New Phyrexia And Combo – Infinite Possibilities

Monday, May 2 – Dan Barrett looks back on his predictions for Mirrodin Besieged, and looks ahead to New Phyrexia, introducing three new combo decks for you to try out!

Another new set release is fast approaching, and following a nasty and wholly unexpected full-set leak (now subtly responded to by WotC, with an official full spoiler), we can start considering what these
new cards bring to the table and what New Phyrexia will mean for various formats.

Before we do, though, let’s quickly cast our eyes back to a few months ago. What happened when I last made some predictions, on the impact of Mirrodin Besieged? You
obviously want to consider the accuracy of someone’s predictions before taking their word as law, so it’s useful to know what they got right or wrong
in the past. Plus, it’s useful to note exactly what was missed or how these ideas evolved into real decks—so let’s look at a few cases:

Mirran Crusader

I was pretty keen on the combination of Mirran Crusader with Elspeth, Knight-Errant and exalted triggers, in a G/W Little Kid deck in Extended. While the idea of riding a
Mirran Crusader all the way to the bank was solid, what I missed here was a way of protecting it long enough for this to be possible and the use of
equipment as another way of boosting its power. Reid Duke found both these things in his PTQ-winning Bant build, adding blue for counters and a
Stoneforge Mystic package to a similar base.

Inkmoth Nexus

Mike Flores was right, and I was wrong. It took a while, but the manland has started to see regular play as a one/two-of in Caw-Blade decks, despite
the possibility of an awkward poison/damage split.

G/B Infect, Thrun, the Last Troll, Shape Anew, Creeping Corrosion

These have seen little-to-no play. Whoops. Sorry about that, folks.

Go for the Throat, Black Sun’s Zenith, Green Sun’s Zenith

Obviously great cards have obviously been great. I don’t think I was making a date with controversy by saying these would be played.


I didn’t say it would be particularly great, but some people always try and play this, and here was my build. It never showed up in any great numbers, but
I was pleasantly surprised to see Lewis Laskin play this version at an StarCityGames.com Open, which had almost all
of the same cards, just in differing numbers.

Ardent Recruit

I don’t think anyone ever disagreed with me on this one (I said it was unplayable), but it was nice to not have to be beheaded.

Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

I thought I was getting somewhere with this infect deck,
although it lacks the crucial Phyrexian Crusader that Brian Kibler has shown to be an all-star in the archetype. Most builds have also played two Skithiryx, the Blight Dragons
as well as the Crusaders and fewer artifact creatures. Oh, and they have played few Tezzerets, Jace Belerens instead, and numerous other cards that
differ. I was spot on with the four Creeping Tar Pits, four Inkmoth Nexuses, four Darkslick Shores, though!

To summarize, there were both good and bad suggestions made, and some of the good ones turned out to be pretty decent after more work on them (by other
players). As such, treat any suggestions I make as a jumping off point to do some brewing and testing of your own, and not as rock-solid truths.

New Phyrexia and combo:

To get straight to the point: This is a really “Johnny” set, with a huge number of potential combos you can pull off using these new cards, both in
Standard and beyond. In Standard alone, you can deal ten poison counters on turn 2, slap a Sword of War and Peace on a Mirran Crusader for a likely
one-hit kill, or assemble Deceiver Exarch + Splinter Twin, the new Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker / Pestermite (see:Patrick Chapin  and Jacob Van Lunen versions).

However, I’m not covering these today, instead focusing on three slightly more niche possibilities—each of which, like Deceiver/Twin, can win the game
on the spot: gaining infinite life, dealing infinite damage, or milling the opponent’s entire library (plus 40-odd damage!) in one fell swoop.

Sorry to disappoint, but I’ll also be skipping the combo of Near Death Experience + permanents with Phyrexian-mana-cost abilities on them, which I know
some people out there are desperate to make work. I’ll admit that if/when you pull it off, it’s going to feel a lot like this:

But 98% of the time, it’s actually going to end up going more like this:

And if ever someone gets the Gut Shot for the win on you? You may never be able to remove your face from the palm of your hand. I guess what I’m trying
to say is: I don’t think that particular combo is a “real thing,” whereas these ones could be.

