Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week Wizards thankfully did the right thing and officially spoiled New Phyrexia, meaning we’re here to discuss my favorite cards in the set. You ready to talk NPH? Let’s go!
New Phyrexia Favorites
First let me preface this by saying that this set will throw a complete wrecking ball into the metagame. And it won’t be close. This set is chock full with cards that will rock Planeswalkers, give you completely new decks, and juice up existing builds with some sickness.
Let’s begin this week with my pick for sleeper hit of the set, Blade Splicer. Now the Splicer cycle is an interesting one, as you have varities in white, blue and green, in common and uncommon form, but only one rare, and it’s this one. Now this is two guys, four power, for three mana. This is efficiency defined and while I know we’re all spoiled with planeswalkers and whatnot, the basics of Magic are still in play here. Two things for one thing, more power–and toughness–than its mana cost. This is one to watch.
Next up is the power uncommon Dispatch. They waited until New Phyrexia to unleash the sick Metalcraft cards, and this is certainly up there. This is a card destined for the white weenie Quest for the Holy Relic deck, sure to assist your Puresteel Paladins in kicking serious butt. Hell, just tapping a blocker is as good as removing it from the game if you’re swinging for the win, right? Not that we need more reasons to play Stoneforge Mystic, but this card is awesome.
Up next is Corrupted Resolve. Now this is interesting not only as a two mana hard counter, but also in realizing that there is now way to rid players of poison counters. Once you give them a poison counter, for the rest of the game, this is Counterspell. For a blue and a colorless. Think about that.
Up next is Deceiver Exarch, our new Pestermite. This card, along with Splinter Twin from Zendikar, gives you a Turn 4 kill in Standard. Flash in the Deceiver on their end step, play Splinter Twin on your turn, make a million copies and kill them. Not bad, eh? This combo goes very well with our next preview card, Gitaxian Probe.
Now this spell can most easily be compared to Street Wraith, a card that blew many minds when it arrived. This one doesn’t give you a 3/4 Swampwalker to cast in a pinch, but it IS blue and it IS a free Peek. This card is going to supercharge Legacy in many ways, both in making Cabal Therapy amazing to going directly into Legacy Dredge. R&D Member Zac Hill loves Peek like no other Magic player I’ve ever met, and he got the ultimate Peek into New Phyrexia. This card will be important in shrinking decks to 56 cards, in giving control mirrors the advantage of knowledge, and will shake things up for some time.
Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur is next. Now this guy, holy crap. This guy! Now in Legacy you’re going to Reanimate him directly into play on Turn 1 with Entomb and Reanimate or Exhume, upon which time I’m pretty sure you just won the game. In Commander after many turns of mana artifacts you bust him out on an opponent’s end step, causing them to suffer mightily. Fewer things are tougher to win through than losing your whole hand.
Phyrexian Metamorph is next. Now say you love a Sculpting Steel. Say you love a Clone. Say they gave you both with the ability to make it cheaper and fit into ANY deck. Done! Man, do I dig this card. I think it’ll be copying Wurmcoil Engines and Grand Architects, and how about copying monsters like Vengevine? I think the Metamorph will actually shine brightest in Commander, and I think it’s an awesome release foil.
Tezzeret’s Gambit is up next. Now this gives Divination to any color, albeit for a few life, and could see play in all sorts of non-blue strategies. The sexiness of playing Koth, bashing for four, then next turn play Tezzeret’s Gambit and popping off his ultimate is not to be ignored. I’ll quickly break my color rules by inserting Volt Charge into the discussion. Volt Charge will absolutely go into the Big Red deck as a four-of, making Everflowing Chalices, Koth of the Hammer, Chandra Nalaar and Tumble Magnet very, very happy. Cards like Tezzeret’s Gambit and Volt Charge are few in number and incredibly powerful. They are cards you should now always consider when building decks in Scars of Mirrodin standard that use charge counters.
Despise is up next. While Inquisition of Kozilek was once the reigning discard spell, I think we have a new champion. Despise will be in a whole lot of black decks in the future, all of them happy to choose between your Lotus Cobra OR your Jace, the Mind Sculptor, something Duress could never do. If you plan on playing black in Standard, get your set early.
Directly after Despise on the sheet is Dismember. Now this card. Man. Snuff Out 2.0, this card lets you pay four life and a mana to rid yourself of a problem. Probably the best red card in the set, ironically. Whether it’s a Squadron Hawk about to pick up a Sword, a Baneslayer Angel, a Phyrexian Obliterator about to…well…obliterate you, this card will be huge in decks that aren’t black at all. They’ll cheat on the cost one way or another, but basically you ask yourself: Is paying 4 life and a mana worth not getting bashed to death by their monster? This card is an all-star in Limited and will be everywhere in Constructed. Give it time.
Up next is Life’s Finale. Well, that’s all she wrote..and three of your little friends, too my dearie. This card is Damnation, a little bit more expensive, but Damnation nevertheless. It’s the card that Blue/Black control has been clamoring for–a way to sweep the board that isn’t just Black Sun’s Zenith. The fact that it will rid them of creatures that can later kill you, well, that’s a definite bonus. It also makes cards like Haunting Echoes shine and will be seeing some play in Standard.
