferno and you get 4 damage spread across three potential targets by turn 6. Unfortunately, you will lose the Scourge in the process. But, it can certainly improve your board position by a little bit, particularly, when followed up with Falinesti Reaver during your next turn.
Murkwater Scourge is another Monthly Reward card that synergizes well with existing deck archetypes that have been around for a bit. In comparison, it seems like a slightly above average Monthly Reward card. The Scourge has clear strengths during opening for mid-range and control decks and lots of synergies into several classes. Play this card for some nostalgia, as you pull some two-color decks from your cabinet drawer (like Market Archer, Goblins or Burn Hex Assassin) and maybe experiment to merge them into a Goblin Hex Assassin or a Goblin Market Archer deck.
In any case, it will shorten the span until we get the next big expansion that is just around the corner.