Top 10 Standard Cards from New Phyrexia
This whole article is one big spoiler!
FYI Memo to all players: The entire visual spoiler is available for all to see so every card listed here is definitely going to be printed. Unless you are purposely not looking at any card in the set, a hard feat, this list will serve you well for the rest of the Standard season.
Well, let’s get right to it. The cards on this list are powerful enough that they should all see some play in competitive decks that already exist or new decks will be built around them. There are a lot of powerful effects in this set and a lot of new designs on cards that will take some time to prove just how good they are. Without further delay, I present the Top 10 Standard cards from New Phyrexia!
10. Chancellor of the Forge
The entire Chancellor cycle has not gotten much attention because they all provide such a small effect on the beginning of the game that they are basically a dead card until quite late in the game. This is the view of the majority of players about this new cycle of cards. I believe this concept to be just a little off. These cards are all underrated in my opinion. This way of thinking misleads us about the playability of this cycle. Specifically, I think that the Chancellor of the Forge can be added to a preexisting strategy… Kuldotha Red. Think about the implications of this card in that deck. Not only is it free, but that deck works by pumping all the creatures with cards like Goblin Bushwhacker. Let’s not stop there. What if we rebuild the deck to include not only four of the Chancellor but also three Koth of the Hammer. Now, we can now reliably cast the Chancellor on turn four if our opponent is not dead by then.
It is worth mentioning Chancellor of the Annex (White) and Chancellor of the Tangle (Green) also. The metagame would have to shift quite a bit for Chancellor of the Annex to see play, but I could conceive of a format where a more traditional blue white control deck exists. If that is the case, this card would at least be tested in various builds. Chancellor of the Tangle has a decent chance of seeing play in my opinion. I think that the green chancellor is the weakest of the actual creatures with little impact on the game but a lotus petal type effect at the beginning of the game for any color is worth thinking about.
9. Deceiver Exarch
This card is sure to be the source of much debate as far as its constructed playability. On one hand it is a decent “wall” with qualities similar to Plumeveil, but it also does not kill a creatures as reliably. On the other hand I do favor winning the game on turn four with this guy and Splinter Twin. Is that combo worth playing? I am not sure. With Preordain and Jace, the Mind Sculptor it should be easy enough to find the pieces to pull that combo off. It seems to me that if this combo becomes popular, the format will adapt to just play more Doom Blades, but winning the game on turn four should not be underestimated. Other authors have covered this combo so I will leave it at that.
Glistener Elf, Lost Leonin, Caress of Phyrexia
These three cards open up some possibilities for poison to be constructed worthy in Standard. Basically up to this point only Brian Kibler has been successful with infect. His Blue/Black infect deck is so elegant but just does not have the power level to compete with the tier one decks Standard has to offer. If poison has a chance of becoming a more competitive deck, it will have to include some of these cards in my opinion.
Glistener Elf is the Goblin Guide or Vampire Lascerator of the poison deck. Actually, it’s more like the Pulse Tracker of the poison tribe. That’s not only how I think about poison, it is how I build decks with poison. The poison theme is like Goblins, Vampires, Elves or any other tribe you want to include. For any tribe to be playable as an aggro deck, they need to be productive in the early turns of the game. This one drop poison creature is something that the poison deck has been missing up until this point.
Lost Leonin is very aggressively costed. You basically have to think about this guy as a Ruthless Cullblade. In those terms, this creature should generate some serious discussion. The unfortunate part is the one toughness. In a world of Squadron Hawks and Stoneforge Mystic, one toughness gets a lot of creatures cut from deck lists. Still, this leonin packs a powerful punch, or claw if you will.
Caress of Phyrexia has a toolbox of applicable uses. Despite there being an actual card, Triumph of the Hords, that is an Overrun effect, Caress of Phyrexia is the real game ender to consider. This card has many uses. If you are playing black you could be playing this card just as five mana draw three cards. That is probably worth playing over Sign in Blood. The other aspect of this card is basically as a burn spell. If you are killing your opponent with poison, this is basically like a Fireball to finish them off! How crazy is that. Not only is it capable of ending games, but you could use it to draw the three cards to put yourself in a position to win. This card gives poison a lot of reach to close games.
These three poison related cards are powerful if used correctly but I am left wanting more powerful creatures similar to Phyrexian Crusader and Phyrexian Vatmother in power level. It will be interesting to see if these cards push a poison deck into the limelight.
7. Beast Within
Wow, what a powerful effect! Sure they get a 3/3 but you get any permanent. This card destroys lands, planeswalkers, enchantments, artifacts, creatures, everything. Just like Path to Exile, I’m sure lots of players will talk about how bad this card is because of the drawback. We all know how much play Path saw and how much its drawback did not really matter as much as we all thought it could. I think this card will be similar and we will realize that it is amazing despite the drawback. The flexibility of being able to deal with any permanent combined with being able to make yourself a guy if you really needed one is so powerful that it demands attention. It is also an instant, and surprisingly so. This card will take time to understand fully but it will have a big impact on Standard.
6. Hex Parasite
Finally! Wizards is now printing decent answers to planeswalkers. I think the thing that excites me most about Hex Parasite is that you can tutor it with Trinket Mage or Fauna Shaman so that when you need it, you can answer the problem. Jace the Mind Sculptor, Gideon Jura, Koth of the Hammer, Tumble Magnet, Everflowing Chalice, man this guy deals with so many different cards. It is also a one mana artifact creature that Kuldotha Red or a Tempered Steel deck could play. Overall, I think this card is solid and will see maindeck and sideboard play.
