How Does Torment Affect Odyssey Limited?: Looking At Odyssey Again Now That Black Is Back

Opening Impressions is officially out. Wizards has provided us a gorgeous spoiler, with pretty images and all the information on their website. So far, it seems the spoiler provided by Brainburst was nearly one hundred percent accurate! Nice going, guys; I’m glad there weren’t many errors, since I’ve been practising it all this week. Although,…

Opening Impressions

Torment is officially out. Wizards has provided us a gorgeous spoiler, with pretty images and all the information on their website. So far, it seems the spoiler provided by Brainburst was nearly one hundred percent accurate! Nice going, guys; I’m glad there weren’t many errors, since I’ve been practising it all this week. Although, I’m still wondering who it was that let a card like Aven Trooper get printed – well, fine this is Odyssey”Almost Homelands two” block after all.

My opening thought on Torment is this: It’s faster. Odyssey block is sped up by it; how, I can’t really explain, but the combination of more solid removal, more bomb rares and more overall power in the pool just speeds things up a touch… Just a wee bit. I’m not altogether happy with Torment as a Limited set; it’s tricky, but I’ve been seeing a lot of ‘it’s over in seven turns’ Limited games. That’s not what I’m playing Limited Magic for.

Regardless, it’s a thinking man’s set – at least when your opponent doesn’t go,”turn 2 Mongrel, turn 3 Arrogant Wurm, turn 4 Roar of the Wurm.” Twelve points of power on the board by turn 4: I smell pain.

I’m not going to talk much about Torment cards themselves in this little piece. To be honest, my fair readers, I want to do what I did last time: Play the set ’til I know it like the back of my hand, then tell you what I think. Given that my last review met with little criticism and a fair amount of praise, I think this may be the path to good set reviews. Feel free to e-mail Ferrett and tell him I’m stupid for thinking I should play with cards before assessing them. I’m sure he’ll agree.

So what am I going to talk about? Why, I’m going to talk about how I feel Odyssey cards that I assessed previously are going to change given that the third pack isn’t Odyssey anymore, it’s Torment. Those booster packs aren’t going to have Mudholes or Bloodcurdlers anymore; it’s time we see Morningtide and Sengir vampires hit the board to make some noise, right?

So, here we go:

Animal Boneyard

I feel this card is improved by certain elements in Torment. First off, there are the”lose life flashback” cards, which require a portion of your health to use effectively. Although they do not mandate huge amounts of life gain, both Spirit Flare and Deep Analysis can help offset the lost card advantage from Animal Boneyard, and it will make up for the lost life in using them. Doing something like,”block with Windreader. Damage on stack. Flare once, Flare again, sack Reader to Boneyard” is two cards, but will likely kill three in return.

However, more important is the card’s synergy with two Torment rares: Dawn of the Dead and Chainer, Dementia master. With Dawn, you can sacrifice the creature to offset the lost life and ignore the remove-from-game effect. Chainer’s drawbacks are the same – removal from the game if he dies, as well as losing life. The Boneyard gets around both of those. (This is a late-game card, but it can often help you get to the late game.)

Aven Archer

This dork is now way too slow and way too easily killed. He’s crippling fatigue bait and he knows it. He was all right in Odyssey; now I really don’t like him.

Beloved Chaplain

Although even easier to kill that before, having this guy around is even better. The faster the game gets, the more life this guy will save you while you’re struggling to keep alive. Although he’s a cute target for Strength of Isolation or Floating Shield, keeping him from being killed by annoying black cards while increasing his combat usefulness.

Blessed Orator

I increase this card’s value in my mind by the simple presence of Cabal Torturer in black’s commons. He puts everything on your side of the board out of Torturer range, which is important in white/blue. You wanna watch your Looters, Healers, and Skywing Aven die to him? Neither do I.


I’m not sure if the environment is now ‘fast enough’ or if the timing rules will let me screw up a discarded-to-Mongrel Arrogant Wurm casting (probably not), but I may consider this card more acutely in the following weeks. I’ve seen it played effectively recently, and it’s still a cantrip.


Well, he’s a 1/1 dork – however, Torment is filled to the brim with discard and reasons to discard, so he might net you a fair amount of life if he gets on the board earlier and doesn’t die to a Cabal Torturer, Afflict, Psychotic Haze, Sickening Dreams, Crippling Fatigue… You get the idea.