“Crank That” — Standard

An active Bloodchief Ascension plus Mindcrank in play is an instant kill as soon as your opponent either loses life, has a card go to their graveyard,
or you lean to the left and crank dat thing.

Okay, not really that last part. But it is a pretty easy kill, and unlike the mill-based Pyromancer Ascension decks, it doesn’t care at all if you want
to reshuffle your graveyard back into your library with a large Eldrazi monster.

The Dream:

Turn 1, we open with Bloodchief Ascension off a Blackcleave Cliffs, while our opponent has a tapped land and a Gitaxias Probe for the first counter. We
then Goblin Guide for another counter on our turn and Lightning Bolt for the third on theirs, before untapping and casting Mindcrank, then Inquisition
of Kozilek for the win. Our opponent picks up two lands and a Stoneforge Mystic and sighs heavily. Nice Tier 1 deck, bro!

Cards to consider:

We’re obviously playing black, so some discard in Inquisition of Kozilek, Duress, or the new Despise is likely to be present in some number.

Staggershock, Volt Charge, and Necrogen Censer can all potentially give two of the three required counters on your Ascension, and the first two can
deal with any threatening early creatures too.

Also in red, Searing Blaze caps a creature while dealing enough damage for a counter, and Lightning Bolt and Goblin Guide are staples in aggressive red
decks. Ember Hauler can attack early on and be sacrificed on your opponent’s turn for the final Ascension counter later in the game. If we’re playing
enough Mountains, Koth of the Hammer could be a nice plan B.

Blue can give us card selection in Preordain and See Beyond or card draw in Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Foresee, or Tezzeret’s Gambit (which can also give
us another Ascension counter), all of which can help find combo pieces. It also potentially allows us to use counterspells to protect our combo, and
it’s generally useful to have things as Into the Roil or Gitaxian Probe.

Phyrexian mana costs in our opponent’s deck are ideal for us, as it makes getting up to three counters on our Ascension a great deal easier if they’re
willing to play along in exchange for cheaper spells.

But it dies to:

Hex Parasite and Vampire Hexmage can both dispose of any Ascension counters we have; however both can be disposed of, while potentially earning a
counter in the process, with Arc Trail.

Naturalize effects and counterspells (particularly Mental Misstep) are probably more of an issue, but hopefully our discard or counters can stop these
from being a problem.

Now the deck:

I’m going to skip blue for now and focus on just dealing damage to get Ascension online, while protecting it with discard. While this may mean we don’t
have the card selection to increase the chances of having both combo pieces, it does mean that even if we’re short on one or both of them, we have
plenty of cards that can just kill our opponent “the hard way,” and while Mindcrank on its own is pretty lame, Bloodchief Ascension plus discard and
burn surely isn’t.

I’ve gone with Inquisition of Kozilek as the discard spell of choice (supplemented with two Duresses) because these can take more of the things that
hurt our combo than Despise, which is less interesting for us.

Other possibilities for the deck include adding blue for some of the above card draw/selection/counters, staying nearly mono-black (perhaps shoehorning
the combo into a Vampires shell), or going heavy on the artifacts and proliferate with Necrogen Censer, Tumble Magnet, Contagion Clasp, and maybe even
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas.

“Metamorph Life” — Standard

You can thank the nice folks over in the GoodGamery chat room for bringing this one to my attention:

With both a Soul’s Attendant and Leonin Relic-Warder on the battlefield, cast Phyrexian Metamorph, and when it enters the battlefield, gain one life
and have it become a Relic-Warder, exiling itself—then repeat. It flickers in and out of play until you’ve gained an arbitrarily large amount of life,
at which point, most opponents will just concede (or you can win at your leisure).

You may be wondering if such a three-card combo is “good enough” for Standard—well, based on historical precedent, I’m going to assume it could be (and this one costs a mana
less total, 6 vs. 7).

