Surveyor’s Scope – A Magic the Gathering Card Review

Magic the Gathering’s preconstructed Commander 2013 decks introduced several cards designed to only be playable in a multi-player Commander setting. One of these cards is Surveyor’s Scope, a two-mana artifact. The scope can tap as soon as it’s played to use its ability, which is to exile it and search your library for up to X basic land cards; in this case, X is the number of players who control at least two more lands than you. You get to put those lands directly onto the battlefield.

Surveyor's Scope magic the gathering card

For non-Green decks that don’t have other ways to ramp up their mana, such as Cultivate or Kodama’s Reach or creatures that can grab lands like Yavimaya Elder or Sakura-Tribe Elder, the Scope is not a terrible option. But, it’s a bit too situational to be reliable mana ramp. If you have two or three players at your table with two more lands than you – for example, in cases where you’re really getting mana screwed – then it’s a very good card. Having to exile it kind of stinks, but it’s understandable considering the strong value you can get out of this card.

Getting one basic land directly into play untapped out of the Scope is perfectly fine. It’s a pretty solid Commander card, if not the most consistent. Keeping up with land drops is even more important in Commander than other formats. But, to get full value out of Surveyor’s Scope in multi-player, you have to time its use just right.

However, Surveyor’s Scope could find a more consistent home in decks led by Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient . Kurkesh has a nifty ability to copy the ability of an artifact, as long as it’s not a mana ability, for only a single Red mana. That means that you can get two activations out of Surveyor’s Scope before it needs to exile itself. This is great, because getting two lands instead of one, or four instead of two, or even six instead of three makes the Scope that much more valuable.

Obviously, there are far nuttier things to do with Kurkesh, but this is a nice interaction that makes the Scope far more playable in artifact based decks. Strionic Resonator from the Magic 2014 Core Set also allows for this, but Kurkesh does it better and more cheaply.

Surveyor’s Scope is a decent card for an artifact deck, especially one that can make use of copying its ability. Obviously, it would be pretty ridiculous if it didn’t have to exile itself, so it’s not a card that can be “broken” so to speak. But, it can definitely provide great value, especially with its effect duplicated. So, if you have a way to make its ability resolve twice at once, it may be worth running in your next artifact-happy Commander deck.

Writing words, spreading love, Amelia Desertsong primarily writes creative nonfiction articles, as well as dabbling in baseball, Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, and whatever else tickles her fancy.
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