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TOR logo.png
Set symbol
TOR symbol.png
Symbol description
A nightmare
Design team
Bill Rose (lead)
Mike Elliott
With Odyssey design concepts by:
Richard Garfield
Mark Rosewater
Development team
Henry Stern (lead)
Randy Buehler
Michael Donais
Bill McQuillan
Brian Schneider
With contributions from:
Paul Barclay
Brady Dommermuth
Art Director
Dana Knutson
Release date
February 8, 2002
Themes and mechanics
"Graveyard matters",
Keywords and/or ability words
Set size
(55 commons, 44 uncommons, 44 rares)
Expansion code
Development codename
Odyssey block sets
Odyssey Torment Judgment
Magic: The Gathering chronology
Deckmasters 2001 Torment Judgment

Torment (a.k.a. the black set) is the second set, and first small expansion, in the Odyssey block. It is the 25th Magic expansion and was released on February 8, 2002. [1]

Set details[edit]

Torment featured 143 black-bordered cards (55 commons, 44 uncommons and 44 rares). Its expansion symbol represents a nightmare, to evoke the set’s dark themes and 'dementia summoning.' [2] Torment was notable for its shift from the conventional distribution, an equal focus, on all the five colors of Magic to a particular thematic and mechanical emphasis on black. Consequently, from the set's development, it was, and is, referred to as the "black set". [3] [4] To account for the over-representation of black, the total number of green and white cards was accordingly reduced; there are 40 black cards, 28 blue and red, 21 green and white, and there are 5 nonbasic lands. The following expansion, Judgment, would later correct the inequality of black, green, and white cards.[5] In addition to there being more black cards, the general level of power of black cards was comparably more powerful than those of other-colored cards.[6]

In addition to a higher-than-usual number of black cards, there are numerous cards in other colors that specifically refer to black or Swamps (e.g., Major Teroh, Stern Judge, Cephalid Snitch, Barbarian Outcast, Enslaved Dwarf, Krosan Constrictor, Nantuko Blightcutter, Cabal Coffers), are thematically related to black (e.g., Possessed Nomad, Possessed Aven, Possessed Barbarian, Possessed Centaur), or use black mana (e.g., Balshan Collaborator, Pardic Collaborator).

Torment was noted for featuring a four-card cycle of Tainted lands, which could add black mana or mana of another color if their controllers controlled a Swamp and were the only lands in the expansion. The original basic land artists of Odyssey were commissioned to do darker versions of their original basic lands. [7]


The cards were sold in 15-card boosters which featured the new artwork from Sengir Vampire, in four preconstructed theme decks and a fat pack. [8] The Torment prerelease was held on January 25–25, 2002. [9] At this event, a foil Воин Лакватуса (Laquatus's Champion printed in Cyrillic text) was handed out. The set was accompanied by the novel Chainer's Torment. For the first time, the name of the novel partly deviated from the name of the set. The set itself had the same name as an older card, but that card didn't appear in it.

Flavor and storyline[edit]

Main article: Chainer's Torment

Chainer's Torment presents the tale of Chainer, a Cabal dementia summoner, discovering the Mirari and rising through the ranks of the Cabal, rivaling the Cabal Patriarch himself, and his subsequential fall. [10] Meanwhile Kamahl befriends Chainer, with whom he trains as a pit fighter and fights as an ally within the pits, and Laquatus plots to gain control of the Mer Empire for himself.

Critical reception and tournament impact[edit]

Torment's release marked a tremendous power boost to the color black. The "Swamp Rewards" cards along with Chainer's Edict and Nantuko Shade were incredibly potent in tournament play, spawning the MonoBlack Control archetype that could destroy its opponent's creatures, hand, and life total with large Cabal Coffers-fueled spells. Previously, control decks were almost synonymous with blue counter-based control decks.

Relative to other mechanics at the time, Torment's Madness mechanic proved to be overpowered, most notably on Circular Logic, Basking Rootwalla and Arrogant Wurm.


