Phyrexia: All Will Be One Set Review - Black
(Chase Stone | Graphic design by Luminarch| Art by
Welcome to, fleshlings! Phyrexia: All Will Be One is almost upon us, and there are a lot of reasons to surrender to our new Phyrexian overlords. Presented here are the black cards of note from the new set, and there are quite a few, so let's get to it right away!
Before we do, make sure you familiarize yourself with the set's mechanics!
That first line of text probably reminded you of, the second-most popular Orzhov commander on EDHREC at time of writing. I probably don't have to convince you that this ability is very good and very scary. When you're playing black, chances are you'll want to see a lot of things die and benefit from it, from to . Basically, goes into every aristocrat deck playing black, which means it's going to be a very popular card.
All the Domini can give themselves an indestructible counter, at a cost. I'd say is pretty easy to activate, since you will no doubt want a lot of creatures in your graveyard anyway. Bonus points to , who will see those creatures get exiled from your graveyard and ping your opponents.
You can technically playas your commander if you want to go mono-black aristocrats. Sure, it's one more mana than Teysa and gives you access to one less color, but I'll never fault you for wanting to play a mono-colored deck. 's indestructible ability and 8 power ( was not dethroned) lets you have a slight Voltron subtheme to your deck as well, which is sweet.
If your deck wants creatures to die, you will make room forin it. That's pretty much all there is to say about it.
First things first: I love Vraska's Borg Queen makeover. Chase Stone gave us a really sweet depiction of our favorite Gorgon, and even calls back to her art. (Some folks have also pointed out that her tail ends with the Return to Ravnica set symbol, which is the first set that she appeared in. Neat!)
's set of abilities looks like standard planeswalker fare (card draw, removal, threatening ultimate). At least, that seems to be the case until we realize that she's the first planeswalker to be able to Proliferate. Some previous 'walkers could add loyalty counters to other planeswalkers, like , but I'd argue Proliferate is a lot better than that. To me, that means is good enough to make the cut in , especially superfriends and Infect lists. It's also safe to say that a lot of commanders that care about any kind of counters might want to play her, like or . Decks that aren't running blue can be short on repeatable ways to Proliferate, and can help with that.
Her removal isn't as powerful as some of her other incarnations, since it can only hit creatures (destroys a nonland permanent) and it actually ramps our opponent, but it's very flavorful! You see, Gorgons turn things into stone and stones are, y'know, Treasures! Or something like that. Oh, and you can target your own creature if you ever need to make a quick buck.
Using a planeswalker ultimate is always a nice bonus and never something you should count on. In's case, though, she will be seen mostly in decks that also want counter-doublers like , so her ultimate can happen once in a while. If you can Proliferate in some way on the turn you activate it, that's one opponent down!
I love. Her abilities feel very Vraskian, if I can make up such a word, and to top it all off, she is absolutely rocking that compleated look.
Hey, a big scary Demon with downside! Except it isn't that big or scary, and the downside really sucks.
I don't know why I would risk losing the game for a four-mana 6/6 flyer, even if I can reliably Proliferate to keep it alive. It has another ability akin to, and that effect is good, but doesn't kill anything on its own. You'd have to be in a dedicated deck that kills a lot of creatures to be worth it, and if you have access to white, I would just play the much safer instead.
The only redeeming quality of this monstrosity is for it to somehow find itself on the other side of the battlefield. Give it away withand draw four cards! , , or can also do the trick. Decks like and might be interested in . Aside from specific "bad gifts" decks, I really don't think we'll see it a whole lot.
I'm getting somevibes here, and that's not necessarily good. I love , but I still ended up cutting it from my deck. The instant speed on is really nice, don't get me wrong, but I don't think it makes it all that better. If you want both modes, you have to pay at least six mana, which is a lot. There are just going to be times where this doesn't kill what it needs to kill and doesn't reanimate what it needs to reanimate. You can't even ambush any attacks, because the reanimated creature enters tapped.
Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't thinkis efficient enough in a color that can already and things very efficiently.
Four mana is not really competitive for a reanimation spell, but it's not terrible either. If your deck is designed to poison your enemies, though,becomes a lot more fun.
Reanimating a creature from each of your opponents has been seen before at four mana in, but your opponents can choose what creatures you get, and you can't reanimate a creature from your own graveyard. lets you choose your targets, but still only from your opponents' graveyards. When is active, it's closer to – which I actually really like – without the downside of having the creatures gain Decayed. The thing with this type of spell is that sometimes there just won't be anything of value to reanimate... but you might also end up with a , an , and a !
fits in decks that want to distribute poison counters, and that's pretty much it. It's included in the new precon, which can also run as its commander. Infect decks like or can be interested as well. Cool card, but very niche.
Let's try to work with's first ability. might give us some pointers.
is a Zombie, so while he's out, can create a loop with and and drain your opponents to death. Also, 's Thrulls will die as they are being created, so you will never reach the threshold to sacrifice him. That's a lot of dying creatures, which we love in aristocrats. There's also some value in playing creatures with one toughness that trigger when they leave the battlefield, like or . I also feel like there are some shenanigans to be had with .
's reanimation ability can only be activated at sorcery speed and requires you to tap him, which ultimately limits its combo potential, and the "If this creature would leave the battlefield, exile it instead of putting it anywhere else" clause doesn't help. can just be a good old reanimator deck: mill or some big creature, reanimate it, profit. No loops, just good value, and that's perfectly okay.
might have a use for , although the fact that only your creatures get -1/-1 makes him less enticing than , which affects all creatures.
If you can work around's first ability, he might offer an interesting flavour of aristocrats. If you want to go reanimator, he comes down earlier than but he has to be tapped for his second ability, which is a drawback.
