Marrow-Gnawer – Champions of Kamigawa
Date Reviewed: April 27, 2023
Commander [EDH]: 4.63
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
On the weekend, I was talking Magic with an old friend of mine, someone with whom I’ve been talking Magic for about twenty years at this point. We were in my house, going through a box of random cards, and he pulled out a Thornbite Staff. He explained to me that it was actually a very valuable card now, because of its casual applications. I had some kind of mental block going on at the time, because I read the card about six times and couldn’t figure out what people were using it for. Later, I looked it up online and one of the top interactions listed for it was Marrow-Gnawer – and then I understood.
The fact is, though, Marrow-Gnawer was good before Lorwyn, and thus a very long time before now. While Ink-Eyes was the high-end Kamigawa rat creature for tournaments, Marrow-Gnawer was always the casual choice, because everyone likes flooding the table and people were trying to play token decks long before tokens were associated with ad cards in boosters and hidden bookkeeping costs of deckbuilding. To this day I’m still not sure what the right play with him is in the mirror match, when your rats just cancel each other out, but I do know that against any other deck, you have two paths to victory wrapped up in one card, and he synergizes with so many other black cards it’s not even funny. If there was a hall of fame for casual or tribal cards, he’d be in it – and as I alluded to, he’s still good in Commander now!
Commander [EDH]: 4.5
Marrow-Gnawer has long been considered the Rat Commander in EDH, and it’s not hard to see why. In addition to giving all of your rats evasion, he makes more of them. So long as you have at least two other rats besides Marrow-Gnawer, you’ll start coming out ahead on each activation. Kinda like Krenko, only sometimes a lot more efficient about ending games in the spot. And while this is ostensibly symmetrical, you have a massive tranche of black Rats, and fear constrains blocking by creatures that are neither black nor artifacts, so that’s not much of a worry. He’s hardly subtle, but he’s long been the face of rats at casual tables; he’s never quite cut it in Constructed, thanks to costing five mana and his pretty paltry base statline, but when he effectively can make a one-man army of vermin, who really cares?
Constructed: 1.5 (too slow to get rolling, too easy to kill)
Limited: 4.25 (as long as you pick up a couple more rats, the “army in a box” applies here, with the upside that Kamigawa‘s Limited removal options were not the best)
Commander [EDH]: 4.75 (while you might be able to go alternative avenues with different tribes, Marrow-Gnawer is far and away the best Rat commander, and there’s little reason not to run him(
We would love more volunteers to help us with our Magic the Gathering Card of the Day reviews. If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email. We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc. 😉
Click here to read over 5,000 more MTG Card of the Day Reviews!
Daily Since 2001.