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Commander Compleated


I’m in a holding pattern for some significant art news, I’ll be honest, and I have had this new commander on my mind and it’s for the 80th example of all Planeswalker or “superfriends” decks. Such no.

Instead, I have an itch.

We did a flavorful deck-building series not long ago called “Ironroot Chef” and I miss building decks quite a bit. While the Vintage Artist Constructed deck-building is still wild-west in terms of nothing to build from, flavorfully, we have a structure, it just needs to be fleshed out. With a Phyrexian creature this impressive from Victor Adame Minguez, a new deck is on the must build list.

Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice by Victor Adame Minguez

So, here is the list, but you’ll notice, they aren’t all that much on flavorful theme. There is a falconer in there? Huh? Ok, let’s see the base list:

Breed Lethality ? Commander | Wizards of the Coast

Yeah that isn’t going to work.

Let’s go through each choice, on how we can make it more Phyrexian feeling and then see where we end up. I’m guessing we’ll push for an infect theme, as nothing is more compleat than that. (To “compleat” something or someone is the verb Phyrexians use transform, as a fully “compleated,” well, creature, is now a horror.”) You can see some of it with slight modifications below:

Let’s go through each choice, see what a Phyrexian swap could be and dig into it.

1 Thrummingbird -> Flesh-Eater Imp

Thrummingbird is a bit redundant with the commander itself having proliferate. Also, the bird can’t block at all. I need a way to hit and be able to start the process of proliferation, without evasion, it’ll never connect.

1 Festercreep -> Viral Drake

A marquee card in the original build changes to a constant poison proliferator in Viral Drake. You just need to connect once to start proliferating, but you need to hit first with a flyer.

1 Scavenging Ooze -> Blighted Agent

I love the ooze, but I love unblockable infect creatures more.

1 Abzan Falconer -> Viridian Corrupter

I need value in creatures and flying doesn’t kill a Sol Ring. Add in an infect ability and it’s perfect.

1 Tuskguard Captain -> Phyrexian Metamorph

Metamorph gets me out of a bind when something silly strong hits the board and just as the Phyrexians adapt to the strongest thing, compleating it in time, this card is a must include for this deck.

1 Necroplasm -> Necrotic Ooze

It’s so close to being one of the most flavorful Phyrexian cards that doesn’t feel that Phyrexian! Necrotic Ooze is just a bomb in commander and one of the things still on Mirrodin that *can’t* be compleated. I’m sure they tried though!

1 Champion of Lambholt -> Phyrexian Crusader

I love the champion, but the counters aren’t needed and a champion amongst the Phyrexians cannot be omitted.

1 Vorel of the Hull Clade -> Ichor Rats

Dealing effectively four damage to each opponent is pretty marginal, but we do need another infect creature. (As poison counters don’t change in commander, it’s still only ten to defeat (or compleat) them.)

1 Custodi Soulbinders -> Shattered Angel

A 3/3 flyer isn’t a real threat, but gaining nine life before I take my next turn is no joke. Phyrexians outlast you. It’s almost a full concept image to reality, as we can see:

IMage via zhurnal.lib.ru

1 Forgotten Ancient -> Phyrexian Ingester

It gets big quick. It’s also a gigantic target. We need a more subtle threat and while this card is nearly free, it’s effect is no joke when it exiles an Eldrazi.

1 Bane of the Living -> Hand of the Praetors

Bane is stellar, but the hand is a perfect compliment that adds poison counters just for playing card!

1 Corpsejack Menace -> Phyrexian Infiltrator

Get that fungus out of here. We want metal, not mushrooms. Adding a control Magic on a stick is a card I’ve been wanting to cram into a commander deck for a while and haven’t found a good flavorful U/B deck yet. A full Phyrexian build is now perfect for it.

1 Fathom Mage - > Tanglewalker

This is a sleeper pick. Tons of people play Darksteel Citadel in their ninety-nine. It’s flavorful, an early example of the subtle effects of phyresis and the effect is gigantic, to the point of being windmill slammable.

