Yeah, generally the black is pretty dang solid. The removal is excellent; just plain and downright excellent. The nightmare horrors are interesting, to say the least, and the other spells are pretty strong. There are a few duds (I mean, Psychotic Haze is a reprint from Homelands!), but it’s generally all quality cards that mesh pretty well with the existing crop in Odyssey. You’ll be playing a lot of black – but hey, you already knew that.
As one-drops go, the Imp is all right. It has internal synergy, as you can discard cards to move towards threshold. The ability to produce a 2/2 flier is not bad, although it isn’t really good either. The Imp’s real appeal is the ability to activate madness cards basically on command from the start of the game, with no cost to its ability and such a low cost to the imp itself.
Final Verdict: Very useful if you need some way to discard cards, which Odyssey/Torment decks generally shouldn’t be without.
The ability is expensive, and so is the creature (although somehow it manages to be a whopping 2/1; wow!) but the effect is pretty powerful. You don’t need threshold to activate it, and some black decks simply don’t have threshold cards or just use the resources in other ways.
Final Verdict: It’s not incredible, but the ability to re-use your creatures can be pretty potent if you have nothing else to do with the mana. Late pick, 17th creature, so on.
I’m somewhat surprised at the reactions people have to this card and how they end up playing it. People say great stuff about it. I just stare at them in horror.
Yes, it snags a card. Yes, this is a very powerful ability – but the snag is very often temporary. It’s not often too long before they draw a Violent Eruption, Cabal Torturer, Psionic Gift, Chainflinger, Afflict, so on. Then the creature is dead, the card is back, and you’ve gained nothing. The key to this card is playing it to remove their would-be blockers or the removal spells that will hit your other creatures. It’s useful for snagging that one cheap creature that will block yours, or that removal spell he’ll use on the next turn. If he’d never cast the Kirtar’s Wrath before its death, you didn’t accomplish anything.
Final Verdict: With Ravenous Rats, it comes into play, the card is gone, and you’re done with that. With this, it sits on the sidelines and doesn’t do any thing with a card sitting under it. It’s not a Duress with legs unless your opponent doesn’t have any creatures – which is what you should be using its ability to do.
It’s a useful Scathe Zombie with a passable ability. Frankly, I don’t care about the”remove two cards from his graveyard” ability in 75% of the games… But then in 25% it’s a big freaking deal. Nabbing flashback spells or denying threshold can very well win you games, or at least prevent you from losing.
Final Verdict: Playable as that last creature you needed or as a sideboard card if you had better creatures to play main deck, but your opponents turns out to have two Call of the Herds and a Roar of the Wurm.
One of my favourite commons from this set, the Torturer is very, very good; you might not see why immediately. First, he kills */1 creatures with ease. That is a useful ability, any way you slice it. But it doesn’t end there.
Second, he is a combat math murderiser. Your opponent is faced with the problem that at any time, his creatures are suddenly reduced just enough that the creature they’re facing in battle dies. Third, if nothing else, he can prevent damage from unblocked creatures by reducing their power before damage is on the stack.
Final Verdict: Actually my favourite common in the set, since he’s all advantage and no problems. And he has that pricey threshold ability I’ve never used. Don’t think; just torture.
A 3/1 for three mana, only one of which is symbolled, works fine with me. It’s a zombie, so it can commit aid to the Trailblazer, which helps out your deck synergy. It’s three power, which means if unopposed it will open a world of hurt. And, it has a useful ability in the late game, where he’s locked you down with Hallowed Healers, strong blockers, or other nonsense.
Final Verdict: Not a high pick, but it’s sort of black’s Krosan Avenger. Good.
The rats don’t tend to consistently do damage – and remember, if he has a card, you declare it as an attacker and it’s effectively a 0/1 until end of turn, making it easy, easy prey against many blockers. You need to drop it early and ensure he never gets anything in his graveyard. How often does this happen? This is Odyssey block!
Final Verdict: Tried them a couple of times and fond them too inconsistent or easily dealt with.
The butcher is a very powerful card, as any monkey with half a brain and a typewriter can, will – and did – tell you. It’s black removal that can target anything. That’s some good.
So instead, here I’ll talk about where and why Butcher can be a very bad thing. Keep in mind that butcher does not permanently deal with the creature; like Mesmeric Fiend, it is tempo and suffers the disadvantage that all bounce does. If you don’t kill your opponent fast, he’s going to get it back.
If your opponent carries instant-speed removal, he can do so at your peril. Picture, for example, removing your opponent’s only creature from the game with the Butcher. Next turn, you declare the Butcher and your other creature as attackers. In response, he uses them to remove the Butcher – Fiery Temper, Second Thoughts, Thermal Blast, so on – and then he has an instant-speed blocker slammed into play.
