New Blood: Onslaught’s Effects On Five Color

Now, we need a Five-Color review of every single card like I need a gastroendectomy. The very casual nature of Five suggests that any card can be used at any time, so be ready. What I would like to focus on are cards that I would not be surprised to see playing against at our next Five Color game night. These cards could make a significant impact in Five – or at least may be worth more investigation.

A new set is here, and it’s the time when StarCity is filled with set reviews, draft reviews, funky decklists, and competitions on abusing bad cards. With all of these traditions coming out of the woodwork, it feels like Christmas in rural Kentucky.

And ranking right up there with these important traditions are needs for new ones.

There are set reviews for Limited, and Type Two. Extended, and Type One. Casual and Multiplayer. What about, say, Five Color?

Now, we need a Five-Color review of every single card like I need a gastroendectomy. The very casual nature of Five suggests that any card can be used at any time, so be ready. What I would like to focus on are cards that I would not be surprised to see playing against at our next Five Color game night. These cards could make a significant impact in Five – or at least may be worth more investigation.

Let’s just go ahead and mention that tribal ideas probably won’t work much in Five Color. They might work creature types in several different colors, such as Beasts… But I tried building a Merfolk deck once, and it just didn’t work. I don’t envision any creature type doing well unless it’s being spread across the colors. Slivers and Beasts, for example, might. I’ll mention cards if they seem to be an exception.

I didn’t think any of the artifacts were that big of a deal, although there are six high-impact lands. We will start with the least abusive of colors, and work our way around the wheel to the most abusive. (That would be White through Blue, in case you were wondering…)

White brings the most powerful card for Five Color, and an immediate candidate for restriction. We will start alphabetically with the one of the best cards in the color, and maybe the set:


Is it a Moat? Is it a No Mercy? Is it a Humility? Who know how it will end up, but this is the best Enchantment that takes care of creatures in a long time. It is just as fragile as Moat, because that disenchant will send the creatures sailing. It has all of the disadvantage of No Mercy, because they get to hit you once before solidifying. Plus, pingers become walls, but they can continue their pinging ways. Still, this card can really grab your attention, sit you down, and have lunch with you. Control needs more tools to survive, and this could be another. I love this card.

Convalescent Care

While I would hardly be surprised if the Care made some janky combo deck with Solitary Confinement or something, I don’t really expect it to.

Gustcloak Savior

If. And this is a big, huge, monstrous If. If, the Gustcloak ability proves to be useful in constructed, then maybe – maybe – the Savior sees play in Five Color. I could see a deck with loads of critters playing one or two, because it’s splashable, a 3/4 flyer, and has a spiffy ability that could be marginally useful.

Maybe. If.

Harsh Mercy

This is one of those key cards which could be utilized to make your tribal Five Color deck work. So, if you are planning Slivers or Beasts, or my Merfolk deck, this is a definite playable card. Otherwise? It’s pure chaff.


Control decks in 250 usually want to play more creatures than a classic Counter-Post deck. However, if a player wants to play with an alternate winning condition, Mobilization is a great choice. So is Squirrel Nest, though. Or the Kjeldoran Outpost itself. And so forth.


One of the key abilities of cards in 250 is to have cards which are versatile: That’s why Thornscape Battlemage is one of the best creatures for 250, for example. The beauty of Oblation is that, when a deck of 250 cards gets a card added to it, the likelihood of ever drawing it again is low. I had someone cast it on me at the pre-release and I drew the creature he Oblated right away. This is different; the card is a virtual kill card for any permanent. Plus, you can use it on one of your lands or something, just to draw a couple of cards. Its versatility is matched by its splashability, and only the fact that your opponent draws two keeps this card from being too good. Note that casting it in response to a Contract from Below or something will likely keep you from giving up card advantage. It could be an instant inclusion for its utility, or just a decent card you see every once in a while.

Shared Triumph

Another card that would fit snugly into our increasingly hypothetical tribal Five Color deck. Shared Triumph is your Crusade, tribal players; play it well.

Sigil of the New Dawn

What a great name for a card! It sounds like a card straight out of Legends. Sigil is slow, but relentless. Better than Enduring Renewal, but not nearly as abusable. I could imagine seeing the Sigil in a few key decks.

