A few potential budget decks with New Phyrexia
Part of me wanted the leaked spoiler to be fake and for all of us to be greeted at the Prerelease by a bunch of Mirrodin Pure packs, but it looks like
that’s not going to be the case. Oh well, I’ll have to settle for New Phyrexia.
There are a ton of interesting cards, and although the majority of them are garbage compared to the unbeatable combination of Squadron Hawk + Sword of
whatever and whatnot, it’s still interesting to explore what the new cards are capable of. Who knows, there might be a card or strategy that’s actually
capable of competing with the current powerhouses of Standard. Today, I’d like to outline three decks that might be capable of taking down a Jace, the
Mind Sculptor or a Primeval Titan. Fortunately, most of them can be built without a ton of pricy mythics.
Deck #1â€”Grixis Pyromancer Ascension
Pyromancer Ascension is somewhat my pet deck. I would love nothing more than for Ascension to be consistent. It’s powerful enough to compete, but it’s
not reliable enough. It seems as though every time I try to fix some hole with an Ascension deck, new ones pop up. Regardless, I check every new set
for some Pyromancer Ascension cards, and I feel that this set delivers.
Cantrips are essential to making Ascension go, and while Gitaxian Probe isn’t the greatest card of all time for this deck, it does allow for some very
powerful plays, in addition to knowing what is safe. See Beyond is a staple in most Ascension decks, but I assure you that the card sucks. While it
would be fine to play 1-2 of them, the nature of Ascension means that you have to play with mostly four-ofs. You simply do not see enough new cards
with See Beyond compared to the mana you spend on it.
The most exciting part about this deck is the addition of black and the removal of counterspells. Both discard spells are incredibly powerful as a way
to slow the game down, which allow cards like Foresee and Jace’s Ingenuity to shine. See Beyond doesn’t work well with the discard spells because you
can never get ahead, short of powering up an Ascension. Foresee and Jace’s Ingenuity change that. In addition, both discard spells are cards that can
be played any time, which is essential when trying to power your Ascension quickly. I can’t count the number of times Mana Leak has been terrible in
terms of putting counters on Ascension.
The biggest problem with this list is that I want one more playset of cardsâ€”I would love to have another removal spell in the main in the form of
Go for the Throat. If Ascension didn’t force you to play four of most of your spells, I’d absolutely play some amount of Go for the Throat main. As it
is, we’re awkwardly weak to Celestial Colonnade attacks. In addition, there are only six ways to make a black source untapped on turn 1, although the
mana is pretty strong on every other turn. As it seems with all Ascension decks I make, solving one problem opens up a ton of other problems. Such is
the curse of playing four copies of everything in a reactive deck.
One final note. One thing that you should not do is try to put the Splinter Twin/Deceiver Exarch combo into the same deck. First, the Exarch turns on
some of your opponent’s creature removal, and one of the strengths of the Ascension deck is immunity to removal spells. Second, and more important,
both halves of the combo do not put counters on Pyromancer Ascension. While it’s fine to put one combo in the board, do not try to hedge and have both
combos in your deck at the same time. They simply don’t help each other out at all and compete for deck space. Pyromancer Ascension is a combo that
requires a ton of deck space.
Deck #2â€”Mono-Green Poison
I think if a deck like this is to be viable, it needs to be extremely aggressive. Powerful cards such as Livewire Lash and Putrefax are simply too
expensive to be reliable. If you’re willing to play midrange cards, then black offers a far superior selection of midrange abilities. The strength of
green poison is pump spells, and a cheaper curve. If you want to poison people as a midrange strategy, I recommend Brian Kibler baby.
