|Symbol description||Wrench with acorn shaped hole|
Mark Rosewater (lead)|
Billy Moreno (co-lead)|
Dave Humpherys (co-lead)
Ben Hayes (co-lead)
|Art direction||Dawn Murin|
|Release date||December 8, 2017|
|Contraptions, Watermark matters, Flavor text matters, Dice rolling, Outside assistance assistance|
or ability words
|Assemble, Augment, Crank, Combine, Switch and others|
|Set size||216-ish cards|
|Development codename||Quicksilver |
|Magic: The Gathering chronology|
Unstable is a booster-based card set for Magic: The Gathering that can not be used in legal Magic tournaments. It was released on December 8, 2017 as a standalone set. This is the third of the silver-bordered Un-sets and is designed to be drafted.
- 1 Set details
- 2 Flavor
- 3 Themes and mechanics
- 4 New types and colors
- 5 Cycles
- 6 Trivia
- 7 Gallery
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Set details[edit | edit source]
Unstable contains "216-ish" cards (5 basic land, 75 common, 75 uncommon, 46 rare, and 15 mythic rare) and 20 foil tokens, and includes randomly inserted premium versions of all cards. The set explores new areas of Magic game design and continues the tradition of bending the conventional rules of the game in a fun and whimsical way. Unstable was designed to both be drafted alone and be mixed with other sets: according to Mark Rosewater, however, the best experience is probably when it's drafted alone. The expansion symbol is a wrench with an acorn-shaped hole.
The big difference between Unglued and Unhinged on one hand, and Unstable on the other, is that the first two were meant to be mixed in with normal Magic, whereas Unstable was built as a stand-alone limited experience.
The set features 'modern design sensibilities' and is built around a 'cohesive creative vision'. It includes fun legendary creatures that can be utilized in the Commander format and some cards designed for Cube. Like its predecessors, Unstable features 5 full-art basic lands, but borderless instead of black-bordered. Every pack contains one of the five lands unless it is replaced by a Steamflogger Boss, which replaces 1 in every 121 basic lands. The set also features foil tokens, both for tokens produced by cards in the set and for popular tribes outside the set.
The set contains some cards at common which are functionally identical to existing black bordered cards or possibly "blackborderable". These had been included for limited gameplay purposes.
Unstable is only published in the English language.
Magic Story[edit | edit source]
|Title||Author||Release Date||Setting (plane)||Featuring|
|World Class||Mark Rosewater||2017-11-29||Bablovia|
History[edit | edit source]
Mark Rosewater had to wait 13 years after Unhinged before Unstable could be printed, as Unhinged had been considered a commercial failure. However, Rosewater and senior brand director Mark Purvis argue this wasn't because of poor sales, but because of overprinting. At the time, Wizards of the Coast didn't regularly create supplemental sets, so Unhinged was treated as a small expansion. Actual work on the set took six years. When design started, one of the goals, as proposed by the director of product design Mark Globus, was to explore what new printing technology might allow: however, none of these proposed ideas were feasible at the time the set was printed.
The design of the set was finished in 2014. It was originally scheduled for summer of 2015, but was pushed back a year to make room for Modern Masters 2015. It was then scheduled for the summer of 2016, but the concern that its steampunk influence made it too similar to Kaladesh, pushed it back yet another a year. It was then scheduled for summer 2017: however, after Conspiracy: Take the Crown was added last-minute, its release was pushed back to December.
Marketing[edit | edit source]
A booster contains 16 cards: 1 rare, 3 uncommons, 8 commons, 2 contraptions, 1 basic land and 1 foil token. A randomly inserted premium version may replace any one of these cards. The boosters feature art from Willing Test Subject, Three-Headed Goblin and X.
Draft Weekend was held on the 9–10 December 2017, the first time which a non-Standard set was used in such event, and also the first time the event is held in casual level (Only 1 lifetime PwP were awarded in those events).
Promotional cards[edit | edit source]
Tokens[edit | edit source]
Unstable features 20 foil tokens, one per pack. Half of them are tokens from Unstable, with humorous fake ads on the back of each. Only the front side is foil, the back side isn't. For the first time, some of these tokens have watermarks, which interacts with the "watermark matters" mechanic that appears on a number of cards in the set.
- 0/1 Goat creature, for Everythingamajig.
- 1/2 Bird creature with flying called Storm Crow, for Crow Storm.
