MTG: Revisiting Two Classic Onslaught Block Decks Based On Cycling!

Well, the Onslaught Block, which now seems to be ages in the past for me, was one of the periods in my personal Magic history when I was most actively playing the game, participating in tournaments and such. When my good friend and fellow M:tG enthusiast Luki and I were drowining in Magic nostalgia, one deck we talked about was the classic “Astral Slide” Deck. I had never owned the cards to assemble and play that kind of deck back in the days as the cards were quite expensive but the times they are a changing, or so they say, and my curiosity was raised so I looked up some key cards of ye ol’ Astral Slide deck and was pleasantly surprised all was dirt cheap as of now! Anyways in this article I will not only show you my somewhat modernized version of the classic Onslaught block “deck to beat” based on cycling, but also a very, very different version of what was known as “Beast Bidding” back then, which was played competitively when Ravenous Baloth was still considered a good card, which also employs cycling as its central mechanic, however in a very different way than “Astral Slide” did.

Let me start by showing you THE central card that both the following decks I want to present to you are running – a card that hails from the far in the past Urza Block. Lo and behold:

This card is simply awesome in any deck playing a considerable number of cycling cards with colorless cycling costs, as we shall see in two VERY different decks which both use Fluctuator as an extremely effective catalyst enabling them to do what  they do a lot cheaper and easier.

Let me start with giving you my modernized / updated version of the old Astral Slide Deck (it may well have a fighting chance in a more competitive environment although I cannot say for sure…also know that this is just a rough deck draft):

Astral Slide Revamped:

Creatures…22

4 x Birds of Paradise G

4 x Eternal Witness 1GG

4 x Carven Caryatid 1GG

4 x Acidic Ooze 3GG

3 x Valley Rannet 4RG

2 x Eternal Dragon 5WW

1 x Woodfall Primus 5GGG

Sorceries… 2

2 x Decree of Justice XX2WW

Enchantments…8

4 x Astral Slide 1W

4 x Lightning Rift 1R

Artifacts…4

4 x Fluctuator 2

Lands…24

4 x Plateau

4 x Forest

4 x Drifting Meadow

4 x Slippery Karst

3 x Smoldering Crater

3 x Tranquil Thicket

2 x Secluded Steppe

About the Deck:

Well the basic premise of the Astral Slide Deck is to use its namesake…

…with tons of cards with cycling – many of which can be cycled for free with Fluctuator in play – just like this card for example…

…and using Slide’s effect on your array of Creatures with very powerful/useful effects, triggering these over and over again, like this one for instance:

Besides Astral Slide, you also have Lightning Rift which basically gives you a Shock whenever you cycle and pay 1 generic mana, which is a great way to get rid of smaller but bothersome opponent Creatures or for chipping away at your opponent themselves little by little:

So on the one hand, this deck contains no less than 23 cards with cycling by my counting, of which 16 (!) can be cycled for free with Fluctuator at the ready, and you shouldn’t have problems finding it sooner or later with all the cycling through the deck going on. So this should give you ample triggers for either Astral Slide or Lightning Rift.

On the other hand, the deck tries to max out on what was formerly known as CIP (Comes into Play) Effects of Creatures since you will be able to slide them out so to say each time you cycle and they will come back into play at end of turn, thus activating their for the most part awesome effects over and over again. Eternal Witness, which I showed you above is a prime example. Furthermore I added Carven Caryatid, which is a 2/5 Defender that draws you a card every time it enters play as well as Acidic Ooze which is your one-stop-solution for any bothersome permanent that is not a Creature or a Planeswalker. Actually, you can “Land Lock” your opponent with Astral Slide and Ooze, since you most likely can slide Ooze in and out each turn, destroying a land of your opponent’s each time you do so. Well you get where this is going!

As potential finishers I added Eternal Dragon for nostalgic reasons mostly (and cause he plainscycles as well) and Woodfall Primus which has a nice comes into play effect on top if being a huge beater!