I'm not sureis better than or as a mono-black Rat commander. It has decent stats, a good card advantage ability, and it offers an alternate way of killing someone with poison counters. Still, to me, he looks better in the 99 than at the head of a deck.
I will say, rodent enthusiasts never had so many options:
- is solid card advantage with a -type effect.
- floods the board with countless Rats and offers evasion.
- is surprisingly effective as a commander! You have a lot of resilience against board wipes and removal, plus Lurrus can abuse permanent-based interaction, like and .
- Expanding on the Lurrus idea, you can even go Abzan with for great recursion and access to three colors.
All these Rat decks will benefit from, but I don't expect to see this card anywhere else.
I want to thank my brother Mathieu Gatien for his thoughts on Rat tribal. His Lurrusdeck is always a blast to see, and a nightmare to play against.
If you ever wanted to playas your commander, then is the card for you!
An aristocrats strategy seems a decent avenue for. She can buy back creatures with powerful abilities, like or . In that way, she reminds me of . She's not as good as Ratadrabik, of course, since she's mono-black and she exiles the creatures after they die. The tokens getting Toxic 1 is a nice upside: a lot of our synergy creatures can have flying, like , so hitting someone for a poison counter shouldn't be too hard.
You can probably also focus on a poison strategy. Load up on poisonous creatures and Proliferate effects, and you've got a stew going. If any of your valuable creatures die, they come back with another instance of Toxic 1, making them even more deadly. Where encourages a Voltron strategy, wants you to go a little wider and little more value-oriented. As with any strategy involving poison counters, however, be prepared to face a lot of hate from your opponents.
Some decks might be interested infor the 99. She's a Vampire, and many Vampire decks have an aristocrats subtheme. I don't know if she's good enough for , since that list is pretty optimized by now, but I think she can find a home in mono-black Vampire lists, like , , or , at least. I wonder if she could be interesting in , since he deals damage when a creature dies and when it is exiled by to become a token, because the card left the graveyard.
is decent, but her five-mana cost is holding her back from being super efficient. She seems to care about a lot of things (tokens, poison counters, aristocrats), so focusing on just one strategy will be ideal if you want to build her well.
To be happy with, I want to be able to draw five or more cards, which means that I would probably only play it in a dedicated artifact deck. It is not an artifact itself, so there's a bit of push and pull there, but I still think it's worth the inclusion. I also like that it can take out an opponent if you have amassed an ungodly amount of Clues, for example, or if you control a .
In my decks, I like to have a wide range of card advantage options. A sort of 'card draw buffet', if you will. I want draw that's, , and/or , and a couple of just 'raw draw' effects, like . This new card fits that last category pretty well. It feels like : powerful, but only in some specific decks.
Any deck that wants to have a lot of artifacts on the field should givea try. and like to Investigate, and care about Treasures, and just wants everything to be an artifact.
Infect decks sure are getting a lot of new toys! What? I'm not worried. Not in the slightest. Nope. Not at all.
There is suprisingly little to say about. If your deck interacts with poison counters and you are playing black, you will probably play this card. A three-mana one-sided board wipe is insane. To be blunt: in some situations, it might be better than , black's arguably best board wipe. At worst, it cleans all your opponents' 1/1 tokens off the board. It also gives a poison counter to each opponent, which can potentially kill someone outright in the late game. It also plays around indestructible, as many do.
Play Infect? Card good. Next.
We must not think ofas a . The words "one or more" and "triggers only once each turn" make sure of that. We have to consider him as a synergy piece rather than a combo piece. will help you win the game if you achieve a critical mass of death triggers, but rewards you for the sacrifices you make every turn.
wants to sacrifice something at every end step, and adds another two damage on top of Braids' ability, which doesn't seem bad. He's a Vampire, so aristocrats Vampire decks, like , might have a use for him. He's also good in decks that can sacrifice or every turn.
I don't see a very good reason to chooseas your commander when exists, but that's just me! I can't tell you what to do.
Uncommons & Commons
- If you can poison your enemies reliably, is your best removal spell. Or maybe second-best, behind , but that's still saying a lot.
- might be interesting for black Infect decks that also go wide, like the new .
- Artifact decks, which are known to recur artifacts from the graveyard multiple times and make arbitrarily large amounts of mana, might have a use for . I could see it in to draw cards and buy back some key creatures from the graveyard.
- I don't know why you would go to such lengths to assemble a creature that can be infinitely sacrificed when more efficient options exist, but just know that and can combo off with a sacrifice outlet. Do what you will with that information, dear reader.
- a ton of new cards with the keyword, too, so that's neat. looks good in any deck that wants to Proliferate heavily, like the new or . We just got
- As far as edict effects go, is pretty good at making sure you get some value. I don't know if it's better than , but the added planeswalker hate will be useful in some corner cases. certainly wants this.
- seems bonkers in Treasure decks that also want to sacrifice creatures, like , or . It doesn't say "nontoken" anywhere on the card! Profit.
| Art by Lie Setiawan
Did the Dross Gross You Out, or Engross You?
Except for maybe, I didn't see anything that screamed "staple" amidst today's selection. We mostly got cards that are going to be useful in specific decks rather than format-warping powerhouses, and that's great! I'm excited to see as a repeatable way to Proliferate in decks that care about counters, especially the ones who don't have access to blue for or , for example. will see little play outside of artifact decks, but will be pulling its weight there. Also, looks like a pretty sweet uncommon to me.
What do you think? Am I sleeping on? Am I giving too much credit because I think she's cool? Is there some broken interaction I didn't see? Let me know in the comments! I'm Philomène, thanks for reading, enjoy the new set, and stop resisting, fleshling. Surrender to the glory of Phyrexia.