Thran Utopia #6: New Phyrexia, Old Decks
Posted by Stijn Lamers
Hi all and welcome back to another installment of my writing attempts. This week I want to take a look at the New Phyrexia spoilers, a lot of cards which we’ll be seeing in flesh for the first time tomorrow. At least I am! However, my article today will not be a 1 to 175 card-by-card set review. Instead, I’d like to focus on the cards that got me excited, cards that can supplement old decks or cards that will inspire new ones. Strap your goggles on real tight, ’cause we’re diving straight in!
First though, a little word about The Guillaumes, or Godbookgate, whatever the debacle is called. For those who don’t know, the New Phyrexia Godbook was leaked because Guillaume Matignon, reviewer for French paper magazine Lotus Noir, showed the entire new set to his friend, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa. Apparently paper magazines receive a so-called godbook with all the cards in it, one month before the set is released.
I won’t go into all this discussion again, as Twitter pretty much got everything covered. Yes, it is strange that a pro player has one more month time to soak up the new cards. And yes, it is also weird that a paper magazine needs the whole set. There isn’t a whole lot that can be said about this, so I’d like to keep this brief. I find this very damaging for the Magic community, for the Guillaumes, for WotC, and the players. Personally, I hate not being able to see the true control master at work for a year and a half. Let’s hope Wizards makes the right choices, takes the right measures, and this will never happen again.
Karn and the Green Lock
The problem with such a late ‘set review’ is that much has been said already about it. Such is the effect of an internet-driven society like ours today. Anyway, I started with the spoiler at the top and decided to go deck by deck, instead of card by card. This gives you not only an idea what decks I have, but also what I can use for each deck. And maybe this inspires you to build such a deck yourself, or another one altogether. (I’m saying this based on past experience. While I don’t have exact evidence, I do know I’ve once built a deck after reading an article that had little, if anything, to do with the cards that prompted said deck.)
So, Karn Liberated. And the Green Lock. The Green Lock is a deck that was originally an Abundance/Sylvan Library-based mono green control deck (I can hear you sigh; I’m sorry it’s only control decks I build). Slowly it turned into an aggressive ramp-ish deck that had little to do with the original list. So I changed it – thoroughly. It went from aggro/ramp to lock/control, using the Icy Manipulator/Static Orb combo (with no Winter Orbs, Root Mazes and Orbs of Dreams out of respect for my friends – besides, Wizards killed Winter Orb this Wednesday anyway) to do much more than my opponents.
With so many artifact pieces, Ancient Stirrings is a good card. All is Dust, too, especially when you can sweep and leave behind a Molten-Tail Masticore or Wurmcoil Engine. Molten-Tail eats early-game cards like Ohran Viper and Noble Hierarch to seal the deal. (If you want to read more about this deck, check this article. It’s the third of a total of three articles on the deck, with links to the first two right at the top.)
Back to Karn, you can probably see him fitting in. He’s a great card that’s usually pretty protected (I also have Wall of Roots for defense and mana) and Stirringsable. I’m not really sure about Molten-Tail, since I really need an active Ohran Viper to fuel him. So I might replace his two slots with Karn, although this definitely hurts Primal Command. The fact that he can exile at least two permanents while sitting behind a Wall or Viper makes him look very interesting.
The other card that could enhance this deck is Beast Within. This can do all sorts of things: killing permanents midcombat to do some tricks. For example, I play against decks with cards like Soulcatcher’s Aerie and Doran, the Siege Tower, both of which are devastating when removed midcombat. Blowing up one of my own lands, then grafting a Llanowar Reborn-counter on it seems fine too. Beast Within looks like a good way to backup Karn, and his ability to remove permanents actually bests Primal Command in that regard, so I could very well make some changes.
Phyrexians in Galvanotherapy
Another deck that could benefit from Beast Within is my Galvanoth-deck. In here, the 3/3 I give my opponent could hurt me, but at best I get a 3/3 back when Galvy is about to die. Slowing down an attacker for a turn and having only a 3/3 to worry about later seems fine as well.
