Whenever possible, I like to do mailbag columns about current sets. Unfinity is out at local games stores and online retailers like Amazon, so it's time to answer all your questions about the latest Un- set.
Here's the tweet I posted:
As always, I'll try to answer as many questions as I can, but here's why I might not answer your question:
- I have an allotted word count, which means that there are only so many questions I can get to.
- Someone else might have asked the same question. I will usually answer the first person who asks.
- Some questions I either don't know the answer to or don't feel qualified enough in the area to answer properly.
- Some topics I'm not allowed to answer for all sorts of reasons, including previews for future sets.
That said, let's get to the questions:
I think the card that made the design team and playtesters laugh the most consistently was
The card I get asked the most to make Eternal legal is
Ever since Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms brought die rolling to non-Un- formats, there's been a lot of desire to bring some of the die-rolling manipulation from Un- sets to Eternal formats, and
When you print Magic cards, you print a whole bunch of cards on one large sheet. The most normal sheet size is eleven cards by eleven cards (for a total of 121 cards). After the sheets are printed, they're cut into individual cards. The sheets are usually separated by slots. Normally, that's rarity (a booster gets so many slots for cards of each rarity), but when you have special things, like Attractions that have a different back, they get their own slot. Most sheets don't have 121 unique cards on a sheet, so cards will be repeated on the sheet. We knew that when we made Attractions, so I was aware it gave us the opportunity to have variants that had different lit-up numbers. How many versions was limited by how many times that particular card appeared on the sheet. Common Attractions appeared ten times, uncommon six, and rare two.
We also had to care how many different light-up combinations there were. Because 1 never lights up and 6 always does, having two lit numbers meant you had four versions (2/6, 3/6, 4/6, and 5/6). Having three lit numbers meant you had six versions (2/3/6, 2/4/6, 2/5/6, 3/4/6, 3/5/6, and 4/5/6). Having four lit numbers meant four versions (2/3/4/6, 2/3/5/6, 2/4/5/6, and 3/4/5/6). This meant that common and uncommon would have four or six copies depending on how many lit-up numbers it had. Rare would only have two regardless of how many lit-up numbers the Attraction had.
In any Magic design, not just Un- sets, you look back at what worked in the past for inspiration for new cards. Lots of Unfinity cards were inspired by popular Un- cards. Some examples (other than Pie-roclasm and
Animate Graveyardwas inspired by Animate Libraryfrom Unstable. Grand Marshal Maciewas inspired by Staying Powerfrom Unhinged. It Came from Planet Glurgwas inspired by Grusilda, Monster Masherfrom Unstable. Opening Ceremonywas inspired by Booster Tutorfrom Unhinged and Summon the Packfrom Unstable. Surprise Partywas inspired by Cheatyfacefrom Unhinged and Entirely Normal Armchairfrom Unstable. Truss, Chief Engineerwas inspired by More or Lessfrom Unstable. Vedalken Squirrel-Whackerwas inspired by Elvish Impersonatorsfrom Unglued.
I should note that, although we take inspiration from old cards, we still try to find new ways to execute on old mechanics, which often creates different types of gameplay than would the old cards.
Q: When Unfinity was conceived, was there feedback to include more specific Magic: The Gathering references compared to Unstable? I got the sense that UST's in-joke : original joke ratio wasn't as good as it could be.
There wasn't any specific feedback to add more of that. Our first goal is always to build a fun and immersive world. As with Unstable, even if the world is not self-referential, we can find spots to make Magic references. Luckily, early in worldbuilding, we came up with the idea that the park uses the Magic IP and that just allowed us a huge amount of flexibility in referencing the game. I think it's a little more than we necessarily need to make in an Un- set, but I agree it's a lot of fun when we have it.
This was the byproduct of a late decision-making process. At that point, we'd already made the Teddy Bear token frame and art. Also, we'd chosen to have
There is a specific double-faced Contortionist token, but you're allowed to use any Magic card for your folding, including ad or token cards.
I just want players to be able to play the cards where they want to play them. I understand why certain cards need to be acorn, because they do things that the rules can't handle or dip into aspects of the game that don't work well with tournament play, but if there are cards in an Un- set that would be totally playable if printed in any other set, why not let the players play with them in Eternal formats? Magic does quirky mechanical things all the time in other sets. We do comedic cards in other sets. We push boundaries in other sets. The idea that an Un- card has to be off-limits solely for having the property of being an Un- card is, I believe, an outdated concept. That's why the set has Eternal-legal cards.
I put together a team of four people: Jess Dunks, the rules manager; Carmen Handy from the Play Design team; Matt Tabak, the set's editor; and myself. We looked at each card and asked the following questions:
- Does it work within the rules? If the answer was no, it became acorn.
- Would it cause problems in a tournament setting? If the answer was yes, it became acorn.
- Does it cause any problems in Legacy or Vintage? If the answer was yes, we tweaked it. If it still wasn't safe enough, we made it acorn.
- Can the card be templated in a way that fits on the card? (Acorn cards have some freedom with how they template that can allow us to write things we normally couldn't.) If the answer is no, the card became acorn.
