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Top Ten Unstable Cards


Hello folks! I hope you are having a great day today!!! Are you feeling a little Unstable today? Are you looking forward to cracking all of these Cooleyhighharmony silver-bordered masterworks? I hope so, because I sure am!

I was very disappointed with the amount of sealed product I picked up for Unhinged (I shared a case with a friend). But this seems absolutely worth it, with a balanced Limited play that feels very compelling! I’m all in for what could be the best of the Un- sets thus far.

Now what cards tweak my fancy? What do I think is going to be the best of the best?

I have to leave assembling contraptions for later, after a lot of play. But most of the cards we can figure out right now! So let’s a take a look at the best cards, and then let me know which ones I forgot about or where I screwed up!

10. Modular Monstrosity

The ways to abuse Modular Monstrosity are almost unimaginable. At first you might want to give it some protection, and the obvious choice for that is indestructible. Yup, that works! But the ability has to have been printed before. So I can’t choose bushido: 55, although I could go with bushido: 5, where Konda, Lord of Eiganjo can be your inspiration. Think big! You can get protection from everything (Progenitus). Want to be a Spike? Annihilator 6 is free for the taking. I’m more of a vigilance and flying sort. (Or even reach if you just want to block flyers). Tammy/Timmy? Double strike is an obvious addition to the team. There are a lot of other directions I’m sure you can hunt down. Frenzy 2 from Garbage Elemental? Here’s the perfect kill:

  1. Protection from Everything (Can’t be blocked)
  2. Double Strike (When you are unblocked, and you will be, deal damage twice!)
  3. Frenzy 2 (When you are attacked and unblocked, and you will be, get +2/+0)
  4. Infect

And you could choose Triple Strike from Three-Headed Goblin instead of double if your group allows a lot of silver-bordered options. Enjoy the power of Modular Monstrosity!

All right, now that we’ve got this thing started, what next?

9. Very Cryptic Command

Cryptic Command

I adore this Command a little more than the first iteration. Let’s look at them side by side, okay?

  1. Cryptic Command can tap all creatures that all opponents control. That’s very predictable. VCC can tap all permanents, including lands, of one word in its title. More permanents are targeted, but less reliably. Although note that every basic land is just one word. I consider this a slight edge for CC.
  2. Counter target spell. This is the big deal for the CC, and is the iconic part of the card. The default mode is always Counter + the best of the other effects for the board state. Bounce, draw, or tap. It makes the card always useful as a counter, but typically demonstrates the card’s role as a reactive tool, rather than a proactive one. Win for the CC.
  3. Draw a Card vs Return Instant/Sorcery. I prefer returning an instant/sorcery over mere card draw as I know what I am getting back. If I am playing it in my deck, then I like it enough to bring it back for another go. This is a win for VCC.
  4. Bounce a Permanent. It gets used only occasionally, but not regularly. It’s okay at best, and a minor option for the CC.
  5. Untap two permanents. If you have no other synergy in your deck, you can untap some lands to make this a 2 mana spell instead of a 4 mana one. You can untap a mana creature or mana rock that makes more mana and then either have a free spell or more. Untapping creatures to block is sexy. Even if all you do is play this after your foe attacks and you have blocked to untap the Maze of Ith you just used and then to Maze another creature, and then return a card, then you’d seen value. This is very good and a big win for the VCC
  6. Discard and draw. By far, this is a better dig because you can always just Tolarian Winds yourself. If you are looking for a key card to answer something, this will help you find it. And note that you can Tolarian Winds and grab the card from your yard, so you get some serious value from the card. This is a big win for the VCC.

Because it digs more, recurs an instant/sorcery, and can untap your own stuff, I prefer this card over the normal Cryptic Command. You know what’s next, right? Incredibly Cryptic Command!

Incredibly Cryptic Command



Choose Two –

  • Draw two cards, discard two cards.
  • Each player chooses two permanents they control. You choose to untap or tap each of them.
  • Exile target artifact. Return it to the battlefield under it’s owner’s control.
  • Return target card with the words, “Cryptic Command” in its title from your graveyard to your hand.

That’s an ICC! And then you could do an XTREMELY Cryptic Command and so forth! I’m sure you could go to town and come up with a bunch of better choices for your ICC, right?

8. Infinity Elemental / Animate Library

I have regularly referred to creatures that kill an opponent in a single hit as Player Killers or PKs for short. There are a ton of PKs out there that will tend to kill in a single hit, like Blightsteel Colossus or a Commander with 21 or more power in that format. I think Guiltfeeder usually kills quickly, as does Her Highness Phage the Untouchable. Cards like Lord of Extinction are easily able to swell to a point that they kill in a hit. Animate Library taps into that ore-laced vein as well. In a normal 60 card format, even as a 40/40, it’s killing anyone without regard to life gain in a single hit. In Commander, as an 80/80 or 70/70 you are still smashing someone in a single face-tap. Infinity Elemental plays a similar role as a PK. None of these have any form of protection and will require some set-up to actually hit, but there is potential here. Infinity Elemental and Animate Library are just added to my PK list of creatures that kill very quickly just shortly after they arrive.

