Geist-Fueled Scarecrow has an ability that says

Creature spells you cast cost 1 more to cast.

I don't see the strategy in casting a 4/4 creature and then penalizing myself for the added creature cast cost... Please elaborate, thanks!


  • 4
    Keep in mind many cards are designed specifically with drafting in mind. A 4/4 for 4 colourless at uncommon would basically be an auto-pick. It needs a drawback to make it an interesting card. – Affe Sep 13 '16 at 5:23
  • There are cards like Brisela, Voice of Nightmares and Void Winnower that affect what cards can be played. It may also be useful for strategies including cards like Æther Vial. A side effect that allows working round restrictions could be useful. – David Sep 15 '16 at 5:07
  • 2
    @David The cards you mentioned care about the converted mana cost, which doesn't change with additional costs such as the one imposed by the Scarecrow. – Matthew Jensen Jul 2 '20 at 0:19

There's a few ideas that spring to mind. The simple answer is that it's intended specifically as a downside. Most 4/4 creatures that cost {4} (without requiring specific types) have some sort of downside. If it didn't have the downside, it might not get printed.

Even if it's supposed to be a strict downside, though, there can still be unusual cases where you can take advantage of the downside. You could give it to an opponent with Harmless Offering and make them pay the extra costs. I guarantee you that at least one Zedruu the Greathearted player out there is running this. You can cast Etched Oracle for {5} and get a full sunburst. Maybe you want to use Hall of the Bandit Lord to cast a big creature and give it haste, but it has no generic mana in its mana cost. Are these strategies particularly strong or likely to see significant play? Probably not, but there's a lot of players who enjoy finding ways to take advantage of things intended to be downsides.


Under current rules, there does not seem to be any use for its ability, However, abilities of spells and creatures do not always have to be beneficial to their caster.

Many years ago, there was a rule called "mana burn". At the end of each phase or step, all players would lose all their unspent mana and lose that much life, and there are cards that punish you for having untapped lands. Having to pay extra mana for your creatures would allow you to evade both penalties. However, mana burn has always been a niche rule, and strategies building around it have been equally niche. Therefore, bringing a card that counters mana burn strategies would have been even more niche and practically irrelevant. Nowadays, with the mana burn rule long gone, even that niche use is non-existant.

The only explanation is that the Scarecrow's ability is simply a drawback to balance the card, because the overall power of a card depends on all of its characteristics such as cost, power/toughness, and abilities.

  • 5
    And putting downsides on creatures is a totally normal thing. There are plenty of creatures that can't block, or enter the battlefield tapped, creatures that make you lose life each turn, and all kinds of more exotic things - but they may still be worth playing, given their cost and what they can still do for you. – Cascabel Sep 11 '16 at 5:20

There are some uncommon and even some rare cards that are just meant to be bad. But there are two reasons I can think of that would make sense.

  1. You could give it to another player with cards like Harmless Offering, Donate, and Switcheroo.
  2. In the very same set that Geist-fueled Scarecrow was released, there is a card called Emrakul, the promised end that allows you to take control of a target player for a turn.
  • 2
    I don't see how Emrakul is relevant to the scarecrow. – Arcanist Lupus Jun 30 '20 at 19:14
  • The same set also has Harmless Offering, which I've added to your answer. This is also the set that has Goldnight Castigator, seen at the time as a prime Harmless Offering target. – doppelgreener Jun 30 '20 at 20:41
  • I fail to see how the drawback of your creatures costing 1 more to cast would have any impact on taking control of another player for a turn. And giving it to another player is covered in the existing accepted answer. – Joe W Jun 30 '20 at 21:13

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