Un-Seen 2: Electric Bugaloo

Posted in Making Magic on November 10, 2014

By Mark Rosewater

Working in R&D since '95, Mark became Magic head designer in '03. His hobbies: spending time with family, writing about Magic in all mediums, and creating short bios.

Last year, I wrote an article where I gave you all a glimpse of a Magic set that never made it to print, Unglued 2. Note this is not to be confused with Unhinged. Unglued 2 was a silver-bordered parody set that was scheduled to come out two years after Unglued, but it got put on hiatus, never to return. The set did get far enough along, though, that we had a complete card file and had commissioned art.

 

The first article went over so well I decided it was worth a sequel. Once again, remember that much of this file got moved over to Unhinged, so what remains is the material that was dated, played into themes that weren't carried over, or just stuff that we changed our mind about six years later. That said, let's look at some cards. Also remember that this was long ago and templating and the rules were a bit different. I've left all the card text as-was to let you see the cards in their natural habitat.

 

Inner Child

Inner Child | Art by Edward P. Beard, Jr.

CW01_U2
Inner Child
1W
Creature – Spirit
1/1
Reveal something about yourself another player doesn't know: Inner Child gains flying and first strike until end of turn.
T: You get an additional vote. Play this ability only after a vote has been called but before voting begins.

This design is a good example of a card trying to do two different things that don't really mesh. The first ability was a more social one, as it forced players to share new information with each other. When I revisited this idea in Unhinged on a card called Moniker Mage, I changed it so that the information you were giving up could later be used against you if your opponent ever got a copy of the card.

 

The second ability tied into the set's voting mechanic. The problem is the first ability and the second ability have nothing to do with one another. My best guess is that I liked the second ability and was looking for a common white card to put it on. There was no ideal choice so I just stuck it on a card that wasn't too texty. I like to think I've learned a bit since then.

 

Keeper of Ipecac

Keeper of Ipecac | Art by Kaja Foglio

Keeper of Ipecac
1W
Creature – Cleric
1/3
T: The next time you would get a poison counter this turn, prevent getting that counter.

As I explained in the last Unglued 2 article, poison was a big part of this set. This card was one of the ones made as a means to fight against poison. Note that (as when I brought poison back in Scars of Mirrodin) I didn't want players to have the ability to remove poison once it was granted, but this card allowed someone to prevent it as it happened. This card was in many ways a Samite Healer (a creature from Alpha that tapped to prevent 1 damage), but as the set had a few noncreature ways to deliver poison (some even self-given), it had a few other uses.

 

White Sale

White Sale | Art by Quinton Hoover

RW03_U2
White Sale
WWW
Enchantment
When White Sale comes into play, roll a six-sided die. All spells have a mana cost of X, where X is the die roll, instead of their normal mana costs.

When I look back at these cards, I always try to figure out where the design for each card came from. Obviously, this was playing around with a different way to use a six-sided die. It's a quirky white card and it seems like a tricky thing to build around. I do enjoy it, though, in that it makes you think about what exactly you want to do with it. You can see from the different dice cards in the file that I really seemed to embrace dice as a means of creating effects that were hard to predict.

There's No Folk Like Merfolk

There's No Folk Like Merfolk | Art by Scott M. Fischer

 

CU01_U2
There's No Folk Like Merfolk
1U
Creature – Merfolk
2/2
When There's No Folk Like Merfolk comes into play, choose a word with four or more letters.
At the beginning of your upkeep, name a movie whose title contains the chosen word. If you don't, sacrifice There's No Folk Like Merfolk.

 

Another small theme woven through Un-sets is the inclusions of mini-games. The idea of a mini-game is that a card forces you to play a little game in order to be able to use it. This card makes you play a game I used to play in my Hollywood days. You name a word and then go back and forth naming movies with that word in the title. To avoid you naming words like "the" or "of," the game forced you to pick a word of four or more letters. The title of the card is playing on an old Hollywood expression, "There's no folk like show folk."

