Broken Masters

Previews for Ultimate Masters include some of the best cards ever printed: two cards that are restricted in vintage, the primary win condition in one of legacy’s best decks, and the most powerful creature/moon to ever grace the sky.

In their honor, and in the honor of that person (there’s one at every LGS) who calls any powerful card “broken,” we wanted to run down the history of the cards banned in both modern and legacy.


Skullclamp (Darksteel #140)

By now, it’s a familiar story: late in development, Skullclamp gave the equipped creature +1/+2. In an effort to nerf the card, they reduced that to give creatures +1/-1 instead. As it turns out, they just made it stronger.

The entirety of both the Standard and Extended formats warped around Skullclamp. Decks either played Skullclamp or were designed to beat the card. Skullclamp Affinity was the most memorable of them all, pairing the card with Disciple of the Vault and Shrapnel Blast for aggressive starts that were still resilient to removal. Elves and Nail and Goblins were also good decks.

Skullclamp was banned at the inception of both modern and legacy. For a quick primer, watch 4x Skullclamp Elves take down the No Banned List Modern Gauntlet of Greatness, besting another 4x Skullclamp deck in the finals.

Skullclamp is a broken card.

Sensei’s Divining Top

Sensei's Divining Top (Champions of Kamigawa #268)

By itself, Sensei’s Divining Top is a fine card. When printed, it was paired with the Onslaught fetchlands to become a powerful card selection engine. Two years later Counterbalance was printed, forming the backbone of one of the most frustrating combos to play against.

The icing on this particularly miraculous cake was spread when Avacyn Restored brought the Miracle mechanic. The recipe starts with a Top. Opponent interaction is prevented with a Counterbalance. If your board state starts to get sweet, Terminus will add some salt to balance it out. Then, long after your spirit has mortared into a fine dust, an end-step Entreat the Angels ends the game in a single turn.

Sensei’s Diving Top is a broken card.

Deathrite Shaman

Deathrite Shaman (Return to Ravnica #213)

Mana creatures are an important slice of green’s color pie; the ramp brings green players to their larger, more expensive threats ahead of schedule. Llanowar Elves is generally one of the most powerful cards in any standard format that it’s in. They also have a downside: the most effective mana creatures cost 1 mana, and have a correspondingly low power and toughness. This makes them terrible draws in the late stages of a game, when a board position has already been established.

Deathrite Shaman is a big exception to that rule. Tacked on to the mana ramp—which has a cost, but one that is easily paid in formats with fetchlands—it also allows its decks to be more greedy with color requirements. It serves as maindeckable graveyard hate, its second ability can close out the game quickly, and its lifegain ability helps stabilize against aggressive decks. It is good in most every game, in most every circumstance.

Deathrite Shaman is a broken card.

Gitaxian Probe

Gitaxian Probe (New Phyrexia #35)

One of Magic’s secret strengths is variance. Though flooding out isn’t fun, neither would it be if every game played out the same way. Deck construction and gameplay rules help with this: a 4-of in a 60-card deck will only be in your opening hand 40% of the time, so you need to account for the times when your plan does not come together as designed. This leads to a wide variety of gameplay, and a much healthier metagame.

Gitaxian Probe does a very good job reducing variance: since it costs zero mana and replaces itself, it allows you to effectively play with a 56-card deck. On top of that, it provides a great deal of value:

Gitaxian Probe is a broken card.

Mental Misstep

Mental Misstep (New Phyrexia #38)

Anyone who played legacy during Mental Misstep’s reign of terror knows why it’s here: it warped the metagame as much as any card that has ever been printed.

Non-rotating formats like legacy and vintage have a higher concentration of inexpensive, powerful cards, making Misstep significantly better as a baseline. It’s also great against aggressive decks:

Of blue cards that are legal in Modern, Mental Misstep is the most played in Legacy, and it also has one of the more damaging effects on Modern by sitting on beatdown decks that want to start on turn one. We chose to ban it rather than put that much pressure on beatdown decks.

Welcome to the Modern World

Since it is good against aggressive decks, has no color requirements, and can counter your opponents’ Mental Missteps, aggressive decks also want to play it to protect their primary gameplans. Before you know it, every deck in the format starts with 4 copies.

