Top 10 Standard Cards in New Phyrexia

April 24, 2011 | Posted by Dee

New Phyrexia was recently fully spoiled on MTG Salvation Forums. I play Standard so I checked out the spoiler and tried to figure out the best cards for the format.

Here are my predictions of the top 10 New Phyrexia cards for Standard. The card images come from Draft Magic.

1. Batterskull

If you thought Stoneforge Mystic was powerful, wait until Batterskull becomes legal. Mystic can now get a Baneslayer Angel and put it on the battlefield on turn three at instant speed while avoiding counterspells. Players will have to start playing cheap removal to deal with Mystic or else they will have to deal with uncounterable instant Baneslayer Angels on turn three.

Now you may be thinking, Batterskull is not Baneslayer Angel. Yeah, it might be even better. Baneslayer Angel has flying, first strike, and slightly better power/toughness. But Batterskull dodges removal for three mana, can be fetched by Mystic, and for five mana, can turn your creatures into Baneslayer Angels or better.

And don’t forget the combo with Kor Outfitter. I could easily see a GW Fauna Shaman deck with Mystic and Kor Outfitter. If they deal with your 4/4 vigilant lifelink germ creature, you can get Outfitter and equip Batterskull for free, saving five mana.

There’s also Puresteel Paladin from New Phyrexia.

Puresteel Paladin
Cost: WW
Type: Creature – Human Knight
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: Whenever an Equipment enters the battlefield under your control, you may draw a card.
Metalcraft – As long as you control 3 or more artifacts, each Equipment you control has equip {0}.

This card could create a new equipment/metalcraft deck with Batterskull as one of the main cards.

We’ve never seen a card like Batterskull. It’s a powerful equipment that’s also a game-changing creature with similar stats as Baneslayer Angel. It’s great early and mid game with Mystic and late game it’s a great topdeck. It’s super versatile, which is often a characteristic of top cards.

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2. Lashwrithe

I think black aggro (most likely Vampires) gets a huge boost with this card. Right now the metagame is control and combo heavy, so you don’t mind pay four life to equip for zero mana.

Imagine this on Bloodghast. You pay four life and swing for 6+ each turn while still spending your mana to keep up the pressure with cards like Kalastria Highborn and Gatekeeper of Malakir. Kalastria Highborn is especially good with this card because it allows you to regain the life you lost from equipping for free.

Not only is Lashwrithe a great equipment card, but it gives you a great late game threat. For example, pretend you’re playing Vampires and it’s late in the game. You and your opponent are in topdeck mode. You draw Lashwrithe, cast it with seven Swamps on the battlefield, and suddenly your opponent is facing a huge 7/7 threat.

Let’s say he draws an answer like Go for the Throat or Day of Judgment. He’s still in a tough position because any creature you draw is going to be huge.

Lashwrithe could also be great in mono black control but you have to enough creatures to make it worthwhile. Fortunately, there are quality creatures to choose from like Gatekeeper of Malakir, Vampire Hexmage, Phyrexian Rager, and Phyrexian Crusader.

And don’t forget to add Mimic Vat. With five Swamps, Vat, and Lashwrithe, you get a huge creature every turn with haste.

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3. Beast Within

Beast Within is my sleeper pick for the set. As a Valakut player, I like this card a lot. This is a card that transcends the conventional qualities for a Standard legal card.

Beast Within can hit any permanent. We haven’t had a card like this in ages. Oblivion Ring comes close but it can’t hit lands and you could destroy it, bounce it, or exile it with your own Oblivion Ring so the permanent was not really dealt with.

Also, Beast Within is an instant. That means you can play around counterspells. For example, let’s say you’re playing Valakut in a post-sideboard game. Your opponent casts Jace TMS and passes the turn with two mana open. You can play Beast Within to destroy Jace.

Your opponent has a tough decision. He can counter with Flashfreeze but then that gives you the opportunity to cast Primeval on your turn. But if he doesn’t counter Beast Within, he loses Jace, a key card in the matchup.

Okay, let’s look at some applications. You can destroy…

Planewalkers: Jace TMS, Gideon, Tezzeret, Liliana
Artifacts: Sword of Feast and Famine, Sword of Body and Mind, Tumble Magnet, Everflowing Chalice, Sphere of Suns
Enchantments: Khalni Heart Expedition, Journey to Nowhere, Spreading Seas
Lands: Valakut, Tectonic Edge, manlands
Creatures: Titans, Lotus Cobra, Fauna Shaman, Overgrown Battlement

Now I hear you saying, what about the 3/3? If you’re really concerned about a 3/3, just play Slagstorm :) Some successful Valakut players are already playing Slagstorm main deck. Even if you don’t play Slagstorm, a 3/3 is very easy to deal with once you start casting Primeval Titans and finding Valakuts.

Of course, for such a flexible splashable card, Beast Within will see play in other decks. RUG or BUG ramp, for example, can play this main or sideboard to win Jace wars and to manascrew control decks or decks playing 3 colors.

