Phyrexia: All Will Be One Set Review - Green
(Nissa, Ascended Animist | Art by Chase Stone)
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts/Lands | Gold I | Gold II | Reprints | cEDH
I Don't Mean to be Toxic, But...
This is the Set Review for all the green cards in Phyrexia: All Will Be One! I'm Josh and I'll be your guide through all the nasty monstrosities lurking in New Phyrexia. Some new horrors and unfortunate friends will be hiding in the mist, so let's dive in and see what All Will Be One has in store.
Nissa, Ascended Animist
Is this the first planeswalker with an Overrun effect that can be activated immediately? Seven mana is higher than your average Overrun, but this can still be a game ender. She'll be great in mono-green or green-plus builds with a lot of Forests, or if you have Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth in play.
Outside of her ultimate, making an 8/8 creature can be useful if you care about having big creatures or you can Populate big tokens, but if you play Nissa and don't ultimate her right away, she will be kill-on-sight. Her -1 is okay if you need to remove a problematic artifact or enchantment, but if you do, that puts you two turns away from activating her -7, and by that point, it's almost a guarantee that she won't be around.
I don't think Nissa will replace Overwhelming Stampede in anyone's decks, but if your deck makes a lot of small creatures like Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald, this will be a better option than your average Overrun. Populate decks that don't mind protecting a planeswalker will enjoy this a lot too, like Ghired, Conclave Exile or Trostani, Selesnya's Voice. Finally, Forest-counting decks like Yedora, Grave Gardener and Ashaya, Soul of the Wild decks will certainly welcome Nissa's new form with open arms - all four of her arms.
Wow. It feels like I'm looking at a Questing Beast, what with all those keywords. Can't be countered, ward 4, haste, and trample? If you can't block with eight toughness, you'll just be poisoned for four, and can't do anything about it.
Now, maybe in 1-on-1 formats, this would be brutal and hard to deal with, but in Commander, there are better ways to deal Poison damage than just a big hasty creature. Having a bunch of smaller creatures with Toxic 1 will probably be more effective in Commander than just one big thing. It's fun to just have a big Dinosaur, but if your plan is to poison opponents, there are better options that don't cost seven mana. Toxic decks will probably still want this at the top end of their curve simply to have a large creature that's hard to deal with, but players packing poison are pretty crafty, and may find themselves with other, better options.
The bigger question is whether this is worth playing even if you're not planning on winning with poison counters. After all, it's a beefy Dinosaur with awesome keywords, so Gishath, Sun's Avatar may still like it just for the raw power, or The Mimeoplasm might want a hastey, trampling, self-protecting body as a base creature to copy.
Zopandrel, Hunger Dominus
Unnatural Growth was already a pretty crazy card in green decks, and it's featured in over half of all Tovolar, Dire Overlord decks. Now you can have this effect in the command zone?! Throw in any trample anthem in the deck and you have a pretty deadly board. Since Zopandrel is seven mana, I'd expect this will most often come down on the turn you're trying to win (as opposed to getting it out early).
What makes this creature even more problematic for those seeing it across the table is that second ability. Any commander that can protect itself will be an issue, but it costs no additional mana to do so. Plus, we either want to sac creatures anyway or just eat the mana dorks that helped cast them in the first place. We won't need those, because now that Zopandrel is here, we're trying to end the game. It's even a decent blocker, given that it will be an 8/12 with reach each combat. I'll echo one piece of tech I heard surrounding these Dominus creatures: if you're running Zopandrel as the commander, then having Nesting Grounds will let you move indestructible counters onto other key permanents, allowing you protect anything you want.
In the 99, this will be at the top end of decks that run a lot of big scary creatures. It only has two green pips, so this'll be easier to splash than Unnatural Growth, which is a little unfortunate. It may be at a higher mana cost, but it's easier now to run this in any deck with green, and I think that'll be more impactful to Commander than green decks getting a second Unnatural Growth.
I appreciate that Corrupted pushes the Infect theme towards getting three poison counters on each opponent, instead of just focusing on one player. Bloated Contaminator is perfect for that strategy, as it'll put two counters on someone early in the game. While there are a limited number of Corrupted payoffs in green alone, it's clear that the Contaminator will be great in the new "Corrupted Influence" precon.