Mental Misstep is a broken card.

Treasure Cruise

Treasure Cruise (Khans of Tarkir #59)

Cost reduction mechanics offer Wizards R&D a wealth of design space. It also provides a massive developmental challenge: cost reducers subvert the mana system, and can lead to problematic gameplay experiences:

  • Force of Will trades mana for one life and one card.
  • Fireblast is one of the best red deck finishers in the game, offering 4 damage for effectively zero mana.
  • Invigorate gives the opponent life, which doesn’t matter much when you’re attacking with a Berserking Glistener Elf.
  • Hypergenesis grants a cost reduction for time: in exchange for one less mana, you will have a Eureka moment in three turns. (Or you can cascade into it immediately, but we digress.)

Treasure Cruise pairs a powerful cost reduction effect with the best phrase in Magic for an incredibly strong card. If you aren’t convinced, watch Reid Duke pilot a Modern U/R Delver list and be grateful you weren’t trying to resolve a Tarmogoyf against him.

Treasure Cruise is a broken card.

Dig Through Time

Dig Through Time (Khans of Tarkir #36)

Dig Through Time is, in many ways, the culmination of many of the points this article has made. What does it do well?

Yeah. Dig Through Time is a broken card.

Scryfall doesn’t typically host content like this. So why did we take you on this journey?

Dig Through Time (Ultimate Masters #50)

Wizards of the Coast was so kind to as to provide us with an Ultimate Masters card preview of our own: Dig Through Time. Thank you!

Improvements to color/color identity operators

Magic’s relationship with colors is…complicated. The color pie is ever-changing and inconsistent, rules for colors and color identities are complex, and mana bases require a PhD in mathematics to accurately craft.

Today, we’re happy to announce changes to how we handle colors and color identity that might make it easier to search about color:

  • You can use nicknames for color groupings from lore, such as color:esper.
  • For color range comparison, you can use <, >, <=, >=, =, and !=.
  • You can still use the color and identity operators as you have previously.

Some examples of searches you can now make:


The upper search result limit of 5,000 has been removed ⇢

API: All cards and mana parsing endpoints

Two new API methods are now available:

  • /cards returns a paginated list of all card objects in Scryfall’s database. You wanted the full firehose, here you go!

  • /symbology/parse-mana will parse a given mana cost string and return our interpretation. It will even format the cost for you and tell you things like the CMC.

Two-sided transform and meld cards

But wait, there’s more! In addition to the new rotatable card views, you can now inspect both sides of transform and meld cards as well. 😱

Rotatable images for split cards and horizontal layouts

No more craning your neck to squint sideways at split, flip, plane and phenomenon cards. Just click the rotate button in the card detail view (and in full search results) to adjust the card orientation. 😎

Search by watermark

You can now use the watermark: or wm: keywords to filter cards by their affiliation watermark. For example, see all Izzet guild cards or all Phyrexian faction cards.

High-resolution PNG images

When available, card profiles now include a link to download a full-resolution PNG image with rounded corners and transparent edges. These images are designed for tasks that need the best quality assets, such as videos and promotional art.

In the toolbox section of card profile pages, click the “Download PNG image” link. Examples:

These image files are also now returned via the API, in the image_uris object.

Search by year

You can now search for cards with a numeric year comparator. For example, year=2017 will find all cards released this year.

Filter card sets by type

The Card Sets page may now be filtered by set type. For example, see all expansion sets or core sets.

“Appeared in” set filter

You can now use the in: or wasin: keyword to filter cards based on a set they “appeared in”, but not otherwise require that set in results.

Examples of interesting searches you can make with this keyword:

Previously this functionality was available using the e:set+set or e:set,* syntaxes. Use the in: keyword instead for official support.

High-resolution filter

You can now find cards that have high-resolution images with is:hires

High resolution images

Scryfall is rolling out support for high resolution card images. We currently have all of Standard available, and new sets are being added daily.

For developers: Card objects in the API now have an image_uris property, which will be populated with different image sizes if the card in question has high-res imaging available. Note that many cards (especially promos) will not have these fields available immediately. You should handle both situations in your code.

