Bottled Up

Posted in Serious Fun on November 9, 2004

By Anthony Alongi

Choosing the right set with World-Bottling Kit

In non-Magic-related news: I won my local election. So despite my frequent strategic analyses to the contrary, I guess you really can mix politics with multiplayer Magic. My bad.

Unhinged offers cards that do occasionally atrocious things, just for the sake of having a bit of fun. For example:

World-Bottling Kit

As I do with most previews, I'd like to put in some rules notes governing the card:

  • This is an Unhinged card. It is not tournament-legal.
  • Cards that are not tournament-legal are meant only for fun, random purposes.
  • My answer to a rules question would be no better than any answer you could generate on your own. In fact, it might not be better than what your dog might tell you between scratches and sniffs.

There are corollaries to these rules: because the card is not tournament-legal, comments about how "unfair" it is are rather beside the point. In fact, if you take this card (or any other Unhinged card) too seriously, the entire staff of Wizards is contractually obligated to laugh at you.

Now that we've dealt with those harrowing and thorny rules questions, let's move on to card analysis.

Message In A Bottle

What struck me first about this card wasn't its ability to absolutely destroy a completely random set of cards on the table at any given time. It was its striking similarity to three actual, tournament-legal card from Magic's past: Apocalypse Chime, City in a Bottle, and Golgothian Sylex.

The Chime, City, and Sylex all "hosed" cards from the Homelands, Arabian Nights, and Antiquities sets. Wizards doesn't print cards like these any more for a number of reasons; for me as a player it boils down to these three:

  • They completely wreck limited and block-based formats, since their impact is so massive;
  • They're creatively uninteresting in virtually any constructed format, since they're artifacts and any deck can run four copies; and
  • They've done three of them (see above) and virtually no one plays with them anyway.

So why do something like World-Bottling Kit in Unhinged? Well, again, three reasons, none of which are official and are simply educated guesses:

  • Casual players play enough crazy formats that a non-sanctioned card that blows up sets might be creatively interesting now and again;
  • Some people did indeed have fun with those past expansion-wrecking cards; and
  • Maybe getting rid of all the cards in Homelands wasn't such a bad idea, after all.

Which brings us to the question of the day: what expansions are the best prospects for removing cards with World-Bottling Kit?

Bottle Ten-Pack

For your reading pleasure (and since this format was such a hit a couple of weeks ago): the Top Ten Expansions you should remove from the game with World-Bottling Kit, and why:

10) Unhinged. Because the irony is delicious.

9) Homelands. Because even 4x Apocalypse Chime may not be enough to get the bad taste out of your mouth.

8) Prophecy. Because it doesn't even have Apocalypse Chime to help out.

7) Champions of Kamigawa, the latest breakthrough Magic: the Gathering set from your good friends at Wizards. Because Scott Johns, our editor, demands I mention the latest expansion at least once in every article I write, or I don't get a cookie.

6) Mirrovasion. Because if you're going to play in a format like Unhinged, why not bend a few more rules?

5) Torment. Because it's a great hoser against black.

4) Judgment. Because it's a great hoser against blue – er, I mean, green and white.

3) Ninth Edition. Because people will think you must have gotten your hands early on some Ninth Edition product before it's released, or else why would you mention it? Good for you, stud.

2) Unglued. Because you thought this would be #1, didn't you?

1) Promotional Card. Because it's an elegant way to get rid of that Nalathni Dragon that annoying geek in your local store keeps showing off in his super-rare-and-foil deck.

Kit Komponents

If you're going to build a deck with World-Bottling Kit, I have one suggestion: play with few permanents. Sorceries and instants will be the order of the day.

Consider fragments like the ones that follow (including the Kit itself, of course). Be aware I'm suggesting without full knowledge of other cards in the Unhinged set:

Fragment #1 – to tease out the best stuff
Show and Tell
Tempting Wurm

Fragment #2 – to enjoy further bottles
Bottle Gnomes
Bottle of Suleiman
Elkin Bottle

Fragment #3 – just to mess with everyone first
Confusion in the Ranks
Thieves Auction
Dimensional Breach

Formats In A Bottle

Here are some alternative formats you might spring upon your unsuspecting group, to get the most out of your World-Bottling Kit deck.

1) Everyone chooses a different expansion as the basis for their entire deck. Really, this is the most obvious and nastiest way to break the trust of your group. You know, if you're into that sort of thing. (Hint: Don't forget to choose "Unhinged".)

2) Everyone chooses the same expansion as the basis for their entire deck. Now if you've been paying attention, you can spot the potential flaw with this plan. If everyone has to pick the same expansion, and you have to pick Unhinged to get World-Bottling Kit…well, then, everyone has to pick Unhinged, and someone else may steal your idea. May still be worth it.

3) Everyone chooses the same expansion except for you, who gets to do whatever you want. They may spot this one coming. Try to make it sound like you're doing them a favor. "We don't know how good or fun Unhinged really will be," you might say. "And I don't want to see you guys take on any additional financial risk, what with your deep involvement in junk bonds and Halliburton stock. So why don't you all choose a single 'baseline' expansion, make decks from that expansion. I'll go out and buy enough Unhinged to get four copies of the cards I need, and then we'll compare my deck to your baseline. No, no, no need to thank me. Your worshipful gazes are reward enough."

4) Sprinkle a pack of Unhinged in your next casual limited event. In a Champions-Champions-Unhinged draft, your chances of breaking open the World-Bottling Kit are…well, they're non-zero, and that's all you need to know.

Anthony cannot provide deck help. He is awash in that cheap rubber cement that comes in those horrific model kits for children that promise minimal parental involvement.

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