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Onslaught

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Onslaught
ONS logo.png
Set symbol
ONS symbol.png
Symbol description
A four-legged (in-game face-down) morphed creature
Design team
Mike Elliott (lead),
Mike Donais
Development team
Randy Buehler (lead),
Elaine Chase,
Mike Donais,
Brian Schneider,
Henry Stern,
Worth Wollpert
Art Director
Jeremy Cranford & Dana Knutson
Release date
October 7, 2002
Themes and mechanics
"Cost matters",
"Creature type matters" (tribal/creature types),
Cycling triggers,
Gustcloak,
Mistform
Keywords and/or ability words
Cycling,
Fear,
Morph
Set size
350
(20 basic lands, 110 commons, 110 uncommons, 110 rares)
Expansion code
ONS
Development codename
Manny[1]
Onslaught block sets
Onslaught Legions Scourge
Magic: The Gathering chronology
Judgment Onslaught Legions

Onslaught is the first (and the only large expansion) set in the Onslaught block. It is the 27th Magic: The Gathering expansion and was released on October 7, 2002. The prerelease was September 28–29, 2002.

Set details[edit]

Onslaught, like its following expansions in the Onslaught block, Legions and Scourge, featured a theme that focused heavily on "tribal" cards, or cards that are concerned with creature types. [2] [3] The set contains 350 black-bordered cards (110 rare, 110 uncommon, 110 common, and 20 basic lands). Onslaught's expansion symbol is a stylized morphed creature. [4]

Marketing[edit]

Onslaught was sold in 75-card tournament decks, 15-card boosters, four preconstructed theme decks and a fat pack. [5] For the first time, there were four different booster packs. They featured artwork from Jareth, Leonine Titan, Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, Blistering Firecat and Grinning Demon. The prerelease card was a foil Silent Specter. [6] The set was accompanied by the novel of the same name.

Flavor and storyline[edit]

Main article: Onslaught (novel)

A continuation of the storyline developed in the Odyssey Cycle, Onslaught and the Onslaught Cycle are set on the continent of Otaria on the devastated plane of Dominaria, approximately a century after the events of Apocalypse of the Invasion block. [7] [8] Kamahl has relocated to the Krosan Forest with the Mirari and becomes a druid of Krosa. The power of the Mirari begins to work on the forest, mutating its residents and growing some of them to gigantic proportions. Meanwhile, Kamahl's sister Jeska is transformed by foul Cabal healing magic, into Phage, a pit fighter whose touch brings death. The illusionist Ixidor discovers his new powers of reality sculpting. Ixidor uses his new power to create the angel Akroma.

Tokens[edit]

Several tokens for Onslaught cards were offered as Magic Player Rewards.

Because Magic Online needs to represent all the tokens in the game, art needs to be created for even the most insignificant tokens. For those, Magic Online is the only place it appears. [12] [13]

Themes and mechanics[edit]

Themes[edit]

Tribal and creature types were a prominent theme in the Onslaught block.[2] Some creature types bled into colors other than their normal colors (e.g., Festering Goblin, a black, non-red Goblin), for more design space and variety.[14]

Creature subtype Tribe name Primary color Secondary color(s)
Beast Red (Manar.gif)
Green (Manag.gif)
Blue (Manau.gif)
Black (Manab.gif)
Birds Aven (in white and blue only)
Birds
White (Manaw.gif)
Blue (Manau.gif)
Black (Manab.gif)
Red (Manar.gif)
Clerics White (Manaw.gif)
Black (Manab.gif)
Dragons Red (Manar.gif) Blue (Manau.gif)
Elves Green (Manag.gif)
Goblins Red (Manar.gif) Black (Manab.gif)
Illusions Mistform (or Mimics)[note 1][15] Blue (Manau.gif)
Soldiers White (Manaw.gif) Blue (Manau.gif)
Green (Manag.gif)
Wizards Blue (Manau.gif) All other colors (Manaw.gifManab.gifManar.gifManag.gif)
Zombies Black (Manab.gif)

