Greetings, one and all, Jake FitzSimons here fighting a losing battle against Phyrexians and identifying the best new cEDH cards from Phyrexia: All Will Be One. After a mixed bag of a 2022, here we are with the first new set of 2023 and it sure is... oily. We've got a boxing Elf, we've got a white , and we've even got a card pretending to be . More than anything, we've got a new . Let's get into it.
Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines
The new Sheldon Menery's article outlining his desire for Wizards to never print cards like this, and in cEDH she's controversial because she's been declared everything from an instant staple to utterly unplayable. Naturally, the controversy lies in being a on legs and an asymmetrical to boot.is controversial, to say the least. In casual Commander, she's controversial thanks to
1. That's good, but you usually don't want to be spending five mana to improve a small handful of your cards.sees little play in cEDH - is the only exception - but the ability to double up on enter-the-battlefield effects is a strong one. She's good with , she's good with , and just like every other card ever printed, she's good with
I've seen some saywill find a home in decks already playing effects but it's a half-baked thought at best. Decks currently playing anti-ETB effects have five options: , , , and . But these five shut down every enter-the-battlefield effect, which means the decks in question are built around the assumption that shutting off those triggers won't be detrimental to their own plan. In such a deck, the doubling effect of is useless, making her a five-mana .
She'll fare much better in decks trying to abuse or consistently use enter-the-battlefield abilities. With's trigger, it'll be two creatures you're tutoring directly to the battlefield. With enough mana, you can tutor and into play, an easy infinite, even easier than usual given will be doubled. Or and . If she shows up anywhere, it'll be in green and white decks that can find her reliably, cheat her into play and possibly even build around her.
As a commander, she stands no chance. There aren't enough cEDH relevant enter-the-battlefield abilities in white to warp an entire deck around her and she can't boast the combo potential ofor the toolbox of . Ultimately, I don't think much of mommy.
Skrelv, Defector Mite
Ifwas compleated, is what she'd look like. Toxic may as well be flavor text in cEDH, but providing hexproof from a color of your choice until the end of turn is a great way to dodge removal. Mind you, hexproof isn't as good as protection, so won't save it from damage, but that's usually not a big deal in cEDH.
Thanks to Modern Horizons, we already have a secondin the form of , so brewers looking for redundancy will likely turn to her first. Still, redundancy is nice, and that's what brings to the table. Oh yes, and because it isn't a Human, it triggers . Strap in, because I'm going to be saying that a lot.
, but white. And the tokens don't have flying. And they can't block. And they have Toxic, not that it matters. What might matter is the tokens are not Humans, meaning they'll trigger . Or at least, people seem to think it matters. Cards that create non-Human tokens are 's bread and butter, with cards like , , and being mainstays since the earliest days of the deck.
What those cards have thatdoesn't are tokens with haste, and tokens that are made at the beginning of the combat step. The might cost just two mana, but it won't offer a single trigger until the turn after the turn after you play it. might be playable, but the he came from sure isn't.
Unctus, Grand Metatect
is the sort of commander that looks cEDH-viable once you realise it combos with any creature able to untap itself, the easiest being . With in play alongside you've got yourself an "infinite" combo. Just start tapping and untapping the and you can loot indefinitely. As long as you started with one or more cards in hand, you can dig through your deck till you find exactly what you need to win the game, likely .
Sounds great, right? Commanders that can go infinite with one other card are historically playable in cEDH, as the likes of, , and should illustrate. is even blue, arguably the strongest color in cEDH. And yet, I'd strongly discourage anyone trying to turn into a cEDH commander.
For one,lacks haste. Anyone paying attention will know has to be removed on sight, and the turn it takes to wind him up is time your opponents have to find interaction. For another, creatures are not blue's strong point. It's almost as hard to tutor for in blue as it would be in red or white. gets there, and you can try and , but at the point you're going all in on finding a Wizard, just play and find , a Wizard that will win immediately.
There's, but it's even harder to tutor for and costs a whopping five mana. You could run and , but finding two creatures is even harder than finding one, even when the latter happens to be an artifact. There's also that can pair with or to achieve the same thing does, but aside from enchantments being even harder to tutor in blue, what you're rewarded with is a bad combo.
I evaluate potential cEDH commanders on three criteria: their ability to make mana, their ability to generate card advantage, and their potential to combo. Unfortunately,ticks just one of those boxes, and does so with a pen running out of ink.
Creatures that can't be blocked are always worth a quick look for the sake ofdecks, and is one of the better dedicated beaters. Flying is close, but true unblockability means you'll never have to worry about or or , and the upside for connecting here is a big one. At least, as long as you've got two oil counters to spare.
Noncreature spells are a dime a dozen in most decks, particularly any deck with blue, so it shouldn't take too long to oil up, and once you do, you've got a potentially explosive spell copy effect. won't do anything special on an opponent's turn because the effect has to be used after combat damage, but that's no death knell. Copying your own or should always lead to a winning position, but even a for six black mana or a for double removal is powerful, not to mention the defensive applications of a protective counterspell.
