- For the counter of the same name, see Acorn counter.
Silver-bordered cards were introduced in 1998 for Unglued, the first Magic supplemental set and the first "joke set" and became tradition for the following so-called Un-sets. Certain promos like the Holiday cards, the 2017 HASCON promos, and Ponies: The Galloping also used a silver border.
According to Mark Rosewater, the audience reaction to the silver border was somewhat of a problem for R&D. It most often didn’t get treated as “this is a different subset of Magic”, but rather as “this isn’t a real Magic card”.
Rosewater later explained that when silver border was originally dubbed "not for tournament play," that meant not for Vintage, Legacy, or Standard, but for every other format, especially the casual ones. Over the years, silver border slowly shifted to end up meaning "not for any official format, casual or not," which contradicted what it was originally intended to do. Rosewater realized that many cards in the set would be perfectly fine to be played in black border Eternal sets. R&D then looked another way to express "silver border-ness" that didn't require a silver border and turned to holofoil security stamps.
Starting with the black-bordered Unfinity set in 2022 an acorn security stamp means exactly what a silver border used to. This is a card not meant for tournament play and should only be used in casual formats where all the players agree to its inclusion. These have been dubbed these "acorn" cards. All acorn cards, of all rarities, have an acorn holofoil stamp. If a card has an oval security stamp (or no security stamp at lower rarities), it's legal in eternal formats (which includes Commander, Legacy, and Vintage). These have been dubbed "eternal" cards. This security stamp technology allows R&D to let the two different types of cards commingle in the same set. On common and uncommons the acorn stamp is printed on the card rather than embossed.
With the change to acorn cards, some earlier silver-bordered cards may now be reprinted in black border. Most cards referencing "silver-bordered" (with the exception of Border Guardian) get errata. Player prejudice against silver borders was definitely a factor in the change to black borders.
Acorn cards fall into the following categories:
- Cards that don't work within the official rules
- An element of "cards matter" that normal rules don't reference (flavor text, as an example)
- Cards that require interacting with people outside the game
- Cards that require a physical or vocal component
- Cards that reference a state external to the game (are they able to see something from their seat, for instance)
- Cards with some effects that just don't feel right in normal games
Un-sets are light-hearted supplemental sets intended for fun casual play. These sets seek to break the tradition of other Magic sets, drawing on successful mechanical strengths and pushing them to the extreme — often using an outrageously humorous angle. Their common naming pattern gave rise to their slang collective name "un-sets", although they're also referred to as "silver-bordered sets", "humorous sets", etc.
- Uses black borders; a fraction of the set is legal in Eternal formats as the cards are mechanically acceptable but flavorfully more bizarre.
They feature mechanics that would be impossible to print in a normal expansion.
- Cards in certain sets and certain promotional cards are printed with a silver border. Silver-bordered cards are intended for casual play and may have features and text that aren’t covered by these rules.
Tokens created by silver-bordered and acorn cards.
|Token Name||Color||Type Line||P/T||Text Box||Source||Printings|
|Ape||Green||Creature — Ape||1/1|
|Green||Creature — Ape||3/3|
|Beeble||Blue||Creature — Beeble||1/1|
|Storm Crow||Blue||Creature — Bird||1/2||Flying|
|Brainiac||Red||Creature — Brainiac||1/1|
|Chicken||Red||Creature — Chicken||4/4|
|Construct||Colorless||Artifact Creature — Construct||X/X|
|Dragon||Gold||Creature — Dragon||4/4||Flying|
|Expansion-Symbol||Colorless||Creature — Expansion-Symbol||1/1|
|Faerie Spy||Blue||Creature — Faerie Spy||1/1||Flying, haste
Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, draw a card.
|Giant Teddy Bear||Pink||Creature — Giant Teddy Bear||5/5|
|Gnome||Colorless||Artifact Creature — Gnome||1/1|
|Goat||White||Creature — Goat||0/1|
|Goblin||Red||Creature — Goblin||1/1|
|Homunculus||Colorless||Creature — Homunculus||2/2|
|Rogue||Black||Creature — Rogue||2/2||Menace|
|Sheep||Green||Creature — Sheep||2/2|
|Squirrel||Green||Creature — Squirrel||1/1|
- Mark Rosewater (February 27, 2021). "Why did yall feel it was necessary to pollute the identity of the core game rather than just spin off a "Universes Beyond" format that was Legacy + UB cards?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 29, 2021). "To Unfinity and Beyond". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (November 30, 2021). "Commons and uncommons can have the acorn stamp, right?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 29, 2021). "With unfinity creating legal black border cards...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 29, 2021). "Will cards like underdome that reference silver...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (November 29, 2021). "For border guardian or any other cards that care...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (June 13, 2022). "Was player prejudice against silver borders a factor in making Unfinity black-bordered?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (July 20, 2009). "The Silver Lining". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.