More dangerously is his interaction with wrath effects. Although there are really only three effects – Kirtar’s Wrath, Mutilate, and Upheaval – these are not good situations to put yourself in. When he Wraths (or you do) and then gets a creature back, that creature is likely going to go unopposed. The Upheaval is particularly bad.
Final Verdict: While it’s an amazing card, be aware of the danger. Sloppily played Butchers get you killed. Thermal Blast into the Angel coming back into play into Sengir dying a horrible death is just sad.
Because the Scourge is a flier, it has a tendency to do something one of the other common nightmare horrors ever seem to do against non-mana screwed opponents – that is, actually attack! It’s two-toughness is a drawback, making it easily killed, but no one cares. It’s a 3/2 flier that can deal your opponent a deathblow upon coming into play.
Final Verdict: You’d probably end up playing a three power for five-mana flier in black whether or not it had the nightmare ability. It does, which adds to it. A good solid common.
Oh wow! I think I’ve seen this card before, we called it”Dry Spell,” and we played it in a very, very strong set known to the world as”Homelands.” Wowzers, if this is based off a card from Homelands, they must have increased its mana cost to make it fair! Oh, but look, you can access the broken Homelands casting cost by using its madness ability! Wow, a first pick fer shure!
Final Verdict: It’s a useful card in your sideboard, but it’s generally pretty bad. Whip it out if you see a lot of Squirrels, Avengers, and Organ Grinders on the other side of the board.
Ferrett, do I actually need to label that as sarcasm?
When you first look at Waste Away, you will react with a slight smirk or perhaps a frown. On the surface, it can look very disappointing. However, be that as it may, it is a very good card.
It’s card disadvantage, or not with madness (assuming you have the mana or a Rootwalla) but it’s consistent. Very, very consistent. There are very few cards Waste Away can’t kill. It doesn’t care if the creature is black, they can’t regenerate, and – thankfully, yes – it’s an instant. And even if it can’t kill a creature, you can Waste them down to size and kill them in combat.
Final Verdict: Faceless Butcher is better, but no one ever complains about having more good removal.
Step One: Take old card
Step Two: Add ‘draw a card’ and make it cost three mana
Step Three: Profit!*
Final Verdict: Eh, it’s not as bad as it looks. It’s a 23rd card if I ever saw one. I dream of casting this one myself to discard a Violent Eruption when I don’t have the third mountain. I have strange dreams, I know. At least they aren’t turbulent.
Like all the dreams cards, Restless Dreams is card disadvantage. However, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, letting you trade useless late-game land for lost creatures en masse at a very low price. Being only a single mana means that, unlike Morgue Theft, you will likely be able to snatch back a number of creatures and then lay one down that turn.
As well, the low cost means that it’s likely you will be able to use this card alongside various madness effects.
Final Verdict: Useful. Not something you’d want more than one of in your deck, but a strong trick if you get to the point you can use it.
Final Verdict: Load your deck up with land destruction and then die to the Patrol Hound he played on the second turn.
Ritual isn’t generally considered a Limited card.
Final Verdict: Which x spell are you using?
As creature enchantments go, this one is funny. If played on a strong creature, that creature will be coming back again, and gains a useful ability. Especially funny if played on an Escape Artist with a lot of black mana sitting around.
Shade’s form has the advantage of – as long as it’s played when he’s tapped out and he doesn’t pack Second Thoughts/Vengeful Dreams, it will retain card parity. Card disadvantage is what makes most creature enchantments feel risky.
Final Verdict: Needs evasion creatures, quality creatures, or a lot of black mana to really work. There will be more of these in a draft than number of slots they should take up in people’s decks.
The Fatigue is a pretty blunt object-style card. The first Cripple will save you some damage, and although the flashed back spell will damage you, again if it makes a kill it will probably saved you some damage as well. If you feel like it, you can play Recoup alongside it and avoid the damage for three more mana.
Final Verdict: It’s flashback removal. Obviously very good.
The role it plays is similar to Frightcrawler. You put it in your deck if you feel your opponent will be unable to block it, with the hope that it will survive and deal out a lot of damage once you hit threshold.
Final Verdict: The drawback is odd, though. It’s not a horrible one, mind you, barring any Hallowed Healers on the other side of the table. It’s just not fitting. Regardless, it’s generally a sideboard or last slot creature.
Of the Thresh-cippers in Torment, this one is often the best, but sometimes nothing special. It’s the smallest of the five but features flying, so it’s a 2/2 flier for four mana before threshold. Like Childhood Horror before it, its real purpose occurs at threshold.
The card is poor if you run a lot of two or less toughness non-black creatures, but usually you won’t suffer too bad if you drafted a lot of black. The effect is very powerful if aimed well, allowing you to clear out your opponent’s trick creatures and chump blockers with ease.
Final Verdict: Maindeckable simply as a flier; post-threshold, the Gloomdrifter can be a hell of a card.