We now come to Act of Aggression. Another â€˜free’ card, this Phybrid card is fantastic. Cards like Mark of Mutiny and Act of Treason were always found in red deck sideboards, but this is a tool for any deck, red or not. Again, the mono Green Elves deck can’t beat a Baneslayer Angel or Primeval Titan…unless they just got a “free” Instant Act of Treason of their own. Note that this has the restriction of only targeting an opponent’s creature, so you can’t surprise untap a blocker of your own or anything. Regardless, a good card.
Speaking of good cards, I love me some Artillerize. This card makes all of your creatures Goblin Grenades, a fine card back in the day, and now it’s a few more mana but at instant speed! Shrapnel Blast for creatures OR artifacts is a-okay with me.
The next card I want to talk about is Geosurge. Now this card has been nerfed in just the right way, not allowing it to instantly go into some degenerate spell-based combo deck. Instead, you’re forced to play artifacts or creatures with it, which, thanks to a quick search, basically means you’re going to be dropping Wurmcoil Engines, Myr Battlespheres, and perhaps even Spine of Ish Shah on Turn 4. Not a bad way to spend mana.
I wanna talk about Moltensteel Dragon next, as this card is at best dangerous. It allows the red deck to have a freakishly dangerous clock on Turn 5. Let’s say you spend four red mana and play this guy, then next turn play another mountain. With 16 life and five mana, you can swing in for SIXTEEN damage next turn! That’s using up 14 life for +7/+0, and if they’re not ready for it, they just die.
This leads me to also quickly talk about Immolating Souleater. Apart from being somewhat of a ridiculous name, this card is the real deal. This card, plus Assault Strobe, is a Turn 3 kill in Standard. Just FYI. These two cards have phybrid mana firebreathing, and “free” damage pumps are always dangerous. I know it’s a stretch, but I’d think about something like Psychatog in these situations. Sure you only deal a little damage here and there, but when you see an opening you can just win out of nowhere.
Moving on to Green cards I can’t help but point out Glissa’s Fart–er, I mean Scorn. Hehehe. This card cracks me up. Of all the poses guys, really? Nice butt shot.
Anyway, for a real impressive green card look at Melira, Sylvok Outcast. Now this card instantly combos with Phyrexian Unlife to create a soft lock on the game. That’s pretty sweet. Secondly, I love a hate bear, and it appears there is no infect hate like Melira infect hate. This is a card that makes you think on a whole different axis, and those are my favorite kind.
Noxious Revival is next, an interesting card that is ripe for a combo deck or perhaps one that seeks recursion. Also note that this can target ANY graveyard, meaning if you have the win on the board and your opponent is in topdeck mode, why not use this to put that fetchland on top of their deck and seal their fate? Neat, if only that any any color can play this Reclaim variant.
Oh, and this just in…Triumph of the Hordes WILL be causing you to lose games of limited. This card is Overrun, at uncommon where it warped M10 draft, and will be a force. It will be tough playing around everything in New Phyrexia drafts, but don’t get destroyed by this one.
Next up is Batterskull. Ho-ly Crap. This card. Probably the best card in the set, hands down, this card will be doing SILLY things to the metagame. And you thought Stoneforge Mystic was good before? You ain’t seen NOTHING yet! This card is Baneslayer Angel that can return to your hand for more Baneslayer Goodness. If there is any card that will hasten the inclusion of artifact destruction in your main deck, it is this one.
The benefits to this card are many, but most of them have to do with fighting the Jace war. When you play Stoneforge Mystic and get Batterskull, they suddenly can’t play Jace on Turn 4. If they do you’ll simply put Batterskull into play and kill Jace. Even if they Fateseal you to up to five loyalty, Stoneforge plus Batterskull is five damage…and by the way, go ahead and gain 4 life while you’re at it.
Preorders went from seven dollars to twenty-five instantly, with no signs of slowing. This card is ridiculous.
Speaking of ridiculous, Sword of War and Peace is here! YES! This card is sick. Now I know all of the swords look weird at first, but I assure you’ll be seeing a TON of this card at the top tables. Here’s the key–this is the sword that lets you attack them AND their Planeswalker at the same time! They got a full grip and you’re just trying to kill them? Well, take a ton of damage instead. Red decks will love this and so will control. Caw-Blade needs more ways to eek out advantage, right?
Regardless, this is another premier Mythic that will be seeing play in Standard, Legacy, Commander and Cube for ages.
Next I want to talk about Myr Superion. Easily one of the best sleeper rares of the set. This card either goes two ways: Amazing or underwhelming. It’s a terrible topdeck on an empty board, which is the biggest strike against it. However, in Elf decks Joraga Treespeaker says what’s up and is that Lotus Cobra powering out 5/6’s? Man. Tarmogoyf is normally at his height around 5/6, and this guy can do some serious damage. Tapping a Llanowar Elf and Birds of Paradise never felt so good.
