Unfinity is the first so-called Un-set to feature brand new Eternal legal cards. While many of them are designed to keep them away from competitive formats and instead are intended to inject more whimsy into social play, it remains a Magic set with Eternal legal cards and as such merits examination through the competitive lens.
This is going to be an interesting exercise. Part of this is because Attractions – a key component of Unfinity – are not legal in Pauper. An Attraction deck needs to have 10 cards and there are only eight common Attractions. In other words, until there are more Attractions, there is no way to legally have these cards played in games of competitive Pauper.
This in turn brings us to Stickers. Stickers are… a thing. I’ll be honest when I say I haven’t fully wrapped my head around them other than they are a variety of counters that impact the abilities of the… stickered… permanent. Part of the reason I have not put too much brain power into figuring these cards out is because of the variance involved. With a pile of sticker cards, you’re never certain what abilities and opportunities are going to show up. In a format where the margins for error are rather thin, leaving cards up to the chance of a sticker stack is a bit of a big ask.
The two sticker cards that stand out are Wizards of the ________ and _______ Goblin. Considering the average number of vowels available on a name sticker is around four, these creatures can play at a rate consistent with their mana value. Even then, the issue remains that you do not know what you’re doing to get. Pauper is full of high variance cards – Stone Rain is pretty bad against the indestructible Bridges, for example – but that’s a deck construction choice. Putting additional variance into your deck for otherwise mediocre creatures does not seem like a solid choice. _______ Goblin may prove to be the exception since it’s more likely than not to be mana positive – generate more mana than it costs – meaning it can slot into pseudo-Storm decks with ease. Even then, I don’t think the creature is better than the similarly costed Seething Song, which sees almost no play.
There are cards in Unfinity that are just plain old good and, aside from the veneer of humor, pack a wallop. We can start with Clowning Around. I know I just went off on how too much variance is not desirable in a competitive setting, but Clowning Around has a very reasonable floor. Two 1/1 artifact creatures for two mana is valuable, especially in a format where metalcraft, affinity and Deadly Dispute all see heavy play. That this occasionally spikes into a third token is gravy but adds to the strength of the card. Kuldotha Rebirth is a common sight these days and between Guardians’ Pledge and Rally the Peasants, there is plenty of incentive to go wide. If you want to go hard on the Clown Robots you can attempt Irregular Cohort to increase your odds of a beneficial roll of the die.
Chicken Troupe is a bear with the set’s mechanics and even though it talks about stickers, I want to evaluate it as a 2/2 with ward 2. Ward has proven to be a very nice take on shroud and hexproof. That this creature comes with some baked-in protection and the potential for some real upside means it could find a home in Bogles decks. If tickets – which you can use to acquire stickers – are good enough, stacking a Bogles deck with Chicken Troupe could provide some additional stats for a deck that is normally filled with rather anemic 1/1s. Even so, I would be fine with a somewhat better Humble Budoka carrying an Ancestral Mask and Armadillo Cloak, even if it wasn’t a rather resplendent Bird.
The last card I want to spend time on today is Embiggen. Did you know that the addition of the Phyrexian creature type has added a type to several creatures from Magic‘s past, and did you also know several of these have the infect mechanic? Embiggen gives Glistener Elf and Ichorclaw Myr +4/+4, while cards like Blight Mamba and Blighted Agent merely get +3/+3. Infect is a deck that crops up from time to time but struggles to put up big results. Will Embiggen change that?
I’m not sure. The issue with Infect has never been the pump spells, but rather the resiliency of its threats. The deck has to walk a fine line between creatures and enhancements and unlike its Modern and Legacy counterparts, it lacks Inkmoth Nexus as an additional threat. Embiggen follows in the footsteps of Might of Old Krosa in giving another above-rate pump spell, but until there is an infect creature that survives a stiff breeze, the dream will remain just that.
Unfinity is trying something new. It’s taking a set with the window dressing of humor and gives it access to tournament legal cards. The intent behind this shift from silver border to black border/acorn stamp is, in my opinion, good. Breaking down the barriers that stop different people from potentially playing with each other – facilitating the Rule Zero conversation in social formats – is a good thing. Where Unfinity falls flat for me as a tournament set is the amount of additional stuff it brings to the table (quite literally). In addition to potentially needing an Attraction deck, you also need to bring a pile of stickers. Personally, this is a lot of material to be carrying around. At the same time, I know I’m not the target audience for this product and instead I can focus on the handful of cards that may matter to my style of play. Is the acorn marker the best solution to the potential problem of Un? Of that, I’m unsure, but I for one am interested in trying to Embiggen some Phyrexians and making my opponents rather sick. How about you?