Numerous cards with class creature types, as opposed to species or race ones, such as the Cleric, Soldier, and Wizards creature types, were retroactively given additional (species or race) creature types during the Grand Creature Type Update to be more consistent with the "race-class model".[16] In most of these cases, the additional creature type was Human. This, by and large, did not cause significant changes to this expansion or block.[17] In 2002, a poll conducted on MTG.com showed that a majority of respondents were opposed to the idea of Human as a creature type.[18]

Dragons have a small presence in Onslaught, with the only Dragon creature cards being Quicksilver Dragon and Rorix Bladewing (and an additional one enchantment dragon-creature-token-creating card in Dragon Roost). Dragons would go on to form a theme in Scourge, the third Onslaught block expansion.[19]

In addition to the tribal theme, Onslaught features a number of cards, such as Erratic Explosion, that foreshadow the "cost matters" theme that is more fully explored in Scourge.

Mechanics[edit]

Onslaught reintroduced the static keyword ability cycling and featured a number of mechanics, some of which were novel, including: [20]

  • Fear: a keyword static ability of an established ability, fear, named after Fear, the Limited Edition aura card, and first card, that conferred or featured this ability, means "This creature can't be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or black creatures.".
  • Gustcloak: a non-keyword triggered ability that allows the controller of a blocked creature with the ability to remove the creature from combat, thereby preventing all combat damage that would be dealt to and by it, similar to the effect of Maze of Ith.
  • Lords: any card with an activated ability whose cost includes the tapping of a creature that shares a creature type with the lord (i.e., Ancestor's Prophet, Aphetto Grifter, Birchlore Rangers, Catapult Master, Catapult Squad, Crookclaw Elder, Gravespawn Sovereign, Shieldmage Elder, Skirk Fire Marshal, Spurred Wolverine, Supreme Inquisitor, Voice of the Woods, and Legions' Keeper of the Nine Gales). Cards somewhat similar to lords are Cryptic Gateway and Gangrenous Goliath, which, although they forward the tribal theme, do not tap creatures that share a creature subtype with the card itself.
  • Morph: a static ability that allows the controller of a card with the morph ability to cast the card face-down as a 2/2 creature with no text, no name, no subtypes, no expansion symbol, and no mana cost.[21] [22] [23]
  • Saboteurs: any creature card with a "Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player" triggered ability.
  • Self-recruiters: any card with an enters-the-battlefield triggered ability that allows its controller to search for a similarly named card, reveal that card, and put it into his or her hand.
  • Cycling: originally conceived during Tempest design as "sliding" and first featured in Urza's Saga,[24] was brought back from abeyance for reasons including "nostalgia", "exposing new[er] players [to older mechanics]", "[exploring] new twists [to the old mechanic]", "interaction with other mechanics", and "conservation of design space".[25] To expand on cycling, a number of cards with cycling triggers,

such as Astral Slide and Lightning Rift, and a number of cards with cycling and abilities that trigger when they are cycled, such as Death Pulse and Krosan Tusker, were featured in Onslaught.

Creature types[edit]

The creature types Anteater (retroactively) and Mutant were introduced in Onslaught.

The following creature types that are not new to Magic are used in this expansion:

The creature type Lord was used in this expansion at the time of printing but was later removed.

Cycles[edit]

Onslaught features 13 cycles.

