Thanks to its lengthy delay from April 1, we’ve had a lot of time to sit and stew on what Magic: The Gathering’s newest parody set, Unfinity, has to offer. First came the news that some cards would be legal in wider Magic, a first for Un-sets, and the community lost its mind, clutched its pearls, and waited for the next shoe to drop.
That came at San Diego Comic Con earlier this year, when head designer Mark Rosewater unveiled that stickers would be one of the set’s major mechanics. Peeling them off and sticking them onto cards to change everything from their names and abilities to if they’re wearing a hat or not. And, worst of all for some, these were going to be eternal legal. Stickers. In mainstream Magic. The absolute horror.
While the community’s been mithering about stickers, a bigger problem has arisen from the depths of the Unfinity preview season. Everyone got so focused on the silly little stickers that they’ve missed the massive roller coaster barrelling down the tracks toward them. It isn’t the stickers you should be worrying about, it’s Attractions.
I’ve already set out how I think stickers are actually a good thing for Magic. They fill a large hole in the current rules and allow modifiers for cards to stay as they move between zones, unlike counters. I’m not big on the carnival aesthetic of them – paying tickets to do it feels like it curtails future use in non-carnival-based sets – but they have huge potential for future development.
But more than having potential, there’s zero chance stickers are going to have an impact on the eternal formats. You’re required to have ten different sticker cards and pick three at random, and with each sticker being unique there’s no way to make the mechanic anywhere near consistent enough for the likes of Vintage and Legacy. The only places you’re likely to see it are in specifically-tailored Commander decks, where most other unsupported mechanics go.
Attractions, on the other hand, have already proven themselves to be the hidden powerhouses of the set. Attractions are a new extra deck mechanic, working similarly to older Un-set’s Contraptions. Whenever a card has you open an Attraction, you reveal the top card of your Attraction deck and put it onto the battlefield. Then, at the beginning of your first main phase, you roll a six-sided dice. If the result is any of the numbers highlighted on an Attraction, its ability triggers.
Ignoring the Un-set-only Acorn cards, there are some terrifying effects here. Hall of Mirrors can turn every creature you control into something even worse, Pick-a-Beeble can make up to thirteen Treasure tokens in just two turns, and Merry-Go-Round might as well just make all your creatures unblockable for all the play horsemanship normally sees. These effects are made even better with the low cost of getting Attractions into play – you could get these into play for as low as one mana with a “Lifetime” Pass Holder.
There are ways to play Attractions wholesomely, to be sure. They’re decent effects that you could luck out and get once in a while, and a good time for all can be had. But when you’re playing an eternal format like Vintage, Legacy, or Commander, ‘wholesome’ doesn’t cut it.
The Attractions themselves aren’t necessarily the problematic part. You can fudge them with Barbarian Class, Pixie Guide, and Wyll, Blade of Frontiers to reduce your chance of a critical failure, and there there are also plenty of other synergies like Brazen Dwarf, Vrondiss, and Vexing Puzzlebox to build around. It’s spicy, but it isn’t breaking.
The bigger problem is it’s clear that Unfinity wasn’t designed with the d20 rolling of Adventures In the Forgotten Realms and Battle For Baldur’s Gate in mind, and a lot of the cards meant to support Attractions in Unfinity become a whole magnitude scarier when played with d20s. Monoxa, Midway Manager is intended to be played with a six-sided dice, meaning you’d need to hit the highest result to give it first strike, menace, and lifelink. But if you have any way of rolling a d20 – of which there are many –, the probability of maxing her out increases from 16 percent to 70. Other cards in the set are also terrifyingly powerful in a d20-filled environment, like Monitor Monitor giving you another free reroll, and Priority Boarding allowing you to exile and cast virtually any spell.
While it’s hard to argue that Attractions are going to be a ‘broken’ mechanic like storm or companions, it’s tough to deny that they provide value in too many areas simultaneously. Their effects are great, they bolster dice-rolling decks a lot, and they’re even artifacts for Affinity and artifact-heavy decks to play with. There’s spice, and then there’s ‘just too much’. Attractions have slipped under the gaze of the Magic community as they faff about with piddly little stickers instead.
NEXT: Magic: The Gathering Unfinity Previews – Day Six Roundup