Corrupting Influence - Precon Primer

Corrupting Influence
(Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa | Art by Campbell White)

It’s Poison, I Tell Ya. Poison!

Hello friends, and welcome back to EDHREC for another precon primer from your friends in the Scrap Trawlers. Phyrexia: All Will Be One is here, and that means it’s time for us to get our oily little fingers all over its precons to find new Commander goodies, tasty reprints, and hopefully a fun deck right out of the box. And today we’re looking at Corrupting Influence, the white/black/green deck led by Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa

Poison Paradise

If playing with your opponents’ cards while killing them with poison sounds like your bag, then this deck is for you. Your commander is Ixhel, a 2/5 Phyrexian Angel that has flying, vigilance, and two new abilities. The first is Toxic, a more fair version of Infect that doesn’t give poison counters for each damage dealt. Instead they get counters equal to the value of the Toxic ability, which is two in this case. There’s also no -1/-1 counters dealt to creatures. The other ability is Corrupted, which takes on many forms across the various cards in the set, but in all cases the ability is only active if an opponent has at least three poison counters. Now you might be thinking, “But Ixhel’s Toxic is only two, which means I have to hit an opponent twice for it to do anything. What a crock!” And you’re not wrong. On its own, Ixhel doesn’t look great. But don’t fret; the deck is overflowing with other ways to get your opponents poisoned.

Our backup commander in this deck is Vishgraz, the Doomhive. A 3/3 Phyrexian Insect with menace and Toxic 1, Vishgraz gives you three 1/1 Mites on entry, which also have Toxic 1. And if that doesn’t sound like enough, Vishgraz also gets +1/+1 for each poison counter your opponents have. Since it’s not easy to get rid of poison, Vishgraz will be an ever-growing threat, even if you have to recast it.

Here’s the full list for Corrupting Influence:

Corrupting Influence Precon

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Miss Her, Kiss Her, Love Her…

So what does this deck do, besides make you sing Britney Spears and Bel Biv Devoe songs? It makes poison counters, of course! The deck is full of creatures with Toxic, as well as reprints with the classic Infect. We’ve got small creatures, like Bilious Skulldweller, Blight Mamba, and Blightbelly Rat. And there are some big threats, like Glissa’s Retriever, Contaminant Grafter, and Phyrexian Swarmlord

And it’s not just creatures making our opponents sick. We’ve got plenty of other card types joining the poison party, like artifacts with Grafted Exoskeleton, sorceries like Phyresis Outbreak and Noxious Assault, and even instants, like Vraska’s Fall.

We’re also proliferating with Karn’s Bastion, Contagion Clasp, Norn’s Choirmaster, and Evolution Sage. This isn't just great for those poison counters, but also for knocking out creatures sitting around with -1/-1 counters on them. 

We’re also making some tokens with Vishgraz, Phyrexian Swarmlord, Phyrexian Rebirth, and Wurmquake. And the deck wants to keep you safe with a bunch of combat deterrents. There’s Norn’s Annex, Ghostly Prison, Windborn Muse, and Norn’s Decree. At first I asked myself why the deck would have these. And then I remembered, oh yeah, you’re playing poison. People are going to hate you.

New Sensations

It’s time to talk about the best part of precons: the new cards! In addition to the 2 legends, the deck also provides us with 8 other new cards to play along with the poison counters theme.

First up we’ve got some big threatening creatures: Contaminant Grafter, Glissa’s Retriever, and Norn’s Choirmaster. Grafter and Retriever both dish out some poison counters by combining their Toxic abilities with evasion. Grafter also ups the ante by giving you a Proliferate trigger whenever you hit opponents in combat, but only once per combat. The Choirmaster is also adding up the counters whenever your commander enters the battlefield or attacks. This one is going to be a Commander all-star for decks that use counters (which will also be proliferating when this set releases).

Next we’ve got some spicy sorceries. Geth’s Summons is a 2-for-1 if you meet the Corrupted requirement, giving you something from your yard, as well as something from your opponents’ yards if they have enough poison. Phyresis Outbreak is an amazing board wipe for poison decks that scales beautifully for just three mana. Then Wurmquake is here to turn up the heat on your opponents who are already feeling the poison in their veins, by dropping more huge threats with Toxic on the board.

And last we’ve got a couple noncreature permanents. Glistening Sphere costing three and entering tapped may be off putting to some, but you can’t ignore the Proliferate on entry and increase in mana with Corrupted. And Norn’s Decree is an absolute bomb at three mana, not only deterring people from attacking you, but also enticing your opponents to attack each other.

Poison Play

So how does the deck play? Over Spelltable… very awkwardly. Exiling cards face down in on-line games is always a bit of a mess. Other than that, the deck plays very smoothly. With only 3.27 for average mana value and 13 pieces of ramp, I had absolutely no trouble playing the cards as they came up. 

But there was the problem: keeping the cards coming. This deck is super weak on card draw, with only six sources in the 99. Why so low? Clearly the deck’s designers thought that the advantage gained from Ixhel was enough to compensate for this. But that’s not the case. While I was able to get six cards exiled with Ixhel during our test game, I wouldn’t count it as strict card advantage because: (A) it’s other peoples’ decks, so many of the cards won’t actually be useful to us, and (B) most of the cards exiled were lands. While it's nice to not miss any land drops, I would prefer to dig through my own deck a bit more.

The entire time I was playing the deck, the thought that kept going through my head was “Etali does this better.” It’s very easy to compare Ixhel to Etali, Primal Storm, since both exile the top cards of your opponents’ libraries (although Etali exiles yours as well). While Ixhel allows you to play lands from those cards exiled, something Etali lacks, it doesn’t play the spells for free like Etali does. There are also timing restrictions; Etali plays the stuff immediately, but with Ixhel you don’t have access to most of the cards until your next turn, unless they’re instants.

Where this is an upgrade over Etali, aside from being three colors instead of one, is that you’re not just relying on your commander to attack to get any benefit. With Ixhel, as long as an opponent has three or more poison counters, the exile effect will happen at your end step. No attack required. And the deck provides literally dozens of ways to get those counters without Ixhel having to swing.

Warning: Contents Toxic

While the deck itself is a bit of a mixed bag, there’s one main reason I’m gonna give it a thumbs up. And that’s the value!

Verdict: Buy it

The other precon from this set got a freaking Flawless Maneuver, which was $26 before the reprint announcement, so I’d hoped this one would have a free spell as well. Deadly Rollick would have been amazing, but I certainly would’ve settled for an Obscuring Haze too. No such luck. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t get some solid reprints. Noxious Revival is seeing its first substantial reprint (I don’t count “The List”), as is Phyrexian Swarmlord. Chromatic Lantern can’t seem to keep its price down no matter how many reprints it gets, so it’s also a welcome inclusion. Norn’s Annex was long overdue for a reprint, as was Grafted Exoskeleton.

Although the precon suffers from a lack of card draw, it’s still a lot of fun to pilot. The only thing to worry about is whether or not it’s fun for your opponents; a lot of EDH players don’t like poison. This is understandable, as the counters basically turn your starting life total from 40 to 10, and most decks simply aren’t prepared for that lower amount. Just make sure to have good pre-game conversations so no one gets salty.

We’re not done with Corrupting Influence just yet. That’s right, I’ve got another article coming your way for upgrades, so stay tuned! Don’t forget to check out the Scrap Trawlers on YouTube and Twitch. And remember to budget…before you buy it.

Scrap Trawlers is a Magic: The Gathering budget EDH streaming and video group, with gameplay, deck techs, chats, and more. Catch our videos at Andy, Lenny, and Bert.

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