Last updated on February 27, 2024
Pili-Pala | Illustration by Ron Spencer
Although the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz turns out to be a lovable goof, scarecrows are, well, scary by design. In the hands of Magic artists, these creatures can be deeply unsettling.
There are only 41 scarecrows in Magic, so it’s a pretty underdeveloped tribe. But there are still some strangely powerful cards with unique effects here. Are any of these mostly colorless creatures right to mix into your Commander deck?
Let's jump in and find out!
They tend to be a bit fiddly and overcosted, but there are some sneaky combos and recursions to be found. If you’re looking for something different for your EDH deck and want some spooky art to boot, scarecrows are hard to beat.
Scarecrow is the first one from way back in The Dark. It’s astoundingly not good.
The flavor on this card is that it… scares away the fliers? Because they just keep coming back? This is the least played scarecrow in EDH by far.
#40. Wicker Warcrawler
#39. Geist-Fueled Scarecrow
Did you travel back in time to the 90s? What geist is fueling this poppet? Erhnam Djinn?
I’m not even sure Geist-Fueled Scarecrow is quite bad enough to give away in Zedruu the Greathearted decks, and this isn’t good enough otherwise. I’m sure this was a grudging pick in Eldritch Moon Limited. Very grudging.
#38. Hoof Skulkin
Another, “gey, Remember the 90s?” rate card, Hoof Skulkin is for a true believer in scarecrow tribal only.
#37. Harvest Hand / Scrounged Scythe
#36. Thornwatch Scarecrow
Six mana! Not worth it for Thornwatch Scarecrow.
#35. Rattleblaze Scarecrow
Six mana! We can’t do that, Rattleblaze Scarecrow.
#34. Watchwing Scarecrow
Watchwing Scarecrow is a derpy overcosted flier in an Azorius () fliers deck. You have enough of those from Core Set Drafts, don’t you?
#33. Lurebound Scarecrow
You know you want to play Lurebound Scarecrow in your Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma deck. You also know that it’s a pretty terrible idea. Ask any 90s Magic boomer you know about how much success they had planning combos around cards with “lure” in its name.
I see you, Lurebound Scarecrow. You aren’t the boss of me.
#32. Blazethorn Scarecrow
All the art on scarecrows is particularly evocative, but this is one of my favorites. I’d definitely be hiding in a cave, too!
Wither isn’t the best ability ever, and you can do better for five mana. Blazethorn Scarecrow only targets green creatures, which isn’t great when most other scarecrows are colorless. You’ll play this in scarecrow tribal because there aren’t enough tribal cards, but you’re never happy topdecking it.
#31. Straw Soldiers
#30. Signpost Scarecrow
#29. Wicker Witch
This art is terrifying, as are the under-rate stats on Wicker Witch.
Here’s my pitch: make these into tokens that a giant spidery scarecrow doll behemoth rips off its own body and plops onto the battlefield when it’s returned to hand. New, horrifying archetype!
#28. Field Creeper
Field Creeper is vanilla and kinda weak. The art on it is sick, though.
#27. Jousting Dummy
#26. One-Eyed Scarecrow
Me, maybe not. You haven’t got straw for brains though, right?
Scrapbasket is important glue for scarecrow tribal. Take that for what you will.
#24. Crossroads Candleguide
The other two abilities on this are okay at best.
#23. Shire Scarecrow
#22. Scarecrow Guide
Scarecrow Guide is a decent creature all things considered (for a Limited environment, of course). It's a 2/1 for with upside (reach) and it can filter mana once-per-turn for just . In the grand scheme of things, this creature is a Limited playable and that's it. As for all scarecrows, well, this is in the top half!
Five mana is a lot. Giving a creature persist is great, and Antler Skulkin works well with a commander like Denry Klin, Editor in Chief. The limit to white creatures can be tough, especially if you want this for scarecrow tribal where most of them are colorless!
This has some of the sweet combos you expect from persist using Ashnod's Altar and another card that gives counters on ETB, like Cordial Vampire, or what you might get up to with Solemnity and Genesis Chamber. Put that all together, and, well…
Five mana is a lot.
There are easier ways to give haste, but Jawbone Skulkin can be friends with Reaper King in scarecrow tribal. This is also is quite nice with some of the red cards that find their way into those decks, like Taurean Mauler.
Shroud is super annoying. Being able to grant it is also super annoying. Is that worth a 3-mana activated ability on a 4-drop that only targets blue creatures? Probably not.
Chainbreaker is a fascinating design space WotC revisited with cards like Ammit Eternal in Amonkhet. It combos nicely with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed because the -1/-1 and +1/+1 counters make each other disappear.
