Windborn Musings – New Phyrexia Set Review Part IV, the Real Deal

So you’ve read what Graveborn and Seedborn Muse had to say about some of the cards in the set.  Now you’re here and you’re saying, “it’s about time you got around to reviewing all the good cards!” 

Just a quick note before we get into the cards.  The FAQ for Karn Liberated was not out when we reviewed the card.  The FAQ includes this line:  “In a multiplayer game (a game that started with three or more players in it), any player that left the game before it was restarted with Karn’s ability won’t be involved in the new game.”  Hopefully when this happens the Karn player will have enough of an advantage that he’ll win quickly, however, keep this in mind around your kitchen tables when playing Karn.  I understand that the rules have to be that way, since many times an eliminated player gets into another game or leaves the location where the game is being played.  To say that the player must return is just not feasible.  This could mean that someone is waiting a very long time.  If you are running Karn, you had better have something coming that will bring a quick win in the new game, or you can expect anyone waiting for the game to end will be thoroughly pissed with you.

Now on with the new cards!

The Splicers

 

These cards are going to go so well in your Golem theme deck.  Of course, you’ll have to include Xenograft (see below!) so the Artificers that are giving the Golems benefits can get the benefits themselves.  Unfortunately, if someone can kill your 1/1 creatures, all your Golems lose everything the Artificers give them.  Are you seeing the number of hoops you will have to jump through to make this work?  Are you seeing how easy it will be for your opponents to stop this?  If this is what you want to do, why aren’t you just playing Slivers?

Chancellor of the Annex

Have you played against someone who is playing Rhystic Study?  Whenever anyone plays a spell, he asks, “did you pay the extra one for that?” and the player grumbles and either pays it or tells the annoying guy to draw his card.  You are now that annoying guy.  Remember who got attacked first in that game?  Yeah, it was the annoying guy. 

That said, Chancellor of the Annex is even worse than Rhystic Study, because other than the first turn benefit, you won’t see this until later in the game.  You know, that point when everyone has mana?  So yes, you ask if they paid the mana, and they will be all bitchy and pay it because they have it.  So in the end, you’ll be annoying them but doing them no harm in the late game, when they likely have stuff to attack you with since they just played a spell.  Is your 5/6 flyer for 4WWW really worth it?

Dispatch

Tapping a creature is lame.  If I’m going to use this card, I want to have metalcraft.  I know that I’ll be putting this in my artifact heavy decks and replacing Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares.  With all the Phyrexian mana cards around, playing Swords to Plowshares is just giving your opponents mana.  Dispatch is just Swords without the downside.  Obviously this only goes in specific decks, but when it is there, it is the best.

Forced Worship

Run Cage of Hands.  You are playing this for its ability to bounce back to your hand when you want it back.  Cage of Hands does the same thing and the creature can’t block either. 

Norn’s Annex

So how does this compare to Ghostly Prison or Propaganda?  They all cost three, but the Annex demands 4 life or 2 more white mana.  The Annex also protects your planeswalkers.  The Annex lets the player attack you if they are willing to pay the 2 life. 

The value of this card will be pretty evident in your playgroup.  Just watch and see how effective Ghostly Prison or Propaganda is and you’ll have a pretty good idea how good Norn’s Annex is going to be.  The value of this card lies in the colors your opponents are playing and the type of multiplayer Magic you are playing.  If your opponents are playing white, the level of deterrent is fairly minimal.  One white mana is not going to stop someone from attacking you if they have determined that you are the primary threat.  If you are playing Commander or another form of multiplayer with higher life totals, paying 2 life to send a monstrous creature at you is a minor cost. 

You should also keep in mind the metagame for your playgroup. Some playgroups are scared away by something that demands the attacker pay something.  Some playgroups will pay the price and come after you right away, since they expect you are trying to combo into something.  Determine your playgroup and value the card accordingly. 

Phyrexian Unlife

Would you play an enchantment that costs 2W and says, “You gain 10 life. When this enchantment leaves play, you lose 10 life?”  And no, you aren’t allowed to do any Illusions of Grandeur/Donate shenanigans.  It seems unlikely since no one plays Illusions without Donate.  So why are you playing this card? 

