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Banning skullclamp, part two

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Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
June 4, 2004 1:51:40 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.trading-cards.magic.misc (More info?)

Wow. Aaron Forsythe's Friday article on www.magicthegathering.com
gives R&D's versions of events leading up to banning Skullclamp, the
first time a card has been banned in Standard since Memory Jar in
Urza's Legacy. I have publicly given my support to R&D before, and
will continue to do so. I honestly believed that Skullclamp was
intentionally pushed as a potentially broken card, just to see where
the line truly was.

And now Aaron admits the truth.

Not one of them considered it a problem.

I am, literally, stunned. Mouth agape. I understand very well the
intricacies of design, and how mechanics interplay. I can understand
how Wild Mongrel and Psychatog can be printed. After all, they're not
inherently broken. Print them in Tempest block, and they'd be
mediocre. Once Madness cards were printed, though, they were insanely
strong, and were a mistake in retrospect. I understand, and forgive
it.

But Skullclamp is immediately, obviously, blindingly broken. In any
block. At least, any block with playable creatures. And any color can
have massive, cheap, resilient card drawing. That goes against the
fundamental concept of Magic, and in a very bad way.

In a nutshell, any deck with creatures should run 4. Any deck without
creatures should add some creatures and 4 Skullclamp. It really is
that simple. Hell, I swapped 3 Brainstorm for 3 Skullclamps in my Type
1 Keeper deck, no other changes. Between Gorilla Shamans and Decree of
Justice, I found myself Demonic Tutoring for Clamp over Ancestral
Recall.

Read that last paragraph again.

I truly do not understand how this card totally escaped the attention
of people who are paid to spot these things.

--
Justin
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
June 4, 2004 5:35:37 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.trading-cards.magic.misc (More info?)

"Justin Sexton" <jsextonproductions@lycos.com> wrote in message
news:f1b6d8d0.0406032051.23768f0d@posting.google.com...
> snip
this card totally escaped the attention
> of people who are paid to spot these things.

I don't know what scenario is worse:
they knew it was broken so now they shamelessly lie about it
or
they were actually so careless not to notice ths card.

Either way, shows great care for their work, customers and the game.
The game, which, btw, is above them, the creator of the game or some broken
card.
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
June 4, 2004 5:35:38 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.trading-cards.magic.misc (More info?)

Hello, Griffis!
You wrote on Fri, 4 Jun 2004 13:35:37 +0200:


G> I don't know what scenario is worse:
G> they knew it was broken so now they shamelessly lie about it
G> or
G> they were actually so careless not to notice ths card.

G> Either way, shows great care for their work, customers and the
G> game.
G> The game, which, btw, is above them, the creator of the game or
G> some broken
G> card.

I'd just like to remind you an Open Software motto: "Given enough
eyeballs, every problem is shallow." Don't we, players, have more
eyeballs than Wizards' R&D?

Regards,
Arkady.
Related resources
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
June 4, 2004 5:35:38 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.trading-cards.magic.misc (More info?)

Griffis wrote:

> "Justin Sexton" <jsextonproductions@lycos.com> wrote in message
> news:f1b6d8d0.0406032051.23768f0d@posting.google.com...
>
>>this card totally escaped the attention
>>of people who are paid to spot these things.
>
> I don't know what scenario is worse:
> they knew it was broken so now they shamelessly lie about it
> or
> they were actually so careless not to notice ths card.

Actually, I'm starting to think they didn't catch it.
IIRC, the pre-release article on it said it looks inoffenisve at first.
But then the article goes on to list a myriad of powerful Clamp tricks.
Weird.
"No one really thinks much of this" becomes "But it's really nasty!"
in the course of a page and no one thought, "Huh, maybe we
should reexamine it then?"
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
June 4, 2004 5:35:39 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.trading-cards.magic.misc (More info?)

Arkady Zilberberg wrote:

>
> I'd just like to remind you an Open Software motto: "Given enough
> eyeballs, every problem is shallow." Don't we, players, have more
> eyeballs than Wizards' R&D?

