A Casual Look at Unhinged

Unhinged really ramped up the power level from Unglued. In some areas, that additional playability is a really good thing… But some cards are simply sick in terms of power. The problem that I have with this is that is goes against the grain of releasing a casual-only set. Admittedly, these cards aren’t designed to be played in tournaments and sanctioned events…. But despite that, the power level of some of these cards is amazingly high. Take Mox Lotus, for example. A card that makes infinite mana of any color on its own is enormously broken. Sure, that concept is funny for a few minutes, but what casual table really wants it running around?

Unhinged is here and happy days are upon us. Normally, my set reviews are done with Five-Color in mind – but Unhinged is banned in 5C, so no luck there. As such, I have decided to simply write a casual look at Unhinged.

Unhinged really ramped up the power level from Unglued. In some areas, that additional playability is a really good thing… But some cards are simply sick in terms of power. The problem that I have with this is that is goes against the grain of releasing a casual-only set.

Admittedly, these cards aren’t designed to be played in tournaments and sanctioned events…. But despite that, the power level of some of these cards is amazingly high. Take Mox Lotus, for example. A card that makes infinite mana of any color on its own is enormously broken. Sure, that concept is funny for a few minutes, but what casual table really wants it running around?

The concept of Mox Lotus is foreign to casual Magic, and that’s the problem. A casual-only set should have some of the most brokenly stupid cards ever conceived by man, but should instead try to fill niches that regular Magic never would. I love cards like Greater Morphling, Blast from the Past, Who/What/When/Why/Where/How/Which/Whether, Old Fogey, and – my personal favorite – Symbol Status. Decks ideas abound in Unhinged, from trying to use collector number to artist to expansion symbol to card titles. That’s what Unhinged should be about – and for the most part, it succeeds.

(By the way, Unhinged foils look terrible. The border looks like a foily white instead of silver. It is quite ugly. It also really ruins my deck. I have a huge highlander deck, and the only cards with white borders are the duel lands. You search for them so frequently that it helps to have a guide to find them. However, the foil Unhinged cards look like white borders, so it slows down your search. Stupid premium cards.)

Artifacts, Lands and Gold Cards:

City of Ass

I think that R&D missed with this card. All of the other “Ass” cards specifically refer to donkey-ish creatures. Not this one. Look at those turrets, and the plumber-sized crack at the bottom of the card. This is obviously referring to the posterior hinge of one’s body, not the new and super-exciting tribe of donkeyfolk.


Sigh. An obligatory Johnny card designed to try and make fun little decks. Combine it with Karn, Silver Golem, Titania’s Song, Torrent of Fire, or the Vanguard Karn in order to be really cool. Play it with Trash or Treasure or whatever else you have laying around. But you know, some players might actually want that ability with an affordable casting cost.

Meddling Kids

I know that it is not written on the card, but as far as I am concerned, Meddling Kids is sacrificed unless its player says, “It’s them damn meddling kids again,” and shakes their fist every time they play it.

Mox Lotus

Mox Lotus is one of those cards that I think was a mistake to print. It just simply is too good. We are looking at restricting it at our tables, and maybe more.

My First Tome

This is a really strong card for multiplayer, where everybody doesn’t always pay attention to what’s going on. If you play with My First Tome, I’d recommend using the foil promos of older cards, because they changed the flavor text on those cards – like Wasteland and Wall of Blossoms.

Pointy Finger of Doom

This is a very hard card to spin without sleeves. If you use sleeves, you’ll want the nearly frictionless new ones, because old sleeves are just as bad at sliding as the sleeveless card. I found that you can usually only spin it if you flick it with your middle finger. Not only can that hurt if you miss, but it has the unfortunate chance to fly off the table and hit people – or worse, knock over decks.

R&D’s Secret Lair

Not too bad, really. I played it thinking that it would be uber-broken, but I never even drew one card that used it. However, it would be mighty powerful with Time Vault. R&D’s Secret Lair + Time Vault + Voltaic Key = Game Over for all of your little reindeer friends. It’s also good with, say, Relic Bind. Relic Bind + Basalt Monolith = Game over, part II.

