Phyrexia: All Will Be One Set Review - Blue
(Blue Sun's Twilight | Art by Piotr Dura)
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts/Lands | Gold I | Gold II | Reprints | cEDH
Transcript log Angelo.
It is I, the one designated as "The Jesguy".
Today I am the conduit in charge of spreading the teachings of the Core Augur, through the blessings of Phyrexia: All Will Be One, specifically subjects pertaining to the color "Blue".
Fellow Gitaxians have continued The Great Synthesis in your long absence. Come, let us show you our progress, whether you wish to see or not.
Your attendance is mandatory.
Ahem, sorry about that, I don't know what all that was about! I promise I'm a 100% normal human.
Online opinions on Ichormoon Gauntlet range from "busted" to "dud". Mine, though? I think it's fine. 🤷♂️
Planeswalker decks haven't been hurting for cards to add to their decks in recent years, so I don't think Ichormoon Gauntlet will have as much or an impact on these style of decks in 2023 as it would have five or ten years ago. It's a solid card, and can be a bit "win more", but it's a great option to have.
In particular, Ichormoon Gauntlet fits well into planeswalker decks that have a lot of planeswalkers from War of the Spark, a lot of which don't have any loyalty-increasing abilities, or in decks where a planeswalker is your commander, like Teferi, Temporal Archmage. It's also an awesome card for nongreen planeswalker decks that don't have access to cards like Doubling Season or Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider.
Overall, I think Ichormoon Gauntlet is a cool, new style of card, but nothing broken or absurd. Due to its psuedo-Proliferate passive effect, it might see play in other kinds of counter-based decks, but in most situations, planeswalker builds is where it will be most at home. Combine it with Teferi, Master of Time, and go to town!
Jace, the Perfected Mind
As far as designs go, I am generally pretty positive on the Phyrexian planeswalkers. Despite my fondness for them, though, I think Jace, the Perfected Mind is probably the weakest of the bunch, especially for EDH.
To me, the Phyrexian 'walkers are similar to MDFCs. They have two different modes depending on if you spend Phyrexian mana on them or not, and their playstyle will be different depending on which you choose. Due to this modality, Jace seems good in 60-card formats, since he can easily start chunking down an opponent's library with ease. However, in Commander, where you have three opponents with 100-card decks each, Mill decks need more powerful toys than just a card that can mill 9 or 15 cards a single time for a single opponent.
Jace's +1 is a good ability, but it's negligible in our format. His -2 gives us access to another Visions of Beyond effect, but regardless of whether you play him on three or four mana, it isn't worth spending that much on an effect that we know is one mana.
While I enjoy Jace as a character, I can't help but think that this version of him is a bit of a letdown. It's interesting to see him return to his mind-crushing tricks now that he's evil, but he doesn't really make an impact on EDH. Hopefully that won't be the case in the upcoming story!
Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus
All of the Domini are really cool, but man, I wish they didn't have these weird names. Am I the only one that thinks that "Dominus of Inquiry" would have been a more imposing name on its own?
Naming nitpicks aside, I love this entire cycle. Big, splashy Panharmonicon variants are always welcome, especially when they do really novel things like Tekuthal here. Despite being neat, though, Tekuthal is niche. If you aren't a blue deck with a plethora of counters and ways to Proliferate, then you aren't going to want Tekuthal whatsoever.
Along with this, mono-blue isn't known for dabbling in counters shenanigans. This leads Tekuthal to be part of the 99 as opposed to the commander of a deck, but there it absolutely shines.
Infect, +1/+1 Counter, and Planeswalker decks all use Proliferate quite liberally, and are, by proxy, perfect homes for Tekuthal. With tools like Thrummingbird, Contagion Engine, and Inexorable Tide, you can swell the number of counters on your side substantially and consistently, all while fueling Tekuthel's ability to make itself indestructible!
All in all, Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus is an excellent niche card that can carve out a home in some decks, provided that the commander or the 99 have enough Proliferate engines. I know I'll certainly be trying it out in my Falco Spara, Pactweaver deck to help fuel my Future Sight-esque shenanigans!
Blade of Shared Souls
What a nice little Clone variant for Equipment decks! Despite it only being able to target creatures you control, having the ability to double up on certain powerful effects in these style of decks is awesome!
Even with all this praise, though, it has one major issue: not being able to copy legendary creatures. While this seems like a minor nitpick at first (and trust me, I'm happy that it doesn't copy legends), there are way more legendary creatures in the average Equipment deck on EDHREC than one would first guess. This issue is definitely deck-dependent, since some Equipment decks won't play lots of legendary creatures, but as WotC prints more and more great legends for this theme, Blade of Shared Souls gets worse and worse.
Blade of Shared Souls isn't bad by any means, but it isn't as easy of an inclusion as your average Equipment, so don't just slap it into a deck without thinking about it. It's a wonderful option to have, and I'm really interested to see where it ends up. I think it's safest to start with a low evaluation for this card and wait to see if it can surprise us.
Blue Sun's Twilight
Blue Sun's Twilight is a nice callback to Blue Sun's Zenith, and while it isn't as good of an infinite mana sink as its predecessor, it's still great!
A scaling Mind Control that isn't tied to an enchantment is always powerful, but you know what's even more powerful? Doubling the creature you steal! While this won't really make a difference if you're nabbing a legend, in every other scenario this card is just sweet! If a creature was good enough for you to want to steal it, then two of them must be that much better! Getting the full effect of this card isn't too hard to do in EDH either, so it's not like this is a pipe dream (like Finale of Revelation).
This seems like a fantastic inclusion in Theft decks or U/X decks that care about tokens, such as Adrix and Nev, Twincasters. My only knock against it (and the rest of its cycle) is that they don't shuffle themselves back into your deck like the Zeniths did. But hey, if that's the worst thing I have to say about it, it must be a pretty good card, right?
