Five Reasons Batterskull > Wurmcoil Engine

A few weeks ago in Nashville, my old buddy Brian Kibler and I were discussing Brian Sondag’s now format-making Wolf Run Ramp deck. One of the things I wanted to discuss was Sondag’s 3/3 split on Primeval Titan and Wurmcoil Engine. Overall I said that I wanted to play (at the very least) the fourth Primeval Titan [probably at the cost of a Wurmcoil Engine] — I mean if I played Green and stuff, which I don’t.

I don’t really like Wurmcoil Engine that much in Standard, and if you have looked at some of the deck lists I have put out in recent weeks, they all have things like one Batterskull in the main deck, maybe one or more in the sideboard and no Wurmcoil Engines anywhere. I made a suggestion to Kibs in the booth that I would consider Batterskull in the Wolf Run main but he stood in Solidarity with the other Brian on that one.

Sondag later stepped into the booth and talked about initially playing with four Primeval Titans but rolling it back to three, especially given how effective a four-pack of Green Sun’s Zeniths were / are in his deck list.

Now if you look at the most recent Open winner by Ben Friedman you will see many of the changes that I suggested put into reality (Batterskull‘s inclusion, fourth Primeval Titan, blah blah blah):

Wolf Run Green – Ben Friedman

4 Dungrove Elder
4 Garruk, Primal Hunter
4 Primeval Titan
19 Forest
4 Rampant Growth
4 Birds of Paradise
2 Llanowar Elves
2 Mountain
3 Beast Within
2 Batterskull
2 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Acidic Slime
3 Green Sun’s Zenith
2 Inkmoth Nexus
3 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Wurmcoil Engine

1 Beast Within
1 Karn Liberated
1 Tree of Redemption
1 Acidic Slime
2 Sword of Feast and Famine
3 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Viridian Corrupter
2 Ancient Grudge
3 Gut Shot

Of course, the enemy has shifted. When Sondag won, Red Decks were still making Open Top 8s. Today, the enemy is… Wolf Run (and Primeval Titan is one of the best men in the mirror).

Maybe you think you know where I am going with this blog post. Maybe you read the title and actually do know. Regardless of being in Wolf Run or control or wherever I just want to talk about some of the reasons why I favor Batterskull (in general) over Wurmcoil Engine in Standard.


  1. Speaking of “Five,” it costs five, not six.
  2. The card Mana Leak exists.
  3. It’s way better against bad Solar Flare decks.
  4. It looks like a robot, but is actually a Black man.
  5. Mise!

Speaking of “Five,” it costs five, not six.

As it costs five mana rather than six mana, I would generally want a Batterskull more than a Wurmcoil Engine in most matchup situations (saving one, which we will get to at the end).

Against beatdown, I just want to tap for it as soon as possible. I am going to have to take a stand at some point and I would rather do that one turn earlier. Everything the opponent can do to me the turn I tap out for Batterskull, he can do the turn I tap out for Wurmcoil Engine (Koth of the Hammer or whatnot). Against [another] control deck (or six deck), most of what the opponent can do to me (especially if I am on the play) is less significant. For instance, six against six, I can just tap out for Batterskull on turn five and what is he going to do to me? If I tap for Wurmcoil Engine he can do something terrible, like play a real Titan and trump me (Frost Titan and Primeval Titan are especially atrocious, though there are many Sun Titan situations that are also going to make me want to quit for tapping out for a stupid Wurmcoil Engine, e.g. a Phantasmal Image to deuce or double).

At seven mana I can tap with the ability to Mana Leak back; with a Wurmcoil Engine I would have to wait until eight (and this all gets so much more nebulous as the mana climbs).

Mostly, you want this kind of card against a Red beatdown deck and I really just want my Batterskull more often there, because of its speed.

The card Mana Leak exists.

Now even though “eight” is nebulous, think about how much better Batterskull is when you and your opponent are basically spent, and you hit eight. You go “Ho hum, I guess I am going to play this stupid Batterskull” and your opponent is like “Mana… Oh never mind. Resolves.”

You can just Attrition him forever with a Batterskull here. Even if he has something big, you can block, gain four, and re-play over and over until he has a legitimate answer.

I was actually inspired to start playing Batterskull over Wurmcoil Engine watching Medina v. Bertoncini in Nashville. Bertoncini’s Wurmcoil Engine came down on that narrow fifth turn and seemed to take over the game… Until Alex just up and decided to quit for whatever reason :/

It’s way better against bad Solar Flare decks.

As above.

It looks like a robot, but is actually a Black man.

This is a bit of a tricky one.

A few months ago Wurmcoil Engine might get some points because people were playing Go for the Throat to dodge Spellskite (so they could kill Deceiver Exarch), and Dismember was a four-of in almost every deck. Dismember is pretty bad against Wurmcoil Engine as well.

Doesn’t matter though: Most people play a Doom Blade now, and there are almost no Dismembers to be seen.

It is not “wrong” to play a Doom Blade, especially when people are killing each other with an Inkmoth Nexus every other table. However if they aren’t going to play Go for the Throat and / or Dismember (i.e. cards that can hit a Batterskull), you might as well take advantage of that.

The reality is that none of Doom Blade, Go for the Throat, or Dismember are great long term against either of these cards, but sometimes you are going to be on the wrong end of the opponent’s tempo play, and some of the time that is going to kill you. So you might as well pick the kind of card that is going to be on the wrong end much less often… and that is the one that can’t be hit by the more commonly played one (i.e. doesn’t die to Doom Blade).


Batterskull is an equipment.

That means you have all kinds of mise-tacular plays available that Wurmcoil Engine just doesn’t have.

Like, even if your opponent answers the Living Weapon, you can just move it onto your Inkmoth Nexus and make your opponent take 100 poison while you gain DI life (or your Snapcaster Mage or whatever).

Another cool thing is when your Red Deck opponent thinks he is all clever against six decks / Titans and has some kind of Threaten. Congratulations on not dealing me any damage… You might have stolen my Germ Token, but I still control the equipment.

On the other hand, he is just going to kill you to death with your own Wurmcoil Engine.

For all of these reasons and more, I favor Batterskull over Wurmcoil Engine, in general, in Standard.

Now there is one card that I can think of where Batterskull might be much worse, and that is against Keldon Vandals. Your opponent doesn’t really want to 187 the big 6/6 only to yield two 3/3 Yo! MTG Taps tokens. I mean he will do that sometimes, but he doesn’t want to, ever. On the other hand he is going to be rocking in his seat all foaming at the mouth to do the same to your poor Batterskull the turn you tap out for it. Yes, that is kind of ooh sucky sucky, but no one said one card was strictly better than the other in all situations or anything.

On the other hand, look at how much better Batterskull is in most other cases against point removal, especially Revoke Existence.

Just think about that one!


A while back BDM suggested I start drawing action figures. You can pose them and do cool stuff and get better at drawing figures via, you know, action figures. Here is my first attempt:

[Speaking of robots, equipment, etc.] – Tony

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#1 MTGBattlefield on 10.30.11 at 5:14 pm

Five Reasons Batterskull > Wurmcoil Engine…

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