8, Mar, 22

What is Phyrexian Mana in Magic: the Gathering?

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Article at a Glance

In the world of Magic: the Gathering, there’s a ton of very powerful mechanics and abilities. Some of them are fantastic and loved by all, while others are absurdly over powered. One of the latter abilities is Phyrexian Mana. You might have seen this mechanic recently, but it wasn’t exactly the same as it’s most recent incarnation. So what exactly is Phyrexian Mana?

What is Phyrexian Mana?

Phyrexian Mana is a mechanic that was introduced back in New Phyrexia, back in 2011. This mechanic is an alternative way to pay mana for a spell. It can be paid with a mana source of that color, or by paying 2 life for each symbol.

Instances of Phyrexian Mana

When New Phyrexia came out, there were 26 cards with Phyrexian Mana in them. Mana of them are so powerful that they’ve been banned in multiple formats. The ability to pay life allowed players to cast powerful spells far earlier or with far more consistency by using their life total as a resource. Here’s a few examples of original cards from New Phyrexia.

This mechanic was so strong that it didn’t see the light of day for quite some time. The next time that we’d see this mechanic show up is in 2017 with the release of Unstable, which is a joke product essentially.

In 2019, K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth was printed in the Commander 2019 decks, which made it legal in Legacy and Vintage.

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Balancing the Mechanic

With the release of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, we saw the return of Phyrexian Mana on Tamiyo, Compleated Sage. This time, WotC sought to balance the mechanic.

Functionally, Phyrexian Mana operates the same way as it did before, but with this card, they added a drawback. With the “Compleated” passive ability, if life is paid, then Tamiyo enters with 2 fewer loyalty. This keeps the spirit of the mechanic, but makes you have to think if you want to pay the life to cast this spell.

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The Future of The Mechanic

The future of the mechanic is uncertain at this point. It seems that Phyrexian Praetors are making their way back into the multiverse in Standard sets. With the compleation of Tamiyo, we could see other planeswalkers get the same treatment, and we may see the “compleated” passive ability in the future.

My guess is that we may not see instants or sorceries with Phyrexian Mana again, but creatures could be on the table with a similar “compleated” ability.

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