Weathered Wayfarer

Ah, yes. The new power card for Five Color. What can you say that’s bad about the Wayfarer? You could say it is a creature… But that means it could swing for damage. You could say that it is only a 1/1… But it’s a one-drop that fits into control, combo, and beatdown – simultaneously. You could say it gets less lands than Land Tax for the same price… But it gets any land, not just basic lands. The Wayfarer is just stupid good.

Animal Magnetism

Not the worst card ever, it can help after a Brainstorm, Sylvan Library, or so forth sets up a critter. Still, a lot of decks will just have a creature in the top five cards. It could fit into a Living Death/Reanimator style deck.

Maybe. But there are loads better cards for that decktype in Onslaught.

Barkhide Mauler

I am going to file this generally under”Cycling Cards that are great under Fluctuator, and also really good in Living Death.” Disciple of Malice, for example, is another Fluctuator critter. In case you were wondering, feel free to play with those Fluctuators in Five – they aren’t restricted. And with the new cycling creatures, at some time a flashpoint may be reached regarding this deck. But the Mauler can also be a decent creature in a Living Death style deck as well. Cycle it, draw a card, then Recur. Plus, it’s in the right colors – Green and Black.

Centaur Glade

Merely the next entrant into the Outpost-Enchantments. Included here because that deck may want more beef in its critters, or want to focus more on Green instead of White.

Elvish Pioneer

I am a really big fan of the Pioneer. I like it, firstly, because it simply speeds up a deck, and fits snugly in the mana curve. There are plenty of Five decks that use basic lands solely for their mana, and the Pioneer might make it in such a deck. The speed provided from the land drop may be better than an extra power with a big disadvantage, like so many beatdown critters.

Enchantress’s Presence

While I doubt this card would make the cut, it is interesting that this is the first Non-creature Enchantress. When playing all of the Enchantresses, plus this, maybe a deck is out there somewhere. If so, this card would be key, because it is an Enchantment itself – and as such, will trigger all of those abilities.

Explosive Vegetation

A great card to balance, not one, but two colors. I look to see it pop up occasionally.


One of only a few cards I intend to toss into my Living Death deck immediately, this creature is just really good. Recursion should have a ball with it.


I can certainly see some colors experimenting with the splashable green trampling Ophidian-beast.

Kamahl, Fist of Krosa

I expect to see Kamahl for the cool factor. At least for a while. Then he will go the way of the previous Kamahl.

Krosan Tusker

Land fixing. A big beastie. Cycling with extra spice. The Tusker is even better than the Mauler, because it’s cycling is card advantage. It can also swing with the best of them. My Living Death deck gets the Tusker as one of its immediate additions. This card is great, useful, and versatile. A definite Five Color creature.


If a control deck needs more green to reach their quotient, they might play the Naturalize. Maybe. Disenchant has made way for Aura Mutation, Artifact Mutation, Orim’s Thunder, Dismantling Blow, and Seal of Cleansing… And therefore Naturalize would only make it into a deck over white if a player needs a green card.

Ravenous Baloth

There are two good things about the Baloth. One: It’s a 4/4 for four mana, fitting nicely into green oriented beatdown decks. It is worse than Blastoderm, of course, and maybe the Djinns (Nettletooth Djinn and Ernham Djinn). However, it is a solid body, plus you can sac it for four life at any time.

Oh yeah; and it fits into a beast-themed deck, if one exists.

Silklash Spider

This Spider is a really good flier blocker. No 2/5, 2/4, 2/3, 1/3, 4/4 spiders running around here – this thing can block flyers with a power of six and all points south with ease. Plus, it can shoot their butts down. A machine gun, plus a huge web? Definitely an inclusion into the right deck.

Silvos, Rogue Elemental

I expect Silvos to have even more of a cool factor than the new Kamahl. Either recursion or green-oriented decks can really use this hunk of forest. His heavy green commitment keeps other decks from abusing him too much.

