Tuesday, 20 September 2022 12:36

Gunk: A Mechanic that Flamed Out Quickly, Yet Came Back in a Big Way

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Gunk: A Mechanic that Flamed Out Quickly, Yet Came Back in a Big Way WOTC

In the past, Magic Untapped has gone over some Magic: The Gathering mechanics that were tried but never really panned out.

One of them, forbidden, was probably the closest to being brought in but fell at the finish line. In the article we mentioned a proto-mechanic called "gunk" that was kind of just played once and eventually built up to be forbidden. So let's look a little more into that.

Back in the mid 2000s, a lot of new mechanics were being tried out. And, at the 2008 Magic World Championship in Memphis, Richard Garfield created and tried out one by himself.

The idea was simple: have a card with a mechanic on it that would "spellsling" cards into the opponents deck that would be blank and not do anything. Overall this would dillute their deck and pretty much make it a lot harder to build up land and play creatures and spells.

And there was even a name for these cards: "gunk". Yup. Gunk. That was not a typo.

However, as it turned out, there were some problems, as the cards could be easily killed, kept coming up, and really just were a hindrance. So, once back at Wizards of the Coast HQ, gunk was reworked to allow those cards to go straight into exile by Mark Rosewater and R&D. Specifically, one designer, Brian Tinsman, took a real hold of it and tested it even more for the expansion he was in charge of: Avacyn Restored.

And that new mechanic? Forbidden. Now, that's called a callback!

However, despite it only being used for a few days really, gunk wasn't forgotten.

A decade later, when Magic was out and about having fun putting out test cards, gunk itself finally came out in the form of the card Gunk Slug. Its ability was, more or less, gunk, (just years after the fact). Which honestly is the most Magic thing to do: obscure nostalgia.

Or, even better: obscure nostalgia that creates a whole different kind of game.

So while gunk never made it to the mainstream, it did make it to one of the 'just for fun' side cards As a mechanic though? Never made it.

Considering how it all worked out in the end, though, and how it is still remembered, it was pure Magic.