Devoted Caretaker

It got better. There’s tons of good burn and black removal in Torment that she will frustrate with her glancing salvations.

Divine Sacrament

Well, given that White in Torment is sorta bad, I’d end up feeling that I wouldn’t really be too happy with this card unless my Odyssey draws were excellent. However, if you do get good white from both pools, Sacrament can do annoying stuff like keeping Stern Judges alive. Keep it on the back burner for Judgement. *groans*

Hallowed Healer

In my Odyssey review, I declared the Healer the best common in Odyssey. Well, he’s far from the best now. I don’t know what is, but Healers have been dying horrible deaths a whole heck of a lot this week. Still a great card, but he’s much easier to deal with, which is never good.

Kirtar’s Desire

Third-turn Arrogant Wurms make me glad this card is so cheap and easily used. These saw a decline in people’s eyes at the end of my drafting experiences, but I’ll be drafting them much higher these days – assuming I’m drafting white, of course.

Lieutenant Kirtar

I hear this guy died before Torment rolled around. I hear two toughness isn’t so good these days, which is probably why he’s dead. Still, he’s just as good (if not better) than before. Talk to the Gurzigost that kicked my ass a few hours ago about”Why I like Kirtar just as much as before.” 🙁

Master Apothecary

Given that there are two new common clerics in Torment, and an uncommon one (Stern Judge, heh; you might not want to tap him to prevent damage) this is one of those cards that I would be happy to see passed to me when I’ve been suckered into drafting white. Militant Monk is amusing, as well, attacking without tapping and being able to prevent two while he’s at it. Cute!

Mystic Crusader

I hear Protection from black and red are good things to have with all this burn and removal being flung in from Torment. Rumour has it not dying is a good thing for a creature to do. Especially given that everything else around him is probably going to die a horrible death…

Mystic Zealot

I keep talking about all my white creatures dying to burn and negative toughness and Psychotic Haze – and hey! This guy manages to live through just about all of it. Well, except for Waste Away and Violent Eruption, but… Wait, he’ll probably just get Chainer’s Edicted anyway. Better, but he was already pretty good.

Patrol Hound

Do I need to explain why the hound is good? Well, you know I will. Mana-free discard effects are the friggin bizomb in drafts infected with Torment, as you full well know. The Patrol Hound powers those delightful Madness abilities, plus Threshold has only improved in Torment. Plus, the idea of instant speed planting Strength of Lunacy/Isolation on this hound and watching him tear through elephants makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Pilgrim of Virtue

Whoa, whoa, before you get all up on the”omg he’s got pro-black he’s the bomb” bandwagon – I’ve heard people say it – don’t get too over-excited. Yes, he’s better, and yes Black is dealing more damage, but he only has one power. This is crucial. I’m good with Mystic Crusader precisely because his two (or three) power actually tends to, you know, kill stuff. Solid blocker and much improved… But please, don’t go overboard.

Resilient Wanderer

I only wish White’s madness cards didn’t suck rocks. I love this sexy nomad to bits and something which actually, you know, helped. White madness ‘non-sucking’ cards might help. Come on. Would it kill them to print something like”Ancestor’s Judgement – 2WW – Sorcery – Destroy target tapped creature; Madness W1″ or something? Guys, come on, I’m begging you here. Still, she’s better, if nothing else.

The Spheres

Expect to see these in sideboards in OBC and to be at least amused when you draft a Sphere of Grace. I think these are generally better, since buying yourself time seems more important to me. I might be wrong. I might like cheese.

Wayward Angel

Given how often I’ve seen creatures dying in droves, somehow I don’t feel quite so great about the Angel. Especially since she turns black, and I expect a lot of black hate in one form or another. Still, at six mana she’s still all right, and there is Acorn Harvest to feed her unholy hungers. Why is it Angel of Retribution is seven mana? Hello? Guys? Are you listening to me? 5/5 fliers are six mana. Not seven. Stop doing this to white. Bastards.


Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor

He’s still as good, but he’s dying a heck of a lot more these days. Dead Cephalids are, like, not very sneaky or something. Or so the Aristocrats tell me. What do they know? Stupid squids, we all know the Merfolk are gonna come back and wreck your punk arses.

Aether Burst

I’ll say this once, and it applies to all the bursts – they’re fashionably worse, since you have a diminished chance to pull multiples. That being said, there will be less tokens for this to kill but more fat to force them to recast. It’s just as good, but for different reasons.


