Scavenger is a card whose power may not be obvious at first glance. It looks a whole lot like the card Chancellor always wanted to be, similar to how Noble Brigand is like the card Thief always wanted to be. So, what makes Scavenger worth having its own article?
Scavenger’s power arises from the fact that it lets you search essentially your entire deck, finding exactly the card that you want, and topdecking it. This is actually pretty awesome. If Scheme is the card that lets you save an Action that you played this turn, Herbalist is the card that lets you save a Treasure that you played this turn, and Haven is the card that lets you save something that you could have played but didn’t, Scavenger is the card that lets you save something that you never even saw this turn. Better yet, unlike Scheme and Herbalist, it works on non-actions as well as actions.
Early in the game, you can Scavenge cursing attacks like Sea Hag and Witch to win the curse split. Later in the game, you can Scavenge your Platinum, Goons, or other power card, depending just on the frequency that you draw a Scavenger.
Scavenger also helps put together unrelated combos. For instance, consider Tournament. If your only Province is in your discard pile and you know you have Tournaments coming up soon, Scavenge it to the top of your deck. If you have +Actions, you can even Scavenge a Province that you revealed this turn in order to gain multiple Prizes at once. If you have lots of Scavengers and even more +Actions, you can topdeck more complicated combos together. For example, play a Village followed by two Scavengers, topdecking your Talisman and your Quarry. In an engine, Scavenger increases reliability by being able to topdeck key components for next turn.
In a similar manner, Scavenger rewards you for diligent deck tracking. Yeah, you can just dump your whole deck into the discard and pull out the power card, but if you are already going to play it next turn (or at worst the turn after), you may get more by just top decking from the cards already in the discard. On the flip side, some cards like altar can be so powerful that it is worth it to dump the deck every time they aren’t in hand in order to play them ASAP.
However, Scavenger really shines when it is part of its own combo. Below, I point out a few of the most notable.
Requirements: 2 Scavengers, 3 Stashes
This is one of the first combos that was documented in Dark Ages. It is pretty straightforward: every turn, play Scavenger, put your deck into your discard pile, and topdeck your other Scavenger. During cleanup phase, you draw the second Scavenger, and when you reshuffle, put all three Stashes on top. In the absence of handsize-reduction attacks, you are now guaranteed a Province every turn.
Some players might be more comfortable with having 4 Stashes instead of 3 to guard against the possibility of drawing both of your Scavengers in the same hand. However, the probability of this happening before you buy your fourth or fifth Province is quite low, and if it does happen, the combo is quick to get going again.
Works With: Cursing attacks, Looters
Conflicts With: All handsize-reduction attacks, Minion, Pillage
Combo: Scavenger/King’s Court
Okay, what card besides Counting House doesn’t combo with King’s Court? I am pointing out this combo because it is extremely resilient, and it guarantees a Province or Colony every single turn.
Requirements: 2 Scavengers, 2 King’s Courts, 2 Silvers (or 2 Platina for Colony games)
Here’s how it works. Draw King’s Court, Scavenger, Silver, and two other cards. KC the Scavenger, don’t discard your deck, and instead topdeck the KC, Scavenger, and Silver that are in your discard pile from last turn. Play the Silver. Buy a Province. Draw 5 Cards. Rinse and Repeat forever.
What makes this particular combo worth noting is that it is immune to Militia, Goons, Margrave, and Ghost Ship. In fact, the only cards that could normally mess up this combo are Minion, Pillage, and (immediately after a reshuffle and with bad shuffle luck) trashing attacks like Rogue and Thief.
Works With: Handsize-reduction attacks and most other attacks
Conflicts With: Minion, Pillage, faster King’s Court combos, Masquerade in the presence of handsize-reduction attacks
Requirements: 1 Scavenger, 2 Golems, exactly 1 other Action
This is similar in principle to Golem/Scheme. Play your Golem, making it find your Scavenger and any other Action card of your choice (say, a powerful attack). Play the wildcard Action, and then play the Scavenger, discarding your deck if necessary and topdecking your other Golem. Rinse and Repeat.
Counting House fits extremely well in the wildcard spot, even better than it did in Golem/Scheme. Let your Golem find your Scavenger and your Counting House, play the Scavenger to discard your deck, and play the Counting House to draw all of your Copper.
Works With: Strong attacks, Counting House
Conflicts With: Minion, Pillage, Looters (for ruins are actions), Necropolis, Masquerades that give you action cards
Requirements: At least 1 Scavenger and 1 University; the more the better.
Watchtower is a powerful cards because it lets you topdeck something you just bought or gained, enabling you to play it an extra time than you normally would have been able to before the end of the game.
Scavenger can work in a similar manner to Watchtower for Action cards that gain something. Gain your card, then Scavenge it for next turn. Unfortunately, most card-gainers are terminal.
University not only lets you gain a card costing up to $5, but it also gives you actions. So, you can play University to gain a $5 Action and then immediately Scavenge it. If you have a cantrip in hand, you can even draw and play the $5 Action from University on the very same turn that it was gained.
Works With: Good $5 Actions, Cantrips
Requirements: At least 1 Scavenger and 1 or 2 Reactions
Scavenger comes to the rescue when you blow out your birthday candles and wish, “if only there were a way to ensure that I always have my Trader, Tunnel, or Watchtower in hand when my opponent plays an attack.” Since Scavenger doesn’t require that you actually draw the card from your discard pile right away, if Scavenger is your last Action, you can ensure that your Reaction is available between turns.
Works With: Strong Reactions in the presence of Attacks
Conflicts With: Minion, Pillage
Requirements: 2 Scavengers
With 2 Scavengers in your deck, you can simply Scavenge a Scavenger every turn to ensure that you always start with at least $2. Nifty!
The guaranteed $2 is useful in many situations, but especially in Alternate VP games, when your money density becomes exceedingly low. With a guaranteed $2, you just need $2 out of the other 4 cards in order to get your Silk Roads or Gardens; that’s a $0.5 average card value. For contrast, you woud normally need a $0.75 average card value to consistently purchase $4 AltVP.
Scavenger/Scavenger works especially well in the presence of Throne Room. Throne your Scavenger, topdecking your other Throne Room and Scavenger. You are now guaranteed $4 every turn. Just one Copper and you have your Duke (requiring $0.33 average card value).
Scavenger/Scavenger and especially Scavenger/ThroneRoom are also resilient to most attacks, including handsize-reduction attacks.
Works With: Most attacks, Throne Room
Conflicts With: Minion, Pillage, faster non-AltVP strategies