Best Budget Casual Silver-Bordered Cards: Artifacts

By Puggernaut

The time is perfect for collecting spicy cards from the Unglued and Unhinged sets. Unstable looming over the horizon means there will soon be increased interest in silver-bordered deliciousness. Which means you can grab the goodies from the other Un-sets before they become good trade bait.

But rather than waste your time with all the random bulk (I’m calling you out, Little Girl and Paper Tiger), you can target the cards that will bring fun to your gaming group. Fortunately, many of the silver-bordered cards are low in value. You don’t have to aim for expensive charmers like Blacker Lotus or Super Secret Tech, since there’s plenty of fun all around both sets.


Let’s start off by examining what artifacts worth less than $2 can bring some fun to your games.

Bronze Calendar starts out our year with two great effects. First, you get cost reduction for everything, without restrictions such as spell color or card type. This is especially nice with artifacts, which can’t take advantage of many of these narrower cards. Bronze Calendar also brings in the silliness by requiring you to speak in a different voice. If you want to be a min-maxer, just whisper. But if you really want to have a blast, bring an entertaining character to the group. Just maybe not Elmo or Jar Jar.

My First Tome rewards the Vorthos player, since if you’re a Vorthos, you’ll be delighted to dig up the really obscure flavor text on cards. What could be better than getting to do some game-related flavor text digging?!? Oh, that’s right, drawing cards cheap. A tome that costs 3 and can snag you a guaranteed card (for those sneaky Vorthos players) for only 1 is an absolute powerhouse! Even better, it’s worth well under $1.

The uses of Hot Tub in Unhinged
The different uses of Hot Tub in Unhinged

Urza’s Hot Tub is one of the most underrated cards of all the Un-sets! This sweet tutor can be instrumental to your deck when used correctly. First, let’s consider pitching a card to search for itself, in the event of reanimator or Eternalize strategies. Yes, pitch an Adorned Pouncer to fetch for another, and now you’re ready to roll with an Eternalized kitty. Second is the obvious use in tribal decks where you’re guaranteed to have locations, tribes, species, or other proper nouns in the card names. The easiest are Slivers, but Goblins, Elves, and Zombies also share similar commonalities in naming. It’s so much fun to pitch something like a lowly Metallic Sliver and get the return of a Sliver Hivelord. The third strategic use of the hot tub is as a toolbox effect, searching for a card with common words like “the” or “of.” Did you have an extra land fetch card like Seek the Wilds and need a combat trick? Pitch it for Might of the Masses. Or have that Might but need to take out critical cards? Go in search of something like Watchers of the Dead or Appetite for the Unnatural. This brings less silliness to the table, but it certainly rewards the Vorthos who’s clever with the card names, or the Johnny who min-maxes the words.

Giant Fan is so much more than the suboptimal version of Power Conduit that it appears to be. Priced at just under $1, you can pick up this thing as a political powerhouse. First thing to notice is this thing can deposit counters on more than artifacts and creatures, references their own counters, and isn’t limited to your own permanents. This puts you in the center of political favoritism and punishment in a group game, since you remove age counters from a Glacial Chasm to put loyalty counters on a Garruk Relentless, or vice versa. You can even scheme with or against the users of Undying or Persist creatures. The uses go on for days.

Clay Pigeon is a nice way to show off your dexterity skills and have an all-around Circle of Protection for everything. As long as you can catch the little critter, you’re protected. Sure, this makes it a target of removal spells, but you can have some fun in the meantime. To bring the silliness back into the action, practice some spin and throw tricks with flare and entertainment value. Yes, I’m fond of entertainment value, which is why I’m a fan of Emcee, but that’s a tangent for a later article.

Water Gun Balloon Game is absolute silliness in a small package. For pure strategic value, this card is best in a duel where you can crank out small spells like Lotus Petal or Soul-Scar Mage. But if you want to maximize the silliness and fun value, ditch the weenie deck, use this in multiplayer, and watch the free-for-all ensue. Players will race to be the next one to win a Giant Teddy Bear token! This is a group hug gone wacko in the very best way. I’d say it’s well worth consideration, even as the most expensive card on this list at under $2.

Time Machine can be a political metagame card. You can send a Kami of the Crescent Moon or a Magus of the Vineyard to the next game, either to enjoy it there while the current game is about to end, or to stifle an opponent who is being less appreciative than they should. Or, you can use it to send some utility to the future, or some other type of group hug card to guarantee another trigger in the next game, such as Iwamori of the Open Fist (who is also an amazing budget card!) and get everyone excited. The best thing about the Time Machine is it keeps going once you use it. You only cast it once, and then you keep getting it back in every subsequent game if you play your politics right. Sounds like the perfect card for an all-nighter!

The uses of Mana Screw in Unhinged
Get gaggles of glimmering bling for gambling goodness gone gonzo!

Mana Screw is the bane of each and every Magic player, but the card version at least lets you gamble. That’s perfectly in flavor for the game, since everything is so RNG heavy. I’ve been a fan of sub-gambles in Magic since I saw my first coin-flipping cards, Mijae Djinn and Bottle of Suleiman. You could go around trying to fix things with Goblin Bookie or Krark’s Thumb, but you’re already at 50% odds. The restriction to instant timing is no problem at all, since you could use this to boost yourself into a large spell like Fact or Fiction on turn two, or a colossal X spell like Comet Storm faster than you should be able. Whatever your gambling heart desires, Mana Screw is willing to tempt you.

Chaos Confetti is the final card on the list, at around 50 cents. It is certainly a political card, and rewards you for dexterity practice. You get to go to 11 in the Derium impression as you both flip it and rip it (from a distance of five feet). Yes, it can get messy, but that’s part of the charm. Unlike Blacker Lotus, you can afford to rip apart one of these cards with the current price tag. The destruction of a card, especially one almost twenty years old, might seem unappealing, but that’s part of the charm of the confetti. There aren’t likely to be cards this strange in the new Unstable set, so why not go retro, literally destructive, and bizarre all at the same time as you prepare for that December release?

The small size of the Un-sets means that there were few total artifacts. Fortunately, we’ll soon explore the more plentiful and colorful offerings. Join us next time for the exploration of blue Magic with a silver coat.

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