Wall of Mulch

Wall of Mulch is not a good substitute for Wall of Blossoms or Jungle Barrier, both of which see play in Five Color… Instead, it is a good adjunct for both of them. Here you get an 0/4 body for two mana – that’s an established good blocker. Plus, you can sac it for a card. Oh yeah, you can sac other Walls as well. Cast that Wall of Blossoms, get a card. Sac that Wall of Blossoms, get another card. I am really impressed with this card; it’s very balanced, and yet still good.

Weird Harvest

I think that people will try the Harvest initially, then probably steer away from it towards something else. Recognize that the Harvest does get only creatures – and creature tutors, such as Worldly Tutor, Altar of Bone, or Eladamri’s Call are unrestricted in Five Color.

Blistering Firecat

Because its morph cost is only RR, it may see play in decks that do not want to take a risk on the triple red cost of Ball Lightning. Red is often the color least-used in Five Color, so do not look for many red decks out there that can commit to a triple red cost.

Dragon Roost

Dragon Roost will appear in some Five deck somewhere, mainly because the highly-casual nature of Five Color dictates that players will toss in the Dragon Generator. It will be easy to disrupt, of course… But the sheer fun of winning through hordes of flying 5/5 Dragon tokens will override this disadvantage for some.

Dwarven Blastminer

Quite simply, it may be superior to Dwarven Miner because you can play it as a 2/2 that can trade in bad situations. It will see loads of play, and the Miner/Blastminer count may very well be eight in some decks.

Gratuitous Violence

Furnace of Rath was always a highly played card in our casual groups. This is a more controlled, and limited Furnace, and I would only be surprised if there was not someone out there right now trying to find space for four of these in their Five deck.


This is an excellent control card. If you have no need, or no red mana, simply cycle for something else; otherwise, slap some creatures silly with it. It’s status as an instant really puts it over the top, in my opinion. Savage Twister sees a lot of play in Five Color, and I envision that Starstorm will be played a lot more.

Words of War

This is the first Words Enchantment that actually might see some use. It is less abusable than Cursed Scroll, but more comboriffic; that quality may put it over the top for some builds.

Cover of Darkness

In that supposed tribal Five Color deck, the Cover might be a good filler for the black. However, black can easily hit its eighteen-card minimum with Contracts, Tutors, and a few other goodies like Yawgmoth’s Will. Plus, opponents often have artifact and black creatures in play, but they will rarely have just artifact and black creatures, so the card will always have some use.

Death Pulse

It is versatile, and in a deck that can deal with the double black cost, it may see use because it also cycles. However, Expunge is much better at that role, and is splashable to boot, so I expect that the Death Pulse will only be used in supplement to a full compliment of Expunges (Expungi? Expungum?).

Festering Goblin

Interesting one-drop ability, and it competes with Sarcomancy and Carnophage for the one-drop black spot. If your beatdown deck needs more black one-drops, at least this one will stop the Sarcomancy from hurting you if the token dies. It could also bite you in the behind, so I doubt it sees much play. It is the cards like these, however, that make people think they can play tribal goblin and so forth. After all, here is your black goblin.

Grinning Demon

If you don’t think that Grinning Demon will see loads of play in Five Color decks for a while, then you may be playing in some whacked-up environment. The talk of the town, this demon will grin its way to killing opponents with alacrity.

Head Games

Let’s be honest; Head Games is a really bad Mind Twist. In a 250 deck, there will be cards that are nigh-useless versus you; maybe they are graveyard destroyers, maybes its enchantment kill, and so forth. Maybe it will just be a bunch of swamps or something. Still, a financially-cheap Twist will entice some players to pack Head Games; watch for them.

Oversold Cemetery

Most likely better than Oath of Ghouls in most situations, the Cemetery is an automatic inclusion into my Living Death deck. It also fits into beatdown pretty well too. When a game breaking enchantment only costs two mana, you definitely want to look for ways of abusing it.

Patriarch’s Bidding

In a tribal deck, this is really good; in other decks, it may be okay. Living Death decks have, um, Living Death available – and this is no Living Death. It is not even as good as Death/Glory from Invasion… Unless the deck is a tribal one…

Prowling Pangolin

Is it a cheap double-Chainer’s Edict, or is it a cheap 6/5? There are a lot of cards like this… But either way, it’s cheap. Still, 3BB may be a bit too much to have you opponent choose the worst of two paths.

