Before I started playing multiplayer and casual Magic heavily over the last couple of years, I had purchased only two Unglued boosters. I liked the lands. I even skipped a local Unglued draft tournament, because I didn’t want to play with silly cards. I like my Magic serious.
Today, I am a different person. I still like my Magic serious, but I also allow for a bit of frivolity. Sanctioned Magic has printed silly cards for ages. Why not allow in a few more from the Unglued sets?
A few months ago, I wrote about bringing Portal cards into your casual games. Portal translates very well into the normal ebb and flow of Magic. Unglued, however, will take a bit more work if you want to be fair and just to everyone involved.
I believe that the first Portal card I ever used was Fowl Play. Turning an opponent’s creature into a 1/1 vanilla chicken was a fun concept, plus it made perfect sense in the greater scheme of things. Wizards are renowned for turning victims into rats or worms. Why not a chicken?
I used Fowl Play a long time ago in a few fun decks, but the idea never stuck with me until I came back to the Unglued table later.
Now, with Unhinged on the way, is the perfect time to discuss Unglued in depth. Lots of players take Portal seriously. When I advocate for including Portal cards, they see my point. However, Unglued is entirely different. The set has some serious play balance issues. Let’s see if we can’t make some decisions regarding Unglued
Note: At this point, at 1:33 pm on a Wednesday afternoon, I have to interrupt writing this article because a tornado warning has been issued. I have to gather my staff, have them collect residents, go to certain designated floor and lounges, and then wait out the storm. I walk on each floor announcing:
“This is Abe Sargent, the Area Complex Director. A tornado has been sighted just west of Chelsea and is moving eastward towards Ypsilanti. It should reach the area in about 20 minutes. We are asking that all resident please make their way down to the first and second floors where we will gather in lounges in the middle of the floor, with no windows. Once again, a tornado is heading this way, and we are asking all Towers residents to make their way to the first and second floor lounges”
We have a loudspeaker and intercom on the Fire Alarm system, and I’ve always wanted to use it to speak to 250 residents at the same time. And yet, I still didn’t use it for a borderline emergency like this, because I technically have no authority to do so. How fun would it be to begin a day with announcements?”Today’s lunch will be….”
Anyway, this aside is merely to point out that I am writing this article in two sections. The introduction, which was just finished, and the remainder of the article. If you notice two different voices, that is why. I usually write my articles in one sitting. Hmmm, I wonder which Abe you prefer? Pre-tornado or post-tornado Abe? [We call him Dorothy. – Knut, clicking his heels]
The Oracle Problem
The first issue that we have to overcome where Unglued is concerned is the lack of any Oracle wording. I find this odd since Wizards has a follow-up set planned to release soon. In addition, Wizards just released Oracle wordings for the Portal sets, so I have to wonder why Unglued was left out.
For most cards, this is hardly necessary, but is does create some questions in multiplayer. Take the card, Common Courtesy, for example. This enchantment counters any spell unless the caster asks you for permission. If you control Common Courtesy, does it also counter the spells you cast if you do not ask yourself for permission? Who knows, but it would be nice to know if that was or was not the intended wording.
However, this is not necessary the barricade that it might otherwise be. D’Angelo unofficially errata’ed the whole set in order to bring it in line with Magic wordings and rulings. He even answered questions on the cards. Therefore, according to D’Angelo, yes, you must ask permission from yourself with a Common Courtesy in play.
Therefore, I recommend using D’Angelo’s reference as the guide for an Unglued questions that you may have. At least until such time as Wizards sees fit to deign to release an Oracle for Unglued. This site is found at www.crystalkeep.com D’Angelo stopped updating it a few months ago, but that should not affect Unglued rulings.
A Question of Trust
The most problematic issue with Unglued is, frankly, the power of some cards. I know that it is typical of people to criticize the power of both Unglued and the Portal sets. However, as we saw in Portal, there were several very powerful cards printed. The same is true of Unglued.
Doubt me? Look no further than Mine, Mine, Mine! This little enchantment makes all players put their decks in their hand, with no maximum hand size, and only one spell per turn. Use Stormseeker or Sudden Impact to insta-kill people. Imagine a table with Black Vise, Viseling, and so forth. Ick.