I admit that this will work with effects that talk about loss of life, and not damage, but that sounds like a combo deck and I don’t like the idea of hanging in a game based on whether or not any of my opponents have enchantment removal.

Shattered Angel

This thing is going to be insane.  A 3/3 flyer for five is nothing special these days, but the kind of lifegain you are going to get in a multiplayer game will be wild.  Be sure to put these in a deck right away, since there are still some landfall decks floating around that will really let you cash in. Don’t forget these are “may” abilities.  Once your life total gets high “enough,” you’ll be wanting to “forget” to gain the life, just to stay off the radar.  

Suture Priest

I like this card better than Auriok Champion and Soul’s Attendant.  This should give you just enough life to take advantage of other Phrexian mana cards (I’m looking at you Moltensteel Dragon, just below).

On that note, I give you a caveat for these life gaining cards (and War Report).  There are some groups that do their threat assessment by looking at life totals.  Your life total differential with the other players on the board will climb quickly with these cards.  If that is going to make you a target, be very careful how much life you are gaining and how things will look to the other players when the dust settles.  If you aren’t careful you’ll find yourself facing a horde of opponents and relying on subpar cards to protect you.

Mental Misstep

I’ve seen the pros comments about this card.  I’ve seen the comments on Twitter about this card.  Watch your next five EDH games and count when you would actually want this card in your hand.  Tournament players are salivating over this card because a much higher percentage of their cards are spells with a converted mana cost of one.  While this would seem like a cool trick for a black or red deck, it just won’t come up often enough to be worth it.  Sell this off to the tournament guys.

Psychic Surgery

This just looks like a ton of fun, and a great way to make decks that always search for land pay for the constant shuffling.  This can also hit a number of tutors that shuffle and put the tutored card on top of the library.  The Psychic Surgery trigger goes on the stack at first priority, which is after the tutor puts the card on top of their library, so you can essentially fateseal their card away.

(Thanks to Anonycat on the judge’s forum, and the guys at Judgecast, for confirming my understanding of this interaction!)

Be warned that this will do no good against a Sensei’s Divining Top.  He will just hide the card he wants in the 3rd spot, then look at even more cards if you exile a card from his library. 

Viral Drake

I’m not sure how much is too much to pay for proliferate.  You are certainly not going to pay 3U for a 1/4 flying infect, so the ability is what is going to have to make or break it for you.  It seems Contagion Clasp and Contagion Engine can do a better job than this card until you have 8 mana and want to use it all to proliferate.  Just keep all that in mind when you decide if this card is going in your deck or not.

Xenograft

This is only going to be good in a deck where there is little or no creature synergy, but there would be if only the creatures were [insert tribe here].  If you are including this, it likely means that the creatures that are in the deck are no good without getting whatever bonus you are trying to give them.  Is this a risk you are willing to take?

That being said, this card is what will make my friend’s Aurochs deck take off!  I will certainly be using it in my Dragon deck to make all my little guys dragons.  This is the bad card that you are going to play with anyway!

Dismember

You can rank this card right up there with all the cards that give -X/-X to target creature.  The fact that this once black only ability is now available to anyone for only four life and a mana is disappointing. 

Most importantly though, I can’t believe they wasted this name on a Phyrexian mana card!  Dismember is such a great name for a creature removal spell, but using it here will ensure that the name will never be used elsewhere, since it is unlikely that Phyrexian mana symbols are going to show up in any other set.  I would have called this card “Burger and Phy-ries” and saved Dismember for the next iconic creature removal spell.

Enslave

Been here, done this. Prefer the old art. 

Oh, wait, I’ve got some tech that you probably didn’t think about.  Enslave one of their infect dudes!  Sweet combo huh?!

Glistening Oil

This card seems like it should have promise.  It can give creatures infect and -1/-1 counters and it comes back to your hand when it finishes a creature.  The problem is that you are not going to use this on your own creatures.  Phyresis can do the job better.  This means that you are putting it on an opponent’s creature.  I assume you are putting it on a smaller creature, since a bigger creature will poison you quickly before it dies.  This means that you are using it to get rid of smaller creatures.  That just seems like a lot of work to get rid of a small group of creatures. 