The best discard spell Standard has ever seen! You might say that Thoughtseize was the best. Maybe, but it’s close. The life loss was actually relevant and basically the only card you would take with Thoughtseize that Despise can’t get is Volcanic Fallout. Ok, well maybe I am over exaggerating here a little bit but honestly not by much. This might be my favorite card from the new set. It solves a lot of problems in Standard. Now, deciding between taking the Stoneforge Mystic or Jace the Mind Sculptor is the hard part. I know this will see play because I will be playing it, but so will many other players too. This might be one of the hardest cards to play though because you will have so many choices to decide between. And finally, it is yet another way to deal with a planeswalker, and believe me, we need all of them that we can get.
4. Phyrexian Obliterator / Lashwrithe
Black players rejoice! Mono Black is one of those archetypes that players always try to build when there is any semblance of a deck that could exist. Clearly both of these cards demand tons of Black mana and/or Swamps. To me, these two cards are actually one card. Most likely you would play them in the same type of deck. The main difference is whether you are okay with playing all Swamps or you are not. Also, despite some pros noting the power of Lashwrithe, I think the Obliterator is the more powerful of the two. You can play Phyrexian Obliterator in a deck that splashes either Red or Blue by playing the twelve duals available in either of those allied color combinations. To me, that is better than an equipment that forces you to play only Swamps. Both are good cards and one or the other should see some play. Lashwrithe is a bit better if you are playing against Jace, the Mind Sculptor though, so it may take the front seat.
3. Birthing Pod
If there is a card that excites me more than Despise, it would have to be Birthing Pod. The power level of this card is so high that it takes my breath away. This card is most comparable to Food Chain, a card that was on the chopping block in Legacy for its power level before Goblin Recruiter took the fall instead. This card is better! With Birthing Pod, you not only get to ramp up mana similar to Food Chain, but you get to tutor for the creatures as well. It’s like combining Food Chain with Fauna Shaman into one card. You can even play Birthing Pod in the same deck with Fauna Shaman so you can tutor up the creatures you need for whatever game state you find yourself in. The sequence of Vengevine, into Acidic Slime, into the Titan of your choice seems like a great place to start. That is only scratching the surface of what this card is capable of. Do not underestimate a powerful effect like this. Sooner or later, this card will find a home and it will be sick.
2. Sword of War and Peace
Every Sword in this cycle has been influential in multiple formats, so why would we think Sword of War and Peace would be any different? Protection from Red and White is not to be underrated alone even without the other abilities. Speaking of the two abilities, they are basically more damage and gaining life. This is the perfect equipment to race your opponent with whatever deck you are playing. CawBlade will play it, Boros will play it, and there might be a new strategy that plays it to capitalize on the protection from the most popular colors of creatures in Standard. Every time a new sword comes out, everyone, including myself, underrates them. I thought Sword of Feast and Famine sucked and I was extremely disappointed. I don’t think that this time, but even if I did, I would give it the benefit of the doubt. Players will want this card, players will play this card, and it will be highly sought after for years.
….drum roll please….
And the number one card from New Phyrexia?
Batterskull? Not Karn Liberated? No, 100% Batterskull. Not many people that I have seen have been talking about this card but it is by far the best card in the set. Granted it is the best card in this set because another card, Stoneforge Mystic, exists in its tier one status, but number one is still number one. I think the closest thing I can compare this to is Bonehoard. Think about if Bonehoard was always a big creature just how good it would be. Sure Batterskull can never be a 17/17 like I had in play the other day, but a 4/4 that never dies and has vigilance and lifelink will win you more games consistently. I cannot even believe that this card was able to be printed in a format with Stoneforge Mystic. BATTERSKULL COMPLETELY INVALIDATES ANY AGGRESSIVE STRATEGY!!! I put it in all caps because it’s a fact that I don’t think we understand yet. Can you imagine trying to play an aggressive deck like Boros or Vampires, let alone Mono Red, against CawBlade with this card? They have counters for your artifact removal, and it can even bounce itself to avoid getting killed! It is insanely powerful. In addition, if you don’t kill the Stoneforge, when the Germ token dies, they can just return the equipment to their hand and replay it using the Stoneforge’s ability. They can do this all at instant speed! I think initially, Standard will be even more oppressed by this card and CawBlade’s influence until players can find a way to attack it from a different angle.
In conclusion, I think the list I have set forth here accurately represents the playability of the top cards in New Phyrexia. I have purposely left off Karn Liberated from the list because he is vastly overrated. That is not to say that he is bad, but seven mana is really a lot to ask even for these flashy abilities. Also, there was no Mental Misstep, I left that card of the list purposefully because I don’t think it is viable in Standard. It will give Legacy a facelift but I do not think it will impact Standard. This is a deep set for playable Standard cards and I could have talked about many more, but today’s focus was on the top 10 Standard cards.
Any type of top 10 list is always open for discussion, so if you don’t agree, respond in the forums! I do my best to keep track and respond to the comments so let me know your top 10. Also, if you liked or didn’t like this weeks’ column, let me know why. I know that I can always improve my writing so constructed criticism is welcome.
And as always,
I hope this list will help you Unleash your Force on the new Standard!
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See you next week