It’s been a long time coming. Wizards of the Coast is back with the much anticipated third silver-bordered set: Unstable. These cards look like Magic cards, but they hardly play like them. The set features wacky mechanics like “watermarks matter”, dexterity-based cards (mainly a lot of high-fiving), and contraptions. We’re going to go over some of the set’s most exciting cards, the most flavorful cards, and the features of this silver-bordered experiment.
Unstable is set in the steam-punk, mad scientist world of Bablovia. Factions comprised of goblins, super villains, cyborgs, spies, and hybrid animal amalgamations try and create the next best invention to put themselves above the rest, while hopefully not blowing themselves up. The set is designed to be drafted, but the beauty of silver-bordered cards is that they can do anything you want their goofy design to do (except play in a constructed tournament). Many people cobble together casual decks to harness the power of the squirrels, add some truly busted cards to their cubes and EDH decks, or just use some foils just to show off. Below are the top ten cards in no particular order coming out of Unstable that are a good mix exciting mechanics, fun design, and a true lack of stability.
If you have any questions regarding the rules or game mechanics of these cards Wizards provided an FAQ (of sorts)!
The Big Idea
This token producing brainiac highlights the set’s “rolling dice matter” theme in a very explosive way. This feels very useable in a deck with Purphorous, God of the Forge or any EDH deck where tokens are the highlight, as long as your playgroup allows for it. The card also features some truly villainous artwork.
Sword of Dungeons and Dragons
My problem with sliver-boarded sets is that they can often include very forced humor; jokes don’t land and cards fall flat. I am far more partial to cards that have a fun play design and are flavorful, much like black-boarded cards I enjoy. This equipment does both of those things exceedingly well. The ability to create a dragon ally and pray for a critical roll will hopefully you feel like you’re in a game of DnD each time it’s ability triggers.
This innocuous uncommon has some hilarious artwork, an awesome design, and forces you to take a detour by helping or harming someone else in a silver-bordered match. Maybe you use this to force your friends to stop comboing off and go fight mudcrabs for a while?
Summon the Pack
This seems like an auto-include in cubes that will allow it, or may be permanently banned from every Un-Cube from now until the end of time. Casting this is both exhilarating and nerve-racking as you may open a pack full of devastating finishers or…nothing at all.
Urza, Academy Headmaster
Urza is back! Well, most of him. We actually don’t even know what this card fully does yet, and its design is wild. Having to go online and determine the outcome of his loyalty is another way WotC is trying to rebrand their online presence, and I hope that the abilities are worth the extra effort. Also, the foils of this card will easily make some heads roll.
Over My Dead Bodies
Whenever you see super expensive, black enchantment in Magic, it’s a safe bet that your graveyard will be involved. Well now, your graveyard is fighting back! The evasion and haste given to your dead creatures is worth the mana investment and I smell some awful board states with this card…or is that just rotting flesh?
Super Duper Deathray
Hmm…a damage spell with trample. Let that sink in for a bit. This feels like something that could be released in “Return to Future Sight”. I am quite excited to draft something like this. The design is very simple yet opens the door to some exciting and deadly possibilities
Cards that required physical actions always lead to something interesting in the game. Why not take a break from your match to meet some friends, get some high fives, and even gain some life? The card also benefits players around you so give some skin! The art on this card is also one of my favorites as high-fiving an octopus is easily in my top five life goals.
Grusilda, the Monster Masher
This card is gruesome in so many ways. The art, the design, the rules about smashing two creatures together, the thought of what a mix of Griselbrand and Fortress Crab could look like, everything… This feels like what happens when the Mimeoplasm gets to design a card and no one stops it. This should make for some horrific EDH games.
Truthfully, I was hesitant to highlight this card. I think the whole Storm Crow meme is overrated in the Magic community (and with that I let the floodgates of complaints open). I do however really like this card as something to put into a cube as it feels better than Empty the Warrens and creating a swarming murder of crows after many cantrips is something that interests me. The card also shows that Wizards listens to their fanbase and makes their flat jokes a reality. I’m sure the foils of this spell will be astronomical.
The world of Unstable is wacky but also includes some flavorfully creative cards. The next five cards include some of the best flavor texts to come out of this set. They are in no particular order as I love them all equally.
This hits the mark so well. Simple and witty flavor text and the threat of a looming 45/45 on the battlefield will make you think twice about raising your voice inside your local library.
Would you buy some fresh squirrels from a raccoon-lizard-bird? Come on they’re top quality, the real deal! Trust the animal in the trench coat.
It That Gets Left Hanging
This makes me a little squeamish as the horror has NAILS FOR HANDS; DO NOT HIGH FIVE IT, I REPEAT DO NOT HIGH FIVE! Let them deal some hasty damage and save your own skin.
I, for one, would not question Dr. Juluis Jumblemorph or his ways because he can create a half-crab half-squirrel equipped with a baseball bat to make you stop asking silly questions.
Finally, we get our vanilla mythic. This card stands out to me because its flavor text has a lot to say and keeps saying it, without end. And isn’t that Unstable is all about? Flavor without end?
Honorable Mention: Every Host/Augment Card
This design and ability is a home run. Ninja-Camel? Half Shark-Half Kitten? Multiheaded-Beaver? Sign me up! The art on all of these cards is a mix of cute and cuddly, but when you jam them together it’s truly breathtaking (in the worst way). This is a design space I hope Wizards continues to play with.
Less Than Honorable Mention: Contraptions.
There, I said it. I don’t like the play or mechanics of these cards. For a joke set, this feels too much like a different game entirely and I do hope that the rules around these cards offer some clarity. I think that each factions’ specific contraptions are interesting and flavorful in their own way and the artwork on contraptions (and in this set as a whole) is a slamdunk. Maybe my mind can be changed about these oddball cards in the future, but for now, Steamflogger Boss is just a bulk rare to me.
Besides all of the nonsense, Unstable also features some truly beautiful full art and borderless lands in every pack. The set will also include foil tokens that correlate to the cards in the set accompanied by full art borderless tokens that are for some black boarded creatures and spells.
Unstable is exploding with some wild cards and has too much humor and design to fit into one article, so as always leave some comments here or reply on our Facebook or Twitter to let us know what side of the mayhem you are on.