Well, it’s got a discard effect, but it’s not quite what I’m looking for in discard effects to use with Madness. I don’t feel quite as good about this guy as before – as although he is certainly past the”easily killed” point with six toughness, I’ve been seeing games ending much faster, and he may no longer hit the board in time to mean anything. Especially since your opponent might just hit seven mana and flashback Chainer’s Edict. Bleh.

Aven Smokeweaver

I mentally increase the value of this card further, given that red received a number of nice burn cards to blow your creatures up with. Although more likely to die to black cards, three toughness is still pleasing.

Careful Study

There are a number of great threshold cards, and there’s this”Madness” mechanic I keep babbling on about like a chimpanzee with a brain disorder. Careful Study draws cards, it fills the graveyard, and it’s not card disadvantage when you have a madness card to discard. Much improved.

Cephalid Broker and Cephalid Looter

The Broker and Looter are more vulnerable given the increase in removal… But oh my, are their effects ever so much more tempting. There’s good blue threshold cards now! There’s madness cards to discard! There are more bombs to dig through your deck after! The Broker looks a bit better to me, since he’s not going to get tortured to death until after my opponent has his threshold.

Chamber of Manipulation

The discard effect isn’t as much of a drawback anymore, and your opponent’s army makes the cheapest troops possible, since they’re free and friendly. Heck, if you’re really feeling sassy, you can steal stuff and accelerate it into your opponent. Something like,”I take your rock and throw it at your head really hard. You like?”


It’s still a good card, although Deep Analysis takes a little of the flare out of it. Same mana cost, less cards, but easier to splash. I’m not sure. Can you really ever have too much card drawing?


I want to Divert a Mind Sludge or a Waste-away back into my opponent’s face and watch them squirm in discontent. I want him to discard Fiery Temper to a mongrel and then Divert the Temper at the Mongrel. Wouldn’t that just be beautiful? With any increase in strong targeted effects, this card increases in value.

Laquatus’ Creativity

Sure, you may never have the mana to use this card’s effect well in Limited, nowadays, but come on – wouldn’t you love to Plagiarise alongside this one? Discard your hand, opponent draws cards equal to the number of cards in your hand. Tee hee. Granted, it’s probably only going to be two cards by the time you have the nine mana to pull this off, but is would be at least cute to think of. Anyways, with Blue’s new good threshold cards and the number of well-priced Madness cards, this card increases in usefulness.

Phantom Whelp

I’ve been finding this card to be increasingly valuable in limited, due to the fact blue can’t seem to cast anything decent before getting four mana, and getting beaten by frickin’ squirrels just isn’t something I like! I also like when he goes back to my hand and comes into play untapped. Makes me feel all fuzzy inside.

Psionic Gift

Skywing Aven, Cabal Surgeon, Mesmeric Fiend, Cabal Torturer, Organ Grinder, Carrion Rats, Boneshard Slasher, Slithery Stalker, Ichorid, Nantuko Shade, Grim Lavamancer, Basking Rootwalla, squirrels, and Seton’s Scout. These are the reasons why Psionic Gift continues to be a good card when Torment gets into your drafts. Especially the frickin’ Mesmeric Fiend. If it’s dead, I get my card back, jerk.


I look forward to untapping my Stern Judges to doing an extra four points of damage a turn. Don’t you? Regardless, although there aren’t a big pile of trick creatures to untap (I know- I’ll untap my Possessed Aven and kill another blue creature a turn! Wait, that’s seven mana. Uh, foiled again) there are a fair number of reasons why you’re going to want this guy even more. Trust me on that one.

Rites of Refusal

Of all the Rites, I’m most partial to this one for usage with Madness cards. Although, yes, Last Rites is a reasonable piece of card advantage, somehow I find the Rites’ lower casting cost and general usefulness (It’s called counter-magic; I hear people really dislike it for some reason) more appealing. Might just be my style, but I like casting stuff during his turn. Especially stuff I’m usually not supposed to. I like breaking rules. I’m sorry.


Discard Obsessive Search to Compulsion. Play Scrivener, pull back search. Discard Obsessive Search to Compulsion. And so on. Double-played Violent Eruptions that are drawing you cards are just sick. The natural synergy between pulling back useful madness cards and using madness cards is so transparent, I’m surprised his quote wasn’t something like”Reading so many books will just drive you mad.” I know, I’m not funny. I’m sorry. Please stop throwing rocks at me.