Outside of this set, having a creature with trample that Proliferates on combat damage will find a home in +1/+1 counters decks that have ways of making the Contaminator super big - Ezuri, Claw of Progress would probably appreciate the extra experience counters, for example. I don't think this quite budges into Superfriends decks, but perhaps decks with funky counters, like Myojin of Life's Web, could also use some extra help from the Contaminator!
Conduit of Worlds
If this ends up being cheap, a budget Crucible of Worlds would be nice, but A) we already have some of those, like Ramunap Excavator and Perennial Behemoth, and B) there are a lot of limitations attached to that recursion ability. Maybe I'm too down on this card, but if I'm in the mid-to-late game, I want to do more than cast one spell. I might even be telling my opponents that I won't be able to interact against removal or spells on my turn if I've activated it.
That being said, this'll find a home in self-mill strategies. I'd look to put Conduit of Worlds into an Old Stickfingers that puts a ton of creatures into the graveyard. The graveyard is often referred to as your "second hand" and Conduit can be a way to access some extra permanents in there.
If I didn't just talk about the Bloated Contaminator, I would've mistaken these two. While Bloated Contaminator only Proliferates when it deals damage, Contaminant Grafter Proliferates whenever any one of our creatures deals combat damage to at least one player. I think the Grafter will see more play outside of Toxic decks, simply because its trigger can happen the turn we play it.
On top of that, we've got a Corrupted ability that lets us draw and ramp in a poison-themed deck. At five mana, there's a good chance that opponents would already have some poison counters by the time this thing comes down. Grumgully, the Generous, Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, Volrath, the Shapestealer, and any commander with a Master Chef background are likely very interested in this counter-gatherer as a way to continue beefing up the board after each combat.
Okay, so this has hexproof when it enters, and later on, it'll have trample instead? A 5/5 at four mana that can eventually get trample is worth it. Maybe I'd play it for Falco Spara, Pactweaver, but even then, I don't think this one's great for EDH.
This thing is pretty scary. Unless you've got big chump blockers, you'll either have to deal with this or all of those tiny mites with Toxic 1. There'll be at least one person who isn't playing a creature-focused deck and this will ruin their day.
Toxic 3 and haste are pretty good for ensuring that you can get at least one person to three poison counters. If we're playing this somewhere in the mid-game, we've probably gotten one person to three counters, so this just adds insurance that we can get one other person (or even the last person) to three counters so that we can make the most out of its recursion ability.
Pretty good in a Toxic deck, of course, but I wouldn't be surprised if this showed up in the occasional Populate deck, too. Two 3/3 Beasts is a fun rate. Flickering this enchantment also sounds very fun if you've got the ability to do so.
Again, I like the direction of Corrupted encouraging us to spread the poison around rather than just targeting a single player. The card draw is probably going to be minimal in most cases, though. The majority of creatures with Toxic only have Toxic 1. Even Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa only has Toxic 2, so in that deck, this is six mana just to start drawing a couple extra cards if we have our commander in play. Again, the card is great for poison decks, but the creature tokens are the true highlight.
Green Sun's Twilight
While I've never put any in my Commander decks, I enjoy the designs of green cards like Adventurous Impulse that dig for a card of a certain type (which I recently learned are referred to as "Commune with" effects). Green Sun's Twilight feels like a souped-up version of this effect. If you pay enough into it, it can put a creature and a land onto the battlefield. I think the closest comparison to this effect would be Majestic Genesis (which is sweet in Storvald, Frost Giant Jarl, by the way).
I think this is best used in Belbe, Corrupted Observer decks. The creature you cheat into play doesn't need to have mana value less than X, so for a total of just six mana, you can dig down six cards and plop a ten-mana Eldrazi into play.
I'm a big fan of any card that favors commanders with higher mana values. That equip cost is hefty, though, and not one I'd be willing to pay for very often, so the equipped Germ token had better be really dang big on the first turn we play this thing. The only deck I'd actively look to play this card is Ghalta, Primal Hunger, both as a way to get our dino down early and as a way to make her super lethal with just a single swing.
