Hello friends, and welcome back to Cardsphere. We’ve got a new set coming out, and that means it’s time to dig in and review it! Phyrexia: All Will Be One gives us a nice mix of old and new, nostalgia and futurism, and also amps up the stakes in the Phyrexian story while continuing the game’s recent focus on artifacts. So let’s take a look at all of the themes, mechanics, and characters to see what makes this set an oiled up beast. And then I’ll give you my list of the “10” best cards for Commander, as well as overall thoughts on the set.
All Will Be Pun
With Phyrexia: All Will Be One, poison counters are back in a big way. But we’ve replaced Infect with the new Toxic ability. Creatures with Toxic will deliver poison counters equal to their Toxic value, rather than the amount of damage dealt, and they only give the counters when they damage a player in combat. This fixes a lot of the power issues that Infect has, even if it doesn’t remove Infect from the Commander format. Plenty of veterans can tell you stories about
Nekusar, the Mindrazer being enchanted by
Corrupted Conscience, or how a sneaky
Tainted Strike ended a game unexpectedly. Toxic is much more fair, and much more fun, than Infect (come at me, bro).
The set also introduces Corrupted, an ability that becomes active when opponents have three or more poison counters. What the Corrupted card does is varied; some are triggered abilities, some static, and some activated. While it can be a bit of a hurdle, they're all significant once you get to that three-counter mark.
We’re also seeing a token archetype on both sides of the Phyrexian battle. The Phyrexians are making Mite tokens, which are all 1/1s with Toxic 1 that can’t block, and the other side is making 2/2 Rebel tokens that come in attached to equipment with the For Mirrodin! mechanic.
But the most important thing the set is doing is bringing back Proliferate, which is huge for Commander. Counters are a big part of our format, whether it’s +1/+1s, charge, experience, or even poison. Proliferate has always been a boon in these types of decks, and now with the mechanic’s card pool nearly doubled, we should expect to see counters happening even more.
The Eleshant in the Room
Toxic may be a significantly powered down version of Infect, but don’t take that to mean that this set isn’t strong. All Will Be One has an abundance of powerful cards that are going to dominate, not just Commander, but potentially all formats. In fact, one card is so powerful that the Commander Rules Committee (“RC”) felt the need to comment on it as soon as it was revealed. And that card is
Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines.
A combination of
Panharmonicon for us and
Torpor Orb for our opponents, this new variant of Norn is so strong that many fear it will lead to bad things for the format. Sheldon Menery, the “godfather” of Commander and head of the RC, even said that the card is “too generically good” and pleaded with Wizards to “Please never print this card” (Wizards apparently asks the RC for input during card design). Clearly, they didn’t listen. Nevertheless, it didn’t warrant a day zero ban like we saw with
Lutri, the Spellchaser, but the RC is keeping their eye on it.
Alright, let’s get to the reason you’re here. It’s time for my top 10 cards for Commander from Phyrexia: All Will Be One.
This last spot was the most difficult to pick. There were several cards vying for it, including
Encroaching Mycosynth, and
Sword of Forge and Frontier. All excellent cards. But I picked
Norn’s Wellspring over these for a few reasons. First, none of the cards are new effects. Encroaching Mycosynth is just an updated
Mycosynth Lattice, after all. But the Wellspring offers white significant and easily obtainable card advantage, which means it’s more needed than the other cards. We’ve seen white catching up quite a bit in the last couple years in terms of card draw, and this seems like icing on that long overdue cake. If all it did was draw cards by removing two oil counters, it wouldn’t be on this list. But the scry effect for creature deaths is so good for both aristocrats and token decks that it earns this spot on the list.
Like Norn’s Wellspring, our number 9 isn’t here because it’s terribly powerful; it’s here because it’s terribly useful. If all
Cankerbloom did was blow up an artifact or enchantment, something you’ll have no trouble finding on green creatures, I wouldn’t give it a second glance. But because it can also Proliferate, its versatility skyrockets. This easily edges the classic
Reclamation Sage out of playability.
Vraska, Betrayal’s Sting
One of five planeswalkers in the set to be “compleated,”
Vraska, Betrayal’s Sting is doing what Liliana usually does: being an immensely powerful black planeswalker. She has no plus ability, so at first you might think she has no way to hit her ultimate. But look closely at her 0 ability to see that all-important word: Proliferate. But it’s her -2 ability that excites me the most. It deals with any creature that doesn’t have hexproof or protection. And she can do it at least 2 turns in a row. Then of course there’s that ultimate, which is practically an instant kill for one player. She’s card draw, she’s removal, she’s a win con. She’s awesome.