Shifty Doppelganger

Oops – it still sucks. Sorry! Whoops, I made another joke… Uh, a Shifty Doppelganger walks into a bar and orders a Bloody Mary. So the barkeep hits him in the head with a lead pipe and says,”I don’t serve crap rares.” The end. Sorry, guys, but they reprinted Sengir. Can I have Vesuvan back, puhleeeze? Come on.


Some part of me really likes this card and thinks it will become very useful as people realise there’s more decent countermagic in with Torment and the set is generally faster. I might be incorrect – but then, I might be right too. I don’t know, but my instincts tell me it’s improved through Torment.

Thought Devourer and Eater

Although generally decent cards to begin with, these can be used to lower your hand size into discarding madness cards, which generally lowers their casting cost and makes them easier to play. Not quite an amazing trick, but something to keep in mind.

Treetop Sentinel

No better and no worse. 2/3 flier for four mana is still useful – and believe me, Green (unlike White) did not get shafted in Torment. Keep in mind, it was the best colour in Odyssey, and that’s going to give it a presence in Limited whether you like it or not.

Braids, Cabal Minion

The addition of Acorn Harvest and Far Wandering to the common card pool increases Miss Abyss’ already reasonable appeal to me. It’s true that, she’s both easier to deal with and slightly less effective now – but with common cards increasing her relative power, I may indeed find her powers slightly more enjoyable and easier to stomach.

Buried Alive

Find an Ichorid and two cards to find it. Find cards to use with a Cabal Surgeon. Find more food for the Organ grinder. Oppose an opponent’s Carrion Rats. This card has potential, whether I want to admit it or not.

Cabal Patriarch

I hear this guy got kicked out of his job by Chainer. Still, he’s the big bad black toughness reduction machine, and making black stronger has only made that BBB in his casting cost all that more stomachable. He’s not quite as big as Hypnox, but I’m willing to bet he’ll kick a few butts along the way.

Caustic Tar

As I said, I find the environment a tingle faster, which makes this card somewhat less valuable. Also, Churning Eddy is a good card and it will bounce the land this (and Squirrel Nest) is enchanting. So somewhat weaker than before.

Crypt Creeper

As one of black’s decent weenie creatures, the Creeper increases in value, as he will now be surrounded by vicious bodies to make the aggressive assault all that much more appealing. There will be somewhat less flashback spells for him to eat, but I still find him fitting. And he’s a zombie, which means he can do some trailblazering.

Dirty Wererat

Somewhat less necessary and not as well priced as other black creatures in Torment, the Wererat is still a reasonable creature. 4/5 post threshold is slightly difficult to match, although I will demote him in value simply for there being an increase in other, useful black creatures.

Dusk Imp

Still a useful creature, being evasive and the what-not, as I’ve pointed out a number of times, one toughness creatures are somewhat less valuable now that Torment has added so much good low-toughness removal to the pool. Generally a component to quick black decks, just pray your opponents don’t fourth-turn Violent Eruption, killing your Imp, Rat and Creeper. It won’t be funny.


There are going to be less white creatures around – since white is less useful overall – and there is more good black removal around. Generally this will make Execute a less useful card, but still the same”decent sideboard, draft when you’ve got nothing maindeck to grab” as before.

Face of Fear

Laughably horrible now. The only thing scary about it is how bad it is now.


As with Face of Fear, the increase in black players reduces the strength of the Fear ability, making this guy definitely not maindeckable in limited anymore. He was only marginally so before, but now he’s actually pretty horrible.

Ghastly Demise

As you can likely realise, the increase in black creatures and protection from black creatures makes this a slightly worse card. It’s still solid removal and oh yes, there will be other creatures to remove, don’t worry.


Because black was not a strong colour in Odyssey alone, Gravestorm was greatly reduced in value by simply being in a splash colour while being powerful. Black is obviously no longer a splash colour – in fact, with the Tainted lands being uncommon, it’s likely swamps will see much greater increase in playablity. It’s also increased in power by the presence of the Carrion creatures (Rat and Wurm) as well as Morningtide (if you draft that) as well.

Innocent blood

Black has Edict in limited, which is better removal, and so does Red. They also have access to some rock-solid or downright vicious creatures, in both colours. In summary, Innocent Blood is demoted heavily in value by being replaced by better, less situational removal.

