Back when I first started playing magic, I remember going through eBay looking for the best bang for my buck purchase I could make. This was a long time ago, Zendikar had just been announced and everyone was hyped about black bordered cards in a core set, whatever that meant. For the life of me, I couldn’t tell why an Unhinged booster box was £30 while the rest were closer to 100. I was so new to the game I didn’t know that silver bordered cards were any different to regular black bordered cards. Regrettably I did not purchase those and instead fell for the “100 random black mtg cards”, eurgh.
That was so long ago that black was my favourite colour in magic and Undead Warchief was my favourite card, which I got from the 100 card eBay lot. I also got one silver bordered card, duh. When I first read the card, I laughed. It wasn’t until I actually cast duh in the middle of a kitchen top game that a friend pointed out that you can’t use silver bordered cards with black bordered cards. That is the closest thing I have to experience with an unset and it left me wanting.
I have always wanted to play a full on silver bordered game, weather it be 60 card, draft or commander. I am so hyped to play with unstable I wasn’t even bothered about the cards within it, I just want to experience one unset. Luckily I am not disappointed with the cards I have seen from the set.
I am very particular about my lands, my Gishath EDH deck has only foil “Jace is lost” basic lands and my pauper landfall deck has only matching Zendikar full art basics. For awhile, my draft set of lands was 10 of each unhinged basic land that I had managed to trade away some vampires for. The unhinged forest is without a doubt my favourite basic land in magic and I couldn’t back the kickstarter for its playmat fast enough. Jon Avon is a fantastic artist and I am over the moon that he is doing the basic lands for this set. I will have my draft set again, hopefully with spares.
There are two cards in unstable that are so well designed, I want the card, the foil, the artist proof and the print, framed and hung on my wall. Maybe it’s not the design, maybe it’s how much they mean to me personally. First, it’s Spike, tournament grinder. It’s just, perfect. Technically she has the same cmc as Timmy and Johnny but for the low low price of 4 life you can play her for 2 mana. Phyrexian mana was a powerful mechanic, mental misstep was banned in legacy as it was an auto 4 of in every deck. Phyrexian mana cards left an impact on the competitive scene, making them incorporated into Spike was a stroke of genius.
So Spike’s ability is 4 of this Phyrexian mana, choose a card you own from outside the game that has been banned or restricted in a Constructed format, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. Now, 8 life sounds steep but if your life is above zero, what does it matter? In unstable draft you can grab a jitte and chuckle your way to victory with one of the most broken limited cards ever. In commander, you can cast Spike off a Sol Ring t1, pay some life and it reads win the game, weird. This ability is, let’s be fair now, the nuts, and that just fits the theme perfectly.
The flavour text: “Just wait – I have a response.”. I couldn’t possibly count how many times I’ve heard a variation of this, “In response…” is my go to and my good friends “I have responses” has been heard many, many times. It is the phrase that is attributed to competitive magic players and a perfect fit for the flavour text.
The art. The Lotus Bloom sleeves we have all seen. The hoodie, if a magic player isn’t wearing a hoodie, what happened to the hoodie? Are they OK? Do they need to talk about it? The “Nope” t-shirt written in blue with a blue mana symbol where the O should be, genius.
As you may be able to tell, I am in love with this card. I can’t wait to get a hold of it and never use it outside of limited. This may entirely be because I am a massive Spike and the card resonates with me. In fact my nickname in one of my magic playing groups is “Grumpy Old Spike”.
The next card I want to talk about is Crow Storm. A card that had been joked about for years, “They should make a Storm Crow with storm!”. Crow Storm doesn’t resonate with me in the same way as Spike does but does mean alot to me. Back when I was at university and we were regularly grinding ptqs, me and my friends formed “Team Storm Crow”. It was just a bit of fun, we weren’t being serious about our team being good, we were just having a laugh. We got t-shirts printed, the front having a storm crow on it and the back having the awesome poem from from most of the Storm Crow printings.
The design of this one is not as clever as Spike but it’s all it needed to be. It needed to cost more than Storm Crow, it needed to make ½ flying Storm Crow tokens and it needed Storm. Done. It does have a new version of the famous poem, which made me smile when I read it.
I have been convinced that the Storm Crow token could have been better. The lightning making the Storm Crow’s token glow is just too much like a cartoon. I get it, it is the joke set but I rather use a custom token than they official one.
I am looking forward to trying uncommander. I already have a silver bordered commander for a black bordered deck, so I’m going to go all in and make the deck entirely silver bordered. I may not get in many games with it but it’s worth a try. I’m thinking of using Ol’ Buzzbark as I want to go all in on squirrellink.
That about wraps up my hype for Unstable. I will be drafting this as much as possible so if you can come down and draft it with us, that would be great. It’ll be fun!