You CAN Play Type I #62: Opening Up Onslaught, Part III – The Sorceries

Blackmail is clearly a second-rate Duress. But is that bad? Well, actually it is – unless you can find a deck that wants four more discard slots. You know, though, that no deck wants all that discard, the simplest reason being it sucks to strip an empty hand while a weenie beats down on you. Discard is just disruption; you need other things to win you the game.

I was able to squeeze in a bit of practice last week (translation: Reading hundreds of pages of Labor Law turns your mind into mush), and had a couple of funny matches. Both were best of three, unsideboarded, against mono black Mask. That’s hardly a good matchup, but the worst matchups make for the most enjoyable practice.

Game 2 against Mike Skolnik from Canada (Atreides on Mana Drain) had me successfully beat his opening wave, but he got two Illusionary Masks out and added an unorthodox Nevinyrral’s Disk to complicate the board situation. I hit the first Phyrexian Dreadnought with Dismantling Blow – teasing him to use the Disk to counter the Blow’s kicker – and then a second with Swords to Plowshares. I broke the standoff with Vampiric Tutor for Braingeyser, tapping out for six cards.

Unfortunately, he topdecked an unorthodox Winter Orb.

We topdecked and slowly untapped our lands until he played another Masked creature with twenty-three cards left in the library. I had a full hand, but the only relevant cards I had were The Abyss and Balance.

I checked the graveyard and removed from the game zones. Three Dreadnoughts accounted for.

But, I was at eleven life.

Balance would kill the possible Dreadnought – but would also kill all but three of my land and my entire hand, and I’d most probably lose the topdeck war since he’d Disk away my Moxen, too.

I told him,”BALLS!” and played The Abyss instead.

He flipped… Skittering Horror.

He knew he only had one Dreadnought left, too, so I Disked away the Orb, the Abyss, his Masks, and all our artifact mana. I untapped and ask him to guess my topdeck.

“Um… Yawgmoth’s Will?”

Good guess. I go Time Walk, Strip your third land, Will, Time Walk again, replay Strip Mine and Strip your second land…

Well, you know the drill.

As for the other match, Game 1 against Benny Meyers, an Oakton Community College freshman from Chicago (Dancing Joker on E-League), saw him with a SwampDark Ritual, SwampBlack LotusYawgmoth’s WillBlack LotusDark Ritual opening sequence. I threw it right back at him in Game 2 with tricks like Black LotusMind Twist, then Yawgmoth’s Will-Lotus-Ancestral Recall and some other stuff.

Game 3, though, had him cast Demonic Consultation for an Illusionary Mask and lose three Phyrexian Negators in the process. His test version had more discard and less threats, so that hurt his topdecks. Nevertheless, he laughed when I tutored for Braingeyser and got three lands and two Moxen out of seven cards, and cast Fact or Fiction and turned over five lands.

He cast end-of-turn Tainted Pact to get his offense going again, but I took a dramatic moment.



“Before you Pact, note that I have three Moxen, a Sol Ring, and eleven lands in play.”

“Guess so.”

“And you have thirteen cards left in your library.”


I show the first of my three-card hand: Chainer’s Edict.

“This is for Dreadnoughts #3 and #4.”


I show the second: Mana Drain.

“This is for what you get off Pact.”


Then, I show him my last card.

“And in response to Tainted Pact, Stroke of Genius for thirteen.”


“Okay. You may resolve Tainted Pact now. Take your time.”

Easiest Tainted Pact ever…

(Benny and I stuck in another game while he was judging an E-League mini, and this one had an equally funny ending. I got a Vampiric Tutor-Ancestral, Regrowth-Ancestral opening, while he played an Illusionary Mask.. He played a third-turn Phyrexian Negator, but I was ahead in hand size 7-1. I got The Abyss and should’ve won, but he topdecked a Dreadnought.

(Uh-oh. At twelve life?

(Typical”The Deck” comeback, I cast Fact or Fiction, and he split Yawgmoth’s Will alone. I tapped out for Will, replayed Black Lotus, then Ancestral and the Time Walk from the other FoF pile.