Last Rites

Obviously a force alongside Madness cards, as a selective discard spell it remains valuable, since you don’t have to choose his madness cards unless they’re all he has. Last Rites also increases in value, as there are a lot of cards you will want to eat up, and leaving a lot of cards in his hand makes an opponent able to use the Dreams and Disorder spells more easily.

Malevolent Awakening

With the increase in black’s power and the number of black ‘Wanna keep in play’ creatures, Awakening becomes more valuable in the same sense that Gravestorm does. Even as a combat trick alone, expect to find this card more useful, pardoning the fact it is still a very mid-to-late game only card.


Amusing, if for all the wrong reasons. I personally feel Mindslicer is worse, as your opponent will be dumping cards faster, playing madness out of his hand, or killing it much more at his leisure. If I want to empty this hand, Mind Sludge will do the same thing for one more and I won’t have to worry about him killing it at a bad time.

Morgue Theft

With an increase in removal power, Morgue Theft becomes more valuable simply by being more likely to have a good target in the early game. Still a somewhat slow card, I am simply finding that my opponent playing an early morgue theft swings games in a bad way for me. Especially better in the late game with there being a number of decent uncommon”comes into play” effect creatures, even if they do require threshold to work. Recurring Pardic Arsonist is not a friendly a thing, nor is recurring mini-Overrun (Centaur Chieftain).

Overeager Apprentice

It is unfortunate that the black madness cards are not on the same level the red and green ones are. A slight improvement in card value, but still not really all that much better.


Much more easily removed but still quite strong, although he now has stronger competition for the graveyard resources in black: Surgeon and Organ Grinder spring to mind.

Repentant Vampire

A bit pricier than the Possessed Creatures, the black creature murder-machine has gone from being a fair-priced flier with a decent ability to being a serious contender for nicest Odyssey rare to open in a sealed deck. You will see black creatures – in fact, you may see them in 80% of the games you play. And he’s going to kill them. What’s there to lose?

Sadistic Hypnotist

Somewhat better, somewhat worse. Madness cards make his ability less appealing, and Mind Sludge can do the job of emptying their hand more easily if you’re heavily into swamps. On the other hand, Acorn Harvest means it’s very likely you’ll have at least two cheap creatures to consume for his uses. Turn 4 Harvest, turn 5 Hypnotist is likely to empty just about anyone’s hand.

Skeletal Scrying

It’s not exactly a combo, but Insidious Dreams, discarding three cards, then Scrying for three (or more) is essentially an ultra cheap mass-tutoring. Scrying is valuable in any situation where you’re going to be discarding a lot of cards, and the fact there are two black Dreams spells that work with it adds to this already-excellent block of cards. Just don’t be doing it with Sickening Dreams – that’s a lot of damage!

Whispering Shade

As a swampwalker that can be pumped up, the Whispering Shade increases in value based on the number of swamps that are going to be played. I’m quite willing to bet that a lot more swamps will see play. Although as easily killed as any other 1/1 creature, the Shade will be an offensive wrecking ball in some situations. Unblockable Shade is not a good thing.

Zombie Infestation

The increase in value to this card is quite obvious, no? Already a strong card, Madness makes it quite abusable if not down right mean. Obviously, the two cards per will mean you’ll be discarding something useful, I can still can not help but feel it is a useful card.

Acceptable Losses

I really don’t want to say I like this card. Generally, I still do not, finding Waste Away to be severely more stomachable, even if it is more mana. Still, with madness being around, and of course the weirdly-red Pitchstone Wall, Acceptable Losses will do if you can’t manage to find any other decent burn cards.

Bash to Bits

I’d just like to mention that Torment contains absolutely no artifacts. That is all.

Blazing Salvo

As decks become more aggressive, this card becomes better and better. The harder the choice is, the better this card becomes. Although red is certainly not hurting for burn, the availability of other removal cards will only make your opponent more likely to just let the creature die.

Burning Sands

I’ve yet to test this card out – but as I said, there is a lot of good removal in black/red Torment. With Edict and Crippling Fatigue having flashback, this card may end up being a strange way to deny your opponent mana in the mid-to-late game. There are also, of course, the red nightmare horrors to add to this.