Thrun, Breaker of Silence
Huh, a new Voltron commander. Natural trample and all these different methods of natural protection make this a very potent new commander. Hydra's Growth, Fireshrieker, Bear Umbra, and Ancestral Mask this thing into oblivion, and dodge tons of pinpoint removal along the way. The only thing that might hold Thrun back is that we've seen a lot of other decks like it, but if you choose this as your new deck leader, it'll serve you very well and your opponents will have to scramble for a way to try and stave it off.
Before throwing this in your Toxic decks, make sure you're running enough ways to target your own creatures, such as fight spells or Tamiyo's Safekeeping effects. Otherwise, this might just be a dead card, because a creature-based deck like poison strategies are more afraid of board wipes than pinpoint removal.
I actually think this card would serve best as an alternative win condition for certain Enchantress decks. It's very easy to put a bunch of poison counters onto opponents if you have a lot of Auras, especially repeatable ones like Whip Silk!
Poison decks like this card, yadda yadda, but I wanna shout this card out for Baru, Wurmspeaker. I don't know if he's doing a whole lot of poisoning, but extra Wurms are awesome, and the Flashback is a nice follow-up if the game goes long or a board wipe takes the army down.
Uncommons & Commons
- Cankerbloom is another Caustic Caterpillar, similar to the new Haywire Mite, but at two mana instead of one. However, it has the backup Proliferate option for some nice versatility. Meren of Clan Nel Toth, eat your heart out.
- Expand the Sphere feels like a weaker Migration Path, as it can't guarantee we get land drops. I'd like to say that it's still worth running in decks that care about counters, but the strength of modal spells is that they're useful at any point in the game, and if I'm casting this early in the game and don't find any lands, it'll be a huge whiff, especially if there's nothing out yet to Proliferate.
- Noxious Assault is fine. I don't think I'd run this in anything but a Toxic deck. In most cases, I'd rather have an Overrun and give my creatures trample than give my opponents the option to choose how many poison counters they get. Outside of Toxic, General Marhault Elsdragon is a fairly unique commander that runs cards like Lure, so if you're forcing opponents to block your creatures, then Noxious Assault looks perfect.
- Thirsting Roots can great in more budget decks. I like this current design of cards like Bushwhack. For one mana, you can either grab a basic land for mana fixing or it can be something useful that your deck wants. Decks that run more expensive mana fixers won't need cards like these, but if you're playing a 3+ color deck on a budget, I'd throw in Thirsting Roots, if only just to have an additional Proliferate that can ensure a land drop. I'm all about it.
- Tyvar's Stand is the newest Tamiyo's Safekeeping and this one looks to make one creature really big, which can either help get in for lethal damage or block and kill one creature. We've certainly gotten a lot of these effects so far: Tamiyo's Safekeeping, Gaea's Gift, and even Loran's Escape and Blacksmith's Skill. Safekeeping is still the best one in green, simply because it says "target permanent", but I like seeing this effect include buffs and keywords like trample, that give the spell an offensive option too. Will we reach a point where there are too many of these, or is this influx good since it allows players to pick which one works best for their decks?
- Unnatural Restoration is a Regrowth in 'counters matter' decks. It only returns a permanent to your hand, but if you're Proliferating or in a +1/+1 counters deck, you're probably recurring a creature that got removed. If you're looking to get more counters on creatures or on your opponents, Unnatural Restoration is a good inclusion that can get a key part of your strategy back.
You've Been Poisoned
Toxic and Corrupted breath new life into the poison theme and I gotta say, I'm here for it. The new Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa looks really fun, and I expect to see more Toxic creatures show up outside of poison-focused decks. But while poison will be more prevalent, the feelings towards Infect in EDH will still be there, so it's likely that any player who attempts to start poisoning people will become public enemy #1 until they're swiftly dealt with.
Are you worried about losing to poison in more of your games? Are you going to start putting anti-counters cards to combat this new influx of poison? Are Infect player Toxic? Let me know in the comments below!