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Set Information
Set symbol
Symbol description Wrench with acorn shaped hole
Design Mark Rosewater (lead)
Dan Emmons
Billy Moreno
Monty Ashley
Ian Duke
Development Billy Moreno (co-lead)
Dave Humpherys (co-lead)
Ben Hayes (co-lead)
Mark Purvis
Mark Rosewater
Art direction Dawn Murin[1]
Release date December 8, 2017
Plane Bablovia
Themes and mechanics Contraptions, Watermark matters, Flavor text matters, Dice rolling, Outside assistance assistance
Keywords/​ability words Assemble, Augment, Crank, Combine, Switch and others
Set size 216-ish cards
Expansion code UST[2]
Development codename Quicksilver [3]
Unhinged Unstable Unsanctioned
Magic: The Gathering Chronology
From the Vault: Transform Unstable Rivals of Ixalan
Order of the Widget

Order of the Widget

Agents of S.N.E.A

Agents of S.N.E.A.K.

League of Dastardly Doom

League of Dastardly Doom

Goblin Explosioneers

Goblin Explosioneers

Crossbreed Labs

Crossbreed Labs

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.[4][5] This is the third of the silver-bordered Un-sets and is designed to be drafted.

Set details[ | ]

Unstable contains "216-ish" cards (5 basic lands, 75 common, 75 uncommon, 46 rare, and 15 mythic rare) and 20 foil tokens, and includes randomly inserted premium versions of all cards.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8]

The set features 'modern design sensibilities' and is built around a 'cohesive creative vision'.[4] It includes fun legendary creatures that can be utilized in the Commander format and some cards designed for Cube.[9][10][11] Like its predecessors, Unstable features 5 full-art basic lands,[12] but borderless instead of black-bordered.[13][14] 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.[15][16][17]

Unstable is only published in the English language.

Magic Story[ | ]

Main article: Magic Story
Title Author Release Date Setting (plane) Featuring
World Class Mark Rosewater 2017-11-29 Bablovia

History[ | ]

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.[18][19] 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.[5]

The design of the set was finished in 2014.[20] It was originally scheduled for summer of 2015, but was pushed back a year to make room for Modern Masters 2015.[21] 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 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[ | ]

Unstable is sold in boosters and Draft Packs. The first details of Unstable were revealed by Rosewater at San Diego Comic-Con 2017,[19] who also heavily promoted the set on Blogatog.

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.[22]

Draft Weekend was held on the 9–10 December 2017, the first time which a non-Standard set was used in such an event, and also the first time the event is held on a casual level (Only 1 lifetime PwP were awarded in those events).

Promotional cards[ | ]

Tokens[ | ]

Unstable features 20 foil tokens, one per pack. Half of them are tokens from Unstable, with humorous fake ads on the back of each.[23][24] Only the front side is foil, the back side isn't.[25] 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.

The other half of the tokens are for non-Unstable cards, and has full borderless art of the same token on the back faces instead of advertisements.[23]

  • {W} 4/4 Angel creature with flying
  • {W} 1/1 Spirit creature with flying
  • {U} 1/1 Thopter artifact creature with flying
  • {B} 2/2 Vampire creature with flying
  • {B} 2/2 Zombie creature
  • {R} 1/1 Elemental creature
  • {G} 3/3 Beast creature
  • {G} 1/1 Saproling creature
  • {G/W} */* Elemental creature with "This creature's power and toughness are each equal to the number of creatures you control."
  • {C} Clue artifact

Reception[ | ]

Wizards of the Coast reported that Unstable was one of the smash hits of the year, and was beloved by players.[27]

Flavor[ | ]

Unstable is set on Bablovia, a steampunk 'mad scientist world' with 5 factions:[5][28]

Themes and mechanics[ | ]

  • Contraptions and assemble — One of two flagship mechanics of the set.[35]
    • 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.[19]
    • Each pack of Unstable contains two Contraption cards.[35]
    • 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.[36]
    • 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.[37]
  • "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.[36][38]
  • "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.[36][39]
  • 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,[40] 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.[41][42]
  • 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.[43]
  • 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.

New types and colors[ | ]

Unstable continues the trend of introducing humorous card types to the game.

Supertypes[ | ]

Creature types[ | ]

Other subtypes[ | ]

Colors[ | ]

Gold joins brown, hazel, and pink as exclusive silver-bordered color.[39]

And/or[ | ]

“And/or” (Shellephant) isn’t a creature type.

Cycles[ | ]

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Watermarks matter Knight of the Widget S.N.E.A.K. Dispatcher "Rumors of My Death..." Hammerfest Boomtacular Druid of the Sacred Beaker
Five uncommon spells, one for each faction, that care about watermarks of the respective faction.
Dice hosts Adorable Kitten Numbing Jellyfish Big Boa Constrictor Feisty Stegosaurus Mother Kangaroo
Five common host creatures, each with an enters-the-battlefield effect that rolls a die and gets an effect based on the result.
Outside assistance spells Sacrifice Play Defective Detective Subcontract It That Gets Left Hanging Squirrel Dealer
Five common spells that require the casting player to consult a person outside of the game.
Cycle name {W}{U}
Order of the Widget
Agents of S.N.E.A.K.
League of Dastardly Doom
Goblin Explosioneers
Crossbreed Labs
Faction leaders The Grand Calcutron Phoebe, Head of S.N.E.A.K. Baron von Count
Mary O'Kill
Grusilda, Monster Masher
The Big idea
Ol' Buzzbark Dr. Julius Jumblemorph
Several mythic multicolor permanents that each represent a leader of a faction.
Mythic contraptions Rapid Prototyper Faerie Aerie Pet Project Hard Hat Area Bee-Bee Gun
Five mythic Contraptions, one for each faction.

