Unstable is a small set with 60 commons, 60 uncommons, 35 rares, 10 mythic rares, 45 contraptions, five basic lands, and one special black-bordered card. Some of the cards have multiple variations. The number of rares and mythic rares is the same as small sets prior to Oath of the Gatewatch, but smaller than contemporary small sets. Foil cards are included in booster packs with advertised odds of 1 : 67 cards. The set was printed in the USA.

Unstable was sold in 15 card booster packs (which contain an additional token card). Booster boxes have 36 packs.

Pack Anatomy

Unstable uses sequential collation. The runs tend to have 50 cards. I theorize that this reflects the use of 10 × 10 sheets divided into top and bottom halves. The unusual sheet size may be related to gutter cutting, a manufacturing technique that allows card art to extend to the edge of the card. [1]

Packs have back-facing cards with 8 commons, 3 uncommons, a rare, a basic land, 2 contraptions, and a token card. If there is a foil, it will displace a common. Foils can appear in two different positions. Foil commons, uncommons, and basic lands appear between the uncommons and the rare. Foil contraptions and rares (possibly excluding Steamflogger Boss) appear between the land and contraptions. If Steamflogger Boss appears, it will replace the basic land slot, not the rare slot.

8 Commons3 Uncommons1 Rare1 Land2 Contraptions1 Token
8 Commons3 Uncommons1 Foil1 Rare1 Land2 Contraptions1 Token
8 Commons3 Uncommons1 Rare1 Land1 Foil2 Contraptions1 Token

There are four common runs: A, B, C1, and C2. Half of packs have A-B-C1, and half have A-B-C2. Runs A and B each have 25 distinct cards. There cards in these runs are repeated twice to give length 50 runs. There is some overlap between runs C1 and C2, but C1 has a length of 50, and C2 has length 32. Between these two runs, all the commons with multiple variations appear with each variation repeated twice. The few additional cards in the run are each repeated eight times. For these purposes, Curious Killbot, Delighted Killbot, Despondent Killbot, and Enraged Killbot are treated as four variations of the same card.

It is possible that A and B are printed on the top and bottom halves of the same sheet and C1 and C2 are pritned on the top and bottom halves of another sheet. These sheets would be printed in an 4 : 1 ratio to ensure all cards are equally common (although Secret Base which has five variations instead of four is in some sense overprinted).

C1 packs have 3-4 A cards, 3-4 B cards, and 1-2 C1 cards. This means packs can be 4-3-1, 3-4-1, or 3-3-2. C2 packs have 3-4 A cards, 3-4 B cards, and always 1 C2 card. So, C2 packs can be 4-3-1, and 3-4-1. In some boxes, A and B are reversed with B cards appearing first, followed by A cards. (Hence, the A and B labels are arbitrary.)


When a foil appears in a pack, it will displace a common card. My information here is probably incomplete, but I believe foil commons and uncommons appear in C2 packs and displace a common of whichever of A or B is first in the pack, and foil contraptions and rares appear in C1 packs and displace a common of whichever of A or B is second in the pack. I'm not sure about foil lands (or Steamflogger Boss). I think that nothing displaces C commons. There is also some evidence that the foil commons with variations are printed on a different sheet than the other foil commons.

There are three uncommon runs: A, B, and C. Run A has 10 distinct cards including the three uncommons that have 6 variations. It's possible that A is further split into A1 and A2, but I don't have enough information yet. Runs B and C each have 25 distinct cards each appearing twice. Packs can either have one of each, or no A cards with an extra B or C. A always appears first. B and C can appear in either order (independently of the common A and B order), but the order will be consistent within the same box. Mathematically, A cards should appear exact half of packs. This bears out empirically.

There are probably three contraption runs: a common run, an uncommon run, and a rare run. (I haven't calculated the rare run yet, so it is a little bit uncertain, but the sheet math works out well.) The common run contains 10 common contraptions each five times. The uncommon run contains all 15 uncommon contraptions each repeated twice plus the remaining 5 common contraptions each repeated four times. I speculate that the rare run contains each rare contraption four times and each mythic rare contraption twice (which gives another 50 card run). The first contraption in the pack will be from the rare run or uncommon run. The second contraption will be from the common run, or if the first contraption was rare, it may be from the uncommon run. Rares appear 2/5 of the time. Contraptions from the uncommon run appear the other 3/5 of the time in the first slot plus half the time there is a rare in the first slot for a total of 4/5. This means that commons from the uncommon run are 4/5 short-printed compared to other common contraptions.