 

Jeopardy

Jeopardy | Art by Phil Foglio

RU06_U2
Jeopardy
2U
Enchantment
Players are reminded to speak in the form of a question.
At the end of each player's turn, each player who didn't speak only in questions that turn gets two poison counters.

Most of the cards I've shown you never found a home in Unhinged. This card is kind of an exception. This card's mechanic is based on a game called Questions that I first learned about from the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard. In the game, players talk to one another by asking questions. Players cannot repeat questions, ask rhetorical questions, or ask non-sequitur questions. The first player to not talk in the form of a question loses the point. A player wins when he or she gets four points. The game is also known as Questions Tennis and the scoring is sometimes scored like tennis.

 

In Unglued 2 this was an enchantment. When I moved the card to Unhinged, I changed it from an enchantment to a creature and it became this card:

 

 

The art used characters from the Weatherlight Saga, so it was a bit dated (although a few Weatherlight characters do show up in Unhinged). I also decided it was better to have the card trade ownership rather than punish players with poison. (Remember, Unhinged didn't have poison.) Here's my one fun story about this card:

 

Unglued was only printed in English but for Unglued 2 the plan was to print in English and Japanese. Because the set would eventually need to be translated into Japanese, I sent the translator—at the time a man named Ron Foster, who now works in organized play—the card list and he sent me back a long list of notes. I was told that the Jeopardy card didn't make any sense as the game show doesn't play in Japan and thus they wouldn't get the reference. For those who aren't Jeopardy fans, the game show forces the contestants to answer in the form of questions.

 

Card Shark

Card Shark | Art by Randy Elliot

SU01_U2
Card Shark
2U
Creature – Merfolk
1/1. Flying
1/3. U Untap Card Shark.
6/3. Flying
1/1. Flying
3/3. U Return Card Shark to its owner's hand.
0/1. T: Card Shark deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
2/2. Card Shark is unblockable.
1/4. 1U Target creature gains flying until end of turn.
1/1. U, Sacrifice Card Shark: Draw a card.
1/1. U, Sacrifice Card Shark: Draw a card.
0/1. U Return Card Shark to its owner's hand.
3/3. U Return Card Shark to its owner's hand.
1/4. 1U Target creature gains flying until end of turn.
0/1. U Return Card Shark to its owner's hand.
1/3. U Untap Card Shark.
6/3. Flying
0/1. U Return Card Shark to its owner's hand.
0/1. T: Card Shark deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
1/1. U, Sacrifice Card Shark: Draw a card.
2/2. Card Shark is unblockable.
2/1
3/3. U Return Card Shark to its owner's hand.
1/3. U Untap Card Shark.
2/1
0/1. T: Card Shark deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
1/4. 1U Target creature gains flying until end of turn.
2/1
1/1. Flying
2/2. Card Shark is unblockable.
6/3. Flying

Last time, I explained that Unglued 2 was going to have scratch-off cards. I showed you a sorcery last time, so I thought this time I show you a creature. Each scratch-off card has three different scratch-off lines so that it could be used three times. Each scratch-off card had ten different version so that players wouldn't know which version they had. We also designed the cards such that scratching off any one line wouldn't allow you to necessarily know which version of the ten you have. Obviously, once you scratch off two lines, there was no way to prevent players who had memorized all versions from knowing the third.

 

The thought behind the scratch-off cards was to create variance through a more offbeat means of randomizing. We also were seriously considering having gum in each of the booster packs. As you can see, Unglued 2 was definitely pushing the boundaries in a number of different ways. The plan was for us to run a test sheet to make sure the scratch-off technology would work well with Magic cards but the product got put on hiatus before that test was run.

 

Endangered Species Act

Endangered Species Act | Art by Randy Gallegos

UB03_U2
Endangered Species Act
B
Sorcery
Call a vote. If vote passes, put all creature cards from all graveyards into play. Each player gets one vote plus an additional vote if he or she has 5 or fewer creatures in his or her graveyard. A vote passes if a majority vote in favor.