- 1/1 Faerie Spy creature with the S.N.E.A.K. watermark and with flying, haste, and "Whenever this creature deals combat damage to an opponent, draw a card.", for Faerie Aerie.
- 2/2 Rogue creature with the S.N.E.A.K. watermark and with menace, for Dispatch Dispensary and Very Cryptic Command.
- 1/1 Brainiac creature, for The Big Idea.
- 1/1 Goblin creature, for Box of Free-Range Goblins, Garbage Elemental, and Gift Horse.
- 1/1 Squirrel creature, for Chittering Doom, Earl of Squirrel, and Squirrel Dealer.
- */* Construct artifact creature, for Rapid Prototyper.
- 1/1 Gnome artifact creature, for By Gnome Means, Gnome-Made Engine, Gnomeball Machine, and Very Cryptic Command.
- Gold 4/4 Dragon creature with flying, for Sword of Dungeons & Dragons.
- 4/4 Angel creature with flying
- 1/1 Spirit creature with flying
- 1/1 Thopter artifact creature with flying
- 2/2 Vampire creature with flying
- 2/2 Zombie creature
- 1/1 Elemental creature
- 3/3 Beast creature
- 1/1 Saproling creature
- */* Elemental creature with "This creature's power and toughness are each equal to the number of creatures you control."
- Clue artifact
Reception[edit | edit source]
Flavor[edit | edit source]
- The Order of the Widget faction () are cyborgs that use technology to constantly improve themselves. They have no self control.
- The Agents of S.N.E.A.K. faction () are really bad spies with cool toys.
- The League of Dastardly Doom faction () are supervillains scheming to take over the world. They're constantly at odds with each other.
- The Goblin Explosioneers faction () are steamfloggers and tinkerers that experiment with lots of crazy ideas, many of which explode. They breed fast enough to not wipe out their race.
- The Crossbreed Labs faction () are creature hybrids that have used their inventions to create a perfect society where everyone is their true self.
Themes and mechanics[edit | edit source]
- Contraptions and assemble — One of two flagship mechanics of the set.
- There are 45 different Contraptions (nine with each faction's watermark), or roughly one-fifth of the set.
- Contraptions are artifacts that start the game shuffled into a separate "contraption deck." When an effect assembles a Contraption, that player takes the top card of their contraption deck and puts it into their first, second or third sprocket slot. (Any number of Contraptions can exist in a single sprocket.)
- During each of your upkeeps, if you control a Contraption, you move the CRANK! counter onto the next sequential sprocket of your Contraption deck (sprocket 3 looping back to 1), then crank all Contraptions in that sprocket. Each Contraption has a different ability that triggers upon being cranked.
- All creatures that can assemble a Contraption are Riggers.
- Each pack of Unstable contains two Contraption cards.
- Two cards may reassemble a Contraption, which means that player takes control of the Contraption and puts it on a sprocket of their choice.
- Host creatures and augment — The other flagship mechanic of the set.
- Host creatures all have abilities that trigger on their entering the battlefield, as well as art and name divided by a vertical line. Creatures with an augment ability have no mana cost (but have a color indicator), have plus or minus symbols in both their power and toughness (ex. +2/+2 or -1/-0) and each have the first half of some triggered ability.
- Augment appears on creatures without casting cost. When a host creature is on the battlefield, its controller can augment it with a creature from their hand: those two creatures are then combined into one until they leave the battlefield. The augment creature overlaps the left side of the host creature, such that the arts align.
- If an augment creature is on the battlefield not combined with a host, it goes to the graveyard as a state-based action.
- "Watermark matters" — To emphasize the individual factions, there are a number of cards (ex. Stamp of Approval) that care about the watermark printed on a card.
- "Outside assistance" — Cards that require you to find a person not playing in your current game and ask them to do something, usually making a choice or choices about something that will impact your game.
- Other "things that matter" include collector number, border color, rarity, artist's name, and the number of words in a card's name.
Unstable also has a number of one-off mechanics that play on other black-bordered mechanics:
- Art menace — Creatures with art menace can only be blocked by creatures "with two or more visible figures in their art."
- Blurry — A play on evasion abilities, creatures with blurry can't be blocked except by players who were wearing glasses as the creature was cast.
- Just a second — A riff on split second, spells with just a second prevent players from moving cards on the battlefield while they're on the stack.