1 Master Biomancer -> Plague Stinger

I own the art to this card, I always try to play BUG infect because of it, though it’s just not as strong in modern. This is your way to hit an opponent one time, then proliferate for the win. This deck is not fast. Just like the phyresis process, it takes time. Also, were it too fast, you’d be killed immediately due to the threat. You need to be picking away at people, and folks be ok with that.

1 Elite Scaleguard -> Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

One is a mythic uncommon that ended games in limited and the other is a general by itself. Either way, they’re marquee cards of their deck. I like more infect to hit harder.

1 Ghave, Guru of Spores -> Brutalizer Exarch

It’s a little more expensive, sure but the two modes are invaluable. I’ve tutored for this card so many times in other decks. Getting rid of a Planeswalker is no joke, though flavorfully, he just deals with “things” which includes them too!

1 Reveillark -> Corpse Cur

I need recursion in the deck, and this slot is a straight trade, with a threat to get another infect creature back. Inevitably, no one will allow two infect creatures to stay alive long.

1 Kalonian Hydra -> Spinebiter

That is our clock, this little beast. I’d like to think of it as a good dog, Brent.

1 Vulturous Zombie - > Phyrexian Delver

A 5-drop upgrade to flavor with huge upside is tough. While the Vulture Zombie is wicked strong, the counters theme has to go.

1 Juniper Order Ranger -> Chancellor of the Annex

Constant Mana Tithe vs. you opponents? They’ll learn quickly why Elesh Norn become the top praetor.

1 Enduring Scalelord -> Consecrated Sphinx

The best sphinx doesn’t win by itself, but it sure puts focus on itself instead of your infect creatures, no question there.

1 Orzhov Advokist -> Viridian Emissary

The deck needs mana fixing and this little 2/1 can help me in that regard. It won’t help the proliferate theme, but it’s still a fun card art.

1 Reyhan, Last of the Abzan -> Geth, Lord of the Vault

Geth’s fate is still unknown. He was phyrexianized, compleated and he still lives in the Spine of Ish Sah. The next turn he’s in play, he can stabilize board presence by stealing two 2-drops from opponent graveyards. By having other blockers, it frees up your infect creatures to attack. You’d be looking for cheap flyers after a wrath.

1 Crystalline Crawler -> Batterskull

I like mana, sure, this deck sure needs it. But were I to omit Batterskull, a cube staple, it’d be hard to justify. It’s not like we’re auto adding all praetor’s in!

1 Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker - > Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

The main praetor, she who landed atop victorious, is the only inclusion as praetor.

1 Deepglow Skate -> Phyrexian Reclamation

While awesome, this doesn’t double poison counters on players, only creatures. Instead, with the creatures being a little weaker than normal, having a flavorful way to hit recursion is paramount. Two life is totally worth it in a Commander game to get a creature back that can add poison counters on casting!

1 Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper -> Phyrexian Swarmlord

The SnackTime preview card is expensive, is Tarkir, and doesn’t fit the theme. Adding a strong Phyrexian Swarmlord as threat and infect generator is a perfect swap. Notice it says one for each poison counter your opponents have. You could have double digit infect creatures late game with this card!

1 Languish -> Phyrexian Rebirth

I need a board sweeper and while it’s more expensive, it does kill them all dead. It also adds some upside for the two extra mana.

1 Tezzeret's Gambit -> Keep

It’s flavorful from a point in time and hits the theme perfectly of always proliferating.

1 Merciless Eviction -> Triumph of the Hordes

Killing everything makes no sense. Killing one opponent in a turn does make sense.

1 Spitting Image -> Spread the Sickness

Having another guy is great. Killing their largest, and helping the infect clock are a stellar addition. Five-mana is nothing to worry about.

1 Duneblast -> Life's Finale

Mercy? From a wrath effect? Urabrask isn’t in this deck, Phyrexian mercy isn’t something made by this angel. Nope.

1 Treasure Cruise -> Vivisection

I need card draw but there are no cruises on New Phyrexia, much less ones filled with Super Mario levels of treasure. Keep it flavorful.

1 Migratory Route - > Rout

Another wrath? Sure, sounds great.

