I’m sure that you, like myself, have watched the new Unstable spoilers and chuckled once or twice at the genius internal Magic jokes—the meme-esque absurdity of Crow Storm or getting a headache every time I try to grasp what Rules Lawyer actually does. I’m sure I’ll draft the format once or twice with friends and have a few laughs over it, but I can’t help to think to myself, what if…?
What if you could play these cards in Constructed formats? Just for the heck of it, what broken things could you actually do with these cards? Maybe we’ll get a clearer idea of why they should or should not see any kind of tournament play in Constructed, and perhaps what a separate Constructed format would look like.
Let’s go full Spike-mode, and have a look at what I think might be the craziest things you can do with a few of them.
I saw this card and thought to myself, holy hell, this is a Glimpse of Nature, but for the rest of the game! If you build your deck right, of course.
Let’s start with the “flavorful” part. Seeing how similar it is to Glimpse of Nature, I first thought: why not have a look at Elves? I looked through regular Legacy Elves lists, surprised by how many of the cards have flavor text despite so much rules text!
I mean, just look at Quirion Ranger. It’s just impressive that it’s able to fit both.
But Birchlore Rangers, with that long reminder text for morph (understandable, given how weird of a mechanic morph is) forces out the now much-needed flavor text. Of course Deathrite Shaman doesn’t have flavor text, it has about 1 million abilities.
I guess that rules out Legacy Elves as a home for the card since I wouldn’t really want to play without Birchlore and Deathrite, but what about Modern Elves?
Well, would you look at that? Every card in the deck has flavor text. Even most of the weird sideboard creatures have flavor text. Well, except for Chameleon Colossus, but we’ll make due.
I thew a Dryad Arbor in there as well. With Ineffable Blessing in play, fetching will actually draw you a card! Well… as long as you don’t use the promo version. That one doesn’t have any flavor text.
Well done, Elves. I’ve never cherished a deck for its amount of flavor text. Ineffable Blessing is pretty absurd when you get the Heritage Druid with Nettle Sentinels rolling. Even your Collected Company will draw cards!
I feel like the flavorful part can be made even more broken. You want to play tons of creatures for free, and what does that best? Affinity!
The regular Affinity deck in Modern doesn’t play any Affinity creatures, but with Ineffable Blessing, I don’t see why not!
Turn 1: Darksteel Citadel, Springleaf Drum.
Turn 2: Ineffable Blessing, Memnite—draw a card, Ornithopter—draw a card, Vault Skirge—draw a card, Frogmite—draw a card, Frogmite—draw a card, Frogmite—draw a card, Myr Enforcer—draw a card… you get the point.
If you want to go even more combo oriented, you could try Riddlesmith to filter extra lands you draw while going off and Disciple of the Vault to finish off your opponent alongside Arcbound Ravager. Speaking of Arcbound Ravager, the deck might become slightly more expensive, because the only version of the card that has flavor text instead of modular’s reminder text is the Kaladesh Masterpiece!
What about the “bland” part? Instead of looking through every card that doesn’t have flavor text, I realized that it doesn’t even have to be regular creatures. Tokens don’t have any flavor text!
But hold on. We even have tokens in Standard!
All right. We get it. Ineffable Blessing would be pretty broken in a regular Constructed format. I’m starting to feel that maybe, just maybe, these cards would be a tad bit too good if you could play them in tournaments, but maybe a casual format could arise where all Un- cards could be legal? Nevertheless, let’s look at the next card, Crow Storm!
There actually isn’t much to explore with Crow Storm, the meme-iest of cards printed so far, because it’s pretty much a way better Empty the Warrens. And I mean, a lot better. Evasion and another toughness are bonuses, but it also costs 1 less and it would be played in every format where you could play Storm. I would even play a few in the main deck of Modern Storm!
Storm Crow Storm Storm
I’m not done yet. I haven’t even looked at the most broken card.
Spike, Tournament Grinder
So Spike can get any restricted or banned card—ever. That doesn’t just mean Smuggler’s Copter, Felidar Guardian, or Aetherworks Marvel, but also cards banned or restricted in older formats, like Black Lotus or Ancestral. Even cards banned in different blocks or Commander formats like Aether Vial or Griselbrand. Let’s just say that this would be the most expensive card to build a deck around, because having a stack of cards even larger than your deck is bizarre! To get the even nuttier combos, you’d need multiple Black Lotus.
The best way to play Spike, Tournament Grinder would be in a natural combo shell, whether it’s The Perfect Storm in Vintage or Ad Nauseam Tendrils in Legacy. I’m not going to focus too much on a deck list in every different format, but here’s a Vintage version as an example.
The Perfect Storm
So pretty much like a regular Vintage Storm deck, with some new inclusions of Cavern of Souls to try to resolve Spike and a Worldly Tutor, as well as the addition of Children of Korlis that lets you continue getting cards off Spike or Yawgmoth’s Bargain. Usually, Yawgmoth’s Bargain is the go-to card for the deck, however, with Spike, Tournament Grinder, you don’t need as many.
When Spike is in play, it’s pretty easy to just win on the spot, which will lead to tons of turn-1 kills. This might be the most “simple” one:
- Play any fast mana, like a Mox, and Spike, Tournament Grinder—go to 16 life.
- Use Spike’s ability to get a Black Lotus, go to 8 life.
- Sacrifice the Black Lotus for BBB.
- Use 2 mana to get another Black Lotus with Spike’s ability, saving 1 B mana, going to 4 life.
- Sacrifice the second Black Lotus for WWW.
- Play Children of Korlis from your hand, sacrifice it to its ability to go back to 20 life.
- Use Spike’s ability to get Second Sunrise, play it for your last mana (WWB), returning Children of Korlis and both Black Lotuses, going to 12 life.
- Use Spike’s ability to get another Black Lotus (or Lion’s Eye Diamond if you don’t have more Black Lotuses, which I don’t blame you for). Down to 4 life.
- Sacrifice Children of Korlis to go up to 36 life.
- Sacrifice all of your Black Lotuses and the Lion’s Eye Diamond if you have it, get Second Sunrise with Spike’s ability, rinse and repeat infinite times. Well, as many times as you have Second Sunrises, for “infinite” mana and life.
- Finish off the game with whatever floats your boat that you can get with Spike’s ability, whether it’s Emrakul, the Aeons Torn together with a Kird Ape, Juggernaut, Griselbrand, and perhaps a Bloodbraid Elf (my favorite), Time Vault and Voltaic Key, 10 Hypnotic Specters and Time Walk, Biorhythm, Demonic Tutor for Tendrils of Agony, or Time Walk to then Blazing Shoal, pitching Worldfire on your Spike, letting her finish what she started! Get creative here!
This is one way to go about it with limited resources. But say that you have additional black mana in Dark Ritual or Cabal Ritual. You can skimp on some of the steps since they translate into life you have to pay for Spike, Tournament Grinder. If you don’t have the Children of Korlis in hand, you can instead use that extra black mana to add a step where you get a Demonic Tutor for it.
If there’s something you can say about Spike, Tournament Grinder, it’s that she’s flexible!
After tinkering around with the cards from Unstable, it’s clear that having these cards for regular tournament play would be insane. They are too broken, and I haven’t even mentioned all of them! But I think it would be pretty fun to casually try different UN-formats, like Unstandard, Unmodern etc. Maybe you could even allow every Un- set: Unglued, Unhinged, and Unstable? Food for thought!