Somewhat outdone by the cheaper Cabal Torturer for all your critter-killing needs, the ‘Flinger remains a solid choice by any standards. The more removal you have, the more he can add to that removal’s effectiveness through making it able to remove larger and larger creatures or just picking off whatever else you need to harm, as well as being a little bigger itself.

Dwarven Recruiter

Wizards, do me a favour. See, we’ve got Goblin King and Goblin Recruiter, right? I mean, they work together. Now we’ve got Balthor the Stout and Dwarven Recruiter. Okay. I can find Balthor with this guy, but Balthor gives a bonus to barbarians? Goddess, I hate you guys. Earth to R&D: Theme creatures don’t work if they give each other bonuses!

Dwarven Strike Force

Oh, baby, this guy is harsher than ever. Hey, he can discard cards to cheapen burn spells. Each. Also, there are more big creatures for Tha Force to smack down with first strike. Not amazingly better, but at least (in my mind) improved and a good creature to end the R/B beatdown curve on.

Ember Beast

The more good red creatures that appear in Torment and Judgement, the better and better this guy gets. Ember Beasts suffered in Odyssey since there wasn’t a lot of good cheap red dorks, so you’d likely find them useless unless you were playing green. Now he’s got Hell-bent Raiders, Longhorn Firebeast, Petravark, and so on to pair up with and beat down. An improvement is made.


Although Balthor the Stout (grr) can increase this fellow’s first-striking ability to painful new heights, I feel a four-mana, one-toughness creature will find itself made much less useful in Odyssey block limited environs. It’s just to expensive for a creature who’s probably going to get tortured or burned… Or just killed by a strong breeze.

Kamahl, Pit Fighter

The haste and lateness of arrival allows him to make his way into battle relatively less trodden on than Halberdier, but his one-toughness has seriously caught up with him. Engulfing flames and Afflict were uncommons – Torment isn’t so kind to him.

Lava Blister

Interestingly, this card will see an increase in value, as opponents will be playing lots of tainted lands, and whatnot. Still, an increase in value from”near useless” isn’t exactly too hard to do.

Minotaur Explorer

Although he’s seen playing beating up namby-pamby black decks in my OBC Sligh, I think the explorer’s ability is a little too harsh considering a) you won’t have enough madness to reliably have a card in hand, and b) His ability retriggers if a Faceless Butcher plays catch and release. Ugh. I wish they’d errata that – it’s lame.


It amuses me to no end that Morningtide tops Mudhole at Mudhole’s job, being cheaper and actually likely to see use.


As I noted in my gigantic review, Recoup is only powerful if you have sorcery to use it upon. There are a fair number of new, useful sorceries to pair Recoup with. Of special note is Mutilate, which considering that it’s four mana and becomes more powerful in the late game, is likely to be a very devastating coupling. In addition, the dreams spells are mostly sorceries – and so is Insist, Overmaster, Skullscorch and Far Wanderings, which are likely the best of those to reuse in the late game.

Savage Firecat

There are, as well, a decent number of new pieces of fat for the Firecat to slam into. However, regardless of which, at 7/7 the cat is immune to much of the new removal by virtue of its high toughness. No stronger, but better for being just as hard to remove as before.

Shower of Coals

Clearly, the coals was dominating in pre-Torment Odyssey Limited from the first moment someone noticed you could do twelve damage for five mana, split as you liked. It remains a powerful card, but Torment brings us a crop of other, powerful removal. This does nothing to make Coals any worse; in fact, it just makes the amounts of burn a red player can draft disturbing and little else.

Thermal Blast

No longer a fair price for the environment, the Blast is eclipsed by superior burn spells. It remains useful, but nothing exciting given the speed up. I wouldn’t want to end up drafting too many of these, as the lack of player targeting really hurts it in comparision to Torment’s plentiful burn spells.


As Odyssey had a only fair amount of burn spells, the Whipkeeper found himself standing around wondering what to do. While Torment does not radically change this, drafted late he may prove useful – assuming he lives long enough for it to matter. I would suggest considering this a sideboard card against green, blue or white only decks.

Beast Attack and Call of the Herd

Faceless Butcher is a common and often occurs in multiples in draft. As these produce token creatures, the Butcher removes them permanently, becoming more of a 187 creature than otherwise. The butcher can be brought back or bounced to then kill the next token produced. As well, Churning Eddy and Turbulent dreams make this even easier to kill.


