Phyrexia: All Will Be One is shaping up to be a very impactful set. We’ve seen some very strong mythic rare cards, a highly contentious counterspell, and a plethora of powerful planeswalkers. With all of the power this set contains, it can be difficult to focus on the discourse around individual cards. One card from the set is drawing attention as a powerful aggressive threat, with the potential to be playable across multiple formats. MTG Aggro decks are certainly getting a new threat here.
The Dominus Cycle
The card in question comes from the “Dominus cycle”, a set of five mono-color legendary Phyrexian Horrors with exceedingly powerful effects. Every card in the cycle can make itself indestructible at the cost of some Phyrexian mana and doing something negative to yourself: such as sacrificing creatures, or discarding cards.
All of the cards in the cycle have an effect that causes something to double. Mondrak, Glory Dominus doubles the number of tokens you create, making it an Anointed Procession with a 4/4 body. Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus doubles all of your proliferate triggers, making it a powerful option in counter focussed decks. Drivnod, Carnage Dominus causes death triggers to activate an additional time, moving Teysa Karlov’s ability into monoblack. Zopandrel, Hunger Dominus doubles the power and toughness of your creatures on your turn, calling back to Unnatural Growth from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt.
Although all of the cards from this cycle have generated quite a lot of hype and discussion, perhaps none have gotten the community quite as riled up as the cycle’s Red card. Solphim, Mayhem Dominus.
Solphim, Mayhem Dominus
For four mana, Solphim, Mayhem Dominus is a 5/4, a fantastic stat line for the cost. Solphim doubles the amount of noncombat damage you deal to opponents and the cards they control. This is an exceedingly powerful effect. Although damage-increasing effects in Red are nothing new, Solphim offers something that few other cards can compete with, due to its immensely threatening stats in conjunction with its ability.
Like the other cards in its cycle, Solphim can become indestructible. You need to discard two cards and pay three mana, two of which are Phyrexian Red, to give Solphim an indestructible counter. This makes Solphim a poor choice for opponents to target with a removal effect like Infernal Grasp. Solphim’s indestructibility effect can be activated at instant speed, meaning that so long as its controller has at least two cards in hand, five life, and one mana open it can always protect itself. The threat of activation of this ability means that its downsides don’t always need to come into effect to keep Solphim safe. Without the ability to reliably kill Solphim in combat, or use most removal effects, opponents are forced to rely on cards that can exile or force sacrifices to destroy the dominus.
One of the best ways to emphasize Solphim’s power is to compare it to other cards which occupy a similar niche. In Standard, many mono-Red aggro decks currently run the card Mechanized Warfare. For three mana, Mechanized Warfare is an enchantment that increases the amount of damage dealt by all of its controller’s Red and Artifact sources by one. Although Solphim is one mana more expensive, it offers significantly more power than Mechanized Warfare. Solphim’s 5/4 stat line puts significant pressure on the opponent, alongside its effect. While Mechanized Warfare only buffs Lightning Strikes and Play With Fires into four and three damage spells respectively, Solphim ups their output to six and four damage. Although, being an enchantment, it would normally be harder to remove Mechanized Warfare than Solphim, Solphim’s ability to become indestructible grants it a significant degree of protection. Whether Solphim will outright replace Mechanized Warfare or will end up being played alongside it remains to be seen.
Solphim may also have prospects in Pioneer. Pioneer has a wider pool of damaging Red spells than Standard does, so Solphim has more tools to work with. Skewer the Critics, Viashino Pyromancer, and Wizard’s Lightning all becoming very intimidating with Solphin in play.
It may be harder for Solphim to see play in Modern. Modern decks typically have a lower mana curve than Standard and Pioneer decks. Four mana value cards are rarely seen, especially in aggressive decks. In addition, the presence of Path to Exile a one mana exile effect that skirts around Solphim’s indestructibility also presents a challenge.
Solphim in Commander
Commander players are very excited to start brewing with Solphim. The huge pool of cards available in the format means that there are many devastating spells that can have their power doubled by Solphim’s effect. X spells like Jaya’s Immolating Inferno, Coment Storm, and Crackle With Power offer a fantastic rate when their damage output is doubled. Damage-dealing planeswalkers like Chandra, Awakened Inferno, and Chandra, Fire Artisan become significantly more threatening.
Although some want to put Solphim in the command zone, the card also has great potential for supporting other commanders. Toralf, God of Fury’s ability to deal excess non-combat damage to new targets is enhanced significantly by Solphim. Zevlor, Elturel Exile’s ability to copy your spells and hit new targets becomes twice as good when those spells are twice as powerful. Mizzix of the Izmagnus gives all of your spells a discounted cost, whilst Solphim makes them more powerful.
The community on Reddit are eagerly sharing their brews with one another…
“I’m at work, and my cards are at home, and I can hear my Heartless Hidetsugu deck screaming with excitement from here.” Spatulor
“Dragon’s Approach decks are going to have a field day with this.” Imperialtrace
“aaandd that’s a wincon.” GeneralShark97
Just how powerful will Solphim be? The card certainly looks very impressive, but brewing untested strategies with an unreleased card, and actually making use it in practice are very different things. With Phyrexia: All Will Be One’s release due next week, players will soon have the chance to test Solphim out to see if it lives up to the hype.