Un-Playable? Digging into Magic's Un-Sets

When silly gets serious... joke cards that could have been legal


Card: Rare-B-Gone | Art: John Matson


Wizard’s latest “Un” set, Unfinity, will be released on October 7th, 2022. With this, we get more “joke” cards to throw into the bulk box.


Or do we?


When I got back into Magic early this year, the discovery of the “Un” sets was a delight. The last time I played Magic pre-dated any of these sets and I was eager to get my hands on some of them and play. The other attractive quality about them was just how cheap the singles are. Except for a few notable cards, nearly every card can be purchased for $5 or less. My son and I picked up enough cards to build two decks from a local comic book store's $0.05 bin.



The low demand for these cards in the competitive arena is unfortunate since many could have been playable in competitive formats and could have taken the meta in interesting directions.


Wizards must have thought similarly as well, as Unfinity removes the silver border and puts in place a new system that allows some of the cards to be played competitively in eternal formats while also maintaining the fun, “joke” nature of the other cards.


While no decision has been rendered on previously produced silver border cards in competition, at least we can look forward to Unfinity as a way of introducing some comedic flavor to the competitive environment.


Today, we'll look at several of those older cards that would fit into today’s competitive environment if a rules change someday allows them.



Unglued


Magic’s first un-set! Unglued was saturated with the die rolling mechanic. You can tell Mark Rosewater was opening the fire hydrant with cards that were clearly not fit for play such as Blacker Lotus, Chaos Confetti, and The Cheese Stands Alone. These were too powerful on their own.


But what about Ricochet? This fits well with the dice mechanic that proliferated (no pun intended) with Adventures in the Forgotten Realms and more recently, Battle for Baldur’s Gate.


Chicken a la King, also a dice rolling card, could fit well in a Bird tribal deck without breaking any format.


Growth Spurt, the last dice rolling card I will review from this set, also has some appeal. Imagine your opponent sweating when they have 8 infect counters, and you’ve cast this and are about to roll the die.


Unhinged


Following Unglued, was Unhinged which introduced one concept that had been touched on before, such as the game within the game. Although not as taxing as dropping a Shahrazad, these cards examined other “outside the regular game” ways of influencing the match. None of these concepts (thankfully) caught on. Another that did not make the cut was fractions which overly complicate things.


That said, some notable cards could have made the jump to competitive Magic.


Ach! Hans Run! Is one notable enchantment tutor type of card that while powerful, required a significant investment of mana. It may be borderline broken, but I can see it fitting into several styles. The current Legacy metagame, heavy on Blue countermagic, would be a formidable buoy to a card like this.



How often, as a community, are we lamenting the cost of high-power decks? Want to inject some balance? Rare-B-Gone, while possessing a silly name, would reward that player who shows up with a Pauper level deck to a Modern or Legacy event.


Staying Power is also an interesting card. I can see some powerful, but not broken, combos being created with a card like this.


Mana Screw is also a nice chance mana rock that could be interesting. I can see Commander communities adopting this one en masse.


Unstable


Unstable was the third silver border set to be released and brought another round of beautiful lands which have seen plenty of table time since their printing.


Sword of Dungeons & Dragons is a nice spin on the sword cycle of cards that have appeared throughout many sets and introduces a tribal feel, while also tossing a die-roll mechanic.


Ineffable Blessing also touches on the rarity issue, much like Rare-B-Gone, and rewards the player who builds lower power level decks.


As Luck Would Have It also creates a new win condition that we have seen on other cards which reward the player who devotes their game plan to piling tokens onto a card. As die rolling has become more prevalent, a card like this could be a good combo win-con.


Do-It-Yourself Seraph is an interesting combo card, digging into an exile and reward mechanic that, while not broken, introduces some potentially exciting win-cons. While powerful, this is not unlike an equip cost and because it is a creature, opens itself up to many creature removal cards.



Unsanctioned


Unsanctioned, the last Un set, was largely a reprint set, introducing only 16 new cards. Die rolling once again featured as a prominent mechanic that by now, we have all accepted is not going away.



Pippa, Duchess of the Dice, adds a cool chance mechanic and gives you a chance to roll again if you don’t like the result. Paired with some of the other die-rolling cards, such as Krark’s Other Thumb, cards like this could prove to be quite powerful while also not presenting an immediate game-ending result.


Unfinity


The success or non-success of prior Un sets, depending on your perspective, has brought us to this point in time. We can finally use cards from an Un set in competitive decks! After sifting through the previews, you may be left with a sour taste in your mouth, though. Many of the eternal-legal cards require you to take advantage of the new Attraction mechanic. Without getting deep into that, I thought I would talk about some of the more “practical” cards from the set that may see actual play.


I’m leading with what will soon be everyone’s favorite Magic doggo, Comet, Stellar Pup. In what may be the closest Unfinity can come to producing a special Minsc & Boo-esque creature, we have the dice rolling Pup. With several cool abilities, coupled with many of the die-roll modifiers over the year we could see some interesting combos come about with Comet. Time will tell.


Starlight Spectacular gives me White Weenie feels. This isn’t going to create any archetype-changing decks, but it sure does look like it could cause a little bit of trouble.


Embiggen may be one of the more prolific of the cards to come out of Unfinity. Infect as a deck archetype gets a boost with this. An Embiggen’d Inkmoth Nexus is probably not what your opponent had in mind. Sure, it may just be another Giant Growth, but four more cards in the arsenal give Infect a stronger foundation.


Rounding out our analysis of Unfinity is ________ Goblin. Seemingly harmless, one of these dudes unleashed could be a huge mana ramp. While powerful, this will likely be relegated to the fringe as once you have used your stickers the first time, that’s about it. What else should we expect from a Goblin though?


Wrap Up


Hope that you have enjoyed the trip through Un-history! It has been fun, and as always, may The Cheese Stand Alone!


 

What are your thoughts on un-set cards becoming eternal legal? Ready to Unfinity? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.

 

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