Unfinity ,Silver Bordered Cards, and Cube

With Unfinity being fully spoiled, it has been generating massive discussions among the MTG community on the impact of the cards on the game. There are a variety of concerns and comments regarding the set from across the spectrum of Magic players. Most players are positive on the set as a standalone set, however this will be the first time an Un-set will have a broader application than as a draft set. This where the majority of the concerns stem. Previous Un-Sets had significantly less demand than a normal set because there was a lack of monetary value (the secondary market is real) for the player base. Previous Un-Sets relied solely on the basic lands for value,thus there was no other reason to actually open the product. Players did draft it for that small window it was available, but quickly moved on to the next set.  Thus to combat the problem, WotC decided to create cards that were eternally playable. For the competitive formats, there are legitimate concerns that some of the cards printed will warp legacy. The concern aren't unfounded since WotC's prints commander/multiplayer cards that are too powerful for traditional 1v1 formats. This has been a precedent set since Commander 2013 with the printing of True Name Nemesis. Power levels have always been less of a concern for cube players and designers since they can curate their own environments. 

What I've been hearing from the detractors is that the initial reception of Unfinity is lukewarm. They accuse Wizards of the Coast, WotC, is trying too hard to appeal to the larger player base with this product, that  will result in no one being satisfied. As mentioned already, the competitive scene is worried about these cards being game warping. I've seen some murmurs from people who got their product already that it wasn't, but the prospect of playing with stickers and attractions is already turning some people off from playing legacy (though I don't know if they actually play the format). Commander players are more of a mix bag. Because the format is more casual, players have been clamoring for the use of Un- cards in their deck for years especially after the release of Unstable. The funny thing is now that the player base can use some of these cards, there are players lamenting WotC's decision. For the fan base of the Un-sets, some are decrying the set as not wacky enough because some of the cards are designed to be played at tournaments. 

One of the aspects I hear criticism about is the artwork and flavor of the cards. For the majority of players, most enjoy Magic for the varying fantasy experience of being a powerful entity waging war against another being or beings. The artwork and mechanics of the Un-Sets do not fall in line with this and actually detract from the game and that experience. If you haven't experienced them yet, Un-sets push the limits of paper Magic by allowing you to take actions outside of the game. Some of the mechanics involve playing subgames under the the table, highfiving a bunch of people, and using your hands to represent tokens. This is fun as a gimmick for a short time, however it loses its novelty quickly and makes for a bad time depending on what mindset you go in with. The randomness of mankind will throw your game when you have lethal on board. That's why you need to blame the beasts. The artwork goes beyond the occasional silliness that occurs in traditional Magic. You'll have card art that spills into the textbox, features oversize art, removes rules text, or is drawn by Mark Rosewater himself. It creates a jarring board state to look at with so much going on on each card. Though the criticism on art is becoming less valid with more players becoming open to proxies and the Secret Lairs printing alternate art cards. Whatever is going on, I hope it turns out for the best. I'm not a huge fan of the product, but I believe it should be available to add a bit of freshness to Magic every now and then. 

I'm part of the community that is not a fan of the Un-set. As a whole product, their only appeal to me is that they offer a goofy novelty format that I can draft. The cards hold little value and there's not much application for them outside of Un-cubes until Unfinity. Monetary value as we all know is an important part of Magic, whether or not we agree that the cards should have value. Monetary value isn't a big factor in why I open sets, but it does factor in when I choose to pick up packs for whatever reason. Citing the reasons above as well, this is also why I do not really consider the Un-cards for my cube, this includes Unfinity even though it has legacy legal cards. There was one card that I did add later. Maybe my perception will change in time, but currently I'm not a fan of these cards.  

I am the storm that is approaching

I still think the sets are worth looking at for cube designers/players. These sets as mentioned earlier push the design space of Magic cards  and a lot of interesting cards do come out of the joke cards. There are a plethora of cards that are playable and function like traditional cards, but they have a slight hint of goofy with a silver border. Some of these are later turned into a proper tournament playable card. One of the more interesting cards to come out of these sets was Super Duper Death Ray. This card paved the way for excessive damage to becoming a function on cards. Though overlooked by other formats, cube players were the only group I saw who had discussions about the card. They took a liking to the card because it had such a unique function that hadn't been seen until then. Regardless of all the praise on this card, this was not the card I made an exception for, it was Crow Storm. I run storm in my main cube and this was one of the ways for Blue to win games from storming aside from Brain Freeze. The card is essentially Empty the Warrens for blue. The card is a meme from a forgotten age of Magic, but it plays well and doesn't go over the top with the joke. 

From Unfinity, there are a couple cards I find interesting enough to consider for my cubes namely Nearby Planet and Comet, Stellar Pup. For Nearby Planet, it fits into a variety of decks that care about land types. This is essentially a Transguild Promenade, which is unplayable, however having all of the land types is what sets this apart. It has synergies with all land types as of October 2022. This will enable domain as an archetype as well adding density to gates. I currently do not run either of these archetypes, but these will make Nearby Planet an auto include. Comet, Stellar Pup is probably going to be the strongest Boros planeswalker when he releases. All of his abilities are relevant in aggressive Boros decks. This makes the dog never a bad topdeck. If fortune smiles upon you, he is his own infinite combo and can win the game right there. Neither of these cards I feel are too mechanically wacky for cube.

In the end, Un-sets are what you make of them. For cube, they are just more options to pick from and open up a lot of options thanks to their wacky design. If you choose to play with them or not, it is ultimately up to you and your play group on how to handle the Un-cards, cube players have been doing for over 20 years now. From what I am hearing Unfiniity is a fun draft, though the community is focused on Magic 30 controversies. As most of us are annoyed with the announcement of the Magic 30 products, don't let it take away from the fun product that is coming out. 

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