Michael "Maikeruu" Pierno
Today's card of the day is Nim Deathmantle
which is a two mana equipment with an equip cost
of four that gives +2/+2, Intimidate, makes it a
Black zombie, and whenever a non-token creature
is put into your graveyard from play you may pay
four to return it and attach Nim Deathmantle to
it. The mana cost is a little high, but
including the recovery aspect makes this a very
effective and dangerous card when combined with
sacrifice and enter play effects. A Black deck
with zombie support can get added benefits with
tribal abilities and helps add value to an
already combo friendly card.
In a Limited format with this it is a
game-changer as with four mana untapped it
deters removal, adds evasion, and wins games
with almost any creature in any color deck. An
easy first pick in Booster and card that belongs
in every Sealed deck.
Nim Deathmantle was printed in Scars of Mirrodin
- a revisit to the plane that gave us
yesterday's broken equipment. The Deathmantle
seems to give a little homage to Skullclamp
without being quite as easily abused.
It's similar because it has an ability that can
be repeatedly used for card advantage. If you
have an effect that will allow you to sacrifice
creatures for some benefit, you can do so, then
bring it back bigger and badder. The 4 mana cost
makes it difficult (but no, not impossible, Mr.
Composite Golem) to abuse, but even doing this
once a turn can yield you some nice results.
It's different because it's more expensive, and
it makes the equipped creature a bigger
offensive threat. Intimidate is often overlooked
as an ability. There's a pretty good chance it
makes your creature unblockable. Add with that
the +2/+2 it grants, it can put your opponent on
a short clock. Then, if they kill the creature
that's equipped, you can bring it right back and
start the clock again.
Where does that leave us? Nim Deathmantle is a
good example of a powerful, yet balanced card.
Used to it's strengths, it can be a real
headache for your opponent, but the cost keeps
it from being unfair.
Finally, a non-broken card! I was beginning to
wonder if we'd ever see one again, after all
those Jittes and Greaves and Clamps.
That's not to say Nim Deathmantle isn't good,
it's just not good on a metagame-defining level
that some of the others were. There are only two
ways to use this card: the combo way, and the
non-combo way. The non-combo way is not that
great, while the combo way can win the game for
you on the turn you pull it off, but it takes a
lot of cards and mana to pull off so it would
only happen late game anyway, which makes it not
all that shocking or broken.
The non-combo way is to just play it
normally, as a boost and possible resurrection
for stuff you don't want to die. Except 6 mana
(2 casting cost, 4 equip cost) for +2/+2 and
intimidate is pretty terrible. There are ways
for you to find uses for it, but there are
almost certainly a hundred better ways for you
to spend that 6 mana. Bringing something back,
potentially more than once, for 4 mana is pretty
good. However it's not jaw-droppingly powerful.
It requires you to leave that 4 mana up for that
purpose, slowing your tempo down a lot. And your
creature might not even die that turn, so the
mana could potentially be wasted. A big part of
Skullclamp's power was it only took 1 mana to
use. It's nice, and you could pretty easily
combo it with a 'when this creature died' or
'enters the battlefield' ability for extra
value. But you'd be sticking with that creature
for a while, because it will cost an ADDITIONAL
4 mana to move it onto something else, so it
might get less good as the game progresses.
So let's look at what kind of crazy combos
the Deathmantle can pull off.
The essence of the combo is pretty simple.
First, you find some way to sacrifice your own
creatures. Ideally something that gives you a
benefit, like creature tokens or mana or damage
or something. Then, you find a creature that
gives you good stuff when it either dies or
enters the battlefield, again either mana or
whatnot. The trick is, using these two things,
you must be able to give yourself at least 4
mana every time the creature is sacrificed and
brought back to life, thus you can do this combo
infinite times and whatever benefit you're
getting from doing so will then win you the
Some easy combos are putting Nim Deathmantle
on a Composite Golem, sacrificing it repeatedly
to gain infinite mana, and then use that to cast
a game-ending Fireball. You could also use
something like Village Bell-Ringer along with
some creatures that tap for a total of 4+ mana,
and then sacrifice it with something like
Devouring Swarm to get a flying creature with
infinite power and toughness. You could use
either of these methods with something like
Falkenrath Noble on the field to straight-up win
the game with the repeated sacrificing. Gutter
Grime would also be fun. Rage Thrower, Warstorm
Surge, there are a lot of fun options you could
use with this, but they all depend on getting a
creature to sacrifice and come back where the
act of doing so will somehow grant you 4 or more
mana. And there are a fair amount of good
options for that part too, Emrakul's Hatcher
plus Pawn of Ulamog for instance.
As you can see, it can win you games, but
it's kind of gimmicky and it's not really
something that you could pull off before turn 6
or 7. Your opponent will have options to disrupt
it or take out some of your combo pieces before
you can get it all set up or just kill you
before you get to turn 7. It's not the easiest
infinite combo to pull off, but it IS an
infinite combo, and some players really like
those. Outside of a combo deck, +2/+2 and
intimidate is good but not great. 4-8 mana to
bring stuff back from the dead is really good
but not really great.
All in all, Nim Deathmantle is something that
I could see casual players having a bunch of fun
with, and that stats boost + intimidate can
actually be pretty good in limited. But I
wouldn't say it's all that amazing for
constructed or multiplayer.