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Set Information
Set symbol
Symbol description A nightmare
Design Bill Rose (lead)
Mike Elliott
With Odyssey design concepts by:
Richard Garfield
Mark Rosewater
Development Henry Stern (lead)
Randy Buehler
Michael Donais
Bill McQuillan
Brian Schneider
With contributions from:
Paul Barclay
Brady Dommermuth
Art direction Dana Knutson
Release date February 8, 2002
Plane Dominaria
Themes and mechanics "Graveyard matters", Nightmares
Keywords/​ability words Flashback, Madness, Threshold
Set size 143 cards
(55 commons, 44 uncommons, 44 rares)
Expansion code TOR[1]
Development codename Boron
Odyssey block
Odyssey Torment Judgment
Magic: The Gathering Chronology
Deckmasters 2001 Torment Judgment
For the book, see Chainer's Torment.

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.[2]

Set details[ | ]

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'.[3] Torment was notable for its shift from the conventional distribution, and equal focus, on all the five colors of Magic to a particular thematic and mechanical emphasis on black. Consequently, from the set's development on, it was referred to as the "black set".[4][5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8]

Marketing[ | ]

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.[9] The Torment prerelease was held on January 25–25, 2002.[10] 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[ | ]

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.[11] 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[ | ]

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 Mono-Black 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.

Misprints[ | ]

  • All non-premium English-language white cards in Torment have a reduced image resolution, making them look grainy and pixelated.[12]

Themes and mechanics[ | ]

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.[13][14]

Non-keyworded themes and mechanics included Nightmare Horrors (or, simply, Nightmares), each of which had a comes-into-play and leaves-play ability.[15][16] 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.

Creature types[ | ]

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.

Cycles[ | ]

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

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
"Possessed" creatures Possessed Nomad Possessed Aven Possessed Barbarian Possessed Centaur
Four creatures, each costing {3}M, an in-color ability, and threshold. When their controllers have threshold, the creatures become black, get +1/+1, and gain the ability to destroy creatures of their former color. The "possessed" creatures are tenuously linked with, or similar to, Odyssey Repentant Vampire, which, when its controller has threshold, becomes white and destroy creatures of its former color, black.
Tainted lands Tainted Field Tainted Isle Tainted Peak Tainted Wood
Four uncommon nonbasic lands that may tap for {C} or, if their controllers controls a Swamp, for {B} or one mana of another color.
Dreams Vengeful Dreams Turbulent Dreams Insidious Dreams Devastating Dreams Nostalgic Dreams
Five rare instant or sorcery cards, requiring the discard of any number of cards for a scalable effect. Four of the five have cost two mana of the same color to cast, but due to the power of Insidious Dreams it had its cost increased in development.[18]
Creatures with threshold-active CIP abilities Teroh's Vanguard Cephalid Sage Gloomdrifter Pardic Arsonist Centaur Chieftain
Five uncommon creatures with comes-into-play abilities if and when their controllers have threshold.
"Disorder" enchantments Hypochondria Compulsion Mortiphobia Pyromania Narcissism
Five uncommon enchantments with activated abilities requiring either the discard of a card or the sacrifice of the enchantment for an effect. Each "disorder" enchantment is named after a mental disorder or condition. The red "disorder" enchantment, Pyromania, involves random discard.
Common Flashback cards Spirit Flare Deep Analysis Crippling Fatigue Flash of Defiance Acorn Harvest
Five common instant or sorcery spells with a Flashback cost of 1C and 3 life.
Uncommon Madness cards Strength of Isolation Circular Logic Strength of Lunacy Violent Eruption Arrogant Wurm
Five uncommon cards with Madness.
Common Madness cards Frantic Purification Obsessive Search Psychotic Haze Fiery Temper Basking Rootwalla
Five common cards with Madness.

Vertical cycles[ | ]

Cycle name
Black Dreams Restless Dreams Sickening Dreams Insidious 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.
Punisher spells Longhorn Firebeast Flaming Gambit Skullscorch
Each of these red spell provide the targeted opponent with a choice of two unfavorable effects, one of which is direct damage.

Mega cycles[ | ]

Pairs[ | ]

Torment has four Mirrored pairs.

Mirrored Pairs Description
Strength of Isolation
Strength of Lunacy
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.
Balshan Collaborator
Pardic Collaborator
1M creatures with a keyword ability and a +1/+1 activated pump ability that costs {B}.
Coral Net ({U}) Flash of Defiance ({R}) Spells that hate on white and green creatures.
Sorceries that have a converted mana cost of one that make it so the next spell they cast of a certain type can't be countered this turn
by spells or abilities (respectively, instants and sorceries and creatures). The person who casts these spells also draws a card.

Reprinted cards[ | ]

There was one reprinted card in the set:

Strictly better[ | ]

Preconstructed decks[ | ]

Main article: Torment/Theme decks

Torment has four bicolored theme decks. As the set is 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.

deck name
Colors Included
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Grave Danger U B
Waking Nightmares B R
Sacrilege W B
Insanity B G

References[ | ]

  1. Wizards of the Coast (August 02, 2004). "Ask Wizards - August, 2004". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Wizards of the Coast (June 11, 2003). "Eighth Edition Rollout: Torment". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Brady Dommermuth (October 31, 2006). "Ask Wizards". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Mark Rosewater (January 14, 2002). "Make It Black". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Randy Buehler (January 18, 2002). "Altering the Environment". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Wizards of the Coast (June 11, 2003). "Eighth Edition Rollout: Judgment". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Mark Rosewater (July 2, 2012). "Old Timres". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Magic Arcana (January 31, 2002). "Tainted Lands". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Magic Arcana (January 02, 2002). "Torment Product Images". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Jeff Donais (January 10, 2002). "Torment Prerelease". Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Scott McGough. (2002.) Odyssey Cycle, Book II: Chainer's Torment, Wizards of the Coast. ISBN-13 978-0786926961.
  12. Randy Brühl (February 26, 2002). "Ask Wizards - February 26, 2002". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Mike Elliott (January 21, 2002). "Initial Stages of Madness". Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Paul Barclay (January 28, 2002). "Rules Primer:Madness". Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Mark Rosewater (January 7, 2002). "A Nightmare to Remember". Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Randy Buehler (January 11, 2002). "Slithery Sky". Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Ben Bleiweiss (July 17, 2002). "Set of Five, Part 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Magic Arcana (July 09, 2002). "Dreamcycle". Wizards of the Coast.

External links[ | ]