Cycle name Description and notes White card(s) Blue card(s) Black card(s) Red card(s) Green card(s)
Allied-colored fetch lands Each of these rare lands has an activated ability costing 1 life and the tapping and sacrifice of the land to search for a land with either or both of two basic land types corresponding to the colors of an allied color pair.[26] Flooded Strand
(Manaw.gifManau.gif)
Polluted Delta
(Manau.gifManab.gif)
Bloodstained Mire
(Manab.gifManar.gif)
Wooded Foothills
(Manar.gifManag.gif)
Windswept Heath
(Manag.gifManaw.gif)
Avatars Each of these */* uncommon Avatar creature cards has an power/toughness-defining ability, which is dependent on the number of creatures that share a type with the Avatar in play (and, in the case of Soulless One, the number of creature cards that share a type with it in all graveyards).[20] Doubtless One (Clerics) Nameless One (Wizards) Soulless One (Zombies) Reckless One (Goblins) Heedless One (Elves)
Chain spells Each of these uncommon spells, inspired by Chain Lightning and Chain Stasis, may be copied by the player affected by the spell or the controller of the permanent affected by the spell.[20] Chain of Silence Chain of Vapor Chain of Smog Chain of Plasma Chain of Acid
Charms Each of these common instant spells with mana cost C has three modes, at least one of which was related to one of the main tribes of the expansion.[27] Piety Charm (Soldiers) Trickery Charm Misery Charm (Clerics) Fever Charm (Wizards) Vitality Charm (Beasts)
Crowns Each of these common auras costing 1C confers an ability and may be sacrificed to grant that ability to all creatures that share a type with the (formerly) enchanted creature until end of turn. Crown of Awe Crown of Ascension Crown of Suspicion Crown of Fury Crown of Vigor
Couriers Each of these uncommon 2/1 creature cards costing 2C has a static ability allowing their controllers to not untap them during their controllers' untap step and an activated ability that may provide a creature that shares a creature type with the Courier with +2/+2 and an ability common to the Courier's color as long as the Courier remains tapped. Pearlspear Courier (Soldiers) Ghosthelm Courier (Wizards) Frightshroud Courier (Zombies) Flamestick Courier (Goblins) Everglove Courier (Elves)
Cycling lands Each of these common nonbasic lands enters the battlefield tapped and may be tapped for C or may be cycled for C. [28] Secluded Steppe Lonely Sandbar Barren Moor Forgotten Cave Tranquil Thicket
Cycling spells Each of these uncommon spells may be cycled for an effect that is similar to their original effect, albeit at a smaller size. Sunfire Balm Complicate Death Pulse Slice and Dice Primal Boost
Cycling trigger permanents Each of these uncommon permanent cards has a triggered ability that triggers whenever a player cycles a card.

Two of these, Astral Slide and Lightning Rift, were centerpieces of the Astral Slide deck.[29]
Astral Slide Fleeting Aven Withering Hex Lightning Rift Invigorating Boon
Legendary pit-fighter champions Each of these powerful rare legendary creature cards costs Mana3.gifCCC. [30] Jareth, Leonine Titan Arcanis the Omnipotent Visara the Dreadful Rorix Bladewing Silvos, Rogue Elemental
Lords Each of these rare (formerly Lord) creature cards has an activated ability to tap five creatures (and/or, later, other permanents) of a given creature (or tribal) subtype for a potent effect.[20] Ancestor's Prophet (Clerics)

Catapult Master (Soldiers)
Supreme Inquisitor (Wizards) Gravespawn Sovereign (Zombies) Skirk Fire Marshal (Goblins) Voice of the Woods (Elves)
Tribal lands Each of these uncommon lands may be tapped for Mana1.gif or tapped and activated for an ability related to one of the main tribes of the expansion.

Five require only one color of mana, whilst three, Contested Cliffs for Beasts, Seaside Haven for Birds, and Starlit Sanctum for Clerics, require two colors of mana to activate their non-mana-producing ability. Furthermore, Starlit Sanctum is notable for having two non-mana-producing activated abilities. [31]
Daru Encampment (Soldiers) Riptide Laboratory (Wizards) Unholy Grotto (Zombies) Goblin Burrows (Goblins) Wirewood Lodge (Elves)
Words Each of these rare enchantments may be activated for Mana1.gif to allow their controller to replace the next draw in exchange for an effect. Words of Worship Words of Wind Words of Waste Words of War Words of Wilding

Vertical cycles[edit]

Cycle name Description and notes Common card(s) Uncommon card(s) Rare card(s)
Symbiotic creatures
Each of these green creatures has a triggered ability that triggers when the creature dies. The ability allows the creatures' controllers to put a number of green 1/1 Insect creature tokens into play equal to the printed power of the creature.
Symbiotic Elf Symbiotic Beast Symbiotic Wurm
"Cost matters" cards
Each of these red spells has an ability that reveals cards from the top of its controller's library until a nonland card is revealed and has a scalable effect that is dependent on the converted mana cost of the nonland card revealed.
Erratic Explosion Goblin Machinist Kaboom!

