The Battering Craghorn Dilemma: Commando!

The real reason Skirk is better than Craghorn is that people just don’t block that much nowadays. From my experience, I’d say about 65% of the time or so I’m able to get a Skirk through… And looking ahead, Legions offers absolutely zero reasons to block a face down creature.

It’s been awhile..

Feels like forever since last I’ve written, which is probably because I did my articles for the week of the Pro Tour a week in advance. This was, of course, to reduce the stress level for the actual week of the PT, considering I still had a bunch of stuff to do before I left.

But regardless, I’m back!

I did want to apologize for the delay – er, should I say dilemma? – between the last article and this one, but now that that’s outta the way, I have a few things I need to talk about regarding PT Chicago itself.

First, I’m sorry to disappoint everyone who picked me for his or her fantasy team. There is obviously no excuse for doing poorly and I have beaten myself up badly enough about it already. However, I do want to explain exactly what happened, as I was 5-0 before disaster struck.

Round 6 I played against Derek Bruneau, with his bombtastic deck containing Silent Specter, Aven Brigadier, Jareth, and others. Game one I get a good draw and smash, and I believe he does the same for game two. Game three I have a great draw – except that my lands are three Forests, and I never draw a Swamp despite my manabase being something like twelve swamps, Barren Moor, and five Forests. Textbook colorscrew, I guess – but whatever, I’m not one to go and whine about it.

Round 7 I played Baby Huey’s insane red/blue deck, and my deck only had a Smother and Swat for answers to his Lavamancer’s Skills. Needless to say, it was a trouncing.

Day two is when the real bad stuff started happening.

For the first draft, I positioned myself in an excellent seat for green, with nobody in it three people to my right, and two to my left. Still, the cards were just never opened – or opened only when the other green drafters had a crack at them first. My deck turned out mediocre, and despite winning my first round, I was again plagued with bad draws and or manascrew and there really wasn’t anything I could do about it. Very disheartening.

Somewhere in those four rounds of the first pod, I had a hot dog from the vendor that was selling food onsite. This was possibly the worst idea ever, as I contracted a horrible case of food poisoning from it. For the next three rounds of the second draft, I spent the time in between in the bathroom puking. I really don’t even know how I won two rounds in this pod, let alone actually walk to the tables to play without falling unconscious. I split in the last round and couldn’t even walk up to my room for over an hour from feeling so noxious.

So yeah, that’s my horror story.

Despite that, I still have only myself to blame, and I feel it’s time to move on.

The issue of the day is our spiky little friend the Battering Craghorn. My cohort KK seems to hold this little dude in very high esteem, while I feel exactly opposite on the situation (this much is implied just by writing the article).

Obviously it is good when you have both Skirk Commandos and Craghorns since your opponent can never make a completely correct decision about blocking, but that’s not what we are here to talk about. We’re talking about the overall power level difference between the Commando and the Craghorn.

Personally, I’ve never liked the Craghorn, I mean I will play it and all… But it just never seems to do anything whenever I have it. Even when I get someone to block it, it just seems fragile in comparison to the threat of a Commando getting through again.

Ken brings up the point of casting the Craghorn face-up on turn 4 to stop an aggressive assault. This is indeed a good point – if it weren’t flanked by some other bad ones. First off, the fact that it draws a removal spell is not always as relevant as when it”creates” a removal spell by giving Crown of Suspicion a target. Many people play the crown as a good answer to Sparksmith and Wellwisher, and a lot of times it ends up being a weak pump spell on one of your own guys due to a lack of kill targets. The Craghorn becomes just that: An easy target. The other problem is a cycled Solar Blast.

Needless to say, the Craghorn never impresses me when it’s around. Face-up Skirk Commando however possesses a pressing need to be dealt with due to the threat of Choking Tethers, Dirge of Dread, or Wave of Indifference, as well as being good with Goblin Sledder and Sparksmith.

Taking all of the above into account, the real reason Skirk is better than Craghorn is that people just don’t block that much nowadays. From my experience, I’d say about 65% of the time or so I’m able to get a Skirk through. This is much higher than the percentage of times I’ve gotten someone with a Craghorn.

One front that Ken doesn’t even bring up is the power level relationships between the cards after Legions is added into the mix. I know it is still relatively early, and I have little testing under my belt… But I also believe it is a good time to start jumping into this stuff. Legions offers absolutely zero reasons to block a face down creature. This does a few things at the same time.

First off, it reduces the Craghorn’s value even further in my book. This guy is just horrible when there is very little chance of him getting you a two-for-one. On the other hand, the Skirk becomes that much better because of the lessened need to block a turn 3 morph.

Basically, I agree that the face up part matters, except that I am still unimpressed with the Craghorn when it is face up. I don’t think creating a Crown of Suspicion target constitutes your opponent having to”waste” a removal spell on your lowly Craghorn. There are plenty of other things in the set that completely wreck the Craghorn – such as a one-point Sparksmith or a Festering Goblin. He just seems too fragile whenever in play. Generally I prefer the more solid all around beast, the Slateback.

This is of course pretty relative, and theory differs depending on history and experience. Anyway, here’s my pick order:

1. Sparksmith

2. Shock

3. Solar Blast

4-5. Erratic Explosion

4-5. Pinpoint Avalanche (occasionally moves above Explosion)

6. Skirk Commando

7. Charging Slateback

8. Battering Craghorn

9. Goblin Sledder

10. Goblin Taskmaster

11. Wave of Indifference (moves up in Red/Green)

12. Lavamancer’s Skill (moves up to number 2 in Blue/Red)

I hold basically the same opinions as Ken about Explosion and Pinpoint Avalanche, and feel it varies extremely according to the deck it’s being put in.

I apologize if this article was a little shorter than normal; it’s just that I’m anxious to get into the Legions stuff and should have some good info on that for next week. Until then.

Nick Eisel

Team CMU

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