In the previous article on Unglued 2 I introduced a card that interacted with voting cards. What I didn't show you, though, was how the voting cards worked. Each one forced a vote to be called and then gave additional votes to certain players based on named criteria. The effects were usually beneficial for the players, but because they affected everyone, they would often be less beneficial for some, thus encouraging certain players to vote a card down. It is these series of voting cards that I thought of when Shawn asked me if I had any mechanics suggestions for Conspiracy.

 

I like this card quite a bit. It's set up to have a big impact and it definitely makes some players happier than others to see it passed. My only critique is that this effect seems a little too big for an uncommon. In a vacuum, I would make it a rare. I do know that it was part of an uncommon cycle that was intended for Limited, which is how it ended up at uncommon.

 

Phyrexian Librarian

Phyrexian Librarian | Art by Kev Walker

RB01_U2
Phyrexian Librarian
1BB
Creature – Torturer
2/2
Flying
Whenever one of your opponents says the name of a Magic card in play or being played, that player receives a poison counter.

This card is in Unhinged—kind of. When it was time to put together the design for Unhinged, I had the design team look back at Unglued 2 to see what we could salvage. Mechanically, this card made no sense, as Unhinged did not have any poison in it, but the name and art were just too good to pass up, so I designed a brand-new card for the concept of Phyrexian Librarian. I should also note this card, which punishes players for saying certain words, is an early precursor to the gotcha mechanic.

 

Rutabaga of the Night

Rutabaga of the Night | Art by Heather Hudson

RB04_U2
Rutabaga of the Night
2BB
Creature – Vegetable
*/*
Flying, first strike, haste
At the beginning of your upkeep, you receive a poison counter.
CARDNAME's power and toughness are each equal to the number of poison counters its controller has.
2BB: Put CARDNAME into play. Play this ability only during your upkeep and only if CARDNAME is in your graveyard.

This card is one of the animated vegetables in the set. Like all the other animated vegetables, this card was tied to poison, although this card poisoned you and not your opponent. For those unaware, the card is parodying this card from Mirage:

 

Rutabaga of the Night messes around with something we tried in Scars of Mirrodin design but abandoned—cards that reward you for being poisoned. The reason we pulled them is it creates tension about whether or not you want to be poisoning your opponent. We found it's better to have your set encourage a specific behavior rather than make players constantly second guess whether or not they're supposed to use it.

 

What the…?!

What the…?! | Art by Randy Gallegos

RR02_U2
What the…?!
RRRR
Instant
Until end of turn, add three to all numbers (in numeral or written form) in all text boxes. (For example, all 1s and "one"s become 4s and "four"s.)

For years, I tried to get number-switching cards into black border, but development always stopped me because…because, well, I guess they're dangerous. I'm also not sure if the rules treat the numeral "1" and the word "one" the same. But in silver-bordered land—anything goes! When I got to Unhinged, I guess I decided that this card was a little over the top and made Look at Me, I'm R and D as a tamer version of this card. Look at Me, I'm R and D does allow you to lower numbers, so it can be used to hose the opponent, whereas What the…?! does not.

 

One final note. One of the things I've enjoyed with Un-set naming is trying to get a lot of punctuation into names. This had an ellipsis, a question mark, and an exclamation point on one card!

 

Udder Madness

Udder Madness | Art by Ron Spencer

RR05_U2
Udder Madness
2RR
Enchantment
At the end of each player's turn, each player rolls a six-sided die. (Ties are rerolled until there is a winner.) The highest roller takes the next turn.

Normal black-bordered Magic likes to have rare red enchantments that add a bit of chaos. Well, silver-bordered sets have to turn it up a notch. The reason this card never made it to Unhinged was twofold. First, Unhinged didn't have die rolling in it. Second, this card proved a little too good in a deck with four Goblin Bookies (a red Unglued creature that allows you to reroll dice).

