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For the counter of the same name, see Acorn counter.
Acorn holofoil stamp

Acorn-shaped holofoil stamp

Acorn cards, which heavily overlap with discontinued silver-bordered cards, are Magic: The Gathering cards that are not tournament-legal and are not covered by the comprehensive rules.[1]

History[ | ]

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”.[2]

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.[3] 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.[1] 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.[3] On common and uncommons the acorn stamp is printed on the card rather than embossed.[4]

With the change to acorn cards, some earlier silver-bordered cards may now be reprinted in black border.[5] Most cards referencing "silver-bordered" (with the exception of Border Guardian) received errata to include Un-cards that don't have a silver border.[6][7][8] Player prejudice against silver borders was definitely a factor in the change to black borders.[9]

Despite this, acorn and silver border cards remain officially illegal in common casual variants such as Commander and Oathbreaker, and see only fringe "Rule Zero" play alongside the likes of Holiday cards, Mystery Booster Playtest cards, and Unknown event playtest cards.

UNA expansion symbol

Expansion symbol for acorn Unfinity cards (UNA) on Gatherer.

Mark Rosewater later concluded that the switch to acorn didn’t go over great and that players would have been happier with a silver border.[10][11] To further differentiate the acorn cards in Unfinity from the eternal-legal cards, Wizards of the Coast quietly introduced a new set symbol and created a new set code for just the acorn cards — UNA.[12] Eternal cards retained their preexisting atom expansion symbol and set code (UNF). As these changes were made post-release, they only appear on Gatherer and the set's Product Archive page, not on the cards themselves.

As of 2024, there are no plans to insert new acorn cards appearing in otherwise normal sets.[13] The banning of all sticker and attraction cards from Eternal formats[14] led some people to classify Unfinity as a "failed experiment".[15] Although he refuted that, Mark Rosewater admitted that he future of Un-sets was questionable, because they had to compete against better selling products, especially with Universes Beyond products in the mix.[16]

Categories[ | ]

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[ | ]

UNH Carnivorous Death Parrot

Silver-bordered card from Unhinged

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.

Sets[ | ]

The first four sets used silver borders.

Subsequent un-sets use black borders, with many of the cards marked as acorn cards and the rest legal for eternal play.

Promotional sets[ | ]

Several promotional card series and mini-sets are designed with the same fun aesthetic as un-sets:

Un-games[ | ]

Any card that previously referred to a "silver-bordered game" now refers to an "Un-game." It is any game in which at least one player is playing acorn cards or older silver-bordered cards from Un-sets or things like holiday promos.[1]

Mechanics[ | ]

They feature mechanics that would be impossible to print in a normal expansion.[17]

There are some mechanics and cards, however, that were originally only in the Un-sets that would later be included in standard legal and modern legal sets or were modified versions of these mechanics or cards. Some notable ones include:

Rules[ | ]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

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.

From the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

  • 100.7. Certain cards are intended for casual play and may have features and text that aren’t covered by these rules. These include Mystery Booster playtest cards, promotional cards and cards in “Un-sets” that were printed with a silver border, and cards in the Unfinity™ expansion that have an acorn symbol at the bottom of the card.

Tokens[ | ]

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
Contortionist Blue Creature — Octopus Performer 4/4 At the beginning of your upkeep, you may fold this token in half. (It becomes 2/2, then 1/1, ½ / ½, and so on.)
Brainiac Red Creature — Brainiac 1/1
Chicken Red Creature — Chicken 4/4
Construct Colorless Artifact Creature — Construct X/X
Die Green Creature — Die 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
Teddy Bear Pink Creature — Teddy Bear 2/2
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
Sketch Colorless Creature — Sketch 4/4 This creature has flying if it has wings in its art. The same is true for first strike and a sword, vigilance and a shield, menace and mean eyes, trample and horns, deathtouch and claws, lifelink and fangs, and haste and footwear.
Squirrel Green Creature — Squirrel 1/1
Zombie Employee Black Creature — Zombie Employee 2/2
A Colorless Artifact
E Colorless Artifact
I Colorless Artifact
O Colorless Artifact
U Colorless Artifact

References[ | ]

  1. a b c Matt Tabak (September 20, 2022). "Unfinity Mechanics". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. 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.
  3. a b Mark Rosewater (November 29, 2021). "To Unfinity and Beyond". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Mark Rosewater (November 30, 2021). "Commons and uncommons can have the acorn stamp, right?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  5. Mark Rosewater (November 29, 2021). "With unfinity creating legal black border cards...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  6. Mark Rosewater (November 29, 2021). "Will cards like underdome that reference silver...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  7. Mark Rosewater (November 29, 2021). "For border guardian or any other cards that care...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  8. Jess Dunks (October 18, 2022). "Unfinity Oracle Changes". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Mark Rosewater (June 13, 2022). "Was player prejudice against silver borders a factor in making Unfinity black-bordered?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  10. Mark Rosewater (August 26, 2023). "How was the switch from 'silver-border' to 'Acorn' received?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  11. Mark Rosewater (March 17, 2024). "Where do you think Unstable succeeded where Unfinity failed?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  12. Example of UNA in Gatherer on the card A Real Handful.
  13. Mark Rosewater (May 4, 2024). "Is there a possibility of some new acorn cards appearing in otherwise normal sets?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  14. Andrew Brown (May 13, 2024). "May 13, 2024, Banned and Restricted Announcement". Wizards of the Coast.
  15. I'm Glad They Banned Stickers In Magic: The Gathering (Video). Tolarian Academy. YouTube (May 24, 2024).
  16. Mark Rosewater (May 18, 2024). "What are the biggest factors that prevent the next Un-set from being made? I". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  17. Mark Rosewater (July 20, 2009). "The Silver Lining". Wizards of the Coast.