Of the uncommons in Torment, the Hybrid sits in my book at an uneasy second place with Carrion Wurm. The two creatures have the same overall mana cost, but differ in execution immensely.
The Hybrid can kill just about anything through its ability. The effect doesn’t even allow regeneration; the Hybrid could kill Spiritmongers if Spiritmongers occurred in Odyssey draft. (But it is a good way of pointing out just how brutal its ability is!) Besides that, it has a discard ability that allows it to annoy almost any deck you’ll face. Pro-green and white, plus flying for a card, is a very good deck and tends to make this a brutally effective creature.
Final Verdict: One of my favourites in the set; an absolute powerhouse of a creature.
A lot of people have made a lot of unfair comparisions between this and Faceless Butcher. They say, wow, this here creature is inferior to Butcher, costs almost as much, and it’s uncommon? These comparisons are unfair because it’s not poor Slithery Stalker’s fault he (or she, I guess) happens to fit into a poor slot on the mana curve.
Really, you’d expect it to be 2/1 or 1/3 or something to satisfy the fact that it’s three mana, but that doesn’t make the Stalker all bad. It’s a Butcher against white and green, which makes it a decent sideboard card. I’m fond of siding it in against opponent who run w/b or g/b decks, since it will nab a creature and do a few points of evasion damage.
Final Verdict: Nothing special, but not something you’d complain about if you actually get to use it in the ideal situations.
For five mana, you receive a large, fatty creature that can cause your opponent a lot of problems. It’s not as good as it first looks, since its drawback tends to lend it to dying to multiple chump blockers who aren’t going to be dealt any damage, but you really can’t pass up cheap 6/5 creatures.
Final Verdict: Good. A high pick, but there are better black cards in the set.
Oh, man. This is clearly the best uncommon in the set, since it’s straight up card advantage and plays extremely well alongside all of black’s ‘minor creature’ removal, like Torturer and Crippling Fatigue. Like Waste Away and Butcher, it can kill just about anything, although its drawback is having to go through their squirrels first.
Final Verdict: You won’t miss the instant speed once you get to use the flashback. Trust me on that one.
Sickening dreams has the unlikely potential to be card advantage, but most likely it’s only going to be used as a quick board reset in dangerous times. As a selective board reset, it’s not bad (board resets never are) but it’s not something I’d want a lot of in my deck.
Final Verdict: I’d rather have mutilate or other, stronger board-clearing effects, but Sickening Dreams is nothing to complain about. I’ve seen it win games, as all board resets are capable of doing.
Generally I’d rather have the Hypnotist, which clears their hand, while Sludge is likely to nail two or three cards if played on turn five. Later on, the Sludge becomes better, clearing their hand completely – but by that point, most people don’t have many cards in hand.
Sludge is a fairly powerful card and usable. Don’t be frightened off by your opponent having the potential of madness cards; there aren’t enough madness cards that clearing your opponent’s hand is likely to be a dangerous proposition.
Final Verdict: Clearing your opponent’s hand puts him into top deck mode. Given that black can consistently slaughter its opponents’ creatures, forcing an opponent into topdeck mode can be a large switch. Of course, flashback/threshold means it’s not as good as it might be in other environments.
In Odyssey, White received Master Apothecary, Blue Patron Wizard, and Green Seton. Of the three, I only find the Apothecary playable. Zombie Trailblazer joins this group – although oddly, it isn’t rare like the other three.
The Trailblazer also features two distinct abilities, which do have synergy with each other but at the price of needing a lot of zombies to make it work. However the real key to the Trailblazer is that against people toting black, it is the ability to make one of your creatures unblockable. Against decks that don’t have black or splash a colour, it can disrupt their mana base. With more Zombies, it can cripple their mana base or divert off their ability to play one colour.
Final Verdict: It requires a moderate devotion to black, but the effects of the Trailblazer are not to be ignored. Watch your opponent’s mana base while it’s on the table. Look for openings like him leaving five mana but only one plains open, or four mana with only two green.
At first glance this is a bad card, and it’s likely – well, to remain that way. Unless your opponent is packing absolutely amazing amounts of high quality flashback, the resulting card disadvantages makes this card useless.
Final Verdict: No good.
Strength of Lunacy
Although Strength of Isolation features the environmentally stronger Protection from Black, the Lunacy carries the stronger +2/+1 punch which is often a much better deal. Lunacy combines fearsomely with the Black stand-by Dirty Wererat. During combat, discard the Lunacy to feed the Wererat’s regeneration ability. The resulting blocker/attacker is 4/4, and even if your opponent pulls out some sort of trick to protect the creature the Wererat is in combat with, barring strong removal the Wererat’s regeneration will keep it in play.
Final Verdict: An excellent madness card and just a good deal either way.