There are other cards that are bad due to the sheer problematic mechanic on the card. Not from power, but due to encumbrance. Gerrymandering is so bad that we had to ban it. Keeping track of whose lands are whose has got to be one of the most painful experiences I have ever had in Magic.
Therefore, your group will need to discuss some of the more powerful cards in the set. Do you really want Mine, Mine, Mine! in play? I submit that it was the worst card in the set, as it simply cries”Cheese” me. Which is different than a card that cries out,”Cheese Stands Alone” me.
Don’t worry if you don’t want to do that work. I’ll give you a list of cards that I would recommend that you nuke. Since there are also some cards that are pretty powerful on par with current restricted cards, allow me to present the:
Official Abe Sargent Unglued Banned and Restricted List for Casual Play (or, the OASUBRL, for short. We pronounce it Oohh-as-buhr-ull)
Mine, Mine, Mine!
Urza’s Contact Lenses
All four banned cards have the significant ability to slooow doooown a multiplayer game. The two restricted cards are very similar to other zero cost artifacts that are restricted in Type One and Five Color.
Then we have the watch list. These are three cards that I do not want to immediately take action on, but which you will need to observe carefully. Chaos Confetti can get out of hand if someone has a bunch. The Giant Fan and Contact Lenses are much more powerful since the Mirrodin block was released. The Contact Lenses essentially are a cheap artifact that reads,”0: Tap or untap this artifact.” I am sure that Johnnies everywhere care think of a lot of powerful and abusive things that they can do with an artifact that taps and untaps itself for free.
None of the three watch cards will probably make it to the B&R list, but you never know. If they are out of control in your group, axe them.
A Question of Lust
Now that we have those two issues out of the way, the next is the acquisition of Unglued cards. It’s not like most stores pack boosters of Unglued anymore. Packs can be expensive, and the good cards can be difficult to find.
Some stores have Unglued cards mixed in with their common and uncommon boxes. Other stores have cards separated by set, so you can find Unglued commons more easily. Next week, we’ll look at some of the most powerful Unglued Cards, so that you know what to try and acquire.
For now, however, you just need to find stores that pack the cards (like a certain website that you are reading right now, hint, hint).
A Question of Not Letting What We’ve Built Up Crumble to Dust
With a banned and restricted list, and difficulty acquiring the cards combined with no Oracle rulings, you may ask yourself why you even want to bother adding Unglued card at all.
I suppose that the answer to that question depends on what kind of player you are. Unglued is a great set for Johnnies who want to build crazy decks. Cards like Giant Fan, Goblin Bookie, and The Cheese Stands Alone are great for deck ideas.
If you are a self-avowed Timmy, then you get two special treats. The first is the Legend, Timmy, Power Gamer. Not only is Timmy your avatar of playing fury, but he also has a really good ability. The second treat is the B.F.M. That’s right, the largest creature ever printed at a whopping 99/99. This is a creature of myth and legend and you can play it. You have the power. Big Furry Monster, I choose you!
Does Spike get no toys from the set? Of course, you would expect Spike to be rather toy-free in a fun a casual set, and yet, we have a B&R list, right? Take a look at Jack-in-the-Mox for a card with power, oh ye Spikes. Rock Lobster, Paper Tiger, and Scissors Lizard are all 4/3 creatures for just four colorless mana. A pretty good deal. Plus, the uber-Desert Twister, Prismatic Robe is in the house. (Note that the D’Angelo ruling nukes the power of Prismatic Robe significantly).
Unglued does include a bunch of goodies. Next week, we’ll look at some of the best. Plus, I’ll include the D’Angelo wordings for the cards, so you can get the most up to date wordings that we have. Good luck finding Unglued cards for your decks.
P.S. – The last three titles in this article are the chorus to a Depeche Mode song,”A Question of Lust” from the Black Celebration album. The full chorus, for those who care, is”It’s a Question of Trust/It’s a Question of Lust/It’s a Question of not letting what we’ve built up crumble to Dust/It is all of these things and more that keep us together.” Yay, Depeche Mode.