Created in the image of Atraxa, Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa, is determined to see the glory of Phyrexia proliferate across the Multiverse, and she has all the tools to do just that.
Special thanks to Unplug Yourself for supplying this deck for us to review and play with.
Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa
As the face commander of this Phyrexia: All Will Be One (ONE) preconstructed commander deck, just about everything in the deck at face value seems to work in favour of Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa. Having not played the deck as yet, but simply going on a good couple of read-throughs of the cards and some rumination around the lines you could choose to follow, I would say she is defs my first choice to be the general at the head of these cardboard troops.
Vishgraz, the Doomhive
Vishgraz, the Doomhive is the secondary commander offering and although the menace and +1/+1 counter abilities in his text are interesting, the fact that you would have to find ways of bouncing this guy in and out of the battlefield to really take advantage of the create 3 1/1 colourless Phyrexian mites effect means that the build of this deck is not optimal to run Vishgraz as your commander in my opinion. Of course, if you can cover your opponents in poison counters, you could have a pretty darn buff commander, but it feels that in this deck that would be a stretch.
So, I’m choosing Ixhel as my commander for this deck review.
The gameplan for this deck is get the corrupted trigger online as quickly as possible to enable the value engine that Ixhel has by being able to exile the top card of each opponent’s deck and cast those spells as though they cost mana of any colour. There is no restriction on this ability as we’ve seen on a number of cards like Atsushi, the Blazing Sky or Reckless Impulse so the cards are permanently exiled and permanently available for you to cast. In this way you can hopefully steal important cards from your opponents’ strategies and just pull ahead of them and value the out of the game. So let’s take a look at the stats and see if the deck is tuned to make that happen.
- Toxic Cards: 8
- Infect Cards: 9
- Other Poison Synergy (Counters, Corruption and Proliferate): 20
- Ramp: 14
- Card Draw: 5
- Targeted Removal: 5
- Boardwipes: 5 (This seems very high!)
Looking at these, I think it’s clear that the line to follow here is to get poison counters going asap and then enable corruption and simply proliferate your way to the win. Let’s break down which are the best cards in the deck out of the box to help you get over that finish line.
First, these are some of the cards I think will help get the poison counter train rolling from a straight-up get in there and bash people point of view: Viridian Corruper is a most welcome reprint in this deck. Just a really strong card, 1GG for a 2/2 body that destroys an opponent’s artifact when it ETB (enters the battlefield) and can provide some early pressure can 2 poison counters in quickly. Blightbelly Rat, a new card from ONE and Plague Stinger, another reprint, both come in for 1B and the rat provides toxic 1 and a proliferation effect when it dies, so a really cheap two-for-one while the stinger has evasion through flying and has infect. Both, early on, can start the poison counter clock. Another reprint that sits beautifully in the early turns for this deck is Ichor Rats, which will ETB for 1BB giving each player a poison counter (including you, but no biggie there, really) and providing a 2/1 body with infect. A new card from ONE comes in at 2GG providing a 4/4 body with toxic 3 and the ability to proliferate when it ETB, Venomous Brutalizer is a solid fit in this deck. Another new card may just prove to be a house in this deck, 5G gets you a 6/6 body on the board which can’t be blocked by creatures with power 2 of less, has the corrupted ability to exile it when it dies returning up to 3 target cards (any type of cards) from your graveyard to your hand! Glissa’s Retriever is just nuts! Oh, and it has haste and toxic 3, just by the way. What a great card. I can’t imagine your opponents will let it live for very long so play it wisely. I know this may seem like good old-fashioned nostalgia, but the reprint I am most excited to see in this deck is Phyrexian Swarmlord just ‘cos I loved this card when it was originally printed. In this deck it works beautifully, creating up to three 1/1 Phyrexian Insect tokens with infect at the beginning of your upkeep, which means that if this 4GG 4/4 infect body stays on the board for long enough your infect creature count could easily get out of hand quickly, pressuring your opponents to wipe the board as soon as they are able.
Next up the cards that help push you over the top include a great reprint from War of the Spark, Evolution Sage allows you to proliferate whenever a land enters the battlefield and with the amount of ramp in this deck this could prove to be invaluable, also, though making the Sage a removal target for your opponents. Grafted Exoskeleton is an equipment and another great reprint for this deck giving the equipped creature +2/+2 and infect, so slap it on a big bad and swing away, or a small thing with some kind of evasion (deathtouch, menace, flying etc). Make sure you have the mana for it, though, costs 4 to cast and 2 to equip and you really want to be able to play it and equip it in the same turn, while a new card from ONE that can tip the scales in a battle is Noxious Assault. This sorcery for 3GG boosts all your attacking creatures with +2/+2 until end of turn and states that if a creature blocks this turn, that creatures controller gets a poison counter, so watch the board, make sure of the math and then swing at everyone who needs one more poison counter and can’t afford to take combat damage. In the right situation this card can close out a game quite easily.
Finally, these cards are going to help make sure you can stay in the game long enough for your poison counter train to reach its final destination starting with another great reprint: Windborn Muse, taxing your opponents for 2 for each creature they send to attack you, making big attacks so much more difficult. Two more reprints, Ghostly Prison and Norn’s Annex pile more attacking tax onto your opponents and the new Norn’s Decree punishes your opponents for damaging you by giving them a poison counter if they deal combat damage to you, but also providing some card draw (unfortunately this is a global effect and your opponents could benefit from this) against poisoned players. All these cards will make your opponents consider their attacks against you a lot more than if they were not on the board.
So, if we stick to the gameplan mentioned above, I think the deck has the tools to realise it objectives, but could be improved to make the deck a bit more competitive.
Potential Upgrades and Lines:
I think that to make this deck just that little more competitive the infect button should pressed and locked in place with a little more proliferation to boot. These are some of the cards I would consider adding to this already well-balanced deck:
Blightsteel Colossus is an obvious choice, but not everyone has the budget to drop one of these bad boys into the deck. If you can, though, you really should. Core Prowler does everything this deck wants to do and would make a great include. Hand of the Praetors is an infect lord with a infect synergy ability that says when you cast a creature spell with infect, target player gets a poison counter so plays almost perfectly into this deck’s main line. Another budget breaker that you could consider is Inkmoth Nexus, a land that can become a little flying infect bug… you see the potential here. Phyrexian Crusader has infect and first strike and proc red and proc white, while the Phyrexian Hydra just needs trample to be a house and, finally, Reaper of Sheoldred fits like it was made for this deck, simply because it does the infect thing and it also has a poison counter tax effect for attacking opponents and as a 2/5 body it can take a bit of damage and then grin as it dishes out some poison counters for you to proliferate.
I really like the feel of this deck and can’t wait to play it right out of the box. Catch that match on Command This! which stream live on twitch.tv/easygaminggroup and then pops over to the Easy Gaming Group YouTube channel within a day or so. It comes down, once again, to what you’re comfortable playing and what you consider to be “fun” in your decks. For me, this one looks like a winner.
Until next time, I’ll see you on the battlefield.