Top 10 Cube Cards Of Phyrexia: All Will Be One

Ryan Overturf breaks down the mechanics of Phyrexia: All Will Be One for Cube before revealing his Top 10 cards of the set.

Planar Disruption
Planar Disruption, illustrated by Campbell White

Can you believe that it’s already time for another set release, gamers? Of course you can. Whether you were ready or not, Phyrexia: All Will Be One is upon us! Unsurprisingly, the set has tons of stuff for Phyrexian fans in this set, especially if you… like teeth…

Mandible Justiciar

Phyrexia: All Will Be One has a reasonable spread of solid Cube goodies, and a much deeper well for more niche environments. You can definitely feel Carmen Handy’s influence on the file, with a long list of Proliferate Cube bangers showing up in the file.

Before I get to my Top 10 list for Cube broadly, let’s take a look at the various themes supported in the set.


Skrelv, Defector Mite Prologue to Phyresis Viral Spawning

We’ve gotten a couple of oddball cards that give poison counters recently, and returning to the mechanic in a more significant way felt all but inevitable. Toxic is a new twist on how creatures deal out poison counters in combat, with the toxic number being the quantity given rather than the creature’s power that the old infect mechanic checked. Toxic creatures still dealing regular combat damage means that players will have to watch both their life total and their poison count, which is an interesting new spin that addresses some of the issues with infect that came up in Limited.

Beyond that, the new corrupted ability word causes players to care about the third poison counter instead of just the first (proliferate) or the tenth (losing the game). None of this will impact the overwhelming majority of Cubes, but the support for these new mechanics is deep enough and at competitive enough rates that I believe poison is officially a compelling space to explore for those interested in a more novel Cube experience. More on that next week.

The Return of Proliferate, Oil Counters

Ichormoon Gauntlet Vraska, Betrayal's Sting Thirsting Roots

Proliferate also makes its return in the set on a number of very efficient spells. Cubes with heavy themes involving counters, and of course Cubes interested in poison, will benefit a lot from these spells. There’s a line where a card with proliferate can start to show up in almost any Cube without drawing too much attention to itself, and there are a couple such cards in Phyrexia: All Will Be One. Thirsting Roots stands out in this regard as the latest “Lay of the Land with upside” that could pump some creatures and/or tick up the loyalty on some planeswalkers if you’re no longer in the market for a basic land.

Tamiyo's Immobilizer Archfiend of the Dross Churning Reservoir

Oil counters also show up on a number of cards that care specifically about them, with proliferating these counters seemingly being a central aspect of the Limited environment. Most of these cards are going to be misses for Cube, but they’ll be part of the unique experience of a set Cube.

Equipment Matters

Kemba, Kha Enduring Rebel Salvo Bladehold War-Whip

This is a pretty common Boros thing in near every set these days, but the Mirrans do have a louder Equipment-matters theme than we often see. For Mirrodin! is a new ability that automatically creates and equips a 2/2 token with a number of the Equipment in the set. We’ve seen a couple of different takes on this sort of mechanic in the past, and these will be very welcome additions to any Cube that leans in on Equipment as a theme.

Planeswalkers, Compleation, and Phrexian Mana

Koth, Fire of Resistance Jace, the Perfected Mind Mondrak, Glory Dominus

Finally, there are enough planeswalkers in Phyrexia: All Will Be One to consider it something of a theme, with Phyrexian mana returning on half of them and showing up in a couple of other spots. It’s nice to see Phyrexian mana return as a flavorful and on-theme mechanic without repeating the mistakes of the mechanic that we saw in New Phyrexia, where we got a handful of ostensibly “free” spells.

There’s not a lot to saw about the Dominus cycle, which won’t show up in too many Cubes, but I had a lot to say about the new planeswalkers and the compleated mechanic in last week’s article. You might even see some of those cards in my Top 10 list, so let’s get to it!

10. Atraxa, Grand Unifier

Atraxa, Grand Unifier

I personally won’t be adding Atraxa, Grand Unifier to any of my Cubes, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that it will fit into the Cubes of many others, and likely multiple digital offerings. Atraxa is eminently castable in an environment like Live the Dream Cube and will likely show up in an Arena Cube or two for the same reason. Where the card is getting the most chatter, though, is in high-power Cube environments.