 

Santawar Elves

Santawar Elves | Art by Anson Maddocks

CG01_U2
Santawar Elves
3G
Creature – Elf
2/2
2G,T: Choose and roll a six-sided die. If you roll a 6, sacrifice CARDNAME. Otherwise, that creature gets +X/+X until end of turn where X is the number rolled.

This card came about because one day it dawned on me that in pop culture there are a number of different types of elves. Wouldn't it be funny if we took a Magic elf (a Llanowar elf in particular) and put it in the place of a different type of elf. After thinking through all the options—making cookies, secretly fixing shoes at night, etc.—I decided to choose one of Santa's elves.

The card mechanic was playing around with using a six-sided die. The reason this card never made it to Unhinged is twofold. First, as I've said, Unhinged didn't use any six-sided dice. Second, this card ended up being too similar to the card Free-Range Chicken from Unglued. The one thing I'm not sure of looking back is why I didn't use the card concept and art and just make a new card to match.

Broccoli

Broccoli | Art by Mark Poole

 

UG01_U2
Broccoli
1G
Creature – Vegetable
1/1
Whenever CARDNAME damages a player, roll a six-sided die. If you roll a 1, 2, or 3, that player receives poison counters equal to the die roll.

 

This was one of the most controversial card concepts in the set. You see, all the creatures that interacted with poison were animated vegetables. Green and black had the highest percentage of them as poison has always been associated more with green and black. For one of the poison cards, I loved the idea that it was just a vegetable and not animated. Thus, Broccoli. Broccoli was chosen, for those interested, because of its iconic status as a vegetable that kids refuse to eat.

 

Remember that for Unglued 2, I wrote the card concepts. So I made Broccoli and had the art done. When the art came back, people would look at it and ask me what it was. I would show them the card, and they'd either laugh or they'd say "That's not a creature." The more research I did, I found that the card was very polarizing. Either people found it very funny or not funny at all. In general, we like having polarizing elements from time to time, so I was content to let it go. The set never got released so I never got a chance to see what the public thought.

 

Sheep Cloning

Sheep Cloning | Art by Ron Spencer

UG03_U2
Sheep Cloning
2GG
Sorcery
Roll a six-sided die. Then roll that many dice. Put a number of green 0/1 sheep creature tokens into play equal to that number.

In Unglued, we made token cards. One of the ones I wanted to make was a Sheep token for the card Ovinomancer (from Visions). In order to do that, though, I needed to have a card in Unglued that also used a Sheep token, so I made Flock of Rabid Sheep.

 

I decided that Sheep tokens should be an Un-set thing and added this card. In retrospect, I'm not sure why I made them 0/1 when the rabid sheep were 2/2. (Okay, I guess they were rabid.) Also, I charge a lot for not that much upside. If I had to do it again, I think I'd have you roll a six-sided die and then roll that many six-sided die to determine how many Sheep to get. This would allow you to get a lot of 0/1 Sheep tokens that you could then build your deck around making use of them.

 

Iron Man

Iron Man | Art by Matthew Wilson

CA01_U2
Iron Man
5
Artifact Creature
6/4
Trample
When Iron Man goes to the graveyard, rip up this card and remove the pieces from the game.

Here's another Magic in joke that didn't stand the test of time. There used to be a format called Iron Man Magic where instead of having a graveyard, every card destined for the graveyard was ripped up. That meant all spells got ripped up upon casting and any permanent that was destroyed in the game was destroyed in real life. I made this a creature (a) so it might survive a few games and (b) as a longtime comics reader, I liked having a card called Iron Man. Remember that this was back in the day when the majority of people didn't know who Iron Man was.

The reason this card never made it to Unhinged, beyond the "being dated" issue, was the market research we did on Unglued. The two most hated cards according to the market research? Blacker Lotus and Chaos Confetti. The two cards were the most hated by a pretty wide margin.

