Phyrexia: All Will Be One Set Review - Artifacts and Lands
(Monument to Perfection | Art by Igor Kieryluk)
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts/Lands | Gold I | Gold II | Reprints | cEDH
A Compleat Guide to Phyrexian Geography
Phyrexia is upon us, and soon All Will Be One! Today I'll be your guide through the notable artifacts and lands of Phyrexia re-imagined under our new Mother of Machines. We have myriad examples of the might and majesty of our new order, as well as a few quaint artifacts of the Mirran "resistance". Step this way, and don't mind the oil.
Staff of Compleation
We're starting off strong with an updated Staff of Domination for the new Phyrexian age. Except for the untap ability, this new staff makes use of your life rather than mana. This makes it less suitable for infinite mana combos, unless you have more than four times as much life as cards in your library. In a dedicated life gain deck, however, this could be a solid card advantage engine. Four life per card is on rate for Sylvan Library, and can quickly be outpaced by Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper or Soul Warden.
The other modes on Staff of Compleation shouldn't be ignored either. A colorless Proliferate engine will be very useful for any nonblue decks built around counters, which All Will Be One is giving us plenty of. Migloz, Maze Crusher and Karumonix, the Rat King will both take advantage of the extra counters. Some older commanders can also take advantage of the Staff's first ability. Lynde, Cheerful Tormentor is always looking for more ways to destroy her own enchantments, something that Grixis can't easily do, and having the flexibility to use Staff of Compleation for mana or card draw when you don't need to destroy your own enchantments makes sure it will always be useful.
Sword of Forge and Frontier
Where Staff of Compleation will have niche applications, Sword of Forge and Frontier is good wherever you can play it. Every turn it has the potential to draw two extra cards while also ramping you with extra land drops. That extra land doesn't have to come from exile, either. Red and green are popular creature colors as well, ensuring you will almost always have an opponent you can attack freely. Certain commanders will be able to make more of this particular Sword than others. Prosper, Tome-Bound and Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald both care about casting spells from exile, while Radha, Heart of Keld and Phylath, World Sculptor are always looking for more ways to play more lands.
Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut
Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut is the Thopter commander I didn't know I was waiting for. A lord in the command zone that turns your 1/1 flying tokens into 5/3s has potential to end the game quickly. Eight mana is a lot to ask for, but colorless decks are very good at ramping. If you're mostly using Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut is a large anthem for a token army, waiting to cast it makes a lot of sense anyway. You could also use Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut as an Overrun in any token-focused deck, especially if you can change the types of your opponents' creatures.
Argentum Masticore isn't a card I would expect to see in a Commander deck, but then again, neither is Armix, Filigree Thrasher. Aside from any incidental synergy with Madness cards, Argentum Masticore is a colorless way to remove any nonland permanent, albeit with severe timing restrictions. Still, in a deck which cares about the graveyard, this could be a way to answer problems that your color typically can't. Daretti, Scrap Savant and Syr Konrad, the Grim may struggle with enchantments, but Argentum Masticore won't.
Mirran Safehouse generated a lot of excitement when it was officially spoiled, and for good reasons. Cards that gain the abilities of other cards are combo machines, and while lands are generally pretty safe, Ghost Quarter and Demolition Field are easy answers to Cabal Coffers, Serra's Sanctum, and Maze of Ith. Mirran Safehouse is essentially an extra copy of Crucible of Worlds, ensuring you still have access to these powerful effects. Additionally, artifacts are much easier to untap than lands. Manifold Key and Clock of Omens drastically increase the amount of mana you can generate, while Unwinding Clock makes sure you're ready during every player's turn.
There are also, of course, several combos involving Mirran Safehouse. Put Mutavault and Griffin Canyon into your graveyard and you have infinite power. Where I think Mirran Safehouse will really shine, however, is in decks that can recur artifacts as extra copies of fetch lands. Even a humble Terramorphic Expanse can pull most of the lands out of your Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle or Emry, Lurker of the Loch deck. If you want to be mean, you can repeat that loop with Wasteland in your graveyard, or with any other land that puts itself in your graveyard, really.
Monument to Perfection
And now we get to the tricky one. Monument to Perfection is no Blightsteel Colossus, but the potential to become, essentially, a 9/9 indestructible creature with Infect has to be something, right? The requirements to become that, however, are steep. There are currently nine Sphere lands, two Loci, and of course, eleven basic lands with different names. Remember that snow basics and Wastes do count here. This means it is technically possible to activate Monument to Perfection's ability in a mono-colored deck, but having three or more colors will make it dramatically easier.
Whether going through all those steps just to have a 9/9 with Toxic 9 is another question. Unlike Infect, Toxic only applies to combat damage, so Flinging a live Monument won't kill anyone. On the other hand, Toxic makes it so you still get nine poison counters, even if the Monument only deals one damage. Giving it trample is powerful, and it's likely to sit around long enough that your opponent's won't be able to stop it by the time it wakes up. As long as they've got at least one poison counter already, which All Will Be One makes easy to accomplish, Monument to Perfection is a lethal attacker. If you feel like Maze's End is too easy these days, consider the Monument in a Vadrok, Apex of Thunder or Tawnos, Solemn Survivor deck.
Soulless Jailer is probably not a card you're super excited about, but it certainly has plenty of applications in Commander. Prosper, Tome-Bound is among the most popular commanders, and Soulless Jailer prevents those players from Cascading through their deck for value. Likewise, it shuts off strategies that rely on Reanimate without affecting commanders like Chainer, Nightmare Adept. And while Soulless Jailer is a creature, and therefore relatively easy to get rid of, I think that could actually be an advantage. Dropping Rest in Peace against a graveyard deck is powerful, but can often take them out of the game entirely. Soulless Jailer is likely to have a similar impact without affecting an opponent's ability to develop their graveyard as they dig for creature removal. It will still buy you time to pull ahead without generating quite as much salt.
