Previous Unstable Set Reviews

Limited:

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Welcome to my set review of Unstable! There are a few things different about this review:

  • This set is supposedly designed for Limited. As such, I’m going to try and nail down how good the cards are. Wish me luck!
  • Some of these cards are really hard to seriously review. I’ll try, but if I feel like it’s unrealistic to evaluate a card, I’ll say so.
  • Cards will be rated on flavor. There are some hits and misses here, and it feels appropriate to call both out. More than half the fun of silver-bordered sets is reading the cards and thinking “that’s sweet,” so this grade is meant to capture that.

Here are the mechanics of the set, for reference.

For the card ratings, the old ratings scale will suffice:

Ratings Scale

Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte. The Scarab God.
5.0: The best of the best. (Glorybringer. The Scorpion God. The Locust God.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Archfiend of Ifnir. Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. God-Pharaoh’s Gift.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Sunset Pyramid. Angler Drake. Sand Strangler.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Open Fire. Ambuscade. Gravedigger.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Desert of the Mindful. Oasis Ritualist. Oketra’s Avenger.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Unsummon. Puncturing Blow. Naga Vitalist.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Tah-Crop Skirmisher. Harrier Naga. Counterveiling Winds.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Moaning Wall. Khenra Eternal. Without Weakness.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Defiant Khenra. Disposal Mummy. Djeru’s Renunciation.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Forsake the Worldly. Chandra’s Defeat.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Solemnity. Luxa River Shrine. One with Nothing.)

For flavor, I need a new scale:

5.0: Exquisite flavor, like a piping hot quesadilla with a side of fresh guacamole. (Form of the Dragon. Standstill.)
4.0: Delicious, but not perfect, like a burger when you’re ravenous, but one that’s slightly overcooked. (Manor Skeleton [is it a man, or skeleton?])
3.0: An average meal, one that fills you up and tastes good, like Chipotle. (Lightning Strike, or any other generic burn spell.)
2.0: Will keep you alive, but isn’t very satisfying or tasty, like Soylent. (Siege Rhino [what are these numbers??])
1.0: Disgusting, but technically still edible, like Shake Shack. (Pin to the Earth [HOW DOES THIS NOT LOSE FLYING?])

The Big Idea

Limited: 4.5

Flavor: 4.0

A supervillain that makes an ever-increasing army of Brainiacs is a pretty sweet card, and this will win you the game if you untap with it. I don’t know exactly why the activation is hybrid, but I suppose the idea is that there’s a touch of evil in the ability?

Box of Free-Range Goblins

Limited: 3.0

Flavor: 4.0

Grass-fed, never caged, 3.5 on average (before die roll shenanigans). Feel free to include this one in any deck, and particularly in ones that can mess with die rolls.

Bumbling Pangolin

Limited: 3.5

Flavor: 2.0

Given how many artifacts are ticking, buzzing, and rolling around in this set, I like this as a card straight-up. Once you start augmenting it, things can get out of control, and the only strike against this is that I didn’t think pangolins had anything specifically against artifacts.

Common Iguana

Limited: 2.0

Flavor: 2.0

Common is right. This doesn’t do much for me in either arena, even if it’s playable with enough augment cards.

The Countdown Is at One

Limited: 1.5

Flavor: 5.0

I’d recommend you play this, even if I don’t think it’s particularly effective. If it worked every time, it would be passable, but as slightly better than a coinflip, it’s not really worth 5 mana. But why are you drafting this set if not for action? Playing a subgame at 1 life is very sweet, and this is fun enough that I’d play it every time.

Feisty Stegosaurus

Limited: 3.5

Flavor: 4.0

Not only does this pay dividends immediately, it does get really feisty if you can trigger it multiple times. The name seems apt, and I like the flavor and effect both.

Garbage Elemental

Limited: 3.5

Flavor: 5.0

Alright, alright. I will peek at the alternate versions of this, and upgrade the flavor to a 5.0. The delicious garbage-ey flavor of random mechanics stapled on works for me, and all of these are quite playable to boot.

Goblin Haberdasher

Limited: 3.0

Flavor: 4.0

A hat build-around is something new, though wouldn’t this be more appropriate if it was giving other creatures hats? Eh, the flavor is good either way, and this is menacing enough to be worth playing.