A huge, powerful creature with one serious drawback – its toughness is a little shy of making it highly durable. It’s a first pick, but it’s not invincible and don’t ever think it is. Also, seven mana (you will wait for the regeneration mana, right?) for a 6/3 isn’t necessarily the hugest deal considering your opponent can just waste it away immediately.
Chainer, Dementia Master
This is one of those”bomb rares” that you have to play with to understand. Chainer is powerful… But his drawback is dramatic and very, very dangerous. On the surface he seems powerful, highly so. Scoop up opponents creatures for a relatively low cost and then charge them into battle, enhanced by Chainer’s magic.
The problem is two-fold; first, Chainer’s minions are removed from the game when he dies. You paid life and mana for those creatures, and they hinge on Chainer’s survival. The second problem is that Chainer’s demise terminates creatures you didn’t resurrect with Chainer. You’d assume a black draft deck would run Faceless Butcher, Mesmeric Fiend, maybe even Laquatus’ Champion? Well, with Chainer’s death (or even bouncing!), those creatures all die, permanently.
It’s a large flier. That’s it. 4/4 is far from invulnerable in this environment, but it is black, which shields it from some of the removal. It’s a first pick rare, but don’t get too excited.
Final Verdict: A first pick, most of the time.
At eleven mana, this massive beastie falls too far out of the potential playing field to be much usage in Limited. That’s fine; I wouldn’t want a creature with Hypnox’s abilities having a lower mana cost anyways.
Final Verdict: Useless.
An interesting card to consider. At 3/1 and haste for four mana, you are getting an okay deal. It’s hard to permanently deal with, barring Crypt Creepers or your opponent having his graveyard denied through Gravestorm/carrion creatures. It does die immediately, but that doesn’t make it bad.
I would play this if I had eight to ten other black creatures in my deck and my opponent lacked first strikers/pro-black creatures. I would side it out in matches where he had a lot of Patrol Hounds and the like sitting about.
Final Verdict: Not a high pick, but useable in some draft decks.
Fairly decent, Nantuko Shade needs a lot of mana to be useful – a lot of which needs to be held open so it doesn’t die to low-toughness removal cards. It can be strong if your opponent can’t deal with it, but Shades are a little too mana-intensive for the early game and a little too easily dealt with in the late.
Final Verdict: A decent weenie. I prefer the Collaborators over the Shade (if I’m playing the respective colours), simply because the extra toughness and combat abilities make them harder to defend against.
I’m surprised to see this card as a rare – but maybe I shouldn’t be. The Swarm has a sort of kinship with Violent Eruption; it’s very powerful, but the casting cost can make it a challenge to use effectively.
Either way, one of the better black rares in the set and a good, quality creature in draft. A little worse in sealed deck, where you often have to dip into other colours.
Final Verdict: Like Master Apothecary, I expect to see these passed by players who figure they just won’t have the mana to consistently play it. I think it’s strong enough to justify playing it even when it might be a little shaky, though.
This card would ideally combine with Skeletal Scrying, allowing you to pluck almost any number of choice cards out of your deck on command. However, besides working with the Scrying it’s not often going to be a good card. It is, though, an instant, which is nice. Also, keep in mind you can tutor for the Scrying, put it on top, and then draw it on the next turn.
Final Verdict: It might be good, or it might not. Bringing your draw quality up to perfect for a few turns might justify the card disadvantage, but I don’t see that as likely.
Dawn of the Dead
It might combo with certain cards – Awakening or Animal Boneyard, for one – or it might simply resurrect creature after creature, forcing your opponent to sacrifice defenders on already lost once before attackers. Or it might just sit there, ping you life, and present you with the ability to remove creatures you control from the game.
Final Verdict: This one is a tricky one. You’d need to make the decision to take it and use it based on what you’ve drafted and the table you’re at. If I had the Boneyard and the Awakening already, I’d probably take it, but otherwise I don’t know.
What could be an interesting card, Last Laugh still remains unlikely to be useful unless you manage to trigger a successful board clear, but leave a creature on your side alive. Doing so requires a proper step up of creatures, but it could manage to be useful if you and your opponent had a lot of weenies, and you had a decent regenerator to keep around.
Final Verdict: I’d have to really try this card out more. My instincts tell me it isn’t very good, though.
When a card requires you to dump 50% of your deck into your graveyard and play twenty or more creatures, it seems rather unlikely you’re going to manage a win with it.
Final Verdict: Rather unlikely to do anything.
Mutilate is a more thought-provoking version of Wrath. You might need to be tricky to take down a big creature, but if you watch the number of swamps you put down, you can Mutilate and still keep your own fatties. That’s probably worth the inconsistency of the card.
Final Verdict: Definite first pick if you’re playing strong black. Worst art I’ve seen in a long time, though. With a name like”Mutilate,” you’d expect something a lot better.
*=Yes, I know I messed up the joke, but I had to say it. I’m sorry.