There's an interesting parallel with D+D 3rd editions Ranger class.
Apparently no one saw that it was overpowered at first level
despite "extensive" playtesting, yet once it was published it
seemed everyone who bought the book realized it on first read or
shortly after seeing one in play. As easy as it seemed to be to see
its flaws, I'm fairly convinced that it wasn't really playtested.

I'm more reluctant to label Clamp as being as blatantly broken.
Though I still lean towards suspecting insufficient playtesting.
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
June 4, 2004 5:35:39 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.trading-cards.magic.misc (More info?)

"Arkady Zilberberg" <arkadyz1@yahoo.com> wrote in message news:<40c07c46$1_1@newsfeed.slurp.net>...
> Hello, Griffis!
> You wrote on Fri, 4 Jun 2004 13:35:37 +0200:
>
>
> G> I don't know what scenario is worse:
> G> they knew it was broken so now they shamelessly lie about it
> G> or
> G> they were actually so careless not to notice ths card.
>
> G> Either way, shows great care for their work, customers and the
> G> game.
> G> The game, which, btw, is above them, the creator of the game or
> G> some broken
> G> card.
>
> I'd just like to remind you an Open Software motto: "Given enough
> eyeballs, every problem is shallow." Don't we, players, have more
> eyeballs than Wizards' R&D?

Sure. And, as I said in my OP, I have forgiven a large number of
deisgn mistakes by R&D because I know it's not possible to catch
everything. I also know that they catch a very large number of
mistakes that we never have a chance to see. Compare to, say,
Upheaval. At a glance, it looks clunky and too expensive. Only after
significant playtesting did it emerge as a powerhouse. I have not
problem with R&D not seeing the power during testing.

Skullclamp, however, was so clearly broken at a glance that it defies
this argument. Of the reasonably competitive players I know, not one
failed to say "I think I can break this" upon seeing the spoiler. Like
I said, it makes any deck with creatures better. It makes creatureless
decks want to add creatures, just to use it. Mono-green mages should
not be able to draw their decks on a whim. Period. Full stop.

--
Justin
June 4, 2004 9:27:31 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.trading-cards.magic.misc (More info?)

Sorcier <sNoErMcOier@cavtel.net> wrote:
: Griffis wrote:

:> "Justin Sexton" <jsextonproductions@lycos.com> wrote in message
:> news:f1b6d8d0.0406032051.23768f0d@posting.google.com...
:>
:>>this card totally escaped the attention
:>>of people who are paid to spot these things.
:>
:> I don't know what scenario is worse:
:> they knew it was broken so now they shamelessly lie about it
:> or
:> they were actually so careless not to notice ths card.

: Actually, I'm starting to think they didn't catch it.
: IIRC, the pre-release article on it said it looks inoffenisve at first.
: But then the article goes on to list a myriad of powerful Clamp tricks.
: Weird.
: "No one really thinks much of this" becomes "But it's really nasty!"
: in the course of a page and no one thought, "Huh, maybe we
: should reexamine it then?"

As Undersecretary of State Richard Armitage said at one of the hearings
before the 9/11 committe (paraphrasing), "Ultimately, it was a failure of
imagination."

--
You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.
-Leon Trotsky

Allen Rines -- grognard@world.std.com -- Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
June 5, 2004 2:10:43 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.trading-cards.magic.misc (More info?)

Justin Sexton wrote on 3 Jun 2004 21:51:40 -0700 in article
news:<f1b6d8d0.0406032051.23768f0d@posting.google.com>:
>
> Not one of them considered it a problem.

I think this is because they test decks, not cards. If they don't happen to
test a degenerate deck with Clamp in it, Clamp is not considered a problem.
Nobody said, "I don't care that clamp is fine in WW/eq; we shouldn't print an
artifact with '1:D raw 2 cards'."

--
"Sometimes I stand by the door and look into the darkness. Then I
am reminded how dearly I cherish my boredom, and what a precious
commodity is so much misery." -- Jack Vance
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
June 5, 2004 1:10:57 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.trading-cards.magic.misc (More info?)

