Despite being designed as novelty casual-only sets, MTG’s quartet of Un- sets have some surprisingly playable cards. Previously, these cards have been limited to being played in casual-only formats. However, that might be about to change.
With the release of Unfinity on October 7th and the errata of silver bordered cards to “Acorn cards,” there’s now the possibility for some juicy reprints. With Unfinity’s spoiler season yet to begin, it is unclear if reprints will be featured in the 244 card set.
Currently, it is unclear if Wizards of the Coast is planning to reprint cards that were previously silver bordered as black-bordered cards.
Why are silver bordered reprints possible?
With the errata of silver bordered cards to Acorn cards, now not all cards released in a Un- set will be for only casual play. This change has been made for the upcoming Unfinity set, which features several cards playable in Eternal formats. The legal cards in Eternal formats do not carry the new Acorn security seal.
As a result of this errata, Wizards of the Coast has opened the possibility to reprint past cards without the new Acorn security seal, making them playable in Eternal formats. As longstanding fans of MTG’s Un- sets, the possibility of playing some cards in Eternal formats has excited us incredibly.
Thankfully, we don’t just have to speculate about which cards we’d think would make a good reprint. Fortunately, Magic: The Gathering’s head designer, Mark Rosewater, has outlined precisely what makes an Acorn card.
- Cards that don’t work within the black-border rules
- An element of “cards matter” that the black border doesn’t reference, such as flavor text
- Cards that require interacting with people outside the game
- Cards that require a physical or vocal component
- Cards that reference a state external to the game, such as being able to see something
- Cards with some effects that “just don’t feel right” in black border
Using these rules, we’ve devised a list of silver bordered cards that might be reprinted in future Un- sets. While some of these cards are weak and others are tremendously overpowered, they all adhere to the above rulings.
Released in 1998, Unglued was Magic: The Gathering’s first Un- set. As the first casual-only MTG set to be released, the design team experimented with new mechanics such as Dice rolling for the first time. This mechanic, which has since become standard legal, was joined by “cards matter” mechanics that referenced card names, flavor text, and art.
While cards such as Fowl Play have already seen mechanical reprints, new rule changes, Acorn cards, and new constructed legal mechanics open up the possibility for a lot more wackiness to finally see play.
Thanks to Stain the Mind and Infinite Obliteration, we have already seen similar mechanics to Denied! being played in constructed formats. That’s not to say Denied! is that powerful on its own. However, you’d be lucky to get your guess right without a cheeky Thoughtseize beforehand. Thanks to this drawback, Denied! might not even need to be rebalanced in a functional reprint.
Flock of Rabid Sheep
As a mechanic first printed in Mirage with Aleatory, we’re not sure why Flock of Rabid Sheep hasn’t been reprinted sooner. Admittedly, Flock of Rabid Sheep is an objectively worse White Sun’s Zenith in Green, so we’re not sure why you’d ever want to play it. Nevertheless, Flock of Rabid Sheep could easily be legal in Eternal formats if you wanted some coin-flipping shenanigans.
The Cheese Stands Alone
In Barren Glory, The Cheese Stands Alone already has an Eternal playable functional reprint. Despite this, we can’t help but want an actual reprint of this glorious cheese man. After all, nothing would be more fun than going through the ordeal of setting up Barren Glory’s win condition, only to wheel out The Cheese Stands Alone instead.
Chicken à la King
Aside from its witty reminder text, there’s nothing holding Chicken à la King back from Eternal format play. As with Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms making dice rolling a standard legal mechanic, there’s no reason for Chicken à la King to remain silver bordered. In the right dice-loaded bird tribal deck, Chicken à la King might even be decent in Commander.
B.F.M. (Big Furry Monster)
Five cards into this list and we’re already stretching the design team’s rules on just what makes an Acorn card. While B.F.M. (Big Furry Monster) being needlessly too big does stretch the rules for what feels right, this big beasty is otherwise playable, as there are a number of ways B.F.M. (Big Furry Monster) could be reprinted without being an Acorn card. A 99/99 for 15 Black mana would certainly be powerful, however, that doesn’t necessarily break the rules. Whether condensed into being a single card or kept split as a Meld card, B.F.M. (Big Furry Monster) could be distinctly playable.
In 2004, six years after Unglued, we were graced with another set of silver bordered cards. Things were considerably wackier this time as Unhinged introduced half mana symbols and new cards matter mechanics. Alongside the trademark novelty, Unhinged also included a few gems that could now lose their Acorn status.
Blast from the Past
Being loaded with mechanics might make Blast from the Past a mouthful. However, it’s not unplayable. With the ability to be helpful in a variety of circumstances, Blast from the Past is even somewhat appropriately costed. More than most cards on this list, we feel Blast from the Past is a ripe candidate for Eternal play.
In tournament conditions, where “outside the game” means your Sideboard Collector Protector is Eternal playable. While not in the original spirit of the card, this could make Collector Protector a lot of fun. Even when ignoring the Prevention effect, It’d be comical to flood your opponents with all kinds of weak sideboard trash.
Form of the Squirrel
Forget hiding behind Ghostly Prison and Propaganda; form of the Squirrel is the ultimate pillow fort strategy. Preventing you from playing spells may be a disastrous downside. However, it will at least keep you safe. Just think of Form of the Squirrel as a much, much worse Platinum Angel. One that will definitely get you killed. While you might not want to play Form of the Squirrel, it is technically playable under the design team’s rules. It’s just awful.
