When Magic: The Gathering releases the intentionally over-the-top Unfinity set in April 2022, players will find the edges of cards may differ from past printings. The traditional silver borders will be replaced with an acorn-shaped security stamp to denote cards not legal in casual formats.
Head designer Mark Rosewater explained the decision in a Nov. 29th blog post, saying he and the design team discovered “over half the cards’ in the upcoming outer space-meets-carnival set could slot right into the current shape of casual MTG, but their silvered edges meant most players would likely not bring them to the kitchen table.
Un-sets, which are often rife with jokes, metatextual references and buckwild interactions, have used the silver border to tell players at a glance whether or not a card is meant for ‘eternal’ formats, such as Commander, Legacy and Pauper. The solution was to eschew silver borders going forward in favour of a security stamp in the shape of an acorn - an homage to squirrels’ unofficial mascot status in the goofy sets.
This isn’t the first time publisher Wizards of the Coast has changed the little holo stamp at the bottom of cards as a way to solve questions of legality. The company’s new Universes Beyond imprint features triangles, while the standard sets use ovals. Rosewater said this solution will allow the Unfinity and future non-core sets to combine those cards that break normal design rules with those that fit the flavour but are otherwise playable in the game’s most popular formats.
The article contained a promotional image of the reprinted card Water Gun Balloon Game adorned with a classic oval instead of the new acorn shape. Rosewater later tweeted that this was an error, but it does highlight a potential issue with the procedure that members of the community have already echoed. A tiny stamp at the bottom of a card is much less noticeable than a silver border, opening the possibility for casual players to completely miss the distinction.
Elsewhere in the article, Rosewater premiered three different series of full, extended art land cards that Unfinity will contain. The planetary “space-ic” lands showcase fantastical vistas of alien planets aligned with MTG’s five Mana colours, while the orbital “space-ic” lands do the same but with art of full planets and other celestial bodies. Both sets were illustrated by Adam Paquette and are, frankly, extremely beautiful. Full art land cards have long been a favourite embellishment in the game’s community, and these really sell Unfinity’s outlandish sci-fi setting.
The last land series are the ten dual-coloured ‘shock lands’ originally printed in the original Ravnica block, which have become mainstays in most formats and popular targets of reprints ever since. Thus called because they require the player to pay two life in order to play them untapped, the double distinctions (Island Swamp or Mountain Plains, for example) make them versatile additions that can tap for either source of coloured Mana. Their art, done by Chris Ostrowski, are another range of alien vistas with a spacecraft puttering somewhere in the composition.
All three treatments will be included in draft boosters and collector boosters for Unfinity, which is set to release on April 1st, 2022. More information, including the major mechanics, will come closer to release, and it’s not yet clear whether Magic Arena players can expect to see the set or the special art treatments in a digital form.