Rotlung Reanimator

Type Two decks are being built around this guy as you read this. Five Color decks might have a place for him with a few other combinations… Like Goblin Bombardment, Krovikan Horror, Attrition, Ashnod’s Altar, and so forth.


Against some decks, Smother will kill any creature in their deck; against others, it takes out a few Battlemagi, Man-o-War, Walls, and other small utility creatures. So whether it becomes gonzo kill or a bad Shock is more dependent on what your opponent is playing, than on your deck construction. I still expect to see a few here and there before people go back to the old standbys like Expunge.

Undead Gladiator

Well, it does have cycling. But Gigapede is a much better creature with virtually the same ability, expect without all of the restrictions surrounding its recursion. Still, the Gladiator cycles, which can be a very poor way of cycling land drawn late, for example.

Visara, the Dreadful

Another of the big dumb Legends, Visara can swing and kill. There aren’t many Avatars of Woe running around, though, and it is better in Five Color. Visara will be a phase here.

Words of Waste

Another of the Words Enchantments, this one is also playable because it allows you to take out your opponent’s hand (of course) – a much more worthwhile endeavor when, say, you are setting up for the big play. Plus, it is one of the few ways of forcing discards during your opponent’s turn, if you can find a way to draw cards as an Instant.

Arcanis, the Omnipotent

Oh yeah, he is definitely seeing play. He draws you many, many cards, and forces out that creature kill now. A game swinging guy, his power might as well be zero, because any creature who will never, ever, attack. Probably won’t block much either.


Force Void has been played before, and this card is eminently more useful than Force Void. This is a great, splashable counter, and I expect it to make many an appearance.

Future Sight

Okay, everybody listen up – especially you in the back! This is one of the best cards in the set; definite top three material. Future Sight will rear its head in many decks, and already is being called”broken” on the mailing list. Play it, love it, draw it with Arcanis.

Quicksilver Dragon

Let’s begin. Is it Morphling? Nope. Is it Rainbow Efreet? Nope. Is it the next best big flyer in blue?


For the same casting cost as old-school Mahamoti, the Dragon just has one less toughness. In trade for that single, tiny point of toughness, this Dragon will bounce creature kill and creature stealing so long as it is targeted, and other creatures are around. That would be enough, right there. Plus, you Morph around with it, if you so desire. If you are playing with the original Djinn, play with the new wave instead.

Spy Network

If you want information at the loss of a card, then this is the spell for you. It might as well force your opponent to tell you their date of birth and social security number.

Trade Secrets

Another card getting all of the buzz, and less glory. It does have double blue in the cost… And oh yeah, it gives your opponent two cards, and your opponent can choose to continue if they want. This card is no good in 250 card decks. If I am the opponent, then you’d better hope you are not tapped out, ’cause I’ll keep drawing until I have enough cards in hand to break you. A control deck with Force of Wills, Misdirections, Foils, Moxen, Time Walk, Time Warp, and so forth can really break this card in half. Otherwise, I might stick away from it.

Voidmage Prodigy

Cards like these always get more play in Type Two than in Five Color. How many Meddling Mages or Rootwater Thieves do you think are running around in 250 card decks? The Voidmage may be an exception, at least at first. It can counter stuff on its own, plus it morphs – so look for it to see some play.

Like I said, I do not see any of the artifacts getting much play, but the lands are different:

All of the fetchlands will see zounds of play in Five Color. Mana fixers are just too good in the environment. The other good new land is:

Grand Coliseum

A new City of Brass could see loads of play. While the original is still better, and more classic, this version is much better is a lot of games, and I look to see it played a lot.

As said before, there are loads of cards that could appear in a Five Color deck. If someone plays a Feast or Famine, I won’t be surprised or shocked… But it doesn’t happen all that often. The same is true for Onslaught. Maybe someone will build that Wizard deck just because. Therefore, if a card is not included on this list, maybe I just missed it – or maybe it is just a card I don’t expect to see in a person’s deck anytime soon. Don’t worry, there is a card not on this list that I intend to play with. I adhere to my own standards.

Onslaught almost looks custom built for all of us casual players. It’s will be a great set, and I am really looking forward to Onslaught for a while.

Until later,

Abe Sargent