The Dream:

Turn 1, we play Soul’s Attendant; turn 2, we have Leonin Relic-Warder, turn 3, we cast Phyrexian Metamorph. Our opponent has no answer to this and
thinks our deck is so cool he concedes the whole match and offers to buy us Subway before the next round.

Cards to consider:

Suture Priest can act as another four Soul’s Attendants for only a mana more (and is also in white), while Bramblesnap can be used instead of one of
these two to instead give us an infinite-power attacker (tapping the Metamorph each time before it exiles itself).

Also in green, we can use Fauna Shaman to tutor up missing combo pieces; in blue, we can find (and protect) them with one of the many spells mentioned

Against opponents who won’t just scoop to us, we need to make sure we can win another way—either by decking (a large Blue Sun’s Zenith on our opponent
or Elixir of Immortality or an Eldrazi to recycle our graveyard), by beating down, or by using something else (Jace, the Mind Sculptor ultimate,
Felidar Sovereign).

But it dies to:

Removal on any of our creatures can stop us from going off—which we can look to fight preemptively with discard or with counterspells. Interestingly,
all of our main combo creatures are white when they’re in play, so we could even protect them all with Brave the Elements. The deck also doesn’t
auto-win against dedicated infect strategies, as no amount of life can save you from dying to ten poison counters—this will be a matchup to watch out

Now the deck:

This time, I’m going three colors—the tutoring of Fauna Shaman being enough for me to add a color to the mana base (which admittedly is a little rough
at the moment) even for just four of these and a Bramblesnap. The rest of the deck is a fairly standard U/W shell, with Preordain and Jace also helping
find combo pieces and with counterspells to protect them.

“Melira Persist” — Extended

It sucks we’re leaving an Extended PTQ season just before this set comes out, as it has a lot to offer the format that probably won’t be good enough
for Legacy—and thus some interesting interactions will just never have a 60-card home. One example of this could be considered a new version of the old
Project 420.5nJuniper Order Ranger combo:

The Dream:

Turn 1, we cast Viscera Seer; turn 2, we have Melira, and on turn 3, we combo out after resolving Kitchen Finks. Our opponent picks up two lands and a
Bitterblossom, swears and cries about losing to “not even a real deck” while throwing things on the floor, causing such a disturbance that a judge
disqualifies him from the event, and he is banned from the venue.

Cards to consider:

Murderous Redcap gives us infinite damage instead of the life from Kitchen Finks, which is arguably a lot better, and solidifies us in black (and
perhaps red also).

Black offers discard, plentiful removal, and the combo of Melira and Black Sun’s Zenith for a discount Plague Wind, while red gives us burn and a good
manland in Raging Ravine. We can disregard red and add blue instead, for the usual card draw/selection and counters.

However, the big revelation for me when looking at cards for this deck was the “discovery” of Scarland Thrinax. Why is he exciting? Because he’s green!
This means all three parts of the combo can be tutored up with Green Sun’s Zenith, greatly increasing the consistency of the deck.

But it dies to:

Creature removal: as before, we can either fight this preemptively with discard or hope to counter them when they are played.

Now the deck:

I’ve gone down the Jund route because of Scarland Thrinax, as discussed above—though sadly will be skipping on Bloodbraid Elf as a result of the six
Zeniths I’m playing.

Every spell in this deck except the two Black Sun’s Zeniths is either a combo piece, a tutor for one, or a discard spell that protects our pieces from
removal. I originally had a single Kozilek, Butcher of Truth to guarantee a milling victory, should you not be able to combo with Murderous Redcap, but
left it out here, as I think it may not be necessary.

Could this be adapted for Legacy play? I don’t think it could ever be Tier 1 or even 2, but a more resilient sac outlet in Greater Gargadon and
high-powered tutoring in Imperial Recruiter, Chord of Calling, and such may make it a fun deck to try out sometime for you rogues out there.

These are just three of the many combo possibilities New Phyrexia will be bringing with it in a just a few short weeks’ time—be sure to look out for
others being explored here on StarCityGames.com very soon, and good luck if you choose to try out and evolve any of those I’ve suggested today.

May your combos always go off on turn 3,

Dan Barrett