- Last strike and triple strike — A riff on first strike and double strike, creatures with last strike deal damage after creatures without last strike. Creatures with triple strike deal both first-strike, regular, and last-strike combat damage.
- Loose lips — A source is considered to have loose lips if an open mouth is depicted in its artwork. This only appears in the context of Knight of the Kitchen Sink, a variant of which has "protection from loose lips."
- Squirrellink — Similar to lifelink, creatures with squirrellink create that many Squirrel creature tokens whenever they deal damage.
- Switch — To switch two cards means to exchange their respective game states. Cards that switch do not trigger other abilities, as they do not transition between states.
- Undeathtouch — Creatures with undeathtouch specifically exile a creature card if they would otherwise deal damage to it, including cards in a graveyard.
Unstable also features a number of returning mechanics.
- Existing un-mechanics that return include wordy, "flavor text matters," "art matters," subgames, dice rolling and dexterity cards.
- Existing non-evergreen mechanics that return include battalion, battle cry, cascade, frenzy, proliferate, Phyrexian mana, protection, storm, undying, and unleash.
- Trample also appears on non-creature spells for the first time (Super-Duper Death Ray).
New types and colors[edit | edit source]
Unstable continues the trend of introducing humorous card types to the game.
Supertypes[edit | edit source]
Creature types[edit | edit source]
- New card types are:
- Beaver (Eager Beaver)
- Deer (Druid of the Sacred Beaker)
- Hatificer (Goblin Haberdasher)
- Head (Skull Saucer) (previously seen in the Face the Hydra Challenge Deck)
- Kangaroo (Mother Kangaroo)
- Killbot (Curious Killbot)
- Raccoon (Squirrel Dealer)
- Scientist (Willing Test Subject)
- Vampyre (Old-Fashioned Vampire)
- Wrestler (Slaying Mantis)
- Reintroduced creature types are:
- A number of creature types were also revisited after a long absence from black-border Magic:
- Ninjas appear for the first time since Betrayers of Kamigawa and the Night of the Ninja deck of Planechase 2012.
- Beebles and Gamers are featured for the first time since Unhinged.
- Riggers, first featured in Future Sight, and were expanded upon and given a mechanical identity.
- Squirrels form a minor flavor theme.
Other subtypes[edit | edit source]
Colors[edit | edit source]
Cycles[edit | edit source]
Variant cards[edit | edit source]
Thirteen cards in Unstable were printed with multiple variants. These variants can differ on rules text, stats, flavor text, art, watermark, and even card name. The rarity of all the variations of a particular card add up to the regular listed rarity.
|Common rarity||Amateur Auteur||Novellamental||Extremely Slow Zombie||Target Minotaur||Beast In Show||Killbot series|
|Six common creatures, each with four variations in art and flavor text (and in one case, name), but unchanging rules text.|
|Higher rarity||Knight of the Kitchen Sink||Very Cryptic Command||Sly Spy||Garbage Elemental||Ineffable Blessing||Everythingamajig|
|Six uncommon or rare cards, each with six variations in rules text but the same card name across them.|
Vertical cycles[edit | edit source]
|Dice-rolling contraptions||Boomflinger||Thud-for-Duds||Gift Horse||Hard Hat Area|
|A vertical cycle of Goblin Explosioneers-watermarked Contraptions, that when cranked roll a pair of six-sided dice and produce an effect based on the difference of the results.|
Trivia[edit | edit source]
General[edit | edit source]
- Mark Rosewater joked that his toaster did most of the design.
- Originally, there were supposed to be 50 Contraptions (10 for each faction), but Dawn Murin, the art director for Unstable, decided to connect the art of all the Contraptions in each faction, leading there to be 9 Contraptions for each faction, with each piece of artwork on each Contraption card making up a single section of a 3x3 grid.
Cards[edit | edit source]
- Amateur Auteur's possible flavor texts references the plots of Dragon's Maze, Oath of the Gatewatch, Avacyn Restored and Theros.
- Animate Library is the first Aura to enchant a library.
- Better Than One allows players to add a teammate to existing games, the first card of its type to do so. This effect has previously been templated by the Richard Garfield Celebration Cards Splendid Genesis and Fraternal Exaltation, made to celebrate the birth of each of his children.
- Baron Von Count uses the template "Destroy target player" that Mark Rosewater earlier had wanted to use for Door to Nothingness.
- Crow Storm and its token are a play on the meme that Storm Crow is the best card ever printed, due to its ability to be exiled to pay the cost for Force of Will.