1 Manifold Insights -> Caress of Phyrexia

I like drawing cards. I also like knocking out an opponent when they get out of hand. A two-for-one is always something I’m interested in.

1 Disdainful Stroke -> Fuel for the Cause

An infect counterspell? Add offense to defense!

1 Solidarity of Heroes -> Tainted Strike

I don’t want to slowly boost my team, I want random, unpredictable kills, just like Tainted Strike and Phyrexia could offer. While using Tainted Strike on an opponent is the only way this card is strong, it can also save you if you’re getting hit for 8 by moving it to infect damage.

1 Inspiring Call ->Aether Snap

Planeswalkers are not welcome on anything Phyrexia. Write that down.

1 Grip of Phyresis -> Keep in!

This card is so good! Take their best equipment? Of course I want that!

1 Mortify -> Creeping Corrosion

I don’t want to deal with artifacts unless I have to, like helpful group hug ones.

1 Putrefy -> Corrupted Resolve

Adding in another counterspell, because why not.

1 Mirrorweave -> Pistus Strike

1 Sublime Exhalation -> Virulent Wound

Both of these spot removal spells net you a poison counter for the opponent. Neither is very strong, sure, but when you need a Mother of Runes or a 1/1 commander removed and you don’t want to waste one of your wraths, it might not be Swords to Plowshares, but it surely gets the job done.

1 Ancient Excavation -> Decimator Web

Once it goes live, this could be two poison counters a turn. Absurdly strong in the deck.

1 Sol Ring -> Coldsteel Heart

I would prefer to not play the auto-include in every deck, as with infect, it makes no sense and allows for too fast of wins. After reading the flavor text, I had to include this.

1 Fellwar Stone -> Phyrexian Lens

Getting mana for free? You don’t understand Phyrexia do you? Gotta pay something to ease mana costs.

1 Golgari Signet -> Mycosynth Wellspring

We need mana and we need it badly. Adding a flavorful way to get a basic land feels right.

1 Orzhov Signet -> Sphere of the Suns

With proliferate on the commander, I doubt I’ll struggle with this card at all. Seems like a straight solid Fellwar Stone, except with a hoop to jump through. This is a minor trick of the deck, getting lasting value out of something you would think would run out. In non flavorful builds, the vivid lands would be fantastic with this commander.

1 Simic Signet -> Plague Myr

I’d prefer a more natural mana ramp option, and it gets me another way to attack.

1 Commander's Sphere -> Caged Sun

How much more Mirrodin, ie, now Phyrexia, can you get other than the sun? They’ve found a way to win the plane, soon the skies and then finally, a way off the plane of course.

1 Darksteel Ingot -> Altar of Shadows

I don’t need mana right away, but I will need a ton late game with proliferate. Adding a way to remove creatures at the same time is a perfect Mirrodin addition. Additionally, proliferating this means 2 mana a turn, and ticking up every turn opponents let it last, which they have to remove.

1 Cauldron of Souls -> Contagion Clasp

While persist is an incredible mechanic, it’s not Phyrexian. Instead of that artifact, I like the ability to proliferate on command, slowly killing a creature and player.

1 Astral Cornucopia -> Sword of Feast and Famine

I’d prefer a flavorful way to ramp mana that also has Phyrexian art, justified for the deck. There’s

1 Hardened Scales - > Norn's Annex

Since Elesh Norn is believed to have “won” as the lead Phyrexian praetor on Mirrodin, now New Phyrexia, it makes sense to showcase the deck as having her location being prominent.

1 Brave the Sands -> Corrupted Conscience

I’d rather have their best creature than marginally improve my own creatures.

1 Bred for the Hunt -> Evil Presence

I don’t need +1/+1 counters, but I need a Phyrexian answer to Maze of Ith or Cabal Coffers. There is no way a Phyrexian Praetor would like a land that strong to still exist.

1 Citadel Siege -> Inexorable Tide

I love clocks, and while Citadel Siege must be dealt with immediately, the ‘tide is more subtle. When you can proliferate twice each turn, it’ll take just one turn for people to realize how strong it is in this deck to increase pressure.

