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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Sep 15 2015 11:00am
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Today's amazing contest: you could win 4 FOIL Illusionist's Bracers if you leave a casual decklist in the article's comment section that uses 4 Illusionist's Bracers!!!  The prize goes to my favorite!!!

You have until the end of Friday to submit. And since nobody entered last week's contest, I will roll that prize in with this one, and also give you 4 foil Magosi, the Waterveils. Wow!!


We're all familiar with the two Un- sets. And we're all familiar with how these crazy, unprintable cards occasionally get printed. We all know that The Cheese Stands Alone became Barren Glory and that Hungry Hungry Heifer evolved into Chisei, Heart of Oceans. And we all know, at least vaguely, that there are probably more cards left that could one day see print. (When directly asked whether this were the case, Mark Rosewater replied, simply, "Yep.")

But now I ask the question: what specific Un- cards have a chance of making it to regular magic?

Many are impossible for obvious reasons (Sex Appeal, Volrath's Motion Sensor, etc.). And then there are the many that are just an existing card with a physical component slapped on top, like Mesa Chicken, which is essentially just Leonin Skyhunter, or Charm School, which is essentially just Story Circle. Many are possible but unwanted, like (in my opinion) the die rolling ones.  But some of them... just some of them... are the perfect candidates to inspire new types of cards altogether. Let's go through them now.

 

Unglued

Jester's Sombrero

This would not only be feasible in tournament matches... it would be desirable. Think about it. A single activation in game 1 is enough to cripple your opponent's plans for games 2 and 3.  In some matchups, it's enough to remove every single card they had for you.  (If it isn't, a second copy certainly will be.)

Even if the card disadvantage causes you to lose the first game, how do you think games 2 and 3 will go when you're the only one sideboarding? I think Wizards could make this happen.  I think they should make this happen.

Best use: Tournaments

Likelihood of seeing print: 2/5

   
       

Checks and Balances

It's hard to imagine how this would play out without seeing it in action. It seems that with a small bit of setup, this could be the next Counterbalance. Would it be a welcome deckbuilding tool? Or would it be as tedious, oppressive, and reviled as Stasis?

It's completely workable under the current rules without any changes at all. But is this a road we want to go down?

Best use: ???

Likelihood of seeing print: 2/5

   
       

Fowl Play

We have this in instant form, as Turn to Frog. We have this with different stats, as Lignify. I see no reason not to combine them.

Flavor-wise, I could see this moving to white, or staying in blue. Very doubtful for green, red, or black.

Best use: Casual

Likelihood of seeing print: 4/5

   
       

Gerrymandering

This could work, because we have Thieves' Auction. And Gerrymandering isn't as worthless as it sounds—give your opponent lands that are about to die, like Glacial Chasm, lands that will return to you, like Rainbow Vale, lands that are symmetrical, like The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, and lands that are generally worthless, like Island of Wak-Wak (provided your deck doesn't have its own fliers).

The real question isn't "Could Gerrymandering ever be useful?" but "Could Gerrymandering ever be more useful than Vedalken Plotter?" To be frank—probably not. Even if we revamped the details of how the swapping occurred.

Best use: Casual

Likelihood of seeing print: 3/5

   
       

Hurloon Wrangler

OBVIOUSLY we cannot and should not have denimwalk, nor should any other element outside of the cards themselves affect the cards. I'm not considering printing this card in real Magic. What I am considering is a proposal: Couldn't we have more types of -walk than just landwalk?

In all of -walking's iterations, we never have! It's all been "Nonbasic landwalk," "Legendary landwalk," "Desertwalk," "An-Havva Townshipwalk" (I made that last one up). It's never been enchantmentwalk, or Goblinwalk, or tokenwalk. Those ideas sound crazy, I know, but there was also a time when Protection From anything other than a color sounded crazy. Now we have "Protection from enchantments," "Protection from Goblins," and, well, no card yet has protection from tokens, but the future is a long time.

Bubbling Beebles are proof that the mechanic makes sense. Now all we need is a name for it.

Best use: Tournaments and casual alike

Likelihood of seeing print: 0/5 as-is, 4/5 with my idea

   
       

Clambassadors

I don't see why not. There are a lot of Donate effects already out there, just none through combat triggers. Is this better or worse than Bazaar Trader? Than Daring Thief? It's generally less reliable, but its body makes it worthwhile. Perhaps we could even make the body bigger, or give it flying, to keep up with the current state of power creep.

