7 Tips for Unstable Weekend

by Chapman Sim on 07 December 2017, Thursday

Chapman Sim

Preparing for Unstable Weekend


When it comes to silver-bordered sets, I don't play.

I'm in it to win it.

Sure, some of the preparation work I do might be as laughable as zombie-proofing my house, but I'll have the last laugh when I'm crushing the Unstable drafts this weekend at my local game store. Here are some extra things to bring along, as well as some precautions to take before every match of Unstable!




7. Playing around a few crucial cards.

This goes without saying, but you have to understand what to play around. As with any Limited format, you have to be careful about all the tricks, but in the world of Unstable, you have more considerations than just the instants.

Firstly, you should always pretend not to see Entirely Normal Armchair. Pay attention to the board and always be alert when Perfectly Normal Armchair enters the battlefield. Unlike Cheatyface, you can always undo it later on. Ignoring Perfectly Normal Armchair is way better than acknowledging its presence - provided that you KNOW it is on the battlefield. 


Entirely Normal Armchair


If you discover it and return it to your opponent's hand, you have to continue being wary (that can take a toll on your mental state). Your opponent will hold up two mana to activate it and you can always play around it by attacking carefully. Secondly, you can always "bounce" it before you attack and catch your opponent off guard. Imagine leaving the Armchair ignored for five to ten turns, and on the turn when you're lethal, discovering it and returning it to your opponent's hand.


The Grand Calcutron Hot Fix


You can rearrange your hand while The Grand Calcutron is on the stack. If your opponent did not arrange his hand in advance, he doesn't get a chance to do it once he passes priority to you and you acknowledge that it has resolved. For this purpose, it is also better to arrange your cards in the intended order you wish to play them - so you can say 'resolve' as quickly as possible.

Similarly, the ten seconds start as quickly as Hot Fix resolves. If you are casting Hot Fix, be sure to decide which cards you want to order them. Just like The Grand Calcutron, you can also say 'resolve' as quickly as possible and then start the timer.


Animate Library


If your opponent is playing blue, please make sure to always leave back one blocker after turn six. Animate Library is instant death, no matter how "ahead" on the board you think you are.


There is no rule against spreading out your cards wide. Also, you do not have to put your creatures next to one another. In fact, it might be in your best interest to set them as far apart from each other as possible, and possible as close to the edge of the table as possible.


Slaying Mantis


Since you cannot respond to Slaying Mantis, your best bet is to put your cards as close to the edge of the table as possible and hope your opponent ends up throwing Slaying Mantis off the table or something.

They don't get a second shot and you'll lose at most one creature from it.


6. Bring A Reliable Person Along


Gimme FiveSubcontract 
Squirrel Dealer Kindslaver Handy Dandy Clone Machine 
Better Than One Sacrifice Play


There are many cards which require you to have a competent player by your side. Imagine you casting Gimme Five and nobody at the store likes you. Or, picking out a scrub or someone who has a personal vendetta against you to help out with Subcontract or Kindslaver and end up with a bunch of wrong moves. Squirrel Deal is a great deal if you get two 1/1 bodies but utterly horrible if you don't find someone who likes Squirrels.

There's also Better Than One in the format, and you need to find someone - in a timely fashion - who is willing to aid you. If you happen to also have Handy Dandy Clone Machine, you're glad to have a couple of 'minions' to lend you some hands so you can make more than just one 2/2 token. The card doesn't say it has to be your hand or your fingers.



5. Go to the dollar store and buy a few things in advance.


If you're bespectacled, you're good. However, if you have great or perfect eyesight, you might want to consider bringing along a pair of glasses. Against an opponent not wearing glasses, Blurry Beeble is like a Slither Blade on steroids. Your opponent could be clawing his way out of a mulligan or land screw situation as early as turn two, and the Beeble will chip away at your life total as it sculpts your opponent's hand. There are plenty of nonprescription clear glasses or party favors available for a dollar or two.


Blurry Beeble Hazmat Suit (Used) Skull Saucer

While you're shopping there, remember to grab a pair of rubber/plastic gloves too, because Hazmat Suit (Used) is in the format. You can also buy a little mirror in case your head is stuck on the table - due to Skull Saucer - and you need to take a look at the battlefield.

I will also buy some candy and other things to bribe convince my opponent's friends to make decisions in my favor. For example, if I am attacking with a 5/5 and a 1/1 and my opponent casts Sacrifice Play, I can offer some candy to the person my opponent chooses in the hopes that I might change his decision. I don't know if that constitutes towards "outside assistance" or "bribery/collusion". All I'm doing is handing candy out and smiling at him/her while a spell is on the stack.

So... glasses, gloves, mirror, candy. Good to have.




4. Decide what word and letter you'll be using.


Hangman Staff of the Letter Magus


You don't want to waste too much time thinking of a word as you summon Hangman Staff of the Letter Magusand  so you should probably decide ahead of time to avoid any slow play warnings.

Check out this fascinating Hangman article which briefly summarizes the Hangman metagame.


3. Remember to take all your cards back!


Five-Finger Discount Spy Eye


There are some cards which allow your opponents to put your cards into their hands - and then cast them! Always remember also to count your deck before you leave the table, just in case you arrive for your next match with an incomplete deck.

For over two decades, players have consistently been forgetting to reclaim their lost cards which were targeted by Control MagicBlatant Thievery, Oblivion RingDuplicant, and god knows what!


There's also X, that little thief!





2. Bring an extra booster along.


Summon the Pack


According to Frank Karsten's article, Legions, Alara Reborn, and Mirrodin Besieged are the best boosters for Summon the Pack. However, you can always just bring along some spare boosters from Ixalan or Amonkhet since they are also pretty good bets. This is a table of Frank's findings for the seven best boosters to bring along this weekend - in case you do get a chance to cast Summon the Pack:




1. Bring some extra cards along.

Selfie Preservation


You need to do some prep work for Selfie Preservation. As a common, this situation might come up more often than not. You should bring along at least one or two basic lands of each type where the artwork has a tree in it. It is possible that you might splash a third or fourth color in your Augment / Host decks since some combinations are truly insane. Half Shark, Half  is really worth a splash.

Spike, Tournament Grinder 

More importantly, there's Spike, Tournament Grinder. You don't want to be caught without reinforcements if you do get a chance to open it in your Sealed Deck or Booster Draft. The card is bonkers! You check a complete list of banned cards here. Just to highlight the best goodies, you can bring along:


Smuggler's Copter


Deathrite Shaman Dread Return

  • Deathrite Shaman is not bad, since you can always pay some mana/life and then cast it on the same turn. After that, you'll be able to gain back some life or use it to "splash" some other cards if you somehow get a land in your graveyard. It's also a win condition.

  • Dread Return is banned in Modern which makes it a legal card to find with Spike Tournament Grinder. If your opponent somehow kills it, you can always look for Dread Return to bring it back again. This also means that Spike, Tournament Grinder cannot be killed (it needs to be exiled).

Jace, the Mind Sculptor Ancestral Recall Contract from Below


So, I will be bringing my set of Power Nine (Collector's Edition). It falls into the category of "card you own", "from outside the game", as well as "banned or restricted in a Constructed format". My opponent's won be happy but I'll let the head judge of the event decide when the matter arises.





So, don't mess with me this weekend. Have a great Unstable weekend. =)


The Traveling Philosopher,
Chapman Sim

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