Give the amount of raw discarding you’ll end up doing, a fair amount of those discards are going to end up being land, if by process of averages if nothing else. With stuff like Narcissism, Mortiphobia, Hypochondria, and Compulsion coming in, and the Rites being that much better to use, the Cartographer may allow you to pull back pitched lands, which will make him generally a touch more useful.


Don’t expect this thing to last more than a turn against Black or Red decks with Torment cards in them in the early game. It will die, or it will get bounced, or numerous other horrible things will happen to it. Thus, it’s generally somewhat worse off that in just Odyssey.

Druid Lyrist

There are, indeed, more enchantments in Torment that will likely see play. There are also lots of ways the Lyrist will meet a painful death. Regardless, he is somewhat more playable, just so someone doesn’t screw you around with Hypochondria or actively utilise a Compulsion to make things unfriendly for you.

Krosan Avenger

One toughness creatures are likely to meet an unfortunate demise – however, Avenger may come out early enough to do some damage before dying to whatever decides to kill it.

Krosan Beast

Don’t even think about playing this guy before you have threshold.

Nantuko Disciple

I find the Disciple interesting. He is capable of warding off bothersome spells like Crippling Fatigue or Waste Away, in the right situations. It would be irritating to keep him untapped at all times, but at the very least he can slow down effects like Cabal Torturer or whatever. No more useful than before, but still excellent.

Nantuko Elder

I find the Nantuko Restorer to be more my tastes: Capable of fixing mana I need two colours of, and more powerful in the late game by far. Same power/toughness and casting cost, too. Also, restorer has better artwork.

Nantuko Mentor

I keep talking about how much weaker small trick creatures have become: This fellow is no different, since at 1/1 he’s pretty likely to hit the graveyard in many games. That being said, his effect is a little less impressive, given the general overall quality of Torment creatures.

Nimble Mongoose

It is assumed that this plucky little fellow will only benefit from being in an environment where he can not be targeted by the spells that kill the creatures around him. He still dies to Psychotic Haze and Sickening Dreams sometimes, though.

Nut Collector

It’s going to die and we all know it. Still, if it manages to survive to threshold, the over-abundance of Acorn Harvest could rapidly make for Squirrel-based nightmares.


Only improved by the abundance of good green creatures and creature generators in Torment, Overrun is no less the annoying”Thinking man’s way of winning games of Magic” that it was before. Of course, Centaur Chieftain does give us a mini-Overrun with legs, but that’s more the clean-up than eclipsing…

Rabid Elephant

Vulnerable to many spells in Torment, the Stompiest elephant still manages to produce a fair amount of beat down in many games. There are a lot of good creatures in Torment, as I’ve said a few times, but the Elephant still manages unblockability through brute force these days.


With an increase in burn, regeneration effects only get better and better. Refresh is Shelter’s weaker cousin, but I find it increasingly playable with the amount of burn that seems to be directed at my poor, defenceless creatures. Regenerating them at card advantage is a positive thing to do.

Rites of Spring

It’s expensive to use its ability with madness cards, but the Rites of Spring are still useful. True, playing Basking Rootwalla turn two instead of one is three less damage, but that doesn’t make it negative. Rites of Spring was always a useful threshold tool, essentially allowing to discard late-game lands for more lands, thinning your deck and giving you threshold in the process. Now it will see benefit from not being card disadvantage and still doing what it does best. An improved card.

Roar of the Wurm

With the increase in value to discard effects, the Roar becomes better by simple process of being more likely to be a turn 4 6/6. True, though, the Faceless Butcher will gladly eat that token, so don’t be discarding the Roar if you expect a Butcher or various bounce – unless the resulting situation seems like it would benefit you.


There continues to be a fair number of fliers, with a number of additions in Torment including the mighty Sengir and”will never see play” Hypnox being fliers. Skyshooter is capable of gunning these fellows down, which makes him a still decent two-drop for green

Squirrel Mob

With there being even more squirrels in Torment, the Mob might actually not be a straight 2/2 creature all the time. You can tell I’m just kidding about beating my opponent down with a turn 4 6/6 Squirrel mob, oh yes.


This guy suffers from the fact he may only be useful now as either mana acceleration or as a 4/4 later on in the game. Neither of those things are bad, but he’s a little worse off given his vulnerabilities to certain sorts of removal. Still, given the increased ease of threshold, he will continue to be a moderate card.

