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card review Marrow-Gnawer

Card Review
Marrow-Gnawer: click to enlarge

Card text:

All Rats have fear.
{T}, Sacrifice a Rat: Put X 1/1 black rat creature tokens into play, where X is the number of Rats you control.
Marrow-Gnawer united three nezumi gangs when he slew their leaders in a single night. Now they call him their first lord.

  • Number: 124
  • Rarity: R
  • Power: 2
  • Toughness: 3
  • Type: Legendary Creature
  • Subtype: Rat Rogue
  • Mana cost: 3BB
  • Color: Black
  • Artist: Wayne Reynolds
written by benstiebel
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General description:
speak up your mind here about this card and how you like it or dislike it. Maybe dissect its parts and analyze each of its abilities and possibilities
I came across Marrow-Gnawer when I was looking at building a token deck. He didn't quite make the cut, since you have to have at least two other rats in play for his ability to work. I had him in mind when I decided to build a rat deck. Rats cards tend toward small and weak, so you need a lot of them if you want to stop attacks or do any good in combat in general. In a rat heavy deck he's great, especially with whispersilk cloak, diplomatic immunity, or lightning greaves. He's only a 2/3, so you really need a way to protect him before you bring him out.
how you would use this card, or how you expect other people to use it
I use the tokens he makes as a kill shot after the other effects in my black and blue deck have shut down my opponent's defenses. He might also be good in a black sacrifice deck. The first line of text says "All rats have fear." So Marrow-Gnawer is great against nonblack decks, especially if you play rats with abilities like throatslitter, okiba gang shinobi, or ink eyes, servant of oni. Even without those cards a swarm of unblockable rats is pretty nice.
Strategies and game play:
discuss the strategies this card could be a part of and how it affects game play in general (especially if it's a new card)
It's important to have a way to protect Marrow-Gnawer, as he's fairly small and easy to destroy. Having a way to give him haste is helpful and a way to repeatedly untap him every turn would be nice, too. I like playing him after gnat miser and ravenous rats. Ravenous rats' ability happens when it comes into play, after that it's just a 1/1 creature, so its perfect for sacrifice fodder. If possible it's nice to have a counterspell and the mana to play it when you bring him out, as anyone who knows Marrow Gnawer will try to get rid of him before his ability gets going.
Combos with other cards:
identify other cards with which this one could make interesting combos
I've already mentioned a few combos that one could use with Marrow gnawer. Probably the best single card to match him up with would be Goblin Bombardment. Make thirty or forty rat tokens, then sacrifice all of them and deal that much direct damage to an opponent. He would also be great in a deck with soul warden, conclave phalanx, or biorythm, as these would bring your life total to obnoxious levels. He is also a great card to mix with creatures like beast of burden and plague rats, who get stronger from the token creature marrow-gnawer generates.
Ways to counteract it:
how you think players can protect themselves against this card
The best way to get rid of Marrow gnawer would be direct damage or destroy creatre effects. Incinerate, Mortify, and Repentant Vampire could all deal with him quite easily. Hissing Miasma and Propaganda will both slow down the assault of his tokens, and anything like faith's fetters, arrest, or elvish hunter can keep him from using his ability. Local or global damage cards like simoon and breath of darigaaz can keep the number of token at minimal levels.
List all the advantages of this card
He is one of those cards that could win the game for you. If you have him and two other rats on the turn that his summoning sickness ends, you can make two more rats by sacrificing one. The next turn you sac a token, and get three more tokens, the next turn you sac another token, and get five more tokens. The next thing you know, you have a horde of 1/1 token to swing with, sacrifice, or do whatever else you want.
List all the disadvantages of this card
His mana cost is a little steep 3BB and you have to have at least two more rats to make his ability work.
list all variations of this card that you are aware of: in which languages it has been printed, if there is an alternate art or promotional version, if it is available in foil, etc.
He is only available in Champions of Kamigawa.
Artwork and aesthetics:
do you like the artwork? is it meaningful and relates to the card abilities (or the abilities relate to the art)?
The picture of him is not all that great, but the dimly visible horde of Nezumi warriors in the background displays his ability perfectly.
Overall rating:
give this card a general rating from 1 to 10.
9, I love this card.


Modified on October 19, 2012 07:24 am

Current score for this Card Review, based on 3 votes:
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Discussion about this Card Review
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Author Message
United States

Avatar for jacen
Subject:    Posted: April 16, 2006 03:22 pm Reply with quote Report content icon

This is a great card. In type 2 standard, he has plenty of other rats to help him out. I think that a deck with him should probably be mono-black and only rat creatures. You have plenty of rats in Kamigawa, and there are plenty more coming in the Rakdos of Dissension (if you do that, you'll have to splash red) they key to marrow-gnawer is to use him as support. You can use Swarm of Rats or Pestilence Rats from ice age and have a few creatures of obnoxious power and a bunch of tokens following in after. The key to any tribal deck is to find cards that work with the creature type, and the fallback is always coat of arms. Even if you have marrow-gnawer and his two other rats, coat of arms makes him a 4/5, then when you use his ability, he is a 5/6. Next turn he is a 8/9, and all your tokens are 6/6 rats. That can be devastating real quick. To get around the creature enchantments that can get annoying, like faith's fetters, or any pacifism effect, run the Bone-Reader to sac him away. you can also tap him and sacrifice him and put the rats into play. use a stir the gave to send him back into play. also run a card called lab rats when not in type 2. its a buyback card that can put a rat in play for 5 mana and come back to your hand, then tap marro-gnawer to make even more rats. with those rats that have power equal to the number of rats you control, you should be swinging for lethal damage soon enough.

also, i wouldnt run plague rats or relentless rats. they only gain bonuses from themsleves, not the number of rats in play.
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