(I untapped and tapped all but a Tundra for a 5-point Braingeyser… and guess what the fifth card was?

(I slid the Swords to Plowshares on top of the facedown Dreadnought to his great disbelief and…

(…at that moment, the power in Manila went out. Sorry, Benny, if you’re reading this…)

Onslaught Enchant Creatures

Last week, we finished up with a long list of possibles from the Onslaught creatures. Again, I hope you remember our two rules:

  • Is the card more efficient than an established benchmark? (Or, do I get more bang from my buck?)

  • Does the card do something no past card ever did, and if it does, is this new card playable?

Mythic Proportions

What… You actually expected something in this much-maligned category?

This was just to check if you’ve been clicking on the links!

May your”scroll down” jokes actually be funny, or whatever Rosewater imitation ending you want me to slip in.

Onslaught Sorceries

Okay, let’s break our usual order for Benny’s benefit. The Judgment forecast went pretty well, and all the #apprentice players have finally given up on Browbeat.


This is a clear application for Rule #1, and you obviously get a second-rate Duress.

But is that bad?

The classic Lightning Bolt is still the best burn spell… But did that make Chain Lightning and Incinerate useless? Same with Hymn to Tourach, which was followed by Stupor, and eventually Duress much later on.

No, these were hardly bad because they gave a player four more slots for that effect, and added redundancy to decks that wanted them.

Now, the standard discard complement of your average mono black is Duress, Hymn to Tourach, and Hypnotic Specter. Each member of the trio is the most efficient in its class and rarely replaced, except in special cases like Pox decks (which obviously use Pox over Specter).

With respect to Blackmail, that seems to close the book (deck box?) on it, unless you figure a deck wants four more discard slots. You know, though, that no deck wants all that discard, the simplest reason being it sucks to Hymn an empty hand while a weenie beats down on you. Discard is just disruption; you need other things to win you the game.

MagictheGathering.com’s Ben Bleiweiss felt it was the #4 Type I card from Onslaught, and he felt,”This gives you yet another one mana cost discard spell to follow up Dark Ritual/Hymn to Tourach.”

So to use it, all we have to do is look for a deck that wants another one mana discard spell, probably one where Hypnotic Specter can’t fill the last of the roughly twelve slots.

Real easy, Ben…

Running down the list-Suicide, no… NetherVoid, no… Pox, no… all combo decks, no…

…You end up with Illusionary Mask. The good mono black Mask versions end up running Unmask to supplement Duress because they need to force Phyrexian Dreadnought early or stall (they also run Hymn).

I figure, though, that Unmask is better at disrupting an opponent’s hand, even if you have to pitch a crucial black card to it. Duress just trades one-for-one, so the only way to get advantage out of it is to snag a better card, like dismantling a”The Deck” opening hand by removing a juicy Ancestral Recall or Balance. It isn’t so good after the first few turns, and you don’t want to topdeck it in a lot of situations.

Blackmail is much weaker in that window when Duress is amazing, and is just as mediocre later on.

Benny Meyers and I did get an early Blackmail situation (he was testing, providently, Blackmail) in our games. I had a four-card hand and showed him land, land, unplayable card.

I don’t think he liked the result.

After reviewing this draft, Norweigian Mask developer Chris Flaaten e-mailed,”Blackmail is still a decent card in other decks though – very mindgame-oriented. That probably means it will be best in more control oriented decks (in formats that don’t have Duress, at least!”

But… And to clarify Ben’s comment: If you do that first-turn Dark RitualHymn to Tourach, you lead Hymn with Duress, not follow up Hymn with Duress… Otherwise, you might see Misdirection and trade four of your cards for two of his (Duress can’t be Misdirected).

Chain of Smog

Now, apply the extended discard slot discussion above to Chain of Smog. You don’t need more slots, and it’s not strong enough to replace an existing card. End of story.

Moreover, it might possibly backfire against a faster deck with something in play already and wouldn’t mind killing both hands.