There are 10 foil tokens and 10 non-foil tokens. These are assumed to be printed on two different sheets. Each set of tokens has its own 10 card sequence, and these sequences alternate. So, it appears that all 20 tokens are equally rare.

Common Runs

The A common run consists of 25 different cards each appearing twice. These cards are white, blue, and green. The choice of first card is mostly arbitrary.

Joyride RiggerOrdinary PonyDefective DetectiveEager BeaverOld GuardWall of FortuneGround PounderNumbing JellyfishReally Epic PunchHumming-
Blurry BeebleWild CrocodileChivalrous ChevalierMulti-HeadedTime OutShaggy CamelWilling Test SubjectMother KangarooRiveting RiggerMer Man
Squirrel DealerAdorable KittenMagic WordJoyride RiggerSuccess!Crafty OctopusGround PounderOld GuardBlurry BeebleMulti-Headed
Ordinary PonyWall of FortuneEager BeaverChivalrous ChevalierNumbing JellyfishReally Epic PunchHumming-Defective DetectiveSquirrel DealerShaggy Camel
Magic WordWild CrocodileSuccess!Mer ManWilling Test SubjectAdorable KittenTime OutMother KangarooRiveting RiggerCrafty Octopus

The B common run consists of 25 different cards each appearing twice. These cards are mostly black and red.

Spell SuckStinging ScorpionWrench-RiggerSelfie Preservationcapital offenseJust DessertsSubcontractBumbling PangolinSteady-Handed MookHammer Helper
GO TO JAILBig Boa ConstrictorIt That Gets Left HangingChipper ChopperFinders, KeepersFeisty StegosaurusHazmat Suit (Used)PainiacSnickering SquirrelWork a Double
Sacrifice PlayDirty RatBox of Free-Range GoblinsSpell SuckHoisted HirelingCommon Iguanacapital offenseWrench-RiggerStinging ScorpionIt That Gets Left Hanging
Selfie PreservationSubcontractBumbling PangolinGO TO JAILFinders, KeepersJust DessertsBig Boa ConstrictorHammer HelperSteady-Handed MookFeisty Stegosaurus
Chipper ChopperHoisted HirelingPainiacSacrifice PlayDirty RatWork a DoubleHazmat Suit (Used)Common IguanaSnickering SquirrelBox of Free-Range Goblins

The C1 common run contains cards that have multiple variations and colorless cards. Between C1 and C2, each variation occurs twice, and each other card appears eight times.

Gnome-Made EngineBeast in Show (D)Delighted KillbotMad Science Fair ProjectSecret Base (C)Voracious VacuumBeast in Show (C)Novellamental (C)Secret Base (A)Mad Science Fair Project
Novellamental (D)Beast in Show (A)Gnome-Made EngineSecret Base (B)Curious KillbotNovellamental (B)Voracious VacuumDelighted KillbotBeast in Show (B)Secret Base (D)
Gnome-Made EngineNovellamental (A)Despondent KillbotMad Science Fair ProjectSecret Base (E)Voracious VacuumBeast in Show (D)Target Minotaur (D)Novellamental (C)Gnome-Made Engine
Beast in Show (C)Enraged KillbotMad Science Fair ProjectSecret Base (C)Novellamental (D)Voracious VacuumSecret Base (A)Beast in Show (A)Despondent KillbotGnome-Made Engine
Secret Base (B)Curious KillbotMad Science Fair ProjectNovellamental (B)Enraged KillbotSecret Base (E)Voracious VacuumBeast in Show (B)Novellamental (A)Secret Base (D)

The C2 common run contains cards that have multiple variations and colorless cards. Between C1 and C2, each variation occurs twice, and each other card appears eight times.

Mad Science Fair ProjectTarget Minotaur (C)Amateur Auteur (C)Extremely Slow Zombie (D)Amateur Auteur (A)Voracious VacuumExtremely Slow Zombie (A)Target Minotaur (A)Amateur Auteur (B)Gnome-Made Engine
Extremely Slow Zombie (B)Target Minotaur (B)Mad Science Fair ProjectAmateur Auteur (D)Voracious VacuumExtremely Slow Zombie (C)Amateur Auteur (C)Target Minotaur (C)Mad Science Fair ProjectTarget Minotaur (B)
Extremely Slow Zombie (A)Gnome-Made EngineExtremely Slow Zombie (D)Amateur Auteur (B)Extremely Slow Zombie (B)Voracious VacuumTarget Minotaur (A)Amateur Auteur (A)Target Minotaur (D)Gnome-Made Engine
Extremely Slow Zombie (C)Amateur Auteur (D)

Uncommon Runs

The B uncommon run consists of 25 different cards each appearing twice. The choice of first card is mostly arbitrary.