Worst case this is a 1/1 for two mana. That’s pretty bad, but I suppose you might want to consider this if you can move counters around like Nesting Grounds.
A 2-mana 2/1 is below rate, but giving a black creature wither is very nice in The Scorpion God -1/-1 counters EDH decks. The synergies between that ability and the rest of your colorless scarecrows aren’t there for tribal, but Fang Skulkin has potential.
Nope, but I don’t see why it couldn’t serve in a Meteor Golem spot in a blink deck in an EDH world of increasingly indestructible creatures. Of course this is a good (though costly) card for The Scorpion God, Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, and other -1/-1 counters decks.
The rate, the persist, and the colors Wingrattle Scarecrow benefits from make it almost straight-up playable. It’s a card you might play willingly outside of the scarecrow meta.
Wild, right? God job, Wingrattle Scarecrow.
Wickerwing Effigy is an Alchemy card, so haters can move along. It can churn through your deck for ETB creatures and permanently alters them to small birds, so it allows for what would be boggling silliness with Nethroi, Apex of Death in any other format.
In Alchemy that’s called “turn 5.”
Still in boomer combo land, Scuttlemutt is useful in various EDH decks that care about color changing, like Jaya Ballard, Task Mage, and targeting, like Horobi, Death's Wail. There are lots of uses for this flexible card, which is like a walking Manalith.
#6. Wicker Picker
Wicker Picker is eternal-format legal, and I don’t want to bicker or dicker about it. If stickers are powerful in Unfinity then this card will be sicker than a vicar who drank too much of the thicker liquor.
When you add a card that reduces the cost of the activated untap ability like Biomancer's Familiar, you can add an infinite number of counters. You can also use the Gleaner with Elemental Mastery and one of the sac altars, Ashnod’s or Phyrexian, and you get all the tokens.
I’m sure there are plenty more. Yay?
When you look at Painter's Servant and think of scarecrow tribal, you think that this helps all your scarecrows that care about creatures of other colors frolic through the autumn fields together. That’s some quaint and only vaguely terrifying fun, there, player!
What the rest of the Magic world sees is a card that does so much broken stuff. Just add Light of Day, maybe try Elephant Grass plus Solemnity. Perhaps a Grindstone tickles your fancy. Regardless, your table will stop having fun. Even less fun is this with Verdant Succession, a sac altar, and something like a Kozilek, Butcher of Truth or Guile that shuffles itself into your library when it dies.
There are legit uses for this card, and maybe the EDH table will let you get away with playing Painter's Servant in scarecrow tribal. In most other contexts, though, you’ll become the archenemy when this hits the table.
Speaking of archenemy! Pili-Pala infamously generates infinite mana with Grand Architect or anything else that lets a creature tap for more than one mana, including Draft chaff common Careful Cultivation.
I guess this is the best card here but is kind of on a second tier given how much the Rule 0 conversation for EDH tends to frown on infinite combos.
This is it, your scarecrow tribal commander! Reaper King has a nice Meteor Golem effect for every scarecrow ETB, but there just aren’t enough scarecrows. Most of these decks add some key changelings like Realmwalker. Blink enablers like Eerie Interlude are good, and things that copy creatures like Reflections of Littjara are also good.
The King’s ability is so good that this is a decent general for tribal, packed with shapeshifters and changelings and other lords with utility like Haakon, Stromgald Scourge. Perhaps that’s a testament to the unfortunate but thematic weakness of scarecrows overall?
There are only five crows in Magic (and that’s if you count Crow Storm), so the thematic storytelling possibilities with a casual EDH deck are rather limited, but there are some fun decks to make in this space.
Reaper King goes nuts. These are usually 5-color decks with a lot of changelings and blink effects for triggers. It’s hard to see how this wins any Commander game that started after 2018, but these decks are a lot of fun to play.
The King serves to distract with its spot removal until the other tribal lords from Magda, Brazen Outlaw to Knight Exemplar can get their engines online, usually once the King is super banished to the command zone.
If you haven’t built this kind of deck before, it’s a good mixture of fun and casual-competitive.
Reaper King | Illustration by Jim Murray
My biggest disappointment with the recent return to Innistrad has been the lack of good scarecrows. There’s an interesting horror flavor in this tribe, and I’d like to see more cards for it. There just aren’t enough interesting options to pepper into various decks and supplement in their own EDH decks with changelings, at least not until there’s better scarecrow support.
Have you had any success with scarecrow tribal? Which are your favorite scarecrows to plant in other decks? Let me know in the comments below or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.
As the days get shorter, remember to keep those card-shuffling hands warm!
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