 

 

The market research people said they had compared all the data they collected on these two cards and they just couldn't see any overriding connection as to why these two cards were so disliked. It wasn't the art, the name, the flavor text. I remembering smiling when they told me this. My response, "You might want to read the rules text."

 

The Other Spatula of the Ages

The Other Spatula of the Ages | Art by Melissa A. Benson

UA02_U2
The Other Spatula of the Ages
4
Artifact
4,T: Return CARDNAME and all non-Unglued cards other than basic land cards to his or her owners' hands.

Unglued had the following card:

 

I decided it would be funny to make a companion card. Spatula of the Ages allowed you to put Un-cards from your hand onto the battlefield. The companion card then did the reverse (kind of). It returned all but Un-cards and basic lands back to their owner's hands. Note that the rules text implies that all Un-sets were going to be Unglued sets. At the time, the idea was that Unglued would be in every title but named liked movies. Unglued 2: The Obligatory Sequel, Unglued Strikes Back, Son of Unglued, Unglued: The Final Chapter, Unglued: A New Beginning, etc.

 

Illusionary Masking Tape

Illusionary Masking Tape | Art by Mark Brill

RA01_U2
Illusionary Masking Tape
4
Artifact
Keep all cards in play you control face down.
Whenever a card you control is tapped, activated, attacks, or blocks, reveal that card. Return the card to its face down state at end of turn.

This card predates the morph mechanic. At this time, face-down cards were what they were. The opponent just didn't know until something happened where it mattered. And note, the opponent didn't always know. As the card works right now, the following could happen:

 

Them: I Lightning Bolt your face-down creature.

You: Okay.

Them: What happens?

You: It has 3 damage.

Them: Did it die?

You: No.

 

Looking back, the card should have probably been revealed when it was blocked rather than when it attacked, as the fun of the card is your opponent having to make decisions without knowing what it was. Now, by the way, the rules define all face-down cards as colorless 2/2 creatures.

Pet Cemetery

Pet Cemetery | Art by Todd Lockwood

RL01_U2
Pet Cemetery
Land
T, Name the creature type of each creature you have returned from the grave to your hand this game: Return target card of a type from your graveyard to your hand.

 

This was another mini-game card. Pet Cemetery is based after a game called I Went on a Trip. In it, the first person names an object he or she packed for a trip that begins with A. Then the next person names the A object and then adds an object starting with B. This continues until someone is unable to remember the full list. Pet Cemetery forces the controller to have to remember every creature type previously returned.

This is another design that sounded cool in concept but had a few flaws. First, the reason the memory game works is because at some point you just have to remember more than you are capable, but a game of Magic isn't really long enough to make a list that can't be remembered. And even that is assuming that you are returning a lot of different creature types. Most often, this card keeps bringing back the same creature, making remembering pretty simple. On top of that, the card doesn't really have much a penalty for forgetting. What the card should have done is sacrificed itself if you failed to do what was asked. This is, for example, how a lot of the mini-game cards like Toy Boat or Phyrexian Librarian in Unhinged work.

 

Un-Til Next Time

I hope you enjoyed this second peek at Unglued 2. There were a lot of fun things in it that I was sad never saw the light of day, so I'm happy to share them all with you now. As always, I would love to hear your feedback either through my email or any of my social media (Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram).

 

Join me next week when I interview the colors of Mardu.

 

Until then, may you take a peek at things you once did that never saw the light of day.

 


 

"Drive to Work #172—Lessons Learned, Part 6"

Last podcast, I continued a series I called "Lessons Learned," where I talked about the lessons from the design of Scars of Mirrodin. I had so many lessons that it required two whole podcasts to talk about them. This is the second podcast.

 

"Drive to Work #173—White-Blue"

This podcast starts a new ten-part series about two-color pairs. I start with white-blue.

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