Onslaught is nearly here.
We’ve heard the rumors for months now saying that Onslaught was going to be friendly to the Multi-player. Well since our friends over at MTGnews.com were nice enough to get the spoiler, I decided it would be fun to take a look at white to see if these rumors have any truth. Keep in mind that this is not a review of every white card in the set. I tried to stay away from the vanilla stuff and cards that you know were printed specifically for limited. I might have missed a card here or there, but I did hit the important stuff in detail. Trust me I do enough rambling, you’d rather I not review every card in the set.
If you’re looking for a limited or constructed review of Onslaught White you are in the wrong place, though I welcome you to take a look. Who knows, I might just give you an idea. My focus is on applying Onslaught white to 2 of the most common Multi-Player formats, Chaos and 2-Headed Giant (my favorite).
On with the cards!
Keep in mind my abbreviations,:
Chaos is also known as Melee or Free-For-All
2HG: 2-Headed Giant analysis, although much of the time this outlook also corresponds to many different team based formats, such as 3 Headed Giant and Emperor's
CIP: Comes Into Play
CC: Casting Cost
Akroma’s Vengeance 4WW
Destroy all artifacts, creatures, and enchantments.
Cycling 3 (3, Discard this card from your hand: Draw a card.)
A wrecking ball, the Vengeance is a Nevinyrral's Disk that can be used immediately and can't be disenchanted. It will see gobs of play. One of the strongest aspects of the Disk is that it will shut down just about every engine. The same can be said about the Vengeance, just watch out for those pesky regenerators.
Chaos: You'll rarely need to cycle it in Chaos, simply because its rare this will ever be dead weight (it is unlikely that you’ve always got the strongest board position).
2HG: Sweepers are always good, but they lose a little bit of power in 2HG as you'll probably be destroying a few of your teammates goodies as well. However, the cycling means that it will never be a dead card, giving this flexibility that very few sweepers have.
Ancestor’s Prophet 4W
Creature - Cleric Lord Rare
Tap five untapped Clerics you control: You gain 10 life.
Boring, besides the fact that he will likely die before his effect adds up to anything of real substance. Plus, there are easier and more effective ways to gain lots of life in MP, if you're into that sort of thing (gratuitous poke in the ribs ).
Astral Slide 2W
Whenever a player cycles a card, you may remove target creature from the game. If you do, return that creature to play under its owner’s control at end of turn.
This card has the potential to be amazing in a cycling deck, and since you are playing a cycling deck you can snag this card quite easily with Enlightened Tutor. It protects your creatures from dying, flips over your face-down creatures, gets back stolen creatures, prevents opponent's creatures from attacking you, can remove your opponent's creature in response to Rancors and such, and does your laundry for you. I've always wished Liberate was playable and/or an enchantment, and now its both. Thank you WotC, I love uncommon engines.
Chaos: Effective, although with multiple opponents it's doubtful that this will stay on the board too long. It has that little known ability "CIP with a Bull's-eye on it".
2HG: Much more effective, since you can also protect your teammate's creatures and remove attackers that you KNOW are coming your way.
Whenever a creature deals damage to you, put a gold counter on it. Each creature with a gold counter on it is a Wall in addition to its other creature types. (Walls can’t attack.)
When Aurification leaves play, remove all gold counters from all creatures.
Personally I'm not very fond of this card. It’s a neat ability, but I feel there are better ways of holding off creatures in MP for white, like Peacekeeper. It would work with a Forcefield I suppose if you are lucky enough to own 1. Keep in mind that this card does not work with Story Circle and the like since the creature actually has to deal damage to get the gold counter. And what’s up with ‘gold’ counter? It should have been something like ‘anchor’ counter or such.
Chaos: It will prevent people from attacking you usually, unless you are lower on life and they know they can kill you quickly. Also, it doesn't stop creatures that the opponent doesn't mind sacrificing (like the Sneak Attack player).
2HG: In my particular group this wouldn't work, because when you attack you must choose to attack 1 head - so my opponent's can simply attack our teammate. We have this rule for many reasons, the biggest of which is so defensive enchantments/artifacts like this one can't just lock-down a game. For the rest of the article, consider this the Attacking Rule for the rest of the article. If you don't play this rule, this card is fairly strong. But it still doesn’t put you in a protective bubble.
Catapult Master 3WW
Creature - Soldier Lord Rare
Tap five untapped Soldiers you control: Remove target creature from the game.