- Does the card feel appropriate as an Eternal card? This was the most subjective of the questions, but there were some cards like
Tug of Warthat passed all the early questions yet still felt wrong as an Eternal card to the majority of people who looked at it. Those were made acorn.
It was never about fighting to make something Eternal or not. My job was to make a clear delineated line between acorn and Eternal and then, with proper input, figure out on which side of the line each card stood. I did want anything that could be Eternal to be Eternal in the sense that I wanted as many cards as possible to be something players could play without having to ask permission, but I never wanted to make something Eternal that fundamentally shouldn't be. In fact, when there was a question about whether something should be Eternal, I tended to err on the side of caution and make it acorn.
The one that shocked me most when Jess said it worked in the rules was
To explain before I answer the question: There are ten common Attractions, but only eight that are Eternal legal. To use Attractions in a Constructed format, you have to make a Singleton Attraction deck of at least ten cards. Since Pauper only has access to common cards, there aren't enough legal Attractions in the format to build an Attraction deck.
It wasn't a conscious choice. We just made the cards, put them in the rarity that made sense, and judged whether they were acorn or Eternal by the guidelines above. Our general rule is that we make the right decisions for the set, and things get applied to Pauper as the rules dictate. I'll admit I am sad that Pauper players won't get a chance to play with Attractions, as they're quite fun.
Constructed legality for Commander is run by the Commander Rules Committee and not by Wizards, so it's not something we have control over.
We do Un- sets infrequently enough that I'm more inclined to explore new worlds rather than revisit old ones, but as Unfinity shows, we can have a little crossover between worlds. Both
Q: With Unfinity representing various aspects of theme parks and carnivals, such as a specific rides, carnival games, shows, etc., are there any specific aspects that you wanted to translate into cards but didn't quite fit the theme?
I think we did a pretty good job of hitting most of the carnival, amusement park, and circus tropes. We made an extensive list during exploratory design, and the finished product represents almost everything we listed. I guess the one area we fell a little shy in was representing specific carnival games. While we have several games on Attractions, we wanted to make sure the flavor matched the minigame you were actually playing, so there were some classic games that fell through the cracks like a shooting gallery or a horse race where you roll balls into holes. We did manage to get a few games as background on cards (the milk ball toss and
Almost all the cards were fun to design, but as this is a question, I'll pick one. I think the earliest card that got designed that made it into the set was
Yes, it must be a word you would find in a dictionary. And note, as it says in the FAQ, you're allowed to use each permanent's letter just once. So, if you have three permanents starting with A, B, and N, you can spell BAN or NAB, but not BANANA.
Larger. Unfinity is infinity plus pi.
For the acorn cards to be silver border and the Eternal cards to be black border, we would need to have them on different printing sheets. This would require a different mix of cards in the two categories than currently exists. Because the acorn/Eternal decision was made late in the process, we were already past the point where those changes could have been made.
We did have an early version that did that, but none of them played all that well, so we changed to the current version. We decided that all the Clown token making when you cast it represents all the Clowns climbing out of the car.
As stated in the Unfinity FAQ, whenever a card requires you use a Magic card from outside the game, it has to be a normal Magic-sized card. Sorry.
Q: For Bar Entry, how did you decide how high to set the bar? Careful measurement of popular staples? Simulations based on popular decklists? R&D's least favorite creature to face with 3 or less power?
So, we took a whole bunch of creature cards we had in the Pit and measured them all. We then set the bar so it would hit about one fourth of the creatures. It was all very scientific.
Which means, yes, the next Un- set will most likely have a blue subgame card.
[WARNING: THERE ARE STORY REVEALS, ALTHOUGH OLD, IN THIS ANSWER]
Yes. If you choose a character, you get all versions of that character, even ones that use a different name. For example, if you say Lim-Dûl,
The word "non-Brushwagg" shows up on both
For many years, full-art lands were an exclusive of the Un- sets. Because full-art lands now show up in other sets, we wanted to add something new to the land slots. The idea of dual lands with outer space art just seemed too cool to pass up. I asked what dual lands we could have and was told the shock lands. I wasn't going to turn that down.
- White-blue: Name stickers matter
- Blue-black: Dice manipulation (getting specific die rolls); works well with Attractions
- Black-red: High die rolls matter (getting rewarded for high rolls); works well with Attractions
- Red-green: Roll a lot of dice (getting rewarded for rolling many dice in one turn); works well with Attractions
- Green-white: Ability stickers matter
- White-black: Hats matter
- Blue-red: Art stickers matter
- Black-green: Attractions matter (You're rewarded for visiting a lot of Attractions.)
- Red-white: Clown Robot aggro
- Green-blue: Power/toughness stickers matter
"That's It for the Mail"
That's all the time I have for answering questions. Thanks to everyone who sent in a question. I'm sorry I couldn't get to them all. As always, I'd love feedback on this column, on any of my answers, or on Unfinity itself. You can email me or contact me through my social media accounts (Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and TikTok).
Join me next week when The Brothers' War previews begin.
Until then, may you have fun at Myra the Magnificent's Intergalactic Astrotorium of Fun.