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|Symbol description||A four-legged (in-game face-down) morphed creature|
Mike Elliott (lead),|
Randy Buehler (lead),|
|Art direction||Jeremy Cranford & Dana Knutson|
|Release date||October 7, 2002|
"Creature type matters" (tribal/creature types),
or ability words
(20 basic lands, 110 commons, 110 uncommons, 110 rares)
|Magic: The Gathering chronology|
Onslaught is the first set (and the only large expansion) 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.
- 1 Set details
- 2 Themes and mechanics
- 3 Cycles
- 4 Pairs
- 5 Reprinted cards
- 6 Notable cards
- 7 Preconstructed decks
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Set details[edit | edit source]
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.   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. 
Marketing[edit | edit source]
Onslaught was sold in 75-card tournament decks, 15-card boosters, four preconstructed theme decks and a fat pack.  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. The set was accompanied by the novel of the same name.
Flavor and storyline[edit | edit source]
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.   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 | edit source]
- 5/5 Dragon with Flying for Dragon Roost
- 1/1 Soldier for Mobilization
- 1/1 Insect for Symbiotic Beast et al.
- 2/2 Bear for Words of Wilding
Themes and mechanics[edit | edit source]
Themes[edit | edit source]
Tribal and creature types were a prominent theme in the Onslaught block.   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.
|Creature subtype||Tribe name||Primary color||Secondary color(s)|
|Birds||Aven (in white and blue only)
|Dragons||Red ()||Blue ()|
|Goblins||Red ()||Black ()|
|Illusions||Mistform (or Mimics)[note 1]||Blue ()|
|Soldiers||White ()||Blue ()|
|Wizards||Blue ()||All other colors ()|
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". 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. 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.
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.
Mechanics[edit | edit source]
- 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.  
- 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, 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". 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 | edit source]
The creature types Anteater (retroactively) and Mutant were introduced in Onslaught. The creature type Lord was used in this expansion at the time of printing but was later removed.
Cycles[edit | edit source]
Onslaught features 13 cycles.
|Cycle name||Description and notes|
|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).||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.||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 M has three modes, at least one of which was related to one of the main tribes of the expansion.||Piety Charm (Soldiers)||Trickery Charm||Misery Charm (Clerics)||Fever Charm (Wizards)||Vitality Charm (Beasts)|
|Crowns||Each of these common auras costing 1M 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 2M 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 M or may be cycled for M. ||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.
|Astral Slide||Fleeting Aven||Withering Hex||Lightning Rift||Invigorating Boon|
|Legendary pit-fighter champions||Each of these powerful rare legendary creature cards costs MMM. ||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.||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 rare lands may be tapped for 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. 
|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 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|
Allied-colored cycles[edit | edit source]
|Cycle name||Description and notes|
|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.||Flooded Strand||Polluted Delta||Bloodstained Mire||Wooded Foothills||Windswept Heath|
Vertical cycles[edit | edit source]
|Cycle name||Description and notes||Common||Uncommon||Rare|
|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 | edit source]
Onslaught has one mirrored pair.
- Disciple of Grace and Disciple of Malice are both common Clerics with a mana cost of M, power/toughness of 1/2, cycling and protection from the other's color.
Reprinted cards[edit | edit source]
- Clone, First printed in Alpha, last seen in Revised Edition. Reprinted as a classic creature.
