Friday 24 November 2017

Unstable Thoughts (Review) Part II

This is the last part of the review for Unstable. Due to the nature of the set I am giving it a lot less attention than other magic releases. Having discussed a couple of the cards with people I have already realized some bad evaluation on my part due to the lower consideration. Better than One is one such card. It is quite abusable but you do have to build around it rather or have a fairly robust and low curve deck. It is far from the all round bomb I thought it was at first. Any way, on with the remaining stuff;

Hot Fix

The ultimate Index! I have actually had theoretical discussions about the cost of this kind of effect in the past. I also like the concept of the time limit on effects, I would like to impose it on some cards like Diving Top! In practice it should be less significant on Hot Fix as you should be able to plan what you are doing before casting it. I highly recommend getting to the point where you know what it in your deck if you are not there already. I would wager all the top tier magic players can tell you 100% of their deck list from memory on the spot be it limited or constructed. I still can and I'm a rusty old fart as my mother would say! You need to be aware of all the cards so you can play to your outs and play the odds on things in an informed way. Anyway, the 10 seconds limit on Hot Fix practically stops you ordering your whole deck, which is a shame as for 6 mana that feels pretty fair. I think you can probably look to get about five cards to the top with this making it somewhat of Lim-Dul's Vault with any inconvenience removed. At six mana that isn't good enough, tutor effects need to be cheap and a tutor effect is all this is. With full ordering potential this might have had some very niche combo potentials such as Goblin Charbelcher but again at the six mana mark I don't really see it. Index for your whole library is something they will likely never print in any playable way. Not only would it be one of the slowest and most tedious cards to play with or against if ever printed but it would also be one of those cards that moves from unplayable garbage to utterly broken without ever being a fair card in between.

Masterful Ninja

This is a fairly well balanced card. It is obviously strong being a zero mana card with plenty of utility but it isn't oppressively good nor likely to become so. It is probably not dissimilar to Bloodghast in power and utility levels although rather different in role. The only thing I don't really like about this is the general tedium and confusion on how this interacts with stuff. Rules are not my thing and this card looks like hard work.


Cute card, took me a while to work out what this does and how it does it! This does some cool things for sure and would add a lot of intrigue into games. For cube this is all a bit slow and mana intense. A good mana sink but not very useful in the early game beyond being a 2/2 for two.


This isn't the cheapest of cards but it seems very strong indeed. Not only is it fairly powerful it is also fairly versatile. This is able to stop an untap phase which is pretty close to a Time Warp in the right situation. Stealing the combat step may allow you to reuse some vigilance dorks while fogging their attack. Just taking away their draw and having one more of your own makes this quite like a Muldrifter. It may not have flying or evoke but denying them a draw while progressing the board and getting an extra draw of your own is a big deal in any topdeck war. Also great to shut down their ability to dig for things they might need. I am not sure what the best things you can do with upkeep or end step steals but I am sure there are some cool things. This has a wide range of potentially powerful effects but the swing potential from the untap steal seems utterly bonkers. If you prevent them casting or attacking with anything and give yourself a bonus 5 mana in their turn to cast a big draw spell or flash threat with then good times!

Animate Library

Pretty silly card but probably not that unreasonable in cube. If libraries are considered to have been in play already and can attack as soon as animated then this card is probably over powered even for cube but if not then this is probably fine. Just a very big dork for blue! The cool thing about this in cube is that it is entirely possible to have libraries getting quite small quite fast and so this will have unique scaling and won't always represent a one hit kill.


I have mixed feelings on this. I like cards that you can just play with. This is not such a card. It is fiddly and un-magicy. It is uninteresting enough that I have not even bothered to see what the abilities are. I suspect the power of the card will be pretty extreme but this is very much the opposite of how I want to do things.

Squirrel Dealer

Assuming everyone likes squirrels then this is a cool card. In green it isn't too good either, just a useful support card. Sadly I suspect, as with many of these "let other people affect your game" people will not do as you want them too. I suspect if I play this card there will be a decided lack of love for the cute little tree rats.

Infinity Elemental

Not oppressively good but none the less quite strong in some roles. Certainly better than Phage! This has fine enough playability as a tool to try and cheat in and one shot people with. It has the added advantage of working with cards like Fling so as to mitigate its lack of evasion. Trample would get a lot done on this too! A cute aspect to this card is that it can kill anyone who has gained infinite life through some loop combo. As a raw 7 drop this seems too weak, with only 5 toughness it is all sorts of vulnerable and slow. You have to pair this with things.