The next card is unfortunately an ‘almost’: Chancellor of the Spires. She would’ve been perfect for this deck, except she casts stuff in their graveyard. As it stands now, she can’t be in this deck. It probably doesn’t help either that she’s a she, and not a sorcery or instant. I wish there was a Sins of the Past in blue (or green or red).
Sadly, the last card I get for this deck from this set is hardly enthusiasmating, either. It is the phgreen (did I do this correct?) card Noxious Revival, a functional reprint of Reclaim that one can cast for two life and no mana if need be. Setting up the top of your library can be efficient, but like Chancellor of the Spires, it does what it does only after other work has taken place. I’m afraid it’s not gonna happen, but I’m keeping my eye on this one regardless.
However, there is another deck that has a higher probability of wanting Revival, and that is the deck I showed you last week in a a comic: DruidStorm. In that deck, I play two copies of Nostalgic Dreams, which is overkill most of the time. I usually just need one card to start the chain back up again, and Noxious Revival does so for free. Plus, it still triggers Leering Emblem (go look that one up) and Recycle. Sadly you need another card to draw that card, so it’s no auto-include, but again a contender on the shortlist.
You’d think a combo deck like this likes Phyrexian mana, and you wouldn’t be disappointed. Take the perfect-in-theory pump spell Mutagenic Growth, being both a combo enabler and a way to protect your turn two Devoted Druid. So it just goes into the deck without question, right? Well, wouldn’t you know, there is also a card called Invigorate, a card I completely missed when building the deck. (I searched for pump spells and sorted by converted mana cost. I stopped reading before three mana.) Instead of losing life, an opponent gains it. I’ll have to determine which one’s better, since two life is usually a big deal for a combo deck, which usually soaks up damage before going of.
Maybe the best of the Phy-mana bunch, at least for me, is Tezzeret’s Gambit. Man, do I love me sommadis card. A colorless Sign in Blood for three mana could be just what the doctor ordered. Right behind him is Gitaxian Probe, another potentially free spell that can scout the opponent’s hand before going off – or not.
New shiny Silver
Hopping back to the top of the spoiler, white offers some alternatives for my Mono White Silver ‘C-word’ deck (I’m afraid to type the C-word… y’know, control), a deck that is based around, but not limited to, the power of Prototype Portal. Never a Soul Foundry fan, I was enamored with this ‘Soul Foundry for artifacts’, because this one could imprint itself. Better yet, by imprinting Sculpting Steel I could get really creative, like getting discount on Prototype Portal each turn.
I run a few Tumble Magnets of which I’m not particularly fond. It’s not I want to shoot myself whenever I draw one, I just feel like there are better cards to defend myself with. Perhaps a card that works well under a Portal. Sure, Magnet does the trick, but I’m not looking for trick-doers, I’m looking for the big and the flashy. Ideally, I’m looking at a card that is flexible it can be effective at each stage of a given game.
I’m still not finished thinking about this. Cathedral Membrane, maybe? The beauty is that Membrane deters attackers, while Tumble Magnet actually encourages it. The bad part is that Tumble Magnets taps down everything, from the low to the high-flying Akroma’s and the humongous Colossi. Everything with seven toughness or more laughs at Cathedral Membrane, which could become a problem.
Dispatch doesn’t carry about how big the creature is, and while it can’t be imprinted or used multiple times like Tumble Magnet, there’s the element of surprise when I have no Shimmer Myr to shimmer with.
The more I think about it, the more I want to give Phyrexian Metamorph a try, sort of as Sculpting Steel copies five through X. And the more I think about it, the more I want to do so at the expense of Tumble Magnet. Can you believe this thing imprinted on a Prototype Portal in multiplayer? I’ve had the pleasure of copying Sundering Titans with Sculpting Steel, but being able to hit every creature on the board? This thing is nuts! Besides, being able to copy my Leonin Abunas helps my deck a lot. Being able to copy Abunas twice courtesy of Prototype Portal is just sick.
