Pili-Pala - Illustration by Ron Spencer

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 39 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!

What Are Scarecrows in MTG?

Wicker Warcrawler (Shadowmoor) - Illustration by Carl Critchlow

Wicker Warcrawler (Shadowmoor) | Illustration by Carl Critchlow

Scarecrows are a type of creature, almost always artifact creatures. Scarecrow was the first printed way back in the The Dark.

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.

#39. Scarecrow

Scarecrow

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.

#38. Wicker Warcrawler

Wicker Warcrawler

Unplayable. Sorry, Wicker Warcrawler. You seem nice in a terrifying giant arachnid-y way.

#37. Geist-Fueled Scarecrow

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.

#36. Hoof Skulkin

Hoof Skulkin

Another, “gey, Remember the 90s?” rate card, Hoof Skulkin is for a true believer in scarecrow tribal only.

#35. Harvest Hand / Scrounged Scythe

Would Harvest Hand ever get sleeved if there were no scarecrow tribal?

#34. Thornwatch Scarecrow

Thornwatch Scarecrow

Six mana! Not worth it for Thornwatch Scarecrow.

#33. Rattleblaze Scarecrow

Rattleblaze Scarecrow

Six mana! We can’t do that, Rattleblaze Scarecrow.

#32. Watchwing Scarecrow

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?

#31. Lurebound Scarecrow

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.

#30. Blazethorn Scarecrow

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.

#29. Straw Soldiers

Straw Soldiers

The only non-artifact scarecrow is also the only single colored card in the lot. Straw Soldiers is quite below rate.

#28. Signpost Scarecrow

Signpost Scarecrow

If I were to ask you to make a card whose mix of cost, power/toughness, and activated abilities were all just bad enough to make it unplayable, you might make Signpost Scarecrow.

#27. Wicker Witch

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!

#26. Field Creeper

Field Creeper

Field Creeper is vanilla and kinda weak. The art on it is sick, though.

#25. Jousting Dummy

Jousting Dummy

Let’s go, Jousting Dummy! It’s a cut above vanilla, but it’s honestly useful in my Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive deck.

#24. One-Eyed Scarecrow

One-Eyed Scarecrow

One-Eyed Scarecrow is below rate, even for a defenders deck. What’s really scary about this card is the ideas it gives you for brewing with Island Sanctuary. You’re better than that!

Me, maybe not. You haven’t got straw for brains though, right?

#23. Scrapbasket

Scrapbasket

Scrapbasket is important glue for scarecrow tribal. Take that for what you will.

#22. Crossroads Candleguide

Crossroads Candleguide

Crossroads Candleguide came from Midnight Hunt Draft, and it’s actually kind of a good rate for a scarecrow. That should be a nice sobering slap in the face to the scarecrow tribal curious out there.

The other two abilities on this are okay at best.

#21. Antler Skulkin

Antler Skulkin

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.

#20. Jawbone Skulkin

Jawbone Skulkin

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.

#19. Shell Skulkin

Shell Skulkin

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.

Blue already has a lot of unblockable creatures and ways to make things unblockable, if that’s your game. I’ll pass on Shell Skulkin.

#18. Chainbreaker

Chainbreaker

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.

#17. Fang Skulkin

Fang Skulkin

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.

#16. Lockjaw Snapper

Lockjaw Snapper

You can see how Lockjaw Snapper works in those same decks. It’s a lot of value for The Scorpion God.

#15. Scorn Effigy

Scorn Effigy

Sometimes you really need an extra foretell trigger. I have too many good triggers to find room in my Ranar the Ever-Watchful deck for Scorn Effigy.

Someday there’ll be a commander that goes ham when you cast a creature from exile, and this’ll be your ticket to a victory lap one evening at your local game store.

#14. Wild-Field Scarecrow

Wild-Field Scarecrow

Wild-Field Scarecrow is fine as a bit of in-case-of-fire-break-glass ramp for an Arcades, the Strategist walls deck.

#13. Heap Doll

Heap Doll

This ability for this cost is quite nice, and Heap Doll can easily find a productive home in a deck like Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker or Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle.

#12. Grim Poppet

Grim Poppet

Sure, Grim Poppet is a 7-drop. That’s Ultimatum prices. Is this good enough to justify that?

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.

You can slot this right into your undying infinite combo of choice, or experience the ultimate jank of this plus Flourishing Defenses and Sculpting Steel.

#11. Wingrattle Scarecrow

Wingrattle Scarecrow

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.

#10. Wickerwing Effigy

Wickerwing Effigy

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.”

#9. Scaretiller

Scaretiller

Can’t you smell the combos? Scaretiller gives you infinite landfall triggers with Retreat to Coralhelm and Gateway Plaza in case you’re looking for an infinite combo at less than a buck total.

Landfall commanders like Moraug, Fury of Akoum are fans. Scaretiller is also fun with commanders that tap things or care about tapping things, like Raff, Weatherlight Stalwart.

#8. Scuttlemutt

Scuttlemutt

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.

#7. Tatterkite

Tatterkite

Checkmate, wither tribal opponent in Shadowmoor Limited! Tatterkite is good for infinite recursion nowadays when Mikaeus, the Unhallowed gives it persist.

#6. Wicker Picker

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.

#5. Farmstead Gleaner

Farmstead Gleaner

You know anything with that untap symbol is going to be abusable, and this definitely is. Farmstead Gleaner has lots of fun with new card Meria, Scholar of Antiquity.

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?

#4. Painter’s Servant

Painter’s Servant

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.

#3. Pili-Pala

Pili-Pala

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.

#2. Scarecrone

Scarecrone

Scarecrone is a must-have engine for scarecrow tribal. It does it all as a sac and return package, so it’s even better with the Reaper King popping off with the ETBs.

The reanimation is so good that this is backup for other artifact EDH decks across the spectrum of commanders, from Losheel, Clockwork Scholar to Oswald Fiddlebender.

#1. Reaper King

Reaper King

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?

Best Scarecrow Payoffs

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.

Scarecrow Tribal

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.

Tribal Tribal

There are plenty of competitive commanders for “tribal tribal,” but Reaper King is second only to The Ur-Dragon in popularity as a 5-color commander in that area. You can see why.

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.

Wrap Up

Reaper King - Illustration by Jim Murray

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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