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Descent into Madness from 'Avacyn Restored' horrifies 'Magic' players

Descent into Madness is a black mythic rare from Wizards of the Coast's expert "Magic: The Gathering" expansion set "Avacyn Restored" that can make your opponent have a mental breakdown,throw their hand down in despair, and concede the game.

Descent into Madness and friends
Descent into Madness and friends
Wizards of the Coast
Descent into Madness art
Descent into Madness art
Wizards of the Coast

Descent into Madness - 3BB
Enchantment (Mythic Rare)
At the Beginning of your upkeep, put a despair counter on Descent into Madness, then each player exiles X permanents he or she controls and/or cards from his or her hand, where X is the number of despair counters on Descent into Madness.
The stairs lead down in both directions.

Unlike Smokestack from "Urza's Saga," Descent into Madness from "Avacyn Restored" does not contain "may" in its rules text. Descent into Madness requires players to exile permanents instead of sacrifice them, meaning that you won't be able to bring back Descent into Madness each turn as one could with Goblin Welder.

Another reason Descent into Madness isn't nearly as powerful compared to its predecessor is because you aren't able to control which effect goes on the stack first during your upkeep. The way Smokestack is worded allows you to always come out ahead of your opponent, whereas Descent into Madness makes you follow a specific ordering.

Descent into Madness costs one more mana to play than Smokestack and commits players to being black. The upside though is that because Descent into Madness is an enchantment and not an artifiact it will be harder for your opponent to destroy.

One way to take advantage of Descent into Madness is to play with Misthollow Griffin. It doesn't matter if Misthollow Griffin is in your hand or on the battlefield, you'll be able to recast it from the exile zone. You don't need to worry if your Misthollow Griffin meets an Incinerate because Molten-Tail Masticore can exile it from your graveyard.

Another idea might be playing with cards that can produce creature tokens such as Jade Mage, Thraben Doomsayer, Lingering Souls, and Increasing Devotion.

Alternatively you could play with discard spells. Despise, Mind Rot, and Monomania makes several great choices. Afterall, if your opponent has no cards in their hand they'll have to exile permanents from the battlefield. You don't need a Painful Quandary to put your opponent in a tight position - Descent into Madness will do the trick just fine.

Smallpox makes an excellent addition to any deck seeking to abuse Descent into Madness, as does Liliana of the Veil.

Here's what a Descent into Madness deck might look like:

Creatures (12)
4 Hex Parasite
4 Misthollow Griffin
2 Molten-Tail Masticore
2 Grave Titan
Spells (16)
3 Think Twice
2 Go for the Throat
4 Mana Leak
3 Day of Judgment
4 Lingering Souls
Enchantments (3)
3 Descent into Madness
Planeswalkers (4)
2 Liliana of the Veil
2 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Land (25)
2 Island
2 Plains
2 Swamp
2 Glacial Fortress
3 Drowned Catacomb
3 Evolving Wilds
3 Seachrome Coast
3 Darkslick Shores
2 Isolated Chapel
3 Moorland Haunt
Sideboard (15)
3 Negate
3 Oblivion Ring
3 Ghost Quarter
3 Norn's Annex
3 Timely Reinforcements

How will you use Descent into Madness from "Avacyn Restored?"

Catch up on "Magic's" latest set "Avacyn Restored":
"Avacyn Restored" card lists:
White, blue, black, red, green, gold, artifact, and land.
"Avacyn Restored" Intro Pack and Event Decks

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