The long and short of it is that being a green creature with an enters-the-battlefield ability that generates card advantage, along with a huge body that can exist in your graveyard without being shuffled back into your library, matters a lot when it comes to the intersection of Reanimate and Natural Order. I’m sure that you’d see members of the Niv-Mizzet Reborn lobby successfully hard-cast the card in the Magic Online (MTGO) Vintage Cube as well. To be clear, I’m not advocating for this card to take Niv’s slot. More likely, I’d see it put in over Progenitus for being an upgrade over that card in near every way.

9. Bloated Contaminator

Bloated Contaminator

Honestly, Atraxa, Grand Unifier will probably show up in more Cubes than Bloated Contaminator, but Atraxa will owe its relevance to either the cards that enable players to cheat it onto the battlefield or carefully curated environments that enable casting giant haymakers. Bloated Contaminator is more significant in that it increases the threshold of splashable green creatures that are great to curve into in beatdown decks. Old-Growth Troll is powerful in Constructed, but Mono-Green in Cube doesn’t have nearly the same draw.

What’s nice about Bloated Contaminator is that it’s just a massive creature for something like Gruul Aggro, while having relevant synergies with every other green guild’s ability to utilize +1/+1 counters. Evolving Adaptive’s printing is also worth noting, because even though that card is a general downgrade from similar cards, it is another one-drop for green aggressive decks to get there on volume that happens to take advantage of Bloated Contaminator’s proliferate ability.

The toxic ability here will be reminder text in many Cubes, and honestly that sort of thing can dissuade some Cube designers from including a card. Honestly, I kind of wish we got a version of this card that maybe had +1/+1 counters itself and didn’t have toxic, but at the end of the day, you have to work with what you’ve got, and this is a very significant printing for aggressive green decks.

8. Experimental Augury

Experimental Augury

Experimental Augury doesn’t look like much, and it might not even be much, but I think that the card has a lot of Cube potential. Anticipate doesn’t go anywhere near my Cubes, and even Impulse has lost a lot of its luster, but I could see proliferate really putting a two-mana card selection spell over.

The floor of this card is that you cast it on Turn 2 and it’s just Anticipate. That’s pretty whatever. But then you think of all the things that you’d want to proliferate in a mono-blue deck, and the list is honestly pretty long. Everflowing Chalice, Walking Ballista, Tangle Wire, incrementing planeswalker loyalty… I’m pretty convinced that I’d play this in some of my Vintage Cube decks!

Then you look at other Cube environments that feature cards like Midnight Clock or the potential for blue to be more creature based with things like Simic +1/+1 counter themes, and you start to see a lot of spots where Experimental Augury is a total blowout that replaces itself. Proliferating Sagas (yours or your opponent’s) also has a lot of potential power. This one could fade quietly into the night, but I guarantee that there are tables where it’ll be something special.

7. Conduit of Worlds

Conduit of Worlds

I like Conduit of Worlds for its specificity, if not for its power level. Once you get to four mana, there’s a lot of stuff more powerful than Conduit of Worlds to cast, but only so much of it benefits the Lands archetype! Conduit of Worlds is going to be very powerful in Cubes that allow for longer grindy games, and rather weak in Cubes that put pressure on players to impact the battlefield.

Ramunap Excavator is a commonly Cubed card that honestly just kind of sucks more often than not. It’s true that in direct comparison to Conduit or Worlds you’ll miss the 2/3 body sometimes, but at least as often, I expect the ability to cast permanents from your graveyard to come up in big ways in just about any Cube.

Conduit of Worlds won’t be an all-star for the highest-power-level Cubes, but it does something unique and interesting. It’s the exact kind of card that gets the wheels turning for creative Cube designers and drafters.

6. The Eternal Wanderer

The Eternal Wanderer

I said last week that The Eternal Wanderer compares unfavorably to Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, and I’ll stand by that. Even still, having immediate access to the blink ability, a powerful sweeper, or just a stream of 2/2 double strikers is a huge breaker in any kind of midrange matchup. I can just picture any Siege Rhino fan being giddy about this card, and there are a lot of Siege Rhino fans.

It’s worth noting that The Eternal Wanderer’s static ability also makes the card quite difficult to attack down. Personally, I’m hoping to have the Hero’s Downfall in hand for the sorts of games where that matters, but it will absolutely come up and be a big deal in grindy Cubes.