OK so much for my take on Astral Slide! Let us move on to the second deck, which is a very unique take on what they used to call “Beast Bidding” back in Onslaught times. I play it basically monoblack as you shall see below (deck explanation will follow as per ususal):

Black Beast Bidding (Casual/Legacy Format):

Creatures…16

1 x Wonder 3U

1 x Anger 3R

2 x Barkhide Mauler 4G

4 x Primoc Escapee 6U

4 x Ridge Rannet 6R

4 x Yoked Plowbeast 5WW

Sorceries…16

4 x Innocent Blood B

4 x Chainer’s Edict B

4 x Buried Alive 2B

4 x Patriarch’s Bidding 3BB

Artifacts…4

4 x Flucuator 2

Lands…24

4 x Blasted Landscape

4 x Barren Moore

4 x Polluted Mire

4 x Polluted Delta

4 x Volcanic Island

2 x Swamp

2 x Bojuka Bog

About the Deck:

Admittedly, this build looks VERY different from ANY Beast Bidding Deck that were competitively played back in the Onslaught Era, however the basic principle is the same: Get some Beasts into your graveyard, then unleash a mighty…

…choosing Beasts and then rushing your opponent with an instant army of reanimated Beast Creatures.

This deck has a very different approach to accomplish this goal and I must say without wanting to praise myself too much, I am quite pleased with how the deck is supposed to work out – IN THEORY! I am however looking forward to put my quite unusual deck creation to  the test one way or another. But here is how it works, or rather is supposed to work:

So in this deck you run a ton of Beast that are quite sub-par at first glance, like this one for instance:

However they have one crucial thing in common: All have “Cycling: (2)”. Now if you remember Fluctuator’s ability as seen above, you will be able to cycle your beasts for free, draw a card and maybe cycle again if you are lucky enough to have drawn another beast (or on of your 8 “Cycling (2)” Lands). So in this manner you would be putting more and more beasts into your graveyard until you can unleash a powerful “Bidding” and crush your opponent.

Now what I really like about the above decklist in particular is the fact that this deck features two “modes” so to say. From turns 1 to 4 or even beyond depending on your luck of draw, your will be playing in “Monoblack Control Mode” trying to slow down the opponent by killing their creatures efficiently by means of Innocent Blood and Chainers Edict. While you do so, try to get Fluctuator out and drop Beast after Beast into your Graveyard.

Then, once you think you have enough Beasts in your graveyard, you shall cast Patriarch’s Bidding and thus enter the second mode which I would call “Beast Beatdown Mode”. You’d best kill your opponent in one fell swoop and I actually added something pretty smart I think to the mix that will ensure a brutal, unstoppable beast assault as early as turn 5, when you will be able to afford the Bidding, or even at a later point in game.

Noticed the playset of Buried Alive? Well you could just use it as a convenient way to get  3 more Beasts into your Graveyard instanly, but way cooler and VERY useful for facilitating a one-turn-kill by means of a mighty Beast rush. What you’d do is pick Anger and Wonder plus any Beast of your choice  as the third card and “entomb” them by means of Buried Alive. Now you may have noticed that I am running the old red blue Dual Land Volcanic Island. You have Polluted Delta to get a hold of one and you should do so, because Wonder will give all your Creatures flying, hence making them all hard to block provided it is in your Graveyard and you control an Island. Anger will grant Haste to all your mighty monsters if in Graveyard and provided you control a mountain. And as it happens, Volcanic Island does both count as Island and Mountain.

So bottom line, if you play it right and have some luck of draw on your side as well, you will be, at the point that you cast the Bidding, attacking with a hoard of hasty and flying Beasts thanks to the great synergies of Buried Alive, Anger, Wonder and last but not least Volcanic Island. This means you could well win in one turn without your opponent doing some nasty stuff to your Beasts like casting a Wrath of God, so that their only hope to stop your stomping, beastly hoard would be Instants…

Lastly note, since Bidding lets your opponent choose a Creature Type as well and reanimate all Creatures of the chosen type from their own graveyard, I added two Bojuka Bog as a preemptive measures to prevent your opponent from profiting from your Bidding at all…

Well I hope you liked my blast from the Onslaught past and my fresh takes on some classic decks from that era of the Magic: the Gathering Trading Card Game!

Thank you for being a reader and see you next time!

Game on!!

Andi

 

 

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