We hope you really enjoy this update. We want to support content creators, app builders, and anyone else that needs high-resolution images to do their work. Please let us know what you think! 🚀

Split & flip cards updated

Split and flip cards have been updated. Each half of the card has been combined into a single page. Information for split cards has been updated to adhere to the Amonkhet rules update. Notably:

Split/Flip Card Search Updates

The search system now understands that a split/flip card has one combined name like Beck//Call but also two distinct names, Beck and Call. You can now search for one or both halves of a split card using any of these formats.

Split/Flip Card Changes for Bots

The Slack and Discord bots now understand requests for split card names, such as [[Wear//Tear]].

API Changes for Split/Flip Cards

Each split and flip card is now represented as a single object via the API instead of two. A new card_faces property has been added that contains information for each half of the split/flip card. See the updated API documentation for details.

Saved cards includes the toolbox

We heard you asking for saved cards as text… you got it. In fact, we’re giving you the whole toolbox complete with text, json, and purchase links.

Regular expression keyword now available

The re: or regex: operator is now available to filter Oracle text using a regular expression.

Regular expressions are very powerful. Here are some examples of searches you can make with this keyword:

Please see our syntax guide and full regex documentation page for all the details.

Search for hybrid mana costs

You can now search for cards with hybrid mana in their mana costs or Oracle text using is:hybrid.

Search Future Standard

We’ve added a new “format”: future. Using the f:future keyword or picking “Future Standard” on the advanced search will let you search over what Standard will be once the next set is released or a rotation occurs. Whenever we start spoiling a new Standard set, we will update f:future to let you brew for the coming season.

Try it out with f:future to brew with Amonkhet.

Automatic cheapest print searches

Whenever you sort results by price, and you aren’t filtering cards on print-specific values (like artist or rarity), the results will now automatically show you the cheapest reprints. This update makes it super easy to do things like:

New format keyword shortcuts

Additional shorthand is available for the f:/format: keyword.

Masterpiece filter

You can now filter for/against Masterpieces with is:masterpiece or not:masterpiece

Scryfall now offers Slack and Discord bots that pull card information into gaming channels ⇢

AutocardAnywhere support

Version 3.2.111 of AutocardAnywhere now supports Scryfall as a built-in choice. Visit our add-on page for more information about it.

Saved cards include price totals

The Saved Cards page now shows price totals when all cards have pricing data available.

Euro Pricing

Scryfall now has card prices in Euros (€), and links Euro prices to our European affiliate, MagicCardMarket.

Similar to other currencies, you can sort by Euro price, and filter results by Euro value with eur and a comparison. Try out ++eur>15 t:land.

Scryfall card pages now show distinct affiliate prices for each link ⇢

Sort by color

You can now sort results by color. The sorting system is:

  • Everything colored, in color order
  • Colorless artifacts, in color identity order
  • Land, in color identity order

Color priority follows the official WOTC ordering.

Saved cards, with links

You can now save and share card lists! Click the “☆ Save” button on card profiles to add cards to your Saved List. Once you have cards on your saved list you can send the list to other people.

New land group shortcuts

Many new shortcuts were added for land groups. You can find some competitive groups with is:fastland, is:checkland, is:shockland, is:fetchland, is:filterland, and is:dual

Redesigned search reference

A new, redesigned search reference is now available. It should be much easier to find what you want on this reference.

New reprint filtering keyword

You can now find cards that are or are not reprints. Try e:c16 not:reprint.

You can now find cards in Penny Dreadful format ⇢

Color identity searches now check coverage

Color identity searches are now “coverage”-type searches instead of a match filter. Searching for id:wug will find all cards that you can put in a white/blue/green commander deck. The old version of this search would find cards that had at least white/blue/green in their color identity, which was not very useful. Try id:wug t:instant

Frontier format support

You can now find cards in Frontier Format. Try f:frontier t:creature for all creatures in Frontier.

USD & TIX price filtering

You can now filter cards by TIX and USD prices. Try ++tix>15.00 for all cards that cost more than 15.00 TIX.