Variant cards[ | ]

Thirteen cards in Unstable were printed with multiple variants.[45] 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.[46]

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G} {C}
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[ | ]

Cycle name
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.

Functional reprints[ | ]

Gallery[ | ]

References[ | ]

  1. Mark Rosewater (July 23, 2017). "The art direction for Unstable seems quite not-Magic-like.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  2. Mark Rosewater (August 04, 2017). "Wait, so the Unstable set code is UST? I thought it was UN3.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  3. Mark Rosewater (January 18, 2018). "What was Unstable's design codename?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  4. a b Wizards of the Coast (June 14, 2017). "25th Anniversary Announcement Day". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. a b c Mark Rosewater (November 6, 2017). "The Un-Ending Saga, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater (September 10, 2017). "Will Unstable have foil lands/Steamflogger Boss?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  7. Mark Rosewater (June 15, 2017). "Is Unstable designed to be drafted with previous 2 Un sets?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  8. Mark Rosewater (December 18, 2017). "Un-sets have always pushed the envelope, but Unstable seemed much more experimental in this regard?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  9. Mark Rosewater (June 23, 2017). "Will Unstable include enough Legendary creatures to support a playgroup of silver-bordered commander?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  10. Mark Rosewater (June 27, 2017). "Am I going to get any sweet cube cards in Unstable?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  11. Mark Rosewater (July 28, 2017). "Can we expect some legendary creatures in Unstable?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  12. Mark Rosewater (July 23, 2017). "Will there be more than one art per colour for the lands?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  13. Magic Twitter
  14. Mark Rosewater (September 09, 2017). "I feel like you missed an opportunity to do something silly with the unset lands.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  15. Mark Rosewater (November 16, 2017). "Amateur Auteur seems not-very-silver-bordered.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  16. Mark Rosewater (November 16, 2017). "I'm kind of disappointed to see cards like Amateur Auteur and Curious Killbot in Unstable". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  17. 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.
  18. Mark Rosewater (July 15, 2017). "Are there any cards you had to cut because they contained references that were just too dated?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  19. a b c Mark Rosewater (July 23, 2017). "Magic Panel Info". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  20. Mark Rosewater (November 09, 2017). "Because Unstable has been inside R&D for so long, how recent are its references and jokes?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  21. Mark Rosewater (November 10, 2017). "The product was on the schedule and pushed back three different times, each for a different reason.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  22. Blake Rasmussen (November 13, 2017). "Unstable Packaging". Wizards of the Coast.
  23. a b Mark Rosewater (November 11, 2017). "So all tokens are foil?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  24. Blake Rasmussen (November 21, 2017). "The Tokens of Unstable". Wizards of the Coast.
  25. Mark Rosewater (December 03, 2017). "The black border tokens in Unstable.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  26. Mark Rosewater (September 20, 2017). "Is the same dragon token from the Hascon promos going to be in Unstable?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  27. Gavin Verhey (January 18, 2018). "Know Your Audience". Wizards of the Coast.
  28. Mark Rosewater (July 23, 2017). "What is Unstable, gadget world?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  29. Mark Rosewater (August 03, 2017). "Order of the Widget.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  30. Mark Rosewater (August 03, 2017). "Agents of S.N.E.A.K.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  31. Mark Rosewater (August 03, 2017). "League of Dastardly Doom.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  32. Mark Rosewater (August 03, 2017). "Goblin Explosioneers.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  33. Mark Rosewater (August 03, 2017). "Crossbreed Labs.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  34. Mark Rosewater (July 25, 2017). "The G/W faction in Unstable seems a lot like Simic from Ravnica.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  35. a b Mark Rosewater (November 13, 2017). "The Un-Ending Saga, Part 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  36. a b c d Mark Rosewater (November 20, 2017). "The Un-Ending Saga, Part 3". Wizards of the Coast.
  37. Matt Tabak (November 16, 2017). "Unstable Mechanics". Wizards of the Coast.
  38. Maria Bartholdi (November 13, 2017). "Happy Un-Birthday!". Wizards of the Coast.
  39. a b Mark Rosewater (November 22, 2017). "Unstable FAQAWASLFAQPAFTIDAWABIAJTBT". Wizards of the Coast.
  40. Mark Rosewater (November 14, 2017). "Unstable design question!". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  41. Mark Rosewater (August 03, 2017). "Do you like squirrels?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  42. Mark Rosewater (December 4, 2017). "Unstable Scraps, Part 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  43. Quinn Murphy (November 15, 2017). "Mary O'Kill and the Killbots". Wizards of the Coast.
  44. Mark Rosewater (August 14, 2017). "Get It? Unhinged Edition, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  45. Wizards of the Coast (December 6, 2017). "Unstable Variants". Wizards of the Coast.
  46. Mark Rosewater (December 07, 2017). "Do the variations on cards all add up to the same as a normal rarity?". Blogatog. Tumblr.

External links[ | ]