The lords in general are very tough to get working in MP because you are unlikely to ever get 6 creatures in play simultaneously (as well as the Lord's themselves being highly vulnerable to targeted removal), but where Catapult Master differs is that white has a slew of ways to easily produce soldier tokens. On top of that, its ability is extremely good in MP with the high amount of recursion there is, but you better have a good way to protect this guy. Easily one of the better Lords in the set, if not the best.
Catapult Squad 1W
Creature - Soldier Uncommon
Tap two untapped Soldiers you control: Catapult Squad deals 2 damage to target attacking or blocking creature.
That is a pretty solid ability attached to a splashable 2-power creature for 2 mana. A worthy addition to a soldier deck. You don't need me to tell you he is easy to kill though.
Chain of Silence 1W
Prevent all damage target creature would deal this turn. That creature’s controller may sacrifice a land. If the player does, he or she may copy this spell and may choose a new target for that copy.
This card might as well be worthless. It is unlikely that your opponent will ever copy this spell unless they are about to lose a creature in combat – so why even give them that option? Put this one in the “Coulda, shoulda, but wasn’t” pile.
Circle of Solace 3W
As Circle of Solace comes into play, choose a creature type.
1W: The next time a creature of the chosen type would deal damage to you this turn, prevent that damage.
It is a situational but never dead card, separating it from your average color hoser. Personally I think Story Circle is superior to this most of the time. It is a very powerful Sideboard option though, keep it in mind for the new Type 2 White Weenie deck you just built.
Chaos: There is a very good chance (especially post-Onslaught) that this will completely prevent 1 player from attacking you. But what about the other players? Again, not my favorite protection card ever.
2HG: Suffers from the Attacking Rule. Without the rule, this card is never ever dead and probably gains some strength, although it will still be somewhat limited.
Convalescent Care 1WW
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you have 5 life or less, you gain 3 life and draw a card.
I like Convalescent Care because there are a lot of casual combos you can do with this sucker, like the Liches, Grinning Demon, Worship, "Pay half your life" cards, Greed, Second Chance, and more. Might as well just build the deck now. Mana burn and/or Painlands are an easy way to regulate your life total if need be.
Chaos: I don't care how many combos you can do with this card, if you set yourself up below 5 life a turn consistently you consistently play with fire. If you get it to work then all the more power to you, and I'd love to see your decklist.
2HG: Easier to protect in 2HG, although your teammate might not like it too much if you are sharing life total. They shouldn't care too much though, b/c I'm sure your deck was built not worry about life anyway.
Crude Rampart 3W
Creature - Wall Uncommon
(Walls can’t attack.)
Morph 4W (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)
Far from a game breaker, but its a very good candidate for that animated wall deck you have built due to its versatility and its strength to CC ratio. Walls are usually pretty good in MP (definitely better than in duel) so they should hold their own in most every format. The ability to drop them as a colorless 2/2 is also a nice touch.
Daru Lancer 4WW
Creature - Soldier Common
Morph 2WW (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)
This card will be fighting for a deck spot with better cards, but it definitely rates high on the sneaky factor due to his first strike. It's morph cost is also quite fair for its strength to cost ratio. Plus, it also does a decent job of protecting/distracting attention your face-down Exalted Angel.
Daunting Defender 4W
Creature - Cleric Common
If a source would deal damage to a Cleric you control, prevent 1 of that damage.
At best mediocre, its just that Lashknife Barrier is so much better than this. I suppose you could run both, but do you really need to?
Dawning Purist 2W
Creature - Cleric Uncommon
Whenever Dawning Purist deals combat damage to a player, you may destroy target enchantment that player controls.
Morph 1W (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)
Its no Soltari Visionary, but if you don't own any you could try this guy out. Wait a minute, if you don't own any Visionaries go out and get them - it’s a common from Exodus. If you are dying to make a white morph deck, then he probably is worth running.
Destroy target enchantment.
”The truth will outshine all lies.”
Boo! Hiss! Keep in mind that in a not-so-recent magicthegathering.com article, Wizards said they try to reserve 1-word card names for cards that will be around for a while (I had trouble finding it in the archives, although I believe it was MaRo himself who said this. I apologize for that, I know I just broke one of the golden rules of journalism). So in honor of that idea I decided to read between the lines of the flavor text for some hidden meaning.
The Lies: "This card will be an environment staple for years to come. It is a fair and balanced card. The Titanic was a masterpiece of a movie"
The Truth to outshine those Lies: "This card is directly inferior to both Erase and Wax/Wane. It would take a force of nature to cause me to play this card.”
Oh well, I suppose it is not fair of me to expect them all to be good. I’ll just have to put this card in my binder next to Persuasion.
Doubtless One 3W
Creature - Cleric Avatar Uncommon
Doubtless One’s power and toughness are each equal to the number of Clerics in play.