"Justin Sexton" <jsextonproductions@lycos.com> wrote in message
news:f1b6d8d0.0406032051.23768f0d@posting.google.com...
> Wow. Aaron Forsythe's Friday article on www.magicthegathering.com
> gives R&D's versions of events leading up to banning Skullclamp, the
> first time a card has been banned in Standard since Memory Jar in
> Urza's Legacy. I have publicly given my support to R&D before, and
> will continue to do so. I honestly believed that Skullclamp was
> intentionally pushed as a potentially broken card, just to see where
> the line truly was.
>
> And now Aaron admits the truth.
>
> Not one of them considered it a problem.

> I truly do not understand how this card totally escaped the attention
> of people who are paid to spot these things.

Did you see how the design evolved? It started off as a 3-cost, 2-to-equip
artifact that didn't affect power and toughness. It needed a boost, so they
made it +1/+2 as well. Then they decided to "push" equipment. At that
point the mana cost and the cost to equip dropped to 1, and I'd guess that
they thought it needed to be made a little worse to compensate, so they
changed the +2 to -1. Then, because they were used to its previous,
not-as-good incarnations, they didn't test it too much afterwards.

He says: "In hindsight it should have been obvious. Part of the problem was
that our views of the card were tainted by its earlier incarnations, which
were very bad." and "By no means am I saying that Skullclamp's hidden power
is an excuse for us missing it. We're paid professionals-we're supposed to
find and fix stuff like that. But we were entrenched in our own internal
metagame and this card slipped through the cracks."

They're human, they make mistakes. And each debacle like this makes them
better next time.

An interesting note - this line: "From there, it was going into
everything-White Weenie, Ironworks combo, you name it."

It's good to know that they tested Ironworks combo - maybe it's not going to
be as bad as everyone thinks. (And at least they tested it and were aware
of it, unlike Clamp :-) )

Cheers,
Grant
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
June 5, 2004 1:10:58 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.trading-cards.magic.misc (More info?)

"Grant Anderson" <gpsanderson@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:Bz5wc.387$GB4.13922@news.xtra.co.nz...
> An interesting note - this line: "From there, it was going into
> everything-White Weenie, Ironworks combo, you name it."
>
> It's good to know that they tested Ironworks combo - maybe it's not going
to
> be as bad as everyone thinks. (And at least they tested it and were aware
> of it, unlike Clamp :-) )
>

Agreed. At least they tested it. And in addition, Skullclamp must have been
part of the Ironworks combo deck, and now it can't be. Good news for
everyone who likes to play turn 5.

--

KB
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
June 7, 2004 7:06:27 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.trading-cards.magic.misc (More info?)

Justin Sexton wrote:

> But Skullclamp is immediately, obviously, blindingly broken. In any
> block. At least, any block with playable creatures. And any color can
> have massive, cheap, resilient card drawing. That goes against the
> fundamental concept of Magic, and in a very bad way.

I would like to call everyone's attention to the "How Did This Happen?"
section of the article (at
http://wizards.com/default.asp?x=mtgcom/daily/af17, in case you've not
yet read it), and in particular, read how the card changed from giving
+1/+2 to +1/-1.

"That change was made with over a month to go before the set was to be
typeset ... Often when cards are changed that will impact our
constructed playtesting, a memo is sent out notifying everyone about the
changes and urging people to try the new incarnations of the cards. No
such memo ever went around ..."

In other words, they *playtested* one version of the card, and "tweaked"
it at the last minute (relatively speaking) before it was printed. Had
they "tweaked" it to be "+1/+0", it __wouldn't be broken.__ There's a
HUGE difference (to us, in hindsight) in something that gives you a
benefit when the creature dies, if one version makes the creature *more*
likely to die than it was before it was equipped.

That's the broken part of it, that you can equip & "sacrifice" the
creature in one step. If you needed an external effect (say, blocking
something, or a sacrifice cost like Atog, Ravager [1], or even Fallen
Angel), then we wouldn't be having this conversation.

[1] I claim Ravager Affinity with Skullclamp wasn't broken because of
Ravager. It was broken because you could draw into one of your Ravagers
(and everything else in your deck) with just a Skullclamp and a couple
of 1/1's.