1 Cathars' Crusade -> Phyrexian Arena

The arena has to be added and while making each infect creature effectively +2/0 for attacking, due to infect, drawing two cards a turn is a tier one inclusion. And per flavor perfection, the new art has to be used by Svetlin Velinov!

1 Duelist's Heritage -> Contagion Engine

Double, if not triple proliferate the turn after playing this? That’s an absurd wait for an opponent to have an answer with artifact removal or they just lose. Nice token deck you got there. It’d be a shame if someone, wiped them.

1 Command Tower -> Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

It’s a good card for commanders, but let’s pay homage to the Phyrexian former president and CEO, Mr Yawgmoth himself.

1 Darkwater Catacombs -> Keep

Check out the flavor text! It’s a past Phyrexian influenced land!

1 Evolving Wilds -> Blinkmoth Well

Flavorfully, of course the blinkmoth wells are still there! This deck just needs a little utility here or there for improvement.

1 Exotic Orchard -> Phyrexian Tower

They would never rely on an opponent for mana, c’mon now. They take and then take more mana, unless you have something to sacrifice of course. This card is wicked expensive because of its age, effect and being on the reserve list.

1 Arcane Sanctum -> Ancient Den

1 Murmuring Bosk -> Darksteel Citadel

1 Opulent Palace -> Seat of the Synod

1 Sandsteppe Citadel -> Tree of Tales

1 Seaside Citadel -> Vault of Whispers

1 Azorius Chancery -> Seachrome Coast

1 Underground River -> Darkslick Shores

1 Sungrass Prairie -> Razorverge Thicket

Locations are important. The Mirrodin specific artifact lands have to be also included, they’re iconic sites on New Phyrexia now, complete with tourists and everything!

1 Temple of the False God -> Inkmoth Nexus

2 mana is great! Infect creatures that double as lands are even better!

1 Terramorphic Expanse -> Mirrodin's Core

Mana Fixing is great and it’s needed, but adding proliferate makes it able to tap for anything after only one charge counter is made.

Moving these to basic lands, they aren’t flavorful to Phyrexian. There isn’t ash there, no ships exist, nor are there farms, palaces or reefs. Basic lands will do the job for these.

I’m partial to these basics

  • Island #235 from Scars of Mirrodin. It shows the artifact land, Seat of the Synod in the background.
  • Swamp #240 from Scars of Mirrodin because it shows the Vault of Whispers in the background, which you can see below.
  • Forest #248 from Scars of Mirrodin. The fifth sun, the green sun, which was a major storyline moment back in the Mirrodin novels is visible in the background.
  • Plains #289 from Mirrodin. The original concept for Mirrodin was a lot more colorful than the metallic world we’re used to with the hexagonal plates. Martina’s land is the closest to the original concept.

  • 5 Plains
  • 5 Island
  • 9 Swamp
  • 7 Forest

I threw it into TappedOut because I like play-testing a few hands and here it is: Infect Cmdr

I Am Compleat ? Commander | Mike Linnemann

Cost of the deck: < $200 + cost of the precon = $230

I definitely recommend using Cool Stuff Inc’s deck-builder tool because it really allows you to compare 1:1 on costs of cards, keeping costs down. It’s especially helpful when you need to pick the exact artwork of Phyrexia compared to some random older unrelated artwork. That and sometimes a slightly played card for $1 off is the real deal.

The total upgrade from base deck to fully compleated Phyrexian deck are a hair under $200 and really impacted by these cards: Batterskull, Consecrated Sphinx, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Sword of Feast and Famine, Phyrexian Tower. These five cards make up nearly $100, or half the deck. If you want to go in slower in building it and clearly cheaper, adding Phyrexian Splicer, Priests of Norn, Lost Leonin, Soul of New Phyrexia, and Phyrexian Processor as placeholders will definitely cost the cost of the deck in half! That’s what I would probably do, as the $.25 cards can easily be had by friends who played during the Scars of Mirrodin block. It’s probably in their bulk, just ask them!

Next week, we talk more art!

— Mike

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