While Encroaching Mycosynth might look like "Mycosynth Lattice at home", it has the potential to be even better! Why is that? Well, we need to look at the key differences between Encroaching Mycosynth and Mycosynth Lattice:
- Encroaching Mycosynth does not turn lands into artifacts, unlike Mycosynth Lattice
- Mycosynth Lattice does not turn nonland permanents you control or nonland permanent spells you control into artifacts, unlike Encroaching Mycosynth
I've seen a lot of people talking about how Encroaching Mycosynth is just a worse version of its predecessor, but I don't think that is true outside of 60-card formats. Having all of your nonland permanents in every zone become an artifact is incredible.
With this card, Saheeli's Directive is now a Genesis Wave that only misses on lands. Scrap Mastery becomes a souped-up Living Death. Emry, Lurker of the Loch and Sharuum the Hegemon get back any nonland permanent. Mirrodin Besieged can just start taking people out of the game, and the list goes on!
While it is restricted by color (thank goodness), I don't think that hurts Encroaching Mycosynth's stock at all. It provides a lot of synergy and will fit into a ton of decks. I could even see it outright replacing Mycosynth Lattice in some of them!
Mercurial Spelldancer is certainly a neat design, but we are not at a loss for ways to copy spells in EDH, so much so that we even have a dedicated theme for it on the site!
Many of the Spell Copy decks on EDHREC aren't going to be in the market for a slow creature that will only be able to copy spells on their turn. When we already have options like Thousand-Year Storm, Double Vision, and Bonus Round, this new Mercurial Spelldancer card is embarrassing by comparison.
Despite all the flack I just gave it, I don't think the card is unplayable. The best home for Mercurial Spelldancer may be decks like Anowon, the Ruin Thief, Edric, Spymaster of Trest, or Otrimi, the Ever-Playful, where the unblockable body is more important than the spell copying, which then just becomes a nice little bonus.
This is one of the best designs I've seen in a while, and a contender for my favorite blue card in the set.
One of my biggest issues with cost reducers, specifically expensive ones, like Primal Amulet, is that you need to tap a bunch of mana on your turn before you get to use them. Mindsplice Apparatus sidesteps this by having flash. You can now leave mana up to either draw cards, counter spells, or play your Apparatus, while also being able to fully untap the following turn to take advantage of the cost reduction!
On top of this, the Apparatus will grow over time, giving you more and more of an advantage the game goes on. I was happy with just a reduction of a single mana, so throw on more over a couple turns and I'll be even happier!
Overall, I think Mindsplice Apparatus is an awesome addition to Spellslinger decks and that it should be considered over slower, clunkier cost reducers that you might be running already. Flash makes all the difference here.
Unctus, Grand Metatect
From Grand Architect to Grand Metatect. Unctus, Grand Metatect seems to have gotten a promotion (depending on your point of view, of course).
Unctus, Grand Metatect is a real nice card. A 2/4 for three mana is a solid rate, and all of his abilities synergize together quite well. While he can combo on his own with something like Aphetto Alchemist to draw you entire deck, I think the best place for Unctus is in the 99 of other commanders.
Any list that revolves around artifact creatures or tapping creatures (particularly blue ones) is a perfect home for Unctus, Grand Metatect. These strategies are able to take full advantage of all of his abilities, pumping their creatures' power and toughness, while also looting obscene amount of cards away. On top of that, Unctus himself is an artifact, meaning cards like Emry, Lurker of the Loch can recast him from the 'yard if he dies, leading to even more value shenanigans!
Overall, while I don't think Unctus, Grand Metatect does anything for mono-blue that it didn't already have, I think he's an excellent addition to existing Artifact decks and will excel there.
Uncommons & Commons
- Experimental Augury is an upgrade to Steady Progress, which sees play in over 9,500 decks. I expect it to put in similar numbers, since cantripping counter-adders are always great!
- Prologue to Phyresis is a nice little way to get the corruption started! You already know whether you want to play this card or not. This is a sweet inclusion to any decks that care about poison counters or Proliferate.
- Minor Misstep is aimed more at competitive formats, whose power scales with the amount of powerful, cheap spells being cast. While traditional Commander won't want this, this might be a tool for cEDH, though it does have quite a bit of competition.
- Mesmerizing Dose is a nice twist on Claustrophobia. While these effects aren't usually good, having the additional Proliferate rider is very enticing in decks with plenty of counters!
- Tamiyo's Logbook is best at home in artifact and Treasure decks, where it will only cost a single mana to draw a card. That being said, most of these decks have better repeatable card draw, like Shimmer Dragon or Vedalken Archmage, but it's a nice budget alternative!
- Transplant Theorist is a better Skyswimmer Koi thanks to its redistribution of stats and being an artifact. In fact, in its current form, it reminds me of Sage of the Falls. There are plenty of ways to use Sage of the Falls to churn through a deck, and with how common artifact tokens are nowadays, I expect similar things to happen with the Theorist here.
And there we have it, all the blue baddies from Phyrexia: All Will Be One! With all the multicolor and artifact cards, the number of blue cards seemed to be more of a trickle than a torrent this time around. Despite the quantity, the cards from this set make it up in quality.
Of note, Mindsplice Apparatus, Encroaching Mycosynth, and Unctus, Grand Metatect are all standouts to me from the set. Each of them are strong in their own ways and have plenty of application in EDH.
What about you though? What blue cards caught your eye? Do you have a favorite? Do you think there was a missed design or opportunity with any of these? Make sure you let me know down in the comments below!
You can reach me on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, wear your mask, wash your hands, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.