Basically, if you’re playing green and a lot of fatties like Titans, you should try out this card. 3/3s don’t really affect you if you have big expensive threats. I could even see a Bant control deck with Day of Judgment playing this card. For example, Bant Caw Blade may want Beast Within to win Jace and Sword wars.

[Buy Beast Within on eBay at a low price]

4. Sword of War and Peace

Not much to say about the new Sword, other than “I’m glad it was printed to hose Caw Blade.” With Sword of War and Peace, I think Boros gets a big upgrade because it can now race Caw Blade effectively since this Sword makes your creature virtually unblockable against Caw Blade.

Also, Boros gets a late game threat that can deal with planeswalkers. For example, Gideon is difficult for Boros to deal with but with Sword of War and Peace, you can often take out Gideon with one hit by redirecting the Sword damage to the planeswalker.

Also, you can attack your opponent and still kill Jace as long as your opponent has enough cards in hand.

Boros is not the only deck that gets an increase in value. Other decks like GW Vengevine, Mono White Quest, and GW Quest also gain percentage points against Caw Blade.

Basically any aggro deck that plays Mystic gets a boost against Caw Blade. That’s a good thing because Caw Blade is taking most of the top eight spots in high profile tournaments. Of course, Caw Blade can also make use of this Sword to gain an edge in the mirror.

Also, I could see Thrun, the Last Troll becoming more popular. Thrun seems amazing with this Sword. In my testing, the main thing that kept Thrun from being good was Sword of Feast and Famine, Mystic, and Squadron Hawk. Sword of War and Peace trumps those cards.

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5. Hex Parasite

Trinket Mage gets a new toy to play with and planeswalkers are put on notice.

Once it becomes legal, Hex Parasite will easily become the best Trinket Mage target in Standard. Hex Parasite not only deals with planeswalkers but it becomes a clock at the same time. This is important because decks that rely heavily on planeswalkers tend to be midrange or control.

If you can destroy a planeswalker while dealing extra damage, you have a great shot at beating these decks. These decks struggle against aggressive strategies that are able to also deal with planeswalkers.

I could see Hex Parasite being part of new decks. Hex Parasite’s ability doesn’t require colored mana so the new decks could be any colors as long as blue is involved. You want to play blue because of Trinket Mage.

We’ve already seen UB Control do well with Trinket Mages so that deck could experience a resurgence with the arrival of Hex Parasite.

Finally, not only does this card deal with planeswalkers, it also deals with Tumble Magnet, Everflowing Chalice, Sphere of the Suns, Khalni Heart Expedition, and leveler cards like Joraga Treespeaker.

[Buy Hex Parasite on eBay at a low price]

6. Myr Superion

When I first saw this card, I thought it wouldn’t be that good. But then, I started thinking of creatures that can cast it. Soon, I changed my mind and now I think Myr Superion will see a good amount of play in Standard.

As the mana ramp color, Green is the main color that can take advantage of this giant Myr. Consider a deck like Elves. It has Joraga Treespeaker and Elvish Archdruid.

Lotus Cobra can often produce two mana in one turn as long as you have enough fetchlands. Even if you don’t have a fetchland in hand, many Cobra decks have other mana creatures like Birds of Paradise and Llanowar Elves. I could see Myr Superion being a one-of a Fauna Shaman deck with a lot of mana creatures.

Don’t forget Eldrazi Spawn tokens. Green has a couple good cards that produce these tokens. You can play cards like Growth Spasm, Awakening Zone, Kozilek’s Predator, and Nest Invader to increase the cards in your deck that can pay for Myr Superion.

It’s not just green that can take advantage of Myr Superion. You can play a blue deck with Grand Architect. I can’t think of other blue creatures that produce mana but Architect combos with artifacts and there are artifacts that work well with Myr Superion. Take a look at Semblance Anvil and Prototype Portal.

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7. Phyrexian Obliterator

When Phyrexian Obliterator was first spoiled, the Magic community seemed to overrate it. Now, I think the pendulum has shifted and Obliterator seems to be underrated. While a 5/5 trampler for four mana with a great ability is powerful, players realized there are a lot of ways to deal with it without dealing damage.

For example, you’ve got Go for the Throat, Tumble Magnet, Journey to Nowhere, Condemn, Day of Judgment, Oust, Gideon, Into the Roil, and Gatekeeper of Malakir. Plus, Obliterator doesn’t pass the Jace test and it has a steep casting cost of BBBB.

Still, I think Obliterator will see play because of all the great black discard spells. You’ve got Duress, Inquisition of Kozilek, and even Mind Sludge to protect Obliterator.

Now I’m not a big fan of discard because they are often subpar in aggro matchups. But in these matchups, Obliterator is an awesome defender. Obliterator can stall the board and buy you a lot of time so you can setup a late game offense with Grave Titan and Mimic Vat.