In the end, I think I’ll just run this with the various Shadowmoor and Eventide creatures that need -1/-1 counters.  Or maybe Carnifex Demon

Mortis Dogs

Mortis implies death or dead.  Why aren’t these Zombie Hounds? 

The nice part with Mortis Dogs (aka Dead Dog) is that you can target any player with the loss of life, not just the guy you were attacking.  These kinds of options are a good thing.

Act of Aggression

Now any color can smack you in the face with your own creatures.  Great.  Just great.

The most common use I’ve seen for these cards is to take someone’s creature and attack with it.  Just remember, there are so many more options!  You can wait until someone attacks you and steal a creature to kill a particular attacking creature (steal someone’s deathtouch defender to kill a Titan), or to kill a particular creature (steal someone’s Fauna Shaman and block with it just to kill off the Fauna Shaman).  You can steal someone’s creature before another player declares blockers, just to encourage the active player to attack into what is now a defenseless opponent… that isn’t you.  All this for just 3 mana and 4 life.

Fallen Ferromancer

Infect Tim (or Infect’im for us cool, witty people), but better.  Can do more than one damage to a creature since the -1/-1 counters stay on the creature.  Gives you a chance to take out bigger dudes.

Moltensteel Dragon

Lifegain is generally a little better in multiplayer than it is in duels since there is so much more to damage.  With New Phyrexia, lifegain gets an even bigger boost due to Phyrexian mana.  I want to play this with Shattered Angel and Suture Priest and a bunch of other life gaining spells.  I know that there are several opponents and burning 2 life to do 1 extra point of damage is probably not the best plan, but with enough lifegain, this thing will be able to take players right out of the game. 

Slag Fiend

This is obviously better in multiplayer games than duels, but you will really have to track your metagame to determine if you think it is worth it. 

Vulshok Refugee

This card is no fun in multiplayer.  Let’s fix him.  Let’s make his power and toughness be X+2 where X= the number of opponents in the game.  Now we’ve got something exciting! 

Whipflare

Pyroclasm lite? 

Greenhilt Trainee

How are you making the elf’s power 4 or greater?  Why aren’t you just doing that to the creature you are going to target with the elf’s ability?  And why aren’t you attacking with this elf if his power is 4 or more?  While I will undoubtedly be proved wrong, I don’t think this is worth the trouble.

Mycosynth Fiend

This thing is going to be huge in multiplayer if a bunch of players have poison counters right?  How will they get poison counters?  Well, I’ll play a bunch of poison stuff so all my opponents will have 5 poison counters and this guy will be a 17/17 or something huge! 

The Fiend doesn’t have infect himself? Oh.  Well it will be so big that it will just kill people with one hit from regular damage… no evasion at all huh?  And if I kill one player with poison counters the Fiend just gets smaller?  Oh.  Damn.

Phyrexian Swarmlord

Yes, this is in fact everything that the Fiend is not.  Even just a couple early infect counters and you’ll soon have a swarm of infected insects.  Be sure to attack the players without poison counters first, since you’ll want to keep the insects coming throughout the rest of the game.  I expect that this is the guy that will make your multiplayer group completely infected, assuming Skithiryx hasn’t already done that.

Viridian Betrayers

Remember that it says, “an opponent.”  You can attack any opponent in the game and have infect, not just the one that is already poisoned.  In fact, it is probably a good idea to spread the wealth around.  You wouldn’t want the poisoned player to die before you had a chance to poison another.

Isolation Cell

Remember what I said about Chancellor of the Annex?  At least with the Annex you got a 5/6 beatstick.  With this, you just get the beats.

When Graveborn Muse was editing this article he made a valid point about this card:  Something to consider: how well these types of cards work together. Just like a single Innocent Blood is only so-so removal, but 4 Innocent Blood, 4 Consuming Vapors and 4 Geth’s Verdict is an insurmountable control package, if they have to pay the mana for the angel then they’ll have to take the damage from the cell, and if they can afford to pay that, a) why would they attack you if it doesn’t slow them down appreciably, or b) can they afford to attack into your Annex and Ghostly Prison. This is a weak card but it gets better in multiples.