Toy Boat

A 3/3 for three mana is a good deal, and the upkeep is nothing if you have strong mouth control. I worked on saying Toy Boat as my tongue twister all the time while growing up, so I can easily say it ten or more times in quick succession.

Urza’s Hot Tub

Is Hot Tub one word or two? I always thought it was hottub? Of course, if you read “hottub,” you might want to pronounce it as “Ho-TUB.” There is a certain attraction to tubs of hos.

Water Gun Balloon Game

Some look at this card and say “Wow, it makes a pink token.” No it doesn’t. You at the card again. Go ahead. I propose that the word “pink” is a typo, whether intentionally or purposefully, who knows. The name of the token is Pink Giant Teddy Bear, not a pink token with the name Giant Teddy Bear. It’s obvious.

World-Bottling Kit

This is a solid card, and one that I am very glad to add to my casual highlander deck of hugeness and many stories.


Booster Tutor

Funny and halfway decent, but prohibitively expensive. This is not at all what casual Magic is about, because new or overly casual may not be able to afford the expense of a Booster Tutor. As a result, this can only be played by the wealthy aristocracy, which is exactly the sort of sentiment that this very country was forged in blood to rebel against. Death to tyrants!!

Infernal Spawn of Infernal Spawn of Evil

This card needs to be loss of life, not damage, so you can kill Worship-Boy with a Rampant Growth.

Kill Destroy

This is amazingly effective at getting pulled back from the graveyard, which usually results in people playing bad Magic.

“I give your 1/1 token -1/-1, which buries it.”

“Nope; the term “bury” doesn’t exist anymore, so what happens now?”

“It gets removed.”

“No, it doesn’t. My creature is what again?” On and on it goes.


Barring something like Seedborn Muse, this card really blows, bites, sucks, or whatever the currently acceptable oral action is today. (Whistles, maybe?)

Stop That

We really need a definition of “flicks.” I wish it would also affect that annoying tournament player who is always loudly flipping his cards. You know, if there are three cards in hand, he keeps flipping one into his other hand, then returning it in a shuffle method. I’m sure you know what I am talking about. The Gotcha on this card should be, “Whenever a player audibly touches his cards for no good reason, you may exclaim, ‘Gotcha’ and return Stop That to your hand.”

Vile Bile

Uber-broken card. Better than a 2/2 for two mana, with a splashable cost – and all you have to do is wear gloves when you play it.


Creature Guy

If anybody actually gets this flavor text, please let me know how it’s funny in the forums. Thanks.

Form of the Squirrel

Funny, but I would have preferred that Form of the Uncle Istvan that they were considering doing. That would have been a riot.

Fraction Jackson

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t look at this card without trying to sing a tune to the theme song of Conjunction Junction. “Fraction Jackson, where’s your action?”

Gluetius Maximus

Can I argue that as long as I am touching my posterior, that I am fulfilling the obligations of the card?

Granny’s Payback

I once wrote a short story for a newspaper where a grandma ran around beating orcs with her club. Now my story has a Magic card. Can we just have the brokenest life gain spell ever, please? Since life gain is truly atrocious, let’s push the envelope. That would be very casual-friendly.

Land Aid ’04

A little funny and a lot good. (I want to see how many convulsions my editor goes into when reading that comment.)

Laughing Hyena

I know that the man worked in comedy and all, but I just don’t find Mark Rosewater to be all that funny. I think that everybody knows he wrote that joke on the card; it sounds like the sort of joke my father would tell. My dad, for those of you who do not know, is a minister. His sense of humor is abysmal, which is endemic of pastors everywhere – I call it Reverend Humor.

Mark Rosewater has Reverend Humor.

Name Dropping

I played this card last weekend, and everybody at the table hated it when I kept returning Swords to Plowshares to my hand. They really hated it when I kept returning Yosei, the Morning Star to my hand after sacrificing him to a Phyrexian Tower. This card is uber-good; maybe it should exclude articles and prepositions from the Gotcha effect.

Shoe Tree

I am officially dubbing Shoe Tree as the worst and least funny card in Unhinged. Boo, Hiss! Hook! (Boy, are you wrong – The Ferrett, who finds the idea of bringing a sackful of old shoes to the table hysterically funny.)