The Filigree Sylex
As far as board wipes go, The Filigree Sylex isn't the best one out there. It's also a pretty bad source of damage. But I've been reconsidering Ratchet Bomb-type effects, especially in my decks that don't make tokens. Both of these cards are excellent rattlesnakes, sitting in play threatening to wipe away any and all tokens in play. Especially if Treasures continue to be a popular way to ramp, these cards could be excellent escape buttons, forcing your opponents to lose their Treasures at awkward moments when they can't effectively use the mana. I wouldn't include this everywhere, but it could be something to consider if your local meta features a lot of tokens.
Speaking of tokens, the Mirrex is here to cause problems. A one-time Command Tower may be the best, but it will often be enough to get you out of mana screw. If you can bounce and re-play it, then this is basically a free Mana Confluence. If this stays cheap, it's something I'd consider for budget land bases.
Having the ability to create 1/1 tokens with Toxic 1 is something you won't use as often, but it is an interesting take on Inkmoth Nexus. It has powerful interactions with Doubling Season effects, potentially threatening to overrun the battlefield with Toxic 1/1s. Between Adrix and Nev, Twincasters, Doubling Season, and Parallel Lives, a single Mirrex activation nets you eight Phyrexian Mites. In a deck helmed by Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa, those tokens are also basically unblockable. Make Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist your other Partner, and you get access to all the token-doublers, haste, and a solid gameplan.
Even outside of dedicated token decks, lands that create creatures are worth considering. The Mirrex's mites are great Mutate targets for Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt. Having a reliable source of Toxic creatures that isn't susceptible to most removal will be valuable for any deck built around the mechanic.
The Mycosynth Gardens
The Mycosynth Gardens is the most outright powerful land in the set. Being able to copy any artifact you control is strong, and while artifact decks may not be able to recur lands easily, this lets your Mirran Safehouse also copy your other artifacts. Your ideal targets will have abilities that don't require them to tap, such as Welding Jar, Amulet of Vigor, and Esper Sentinel. This transformation doesn't wear off at end of turn, though, so copying Mana Crypt or Sol Ring is powerful as well. Copying certain Equipment, like Bloodforged Battle-Axe and Commander's Plate, is great for Partners like Akiri, Line-Slinger and Esior, Wardwing Familiar.
Unlike Mirrex, I'd probably only consider The Seedcore in a deck built around the Toxic mechanic. Because Toxic doesn't care about the power of your creatures, unlike Infect, it won't be as impactful as Pendelhaven was in old Infect decks, but it will contribute more to your ability to deal regular damage, thanks to the mirrored buff. That being said, requiring your opponents to have three or more poison counters to activate that buff will likely relegate this card to dedicated poison decks.
When I look at Lux Artillery, I think about how much Arcbound Ravager messed up Modern, and now we also have access to The Ozolith and All Will Be One to make that deck even more lethal. Lux Artillery also works incredibly well in a Ramos, Dragon Engine deck, and we haven't even gotten to the second paragraph of text. Thirty counters sounds like a lot, but dedicated token decks can get there relatively quickly. And again, The Ozolith ensures that a board wipe won't get rid of the counters sitting on your creatures. Ten damage to each opponent every turn is a great backup plan for any go-wide token deck that struggles against Fogs, Ghostly Prisons, and equally large token armies.
I wouldn't expect you to be able to tap Glistening Sphere for three mana very often. If you get someone up to three poison counters, you'd better finish the job quick because they're immediately gunning for you and only you. Glistening Sphere really interests me for its ability to Proliferate whenever it enters play. A deck built around Lux Artillery that can also loop Glistening Sphere a few times will get scary very quickly. Farid, Enterprising Salvager and Daretti, Scrap Savant both like Proliferating counters as well. It could even be useful in a planeswalker deck, ramping you early and putting counters on all your 'walkers later on.
Uncommons & Commons
Unlike previous sets from Mirrodin (Or New Phyrexia, whichever you prefer), we're not getting any cards that deal specifically with +1/+1 counters in All Will Be One. Instead, cards deal with oil counters, and as long as a card has one Ichorplate Golem provides a flat +1/+1 buff. If you're in need of a Phyrexian themed anthem, Ichorplate Golem works, but if you just want to boost your creatures you can do better elsewhere. Ichorplate Golem's power lies in increasing the amount of oil counters a creature starts with, useful for cards like Atraxa's Skitterfang or Archfiend of the Dross: anything that's only useful as long as it's oily.
With Urtet, Remnant of Memnarch coming in this set, I'm expecting an influx of new Myr-focused decks. Using Myr Kinsmith to search for Myr Galvanizer or Iron Myr will be a big part of success for those decks. In more generic artifact decks, this can still find Myr Retriever and Myr Battlesphere, ensuring that it's useful for Daretti, Scrap Savant or the new Farid, Enterprising Salvager.
Which brings us to the end of this artifacts and lands set review. There's a ton to be excited about here, from Sword of Forge and Frontier, which is good in any deck you put it in, to build-arounds, like Lux Artillery and Mirran Safehouse, down to niche support, in Myr Kinsmith. I'm personally looking forward to seeing what's possible with Mirran Safehouse and The Mycosynth Gardens.
What cards are you most excited for? Will they go into existing decks, or have any inspired you to build something new?