Pairs[edit]

Onslaught has one mirrored pair.

Reprinted cards[edit]

Functional reprints[edit]

Color shifted[edit]

Strictly better[edit]

Notable cards[edit]

  • The cycle of allied fetch lands continue to see significant play in all formats in which they are legal.

Preconstructed decks[edit]

Main article: Onslaught/Theme decks

Onslaught has four bicolored theme decks.

Theme deck name
Colors included
White Blue Black Red Green
Bait & Switch
Celestial Assault
Devastation
Ivory Doom
Onslaught block preconstructed theme decks
Onslaught theme decks: Bait & Switch (Manau.gifManab.gif) | Celestial Assault (Manaw.gifManau.gif) | Devastation (Manar.gifManag.gif) | Ivory Doom (Manaw.gifManab.gif)
Legions theme decks: Elvish Rage (Manag.gif) | Morph Mayhem (Manaw.gifManau.gif) | Sliver Shivers (Manag.gifManaw.gifManau.gif) | Zombies Unleashed (Manab.gif)
Scourge theme decks: Goblin Mob (Manar.gif) | Max Attax (Manab.gifManag.gif) | Pulverize (Manau.gifManar.gif) | Storm Surge (Manaw.gifManau.gif)
Related pages: Onslaught block/Preconstructed theme decksOnslaught block theme decks

Notes[edit]

  1. Mistform creatures all have the ability to change their creature type.

References[edit]

  1. Mark Rosewater. (August 12, 2002.) "Codename of the Game", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mark Rosewater. (September 23, 2002.) "Tribal's in Your Court", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater. (August 20, 2007.) "Onslaught Machine", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Brady Dommermuth. (October 31, 2006.) "Ask Wizards", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Magic Arcana. (September 09, 2002.) "Onslaught product images", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Wizards of the Coast. "Onslaught Prerelease", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Vance Moore. (2001.) Odyssey Cycle, Book I: Odyssey, Wizards of the Coast. ISBN-13 978-0786919000.
  8. Rei Nakazawa. (September 23, 2002.) "Preparing for the Onslaught", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Magic Arcana. (May 27, 2003.) "Soldier Tokens", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Magic Arcana. (January 30, 2003.) "New token cards", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Magic Arcana. (June 11, 2003.) "New Player Rewards tokens", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Magic Arcana. (November 06, 2002.) "Onslaught green tokens", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Magic Arcana. (November 13, 2002.) "More Onslaught tokens", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Randy Buehler. (December 13, 2002.) "Old Uncle Fester", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Mark Rosewater. (October 14, 2002.) "Creature Feature", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Randy Buehler. (November 22, 2002.) "Debating Humanity", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Mark Gottlieb. (September 26, 2007.) "The Grand Creature Type Update", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Randy Buehler. (November 29, 2002.) "Human Nature", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Mark Rosewater. (April 28, 2003.) "Dragon Racing", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Wizards of the Coast. "New Features in Onslaught", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  21. Wizards of the Coast. "Onslaught Frequently Asked Questions", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  22. Paul Barclay. (September 6, 2002.) "Morph: Onslaught's New Ability", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  23. Mark Rosewater. (September 09, 2002.) "Wait, There's Morph", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  24. Mark Rosewater. (March 22, 2004.) "A Cycling Built for Two", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  25. Mark Rosewater. (September 16, 2002.) "Cycling Cycling", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  26. Randy Buehler. (April 4, 2003.) "The Lands That Almost Weren't", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  27. Mark Rosewater. (September 17, 2012.) "Return on Investment, Part 3", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  28. Magic Arcana. (March 25, 2004.) "Sketches: Onslaught cycling lands", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  29. Gabe Walls. (March 22, 2004.) "Astral Slide in the New Standard", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  30. Josh Bennett. (September 13, 2002.) "Introducing the Pit Fighter Legends", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  31. Magic Arcana. (October 02, 2002.) "Tribal lands", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  32. Ben Bleiweiss. (October 2, 2002.) "That Old Familiar Spell", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  33. Randy Buehler. (October 18, 2002.) "Birth of a Prodigy", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.

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