  • All non-premium English-language white cards in Torment have a reduced image resolution, making them look grainy and pixelated.[11]

Themes and mechanics[edit]

Torment continued the keywords introduced in Odyssey, Flashback and Threshold, and also introduced Madness, which allowed players to play cards as they were being discarded, at a reduced cost. [12] [13]

Non-keyworded themes and mechanics included Nightmare Horrors (or, simply, Nightmares), each of which had a comes-into-play and leaves-play ability. [14] [15] These creatures could exile a permanent of a specific type from play until they left play. The abilities of most of these Nightmares (exceptions being Soul Scourge and Laquatus's Champion) could be manipulated in a way that the exiling of permanents was essentially until the end of the game, by triggering the leaves-play ability as the Nightmare entered play and manipulating the order of abilities on the stack. [16]

Creature types[edit]

No novel creature types were introduced in this expansion.

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

The creature type Guardian was used in this expansion at the time of printing but was later changed to Elemental.


Torment features eight five- or four-card cycles[17] and three vertical cycles.

Five-card cycles[edit]

Four-card cycles[edit]

Vertical cycles[edit]

  • Black Dreams: while white, blue, red, and green each received one (rare) Dreams spell, black received three, one per rarity (to date). Each black Dreams spell has a different cost from other black Dreams and non-black Dreams spells; but, common to Dreams spells, they require the discard of any number of cards for a scalable effect — Restless Dreams, Sickening Dreams, and Insidious Dreams.
  • Punisher spells: each of these red spell provide the targeted opponent with a choice of two unfavorable effects, one of which is direct damage — Longhorn Firebeast, Flaming Gambit, and Skullscorch.

Mega cycles[edit]


Mirrored pairs[edit]

Torment has one mirrored pair.

  • Strength of Isolation (white) and Strength of Lunacy (black) are both auras that confer a strength/toughness boon (respectively, +1/+2 and +2/+1) and protection from the opposite color. In addition to this, both of these auras have a Madness cost of C.

Reprinted cards[edit]

There was one reprinted card in the set:

Preconstructed decks[edit]

Theme decks[edit]

Main article: Torment/Theme decks

Torment has four bicolored theme decks. As the set is a black-heavy, fittingly, one of the colors of each of the four theme decks is black. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that two copies of each of the "tainted lands" cycle is included in each of the theme decks.

Theme deck name
Colors included
White Blue Black Red Green
Grave Danger
Waking Nightmares
Odyssey block preconstructed theme decks
Odyssey theme decks: Liftoff (Manaw.gifManau.gif) | Pressure Cooker (Manab.gifManar.gif) | One-Two Punch (Manar.gifManag.gif) | Trounce-O-Matic (Manag.gifManau.gif)
Torment theme decks: Sacrilege (Manaw.gifManab.gif) | Grave Danger (Manau.gifManab.gif) | Insanity (Manab.gifManar.gif) | Waking Nightmares (Manab.gifManag.gif)
Judgment theme decks: Air Razers (Manau.gifManar.gif) | Inundation (Manaw.gif) | Painflow (Manag.gif) | Spectral Slam (Manag.gifManaw.gif)
Related pages: Odyssey block/Preconstructed theme decksOdyssey block theme decks


  1. Wizards of the Coast. (June 11, 2003.) "Eighth Edition Rollout: Torment", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Brady Dommermuth. (October 31, 2006.) "Ask Wizards", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater. (January 14, 2002.) "Make It Black", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Randy Buehler. (January 18, 2002.) "Altering the Environment", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Wizards of the Coast. (June 11, 2003.) "Eighth Edition Rollout: Judgment", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater. (July 2, 2012.) "Old Times", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Magic Arcana. (January 31, 2002.) "Tainted Lands", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Magic Arcana. (January 02, 2002.) "Torment Product Images", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Jeff Donais. (January 10, 2002.) "Torment Prerelease", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Scott McGough. (2002.) Odyssey Cycle, Book II: Chainer's Torment, Wizards of the Coast. ISBN-13 978-0786926961.
  11. Randy Brühl. (February 26, 2002.) "Ask Wizards - February 26, 2002", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Mike Elliott. (January 21, 2002.) "Initial Stages of Madness", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Paul Barclay. (January 28, 2002.) "Rules Primer:Madness", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Mark Rosewater. (January 7, 2002.) "A Nightmare to Remember", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Randy Buehler. (January 11, 2002.) "Slithery Sky", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Wizards of the Coast. (N/A..) "Torment Frequently Asked Questions", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Ben Bleiweiss. (July 17, 2002.) "Set of Five, Part 2", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Magic Arcana. (July 09, 2002.) "Dreamcycle", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.

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