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How MAGIC: THE GATHERING’s Latest Set Will Break All the Rules (Exclusive)

How MAGIC: THE GATHERING’s Latest Set Will Break All the Rules (Exclusive)

There’s a legend of a Magic: The Gathering card so broken, it had to be banned after a player figured out how to best use it. The legend goes that during the finals of a tournament, a player seeing no way out of a dire situation decided to take Chaos Orb — a card that asks you to drop it from a height onto other cards on the playing surface to “destroy” them — rip it up into little pieces, and sprinkle those pieces onto the table. It was a ridiculous play, but a legal one. So tall a tale was this performance that MTG‘s first “un-set,” a set designed to bend all the rules, included a card, Chaos Confetti, asking you to mimic the move.

It’s been 13 years since the release of the last un-set, and the rules of the most popular trading card game in the world have evolved quite a bit in the interim. It’s time again to get twisted in a way that only a game pitting faeries against goblins and dragons can do. MTG‘s Unstable drops in just weeks, but we have an exclusive card reveal from the set:

“A lot of the reasons we don’t do something are because we have a very tight rules system due to the importance of exactness in tournament play,” MTG‘s lead designer Mark Rosewater told Nerdist. But in an un-set not meant for the convention center battlefields, developers have a lot more space to play around, Rosewater says.

“The Un-sets are designed for the players that lean towards the fun side of the spectrum (with seriousness being on the other end), people who enjoy the experience more so than the competition.”

And experience players of Unstable are bound to have. The set exists on a mad scientist steampunk world of five factions: the Order of the Widget, the Agents of S.N.E.A.K., the League of Dastardly Doom, the Goblin Explosioneers, and Crossbreed Labs. There’s a cyborg steampunk angel and a card that actually lets you play “Hangman.” It only gets weirder from there.

“Un-sets are difficult to make, but very fun. It’s neat as a designer to stretch what is allowed. We also think of the Un-sets as experiments where we can play around with the future of Magic. There are things we did in Unstable that are currently off the table for normal sets but possibly in five or ten years, as the boundaries expand, won’t be,” Rosewater explains.

“There are numerous things that first appeared in an Un-set that are now just a part of normal Magic.”

But will players be getting anything as ridiculous as Chaos Confetti ever again? Rosewater holds those cards close to his chest. “There are some pretty ridiculous cards in Unstable, but ones that push into different areas that are currently taboo in normal Magic.”

Unstable will be available at your local card shop December 8th. And holy crap do I want those basic lands.

Images: Wizards of the Coast

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