With Unstable, Contraptions are a big deal. If Wizards of the Coast is going to have Contraption decks as part of the set, then you know Contraptions are going to be big. Now if you have Contraptions, you are going to need ways to assemble them. We know that Riggers are going to be involved, because if you are going to do all of this for Steamflogger Boss, then you know Riggers are going to be involved. But it turns out that Riggers aren't the only ones working hard to assemble Contraptions. Sometimes, you need to Work a Double to make it happen.
Now, I don't know how many Contraptions go into a Contraption deck (this article was written before the rules article from Wizards of the Coast was published), but I do know that putting two of them out at once has to be twice as good as putting one out! I love the idea of piles of Contraptions stacked on Sprockets like some Rube Goldberg machine. This is going to be simply amazing!
NOTE: Unstable games are going to involved two libraries, two graveyards, and a Sprocket card that will need enough room for three stacks of cards. I'll be looking to set up my library and graveyard on one side of my play mat, with the Contraption deck and Sprocket card on the other. Keep your battlefield organized and your games will be far more fun for you and your opponents!
What does this card say about Unstable generally and Contraptions as a whole? Consider the mana cost of the card. Four mana isn't cheap. You are looking at a draft game and Work a Double can't be cast until turn four at the earliest. We know that you activate Contraptions on your upkeep, so this card won't let you crank a Contraption until your fifth upkeep. If Wizards thinks this is a balanced card and you can't activate a Contraption until your fifth turn with this card, just imagine how powerful Contraptions must be!
We already know that you will only be cranking Contraptions on every third upkeep, which means that with Work a Double, the Contraptions you assemble are going to crank on the fifth and eighth turn! This suggests to me that Contraptions are either going to be amazing or games are going to go long.
I wish I could see more Contraptions to get a better sense of things.
First off, I want to say I love the idea that the art stretches right to the edge of the card. I understood a black border back when printing issues meant that the cards weren't always centered. You wanted the board so a part of the card wasn't cut off. That is rarely an issue now, so getting the art right off the edge of the card seems like a great idea to me!
As far as the card itself, Contraptions seem to underwhelm. You read the card and the ability of the card isn't mind-blowing, but we need to remember three things:
- This isn't taking up a card in your deck. You are still getting all sorts of awesome in your deck, and this is an added bonus. Think of the activated ability on an already good creature. This is straight bonus with no cost of a card.
- There is no mana cost. You aren't paying to get the ability or paying for the artifact. This is free. Crank the Contraption, target player loses three life. This is straight-up free.
- You get to do this again and again! Every time that sprocket is cranked, Division Table gives you a gift. And you had to do nothing. Untap, Upkeep and boom, your opponent is down life.
So, this doesn't use up a card, costs nothing and is repeatable. Suddenly what seemed like a minor ability is starting to look pretty awesome!
I think Division Table is pretty cool, but I am sort of wondering just how Un- the flavor is on the card. Where is the randomness or crazy that we've seen with previous Un- sets? So much of what appeals to be about Un- sets is the unpredictability of the cards. Where is that?
Boom, here it is! Some basic math tells us that this card isn't as good as Division Table. On average, Boomflinger is going to do less damage that Division Table, but tell me you aren't more excited about this card! Every time I crank this card I'll be rolling one die at a time. Every time I roll a 1 or a 6, the excitement is going to go way up at the chance of hitting for five damage. Every time you straight up whiff and hit for nothing your opponent will be doing a little dance in their chair. Boomflinger is going to bring the crazy moment when you steal victory doing 10 damage or shake your head over your bad luck in whiffing on consecutive attempts. This is going to be awesome!
I'm clearly becoming a big fan of the Goblin Explosioneers. The little logo in the bottom right represents a faction. That logo is for the Explosioneers. I hope this means that we can expect all kinds of boom or bust options from the goblins!
These are pretty cool Contraptions, and these are only the common ones! I'm betting the uncommon and rare ones are only going to be even better! Since there is no mana cost, a rare Contraption isn't going to be better by being cheaper, it pretty much could only be better by… being better!
Oh my! Contraptions just got real. This card interacts with the rest of the battlefield. Your direct damage spells do double. The power on all your creatures is doubled. And this doesn't mean that only combat damage is doubled. Everything is doubled.
While the Division Table doesn't deal damage, the Boomflinger does, and yes, Contraptions are a source you control. Boomflinger now has the chance to do 10 damage in a single turn. Talk about winning games out of nowhere!
While I understand that Unstable is an Un set, I am going to be briefly mention strategy here. With three sprockets you'll be trying to decide whether to put Contraptions on every sprocket in the hopes of capitalizing on something every upkeep, or loading up a single sprocket in the hopes of that one big boom! I can't tell you what the right option is. There may be ways for you or an opponent to destroy all the Contraptions on a single sprocket, so loading up would be a bad play, but if you know you have Dual Doomsuits in your Contraption deck, not loading up a single sprocket to take advantage of the doubling aspect just seem ridiculous. I know, this means only getting a big hit every third upkeep, and that could be dangerous since you have to live that long just to make it happen, however, this is Unstable. There is probably going to be a card that lets you move the CRANK! counter on your turn so you'll hit it more often. That just makes sense, right?
If you were concerned that Unstable was going to be a completely random game with few ways for you to control what was happening, Clock of DOOOOOOOOOOOOM! offers you relief. The strategy aspect can really play a role with Clock of DOOOOOOOOOOOOM! in play. I can put Division Table on Sprocket 2 and Boomflinger and Dual Doomsuits on Sprocket 3. When I'm sitting on Sprocket 1 for my turn, I can wait patiently until the end of my opponent's turn, then activate Clock of DOOOOOOOOOOOOM! and hit them for two. On my upkeep, I move the CRANK! counter to the next sprocket and crank the Dual Doomsuits and Boomflinger. I roll the dice and get a five and a two for three damage, doubled to six by the Doomsuits. Then I can do my attack and really punish my opponents with my 3/3 and 2/2 creatures threatening to do 10 total damage.
Clock of DOOOOOOOOOOOOM! also allows you to crank Contraptions during your turn or an opponent's turn, so there is always a threat of something happening! While the cost seems high, without knowing how the rest of the set will play out, four mana to move the CRANK! counter may prove to be a good deal! Right now, the only thing I don't like about Clock of DOOOOOOOOOOOOM! are the 12 O's in the name! For the writer, that got old fast!
In the end, there are plenty of unknowns about Contraptions in Unstable. How many will you draft? How long will games go? How often are you likely to crank a Contraption in a game? Naturally, the answers to these questions go a long way to determining if these cards are going to be meh, average or amazing! Given the cards we've seen today, I'm expecting plenty of fun Contraptions getting cranked all the time. I hope you find an Unstable release and build some crazy Contraptions leading to insane games!