The thing that really tipped me off to its playability? Wizards has made it the Top 8 Game Day Foil. The last Game Day Top 8 Foil, for Mirrodin Besieged? Black Sun’s Zenith. Scars of Mirrodin? Tempered Steel. One of those cards won a Grand Prix and the other has seen Pro Tour play. Just sayin.
Lastly I want to talk about two cards. The first is Torpor Orb. Now I don’t like this card, though many do, and I’ll tell you why: It doesn’t DO anything. Yes, my favorite flavor text in Magic, that of Null Rod, comes to mind. While it does shutdown cards like Stoneforge Mystic and Squadron Hawk, do you know how bad it feels when you’re on the draw and they get to run out their Stoneforge Mystic before you get a chance to drop this do-nothing? How about drawing multiples of this card, which is what you’d have to do in order to ensure it’s in your opener or played early enough to matter. Sure it’s sweet in Legacy with first turn Dark Ritual, Torpor Orb and Phyrexian Dreadnought…but nice Mental Misstep. This card is a trap, and I’ve been fooled by these before. Cute, but not enough.
Lastly, I got a feeling Unwinding Clock isn’t getting the due it deserves. This is a very interesting card that could cause some serious damage once it gets going. Cards like Lux Cannon, Contagion Clasp and Tumble Magnet all benefit from untapping on your opponent’s turn, and just a little Proliferate goes a long way.
So that’s a few of my favorite cards from New Phyrexia. It’s not all of them, as this set is absurdly powerful, but I think we got a good idea of the stars we’ll be seeing at the top tables soon.
Speaking of stars at top tables, I think it’s time for the Open Series Update.
Open Series Update
This past Easter weekend in Boston, 486 players showed up to battle and one man stood alone: Dan Jordan! Yes, the man who did well last year has begun heating up this year. His weapon of choice? Caw-Blade, of course. That said, Edgar “The Master” Flores made Top 4, securing his Level 7 status through the end of next year. Yes that IS a $250 payday at each event, thank-you-very-much.
Who else made Top 8? The regular SCG stars were in appearance, including AJ Sacher, who has slowly but surely been grinding and leveling up all the way to Level 6 and its free byes and $100 appearance fee. And there’s Drew Levin, aka @mtglegacy on Twitter, who is now happily at Level 5 where those awesome two byes kick in.
Speaking of paydays, SCG Level 8 Pro Gerry Thompson is soon to be joined by Alex Bertoncini who is a mere 3 points away after winning the Legacy Open! 252 competitors joined us on Easter for some old school action, and one fishy deck took the prize. As long as he doesn’t scrub out this weekend, Alex is due for a free set of New Phyrexia set to be delievered to our Level 8 pros at the Orlando Open in a few short weeks.
Looking to find your way to Invitational glory? An Invitational Qualifier is happening this weekend in Denedin, Florida, along with a Super IQ featuring two invites, a minimum $1,000 prize and exclusive pins and playmats is going on in Chester, VA on May 22nd.
But what awesome new decks kicked ass in Standard and Legacy? Let’s go over them in this week’s Metagame Shift.
So this week we look at our results and frown. 32 Jaces. 28 Stoneforge Mystics. 28 Squadron Hawks. What deck could possibly compete versus the tide of Caw-Blade? Well, Lawrence Swasey has an idea, and it includes my favorite four mana monster. Check out his build of Blue/Green Aggro.
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 3 Acidic Slime
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 1 Oracle of Mul Daya
- 4 Nest Invader
- 4 Vengevine
- 4 Fauna Shaman
- 2 Frost Titan
- 1 Consecrated Sphinx
Yeah, so that IS Garruk Wildspeaker seeing play in the Top 8 of the Open Series. That guy leads to some serious unfair plays when powered out early, and I love it. Of course we have our four Jaces in there, because, well, he’s Jace and all, but take a look at Consecrated Sphinx! Oh hell yeah, that IS one of that guy rocking the skies. They bounce it with Jace? It’s cool, you just got two cards out of it. Dig it.
Now while the Top 8 was rife with Jaces, the Top 16 was not. Valakut, Red/Black Vampires and others were skirting inches away from the top. Each week the Caw-Blade players focus more and more on the mirror match, leaving open opportunities for decks like Pyromancer Ascension, which took 16th place, a chance to win.
In Legacy, Gerard Fabiano, who will be rocking the SCGLive booth this weekend, burst into the Legacy Open Top 8 with this fantastic deck he calls “Team Italia,” check it out.
Now this is basically a Red/White/Black aggro/control deck, and check out Stoneforge Mystic kicking ass in Legacy! Man, what a card, happily fetching up Umezawa’s Jitte, Basilisk Collar or Sword of Fire and Ice. In the meantime you’re drawing cards with Dark Confidant while blowing up their permanents with Vindicate and tearing apart their hand with Thoughtseize and Hymn to Tourach. If there’s a deck I’m looking forward to sleeving up and checking out, it’s this one.
So that’s another week in the world of Magic folks. This week I’ll be live and in person at the Charlotte Open, be sure to say hello if you get a chance. Until next time Magic players this is Evan Erwin. Tapping the cards…so you don’t have to!
Evan “misterorange” Erwin