Whenever Doubtless One deals damage, you gain that much life.
Here's my opinion (some will say gripe) about the Avatars, they are all very situational in MP for 2 reasons: building up an army of specific creature types without a token generator is difficult, and the increase amount of critter removal floating around. The built in Spirit-Link is nice, but because it can gain lots of life fairly quickly it also quickly becomes a target. There are a lot of tricks you can do to support Tribal strategies, so I'm not swearing off these guys yet. Yet I am also not looking to get these guys in a deck either.
Exalted Angel 4WW
Creature - Angel Rare
Whenever Exalted Angel deals damage, you gain that much life.
Morph 2WW (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)
She is good at her regular cost, and just plain unfair if you get to pay for her morph cost. However, any opponent who sees a face-down creature in a white deck will just have to assume it is the Angel and gun for it quickly. For that reason alone she will be tough to use effectively in chaos. The problem isn't as severe in 2HG.
Creature - Bird Cleric
5W: The next time damage would be dealt to Glarecaster or you this turn, that damage is dealt to target creature or player instead.
"I dare you to attack me"
Very expensive to cast and use, but man oh man what an ability. If you think you can keep it alive (and actually pay its heavy costs) it combos with many cards that force your opponents to attack you, like Grand Melee, Siren's Call, Angel's Trumpet, and a few more that are slipping my mind right now.
Chaos: Good luck keeping it alive. However, its nature helps itself somewhat in that it keeps people from attacking you until you are ready to do your tricks.
2HG: Suffers from the Attacking Rule. If the rule doesn't exist it becomes very strong.
The Gustcloak Ability
Whenever Gustcloak Xxxx becomes blocked, you may untap it and remove it from combat.
Its got its uses, and does a fine job of making your attacking decisions easier - either something is getting through unblocked or you've still got a decent wall of blockers at your disposal. Fairly strong when combined with white ping (dealing damage to blocking creatures), and/or Serra's Blessing, but I'd have to say that white's got mechanics that are better than in many regards. The ability itself pretty good...now only if removing them from combat didn't remove their damage as well. I’ve already heard a lot of talk saying how good this ability is, am I missing something? Must be strictly for limited play.
Gustcloak commons and uncommons
Ehh, they are all decently costed if not for their very bland P/T to cost ratios. I'd say the Harrier (1WW, 2/2 Flyer) is the best of the bunch. They should have made one called the ‘Gustcloak Sleeping Aid’. At the very least, they should have made an uncommon that can Gustcloak a target attacking creature you control.
Gustcloak Savior 4W
Creature - Bird Soldier Rare
Whenever a creature you control becomes blocked, you may untap that creature and remove it from combat.
Now that's more like it. When all your creatures are Gustcloaks I start to like the ability. His Strength to Cost ratio is pretty good, but he'd be especially good in a deck that can do nasty things to blocking creatures.
Chaos: Very good in Chaos, although getting greedy just asks for someone to kill him during your Declare Attackers step and leave you open for a huge attack (or worse, wipe out your army with their superior blockers).
2HG: Loses a little bit of power due to its inability to work for your teammate's creatures, yet its potential to bite you in the buttocks isn't nearly as risky for 2HG as it is for Chaos. Like a low-yield mutual fund for MP.
Harsh Mercy 2W
Each player chooses a creature type. Destroy all creatures that aren’t of a type chosen this way. They can’t be regenerated.
A very interesting mass removal spell. While it is nearly guaranteed card advantage (and theme friendly) it will be rare that you will ever really kill that 1 creature you need dead...unless you run it along side of Unnatural Selection and/or other creature-type changing effects. Man, am I glad I didn't trade those bad boys away, Harsh Mercy is just cruel with Unnatural Selection.
Chaos: Good card advantage, pulling you at the very least a 2 for 1. Most likely it will be closer to 4 to 1 or more. Definitely good enough to run on its own.
2HG: Tougher to use properly in 2HG because now you've got to worry about what your teammate is playing also. And what if there is a creature that shares type with an opponent's creature? Well then I suppose it will probably sit in your hand as Recoil fodder. I'd only run it if it could combo with something else.
Jareth, Leonine Titan 3WWW
Creature - Cat Giant Legend Rare
Whenever Jareth, Leonine Titan blocks, it gets +7/+7 until end of turn.
W: Jareth gains protection from the color of your choice until end of turn.