Surestrike Trident
Burning Anger

Chandra's Ignition
Warstorm Surge
Sword of the Ages

Note that like many other PKs, they have a ton of synergy of power-smashing effects that will kill pretty quickly. Cards like Surestrike Trident or Burning Anger are all here as useful adjuncts. Although the best trick is Chandra's Ignition, and you’ll kill everything with it. But as nasty a combo as that may seem with Infinity Elemental, it’s already been a combo with cards that are legal. I’ve regularly used Sword of the Ages to kill folks over the years, and it’s kind of like that.

7. Split Screen

How do you discuss a card that you covered in a preview article? Click on my four screens here to look at different takes and ways to use it: http://www.gatheringmagic.com/abesargent-11152017-undivided-attention/

The card is just powerfully good without needing anything special to combine it with. And when you do, you can just go to town. Everything from Scroll Rack to Sindbad to Call of the Wild to Future Sight are all amazing in a four-set of libraries where you have the top card revealed. So awesome!

6. Earl of Squirrel

This is another card that strikes my Black-border fancies. Squirrellink is an ability that could easily cross over from this silver-bordered world. You could also use it for #10 above, by the by, and if you did go wide, could I suggest Battle Cry as a good follow up? This feels like an intentional take on fixing Deranged Hermit. For one more mana on the front end you lose echo, and you get a 4/4 beater instead of a 1/1. And you pump other Squirrels just like the Hermit of Squirrels does, as well as turn other tokens to Squirrels for pumpage. And you can make some as you deal damage with your awesome Advisor of Squirrels.

Get ready for an avalanche of Squirrel loving!

Krosan Beast
Squirrel Mob
Deranged Hermit
Squirrel Nest
Acorn Catapult

Are you ready for the Squirrel-Pocalypse? Because it’s about to get real out there. I would gather your acorns before it’s too late, and squirrel away some of these cards to get ready. Because pretty soon everyone is going to want to get seriously Squirrelly. And you will have these cards, so you’ll be all right. With these as tribute, you can rely on Squirrel Girl to protect you.

Squirrels for all of the wins!

(And the nuts . . . )

Okay, great, no what in our Top Five?

5.  . . . 

Just . . .  no . . .  I appreciate you trying, but . . .  just go away now. Into the corner with you.

Okay, now back to the rest of the article.

What are you doing, Editor? Now this is just getting annoying. It was like that time when the Izzet Guild came out, and every single internet writer thought they were funny and assaulted the senses of readers with Izzet puns. So annoying. I didn’t want to read another five puns on the term. Izzet funny? NOT ANY LONGER.

You have killed the jokes now, Mr. Editor. So I am going to leave the high-five jokes behind, and return us to our normally scheduled Top Ten list, already in progress . . . 

5. Graveyard Busybody

THANK YOU! This is my actual, proper, Top Five card for Unstable.This is a disturbingly good card. Forget the 2nd part of this card for a moment. Just imagine that every graveyard in the game is now yours. What does that mean? Well, you can flash back a card with flashback in your foe’s ‘yard. You get the bonuses for Anger or Wonder or the activated ability of Genesis or Champion of Stray Souls. Your reanimation stuff that would normally only do something with your own graveyard will now potentially target anything, such as Immortal Servitude or Obzedat's Aid. You’ll easily have threshold or spell mastery. And as this card shows, a creature that swells with the size of your graveyard will also do so with others. Mortivore is a good example. So there is a lot here to value. They probably put this ability on a creature to make sure that it was more easily answered! Also, note that the graveyards are still your opponents. It uses the English term, “also” so they are now both. That could create some interesting conversations when you cast Living Death.

All right, that wasn’t too bad, now was it? Number Four coming up!

4. Split Screen

You just had to do that again didn’t you . . .  no . . . 

4. Clocknapper


Just like your Goats, you better protect your Clocks! Clocknapper is a very intriguing card. Stealing an opposing phase is awesome. I think my default would be combat. I attack during my foe’s combat step! Pretty good, especially with stuff like vigilance or combat triggers. Stealing a main phase is fun too, and you could do some powerful stuff with beginning phase. If I didn’t have stuff to attack with, the beginning phase would be my default. You get to untap your stuff, get an upkeep, and then draw a card in the draw step. So you can replace it and get some additional effects if you have nothing else, so this is always a free card. And you can nap some clocks, so that’s nice.

Next up could be something like, say, the dreaded Chairnapper! Or the Soapnapper! Actually I think I saw that in Wal-Mart when I was shopping on Black Friday last week.

The Dreaded Napkinnapper

What would it look like? What abilities would it have? No clue! Or what about a Napnapper that steals your naps? No naps for you, ya bums!