Just Desserts

I had no idea a smidgen was such a specific number, nor that it was irrational! So this is just a Searing Spear? If you copy it six times does it round up to 22 total damage? Searing Spear is a great card so this is fine at just that if you need more two drop 3 damage burn in your cube. It is not a mechanically interesting card, just a decent one.

Five-Finger Discount

I actually quite like this new fundamental alteration of what is allowed in magic, for cube at least where moving cards about the place shouldn't matter at all. The sleeves will be the same as will the real owner owner of the cards. This is not really that far off what Gonti does and so this effect of playing your opponents cards is at least fine. This is a very strong card indeed, not unlike Fractured Identity or Hostage Taker. For six mana you get to effectively Utter End something and get a copy of that card in your hand. It is slow for spot removal but it is huge value and it is effective mono blue spot removal. This may not be as good a tempo play as Confiscate but it is vastly more reliable.

 Blurry Beeble

This is pretty nuts! Looter il-Kor is nuts and this is half the price and able to block things. It also has artifact synergies. If this was 100% unblockable it would be one of the best all round one drops. The mechanism to decide if this does have evasion is not by any means a fair one and so this is an unsuitable cube card as far as I am concerned. Without the evasion ever I would still consider running this in a lot of decks and so that is probably the house rule to run this card with if you want to have access to it but don't want random unfair things deciding games.

Knight of the Kitchen Sink

I mean, if you like True Name Nemesis then you can run this. If you like dull uninterative cards of low cost and high power level... You could throw this in to make white more powerful if you were desperate but you would struggle to argue the case for adding this in to improve the quality of your cube games. The few white bordered cards I have in my cube don't even target this and so it is pretty much another Nemesis. Some cubes my have a bit more in the way of white bordered dorks and removal and not find this to be such a tedious card but still... I guess you can't abuse equipment with this at least.

Common Iguana

Not a great card by any means but one I can see getting used (excluding any augmentation as that is a bit deep for cube). A 1/3 body with an EtB rummage is OK, it has a lot of support potential in a number of archetypes. The body isn't aggressive and so it won't be used as a tempo card and as such is probably a little bit narrow for cube given its power level. Mostly I think cards like Tormenting Voice will take its place but this may make the cut for creature synergy reasons.

Spy Eye

Theiving Magpie hasn't been cube worthy for a long long time now but given how nuts Gonti has proven to be I can see this being quite a substantial upgrade on the old Corvidae. If you want to go down the crazy rabbit hole of anyone's cards anywhere then this is probably up to the task.

Overall the set looks awesome fun. The art is lovely and nicely thematic. I already want the 3x3 contraption sets without the magic boxes, art only, just to have as things I could put on a wall. There are lots of interesting things going on and lots of powerful things. I do want to have a play with a lot of this stuff but I think contained within Unstable is the best way to experience the majority of what I see.

There are plenty of cards from Unstable you could run in cube. Some good filler and support things and a couple of really powerful cards. I don't like the way a lot of the more powerful cards would play in cube for one reason or another so while I am keen to play with a lot of these things I am no longer at all temped to stick any of these things in the cube. The trample burn spell and the last strike zombie remain the two most tempting cards and the burn spell isn't even really cube worthy. I like Clocknapper a lot too. Hopefully some of the designs will be reworked into proper magic cards as there is a lot of really cool ideas in this set.

From a draft perspective there are rather more contraptions than I expected, many of which have a pretty high power level. What I did not see were lots of good ways to assemble contraptions and that could be a point of tension in picking. No point in picking up bomb contraptions if the assemble cards all go really fast. The 1/1 goblin for R seems like the only solid way to assemble but that is only worth doing if your contraptions are all of decent quality with the 1/1 body being somewhat of a blank in limited. The high contraption count is also a concern if this is a conventional 15 card booster packof which 3 each are drafted among eight. In that case you will be thin on playables for your main deck (again, assuming it is a 40 card one, I have not read up on this beyond how the set mechanics work). This set makes me want to go out and draft it more than any set printed since I became a cube only player. I hope others feel the same way!

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