Curing The Monkey’s Paw: Ways To Break Wishclaw Talisman

Throne of Eldraine has no shortage of strong cards and Wishclaw Talisman is no exception! Find out why Carmen Handy thinks the two-drop Artifact could be the next format-warping tutor spell!

Wizards of the Coast sure is pushing the envelope with almost-busted cards

Cards that are this abusable don’t come around frequently. It’s
not a matter of if this is busted, but how busted this card is.

Even at a base level, Wishclaw Talisman is going to let its owner search
for two cards and their opponent search for one card. That’s a pretty great
rate. But most of the time, the opponent is going to get to use the effect
of the Talisman before its caster. The reason for this comes down to the
mana investment being sunk into the mana cost of the tutor itself, and
probably not being able to use the card that’s tutored up as a result.

This means that the best ways to use Wishclaw Talisman are going to involve
circumventing its symmetry somehow. Luckily, because of the exact text of
Wishclaw Talisman, it’s easy to find something that makes the effect less
symmetric; it is a tutor, after all.


The first and most obvious way to remove the downside of Wishclaw Talisman
is to simply return it to its owner’s hand before the opponent gets a
chance to use it.

Searching up a copy of Teferi, Time Raveler, for example, is the most
obvious way to play an already good card alongside a new one. Teferi then
returns the Talisman to your hand, allowing for another tutor – this time
while being up a planeswalker and a random card.

Preventing the Opponent from Using it

There are a few ways that allow the opponent to gain control of Wishclaw
Talisman, but never actually get the chance to search their library.

Ashiok, Dream Render already sees a reasonable amount play just because of
Ashiok’s ability to turn off graveyard nonsense from Kethis strategies, and
a good chunk of ramp cards. Being able to see play as a proactive synergy
piece is what has allowed Ashiok to see maindeck play in some versions of
Kethis, and Wishclaw Talisman is another way to make that happen.

It takes a bit of time, but Soul Diviner eating counters off the Talisman
is another way to ensure that the opponent never actually has the chance to
use the Wishclaw for themselves.

In older formats, it’s fairly common for players to jump through hoops in
order to enable a layer of consistency in their decks via tutors. Wishclaw
Talisman does a reasonable job of replacing and/or outclassing some options
that were previously available.

Grim Tutor is the first card that comes to mind that is almost entirely
invalidated by Wishclaw Talisman in these styles of decks. The fact that
Grim Tutor costs more mana is almost entirely irrelevant, but the fact
that Talisman can be paid for over the course of two turns is a big deal,
as is the fact that it doesn’t cost any life to find something.

In something like Legacy Storm, being able to pay the cost of the tutor
over two turns can be the difference between winning the game and being a
mana short. Dark Petition has been the standard for flex slot-tutor, but
Wishclaw Talisman could completely change that.

An enormous benefit to something like the Talisman is that it doesn’t need
to clear as high a bar to be put on the stack before breaking any copies of
Lion’s Eye Diamond that its controller may have. Having extra copies of
Lion’s Eye Diamond has always been something akin to an embarrassment of
riches in the past, but Dark Petition, in particular, could be awkward at
times, due to it demanding five mana before any LEDs could be cracked.

In Vintage, Voltaic and Manifold Key already see play in order to take
infinite turns with Time Vault, but now they can combo even harder with
Wishclaw Talisman. Simply activate the Talisman, retain priority, untap it,
and activate it again in order to get two searches before the opponent gets

The fact that Manifold Key is in Core Set 2020 means
that this combo will even be Standard legal if there’s a card combination
strong enough to warrant this kind of synergy.

Despite Wishclaw Talisman seeming like it could be a political card in a
multiplayer format like Commander, there are some absurd ways to break the
card in half there. Aminatou, the Fateshifter, in particular, is a great
way to search for something, then blink the monkey’s paw after its been
donated, and then use it again. Talk about value!

Turning It Off

If using the card once is something that you’re comfy with, it’s possible
to even go as far as lean into effects that will effectively remove the
rest of the text from the card in order to stop the opponent from using it.
Oko, Thief of Crowns, for example, is a card from Thrones of Eldraine that can turn Wishclaw Talisman into a 3/3 Elk
after its been donated in order to make sure the opponent doesn’t get to do
anything more powerful with their newly acquired permanent than have a
Centaur Courser.

Although most of what Karn, the Great Creator is used for is grabbing
colorless artifacts, he isn’t actually limited to it. Wishclaw Talisman is
an enormous upgrade to Standard Karn sideboard packages, allowing Karn to
do a reasonable impression of Mastermind’s Acquisition – one that even
leaves a planeswalker behind.

Best of all? When the opponent gets control of the Talisman, they can’t
even activate it for as long as Karn’s on the battlefield.

To get really wacky, Karn can even animate the Talisman to make it a
creature and Trostani then gives it back to its owner during the next end

Luckily, the uses for Wishclaw Talisman don’t end in Standard, and get even
crazier as they go further back. The most obvious of which is trying one of
the most surefire ways of being positive that the opponent doesn’t get to
utilize the Talisman: kill them before it’s their turn.

A fairly intuitive way of ensuring that other players don’t get to benefit
from the Talisman is simply grabbing a card that is going to destroy it.
This is particularly attractive when it’s something in the vein of a
sweeper that’s going to impact the rest of the battlefield as well. That
way it’s actually worth investing the mana into a tutor effect to actually
search up whatever card it is that will be destroying the Wishclaw
Talisman. It wouldn’t make much sense to spend three mana to just find
something that was only going to destroy the tutor without effecting
anything else, after all.

Despite artifact decks having an abundance of reasonable tutors these days
between Goblin Engineer and Whir of Invention, Wishclaw Talisman gives the
deck another angle of tutoring in the form of an artifact. Goblin Engineer,
in particular, sticks out as a way to abuse the fact that the Talisman
doesn’t have to stay on the battlefield in order to search its owner’s

In some synergy-based decks, Wishclaw Talsiman having such a low cost,
relative to its effect, could be just the push that was needed to breathe
life into a deck that has seemingly fallen to the wayside in the last few

If only there were a Commander that were specifically interested in
sacrificing artifacts that could play cards with a black color identity…

Understanding the Applications of Wishclaw Talisman

The main takeaway here is that in most instances, Wishclaw Talisman isn’t
just going to be a value card. It’s going to be abused with some card that
makes it near-unusable for the opponent or getting some combo piece that
invalidates whatever the opponent would be doing otherwise.

It won’t be hard finding a shell to abuse
Wishclaw Talisman, but for anyone
who isn’t familiar with the source material that it’s referencing,

I’d be careful doing too much with it.