5. Kaito, Dancing Shadow

Kaito, Dancing Shadow

Kaito is another planeswalker that comes down with immediate access to three abilities, and with the options being pseudo-removal, card advantage, and a different form of card advantage, that’s a lot to like for four mana. Kaito’s static ability is much less relevant than The Eternal Wanderer’s and Kaito’s loyalty numbers are considerably more vulnerable to Lightning Bolt, but that’s what you expect when you pay four mana as opposed to six.

You have to already be in trouble for Kaito not to be a big play when you cast it and use the +1 or -2 to address your opponent’s battlefield, and any time that you get to 0 immediately or start with the -2 proactively, you’ll be firmly in the driver’s seat. I’m a big fan of Coercive Portal in Vintage Cube, and despite Kaito being a gold card versus an artifact, I keep coming to that comparison and feeling good about casting Kaito.

4. Sheoldred’s Edict

Sheoldred's Edict

We’ve all been burned by Edicts, but it’s worth noting when they print a new one with significant upgrades over the existing options. This card would have absolutely made it into the MTGO Grixis Cube if it existed at the time, with weaker Edicts being featured. The ability to combat strategies that cheat large creatures onto the battlefield like Reanimator or answer a planeswalker while also being serviceable against aggressive decks adds up to a solid card.

When I read Sheoldred’s Edict, I mostly see the upgrades over existing Edicts as a powerful answer to a Marit Lage token, but when it comes to Cubes that are long on planeswalkers, I think this card is actually a pretty big deal. I wouldn’t necessarily touch it in environments without planeswalkers, though.

3. Sword of Forge and Frontier

Sword of Forge and Frontier

The times when I enjoy Swords tend to be exceptions rather than rules, but the cycle is massively popular and you can absolutely expect this card to make a lot of Cubes. I love the way Sword of Forge and Frontier’s abilities synergize, and I see it as being powerful enough to make a lot of Cubes without being as oppressive as other Swords can be with their protection abilities. I actually love that red and green are the best colors for answering artifacts, which means that this Sword won’t be the only thing that matters in a game more often than other members of this cycle.

Protection from green is also the color that I tend to care most about with regard to this cycle, at least when it comes to high-powered Cubes, aka the Cubes where I’m okay with their existence. Usually when I’m looking to take advantage of Equipment, it’s with an aggressive deck that might have some difficulty attacking through cards like Courser of Kruphix. Sword of Feast and Famine has been my go-to sideboard option to cut through green decks with Mono-Red Aggro for years, but churning through my own deck looking for burn spells will be a much bigger deal in those games than letting the opponent discard their worst card.

2. Nissa, Ascended Animist

Nissa, Ascended Animist

I believe that Nissa, Ascended Animist is the most powerful individual card in Phyrexia: All Will Be One for Cube, and I broke down a lot of my thoughts on the card last week. From Arena Cube to Vintage Cube, I expect to cast this one a lot, either to make a stream of large creatures and establish my position in the game or to hit the Overrun button and win the game immediately.

It’s somewhat interesting how you want to categorize Nissa in terms of mana curve. For now, I’m thinking of it as a six- or a seven-mana inclusion that can be cast on five in a pinch, and I am looking at cutting a more expensive spell anywhere I want to include the card rather than treating it more like a five-drop.

1. Planar Disruption

Planar Disruption

Planar Disruption scores some points for its Pauper legality, but it will in all likelihood be the most Cubed card from Phyrexia: All Will Be One. An answer to creatures, artifacts, and planeswalkers for two mana is just a ton of flexibility, albeit at sorcery speed. There’s some give and take with Planar Disruption as compared to Journey to Nowhere as an answer to creatures, but ultimately the flexibility will put Planar Disruption way over on average.

It’s very strange that Planar Disruption is showing up in the same set as Ossification with how similar the cards are. I thought it made more sense to discuss Ossification here than figure out where to rank it lower in my list, or slightly below the Top 10, as it will definitely be Cubed less than its common counterpart. The higher rarity, inability to hit artifacts, need to attack to a basic land, and fear of having your land destroyed by an Acidic Slime or something else means you’ll see way fewer Ossifications, but the rate is still good and you will see some around.

Phyrexia: All Will Be One is a massively impactful set for fans of proliferate and poison, with more scattered goodies in terms of broader Cube gameplay. No matter what you’re looking for, the set really doesn’t offer much of anything in the way of red cards. I suppose that makes sense with one of the set’s flagship cards being the new Atraxa, though I wanted better for Koth.