Glory to Phyrexia! The Mother of Machines has graced us with a new array of powerful cards to stand as a Monument to Perfection in her army's expanse into the vast multiverse. Phyrexia: All Will Be One comes with a handful of new additions to compleat your top tier and fringe Modern decks, and even spawn new archetypes all their own.
Join me and the Machine Orthodoxy as we rejoice in our new format staples!
10. Minor Misstep
Minor Misstep is a callback to Mental Misstep, a certifiably broken card that was quickly banned in Modern and Legacy as well as restricted in Vintage. While Minor Misstep likely won't reach quite the same heights, it's a strong sideboard addition to combat Cascade decks like Living End and Crashing Footfalls. While Spell Pierce can often accomplish a similar job in the main deck and sideboard answers such as Chalice of the Void may be stronger, Misstep is a nice targeted answer with other practical uses.
Countering big plays from Hammer Time like Esper Sentinel, Sigarda's Aid, and Colossus Hammer is very enticing. Similarly, Misstep is able to answer Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and A-Dragon's Rage Channeler as well as stop A-Unholy Heat and Lightning Bolt from UR Murktide.
Minor Misstep looks to be a solid silver bullet sideboard card against Cascade while also shoring up other popular matchups. That flexibility makes it an excellent addition to a blue deck's counterspell suite.
9. Melira, the Living Cure
Melira, the Living Cure is another callback, this time to Saffi Eriksdotter. The key difference between these two creatures is that Saffi sacrifices herself, which opens up avenues for combo potential, while Melira self-exiles. However, Melira comes with a much more enticing stat line. a 3/3 creature for WG with board-wipe protection is very interesting in an aggressive tempo deck like Humans. While the Thalia, Guardian of Thraben deck has struggled in a format with Akroma, Angel of Fury, cards like Extraction Specialist, Unsettled Mariner, and now Melira offer enough protection to possibly stage a comeback.
Notably, Melira works well with cards that want to self-sacrifice like Ranger-Captain of Eos and Burrenton Forge-Tender, while threatening to re-trigger a Thalia's Lieutenant once the opponent is forced to remove it. Overall, she's a solid beater that adds a layer of protection to more essential game pieces.
8. Sheoldred's Edict
Sheoldred's Edict is one of the strongest edict effects we've seen in quite some time. Realistically, the opponent will only have one planeswalker in play most of the time. Statistically speaking, that's going to either be Wrenn and Six or A-Teferi, Time Raveler, both cards I would be very happy to clear off the board.
Being able to choose between the edict hitting a token or nontoken creature is also excellent against Indomitable Creativity decks looking to cheat Archon of Cruelty and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play. Those decks would normally be able to use a fetch land to find Dwarven Mine and sacrifice the token creature it creates, but Sheoldred's Edict could force them to lose their more threatening creature.
Notably, this is one of only a few two-mana instants that can permanently answer Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Its predecessors Aura Fracture, Baleful Mastery, and Assassin's Trophy are not especially playable.
7. Thirsting Roots
Thirsting Roots is the latest in a long line of Lay of the Land variants. Similar to the Zendikar Rising modal dual-faced cards, cards like Thirsting Roots are helpful as they allow the player to run more spells while still ensuring access to enough mana sources. In this case, the secondary mode being a one-mana proliferate is a huge pick up for Hardened Scales decks looking to maximize counters on their Walking Ballistas and Arcbound Ravagers. The deck currently plays Throne of Geth which costs twice as much to cast.
I see Thirsting Roots as a staple for this archetype going forward and I'm excited to see a resurgence of the archetype.
6. Kemba, Kha Enduring
Kemba, Kha Enduring is an interesting pickup for the Hammer Time deck which sometimes plays the similar Kor Outfitter in its flex slots. While Kemba can't attach Colossus Hammer to a non-summoning sick creature the way Outfitter can, it offers longevity and a mana sink, which helps expand Hammer's potential lines of play.
Notably, Kemba can auto-equip itself with Kaldra Compleat to become an 8/8 indestructible, trampling, and hasty attacker. Similarly, it can auto-equip with Mardu Shadowspear against a Burn opponent to become a 4/4 lifelinker that they'll struggle to answer. I don't see this as a four-of, but one copy in the main deck seems right to me.
