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CardShark Content - Nathan Aldana (6/13/2004)

Skullclamp
Skullclamp
SkullclampSet: Darksteel
Cost:
1
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Sub Type:
Equipment
Rarity:
U
Number:
140
Artist:
Luca Zontini
Text:
Equipped creature gets +1/-1. Whenever equipped creature is put in a graveyard from play, draw two cards. Equip 1 (1: Attach to target creature you control. Equip only as a sorcery. This card comes into play unattached and stays in play if the creature leaves play.)
: Re-examining a Broken Card
by Nathan Aldana

Ask anyone what the most powerful deck in t2 a month ago, and you'd probably get a good variety of answers. Tooth and Nail
Tooth and Nail
Tooth and NailSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
7
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
134
Artist:
Greg Hildebrandt
Text:
Choose one - Search your library for up to two creature cards, reveal them, put them into your hand, then shuffle your library; or put up to two creature cards from your hand into play. Entwine 2 (Choose both if you pay the entwine cost.)
, Elf and Nail, Goblins, etc. But one name came up more often than anything else, and had the Regionals placings to back it up, Raffinity. An aggro deck supported by a Disciple/Ravager Combo, and fed massive card advantage via Skullclamp
Skullclamp
SkullclampSet: Darksteel
Cost:
1
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Sub Type:
Equipment
Rarity:
U
Number:
140
Artist:
Luca Zontini
Text:
Equipped creature gets +1/-1. Whenever equipped creature is put in a graveyard from play, draw two cards. Equip 1 (1: Attach to target creature you control. Equip only as a sorcery. This card comes into play unattached and stays in play if the creature leaves play.)
. 4th turn win was common, and 3rd turn win wasn't impossible with the right hand. Wizards and the DCI realized what a mess this was becoming, and took out the Clamp, radically altering the T2 metagame.

But why was Clamp banned?

Lets take a look at this card, and go over how it affected the entire metagame so drastically.


Skullclamp
Skullclamp
SkullclampSet: Darksteel
Cost:
1
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Sub Type:
Equipment
Rarity:
U
Number:
140
Artist:
Luca Zontini
Text:
Equipped creature gets +1/-1. Whenever equipped creature is put in a graveyard from play, draw two cards. Equip 1 (1: Attach to target creature you control. Equip only as a sorcery. This card comes into play unattached and stays in play if the creature leaves play.)

1
Uncommon-DS
Equipped creature gets +1/-1, when equipped creature is put into a graveyard, draw two cards

Equip 1

On the surface, the card looks somewhat harmless, even R&D said as much in their own article after the ban was announced. But when this card is coupled with cheap, small creatures, and a couple mana producers, you quickly end up with a situation where the card might as well have read, 1: Sacrifice
Sacrifice
SacrificeSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Text:
Sacrifice one of your creatures to add to your mana pool a number of black mana equal to that creature's casting cost.
a creature, Draw two cards. The problem with that situation, is for decks like Affinity, Elves, and Goblins; cheap, low casting cost creatures are about all the deck ever maindecks. The card was one step short of being a combo engine in itself (as it lacked the ability to power itself.), and was definitely broken enough to warp the metagame. Decks suddenly had to either have a way to answer the clamp, or had to run the clamp themselves to keep up with the pace of the metagame and have a shot at winning. Control, reanimation, and combo all but died on the vine, as the metagame was suddenly far too fast for them to establish a good hold. With Clamp running loose, three very powerful decktypes soon arose.

Raffinity: The most dreaded deck of t2 for a long while, and arguably the main reason the Clamp was banned, this deck could do enough damage to kill most opponents 4th turn, using clamp to accelerate card advantage to an insane pace, due to the low mana curve, and therefore, lack of mana needed for any action except the clamps.

Elf and Nail: a Tooth and Nail
Tooth and Nail
Tooth and NailSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
7
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
134
Artist:
Greg Hildebrandt
Text:
Choose one - Search your library for up to two creature cards, reveal them, put them into your hand, then shuffle your library; or put up to two creature cards from your hand into play. Entwine 2 (Choose both if you pay the entwine cost.)
variant that relied on Elves for fast mana, using the clamp to accelerate more cards into your hand to faster accelerate and Tooth and Nail
Tooth and Nail
Tooth and NailSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
7
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
134
Artist:
Greg Hildebrandt
Text:
Choose one - Search your library for up to two creature cards, reveal them, put them into your hand, then shuffle your library; or put up to two creature cards from your hand into play. Entwine 2 (Choose both if you pay the entwine cost.)
a big meaty monster into play.

Gobbo Bidding :Goblins. One of the scariest decks out of Onslaught
Onslaught
OnslaughtSet: Exodus
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
C
Number:
92
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
Whenever you successfully cast a creature spell, tap target creature.
block, and many builds ran Clamp for the double pleasure of dropping Gobs into the graveyard, and bringing more Gobs to hand

This is not to say there wasn’t some answers to the Clamp; Oxidize
Oxidize
OxidizeSet: Darksteel
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
79
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Destroy target artifact. It can't be regenerated.
, Shatter
Shatter
ShatterSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Shatter destroys target artifact.
, and Naturalize
Naturalize
NaturalizeSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
275
Artist:
Ron Spears
Text:
Destroy target artifact or enchantment.
all worked well against it, But that wasn’t the reason for the banning. The Clamp was answerable, but it was a card that forced opponents to maindeck or side deck answers to the clamp. If you couldn’t answer a turn ½ clamp, it was likely next turn, they'd outpace you in cards, and you'd never recover. This was the main reason for banning, the card was a threat you had to answer, or lose to. But just what made the card broken? On the whole, none of its effects were broken, after all.

But put together, those effects are what made the card so self-synergetic. For 1 mana, you weakened a creature, possibly killing it, and brought yourself closer to the condition needed to trigger effect 2, the Draw effect.

What could Wizards have done to stop this? A few things.

One, they should have tested better. The card’s main reason for its brokenness being undiscovered was the lack of testing the card before they sent it to print.

Two, they should have realized that any card that allows two cards drawn for one mana, is likely just waiting to be broken. This feeds back into point one. They should have tested it a bit better.

Three, they knew what a beast they had created far before Darksteel hit shelves, the articles published after its banning on the WOTC site prove as much. Why didn’t they give out some sort of warning?

In the end, what does this do to the game now?

The clamp is gone now, and with it, the metagame has changed drastically once again. Deprive
Deprive
DepriveSet: Rise of the Eldrazi
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
59
Artist:
Izzy
Text:
As an additional cost to cast Deprive, return a land you control to its owner's hand. Counter target spell.
d of its raw drawing power, Ravager has slowed considerably. Its still powerful, but has lost a lot of explosiveness. Elf and Nail is practically dead, its main engine of operation now dead and gone, Goblins will probably fare well, and U/W Control and Combo seem ready to return to the spotlight in the slower environment, amid many cries and groans about the U/W mirror match returning. Wizards screwed up, they admit it. But don’t fault them too much for it, after all, at least the occasional broken card shows them when they’ve pushed too far, and shows us players that wizards is trying its hardest to push the limit between ´´Cool´´ effects and ´´broken´´ effects.

The metagame is once more in a state of flux, as people try out new Fifth Dawn cards. Rumors of new decks loom. Witness/Slide, Ironworks Affinity, Fruit Loops. Will any of them be the next broken deck? The next viable deck? The next over hyped yet actually useless deck? Or will something completely new come out of the blue and turn the game upside down again? Only time, and the genius of us MTG players, will tell.


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