Jareth just doesn't do it for me, although I do realize that he is a total house (a house of kittens maybe, but a house nonetheless). His Pro-anything ability means that he can be a good attacker if the situation calls for it, as well as survive many forms of removal. But I just don't understand the +7/+7 on a creature that can get Pro-anything, it just seems kind of redundant (yes I know he can block Colossus of Sardia and live to tell about it, but still). That is probably the reason why I’m not crazy about him, but if I did like him I'd want to have Phyrexian Splicer around so he can block anything. Entangler wouldn't be such a bad idea either, just be careful not to give him Pro-White. If you are one of those aggressive types (like me), splash in some red for Bloodshot Cyclops or Fling – that will send a message to your opponent. Bonus points for the decapitated lizard head in his right hand.
Chaos: Strong Defensive creatures go a long way in Chaos, ones that are hard to kill go even further.
2HG: Not as strong in 2HG as he is in Chaos, but he's still a 4/7 that is hard to kill.
Attacking doesn’t cause Soldiers to tap.
2W: Put a 1/1 white Soldier creature token into play.
Newsflash: This is a very good card - you heard it here first! Just kidding. There are so many things that you can do with Mobilization and so many reasons why this card is good (and arguably better than Kjeldoran Outpost), there’s no need for an explanation.
Nova Cleric W
Creature - Cleric Uncommon
2W, T, Sacrifice Nova Cleric: Destroy all enchantments
This card gains a lot of power in MP decks vs. Duel decks. Its a fine weenie in its own right that also helps keep combo decks in check until they decide to waste a removal spell on it.
Chaos: Easy to Kill, however not something that screams “kill me, please!” unless it is single-handedly shutting down a combo deck.
2HG: Slightly harder to work around in 2HG, yet possibly even more potent. This will many times neuter a combo deck or prevent him/her from playing it properly, effectively removing 50% of your opposition. Strategery is very important with this little guy.
The owner of target nonland permanent shuffles it into his or her library, then draws two cards.
Man, is this card versatile. It can effectively take care of any non-land permanent for a given amount of time (or to help end a game when disposing of a Zuran Orb or Ali from Cairo), it can be a uber-shelter for your permanents, it can create super card advantage for you following up a Wrath of God, and it does more. It should be good in every format, although I think it loses a little bit in Chaos since it will probably be more difficult to play around its disadvantage vs. your opponents.
Righteous Cause 3WW
Whenever a creature attacks, you gain 1 life.
Wonderful, more insane life gain. While I don't like it as much as Noble Purpose, it is probably more effective than its cousin in Chaos games where you are not involved in a lot of the combat. Try Righteous Cause with Angel's Trumpet, although expect to be hated pretty quickly. Not sure about it in 2HG, I feel like it could gain a lot of life but if you are on the ropes playing defense (against big creatures most likely) this will do little to help your cause (though more than Noble Purpose).
Shared Triumph 1W
As Shared Triumph comes into play, choose a creature type. Creatures of the chosen type get +1/+1.
This card is good. It’s probably not as strong as Crusade and Bad Moon, but the Triumph is definitely more interesting due to its splashability and theme friendliness. It loses a little bit going into MP b/c you'll probably help your opponents some (not nearly as much as Crusade and Bad Moon), but the risk is worth it. Enjoy!
Sigil of the New Dawn 3W
Whenever a creature is put into your graveyard from play, you may pay 1W. If you do, return that card to your hand.
Yeah, this card could prove to be a problem for group play. If you plan on building a deck around it, I suggest something to make it untargetable. This card is effective on its own mostly because it is cheap to use and easily splashable. But combine it with CIP creatures and a way to sack them for an effect and you've got yourself dangerous utility deck. Anything that can commit suicide, as well as fading and echo creatures, should also be considered. Try hard not to use Survival of the Fittest, we all know that card breaks everything. I've personally had to wean myself away from it, it was like trying to quite smoking again.
Chaos: Will you have an answer for everything in a Chaos game? Unlikely, your opponent's will see you coming a mile away and will quickly put an end to your Shenanigans. If it won quickly I'd say go for it, but I see this deck taking awhile to do its job properly.
2HG This card/deck should work silky-smoove in 2HG, go for it.
True Believer WW
Creature - Cleric Rare
You can’t be the target of spells or abilities.
Something tells me that this little bugger is no slouch, call it a hunch. A 2/2 for WW isn't bad at all, and his effect is just plain awesome.
Chaos: Extremely effective if he survives, but like so many others in Chaos he has "CIP Bull's-eye". The red player will be the first to kill him. You could run something to make him untargetable, or you could just play Ivory Mask and slim your decklist down by 4. Of course you are playing white, there is no reason you can't back him up with Devoted Caretaker or Mother of Runes. Personally, I think he's worth it.