- Entirely Normal Armchair is a refined design of Cheatyface, whose ability was not as clear as Mark Rosewater would like and is a common source of judge rulings on his blog.
- Gimme Five and Hot Fix were originally cards with a mechanic called Stopwatch that forced you to do certain actions in a set amount of time.
- GO TO JAIL is a direct reference to Monopoly, a Hasbro brand.
- The mechanics and art of Hazmat Suit (Used) both refer to Vile Bile, a card from Unhinged.
- Half-Orc, Half- references the half-orc, a creature born to mixed orc and human parentage in the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. Half-orcs also appear in The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.
- Incite Insight‘s art and flavor text are direct references to Stroke of Genius.
- Infinity Elemental is the mythic vanilla creature that Mark Rosewater had been teasing for several years.
- Just Desserts is a play on the often misunderstood phrase "Just Deserts". It also plays on π and pie, and deals a non-integer amount of damage (indeed, an irrational and transcendental amount).
- Kindslaver refers to Mindslaver.
- Krark's Other Thumb refers to Krark's Thumb.
- Novellamental's art and flavor text reference Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre.
- Ordinary Pony received emergency errata to prevent it going infinite with Half-Squirrel, Half-.
- Party Crasher's flavor text is a direct reference to Akroma, Angel of Wrath.
- Really Epic Punch's art and mechanics are direct references to Savage Punch and Epic Confrontation. The card is missing "until end of turn", referencing Riding The Dilu Horse's typo, and functions similarly.
- Rules Lawyer holds the record for the longest reminder text on a given single card, and is also the first card to refer to a specific Magic rule (in this case, rule 704) anywhere in its text.
- Spike, Tournament Grinder completes the mini-cycle started with Timmy, Power Gamer (Unglued) and Johnny, Combo Player (Unhinged).
- In an effort to promote diversity and representation, Spike is portrayed as female.
- Teacher's Pet's art refers to Natural Selection.
- Shellephant is the first card to use "and/or" in the type line.
- Steamflogger Boss is reprinted from Future Sight, and is the only creature card printed on the land sheet. This makes it the only black-bordered card in the set.
- Super-Duper Death Ray is the first card to combine direct damage with trample.
- Sword of Dungeons & Dragons references Dungeons & Dragons, another Hasbro brand.
- Although D&D has heavily influenced the creation of Magic (e.g. Legends), this is the first time the brand itself is referenced.
- This mash-up card was previewed with a different graphical design as a HASCON-promo.
- The card also references the Sword of... mega-cycle from the Mirrodin and Scars of Mirrodin blocks
- The Grand Calcutron is influenced by Richard Garfield's earlier creation of the board game of RoboRally. It simulates the programming sequence from that game.
- The Grand Calcutron was supposed to have "This artifact can be your commander" as rules text, but there was not enough room. Mark Rosewater stated in his blog that he officially errataed The Grand Calcutron to be legal as commander in silver-bordered EDH games. As an exception (as it is a functional change), this was later officially implemented in Oracle.
- Urza, Academy Headmaster is the first Un-Planeswalker, the first 5 color Planeswalker, and the first card to refer to an outside source (AskUrza.com) for a (changeable) rules text. Each ability has 20 possible effects, all of which derive from Planeswalker cards in the past, with occasional minor changes.
- Very Cryptic Command and its variants is a reference to the criticized textless promo Cryptic Command; its detractors believed the complexity of the spell, being a bimodal spell released only recently, was largely inappropriate to be expected to be remembered verbatim. The variants play off this by having a total of 24 abilities, some of which vary in minor nuances.
- One version of this card features an unfinished sketch by artist Wayne England, who died before he could finish it. He had also created the art of the original card.
Functional reprints[edit | edit source]
- Amateur Auteur is a functional reprint of Felidar Cub, Kami of Ancient Law and Keening Apparition, save for creature type and border color.
- Novellamental is a functional reprint of Vaporkin and Welkin Tern, save for creature type and border color.
