Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Creature Class Critique #15: Clamjacks

A Guardians original, and one of the reasons I started playing the game, are the Clamjacks. I remember seeing a Drooling Clamjack and thinking what a silly name that was as well as thinking that it looked liked something that might have appeared on an old science fiction pulp magazine cover.

There aren't that many Clamjacks -- there are only five. But with the proper support, they can be so much more than they are.

Common links: Four are Beer bribable, one is Gold. The Beer guys are also small (the other is medium). Four of them are connected to Swamps. None give bonuses to the others directly.

Here's how they work: The Bulbous Clamjack has Vitality 5, but you need Vitality 10 to beat it in Swamps; otherwise, it's a push. (And you can win pushes with Standard bearers or Embryonic Witches. (hint hint!) The Clamjack Bomber is Vitality 4 with a 3-point ranged attack, but only in Swamps (that's a 75% ranged-attack, which is great). The Speckled Clamjack gets a 3-point bonus in Swamps. And the Odious Clamjack has an AOE that increases with each Swamp in play (all of them, not just yours!)

See the theme? Outside of Swamps, they're toast. Or they're Clamjack on toast. But put them in Swamps and protect your land, and they are nasty.

The fifth member of the Clamjack family is the Bulbous Clamjack. It gives a boast to your secondary if it loses. I'm not thrilled about creatures that you *want* to be killed. They're of a one-shot usefulness. But it's better than getting no bonus at all, I suppose.

Card to Use With Them

Swamps, of course.

Embryonic Witches
, naturally.

Mad Fiend, because of all that Beer, and maybe Phil, the Bar Fly and the Amazing Cider Man for the same reason.

Finn, not it's not obvious. In fact, it might not even be a good thing. Would you believe that Tookle might give you a better boost? I've even tried Thak and Tes Let, trying to find the best fit. I still haven't yet. (Note: and since I don't get to play much at all, I still haven't all these years later.)

Gnorgg, Overlord of the Swamps is a possibility, but you give up six points of your shield to play it. Make sure you'll make that much back with your bonuses. Also, unless you have a standard bearer, your
Embryonic Witch is much more important than the Overlord.

Judge Dredge. Nah, skip him. I pulled him fast. What are you using that stone for? Are there easier ways to get stones? Probably.

May the Force Be With You: If you don't go the Tookle route, then consider adding Energy Toad, Mist Veilers and Primordial Goo. Good in Swamps and they have secondary abilities (respectively, no channeling against, no seconary attacks against, nasty OCB for externals).

Mud Elemental: What's the difference between a Force and an Element? I don't know, but the Mud Elemental is even better than Primary Goo.

Green Missy: She's an external Speckled Clamjack, bribable by Gold instead of Beer, with an extra point of OCB (toward Mortals, instead of Externals). Her Swamp bonus is what makes a Fairy-Clamjack deck start to look attractive. (Too bad she's Medium, which doesn't sit as well with Tookle.)

Summon Entropy Storm: Most of your Clamjacks are Small. Most of them are going to lose because they are low Vitality. The storm gives them a 50% chance of winning -- and a 50% chance that your creature will be destroyed (but if it's going to die anyway . . . )

Dork Age: I never used this card -- until I had it used on me. If you are playing with low Vitality creatures, you can take down a Watcher, Eternal Witch Lord, various Giants or anything else in a big creature deck. Throw down a couple of Bulbouses and see what gets squashed and by how much.


Okay, I couldn't get away with my Finn comment without explanation. I think Finn's limitations are prohibitive. You're more open to disaster (and in my opinion *bigger* disaster) if you get a bad draw. If you can't put two Swamps down immediately, you'll be at a disadvantage and you won't be able to recover easily.

Thak, on the other hand, gives you a minimum number of cards that you will get per turn. Tookle will give you a bonus if you stick to majority Small creatures (e.g. Clamjack/Fairies). Tes Let doesn't give you any card advantage, but allows you to toss cards you don't need if they're sitting on top. And Tes gives you the advantage of secrecy -- your opponent doesn't know *any* of the cards you've picked up. But which is the best Guardian is an entirey different thread. I'll start that another time, unless someone wants to start one sooner.

Summary: Clamjacks are versitile. Clamjacks can play either the primary class in a Clamjack Swamp deck with the appropriate backup, or they can serve as the backup to another class such as Fairies. Unfortunately, there is no one primary class that benefits the "most" from Clamjacks nor are there any that bestow the "most" benefits onto Clamjacks, so it's a mixed bag whatever you get. Basically, you just get the surprised look on your opponent's face. Like the one he gets when you play Gnorgg on a non-Swamp with two other Swamps in play and he suddenly realizes, "Uh-oh, that's going to be a *five* point AOE!"

C. J. Burke
Keeper of the Flame

You Don't Know Clamjack: Spell, Up 6
Play after one of your Clamjacks is beaten in a primary matchup. Your Clamjack and its opponent are destroyed.
(Artwork: similar to the Odious Clamjack. Very round. With a fuse.)

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