Hammer JammerDruid of the Sacred BeakerBuzzing Whack-a-DoodleOvert OperativeSuspicious NannyMidlife UpgradeGoblin HaberdasherCogmentorSkull SaucerKindly Cognician
First PickTeacher's PetSteamflogger Temp"Rumors of My Death . . ."S.N.E.A.K. DispatcherChittering DoomAerial ToastmasterSuper-Duper Death RayInhumaniacCrow Storm
Gimme FiveSlaying MantisContraption CannonOvert OperativeSocketed SprocketerMidlife UpgradeGoblin HaberdasherSteel SquirrelDruid of the Sacred BeakerS.N.E.A.K. Dispatcher
Skull SaucerBuzzing Whack-a-DoodleHammer JammerAerial ToastmasterSuspicious NannyChittering DoomCogmentorSteamflogger Temp"Rumors of My Death . . ."Kindly Cognician
Contraption CannonFirst PickTeacher's PetSuper-Duper Death RaySocketed SprocketerInhumaniacSlaying MantisSteel SquirrelGimme FiveCrow Storm

The C uncommon run also consists of 25 different cards each appearing twice. The choice of first card is mostly arbitrary.

Hammerfest BoomtacularClever ComboRobo-Old-Fashioned VampireHalf-Squirrel, Half-Knight of the WidgetHalf-Orc, Half-Steam-PoweredSquirrel-Powered SchemeMore or Less
ShellephantHalf-Kitten, Half-SteamfloggeryNinjaFive-Finger DiscountSteamflogger Service RepRhino-Party CrasherZombifiedSide Quest
Half-Shark, Half-Clever ComboRobo-Old-Fashioned VampireSpy EyeKnight of the WidgetHalf-Orc, Half-Krark's Other ThumbMonkey-More or Less
NinjaClock of DOOOOOOOOOOOOM!SteamfloggeryHalf-Kitten, Half-Five-Finger DiscountHalf-Squirrel, Half-Krark's Other ThumbHammerfest BoomtacularZombifiedSpy Eye
Steam-PoweredShellephantRhino-Party CrasherSteamflogger Service RepSquirrel-Powered SchemeMonkey-Side QuestClock of DOOOOOOOOOOOOM!Half-Shark, Half-

Contraption Runs

The common contraption run consists of 10 different cards each appearing five times.

Sap SuckerBuzz BuggyAuto-KeyInflation StationApplied AeronauticsDivision TableBoomflingerSap SuckerDictation QuillographMandatory Friendship Shackles
Top-Secret TunnelBuzz BuggyDivision TableMandatory Friendship ShacklesBoomflingerApplied AeronauticsTop-Secret TunnelInflation StationDictation QuillographSap Sucker
Auto-KeyBuzz BuggyInflation StationBoomflingerSap SuckerDivision TableApplied AeronauticsMandatory Friendship ShacklesDictation QuillographTop-Secret Tunnel
Auto-KeyBoomflingerBuzz BuggyDivision TableInflation StationSap SuckerMandatory Friendship ShacklesApplied AeronauticsDictation QuillographAuto-Key
Top-Secret TunnelAuto-KeyBuzz BuggyApplied AeronauticsInflation StationDivision TableMandatory Friendship ShacklesBoomflingerDictation QuillographTop-Secret Tunnel

The uncommon contraption run consists of 15 uncommon contraption cards each appearing twice plus 5 common contraption cards each appearing four times.

Arms DepotTread MillDogsnail EngineTargeting RocketTwiddlestick ChargerGenetic RecombinatorAccessories to MurderQuick-Stick Lick TrickThud-for-DudsHead Banger
Jamming DeviceLackey RecyclerNeural NetworkTurbo-Thwacking Auto-HammerTread MillDispatch DispensaryInsufferable SyphonTwiddlestick ChargerGnomeball MachineHead Banger
Optical OptimizerLackey RecyclerWidget ContraptionSundering ForkQuick-Stick Lick TrickTargeting RocketThud-for-DudsTwiddlestick ChargerArms DepotTread Mill
Genetic RecombinatorHead BangerAccessories to MurderInsufferable SyphonQuick-Stick Lick TrickJamming DeviceDogsnail EngineLackey RecyclerNeural NetworkTread Mill
Dispatch DispensaryTwiddlestick ChargerOptical OptimizerTurbo-Thwacking Auto-HammerQuick-Stick Lick TrickGnomeball MachineSundering ForkHead BangerWidget ContraptionLackey Recycler

[1] Mark Rosewater talks about gutter cutting in his Drive to Work podcast #492 "Printing."