All Will Be One
Hey, that’s the set’s name! So this silly card is going to be winning a lot of Commander games. That’s my NostraZupkus prediction. Whether it’s being combined with cards like
The Red Terror or
Quest for Pure Flame, or used a bit more fairly with commanders like
Kalamax, the Stormsire or
Kresh the Bloodbraided,
All Will Be One should be a kill-on-sight card.
Hey guess what. Mutate decks just got an alternate win condition. So did aura decks. And
Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief. Any green deck where you’re consistently targeting your own creatures should be running
Conduit of Worlds
Alright, this is nothing new.
Crucible of Worlds has been around for almost 20 years. So why’s
Conduit of Worlds on this list? Well, it’s on here because Crucible is an amazing Magic card, and this just happens to be better. Got nothing good in your hand to cast? Check your graveyard! If you’re dumping lands in there, there’s a good chance you’ve got other permanents in there as well. In fact, the only reason you wouldn’t run this over Crucible (yes, I know, por que no los dos) is because you’re not in green. But let’s real, how many decks run Crucible of Worlds that aren’t green? The one extra mana in its cost is insignificant when you consider the extra card advantage.
Planeswalker decks, or “Super-Friends” as we usually call them, aren’t nearly the most popular strategy in Commander. But with all of the new Proliferate cards entering the pool with this set, I expect to see them showing up a whole lot more. And
Ichormoon Gauntlet is coming along for the ride. Now let’s keep in mind, while the leading text on this card is all about planeswalkers, we can’t ignore that second half. There are plenty of counters decks that will make good use of this.
3. The Twilight Saga
No, I’m not talking about vampires (Team Edward 4 Lyfe). I’m talking about the Sun’s Twilight cards in each color. So why am I cheating and putting all of them as one spot on a Top 10 list? Because they’re all really freaking good. And it’s my list, so I’ll do what I want.
Black Sun’s Twilight can kill a creature and bring one of yours back from the grave. At instant speed!
Red Sun’s Twilight can blow up all the mana rocks, force your opponents to use up their treasures, or just get rid of a threat or two. And
White Sun’s Twilight can give you a ton of tokens while also wiping the board. There’s so much versatility and power here, and all five colors are worth adding to your decks.
Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines
Hey, it’s that card that people are talking about banning. Surprised it’s on here? Of course not, the card’s a monster. And you’re a monster if you play it. Kidding! I’m kidding. I honestly don’t think it’s that serious. I do, however, think it can lead to unfun games for people, which I believe was demonstrated on Game Knights. It’s an amazingly powerful card. Use it wisely.
1. The Dominus Cycle
Look at me, cheating again. Yes, the top spot is taken up by five cards from a cycle of legends that are all immensely powerful.
Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus doubles your Proliferate triggers.
Drivnod, Carnage Dominus gives you an extra
Teysa Karlov effect.
Zopandrel, Hunger Dominus doubles your creatures’ power and toughness at each combat. All five of the Dominus legends do things that their colors greatly value, and they all have the ability to protect themselves. The only question is if these will find popularity in the command zone, or just as staples for the 99. To soon to tell.
Overall, I’d say Phyrexia: All Will Be One feels a bit pushed. The power level of the Dominus and Twilight cycles, matched with the speed boost games will get from an increased presence of poison counters, means that this set is going to have a huge impact on Commander. But even without poison, even without Elesh Norn, the set will be important to our format for this reason: Proliferate. Before this set we had 40 cards that could Proliferate, now there will be 74. So we’ve nearly doubled the card pool, which means a lot more counters being added in a format already feeling an abundance of counters.
Honestly, I’m a little worried about the set. It is very strong. Also, I’m not a huge fan of poison, and don’t exactly want to see it overrun the format. But with the rate that they’re releasing sets these days, the popularity of poison will surely wane within a few months. That new Norn though…
And while I couldn’t list all the cards here that I’m a fan of (no one wants a Top 30 list?), there’s still plenty to talk about in this set. That includes some really fun and quirky new legends that can be brewed into some exciting Commander decks. Legends like
Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut who turns all your creatures into 5/3
Juggernauts, or the new variant of everyone’s favorite Phyrexian Angel,
Atraxa, Grand Unifier, which gives us a
Niv-Mizzet Reborn effect that looks at cards types instead of colors. Or head-scratchers like
Skrelv, Defector Mite or
Geth, Thane of Contracts. These legends get my brewing brain going, so expect to see another deck tech in the not-distant future.
That’s it for my review of Phyrexia: All Will Be One. What do you think? Is the set as powerful as I think it is, or will the masses forget about it and move on as soon as the new Paw Patrol Secret Lair comes out? Come find me on Twitter and let me know what you think. You can also catch me making budget content with the Scrap Trawlers on Twitch and YouTube. Until next time, take care. And play lots of games!