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KirriCorp League Rankings

  1. samurai
    (Nebula Charged Sunshines)
  2. Sarius
    (Summer Breeze)
  3. Sniper989
    (Vibrant Dawn)
  4. Phantom
    (Sword Of Initiates)
  5. Pradian
    (Rusty Machines)
  6. Ahmed_Tariq
    (Waterless Wave)
  7. Echizen
    (Shield Wall Sanctum)
  8. megaman789
    (Sparks of Brightness)
  9. Nykahrii
  10. AnGGa
    (General Petrova's Aircraft Carrier)
  11. Bell
    (Ocean Of Life)
  12. kai
  13. DarkPrince
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  14. Shobu
    (Speed Demons)
  15. Ahmed Tariq
    (Gunflame Skycrasher)
  16. Sasuke
    (Destructive Hell)
  17. BlazeCannon
    (Prepare For Battle)
  18. Sarius
    (Light Of Penance)
  19. snarles
  20. Sahil
    (Knight Rider)
  21. Sahil
  22. Outcast
    (Splash Burn)
  23. Rin
    (Chaos Sanctuary)
  24. Sai
    (Conceptual Nonsense)
  25. Mustang
    (Uber Evil)
Ranking List Rules

This page contains the reasoning behind the KirriCorp League's errata on the card Cranium Clamp, shown below in its original form.

Name: Cranium Clamp
Type: Spell
Civilization: Darkness
Cost: 4
Rules Text: Your opponent chooses and discards two cards from his hand.
Mana Number: 1
Set: Epic Dragons of Hyperchaos

As with all KC errata, justification of this argument relies on the semi-rigid card costing system given within Duel Masters. The relevant aspects of the cost system are shown, with examples, in the following data. No direct assumptions are made about the cost of a card that causes other cards to be discarded.

Ability: To discard a single card from the opponent's hand.
Cost: At least 1.
Reference: Ghost Touch (+1 Cost for Shield Trigger)

Cranium Clamp's failing is not at all mathematically intuitive. The card allows the discard of two cards from the opposing hand for what seems to be a relatively fair cost in theory. Two Ghost Touch would cost the same amount, and though they would require one more card in hand, they also have the Shield Trigger ability. Lost Soul is powerful enough to discard any number of cards, and could reasonably be expected to discard four or five at least without most people starting to complain about it (i.e. if Lost Soul had said 'your opponent discards five cards' there most likely would have been no confusions regarding cost system even then).

Card discard is a tricky subject because it has certain innate limitations. It is, for example, a diminishing effect. After one has discarded an opponent's hand of cards down to nothing, they can still draw and play their next card, and no amount of further discarding effects will help you unless you start to break their shields and give them more cards than they can use in a single turn.

This is where Cranium Clamp's power truly shows. At a cost of four, the player does not need to do anything at all for the opponent to have more cards than they can use in a single turn.

Consider a game in which the Clamp player goes first. They draw five cards, place one into mana. Their opponent draws a sixth, places one into mana. This continues for the next turn. If we assume that neither player summons, each now has the same number of cards in their hand as they did after the first mana play. Continuing onward to the third turn, we assume that the Clamp player does not summon, or summons an Aqua Hulcus/Horrid Worm. If they summon the Hulcus or do not summon, they still have four cards in hand. The other player summons, and for this example we will assume that it is not an Aqua Hulcus. After all, there are many other creatures that could be played.

That player now has four cards in hand and three cards in mana, with one creature on the field. The Clamp player places one card in mana, and casts the spell, reducing the opponent's hand by two cards.

The only way to escape the loss of these two cards would have been to empty their own hand usefully by their third turn. The following scenarios allow this:

Faerie Life on the second turn (hand 4, mana 3) followed by drawing card (hand 5, mana 3), playing mana (hand 4, mana 4) Poisonous Mushroom on third turn(hand 3, mana 4), using effect (hand 3, mana 5), Poisonous Mushroom, using effect (hand 1, mana 6), and then any cost 2 card.

The scenario above, and any similar, result in the addition to the field of at least two easily destroyed creatures and a large gain in mana, which, without draw engine cards, does not help the hand. Cards that return mana to hand are unreliable in topdeck situations.

Contrasting this with Ghost Touch, where the affected player cannot lose more cards than the discarder, and is unlikely to face more than 2 cards discarded even then, we find that a player who attempts to use one powerful card per turn is severely disadvantaged by a Clamp. This was analyzed and deemed insufficient reason for an errata, in itself, but enough reason to warrant further investigation.

Clamp was then contrasted with the Horrid Worm, which must generally, in the earlier parts of the game, break a shield in order to discard anything. i.e. the player facing the Worm can destroy it, or choose not to block it so that even if they do randomly lose a card, they will get a new one or possibly a shield trigger effect.