5. Capricious Hellraiser
I'm not entirely sold on Capricious Hellraiser, but the card has a lot of words on it that I like. With the right setup, this is a three-mana flying 4/4 that potentially draws a free card. In a lot of ways, it's like a Bloodbraid Elf with a body designed for 2023 Magic. Decks like UR Murktide and Prowess variants do a great job at putting spells in the graveyard which helps to reach that critical mass of nine cards for Hellraiser's discount.
While there is combo potential by putting something like Enter the Infinite or Emergent Ultimatum in the graveyard, I think this card is better off as just a value piece casting something like a Bolt or Manamorphose.
My biggest concern is that fetch lands and Dragon's Rage Channeler are the keys to enabling Hellraiser's discounted cost ahead of schedule, but too many of these cards in the graveyard may cause the triggered ability to whiff. It's a delicate balance that I'm not sure how to support in deckbuilding, but I'm curious if someone else can crack the code.
4. The Mycosynth Gardens
If I had a nickel for every time Wizards printed a land that makes Amulet of Vigors, I'd have two nickels, which isn't a lot, but it's weird it happened twice. One of the biggest boons for Amulet Titan was the printing of Urza's Saga, which tutors out its namesake Amulet. The Mycosynth Gardens is a new land that can copy an artifact in play. As far as Amulet Titan is concerned, two amulets is basically infinite mana to work with.
As Gardens can activate at instant speed, it's a nice backup that can make a copy in response to removal on the Amulet.
I also see this card as an auto-include in the Lantern of Insight control deck that wants to use cheap artifacts like Ghoulcaller's Bell to restrict what the opponent draws. The greatest struggle of the deck is having enough mill rocks to remove multiple good cards from the opponent's deck in a single turn. Redundancy for these artifacts with minimal deckbuilding cost is a great quality-of-life upgrade.
3. Nahiri, the Unforgiving
Nahiri, the Unforgiving is one of our newly compleated planeswalkers with its own built-in cost reduction. Nahiri does a little bit of everything—from filtering draws, to enabling her own reanimator effect, to protecting herself, to even making chump attackers. All of her effects work well together and it's relatively easy to conceptualize a lower-curve deck with strong enters-the-battlefield effects for her to exploit.
My first thought is her ability to bring back a hasty Stoneforge Mystic, finding and cheating a Kaldra Compleat into play. Alternatively, bringing back Ranger-Captain of Eos is also very powerful. Theoretically, a Mardu Death's Shadow deck could utilize Nahiri's life loss and recursion to buff Shadow as well as make massive surprise attackers.
There is so much to uncover with this card and I'm excited to dig deeper into the possibilities.
2. Venerated Rotpriest
This card is fascinating. Venerated Rotpriest gives a poison counter to the opponent whenever a creature the player controls is targeted by a spell. This includes your spells and copies of spells put on the stack, i.e. storm. Enough net-zero mana spells like Mishra's Bauble and Manamorphose leading into Ground Rift would make Rotpriest lethal as early as turn two. Notably, the one-mana creature's effect stacks with multiple copies. I could easily see a RG Storm deck utilize these cards with Underworld Breach for a combo kill. Alternatively, Niv-Magus Elemental or a creature with magecraft like Dragonsguard Elite can present as massive threats as a plan B.
Admittedly this archetype is fragile to the unconditional removal of the format like City of Solitude, but could easily win games out of nowhere against unwitting or poorly-equipped opponents.
1. Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler
It's only fitting that our resident himbo planeswalker, Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler is a Thousand-Year Elixir on steroids. As an elf, it makes sense that he works well well in decks that want to tap creatures for mana. However, instead of a dedicated elf list with Llanowar Elves, I think this fits best within the Devoted Druid combo archetype.
This deck wants to use Devoted Druid with Luxior, Giada's Gift or Vizier of Remedies to create an infinite mana and infinite untap combo. From there, Walking Ballista or Viridian Longbow can deal infinite damage.
Tyvar sidesteps the bottleneck of summoning sickness on Devoted Druid while also picking up disrupted or missing combo pieces from the graveyard. He's a Swiss army knife for all the things the Devoted Druid deck wants to do, and at only three mana, he's priced to move.
Feast your eyes upon the ossified perfection of New Phyrexia! What future staples did I leave off my list that deserve the honor of becoming part of Elesh Norn's porcelain throne? Leave a comment below (in English or Phyrexian) or tweet me at @AdamECohen to let me know. Next week I'll be back with another list covering new additions to Pioneer. You won't want to miss it!