2HG: Well, most of the stuff that isn't going your way is now heading in your opponent's direction. Does not gain you teammate brownie points. On the plus side, eventually your teammate will run out of cards in hand to be discarded, making your opponent’s Mind Twist less dangerous .
Weathered Wayfarer W
Creature - Nomad Cleric Rare
W, T: Search your library for a land card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library. Play this ability only if an opponent controls more lands than you.
Hmm, this or Land Tax? With Land Tax available to Type 1 casual players, I have a tough time seeing this guy getting much play. Even though he can get ANY land card, you need to be down on lands in order to use him. That tells me that if I go first, it is unlikely that I will be able to use him until at least turn 5 because I should always be up on lands. That is plenty of time for him to exercise its "CIP Bull's-eye" ability. Although he can be effective if you have a way of sacking lands, like say Sylvan Safekeeper or Zuran Orb. He can get things like Strip Mine, Maze of Ith, or an other specialty land, but if you are playing land every turn (that you don't want to sack) its only a matter of time before you do stabilize and equal out land wise - you'd be lucky to get more than 1 use out of him.
Chaos: Pretty good in Chaos because its biggest disability - being useless when ahead on lands - reduces dramatically due to simple odds. It is unlikely that you are going first so there should always be a window for you to be down on lands. Don't expect the Wayfarer to last long though.
2HG: I don't see using it in 2HG when I can play Land Tax since I run into the "being useless" problem fairly often. Maybe if I owned a Library of Alexandria, but since I don't...
Creature - Soldier Rebel Uncommon
W, T: Tap target creature.
Morph W (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for o3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)
There is little reason not to like this guy. Master decoy sees play in MP, and the Whipcorder is a superior card about 90% of the time. He is a 2/2 for WW (quite fair), and if need be his morph cost can allow him to be splashed. Plus, the ability to secretly tap a big blocker is a good one in MP.
Words of Worship 2W
1: The next time you would draw a card this turn, you gain 5 life instead.
Yup, white gains yet another crazy life-gaining enchantment. Nice with Greed, Phyrexian Arena, and Necrologia; utterly broken beyond comprehension with Yawgmoth's Bargain. It’s also a good sideboard card against that guy in your group who plays Underworld Dreams too often.
My Top 5 Onslaught White cards for Multi-Player
Akroma’s Vengence – Plain and simple, this card is one of the best options for mass removal, period. I wince when including Purify in a decklist due to its limited effect and high cost for effect, but with this I shouldn’t have that dilemma any longer
Astral Slide – The bad is that in general, cycling cards are weaker than their ‘normal’ counterparts – meaning your deck could be using a good amount of less than stellar cards. The good is that this sucker owns the battlefield when it starts working.
Harsh Mercy – Played properly, this could be a cheap (and white) Plague Wind.
Oblation – I just love the options this card gives its caster. Plus it is potential card-draw for white, one of my biggest beefs with the color.
Shared Triumph – I play Glorious Anthem a lot, and in certain deck types this card is in many ways better than the Anthem.
An honorable mention goes out to Sigil of the New Dawn. It is not in my top 5 simply because toolbox engines and decks are so common, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a rock solid card. The Dawn is also special because it is a white toolbox, giving it Pros and Cons that aren’t necessarily associated with other engines.
Other Cards that stand a good chance of showing up in the same decklist as some Onslaught White cards
Unnatural Selection – It’s a dirt-cheap way to alter a creature’s type. Even better, look around hard enough and you can snag a 4-pack for about $1.
Test of Endurance – If you didn’t notice, Onslaught gives us a few new very potent methods of gaining oodles of life.
Mirari’s Wake – 2 things that Onslaught has in bulk: big spells and lots of creatures. This card will become quite common in any group that goes nuts whenever a new set drops. Get 4 now before they become constructed staples and go up in value.
Sterling Grove – Some of the best white cards in Onslaught are enchantments, Sterling Grove just makes sense.
Phyrexian Arena and other black card drawing enchantments – Many cards in this set simply do not mind losing life to draw cards. Hey, anything that makes Greed playable can’t be all bad.
All in all I have to say that I am quite pleased with Onslaught White. White is probably my least favorite individual color due the, IMO, lack of exciting cards. But there are many more gems in here than I would have suspected. My one complaint is that I feel that the white uncommons are fairly lacking as a whole, and I’ve always felt that in a lot of my builds it happens to be the uncommons that are the nuts and bolts of the operation.
Well I’m spent. Come back next week as I make my way around the color wheel to Onslaught Green.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me, reader feedback is always a good thing. And don’t forget to stop by the CPA boards to share your ideas.
Mikeymike on the boards