As for the cards that are present, I feel that you need a critical mass of poison creatures, but only a few of them are actually Constructed
playable. Glistener Elf is the headliner and the reason a deck like this might be reasonable. In fact, Chancellor of the Tangle has potential, as it
turns all of your terrible two-drops into Glistener Elves. Viridian Corrupter is the other card I’m actually happy to play. Double strike is certainly
a powerful ability to tack on Viridian Shaman. I also like Necropede, at least as a sideboard option against aggressive decks. Unfortunately, we’ll
have to maindeck him here because the other options just aren’t good. Plague Myr and Ichorclaw Myr round out the cast of characters, but they really
have marginal abilities. At least they’re both better than Blight Mamba. Such is the life of playing a linear deck focused in one block.
The pump spells are the appealing part of this deck. If there’s a deck for Mutagenic Growth, this is it. The remaining pump spells offer +4 bonuses
somewhat reliably. Tumble Magnet is probably the card that belongs the least but is still fairly important. Some people have the audacity to try and
block. This might be the best Inkmoth Nexus deck possible, as well. Much of the resiliency in this deck comes from the Nexus.
As for the sideboard, I hate Beast Within as a card, but I recognize that there are some cards that you just can’t beat. Gideon Jura seems like a
nightmare, and obviously Melira, Sylvok Outcast is practically unbeatable. In some strange world where the Standard metagame includes both Mono-Green
Poison and decks with Melira, Livewire Lash is a potential answer. Contagion Clasp is basically the Lotus Cobra removal spell, and combined with Tumble
Magnet, gives you the same grind-’em-out potential as the U/B poison deck. Alternatively, you could play Mortarpod in the Contagion Clasp spot, as it
offers a different way of “burning” out your opponent. As for Nature’s Claim, it’s far too cute to not include. But it has no drawback!
Deck #3â€”Tempered Steel
Now here is a deck that has a ton of options. All of the cards that require Phyrexian mana can be played in here, and I can assure you that there are
enough new options that Vector Asp will not be making an appearance.
My design philosophy with this deck is to play all artifact creatures. There’s enough metalcraft to make this a reasonable goal, and every time you
draw Tempered Steel, there’s one less creature that you drew, meaning that it’s possible for an attrition deck to leave you with nothing but a Glint
Hawk and a Tempered Steel.
- 4 Ornithopter
- 4 Steel Overseer
- 4 Memnite
- 2 Etched Champion
- 2 Phyrexian Revoker
- 4 Signal Pest
- 4 Hex Parasite
- 3 Vault Skirge
While there are certainly a ton of options to sort through, I feel that this is a reasonable place to start. Vault Skirge fits in well with the theme
of having a ton of evasion. Dispatch might actually be better than Swords to Plowshares in this deck (not to mention far more legal!), and Hex Parasite
gives you another one-drop that is miles above Vector Asp.
The sideboard is somewhat cute, but you probably don’t want to sideboard much with this deck. You want some lands for when you need to take out
Contested War Zones (aggressive mirrors), and a Swamp helps you to pay the mana on Hex Parasite or Vault Skirge often enough that I think it’s better
than a Plains. Remember that if War Zone is bad, then your life total will be a resource worth conserving. I think there are enough ways for an Inkmoth
Nexus to hit for lethal for them to be worth the times you can’t cast a Tempered Steel.
One card that’s borderline crazy for this deck is Immolating Souleater, as there are many times where trading two life of yours for one of theirs will
allow you to kill people very, very quickly. I’m going to refrain for this deck, but it’s something to consider that’s potentially unreal. As an aside,
it also turns Tainted Strike into Hatred, which was once a good card #omgflores #omgsullivan
The final card I’m somewhat excited about is Due Respect. It’s very much a frontrunner card, but this is a frontrunner deck. It’s not like this deck
will come from behind very often. When you’re ahead, Due Respect forces your opponent to use last turn’s resources and takes blockers out of the
equation. I can see Due Respect being used to keep people off of Inferno Titan for a turn. A full turn is a lot for a deck like this.
Do one of these decks have what it takes to compete in our New Phyrexian world? I honestly don’t know the answer. I do know that there is likely
something within the shells I have provided, and all three decks put together are probably less than a playset of Jace, the Mind Sculptors. I know that
I’m excited for the new set, provided Mental Misstep is some sort of sick joke…