The first thing I thought of when I read this
card was the fact that you can put it on your
opponent's creature and make it unable to block,
and how that has usually been part of white's
domain. I don't have a problem with that at all,
but it is kind of funny. As regular readers will
know, I enjoy and appreciate any kind of card
that does double duty, and this one goes into
the realm of triple duty, performing pretty
decently in all three of its clear uses.
Today's card of the day is Gnarled Scarhide
which is a one mana Black
2/1 enchantment creature that can't block and
has a Bestow cost of four for +2/+1 and
enchanted creature can't block. This is a
very playable one mana drop for Black that
supports both minotaur and enchantment themes.
In the later game it has the added benefit of
being able to shut down a defensive creature,
though primarily it will be used as an Unholy
Strength with a penalty or just an added
offensive body. It will see play
competitively in several builds and will help
make mono-Black enchantment a viable design.
In Limited this is a great card to have in your
pool for Sealed or as an early to middle of the
pack choice in Booster. A one mana 2/1 can
come into play early and just swing almost every
turn as with no concern of leaving it to block
only creatures with First Strike or higher than
two toughness should stop it from attacking,
barring combat tricks. The Bestow option
may come into play as a boost for an evasive
creature you always want to attack with or to
stop a defender to help with other attackers or
an alpha strike.
I must confess that I didn't think much of
this card at first. Most of the bestow cards are
much better when you play them as an aura on
your own creature, so that's how I looked at it.
Gnarled Scarhide, however, is designed to go
into aggressive decks that want to play it first
turn. If you can get it out on the first turn,
you can swing for two very quickly and get
ahead. If that's where the card stopped, it
would still be played, though it wouldn't get a
lot of special attention.
But that's not where it stops. A normal 2/1
for 1 is nearly useless after the first few
turns - especially since it can't even be a
chump blocker. That's where the bestow comes in.
This bestow has the unique quality that it will
sometimes be good to bestow it on your
creatures, and sometimes on your opponent's.
Later in the game, maybe that extra 2 power on
your flying creature is what you need to finish
off your opponent, so you use it on yourself.
The real tech is when you put it on your
opponent's creature so they can't block your
attacker. You have to do this with caution, of
course, because buffing an opposing creature can
have it's drawbacks, but in the right type of
deck, you're racing your opponent and it will
often benefit you more than it hurts. All that
matters is that you get your opponent to zero
before you get there, right?
Casual, multiplayer, and limited are less
likely to have the aggressive decks where this
shines, so -1 in those formats.
You know, at first glance this card didn't blow
me away or anything, but it's actually starting
to grow on me another bit. It does actually have
some versatility in the ways that you can use
it, and while sometimes this means that each
mode is sub-par, in this case they all do a
pretty decent job.
The first way to use it is simply a 2/1 for 1.
And you know what? That's not bad. It's nothing
that blows my mind or anything, but it can help
you build a very nice aggressive start, which
shouldn't be underestimated. Sure it can't
block, but in the aggressive-style deck you'd
want to use this in blocking isn't all that
important anyway. Ideally you wouldn't even NEED
to block, because your opponent is so scared of
your attackers that they're holding back their
own creatures to block.
The traditional weakness of a low-cost creature
like this is that they're useless later in the
game. A 2/1 sounds great on turn 1 or 2, but is
it really the card you want to draw on turn 8
when there are maybe 6/6's and such out?
Fortunately this guy also has bestow, so instead
of tossing out another low-level attack you can
instead power up one of your more dangerous and
threatening creatures, maybe something with
trample or flying. Again the not blocking thing
can maybe be slightly annoying, especially
if your opponent has some decent threats out.
But ideally you're doing more attacking than
blocking in the first place.
And then there's the 3rd way. The quasi-removal
quasi-combat trick. Enchanted creature can't
block, you say? Why not bestow this onto an
opponent then! Of course it'd have to be the
right situation, say a turn when you had enough
power to end the game but your opponent has
blockers. You don't want to give your opponent a
chance to actually USE the increased power and
toughness you're giving him. But in the right
moment, it can do its part to help you win the
That's really pretty much it. It's not
mindblowing or game breaking in what it does,
and personally I've never really been a big fan
of any attacking creature that can be killed by
a simple 1/1 without a fun trick up its sleeve
like Bloodghast. But it certainly does have its