It's a trap! Like a lot of cEDH enthusiasts, my eyes narrowed and I leant forward in my chair when I saw 2. I relaxed back into my chair once I remembered what makes playable in the first place: it's free.. It's a counter, it only costs one mana, and it does almost the same thing as ! It even has art with a blue mage surrounded by red magic, a sure sign of a pushed counterspell
Yes, cEDH is overrun with cheap spells, many of them sitting at the one-mana price tag. In fact, according to the cEDH staple list, it's the most common mana value in the format. More than that, also counters zero-mana spells, meaning it hits all of , , , and . But is that a meaningful improvement? I can count the amount of times I've countered an opponent's fast mana on a single hand. It's almost always better to save your counter magic for a genuine threat, not a stray mana rock, so I can't see the "one or less" clause as an actual upside. It would have been a different story if it countered anything that wasn't paid for, but alas, this is the card we have.
Going back to
loneliest most common number for a spell in cEDH, but only countering spells of a specific mana value is still narrow in the wider scheme of a cEDH game. gets away with that because you don't need to hold up mana for it and your opponents won't see it coming, a luxury that just doesn't have.
As a general principle, you want counterspells to trade up.can't. I'd sooner play , and if you're not already on it, I'd be surprised if proves any better. Blue mages are spoiled for choice when it comes to counters, and you have to dive very deep in the counterspell pool before looks appealing.
What a bizarre card. A bluethat did anything close to what the original did would be instantly playable, but this ain't that. is something else entirely, a card that asks you to exile one of your own spells on the stack to "pod up" to a bigger spell, except the new spell will come from an opponent's library. Sure, maybe you have a disposable four-mana spell you can feed to in the hope you'll steal an opponent's , but you're just as likely to hit their , at which point you've spent two cards and eight mana to do precisely nothing. This is a crapshoot, with emphasis on crap.
Poor black. Another set, another swing, and another miss; black received no cEDH cards in Phyrexia: All Will Be One. I'm the sort of set reviewer who likes to talk about subpar cards when it gives me an opportunity to explain why they're subpar even though they look decent, but we don't even have that this time around.
All Will Be One
3. As for what it's doing here, in a cEDH set review, gets a nod thanks to the glut of cards it goes infinite with.joins a rare cabal of cards that share a name with the set they were printed in: the other two are from Conflux and from, you guessed it, Hour of Devastation
Within play, any of the above will create an infinite damage loop as long as you can place a single counter, either through damage or any other means. It can also pair with for an asymmetrical board wipe. is particularly notable because it can sit in the command zone, meaning yes, another commander with a one-card combo. But like , the problem lies in how hard it is to tutor the missing piece. Speaking of cards with missing pieces...
Right now,is a com looking for a bo. Modern players (the overly excited ones anyway) are fooling around with to build a high-velocity Storm deck able to rain poison counters, but that's not possible in cEDH. What needs is a sort of effect, something that can be done infinitely in and of itself, except with targeting. I don't imagine such a thing being printed soon, but is a card to keep your eye on as the years roll by.
What ifand had a baby? Oh, humans and inanimate cages can't reproduce? I don't care, just go with it. Because that's almost what we're looking at with , operative word being almost. While it won't stop commanders the way does, it still stops noncreature casting off everything from to to to , not to mention commanders like and . That also makes it a soft (softer than ) lock with .
Because it only stops permanents entering from the graveyard rather than the library, it won't stop cards likeand other straight-to-the-battlefield effects, this is arguably an upside: decks relying on those effects can run without stepping on their own toes the way that would have. More importantly, it does nothing to stop and that means... yes: it's a card.
One day, Wizards of the Coast is going to release a set with no new cards for. Today is not that day. Given synergises with the two most common creature typings of all time (Human is second only to "everything that isn't a Human"), I'm quite certain the day will never come. Anyway, is good in because it produces mana and it isn't a Human. A lot of lists already played a mixture of , , and , and while isn't on the level of the , it's certainly the best of the Myrs. Next.
The Mycosynth Gardens
Trying to squeeze extra mileage out of your mana base is a major part of cEDH deckbuilding. Utility lands, like, , and , all see play because cards that only produce colorless mana are fine as long as their payoff is strong enough. Even should illustrate a land can produce no mana and still find a home. Unfortunately, the upside of isn't on par with any of those tools.
cEDH might be infested with zero-mana artifacts, andcould surely copy a or a , but that's not as good as it sounds. If you open with a and and use the land to copy , congratulations, you have two s! You also have no land ( doesn't retain land typing when it copies), the will be tapped, and short of another mana source, you're only able to produce colorless mana. Less than ideal, especially when you consider all the times you'll draw and have nothing to copy. The possible exception is , a zero-drop rock that doesn't need to tap to be useful.
Still, in a dedicated stax deck likeor , the could serve as insurance against removal. With enough mana help up, the can save a crucial stax piece, like , , or . That should be enough to make it playable given mono-color decks have more room for utility lands, but I can't see making an impact beyond that.
Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler
Here we are, my pick for the best card in the set. Also my pick for the worst cohesion between art and effect. I suppose a brawler letting creatures activate their abilities immediately makes some sense, but not as much as haste would. I also have no idea what punching people in the face has to do with milling a library reanimating small creatures. In fact, what is it about Golgari that lends itself to a fistfight at all? I'm off-track.
is a consideration for any deck with a critical mass of mana dorks. The likes of and are already cEDH staples strong enough to stand in their own right, but when they're live on entry, they can provide an immediate return on mana investment. Opening with a mana dork and curving into on turn two allows you to untap that same dork for another mana, and if you happen to have another dork in hand, you can keep the mana flowing. With bigger dorks, like or , will help you make a lot of mana.
Beyond that, the ability to bring back any two-mana-value-or-less creature into play is pure power. Just about all the best creatures in the format sit at or below the two mana mark., , , , , , the list goes on. The fact 's downtick also mills three means you don't even have to have a creature in the bin, you can activate and cross your fingers.
The best thing aboutis what he provides for decks. One of 's flaws is its lack of haste, usually solved with . takes care of that with his passive "haste" effect, but he can also use his downtick to return to play, a game action much harder to interact with than the usual play of casting . More than that, can turn any topdeck tutor into a win.
, , : it doesn't matter what you use. As long as is in play and ready to activate, you can place on top of the deck, uptick and place the Druid into play where it can immediately activate.
also plays nicely with , a with a body that already sees some play. It's mana intensive, but if you're feeling brave you can play and activate , name , untap with , cast and with the trigger on the stack, reactivate to win the game.
Be still, my beating heart. If I was writing just for myself, I'd declare read this. Long story short, 's whole shtick is finding , a mana-neutral creature, and something to reduce Equipment costs. comes in at the last step.the best card in the set. But that's because I'm embarrassingly obsessed with my pet cEDH deck, . If you'd like an in-depth breakdown of one of the weirdest decks in the format,
4, so a three-mana variant might not seem exciting, but it's all in the typing.already has a number of effects like this; , and
and , while cheaper, are difficult to tutor for in a Boros deck. You've got , you've got , and you've got , and that's it. But an Equipment card? was born to find Equipment. The whole damn deck is designed from the ground up to find , so getting our little Dwarven hands on is no trouble at all. It's even a surprisingly threatening beater!
Atraxa, Grand Unifier
Well, they did it. They made an Atraxa that can do something in cEDH.never cracked into cEDH because Proliferating isn't an especially useful game action, and planeswalkers are far and few between, but is lucky enough to function as a outlet. For the uninitiated, and a card that can be cast from exile ( and ), you can generate infinite creature mana. That done, can be cast infinitely with the same , placing a deck's worth of cards in the hands of the caster. Winning from there is trivial.
Unfortunately, is just the latest in a long line of commanders who already do this. outlets in the command zone stretch back to ancient times, when and were still young. fanatics will remember when took the stage, holding the spotlight for all of a month before burst onto the scene. Since then we've had and , and less than a year ago, . Frankly, it's a buffet.
is the closest to , but a better comparison point is . Casting from hand or cascade, the end result of both combos is the same, but has an extra color, which means not just an extra combo piece in the form of , but access to . Speaking of colors, might have more colors than Ukkima & Cazur, but the Ukkima combo works regardless of the number of remaining cards in of your deck. You could argue it's in better colors than , but Rocco actually does something independent of and they're capable of assembling a multitude of other winning combinations.
She also requires a whopping four pips and three colorless, and the payoff for resolving her is woeful. Best case scenario, you'll put seven cards in your hand, and only if your top ten happen to have seven different types. Well, technically eight, but we don't know what a Battle is yet. Rather than wasting anymore words on, let's speculate on what a Battle is. Maybe some kind of world enchantment? Could it be something like the planes from planechase? A Dungeon-style subgame? Give me your best guess in the comments.
All Will Be None?
It's an interesting set, and we're all dying to know what Battle is, who will remain compleated and whether or not they're just going to undo everything with time travel shenanigans, but I can't look you in the eye and tell you Phyrexia: All Will Be One is going to make waves in cEDH. Because despite the small upgrades for specific archetypes (did I mention I play Koll?) and all the new optionshas to consider, it's on the weaker side for cEDH.
Or is it? That's not rhetorical, I want to know what you think. I've been surprised by the chatter around the blue cards especially,, , and , so tell me, what am I missing?
Thanks for reading, and here's hoping March of Machines brings us some real power.
- For those keeping score, this marks the fifth consecutive set review where Dockside has come up. Dread it, run from it, Dockside still warps all card evaluation.
- Force of Will, Force of Negation, and Fierce Guardianship all fit this bill.
- There are over a dozen cards that share a name with a Magic set, but the majority were printed in a different set to their namesake: Mirrodin Besieged was printed in Modern Horizons, Apocalypse was printed in Tempest, Time Spiral was printed in Urza's Saga etc.
- Birgi does not reduce equipment costs but make a mana neutral creature into a mana positive creature, thereby paying for Skullclamp.