On Monday, we here at Master of Magics sat down to one of our game nights to play some sealed, and there wasn’t anything different or unique about it at all. Oh, there was one thing…
— Abbie Deleval [MoM] (@MasterOfMagics) December 4, 2017
Yes, thanks to the great people at Wizards of the Coast we got hold of an advanced booster box of Unstable. We want to say a big thank you to them for giving us the chance to sit down with Unstable ahead of its official release this Friday. Since this was a monumental moment for our buddy group we decided to do something a bit special and film us playing with this new set. The video for this will be on our YouTube channel as soon as we can get it edited, but we also wanted to give you our thoughts on the long-awaited third Unset. So today Sean and James will give you a sneak peek into the crazy world of Unstable.
If you want to play this for yourself, head on over to your LGS this Friday (They may even be doing drafts over the weekend if you ask nicely.) I hear there could be special prizes.
After opening my pool, I quickly come to the realisation that G/B dice rolling was a thing. I opened two copies of Big Boa Constrictor, a Steel Squirrel and Willing Test Subject, as well as Chittering Doom and Krark’s Other Thumb. These formed the backbone of my deck because, with them, I might never have to swing at my opponent to win. I also added a version of Ineffable Blessing that would allow me to draw a card every time a silver-boarded creature entered my side of the board (yes, there are multiple versions of some cards!!!) as well as Mary O’Kill and one of her Killbots. I fleshed out the deck with some more Host and Augment synergies, some curve fillers and a Squirrel Dealer (everyone assured me they would say they liked squirrels when the time was right).
Abbie: I never assured you of anything, I just said I liked squirrels and happened to change my mind after our match…
My opponent would be our lord and master Abbie, and our games would be the feature match (no pressure then). The first game went very well (for me at least) as I was able to get my engine online very quickly thanks to the card draw from Ineffable Blessing. Unfortunately, Abbie was not having as much luck as me and got a case of mana screw. This was a bit of a shame as Abbie’s deck look very sweet when she built it. Game two was going very much in my favour again (I was even remembering my triggers too). I had Abbie down to one life, and my victory was all but assured. The only thing that could stop me was my own ineptitude, which it did in one of my all-time worst punts. I had just created a Multi-Headed/Constrictor, and without thinking it through went to attack Abbie. The thing is that if I had just waited until my end-step, the Multi-Headed/Constrictor ability would have triggered (thanks to Abbie’s own GO TO JAIL) and I would have won the game anyway. Instead, Abbie double blocked and lost only one creature, then mounted a Rocky-style comeback while I got mana flooded. Things quickly got out of hand when her library started attacking me, and I quickly scooped. Lucky, I was able to redeem myself in game three, but I then realised all my teammates hold some kind of vendetta against me. In every game I played Squirrel Dealer and asked one of my “friends” if they liked squirrels, they took great pleasure in saying ‘NO’. Well, I guess I can’t complain as my deck was pretty sweet. Abbie even got her opportunity for revenge when I was playing Sean. After casting Subcontract targeting me, Sean gave Abbie the decision to pick what got discarded. Unsurprisingly she chooses Big Boa Constrictor, which ended up costing me the game.
So, what was my overall opinion? Unstable is a weirdly bizarre experience that will leave you scratching your head trying to figure out what just happened, and that is why you will love it. Unlike previous Unsets, playing Unstable feels more like you are playing actual Magic, rather than a parody of the game. Yes, it can be random madness from time to time, but the mechanics all work very well and the games flow reasonably smoothly (but having a judge on standby is not a bad idea). I will say two things that are worth bearing in mind if you are lucky enough to have a crack at Unstable. Firstly, I would highly recommend drafting and not playing sealed. While we had a blast with our sealed decks, we all agreed that drafting would probably have been better given all the synergies that the factions bring along. And last but no mean least, NEVER TRUST YOUR “FRIENDS”.
— Abbie Deleval [MoM] (@MasterOfMagics) December 5, 2017
First Impressions of Unstable? Having not had the opportunity to experience one of these sets in the past, I was able to approach this with fresh eyes. Apprehensive at first, I wasn’t really excited about this; they’re all cards that aren’t really usable after the initial draft/sealed event after all. After sitting down with some of the cards however, I can say I’ve seen the proverbial light, even if you do only use these once, paying for that opportunity – in my opinion – is completely worth it. It’s a unique experience; one you will not get from any other set, or I would go as far to say from any other game to my knowledge.
First of all, I believe the format to use this set best for would be draft over sealed – although I have not drafted it yet – purely so you can get that sweet, sweet synergy going. I mean, who doesn’t want to build an all-out Ninja deck, or actually get use from their contraptions. Sealed just felt like it didn’t do it justice, almost all of my game my contraptions sat there untouched, like a long-forgotten cup of tea.
Secondly, I feel there should be a rule implemented as to who should be allowed to use Hangman. As you may or may not be aware, we have a resident Wordsmith teacher in our midst, and as my luck would have it, he happened to open this gem of a card, and I had the pleasure of clashing against him in the first round! I did not guess these words. Upset was caused.
— Abbie Deleval [MoM] (@MasterOfMagics) December 5, 2017
My final thoughts? As a fun format I love this. It’s something for the community to have a laugh with; there’s a turtle (albeit half elephant) so it already has my approval. The alternate arts in the set are a nice touch and were a surprise for us to discover on the night. This opportunity to give it a go before release has actually made me love the set (and the Masterful Ninja), which I didn’t think I was going to. I genuinely thought it was just going to be another one of those things that fell flat, but it really is a lot of fun. Especially if James asks if you like Squirrels; there’s only really one answer…