Goblin Secret Agent
Like Form of the Squirrel, Goblin Secret Agent could be Eternal playable but not a card you’d want to play. For three mana, a 2/2 with first strike already isn’t good, and Goblin Secret Agent just gets worse. On top of being weak, Goblin Secret Agent also randomly lets your opponent know what’s in your hand. This makes Goblin Secret Agent bad; however, being good isn’t a requirement for not being an Acorn card!
Johnny, Combo Player
Unlike the cards before it in this list, Johnny, Combo Player is a very good card. As a cheaper but more removable Ring of Three Wishes, Johnny, Combo Player is even pretty appropriately costed. In the right Commander deck alongside Training Grounds Johnny, Combo Player could even be one of the best tutors in Blue.
As a potentially very powerful card draw, Mise looks like a lot of situational fun. By requiring extra information to get the draw effect, Mise thankfully isn’t just Ancestral Recall in disguise. This makes Mise somewhat balanced and definitely Eternal playable in Brainstorm or Ponder decks.
Alongside a plethora of deservingly silver bordered cards, Unstable saw the return of dice rolling as a core mechanic. This makes several Unstable cards surprisingly playable in Eternal formats as this mechanic is now constructed legal. Alongside boring ol’ creatures like Amateur Auteur, Novellamental, and Curious Killbot Unstable is an unusually playable Un- set.
As Luck Would Have It
Now that dice rolling is constructed legal, As Luck Would Have It is essentially Helix Pinnacle but fun. While rolling dice may be harder than paying X, don’t discount As Luck Would Have It, as since rolling D20s is now common, this card can be incredibly powerful. Regardless of its power, As Luck Would Have It fits the rules for an Acorn-less reprint and could make for some fun decks.
GO TO JAIL
Similarly to Hold For Random, GO TO JAIL is Banishing Light with a downside. For only one White mana, GO TO JAIL is probably a little too good for an exact reprint. With a few changes and a less shouty name, GO TO JAIL could see Eternal play.
Hard Hat Area
Alongside the once illegal dice-rolling mechanic, Hard Hat Area also features another unique Un- set mechanic, Contraptions. With their own deck and special card back, Contraptions are a complex mechanic only otherwise seen on Steamflogger Boss. Despite this, Mark Rosewater has hinted at their return, saying, “why couldn’t casual formats make use of host/augment or contraptions? They both worked in the rules.”
Extremely Slow Zombie
Last Strike may be silly; however, it could be surprisingly balanced as a new mechanic. Working well on big Green and Black creatures, we certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see Last Strike in future sets. If this is the case, the testbed of Extremely Slow Zombie could have a home in Pauper once allowed in Eternal formats.
Sword of Dungeons & DragonsSword of Dungeons & Dragons is the card on this list most likely to get a non-Acorn reprinting. This is because it was used as an example by Mark Rosewater when outlining the rules of Acorn cards. When it was created, Sword of Dungeons & Dragons rolling a twenty-sided die, referencing a non-Magic IP, and creating a gold token made it a silver bordered card. However, this is no longer an issue.
“We’d just done the first two in a premier set, and the last could have easily been changed if we cared. It being gold was more of a joke than being necessitated by anything mechanical. Why was this off-limits to every format?” Rosewater questioned.
With Ninjitsu back in Standard, it feels right that Mary O’Kill gets a chance at Eternal play. While Mary O’Kill’s ability is significantly stronger than Ninjitsu, the mechanic to switch places isn’t itself out of place in MTG.
Featuring a lot of reprints from past Un- sets, Unsanctioned doesn’t have a vast number of new cards that aren’t typically unplayably wacky. Cards such as Paper Tiger, Rock Lobster, and Scissors Lizard may technically all be playable in Eternal formats. Still, there isn’t any reason you might want to.
B.O.B. (Bevy of Beebles)
Sporting a similar mechanic to Lolth, Spider Queen, B.O.B. (Bevy of Beebles), could be reprinted for Eternal formats. Thanks to somewhat weak loyalty abilities B.O.B. (Bevy of Beebles) wouldn’t even be too out of hand when played with Doubling Season and Parallel Lives.
With the ability to increase the die roll result, Snickering Squirrel’s effect has yet to be seen in constructed formats. Nevertheless, Snickering Squirrel offers an exciting evolution to the mechanic that guarantees more consistency to dice-rolling decks. With how sensible it seems, we’d be surprised if this effect doesn’t appear in Standard before too long. If it does, Snickering Squirrel should have an Eternal reprint too.
Originally printed all the way back in Unglued, Goblin Tutor is undeniably powerful. With the ability to tutor something from your deck for just one mana, Goblin Tutor is cost-effective no matter what it pulls up. With the downside of rolling a one, Goblin Tutor is even a balanced and viable option for Red Eternal decks. Goblin Tutor would certainly be better than Gamble and other tutor options in Red.
Timmy, Power Gamer
As an arguably worse version of Elvish Piper, there is no reason for Timmy, Power Gamer not to be legal in Eternal formats. Whether you want to play him, Timmy, Power Gamer fits the template for not being an Acorn card. When combined with Johnny, Combo Player and Training Grounsd, Timmy, Power Gamer can create some devastating combos.
Who // What // When // Where // Why
Forget, boring ol’ split cards, Who // What // When // Where // Why is the real deal. With five effects, one for each color, Who // What // When // Where // Why is powerful, but nothing beyond some complexity is stopping it from Tournament play. By being effectively costed Who // What // When // Where // Why might not require any tweaking to be reprinted.