27, May, 24

Strange Phyrexian Typal Deck Dominates Regional Championship!

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Article at a Glance

Over the weekend, a bunch of Regional Championships took place in various countries. Each Regional Championship featured the Standard format, aligning with Pro Tour Outlaws of Thunder Junction which took place roughly a month ago. As it turns out, a lot has changed in a month.

While the Pro Tour was completely dominated by Esper midrange, Standard has become a lot more balanced since then. Esper midrange is still strong, but Boros Convoke and Temur ramp are right there with it. Decks like mono-red aggro and Domain ramp are not too far behind. On top of that, multiple unique archetypes overperformed this weekend, showcasing that there’s still room for innovation as we get closer to rotation.

Yesterday, we covered an awesome Gruul combo deck that managed to make top eight of the Australian Regional Championship. Today, we’re going to focus on a strange deck that went 6-2-1 at the Regional Championship in China. What looks like just a smattering of random Creatures may have more synergy than appears at first glance. There’s definitely room to tweak things within the deck to make it more consistent, but its record overall is nothing to scoff at. Let’s take a closer look at what this deck is trying to accomplish and how players might be able to improve upon the ideas present.

Phyrexians Unite

Cavern of Souls

Individually, most Creatures in this deck aren’t super impressive on their own. Cards like [tooltip]Bilious Skulldweller, for instance, have essentially seen no Standard play up until this point. Skulldweller is a reasonable Creature for a deck centered around the Toxic mechanic, but the most successful Toxic decks have all been Bant. After all, playing Bant gives access to an array of excellent options like Venerated Rotpriest, Skrelv’s Hive, and March of Swirling Mist without stretching the manabase too far.

As such, this deck gets its edge in an entirely different way. See, every Creature here has one thing in common: they are all Phyrexians. Overall, there aren’t that many Creature payoffs for filling your deck with Phyrexians. Grafted Butcher is the big one, and as we will discuss later, we definitely think there should be more copies in this archetype moving forward. However, the premier upside for sticking to the Phyrexian theme is having an elite manabase.

Unsurprisingly, this typal strategy gets to utilize playsets of both Cavern of Souls and Secluded Courtyard. Going even further, because these Creatures are all specifically Phyrexians, a full playset of The Seedcore comes into play. The presence of The Seedcore makes cards like Bilious Skulldweller and Skrelv, Defector Mite much stronger.

The reality is, the goal here isn’t to win via poison counters. Instead, the objective is to connect a few times early with these Toxic threats to enable The Seedcore. From there, you can pump any 1/1 Creature, even something as individually weak as Battlefly Swarm.

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A Full Spectrum

Omnath, Locus of All

Notably, having access to essentially 12 five-color Lands lets you play Phyrexians from all across the color spectrum. Playing Skrelv turn one and Glissa Sunslayer a couple turns later, for example, is trivial with this manabase. Having perfect mana is a luxury, and this deck takes full advantage of it.

No card abuses this deck’s mana more than Omnath, Locus of All. Omnath, Locus of All isn’t anywhere near as powerful as Omnath, Locus of Creation, but it can still have a strong effect on the game by generating card advantage and letting you save up mana.

In this deck, Omnath does more than that, too. One of the most powerful play patterns this deck has access to is casting Omnath turn four after resolving Case of the Shattered Pact. Assuming Omnath lives through the turn, it singlehandedly Solves the Case for you. For the rest of the game as long as Case stays in play, your attacks become significantly more problematic for the opponent. This is a sweet “combo” to have at your disposal, and it can easily swing a game in your favor.

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A Clearer Focus

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

All things considered, it’s cool to see a successful deck make use of so many undervalued cards in Standard. Omnath and Grafted Butcher, for instance, are sweet cards that never got their time in the spotlight. Despite this deck’s recent success, however, there are likely some opportunities to make the deck a bit more streamlined moving forward.

Right now, the deck lacks focus. Cards like Bilious Skulldweller and Battlefly Swarm that are weak on their own but provide efficient sources of damage incentivize you to be aggressive. Meanwhile, the Omnath package can be rewarding, but is rather slow. Case does virtually nothing without Omnath, which doesn’t help. Further, there are a bunch of one-ofs like Sheoldred that, while powerful, are a bit clunky and don’t mesh with the rest of the deck.

To help maintain a consistent gameplan, it might be worth leaning heavier on the power of The Seedcore and Grafted Butcher. Grafted Butcher provides temporary evasion and a permanent buff to all your aggressive Phyrexians. It’s even recursive, letting you sacrifice one of your weak one-drops to bring it back and give your squad Menace again.

Now, you can lower your curve a bit, abandon seemingly random one-ofs like Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines, and work towards getting the opponent dead in short order. Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor can act as a card advantage machine in a deck with small, evasive Creatures.

Thanks to the deck’s strong mana, you can even play cards like Slaughter Stinger if you have enough Toxic support or Migloz, Maze Crusher as just a huge beater. Ultimately, this decklist features a lot of neat ideas, so it’ll be cool to see if players explore them further in the coming weeks.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

Sunfall

In its current form, this deck seems relatively well set up against various midrange strategies. Bilious Skulldweller and Battlefly Swarm provide early pressure, and thanks to Deathtouch, don’t simply get outclassed by bigger Creatures. Omnath generates a lot of value if unchecked, and Phyrexian Missionary is strong at grinding through removal. Raffine, Scheming Seer can be a bit concerning given this deck’s lack of removal, though.

Against control and Domain ramp, Sunfall is a very hard card to beat. Fortunately, both March of Swirling Mist and Bring the End out of the sideboard can improve these matchups significantly for games two and three. Against mono-red aggro and Boros Convoke, Annex Sentry is a solid piece of interaction that then acts as a brick wall.

At the end of the day, it’s possible this deck is just a flash in the pan. Still, its solid performance can’t be ignored. If you’re a fan of Phyrexians, consider giving this deck a spin and exploring all the possibilities this awesome Creature type has to offer.

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