Chain of Acid

his is a rehash of the venerable Creeping Mold, which was fun in your old casual Land Destruction and Erhnam Burn’Em decks, but is just too expensive compared to today’s more specialized utility cards. Chain of Acid doesn’t look much better, and you again risk the opponent starting a chain when it’s to his advantage.

Incidentally, the original Chain Lightning from Legends had a cost to chain, so the new cards give the opponent a lot more latitude.

Trade Secrets

I’ve seen some players drool over this, so it demands some dissection.

Simple math: You cast the card (-1 card in hand) to draw four (+3) but give your opponent two (+1).

Assuming your opponent doesn’t give you more cards (and he probably won’t), that’s as good as Inspiration.

Inspiration stinks.

That said, Trade Secrets only becomes more appealing if you can neutralize the two cards you give your opponent. Barring some exotic way to set up your opponent, like donating Thought Devourers, this usually means using Trade Secrets to start up a combo deck’s winning turn.

The simple question is, why not Meditate? This has its own drawback, but it doesn’t give the opponent a free shot at Force of Will at the last minute-summing up the drawback, JP”Polluted” Meyer e-mailed,”Trade Secrets actually reads: ‘Opponent chooses one: Draw two cards or lose the game.'” Plus, Meditate asks for one less colored mana, which is crucial for combos that rely on (colorless) artifact mana acceleration.

(Right before this article was sent in, JP added these thoughts:”Seriously, in just about every format except maybe Onslaught Block, this card will most likely kill you once your opponent untaps. You will die in Type 2 if they have out a card like Wild Mongrel or Psychatog or Upheaval. Hell, they could draw thirty cards cards or so, drop Zombie Infestation, and make twenty power worth of guys. With the heavy amount of mana acceleration in Extended, you can easily have your opponent assemble their kill and off you in one

turn – imagine Tinker drawing twenty cards and playing half of them..  And in Type I, any control deck will grab a full complement of counters, any aggro deck will pull enough damage and/or disruption, and any combo deck will obviously win the next turn.”)

Harsh Mercy

Some mentioned using this, but whether you look at it as a second-rate Wrath of God or a second-rate Diabolic Edict, I have no idea how.

The only time it’d work against a lone creature in play is against artifact creatures with no type, but you’d think Seal of Cleansing sees more play than Harsh Mercy will.

Raphael Caron, a.k.a. K-Run, chimed in for Deck Parfait:”This card reminds me of Do or Die, since your opponent gets to choose which creatures he’ll keep. I’d rather pay an extra W and deny that choice to my opponent.”


Some beginners will probably use this as a Thran Foundry that you can pitch to Force of Will. If you’re a beginner, remember that reshuffling your graveyard back in is nice and all, but you get no card advantage.. And, even if you lost a one-of, it might get reshuffled to the bottom of your library anyway.

Further, note that you get half of Timetwister for the same price. (Okay, so not half the dollar price…)

Head Games

I’m really not sure why they printed this Jester’s Mask ripoff. It’s fun and all (unless it’s your foil rare), but it’s ironically in the color that makes sure you don’t have a hand.

Syphon Mind

This looks fun, too, but I’ll leave it to Anthony Alongi. Maybe we’ll see a future Syphon cycle, drawing off the reprinted Syphon Soul. But never forget… we Type I players are the segment that makes the most noise.

Airborne Aid

This looks fun in a Soraya the Falconer deck, even if you need four Birds to make it better than Concentrate. You wonder, though, if Coastal Piracy is simply better in that theme.


I honestly wonder if this is someone’s idea of a joke masquerading as another alternate win. It looks like a fun card for Elf decks to try, and it’s a sure way to humiliate any control or combo player (especially if you play it in SquirrelCraft instead).

Besides… It’s a green alternate win.

Tivadar’s Crusade

Just checking if you’re actually clicking on the links… No, this didn’t get reprinted and that’s all for this week.

Oscar Tan

rakso on #BDChat on EFNet

University of the Philippines, College of Law

Forum Administrator, Star City Games

Featured writer, Star City Games

Author of the Control Player’s Bible

Maintainer, Beyond Dominia (R.I.P.)

Proud member of the Casual Player’s Alliance