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Frisco Del Rosario writes about chess960, women's basketball, minor league baseball, unsupported collectible card games, lettering in comic books, and Golden Age movies

Dark Mage Craig: Overlooked, defiant, scalable 05/12/2018

layer-81Red is known for its insanely-tough character cards: Paladin Butters confers invincibility to multiple allies, Princess Kenny reduces his killer’s attack to 0 for 10 seconds (so long that the killer might as well be dead, which means Princess is roughly the same as Inuit Kenny for half the cost), Stan the Great cuts enemy attacks by more than half across the field, and if you haven’t seen the Canadian Knight Ike/Robin Tweek combination, watch a video, because Robin Tweek transforms little Ike into Godzilla.

With all that fantastic red ability around, Dark Mage Craig has been much overlooked. Dark Mage Craig also loses the comparison to another Craig (the blue Craig can be as good as Lightning Bolt with a body).

I’ve always been intrigued by Dark Mage Craig. One, because no one’s playing with him; and two, because Craig is one of my favorite characters on the show.

Craig has attitude, which is well reflected in the Dark Mage card art. I loved that two-parter in which the big four persuade Craig to contribute his birthday money to their latest scheme, resulting in Craig being kidnapped and flown to Peru with the rest of them. Which gives him a good chunk of two episodes to curse himself and the big four for allowing himself to be sucked into the trouble that these assholes (who never liked him until he had $100) attract like magnets. Like Chekov’s gun, Craig has to get involved, no matter how reluctantly.

So I want to use a Craig card, but Marine Craig is just another boring way to fling poison (I have 349 unused Marine Craig duplicates, so if I ever want to upgrade, I’m ready). If there is an unfashionable Craig to use, it has to be Dark Mage Craig.

The fantasy event this weekend afforded a good opportunity. There were too few event points to score if you weren’t playing red, so why not?

I spent all of my coins and tickets raising unused red cards to levels 3 and 4, and the event has been fun. I’ve tried six different combinations of cards, teaming red with all three other colors, and Dark Mage Craig in every case.

At first glance, Dark Mage Craig appears useless, with the same kind of pipsqueak area damage that Mephesto Terrance does from the air. Still, if you keep him alive long enough, DMCraig’s bits of area damage add up at the end.

It’s his warcry that counts, reducing NK’s power by half (for 6 seconds at level 4). This also doesn’t sound like much, but consider this: Dark Mage Craig’s enemy nerfing is the only one in the game that scales with the enemy. The stronger the enemy NK, the more helpful DM Craig is in assisting his allies draw blood. The great beauty of this is that if you time it right, if Dark Mage Craig’s nerf is still in effect when the enemy NK loses a bar and shockwaves, the shockwave is also halved, and your attackers fight on.

Dark Mage Craig is the headhunter’s best friend. My first go with DM Craig and Starvin’ Marvin was a success; Craig kept Marvin aloft for an additional second or two, and that’s a lot of time for Marvin. I imagine a skillful player could coordinate Mimsy’s arrival with Paladin’s deathwish and Dark Mage’s warcry. No Hyperdrive necessary.

I think DM Craig’s other partner is Pigeon Gang. Rats move fast, so they don’t need the help, but pigeons flying toward NK usually get picked off by NK zaps before they’re damaging. Dark Mage Craig changes that.

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