YAPD (Yet Another Proliferate Deck)
What deck shall I talk about next? How about a deck that doesn’t even exist yet? In my undying love for all things proliferating, there are quite a number of cards I just haven’t had the pleasure of building a deck around. For example, I highlighted two Mirrodin Besieged-cards in my rundown of that set that are still unused: Vedalken Anatomist and Vedalken Infuser. And then there was that weird-looking white card, Priests of Norn. A card like Tezzeret’s Gambit encourages me to put these random ideas together. Maybe even my three Vensers could make an appearance, something Contagion Clasp should be a-okay with. Add Wall of Omens and I have a trio of x/4’s looking to defend the fort. Surge Node is another one of those cards I’m dying to try out, as it feels like some sort of Spike-creature for charge counters.
Marrow Shards springs to mind, not only as a mini-Black Sun’s Zenith, but also as a way to screw up combat (unlike it’s predecessor, Rain of Blades). As a way to play this for free, the thread of Marrow Shards grows as time goes by, while my proliferation engine keeps on growing and growing.
Toys for Tezz
Mentioning Spike creatures is a great ty-in to my next deck, TezzeREDRUM. This is a deck that was originally going to be a green-based proliferate deck built around Glissa and Plaguemaw Beast, but ended up a base-UB deck with a green splash just for Spike Feeders (and Llanowar Reborn, but that’s not a splash technically). The aforementioned Surge Node could make an appearance here, even as just a Trinket Mageable one-of. I’m not sure there’s room for his Gambit, as the three-spot is pretty loaded (Spikes, Trinket Mages, Treasure Mages), and I don’t exactly lack carddraw, but it would be really thematical to include the Gambit of the man himself.
Two black decks
The MBCP (Mono Black C-word Proliferate) deck I built a few articles back is my second MBC-deck. Yes, I’m one of those a-holes who has a Coffers-fueled deck filled with Swamps, Corrupts, Consume Spirits, and a filthy amount of carddraw. (And I’m proud to mention that my deck has only eight cards to go before it’s all foiled out.) Somehow my opponents go after me whenever I play with this deck.
Anyway, this mean deck looks to gain little to nothing from NPH, maybe just Karn. Still, I can’t help but feel he’s a bit win-more here, since he’s too expensive to come down early and too irrelevant in the late game, when I’m just pummeling opponents into the ground with big drain spells and Korlashes.
The other black deck, however, being a counter-themed one, has a lot of new options within this new set. Glistening Oil is a newfangled Traveling Plague-variant that also grants the creature infect. This card serves all sorts of purposes. For example, Grim Poppet with this guy? Triskelion with this guy? Jeez Louise! It’s like filling up a blowgun with nails! Those poor kids won’t stand a chance. Loading up Dusk Urchins with this thing ain’t half bad, either. (Dusk Urchins is probably my favorite black card in Shadowmoor block. If it weren’t for Dreamspoiler Witches and Makeshift Mannequin, it’d be my favorite black card for the whole block. But you know what card could possibly evict Dusk Urchins? Hint: it’s my favorite card in this set, draws two cards and proliferates, and rhymes with Schmezzeret’s Schmambit.)
The most obvious approach is to slowly kill an opposing creature. But there’s another option still, and that is as damage prevention. See, when you’re at 3 life and you have a Hero of Oxid Ridge staring at ya, Infecting the Hero buys you two more turns (provided you had zero poison counters to begin with). It’s like the Tainted Strike-trick people used in Limited.
While Glistening Oil can be amazing and dangerous at the same time, Grim Affliction is much safer (and also a lot less powerful in the abstract). This is exactly the kind of spell I’ve wanted: a spell that kills creatures and proliferates, but doesn’t cost five mana. There’s even another card in this set that fits that exact same description, but in another color.
Reaper of Sheoldred fits this deck too, and reminds me a lot of Belltower Sphinx, being a first class creature deterrent (especially in a proliferate deck).
Liar liar Braid of Fire
Before my graphic intermezzo of last week, I wrote a diary in which I described the thought process behind an upcoming Braid of Fire deck of mine. Well, while the deck still isn’t together (I’m waiting for prerelease trades before pulling the buying trigger), the number of options sure hasn’t dwindled. New Phyrexia gives me a bunch of ’em, starting with Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur. You have to imagine this as a blue Bogardan Hellkite. Him having natural flash means I need just a Braid of Fire and/or Iceberg to churn him out during my upkeep.