Wild Mongrel

I don’t need to talk about why or how the Mongrel is probably the best common in Odyssey now, do I? I’m not sure what else is… But to me the Mongrel feels pretty dang solid these days.

Iridescent Angel

Although she is no less one of the nastiest rares in the pool, the fact she’s white/blue now means it can be quite tricky to draft the cards necessary for a deck effectively. Also, unless you draft decent slowdown, she isn’t necessarily going to hit the board. Be wary of Chainer’s Edict, flashback or otherwise, as well.

Mystic Enforcer

I can’t make up my mind. On the one hand, you have a 3/3 with what will arguably be the best (or second-best) protection to have in the set. On the other hand, Green/White, like White/Blue will be tricky to draft effectively. You might be better off splashing to play him – but regardless, one on one there are now few betters in the pool, as a 6/6 flier is nigh-unkillable and nearly unstoppable. I hear people have taken to calling him”The Dragon,” but I think I’ll call him”The Ninja” and scream”NINJA ATTACK” every time he swings. ‘Cuz you know, Ninjas always flip out and kill people.


Whether you like to admit it or not, White/blue is enhanced by being able to use Circular Logic effectively. While Strength of Isolation and Obsessive Search may not be as abusive as the Logic, the Phantatog can active their ability as well, at will. Also, this little ‘tog may be the only thing which stands between Transcendence and utter unplayability. Watch for me to make a white/blue deck for OBC later on!


Much like Mongrel, the ‘Tog reachs new levels of strength with Torment added.

Shadowmage Infiltrator

Someone said in IRC,”Do you think Finkel is bothered by how much worse his Fear ability is now?” It’s effectively true: The increase in the amount of black you’ll see in limited with directly influence the Infiltrator’s playability, making him functionally a much worse card. He’s still good, but nearly every opposing deck will have black in it.

Vampiric Dragon

Although certainly not a better card, if you can hit threshold he will be much easier to play with Cabal Ritual. I wouldn’t count on it, though.

Patchwork Gnomes

Keep in mind that regeneration rules allow you to discard a card when you choose to, and place a regeneration shield on the gnomes until the end of turn. Although this is not quite as ideal as how the other discard effects work in usefulness, the Gnomes will at least survive that turn – and when all else fails, it is a madness effect.

Threshold lands

I may or may not feel quite as well about these as before. Although threshold is somewhat easier to reach, the pain from these lands could be the difference between victory and death given how close I’ve seen some games go. They remain much as before, with Cabal Pit being a little bit better for seeing an improvement in its core colour. Nomad Stadium remains unplayable.

Overall summary

So far here’s how I feel the colours did and interact with Torment. Note this is a summary given from only a week of testing. A week of testing is a weak testing.


White already had a lot of what Torment gave it. We don’t need more enchantment removal, over-priced fliers, or costly but low-power creatures. Sadly, that’s what white got. The colour moves down a little with Torment – although it benefits from having access to pro black and pro red, a general lack of effective force in Torment makes the colour pale. Spirit Flare is costly and requires another colour – preferably green – to use effectively.


Green was widely acclaimed to be the overall best in Odyssey, and in my opinion remains the best colour regardless of black’s increase in power. Although it does not add a lot of removal, it gets some excellent madness cards, more good threshold creatures, lots of fat, and a number of good anti-black cards. Adding to its already strong base, green will certainly not be diminished by Torment.


Red received a number of good creatures to shore up its weaknesses. Still no true decent two drops, but it did receive a couple of interesting additions. What red really good though, was burn, burn, and more burn. Its madness cards are both excellent burn, and arguably the best overall madness cards. Red improves a fair amount with Torment.


Well, it’s the Black set… So you’d expect Black to be increased in power. Yes, it’s true. Black wasn’t as bad as people felt it was in Odyssey, and Torment gives it more decent-to-solid removal, with Crippling Fatigue being a special favourite of mine, and what Black really wanted for Christmas: Good creatures! Lots of decent to strong weenies to shore up the colour’s weaknesses, not to mention some excellent graveyard interactions.


Blue got more fliers, some good counterspells, lots of card drawing, and a number of goofy rares. Its commons and uncommons, though, certainly add to the colour’s strengths and give it some interesting answers.

Iain Telfer (Taeme|j1 on IRC)

Send your threatening e-mails, hate mail and spam to [email protected]. Be sure to tag it, ‘cuz otherwise I won’t read it.