Half-Orc, Half-

Limited: 3.0

Flavor: 3.0

The bonus is substantial enough for me to take notice, and it even gives you a good way to get damage through and trigger whatever host you put this on. It’s got a little less charisma than a Half-Elf, but it still plays.

Hammer Helper

Limited: 3.0

Flavor: 4.0

WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!

Hammer Jammer

Limited: 2.0

Flavor: 3.0

This is slightly better than a Hill Giant, though if you have die roll modifications it does get more interesting. I’m not entirely sure why re-rolling means Hammer Time, but the art is sweet enough that this gets a pass.

Hammerfest Boomtacular

Limited: 1.0 // 3.5

Flavor: 4.0

If you can assemble (maybe I shouldn’t use that word outside of contraptions, but you get the idea) 8 or more watermark cards, this is a pretty good build-around. Otherwise, stay away, even if it does look like quite the party.

Infinity Elemental

Limited: 3.0

Flavor: ∞

This isn’t quite as good as it may look, because a 10/5 and an infinity/5 aren’t that different, especially when they cost 7 mana. Still, it’s a beater, and the flavor is off the charts (literally). Try and combine this with ways to grant evasion and you’re golden.

It That Gets Left Hanging

Limited: 3.0

Flavor: 5.0

I love this, though I do wish it was an Eldrazi (because of the name). I also think it’s much more in flavor to not tell the person why you want a high-five, because you should get haste or not without any undue influence.

Just Desserts

Limited: 3.5

Flavor: you know

If dealing 3 for 2 is always good, dealing 3.1415926 is even better. Delicious pie—would eat again.

Painiac

Limited: 3.5

Flavor: 2.0

I don’t get the flavor, but hey, a 3+/3 for 3 is a fine deal. To the pain!

Party Crasher

Limited: 2.5

Flavor: 4.0

This isn’t as effective as it might look, because it badly needs evasion to keep attacking safely. That said, the flavor is awesome, and it works very well if you can slap some buffs on it.

Steamflogger Boss

Limited: 4.0

Flavor: 5.0

The OG Contraptionizer is very good given what Contraptions ended up being. Slam this and draft as many Contraptions as you can.

Steamflogger of the Month

Limited: 4.0

Flavor: 5.0

This guy works hard for the money, and is the perfect 5-drop for the Contraption-heavy deck. I’d slam this early, and go as deep on Contraptions as possible. I’m really digging the support they are getting in this set.

Steamflogger Temp

Limited: 3.0

Flavor: 3.0

This is middle-of-the-road, in really every way. It’s a 2-drop that’s good early and late, but never spectacular, and lives up to the Temp name and flavor well enough.

Steamfloggery

Limited: 3.5

Flavor: 4.0

Contraptions will be assembled. This is an easy way to flog your opponent, and goes nuts if you have ways to modify die rolls. The abundance of Contraption-assemblage makes me want to draft a lot of them, since running out is a real concern.

Super-Duper Death Ray

Limited: 3.5

Flavor: 4.0

You can easily obliterate most creatures with this, and at only 3 mana, that could provide you with an overwhelming advantage.

Target Minotaur

Limited: 2.0

Flavor: 5.0

I love the name, though I wish BDM’s card made it in—Noble Ox (“no blocks”) is a masterpiece, and it would definitely have flash.

Three-Headed Goblin

Limited: 4.0

Flavor: 5.0

I just want to know who the slow head is. This flavor text is great too, and the card is a 9/3 with 3 points of first strike damage attached. That is a good deal for 5 mana, and I’ll be Goblin this up if I see it.

Work a Double

Limited: 3.0

Flavor: 4.0

A solid workhorse, just like the name suggests.

Wrench-Rigger

Limited: 3.0

Flavor: 2.0

Maybe it’s Rigger fatigue, but I’m not as into this card from a flavor perspective. It’s a fine card in the Contraption deck, though.

Top 3 Red Cards Frank Karsten Loves

3. The Big Idea
2. Just Desserts
1. Infinity Elemental

I just know Frank loves the idea of running the numbers with these, and I’ll leave him to it.

LSV