Kiln Walker

So at best this is a 3/3 for 3.  Apparently New Phyrexia builds crappier versions of Mirrodin cards.

Sickleslicer

Geez.  Even the art is lame.

Soul Conduit

I know this card isn’t going to be good.  If Mindslaver gets no play and you get to control target player for a turn, how is a card that swaps life totals and costs more going to be good?  And still I don’t care.  I want to play this card.  I want to use Phyrexian mana and get my life total down to 3 or 4, then activate the conduit.  I want to target two other players in the game and swap their life totals around.  This is not a good card, it is a shenanigans card.  I can’t wait.

Spellskite

This card should be called All State because this is some great card insurance for your stuff (I’m on FIRE!!!). 

This guy is a good flagbearer, in that it only absorbs what you want it to absorb.  I can protect my titan, but if someone wants to kill someone else’s titan, they can go ahead.  I’ll be happy to run these.

Unwinding Clock

Think about how much everyone hates Seedborn Muse (the card, notBrandon.  Love you man!).  Do you think they are going to hate you less for playing this because it doesn’t untap everything?  This card just means you are going to have to limit Unwinding Clock to artifact decks that run a lot of artifact mana. 

I recommend killing anyone who is playing this card ASAP.  Don’t worry about killing the Clock, just pull the plug on the player. 

And thus ends the Muse Vessel’s New Phyrexia preview week!  We hope you enjoyed yourself and picked up a few tasty morsels of information.  We will be returning to our regular schedule next week.  See you then!

Bruce Richard
@manaburned
bnrichard<AT>hotmail<DOT>com

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About Windborn Muse

If you seek limited or constructed tournament knowledge, wrapped up with excellent comedic writing, you are in the wrong place. Planted firmly at the kitchen table, Bruce (the Windborn Muse) is all things casual, focusing primarily on strategies for multiplayer games wrapped up with horrific, train wreck attempts at humour. Bruce is married to an extremely tolerant woman and has three children who will not go near him in public. In real life Bruce works as an attorney and lives just outside Boston.
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9 Responses to Windborn Musings – New Phyrexia Set Review Part IV, the Real Deal

  1. Aiden says:

    I feel like “Pyroclasm lite” misses a good point on whipflare. In a normal deck it pretty much is just Pyroclasm numbers 5 through 8, but if you build a deck to take advantage of it you can wipe a board full of tokens or early utility dudes and lay into someone with artifact creatures. There’s always going to be one guy with elves or soldiers who aren’t big enough for him to not start crying when this gets cast.

    • When I was looking at it, it just seemed like the only time it was better than Pyroclasm was when you were playing an artifact deck loaded with Myr or some other artifact creatures with a toughness of two or less, and you are also playing red. That is a pretty rare situation with my group, but your point is well taken.

  2. Oh sure! Take Aiden’s completely reasonable point of view!

  3. The cool thing about Kiln Walker is that you can trigger the ability multiple times via multiple attack steps. Say you have a Kiln Walker and a Finest Hour. Attack once, and he’s a 4/4, Finest Hour does it’s thing and you untap him and swing a second time with an 8/5. Neat!

    Okay, so maybe that’s still not good enough that I would run him in any deck that could reasonably cast Finest Hour, but hey someone out there probably has a budget Exalted deck that this will be perfect for.

  4. Jesse says:

    Vulshok Refugee is so going in my Jaya EDH deck. I need as much pro-red as I can get.

  5. Eli says:

    Greenhilt Trainee + Sword of Vengeance = 8/7 first strike. trample and haste (no vigilance cause you tap him to pump himself after you attack). And if the sword is already in play that is for 6G.

  6. Pingback: New Phyrexia Commander & EDH Review: Red | Castles & Cooks

  7. Matthew Banister says:

    Phyrexian Unlife+Melira, Sylvok Outcast

    Yeah it’s only a softlock but it’s green white, making things indestructible or shrouded, and thereby a near hard lock, is not hard

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