It just attacks and blocks

In The Magic Show episode about Pro Tour: Valencia, Evan went around asking people what the “best” creature was – motivated in great part by the recent appearance of Tarmogoyf. I liked Zac Hill’s answer to this question, vis-a-vis Tarmogoyf, as it distills out the fundamental reason I’m never excited about playing a Goyf – “It just attacks and blocks.”
Now, Zac was partially speaking from his self-avowed combat disability there, but I tend to agree that a dude, even a highly cost-effective one, remains, simply, a dude. A 5/6 or 6/7 for two mana is good, and great in Zoo-style aggro decks, but in most other contexts, I’d rather have creatures that do something beyond simply tearing things up in the red zone.
So what about this little dude?
ScuteMobPreview.jpg
The flavor on this card is great – scute bugs keep pouring out of the landscape in an ever-expanding mass. I also love the art (Zoltan and Gabor strike again!).
Clearly, the Mob gets out of hand incredibly quickly if you’re in the mid-to-late game. If there’s nothing facing off against it on the other side, it starts swinging as a 5/5 and then follows up as a 9/9. Oof.
That said, it still “just attacks and blocks.” As a finisher in control decks, it feels intuitively like a “best case” finisher – that is, a finisher that is amazing only when you’re doing okay already. This is, of course, another variation on “win more.” In contrast, the current control finishers can not only win games quickly, but dig you out of holes. Broodmate Dragon gives you two evasive bodies, and Baneslayer gives you evasion, lifelink, and first strike. The former can yield a blocker even after the opponent comes over the top with removal, or a finisher even if they have removal for half the pair. The latter pulls you out of danger very quickly and decisively, courtesy of lifelink. Scute Mob, in contrast, just swings big.
That, of course, is why we prepare to take down both finishers when we’re planning to oppose control decks running them, and this is why I’m dubious about Scute Mob. In my recent aggro build, I ran eight removal options to nail opposing Baneslayers, since a Baneslayer quickly yields an unwinnable gamestate for an aggro deck. The problem here is that everything that kills Baneslayer, well, it kills Scute Mob as well. So it’s a finisher that generates fewer options, but dies just as well to the preparations opponents are already making for just such an occasion.
The counter-argument would be that you can drop a Scute Mob with lots of mana open to defend it, unlike a Baneslayer or Broodmate. True, but any aggro deck that is prepared to kill a Baneslayer is prepared to kill it through countermagic anyway.
So…although I adore the concepting and art, I think the Mob may prove less than thrilling in constructed play.
As always, with only a third of cards available, your mileage may very significantly by the time the full set comes out.

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