One of the great enjoyments from the third set in any block is seeing how they mechanically represent the end of the line. Unlike the first set, where the introduced main mechanics can be fleshed out as the block goes on, the ones in the last set are assigned to have a rather more limited shelf-life. When exalted and unearth were launched with Shards of Alara, you got to see how they were tweaked in Conflux. Not so for Alara Reborn’s cascade– there, what you saw was what you got, and barring a future revisit of the mechanic, that was all you were getting.
Scars of Mirrodin brought a new crop of mechanics to the fold. Metalcraft loomed large early on, but has faded with the declining fortunes of the Mirrans. Meanwhile, infect– one of the Phyrexian’s mechanics- has been added to, layer upon layer throughout all three sets. As they say, to the victors go the spoils, and the new mechanic for New Phyrexia is very Phyrexian in both flavour and function: Phyrexian mana.
Being invited for guest-meddling, I decided to look into the MBS deck that seems most appealing to me: Doom Inevitable. Although I’d rather get my after work drink with the Mirrans than the Phyrexians, the subtlety and wit with which they are pursuing their goals – though we already know the outcome – hint at a long-term master plan that needs to be admired.
For today’s epic matchup, Jimi selected Feast of Flesh to challenge my Devouring Skies. Feast is one of the most removal-packed decks in recent memory, though as we saw in our playtest of the deck its selection is a bit erratic and conditional, applying a bit of an artificial choke on the deck’s power. Still, there was more than enough killpower to give the creature-focused Devouring Skies a run for its money. Here is the writeup from the customary trio of games we played.
Typically, equipment-based theme decks have embraced a weenie/swarm strategy (usually White), looking to overwhelm your opponent early and using equipment to keep your little critters viable even when larger bodies start to come down in the midgame. Mirrodin’s Little Bashers was precisely this sort of deck, built with creatures that optimised when they were equipped. We saw the archetype rear its head again in Zendikar, with Kor Armory. And now with Devouring Skies, we return to the concept- but with a very distinct twist. Rather then going through our enemies… we’re going over them. As the name suggests, this isn’t a weenie deck- it’s a skies one.
What, that’s not enough of a twist for you?
The next in our shiny and new theme decks to test run, Artful Destruction is a tribally-themed construction with an Allies/Slivers-style twist. For the opposition, we have Jimi, who has selected the Phyrexian-mana-based deck Life for Death. Her deck promises speed in exchange for life… mine power in exchange for time. Which model will emerge victorious? Let’s find out…
Our next stop on our tour of New Phyrexia will immerse you in histories new and old, in particular the story of an entire class of creature that has long inhabited Mirrodin, and is now coming to the fore: the Golem. It’s fairly-well known that Mirrodin was once known as Argentum (see: Argentum Armor) and created by Karn, the Silver Golem. Karn was a part of the Legacy Weapon that destroyed the original Phyrexia. Unfortunately, during the course of the struggle against Phyrexia he had become unknowingly contaminated with Phyrexian oil, and when he created his artificial plane, the oil trailed behind him.
To safeguard and administer Argentum while he traveled the multiverse, Karn created a golem by the name of Memnarch. Memnarch became aware of a certain corrosion that was making itself apparent- a fungal contagion known as mycosynth (see: Mycosynth Lattice, Decimator Web) which converted metal into organic flesh. Memnarch couldn’t know it at the time, but the mycosynth was a byproduct of the Phyrexian oil. Recognising a threat, Memnarch created a group of golems (the Ur-Golems) to help stop the spread of the mycosyth. Ultimately unsuccessful, the Ur-Golems were dismantled by Memnarch (all save for Bosh, Iron Golem, who disappeared into the Dross).
Finally, our first games with the New Phyrexia decks are underway, and we’re all looking forward to seeing how they hold up on the field. In many ways, the decks of the third set in a block tend to be some of the most interesting ones, if only because the designers have a full three sets of cards (plus a Core Set) to pick from. Strategies that might not have been as sustainable in the first go-round now have the tools they need in the third. And frankly, we’re all pretty excited about New Phyrexia in a way we haven’t been with Scars or Besieged- it just looks like a fantastic set.
And so to break in our opening matchup, Sam joined me at the table with Ravaging Swarm, a Simic-style construction that combines infect and proliferate to deadly effect. Would she be able to poison her way to victory? Or would the abundant removal in Feast of Flesh give her critters fits? There’s only one way to find out, and here are the notes from the matchup.
New Phyrexia is nearly upon us, and what better way to ring in the new set than to give away an Intro Pack to one of the excited precon community. That’s right, it’s another comment contest!
Here’s how it works:
Three days after we have posted reviews of all five of the New Phyrexia intro decks (Thursday, 26 May), we’ll tally up the comments left by everyone for each of the five decks. Comments on both the playtest and the review count, and you can post any number of times! (As always, posts must be at least reasonably substantive to count- “cool deck, kthnxbai!” won’t count).
Whichever deck has generated the most comments (between both halves of the review) will be the one that we will be giving away. To determine the winner, we’ll select one commenter at random who posted about that particular deck. (For instance, if Feast of Flesh got the most comments, one random commenter from the Feast of Flesh reviews will be selected to win- that’s right- Feast of Flesh).
You may want to be sure to leave a comment on each of the five decks to ensure you are in the drawing for whatever deck we end up giving away, but of course the amount of comments you leave is entirely up to you- as many or as few as you like!
We hope you’ll enjoy the New Phyrexia reviews as much as we’ll enjoy crafting them, and hey- a shot at a free Intro Pack is always a plus!
And so it has come to this. After months of secrecy and veiled ambiguity, we were finally told that in the fateful war for the very world of Mirrodin, the Phyrexians had prevailed. If the first half of Operation: Slow-Roll was a resounding success, it tragically ended with more of a whimper than a bang- a group of French players abused the trust of Wizards of the Coast, and the entire set was leaked right before the start of the official spoiler season.
This was sad news. As it happens, though, there is one heck of an upside- New Phyrexia is a very flashy set and worthy end to the saga that has unfolded since last October. In addition to fleshing out the current crop of mechanics, it added new innovations like Phyrexian mana to the mix, as well as cycles of very strong cards and a slew of epic legends. Of course, after taking everything in, our question is a simple one: how do the intro decks stand up?
In case you missed it, the deck lists for the upcoming New Phyrexia intro packs has been officially confirmed on the mothership. A significant change that’s been noticed already is that both rares in the pack don’t necessarily come from New Phyrexia- SOM cards like Precursor Golem and Argentum Armor have found themselves a place in the new decks. Check it out!