If Wizards wanted to, they could even go the Abyssal Persecutor route and make this an undercosted Mythic with huge stats and just consider its ability a drawback. That's more in line with the original intent of the card, I believe.

Best use: Casual as-is, tournaments with my idea

Likelihood of seeing print: 3/5

   
       

The Double Cycle

I'm going to say something controversial here. This cycle, which was obviously designed for casual games, has its best home in tournament games. To explain:

If you play this sort of effect in a casual matchup, you will get groans. The current game will be made more annoying, because you're wasting mana and a card for a marginal effect; the subsequent game will be made more annoying because you're getting an unfair advantage. In casual games, if you play your friend 2 times, you want both games to be roughly of even fairness.

Contrast this with tournament games, in which groans are irrelevant, and your only consideration should be how to get an edge in the best-of-3 match. That includes sacrificing utility in Game 1 for a better chance at Game 2. (I'm reminded of those stories of a player getting land screwed in Game 1, and refusing to drop a single card all game, so their opponent has no idea how to sideboard in Game 2.)

The costs and effects may need to be retooled a bit for them to be tournament viable, but I believe it's possible. All that said—I feel confident in guessing that Wizards has already considered this cycle for regular Magic and has already decided that they don't want it. You never know when they'll change their minds. But in the meantime, the closest we have is possibly the Chancellor Cycle. Which is not extremely close.

Best use: Tournaments

Likelihood of seeing print: 2/5

   
       

Cardboard Carapace

If you travel back in time to 2001, when the Burning Wish cycle was first proposed, I'm sure it had its doubters. And in 2003, when Relentless Rats was proposed, it must have been the same thing. In 2015, I'm proposing Cardboard Carapace. Hear me out.

Like the Wishes, the key is to limit where we're allowed to look. Burning Wish defines "outside the game" as "in your sideboard;" I believe we should define "with you" the same way. This puts an upper cap on its effect at +15/+15.

Note that this large a boost would come at a very high cost—too high a cost for any tournament player to even consider—you would be unable to board in any (new) cards during the entire tournament. But therein lays the tension. What about just running 8 of them in the sideboard, with 7 other cards? Is it worth getting +8/+8 by running a half-sized sideboard? Probably not for six mana... but these problems could be sorted out during development. I think the mechanic itself has a lot of potential. Enough for a whole cycle, even. What about a three-mana blue spell that milled X cards? A three-mana white spell that gained X life? You get the idea.

Best use: Casual or tournaments, depending on how it's balanced

Likelihood of seeing print: 3/5

   
       

B.F.M.

It could work. Split cards are two cards on one. This is one card on two. It's weird, but it's possible.

Maybe 15 black mana for a 99/99 isn't the optimal use of this premise, but we could easily make a cycle of double cards. To compensate for the inconvenience of needing both halves, they would be overpowered for their CMC. (And to prevent them from being too swingy, we would avoid having any that are cheap enough to cast on the first couple of turns. We wouldn't want a lucky draw to be an auto-win, right?)  How about 4UU for a 10/10 flier?

The biggest obstacle to this seeing print is that, over the years, Wizards has drifted away from drawback mechanics. And needing two separate cards in your hand to cast either one of them certainly qualifies as one.

Best use: Casual

Likelihood of seeing print: 2/5

   
       

 

Unhinged

   

Booster Tutor

It sounds absurd, but think about it. It is any weirder than Lore Seeker?

The only change it needs is adding some provision about using only packs purchased on the premises, rather than bringing your own packs. With the older expansions especially, it is possible to open and reseal the packs in a way that is not noticeable, allowing people to fill them with whatever cards they want. (For this same reason, be very wary about buying old boosters! The seller may have replaced the Mana Drain with an Akron Legionnaire and you'd have no way of knowing.)

Even if this did somehow see print, its (let's be blunt) very low expected value makes it unfit for any constructed tournament ever. (The only way this would work in tournaments is if the wording were changed to allow for products you know the contents of, like From the Vault sets. But those aren't "booster packs," so you currently can't.)

But not every card needs to be suited for tournaments. Booster Tutor's wild unpredictability and high potential makes it perfect for the kitchen table. Many anecdotes would be created.

Best use: Casual

Likelihood of seeing print: A year ago I'd say 1/5. But now that there's Lore Seeker, I'll say 2/5.

       
   

Half-cards

(See: City of Ass; Little Girl, etc.)

About Jester's Sombrero I said that Wizards both could and should. Here I'm saying they could but should not.