- Beast in Show is a functional reprint of Yavimaya Wurm, save for creature type and border color.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Mark Rosewater (July 23, 2017). "The art direction for Unstable seems quite not-Magic-like.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (August 04, 2017). "Wait, so the Unstable set code is UST? I thought it was UN3.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (January 18, 2018). "What was Unstable's design codename?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Wizards of the Coast (June 14, 2017). "25th Anniversary Announcement Day". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (November 6, 2017). "The Un-Ending Saga, Part 1". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (September 10, 2017). "Will Unstable have foil lands/Steamflogger Boss?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (June 15, 2017). "Is Unstable designed to be drafted with previous 2 Un sets?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (December 18, 2017). "Un-sets have always pushed the envelope, but Unstable seemed much more experimental in this regard?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (June 23, 2017). "Will Unstable include enough Legendary creatures to support a playgroup of silver-bordered commander?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (June 27, 2017). "Am I going to get any sweet cube cards in Unstable?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (July 28, 2017). "Can we expect some legendary creatures in Unstable?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (July 23, 2017). "Will there be more than one art per colour for the lands?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Magic Twitter
- Mark Rosewater (September 09, 2017). "I feel like you missed an opportunity to do something silly with the unset lands.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 16, 2017). "Amateur Auteur seems not-very-silver-bordered.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 16, 2017). "I'm kind of disappointed to see cards like Amateur Auteur and Curious Killbot in Unstable". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (August 31, 2012). "I thought the rule for un-cards was that they had to do something you couldn't do in black border?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (July 15, 2017). "Are there any cards you had to cut because they contained references that were just too dated?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (July 23, 2017). "Magic Panel Info". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 09, 2017). "Because Unstable has been inside R&D for so long, how recent are its references and jokes?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 10, 2017). "The product was on the schedule and pushed back three different times, each for a different reason.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Blake Rasmussen (November 13, 2017). "Unstable Packaging". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (November 11, 2017). "So all tokens are foil?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Blake Rasmussen (November 21, 2017). "The Tokens of Unstable". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (December 03, 2017). "The black border tokens in Unstable.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (September 20, 2017). "Is the same dragon token from the Hascon promos going to be in Unstable?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Gavin Verhey (January 18, 2018). "Know Your Audience". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (July 23, 2017). "What is Unstable, gadget world?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (August 03, 2017). "Order of the Widget.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (August 03, 2017). "Agents of S.N.E.A.K.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (August 03, 2017). "League of Dastardly Doom.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (August 03, 2017). "Goblin Explosioneers.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (August 03, 2017). "Crossbreed Labs.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (July 25, 2017). "The G/W faction in Unstable seems a lot like Simic from Ravnica.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 13, 2017). "The Un-Ending Saga, Part 2". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (November 20, 2017). "The Un-Ending Saga, Part 3". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Matt Tabak (November 16, 2017). "Unstable Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Maria Bartholdi (November 13, 2017). "Happy Un-Birthday!". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (November 22, 2017). "Unstable FAQAWASLFAQPAFTIDAWABIAJTBT". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (November 14, 2017). "Unstable design question!". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (August 03, 2017). "Do you like squirrels?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (December 4, 2017). "Unstable Scraps, Part 2". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Quinn Murphy (November 15, 2017). "Mary O'Kill and the Killbots". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (August 14, 2017). "Get It? Unhinged Edition, Part 1". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast (December 6, 2017). "Unstable Variants". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (December 07, 2017). "Do the variations on cards all add up to the same as a normal rarity?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (August 30, 2017). "Hi Mark. Today is my birthday, may I request some...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 22, 2017). "Can I get a trivia on my favourite card: Door to nothingness?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (January 24, 2018). "Can I have some un-set trivia?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Just deserts vs. just desserts
- Mark Rosewater (November 22, 2017). "You Always Remember Your First Power Level Errata". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 22, 2017). "I feel like the emergency errata on Ordinary Pony is the most anti spirit of the format you can be.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 16, 2017). "Why is Spike portrayed as a female". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 16, 2017). "This card started life in a black bordered set as Elephurtle.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 16, 2017). "Thank you for Super Duper Death Ray.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (July 21, 2017). "Will the Sword of Dungeons & Dragons available at Hascon be different from the one in Unstable?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 15, 2017). "Will every faction get...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 16, 2017). "Is anything preventing you from issuing a statement?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Eli Shiffrin (September 27, 2019). "Throne of Eldraine Oracle Changes". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- All available options for Urza, Academy Headmaster. Reddit (2017-12-07).
[edit | edit source]
- Mark Rosewater (November 27, 2017). "Unstable Scraps, Part 1". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (December 11, 2017). "Unstable Scraps, Part 3". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Chris Gleeson (December 13, 2017). "Unstable Art Descriptions". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.