How Will Phyrexia: All Will Be One Impact Pauper MTG?

The latest set is nearly upon us and with the spoiler complete it’s time to look at what cards from Phyrexia: All Will Be One could impact Pauper. There’s a ton going on in this set, so let’s dive in.


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I want to talk about corrupted and toxic together as they go hand in hand more than Lightning Helix and Craig Jones. These mechanics provide more options for decks looking to kill with poison counters as opposed to dealing 20 points of damage. Infect as a strategy in Pauper has existed on the fringes of the competitive metagame since the banning of Invigorate but tends to crop up when new tools are available (as recently seen with the downshifting of Might of Old Krosa).

There is one major difference between toxic and infect, and that is infect gives poison counters equal to its power while creatures with toxic deal regular damage and then also grant poison counters equal to their toxic number. While this means one-shotting someone with a Branchblight Stalker is unlikely, it does create some redundancy in a strategy sorely seeking while also providing more options.

Let’s take Branchblight Stalker as an example. At three power it provides an acceptable clock on its own and while it may not carry a Rancor as well an Ichorclaw Myr, it can still get in there and advance your game plan. It also can divert from the primary goal and attempt to get in there for regular damage – a tall order to be sure – but one that did not exist before. I’ve seen enough games of Legacy and Modern end on the back of a Noble Hierarch and Become Immense to know that while it’s an outside possibility, it does exist.

Toxic encourages a “go wide” game plan as opposed to stacking all your pump on a few threats. As this may make it more likely that the opponent ends up with a non-lethal dose of poison, it could give a card like Incisor Glider a chance to shine, using corrupted as a way to up the actual damage output. If this catches on, cards that proliferate could also go up in value as they can help enable corrupted and can advance the poison counter plan. Both Whisper of the Dross and Thirsting Roots stand out in this regard due to their efficiency. 


It was a borderline impossibility that a return to the plane of Mirrodin/New Phyrexia would not give Affinity some new options. Considering that the deck’s toolbox is overflowing, this is a clear-cut case of the rich getting richer.

The frontrunner for making the grade is Annihilating Glare. Affinity is almost always going to have some spare material to feed to the machine and losing a Blood token or a Bridge to handle an opposing threat seems like a good tradeoff. The biggest “downside” to this card is that it does not exile and in a format where Blood Fountain is used to grind out games that does matter.

Mandible Justiciar is interesting on its face… is it all face? I don’t know – this set has too many teeth. Anyway, as a two-power creature with lifelink that can grow quite a bit with relative ease, the Justiciar provides Affinity the ability to recover from an early onslaught. Affinity can easily put three artifacts into play on a given turn and once Deadly Disputes are chained, things can get out of hand. The biggest downside to this card is that it costs white mana, which would require Affinity to contort its mana base to support. It could find a home in some variants of Mardu Synthesizer, with Bridges, Thraben Inspector, Deadly Dispute and Experimental Synthesizer, taking over the spot held by Seeker of the Way.

Other Notable Cards

Basilica Shepherd comes with some upside. It brings two artifact tokens to the party and is in the correct color to pair with Ephemerate. Unless white midrange decks adopt a toxic game plan, I mostly see this as a top-end card in the same vein as Soul of Migration – a curve topper that provides material. Indoctrination Attendant does something similar but also plays into the Kor Skyfisher game plan of rebuying enters the battlefield abilities. At four mana it is a bit expensive for a creature without evasion but given all the pieces it would not shock me if this one saw some play.

Crawling Chorus, on the other hand, seems fantastic. Cards like Doomed Traveler and Hunted Witness have seen play in the past and this one has the advantage of only needing to poke through 10 times as opposed to 20. If Infect were to adopt white, this card also comes baked in with defense for Chainer’s Edict – something that deck sorely needs. While this one may take longer to catch on, I’m confident we’ll see it in leagues before too long.

Planar Disruption is a great way to obsolete Arrest and Pacifism. This card is worth mentioning for Pauper as it shuts down the artifact lands. Sticking this on a Mistvault Bridge could buy you time. However, the fact that most Bridge decks also run Deadly Dispute and Reckoner’s Bargain makes this a less attractive trade.

How much does it take for proliferate to be worth a card? My guess is giving a player a poison counter is just a bit below but generating two total counters is probably worth it. If you have a deck that can reliably do just that then Experimental Augury might warrant your attention. Worse than Impulse, this card can not only advance a poison game plan but also digs you for cards that do the same.

There are some decks in Pauper that win through recurring the same spell over and over again. Prologue to Phyresis presents another option in this camp. Prologue gets around damage prevention rather easily and can be safely run in multiples since it cycles on its own. I can absolutely see losing to this card out of a deck that can generate a ton of mana and loop it with Archaeomancer.

Black has lots of niche tools but I’m not going to rehash my take on Anoint with Affliction or expand on Annihilating Glare or Whisper of the Dross. Blightbelly Rat provides a nice option for slower poison strategies or any deck that wants to improve the quality of their Carrion Feeder-Mortician Beetle-Gixian Infiltrator squad. Fleshless Gladiator is the best Pauper Nether Shadow we’ve seen and it’s still a few steps from playable. 

Barbed Batterfist is more than the sum of its parts. For two mana you get a 2/2 and a piece of Equipment. It comes ready-made to be reused with Kor Skyfisher or Glint Hawk and provides two pieces of material for Deadly Dispute. None of the things it does on its own are all that amazing but it has so much synergy with the history of Pauper that it has to do less work on its own to be good.

Back before Monastery Swiftspear, the prevalent red creature deck leaned on Kiln Fiend and Festival Crasher to swing out for lethal damage. Ancestral Anger was a boon to that strategy as it provided evasion and card flow. Blazing Crescendo would fit nicely into those builds, giving a potent power boost while potentially replacing itself with a fresh spell. 

Green only has one potential standout that has yet to be mentioned and that’s Contagious Vorrac. The Boar is only going to push through if, again, it finds a place where proliferate is worth a card of value. In that case, this is a 3/3 for three that always replaces itself with something. But that is going to require getting several counters worth of copying to matter.

While all the Skullbombs are technically playable as cheap artifacts that replace themselves, Basilica Skullbomb and Dross Skullbomb standout. Basilica has the opportunity to send a massive threat to the skies to deal those final points of damage while Dross is a slightly more expensive Recover. Dross Skullbomb has a tougher road thanks to Blood Fountain, but I can see a world where a deck would want a copy or two.

The Spheres are all fantastic lands that are probably better than the Onslaught cycling lands, at least today. The cycling lands are ideal for redrawing cards in the late game but that comes with the opportunity cost of potentially playing them out early. The Spheres are significantly worse off the top late in the game but early on are exactly what you want. Being able to crack one for a redraw in the latter turns while not falling too far behind on development early is a sweet spot.

What are your favorite cards from Phyrexia: All Will Be One? Sound off in the comments!

4 thoughts on “How Will Phyrexia: All Will Be One Impact Pauper MTG?”

  1. I feel like exuberant fuseling is nice because in the early game it is a solid pressure piece in the early game that can become a game ending threat if left unchecked and synergies with proliferate and goblins. So it might move pauper goblins into the metagame.

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