The cheap creature killing spell with proliferate I talked about above is Volt Charge, a card that is all but guaranteed a spot in this deck. It feels incredibly powerful, and I’m glad I now have my premiere removal spell for this deck. Being able to dome the opponent is gravy, but nice nonetheless. Being able to draw two cards while proliferating ain’t shabby either, so I’m looking at a potential preorder of sixteen Tezzeret’s Gambits. Should I seek help for this carddrawing/proliferating addiction?
Last but not least, I have to mention Viral Drake, which seems perfect for using excess Braid mana to make even more Braid mana next turn. It’s also a defender, but I have a problem with using dudes that don’t do anything immediately, especially in a creature-light deck like this (right now only Bogardan Hellkite is a certainty). You see, when your opponent is holding a bunch of Terminates, and you cast your first creature, guess what’s gonna happen? That’s right – it’s fried. That’s why immediate impact is even more important here. Sadly, Viral Drake hasn’t got that.
As you can see, New Phyrexia can improve old decks just as well as it can build new ones. The next one is based on an idea I had when Ichor Wellspring came out. It was a deck that was going to use Furnace Celebration and various sacrifice outlets to turn Ichor Wellsprings into disgusting bombs of damage and cards. I was going to add green for various Eldrazi Spawn-producers when the idea got lost in my head.
Then New Phyrexia happened, or to be precise, Mycosynth Wellspring happened. All I needed was some more sacrifice outlets and I basically had myself a deck. I didn’t have to look much further, as the perfect card happens to be in the same set. The name? Beast Within ofcourse!
While Tezzeret’s Gambit as a card is what excites me the most about New Phyrexia, the possibilities of Furnace Celebration get me all geared up in terms of decks. New Phyrexia offers a lot of possibilities, and I love the cross-block interaction with the 0/1 Eldrazi. How awesome is it to generate mana with Spawns, to pump out a Fresh Meat? Or to build up a personal scrapyard with Phyrexian Core, only to generate a deadly Scrapyard Salvo? Needless to say, as a person who has a deck with four Ires of Kaminari, Scrapyard Salvo is bound to get to me.
With the tools given to me in New Phyrexia, this deck practically builds itself. If Scrapyard Salvo doesn’t cut it, Slag Fiend can. I wouldn’t be surprised if this Artigoyf would make some minor waves in constructed as well.
The last card I need to mention is Artillerize, a more expensive but also more versatile Shrapnel Blast. However, unless I’ll load up the deck with Mitotic Slimes and such, I’m better of just sleeving up Blasts.
And that’s that folks
So there you have a quick look at the cards in the new set that excite me the most, and the cards that I’m hoping to take away from the prerelease. But hey, it’s not about those cards, really; I’m just there to have fun and win some packs. Those packs are to be loaded with my wants. Let my sealed pool just be bomby, that’s all I’m asking. I’m not too demanding.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and be sure to mention cards I’ve missed, or cards that have you thinking about it. There’s more than a handful of cards that aren’t much more than vague ideas at this time, but hopefully you’ll get to hear about them soon enough. Have fun at your prereleases this weekend, and come back here next week!
Posted on May 6, 2011, in Extras, Thran Utopia and tagged all is dust, ancient stirrings, artillerize, beast within, braid of fire, cathedral membrane, chancellor of the spires, control, devoted druid, dispatch, dusk urchins, Galvanoth, galvanotherapy, gitaxian probe, glissa, glistening oil, green, grim affliction, grim poppet, guillaumegate, ichor wellspring, icy manipulator, invigorate, jin-gitaxias, karn, leering emblem, leonin abunas, llanowar reborn, marrow shards, molten-tail masticore, mutagenic growth, mycosynth wellspring, new phyrexia, noble hierarch, nostalgic dreams, noxious revival, ohran viper, phyrexian core, phyrexian metamorph, preview, primal command, prototype portal, reaper of sheoldred, recycle, scrapyard salvo, sculpting steel, silver, slag fiend, spoiler, static orb, surge node, tezzeredrum, tezzeret, tezzeret’s gambit, treasure mage, trinket mage, triskelion, tumble magnet, viral drake, volt charge, wall of roots, white, wurmcoil engine. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.