- Disciple of Grace, first printed in Urza's Saga
- Elven Riders, first printed in Legends, last seen in 6th Edition
- Lay Waste, first printed in Urza's Saga
- Meddle, first printed in Mirage
- Pacifism, first pinted in Mirage, last seen in 7th Edition
- Shock, first printed in Stronghold, last seen in 7th Edition
- Swat, first printed in Urza's Legacy
- Syphon Soul, first printed in Legends, last ssen in 6th Edition
- Taunting Elf, first printed in Urza's Destiny
Functional reprints[edit | edit source]
- Elvish Scrapper, functional reprint of Scavenger Folk (The Dark) except for creature-type
- Glory Seeker, functional reprint of Fresh Volunteers (Mercadian Masques) and Knight Errant (Portal) except for creature-type
- Goblin Sky Raider, functional reprint of Bird Maiden (Arabian Nights) except for creature-type
- Goblin Sledder, functional reprint of Mogg Raider (Tempest)
- Nantuko Husk, functional reprint of Phyrexian Ghoul (Urza's Saga) except for creature-type
Color shifted[edit | edit source]
- Crafty Pathmage, blue colorshifted version of Dwarven Nomad (Mirage) and Dwarven Warriors (Alpha)
- Sandskin, white colorshifted version of Gaseous Form (Legends)
- Naturalize, green colorshifted version of Disenchant (Alpha)
- Sea's Claim, blue colorshifted version of Evil Presence (Alpha)
Strictly better[edit | edit source]
- Barkhide Mauler, upgrade from Durkwood Boars (Legends)
- Disruptive Pitmage, upgrade from Disruptive Student (Urza's Saga) and Vodalian Mage (Fallen Empires)
- Foothill Guide and Gustcloak Runner, upgrade from Eager Cadet (Starter)
- Naturalize, upgrade from Verdigris (Tempest)
- Riptide Biologist, upgrade from Vodalian Soldiers (Fallen Empires)
- Trickery Charm, upgrade from Jump (Alpha)
Notable cards[edit | edit source]
- In then legal Standard, top cards included: Astral Slide, Blistering Firecat, Exalted Angel, Goblin Piledriver, Goblin Sharpshooter, Patriarch's Bidding, Ravenous Baloth, Rorix Bladewing, Visara the Dreadful, and Wellwisher were particularly noteworthy. The fetch lands (lands that could be sacrificed for the cost of tapping them and the loss of one life, in order to search their controller's library for a land of the specified basic land type) and cycling lands also saw high levels of play.
- The cycle of allied fetch lands continue to see significant play in all formats in which they are legal.
- Nantuko Husk was the cornerstone of Standard BW Ghost Husk decks after being reprinted in 9th Edition, thanks to its strong interaction with Saviors of Kamigawa card Promise of Bunrei.
- Starlit Sanctum saw play in Extended, alongside Daru Spiritualist and cards able to repeatedly target the Cleric (Daru Spiritualist) for free, such as Lightning Greaves, Shuko, and Nomads en-Kor; not dissimilar to the Cephalid Breakfast deck. 
Preconstructed decks[edit | edit source]
Onslaught has four bicolored theme decks.
|Bait & Switch||U||B|
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Mistform creatures all have the ability to change their creature type.
References[edit | edit source]
- Wizards of the Coast. (August 02, 2004.) “Ask Wizards - August, 2004”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (August 12, 2002.) “Codename of the Game”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (September 23, 2002.) “Tribal's in Your Court”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (August 20, 2007.) “Onslaught Machine”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Brady Dommermuth. (October 31, 2006.) “Ask Wizards”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (September 09, 2002.) “Onslaught product images”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Vance Moore. (2001.) Odyssey Cycle, Book I: Odyssey, Wizards of the Coast. ISBN-13 978-0786919000.
- Rei Nakazawa. (September 23, 2002.) “Preparing for the Onslaught”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (May 27, 2003.) “Soldier Tokens”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (January 30, 2003.) “New token cards”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (June 11, 2003.) “New Player Rewards tokens”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (November 06, 2002.) “Onslaught green tokens”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (November 13, 2002.) “More Onslaught tokens”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Matt Cavotta. (August 23, 2007 .) “The Ballpark at Otaria”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Randy Buehler. (December 13, 2002.) “Old Uncle Fester”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (October 14, 2002.) “Creature Feature”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Randy Buehler. (November 22, 2002.) “Debating Humanity”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Gottlieb. (September 26, 2007.) “The Grand Creature Type Update”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Randy Buehler. (November 29, 2002.) “Human Nature”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (April 28, 2003.) “Dragon Racing”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast *september, 2002)"New Features in Onslaught" magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast. “Onslaught Frequently Asked Questions”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Paul Barclay. (September 6, 2002.) “Morph: Onslaught's New Ability”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (September 09, 2002.) “Wait, There's Morph”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (March 22, 2004.) “A Cycling Built for Two”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (September 16, 2002.) “Cycling Cycling”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (September 17, 2012.) “Return on Investment, Part 3”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (March 25, 2004.) “Sketches: Onslaught cycling lands”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Gabe Walls. (March 22, 2004.) “Astral Slide in the New Standard”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Josh Bennett. (September 13, 2002.) “Introducing the Pit Fighter Legends”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (October 02, 2002.) “Tribal lands”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Randy Buehler. (April 4, 2003.) “The Lands That Almost Weren't”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Ben Bleiweiss. (October 2, 2002.) “That Old Familiar Spell”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Randy Buehler. (October 18, 2002.) “Birth of a Prodigy”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
[edit | edit source]
- Onslaught product information page — Wizards of the Coast
- Wizards of the Coast. (October 7, 2002.) “Onslaught Top 10 Lists”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.