Also, mono black can accelerate Obliterator with Sphere of the Suns. And don’t forget the #2 card on this list, Lashwrithe. Obliterator plus this equipment is insane.

I like Obliterator more in a control or midrange deck rather than an aggro one. You need to play enough discard to protect it. Having a lot of discard spells doesn’t really work well in an aggro deck from my experience. In aggro, you would rather have removal to clear the way for your creatures to finish your opponent quickly.

Finally, just because Obliterator’s cost is BBBB doesn’t mean you can’t play it in a two color deck. Look at the current BR Vampires decks. They play red but all their lands produce black mana. There might be a strong BR or UB deck where Obliterator can find a home.

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8. Birthing Pod

Similar to Fauna Shaman, Birthing Pod could be the tutor engine of a successful deck in Standard. It costs more than Shaman but it has the advantage of being an artifact instead of a creature. Artifacts are generally harder to destroy than creatures.

Also, Birthing Pod is great because it has a lot of flexibility in its casting cost and activation cost. You can play it on turn three and pay two life or you can wait until turn four to play it for four mana and not pay life. For the activation cost, you can pay two mana or one mana and two life.

Having these cost options increases your chance of winning. Early in the game, you can pay life to speed up your offense. Late in the game, you probably have a lot of mana sitting around, so you can elect not to pay life and pay mana instead.

You have to sacrifice a creature to activate Birthing Pod and the creature you search for enters the battlefield instead of going to your hand. Therefore, I think the best creatures to use are creatures with triggered abilities that happen when they enter the battlefield or leave the battlefield.

Standard has a bunch of these creatures so Birthing Pod has a chance to shine. Here’s a sample list of creatures:

Wall of Omens
Stoneforge Mystic
Squadron Hawk
Viridian Emissary
Perilous Myr
Viridian Corrupter
Trinket Mage
Obstinate Baloth
Acidic Slime
Precursor Golem
Wurmcoil Engine

New Phyrexia adds to this list. It has two types of cards with strong abilities that combo with Birthing Pod. First, you’ve got Splicers. Splicers are 1/1 creatures that give you a 3/3 Golem. Here’s Blade Splicer:

Blade Splicer
Cost: 2W
Type: Creature – Human Artificer
Pow/Tgh: 1/1
Rules Text: When Blade Splicer enters the battlefield, put a 3/3 colorless Golem artifact creature token onto the battlefield.
Golem creatures you control have first strike.

Second, there’s the Exarch cycle. Each of the colors has an Exarch card with two abilities to choose from. Here’s the black Exarch:

Entomber Exarch
Cost: 2BB
Type: Creature – Cleric
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: When Entomber Exarch enters the battlefield, choose one – Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand; or target opponent reveals his or her hand, you choose a noncreature card from it, then that player discards that card.

Also, Birthing Pod works well with mana creatures and creatures that come back from the graveyard like Bloodghast and Vengevine.

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9. Karn Liberated

Planeswalkers tend to be much more powerful than the average card. Karn is no exception.

Karn is pretty expensive at seven mana but the cost seems to worth it in the right decks. First, he’s colorless so he can be played in any deck. Second, he can protect himself with his second ability. This ability is crucial because planeswalkers that can’t protect themselves are usually mediocre.

Third, Karn can deal with any permanent so he trumps other planeswalkers. Also, this means he can take out Swords, lands, and virtually any threatening creature.

Fourth, he goes up to 10 loyalty when you use his +4 ability first. That’s a ton of loyalty, which makes him hard to kill with damage. Fifth, his ultimate ability is devastating and it can be activated quickly. Without resistance, two turns after you play Karn, you can activate his ultimate.

Karn should see play in ramp decks and control decks that want the game to go long. Mono Black Control seems like an interesting deck to include Karn. Black tends to have problems with planeswalkers and Karn deals with them pretty easily.

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10. Mutagenic Growth

Finally, we have Mutagenic Growth. I see this pump spell giving a huge boost to the infect strategy.

There’s a 1/1 infect creature for only one mana in New Phyrexia.

Glistener Elf
Cost: G
Type: Creature – Elf Warrior
Pow/Tgh: 1/1
Rules Text: Infect

You can play this guy on turn one. On turn two, you can deal a ton of damage with multiple pump spells. Mutagenic Growth doesn’t require mana to be cast so you can tap out for Vines of Vastwood or two Giant Growths. Groundswell + Giant Growth + Mutagenic Growth is a turn two kill.

Or you can just advance your offense with a two-drop like Necropede or Ichorclaw Myr and still be able to pump your 1/1.

If you draw multiples of Mutagenic Growth, that puts your opponent in a tough spot because it’s hard to play against multiple pump spells that don’t cost any mana.

Infect will love this spell because +2/+2 is basically +4/+4 on an infect creature. You definitely don’t mind paying two life to deal two poison counters.

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