Stone-Cold Basilisk

My friend didn’t even know it was green for a while. This is one half of the Unhinged uber-combo. More deadly than Mox Lotus and Gleemax is Stone-Cold Basilisk and Staying Power. Turn someone to stone, permanently!

Symbol Status

This is my favorite card from Unhinged. I played it twice over the weekend, and both times result in me getting double-digit tokens for just four mana. Remember, it doesn’t exclude lands, so Arena lands (there are two Arena symbols, too!), Unhinged lands, and so forth can really help to diversify your expansion set symbols. Remember to use the Arabian Nights Mountain! Symbol Status also has my favorite flavor text in the set as well.


Blast from the Past

One of my favorite Unhinged cards, merely because it is versatile but highly mana inefficient burn. Note that cycling it and paying its madness cost is cheaper than playing it outright and you get to draw a card. If you use it that way, it essentially reads, 1RR, deal two damage to a target and draw a card. That’s not too bad.

Curse of the Fire Penguin

Was any card more confusing to understand without the FAQ than this card? If they wanted the bottom to fit snugly over the bottom of the enchanted creature, then why didn’t they ignore the silver card border and sneak the bottom of the card all the way up to the card line? That way you don’t get that unseemly silver line at the top. It seems like the silver border is the sacred cow of Unhinged. Note that this is a handy way of making Darksteel Colossus not so indestructible.

Deal Damage

Another fine Gotcha card, this one is a bit easier to return. It’s up there with Spell Counter and Kill Destroy in getting used and reused.

Frazzled Editor

This is another example of what I meant when I said that Unhinged was a bit too powerful. Like Vile Bile, it is a very strong aggressive drop. Red’s 2/2s for two mana come with disadvantages, not advantages. Here you get a 2/2 with a bonus.

Goblin Mime

Here is the exact same card as Frazzled Editor, but only with the expected disadvantage.

Yet Another Aether Vortex

Nothing is worse than putting some phrase at the beginning of a card name that you might actually want to use to describe it to people.

“What rare did you open up in your tenth pack, Abe?”

“Yet another Yet Another Aether Vortex…”

“Yeah, I know. It’s like Wizards decided to print twice as many YAAVs as the other rares.”

“It’s like that long-forgotten Long-Forgotten Gohei.”


Avatar of Me

How about an Avatar of You? Avatar of My Grandmother? Avatar of my Second Grade Teacher? Avatar of my First Crush? Avatar of That Cop That Caught Me That One Time? What if they went into body parts? Never mind – I don’t want to see an Avatar of My Testicles….

Carnivorous Death-Parrot

Another example of an overpowered two-drop creature. Along with Cheatyface, you now have the beginning of a powerful beatdown deck.


Wizards of the Coast and Mark Rosewater won’t tell you, so I will. Cheatyface does not specify where you have to play his ability from. If you try to sneak out ol’ Cheaty himself, and someone catches you, fine – remove him from the game. Later, sneak him from the RFG zone into play. If he dies, sneak him back in from the graveyard. For all I care, sneak him into play from the library during a tutor effect or something. If you want to make sure he gets played, accidentally knock over a deck – maybe even your own.

Double Header

This creature was so much better when I thought that it returned a card from the graveyard to your hand. I was wrong (it only bounces cards), so it’s crap.

Greater Morphling

Giving it protection from the color of your choice is nice, but it needs to either phase out or gain untargetability.

Johnny, Combo Player

Johnny, Broken Tutor Machine is another example of the superbly stupid cards that can be found in Unhinged. He’s fragile – but even if you shoot him, the controller can tutor in response with as much mana as they have. Johnny + Timmy + Mox Lotus = A bunch of hurt for your opponents.

Loose Lips

With Loose Lips, the challenge is to try to find sentences that your opponents can’t (or won’t) say. For example, I might make my opponents say “Abe is my daddy, and I’m his bitch” in order to keep me from drawing cards. Some players around the table might not want to extol my own daddy-hood. The other option is to try and come up with some nonsensical thing that no one will remember or say correctly, like “Serendipity simply tastes atrocious taken with aleatory filings.” Let’s see if they can remember that….