The game can handle half-mana and half-power rules-wise—but there is absolutely no reason why anybody would want it to. I could elaborate on the frustrations of half-points, and their lack of utility, but it's self-evident, right? Even if you never played with them firsthand?

Best use: If you're ever forced to entertain someone you don't like

Likelihood of seeing print: 1/5

       
   

Mise

This is an interesting one. It's clearly okay design-wise: compare it to Predict. The question is, is it okay power-wise? Compare it to Shared Discovery or Visions of Beyond. I want to say that knowing the top card of your library is much easier than either of those cards' conditions. ESPECIALLY now that Scry is so commonplace.

This could see print if it has some power-level adjustments. Frankly, it never felt very Un- in the first place, other than its presentation.

Best use: It depends on how they adjust it. If they kept the 3 cards part, they would probably need to make the card cost 3 or 4 mana. So, casual in that case.

Likelihood of seeing print: 3/5

       
   

S.N.O.T.

It's maybe not something players would be clamoring for, but it's possible. The only issue is its complexity, but they already solve that by spelling out every scenario in the reminder text.

My theory is that this design was submitted earlier for a regular set, but it was deemed too clever for its own good, and eventually moved into the Un- file.

In summation, it's another issue of can-but-shouldn't.

Best use: Casual

Likelihood of seeing print: 2/5

       
   

The "Gotcha" mechanic

"Gotcha" typically triggers off an opponent accidentally saying a specific word, but sometimes off things like touching the table, flicking their cards, laughing, etc.

None of these particular things can or should be triggers in a real game. But there are other triggers that would make sense. "If an opponent taps four or more permanents in one turn, you may return this from your graveyard to your hand." You know.

It could become annoying if it's too common a mechanic, so let's keep it to a five-card cycle at the most. Possibly just a single card.

Best use: Depends

Likelihood of seeing print: 3/5

       
   

Magical Hacker

This has the potential to be a black-bordered card.

This has the potential to be one of my favorite black-bordered cards.

Please, Wizards, hear my pleas.

Best use: Casual

Likelihood of seeing print: 3/5

       
   

Urza's Hot Tub

Is this can of worms worth opening in regular Magic? I contend that it is.

It sounds wacky, but it doesn't look at anything that other Magic cards don't. It's not like those Un- cards that look at artists' names or collector numbers. Regular Magic already cares about card names. Just not in this particular way.  Yet.

This could be the enabler that Johnnies are looking for. Spikes would no doubt find a use for it too, provided the costs don't increase any.

Best use: Casual and tournaments

Likelihood of seeing print: 3/5

       
   

_______________

The ability could work. Players could intellectually handle tapping an Arachnus Spinner to tutor this guy up.

The only problem is, at a 1/1 for 1U, we have no reason to. I suggest changing his stats to make him worthwhile—maybe a 2/3 flying for 2U?—and then we can bring him on board. The important thing is to keep him at the very top of what's allowable by the curve. His ability isn't THAT much of an advantage. What are you going to use him for, enabling your Kookus? Powering up your Festering Newt? Pssshhh.

In fact, let's make him even stronger than that. Remember changelings? They have every creature type at every time as a free, static ability. This guy should always have every name possible as a free and static ability. This idea has enough potential to build a whole cycle around. Maybe not a whole block, like Lorwyn did, as the design space for naming cards isn't nearly as big as it is for tribal effects. Still, if there were 26 changelings, maybe the game could bear 6 of the all-name mechanic.

Best use: Casual definitely, tournaments maybe, if the environment were right

Likelihood of seeing print: 3/5

       
   

Dumb Ass

We would need to rejigger his stats a bit, but yes, this could be a fun Timmy card at least. It's not so different from Mijae Djinn, really. Or Goblin Psychopath.

Not that many people really liked Mijae Djinn or Goblin Psychopath, but Dumb Ass' drawback isn't quite as steep as theirs (in most situations). And you could say "It's just another dopey coin flip card," and you'd be right, but... Wizards prints those!

Best use: Casual

Likelihood of seeing print: 3/5

       
   

Look At Me, I'm R&D

Mark Rosewater once wrote,

"This mechanic interestingly enough was the original one I designed for Odyssey's Mirari before the rules team told me that it would never work."

I don't believe the rules team! I believe Mark Rosewater! How many other times has the rules team said something "can't" be done only for it to happen four years later? If any employees at Wizards are reading this, start a campaign around the office to reopen this file. Not even just people on the design team. Literally any employee. The cafeteria workers, everyone.