3. Spike, Tournament Grinder

Spike brings a lot of fun times to your tables. You can cast Spike in any deck with the Phyrexian mana option, and then use that mana to use her in any other formats. She can get cards like Cursed Scroll, Ponder, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. She has a ton of built-flexibility as a result.

Note that she is twice disallowed in Commander. Silver-bordered cards are not allowed in Commander already. Also, cards that get a card from outside of the game (Living Wish, Cunning Wish, Research // Development, etc) are also not allowed. Play Rule #13 states: “Abilities which refer to other cards owned outside the game (Wishes, Spawnsire, Research, Ring of Ma'ruf) do not function in Commander without prior agreement on their scope from the playgroup.”

Therefore, Spike is twice banned in Commander, and even if Unstable were allowed, Spike wouldn’t be able to be played.

Now, there is an interesting question here. What is a Constructed format? What counts? When I look at the formats page, there are seven listed — Commander, Standard, Vintage, Legacy, Modern, Block, Team Unified Constructed. In a later place on the page, Pauper and 1v1 Commander are listed as well.

Is the Pauper list eligible as well? Can I get Cloud of Faeries or Temporal Fissure? Are uncommon and rares all eligible to be grabbed by Spike since it’s a common-only format? The Vintage ban-list specifically mentions banning the ante cards, so you can Spike for the most powerful card drawing spell of all time: Contract from Below. You could get Chaos Orb or Lingering Souls, Tolarian Academy or Skullclamp. Lots of stuff here to recommend!

Now, as a side note, I want to briefly address the elephant in the room: a small number of players have given some pushback on Spike being portrayed as a woman. In a similar vein, people, mostly men, were upset that the new Star Trek show has a female CO and XO. Somehow women being in charge is an affront to Star Trek fans.

I’ll try to be succint: Spike being a woman is the only way you could have a woman in the cycle without a name change, Johnny/Jenny and Timmy/Tammy have name changes but Spike is gender neutral. So, Spike makes sense whereas the older two don’t. Secondly, how do you expect more women to become fans and players of the game if you don’t increase their visual representation on cards and art? Particularly, women with realistic body types. Spike hits all of the needs, and thus is a major home-run from where I’m sitting. Plus, men complaining about the overuse of women in media is a bit tone-deaf right now, given the major issues and chasms we’ve seen in a last few months with the #MeToo movement revealing how deep sexual harassment against women from men goes, across all parties and media, and is bolstered by this idea of gender differences that aren’t there.

I digress. Spike on, everyone!

Oh, and if you like the idea of getting Contract from Below from your Spike, might I suggest this Un- card instead?

Contract from Above



Reveal the top card of your library. Choose one: Give it target opponent, or look up the near mint value of that card on coolstuffinc.com and give that amount of money to target opponent. Then discard your hand and draw eight cards.

It’s better to give.

How about that instead?

2. Everythingamajig

Giant Fan
Dragon Blood
Contagion Clasp

They clearly decided to one better than Giant Fan this go around! Giant Fan is one the best success stories in Un- history. And this is truly better! It really is an Everything Thing for your stuff. You can move counters just like Giant Fan, and they take on the characteristics of that card. You can move a counter from a Dark Depths onto a Chandra Nalaar, for example. It also acts as a Dragon Blood, putting a counter onto a creature without needing to blow anything around to do so. And then, finally, it acts as a Contagion Clasp with the hot 4 mana and tapping to proliferate. It’s very powerful stuff, with all three options in one artifact.

All right, that was a lot of fun. Thanks for reading . . .  wait . . .  sorry, I forgot!

Here’s your #1 card(s)!

1. Every Host/Augment Creature!

Wow are these cards awesome! I have included just a few above, but wowzers are they a hit out of the park. I want to give that person an Abe-Hug. All of these cards play into a great amount of space, with augment creatures and costs of all sorts up there. Take Half-Squirrel, Half- as a great example. Yes, it makes your Host a little smaller, but for an augment of g, it’s one of the fastest triggers and one of the easiest to get. So, if you want to draw a ton of land off Wild Crocodile or make a ton of life via Adorable Kitten and such, you have the right combo there. This is a mechanic with a ton of legs. And fins. And maybe a tail here and there.

I am a big fan of this guild. I am all in on Crossbreed Labs! But there is a missed opportunity. There was an obvious card that could have been made that would have been a huge hit for all casual players that would have resonated for a long time, and would have made perfect sense here! A double Conspiracy.

Imagine an artifact, enchantment, etc with this ability:

“When this enters the battlefield, choose two creature types. Creatures you control are the chosen types. The same is true for creature spells you control and creature cards you own that aren't on the battlefield.”

Wow would that have been awesome. TWO tribes. When Two Tribes Go to War.

Two tribes my friends, two tribes. Ah well, a player can still dream!

Meanwhile, the hosting and augmenting is about to become real!

CUT – That’s a wrap folks. All right, time to head on home. Hope you enjoyed my Top Ten Thoughts! If you have any comments, questions, complaints, or just general, “I Love You Abe” you can leave them below!!!

Unstable is available for Preorder!