Did we misspell Mise? I could have sworn it was Mize. (Not according to Flores, and he invented the term – The Ferrett)

Ah well, it works with Enlightened Tutor, Orcish Spy, Field of Dreams, Yet Another Aether Vortex, Scroll Rack, Sylvan Library, Sensei’s Divining Top, Elemental Augury, Spy Network and Tahngarth’s Glareif your opponent is nice and tells you what is coming. Otherwise, it’s a bad Foreshadow.

Question Elemental

A 3/4 flyer for four mana is hardly shabby – but it doesn’t reach the broken 4/4 flyer level, so it’s not as insane as some of its brethren in the set. By the way, Chicago once released a single in the early seventies entitled Questions 67 and 68. It’s a good song. This creature reminds of that song.

“Did this meeting of our minds together, oooh happen just today, somewhere? I’d like to know, can you tell me, please don’t tell me. It really, doesn’t matter anyhow. It’s just that the thought of us so happy. Appears in my mind, as a beautifully mysterious thing.” I love early Chicago.

There’s also a Moody Blues song entitled Question. I’ll save you the song quotes from it, though. (Thank you – The Ferrett, who can’t stand either)

Richard Garfield, Ph. D.

Although he is quite the broken little chap, you can at least understand what they are trying to do here. In a multiplayer group of mixed power, you can abuse this card a lot more than your opponents, if you are one of the good players. If you are one of the bad players, well… Good luck, ol’ chap.

Spell Counter

The last of the holy Gotcha triumvirate, along with Kill Destroy and Deal Damage. These are the good Gotchas – the ones most likely to be recurred regularly.



A solid removal spell, although I still stand by Exile. I tossed a foil one into my highlander casual deck of over 900 cards.

Collector Protector

The best use for Collector Protector is to give away good commons to players who need them. Here; have some artifact lands. Here are some Bonesplitters. You get to save a creature and they get better cards – it’s what we call a win-win scenario.


Please note that Emcee will combo with “Ach! Hans, Run!” in order to give you a hasted creature with a +1/+1 counter on it.

Frankie Peanuts

Arguably the best card in Magic, ever, at least for social occasions. Make somebody answer a question truthfully or concede. Hmmmm, truth or dare anyone? “So, did you and pretzel boy over there ever do it?” “Do you like me?” “Do you find me attractive?” “Would you kiss Aaron?” “When were you last in jail?” “Did you cheat on Mrs. Miller’s test?” “Were you the one who took my hammer?” The possibilities are endless.

You could also rules lawyer a questions like, “If you say yes, then you skip your draw step and if you say no then you skip your main phase, so which is it?” Of course, that’s not nearly so fun.

Look at Me, I’m R&D

Not nearly as useful as the Unglued cousin that bans Obliterates. It will probably find its way into the ever-popular Obscure Esoteric Combo genre of decks. By the way, the whole sticker over a Moat idea was cool, and having art that resembled Moat was even better. However, the effect is destroyed when you look at the mana symbols. Moat is old enough to have the old white mana symbol and they used the new symbol, thus dispelling the illusion.

Staying Power

This card is simply good, but it has an ugly footnote: Your opponent may be able to abuse it more than you. It hurts a little to think about, quite honestly, so let’s move along to something less confusing.

Oh yeah, that’s right – we’re finished with the card reviews. Guess there’s nothing to move to from Staying Power. Or is there? Let’s take a look at five cards that I would have created if I were doing Unhinged…

Cards I Would Have Made:

Can of Whoop Ass



This card has no abilities.

Can Opener Of Whoop Ass



Comes into play tapped. Tap, sacrifice Can of Whoop Ass: Target player removes their hand, graveyard and library from the game.

Get On With It



Target Player stops thinking and ends their turn in 10 seconds. You can only play this spell if that player has spent over a minute doing nothing.

We thought about naming this card “Hurry the $%#& Up!”

Maybe Life Gain Doesn’t Suck



Gain 100 life

A Play Go



Search your library for a land or a creature, reveal it, and put in into your hand, Shuffle your library.

Gotcha – A, Play and Go.

We wanted a Gotcha mechanic that could be recurred so much that people would stop talking.

Until later,

Abe Sargent