Based on this, it was noted that neither the early game discard itself, nor randomized early discard, was in itself unfair. Few people make this claim regarding Horrid Worms. Therefore, it left two possibilities. Either Cranium Clamp was unfair by virtue of discarding two cards rather than one without providing any new cards, or unfair because it was a spell and therefore could not be stopped.

At first, these two were investigated separately as if it were one or the other, but neither of these proves to be enough to consider it unfair on its own. It was finally noted that a combination of the three factors is what causes the unfairness of Cranium Clamp.

The spell can be played without needing any creature present for it to take full effect. This is also true of Ghost Touch, so this point is not enough on its own.

The spell can discard two cards without any possibility of replacement, and stunts managrowth in many decks due to this. This point is also not enough on its own but holds more weight when combined with the previous.

The spell can be played before the hand can be put to use, and will be exceedingly detrimental if it has its effect during an opponent's efforts to avoid it. That is, if one does not have draw cards, the defending strategy against Clamp requires one to make oneself extremely vulnerable to it first.

Once all these factors were considered, the errata was applied in order to slightly affect all three of these factors whilst aiming not to affect the factors that only give the illusion of being the problem. The card's cost and therefore timing, was not changed. The card's total discarding ability was not changed, and was in fact strengthened to the level consistent with the Horrid Worm's ability.

The abiity to play the spell and have it take effect with no creature present, was removed. It was considered to have the spell discard only one card, and only discard a second if a creature were present, but this proved insufficient (see: Essence Elf, Bloody Squito).

The ability to discard two cards and not replace either, thereby stunting mana growth far earlier than normally possible, was addressed. It was considered to have the spell discard two cards and cause the opponent to draw one, but this was deemed silly as it would fundamentally create advantage to the affected player, in the end, since it would then be far less useful than a simple Ghost Touch. Similarly, discarding two cards and causing one from the top of deck to go to the mana zone was scrapped for a myriad of reasons, mostly involving the imbalance it would afford to draw-power decks.

The fact that the spell can be played before the hand can be put to use remained unchanged, however, multiple defending strategy possibilities were added, as Blockers and low level creature destruction may now be used to hold off the effect.

Due to a minor imbalance caused by the necessity to attack and the resultant chances of having problems with Pyrofighter Magnus, the random discard aspect was finalized as the fairest option.


Name: Cranium Clamp
Type: Spell
Civilization: Darkness
Cost: 4
Rules Text: Once this turn, when one of your creatures is attacking your opponent and isn't blocked, your opponent discards two cards at random from his hand.
(This effect activates once per Cranium Clamp played, and always on the first unblocked attack. The cards are discarded before the shield is broken).
Mana Number: 1
Set: Epic Dragons of Hyperchaos

Note well that Cranium Clamp's new effect stacks with that of the Horrid Worm, causing a discard of three cards. If the situation ever arose, one could cast two Cranium Clamp in one turn, and the first attack would discard four cards at once.

It is impossible for this effect to cause a rulings conflict with Gachack, Mechanical Doll or Slaphappy Soldier Galback, since the attack that activates Gachack's ability will also be the one that causes the discard. There will never be a question of 'if Dava Torey is put into the battle zone by Clamp can I resolve Gachack's effect to kill it if Gachack was the one that attacked for Clamp?' because this situation is impossible. Nature creatures such as the Avalanche Giant that break a shield regardless of whether or not they are blocked do not activate the effect of KC Cranium Clamp!

Importantly, one should note that the player of Cranium Clamp does choose the order in which all other effects resolve regarding the combination of 'whenever this creature attacks'. For further references concerning this scenario, please seek official Wizards of the Coast rulings information regarding such situations as:

Smile Angler/Tentacle Cluster attacking whilst Zero Nemesis, Shadow of Panic is in the same battle zone.

Shock Trooper Mykee/Trixo, Wicked Doll/etc. attacking whilst Zero Nemesis, Shadow of Panic is in the same battle zone and Aqua Soldier/Chilias, The Oracle being the target of their effects.

Daidalos, General of Fury, attacking whilst Zero Nemesis, Shadow of Panic is in the same battle zone, and targeting itself by effect.

In all cases, Cranium Clamp's effect can be assumed to resolve under the same rules as that of Zero Nemesis as long as the attack is not blocked, including the obscure case of Shock Trooper Mykee vs. Magmadragon Ogrist Vhal and opponent having 3 cards in hand.

(If no specific ruling can be found regarding these situations soon, assume that Clamp/Nemesis player can play them out however they prefer except in the case of cards which are put into the battle zone when discarded. KC will follow the convention that these cards are not in the battle zone until after the attack resolves, until a different official ruling is provided. To quickly clarify, yes, you can Tentacle Cluster something back to hand and then Clamp it, or vice versa, up to you.)

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