I feel like we're already easing toward it. Currently we have a card that increases the number of +1/+1 counters by one. The next step will be a card that increases any number by one. And then the next-next step will be decreasing any number by one. And so on. We got this!!

Best use: Casual definitely, tournaments maybe (If it worked at all in tournaments, it would likely be an Illusions of Grandeur-type card that is terrible in most decks but great in one specific one.)

Likelihood of seeing print: 3/5

       
   

Staying Power

This card has a similar story to the previous one. In that same article, Rosewater wrote,

"I tried to get variations of this card into three different 'normal' sets. Eventually, I just gave in to the fact that the card was destined for an Un set."

Gave in? Don't give in! You're smart and talented and can accomplish anything you put your mind to!

Again, the answer is to move things slowly. Currently, Ooze Garden was their way of making single-turn pump spells last longer. Okay. Next we can make a spell that replaces "until the end of this turn" with "until the end of next turn." When everyone sees how safe that was, we can start replacing "until the end of this turn" with "forever."

Believe in the vision; believe in yourself.

Best use: Casual definitely, tournaments maybe

Likelihood of seeing print: 3/5

       
   

The Fallen Apart

Wizards tends not to like permanents with more than one type of counter on them. (Few would blame them.)

But perhaps we could make a simpler version of this card? How about a robot with two leg counters, and when it loses both, it has defender. It could work, and it's super flavorful!

It's not even so different than existing cards. It's functionally just a reverse Woolly Razorback.

Best use: It depends on the stats they give the new version, but probably just casual

Likelihood of seeing print: 4/5

       
   

Yet Another Æther Vortex

It seems perfectly plausible. Certainly powerful when combined with Scry and Eldrazi—but this setup has enough moving pieces to (probably) prevent it from being too powerful in tournaments.

To put it another way—is this really any more broken than Through the Breach? I doubt it, but if Development finds that it is, they could always just make it cost 7.

Best use: Probably casual-only

Likelihood of seeing print: 3/5

       
   

Curse of the Fire Penguin

Let's be real for a second. (Takes one knee.) The only things goofy about this card are its wording and its layout. The effect itself is 100% legitimate.

(Gets back up, stands on a soapbox.) Not only should Wizards make this, they should make another one to put on your opponents' creatures that weakens them! That would be so cool. Way cooler than Nettlevine Blight. Actually, almost the same as Nettlevine Blight. They can totally do this. Are you there, Wizards? It's me, Margaret.

 

In closing, I may be reached at this email address with any job offers at R&D.

4 Comments

We effectively do have by AJ_Impy at Tue, 09/15/2015 - 16:49
AJ_Impy's picture

We effectively do have S.N.O.T.: Ever taken an Eidolon of Countless Battles and enchanted it with another? They stick together and empower exponentially.

4 Illusionist's Bracers 4 by Paul Leicht at Tue, 09/15/2015 - 17:08
Paul Leicht's picture
5

4 Illusionist's Bracers
4 Necrotic Ooze
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Sphinx of Magosi
3 Coffin Queen
3 King Macar, the Gold-Cursed
3 Tropical Island
4 Lotleth Troll
3 Pack Rat
4 Chord of Calling
1 Triskelion
2 Quirion Ranger
1 Gilder Bairn
1 Grimgrin, Corpse-Born
3 Kiora's Follower
1 Maze of Ith
1 Thornbite Staff
1 Staff of Domination
1 Reflecting Pool
3 Reflecting Pool
3 Underground Sea
2 Vivid Marsh
2 Vivid Grove
3 Misty Rainforest
3 Polluted Delta
2 Bayou
1 Bloodflow Connoisseur

And the winner is... Paul by CottonRhetoric at Sun, 09/20/2015 - 14:19
CottonRhetoric's picture

And the winner is... Paul Leicht!

Unopposed, but still a very respectible deck. I like how it has a lot of internal interactions that don't even require the main combo pieces. Paul, email me at CottonRhetoric at gmail dotcom to figure out a time to set up the trade for your fabulous prize. On most days, I'm free in the 4:30 to 9pm range.

Cotton sorry no one else by Paul Leicht at Tue, 09/22/2015 - 21:09
Paul Leicht's picture

Cotton sorry no one else managed to show a brew. Imho Bracers are one of the funnest things to do in magic.

Sorry it took me so long to respond. I'll try and contact you soon.