--
(Posted from an account used as a SPAM dump. If you really want to get
in touch with me, dump the 'jboes' and substitute 'mur'.)
________
Jeffery Boes <>< jboes@qtm.net
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
June 8, 2004 2:31:20 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.trading-cards.magic.misc (More info?)

Jeff Boes <jboes@qtm.net> wrote in message news:<8c6e7b0cda94769a34d5ac8aca1a9dd3@news.teranews.com>...
> Justin Sexton wrote:
>
> > But Skullclamp is immediately, obviously, blindingly broken. In any
> > block. At least, any block with playable creatures. And any color can
> > have massive, cheap, resilient card drawing. That goes against the
> > fundamental concept of Magic, and in a very bad way.
>
> I would like to call everyone's attention to the "How Did This Happen?"
> section of the article (at
> http://wizards.com/default.asp?x=mtgcom/daily/af17, in case you've not
> yet read it), and in particular, read how the card changed from giving
> +1/+2 to +1/-1.
>
> "That change was made with over a month to go before the set was to be
> typeset ... Often when cards are changed that will impact our
> constructed playtesting, a memo is sent out notifying everyone about the
> changes and urging people to try the new incarnations of the cards. No
> such memo ever went around ..."

I read that part. I note the line, "...over a month to go...". In a
months time, someone out of a team, of what, 8? 12? people should have
taken note, memo or no.

> In other words, they *playtested* one version of the card, and "tweaked"
> it at the last minute (relatively speaking) before it was printed. Had
> they "tweaked" it to be "+1/+0", it __wouldn't be broken.__ There's a
> HUGE difference (to us, in hindsight) in something that gives you a
> benefit when the creature dies, if one version makes the creature *more*
> likely to die than it was before it was equipped.

mmm....yes, that does break it more. I submit, however, that Clamp is
still broken at giving +1/+0.

> That's the broken part of it, that you can equip & "sacrifice" the
> creature in one step. If you needed an external effect (say, blocking
> something, or a sacrifice cost like Atog, Ravager [1], or even Fallen
> Angel), then we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Disagree. It may have been less broken, but it's still an effect that
simply shouldn't be given to green and white. Example:

Say that instead of banning Clamp, they errata'd it to remove the
toughness hit. Would Elf and Nail die, or add 4 Spawning Pit? Would
RavAffinity die, or run 4x Atog as well as 4x Shrapnel Blast? Would
Goblin Bidding, well, still run Goblin Sledder, Skirk Prospector, and
Siege Gang Commander and probably get _better_ with this errata?

Seriously, you simply abuse the Clamp differently this way, but I do
not believe it's rendered a fair card with this errata.

--
Justin
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
June 8, 2004 3:43:36 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.trading-cards.magic.misc (More info?)

> Actually, I'm starting to think they didn't catch it.
> IIRC, the pre-release article on it said it looks inoffenisve at first.
> But then the article goes on to list a myriad of powerful Clamp tricks.
> Weird.
> "No one really thinks much of this" becomes "But it's really nasty!"
> in the course of a page and no one thought, "Huh, maybe we
> should reexamine it then?"

Well, at that point, two weeks before release or whatever, it's a little
late to go back and change all the cards that had been printed, wrapped,
boxed and mailed...

Really, if you've ever designed something by committee, this sort of thing
happens, especially as the Clamp seems to have been a late entry.

At that point, in these situations, everyone has a model built in their
heads about how things will probably work. And, when you make changes,
especially when dealing with 150+ (?) cards, it's unlikely that everyone
will go back and thoroughly playtest each changed card in every situation
they had previously used it.

I think the big lesson they need to take away from this is not, playtest
more, because it sounds like they hadn't enough time to do good playtesting
on the card, but to NOT make significant changes in cards a few weeks before
releasing them.

Or, I suppose, if you do make changes, send someone out to "break" the card.

I dunno.

Really, they could have done a better job, but frankly, as a non-tournament
player, I've got 8 clamps and I still use them in my wacky little casual
decks and nobody seems to care. So, I'm glad they got printed.

Peter
!