Sometimes, I'm surprised when I see that a certain card is considered good. I don't get it!

For example, when I first saw Skullclamp, I just saw a card that increased power by one at the cost of reducing toughness by one - not a very good deal. I didn't see why it was considered so good it was almost broken. I had to be explained that for a small cost (typically a token creature), it would draw you two cards, a very good deal in most decks.

Ok, I admit that I should have spotted that one, but I have experienced the same feeling several times. I look at a card and think "why the heck is this card so expensive" or "why is everybody talking about this card, saying it will ruin Magic". Or, in my playgroup, someone will play a card and the whole gang goes "ooh, I love that card, it's so awesome", and I just nod and smile and pretend I know what they're all so excited about.

Where should I go to find out why a card is considered so good by so many? Is there some database online that will explain why a card is good? I usually end up googling the card's title, and sometimes get lucky and get that aha-feeling, but not always.

I would like to find a source online where I can look up a card and someone will explain the strategies they use that makes that card effective.

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    I think this is too broad to be properly answered here. Oct 20, 2019 at 0:00
  • 7
    "Why are cards good" is almost certainly broad, but I think that "What are some resources for understanding which cards are good" might not be. Oct 20, 2019 at 3:41
  • 1
    Ask on the Boardgames Stackexchange Chat to see if someone else knows! Even if no one else will, I will do my best to answer your question
    – CollinB
    Oct 21, 2019 at 13:05
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    If it was obvious that SkullClamp is broken Magic R&D would not have released the card! If paid professionals can't spot a card as broken, you should not feel bad or surprised that you don't easily spot that it was broken.
    – John
    Oct 21, 2019 at 20:56

4 Answers 4


Simply searching for the cardname + the word 'combo' already gives some interesting results:

I'm not aware of any database with this kind of information. A 5/5 rating on Gatherer tells something about the competitiveness of a card, but not whether it's part of a combo. Kird Ape has a 5/5 rating as well but it's 'just' a Zoo staple.

  • 1
    That 5/5 rating for Kird Ape has 0 votes to it ... and besides many cards even if rated aren't rated on power level.
    – Allure
    Oct 20, 2019 at 22:41
  • Kird ape is rated between 4.38 and 4.70 ratings and comments are printing specific - cards with no ratings always show up as 5 stars and wizards has messed up their system on gather, you can't actually get in to comment and rate cards anymore, so anything for the past couple years will all show up as 5 stars, ignore new printings.
    – Andrew
    Nov 1, 2019 at 19:53

A card's strength and playability is always relative to the other cards that exist around it. A good way to determine a card's position in the game is to find decklists using that card. I like to use MTGGoldFish's deck searcher tool to find decks. It has definable search parameters that let you make general statements like "oh, it's a great card in modern control decks". You can get more specific answers by picking a deck that uses the card and googling the deck name looking for a "deck tech" write-up or video that should explain the card's usefulness in the deck and possible synergies with other cards. If that fails, you might be able to simply find videos of people playing that deck or a similar deck to give context as to what the card is doing.


Cards are generally not graded on their own, context is very important. The strengths and weaknesses of any given card depend on the format and the meta. Since both of these are large and constantly moving targets, you won't generally find any one collection of card discussions.

If you want to learn about the game so you can develop your own skill of card evaluation, you can't help but do the legwork yourself. Visit the official Wizards site and some of the countless existing fan sites for articles about decks and formats that interest you. I don't want to give specific recommendations for fan sites since I don't really visit them myself, but Google will easily help you get started.


SaffronOlive once wrote an article about why certain cards are banned in Modern. It's a bit old at this point (Jace / Bloodbraid / Stoneforge have been unbanned, Bridge / Faithless Looting / Hogaak have been banned), but if you're wondering about some of the older cards you can find an explanation here.

For other formats, there's no universal resource, unfortunately. You'll have to search about each individual card (or you can ask a separate question about them).

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