Shared Discovery – 3thingstoknow about Phyrexian Mana by Rob Wagner

Shared Discovery – Downtime: The Alternative NQ Huddersfield Report by Rob Wagner


3thingstoknow about this article:

1) This article was planned to be a report on Grand Prix: London but after receiving a decent pool with reactionary bombs and insufficient removal I was going to find it hard closing out games and I dropped at 3-2 (1 bye) in order to preserve my rating to qualify for nationals.

2) Congratulations go to Dan Royde for winning the whole thing, it’s not often a Brit manages that (he was clearly the DRoyde we were looking for)!

3) I will discuss Phyrexian Mana and what it means for limited play in the hilarious/useful/annoying (delete as applicable) style of and the article will pleasingly end up as 3x3x3thingstoknow.

3thingstoknow about Phyrexian Mana (PM):

1) A card with a Phyrexian Mana symbol on it can be paid for using the alternative cost of 2 life in place of the correct colour of mana.

2) This alternative cost mechanic was designed to create cards which felt like artifacts (could be cast in any deck) but had benefits in the correct colour (could avoid paying 2 life).

3) Although designed to feel like a Phyrexian effect, these cards are particularly good against decks which aim to win with the main Phyrexian mechanic (Infect) since in these matchups they have almost no down-side.

3thingstoknow about considering running Phyrexian Mana (PM) cards:

1) If you are playing the colour of the card then you will have more options and should be prepared to play the card for whichever cost (life or mana) helps you to curve out better – your life total is resource just as is your available mana.

2) If you are not playing the colour of the card then you will always have to pay the life so be aware of this when constructing your deck – do not have too many off-colour PM cards without a good life gain engine in your deck.

3) A good life gain engine is not Golden Urn, it is Sylvok Lifestaff or Shattered Angel.


3thingstoknow about Mental Misstep.

1) This card will see considerable play in any format where there are a lot of important 1-mana cards as a very quick answer to them – e.g. Aether Vial, Goblin Lackey, Dark Ritual, Wild Nacatl

2) This card should not be used merely because you have a lot of potential targets in the format – if only very few of them are very good against your deck then maybe the sacrifice of consistency is not worth being able to react.

3) This card should not be played in limited unless your opponent has shown a lot of contextually good one mana cards which your deck otherwise struggles to deal with, for example Kuldotha Rebirth in a quick Battlecry deck.


3thingstoknow about Mutagenic Growth.

1) This card is similar to Ravnica hit Gather Courage which could be cast by tapping a green creature instead of paying its mana cost of G. This card was a surprise because it could be cast when you were entirely tapped out of mana and helped you to ambush their guy in combat, especially since damage used to go on the stack.

2) This is the PM card which probably will get taken for any other colour the most since every deck engages in combat and +2/+2 is quite the boost in making the trade work well for you – view it as a slightly risky removal spell for 2 life.

3) The best thing about PM cards which can be cast for entirely 0 real mana is that they can be used even while you curve out perfectly onto the battlefield.


3thingstoknow about Dismember.

1) Reminiscent of Snuff Out with 1 colourless mana taking the role of a necessary casting condition over having a Swamp in play, this card is likely to be cast in a variety of decks but is quite draining in its casting cost without access to Black mana so be careful.

2) The best way to view this is that you are killing a creature which is likely to deal you 4 or more damage anyway so although you take the damage up front you have control over how much occurs.

3) In Standard this will be played in Red Deck Wins to gain an advantage over the Kor Firewalkers which cause it a lot of hassle, but the White decks will still beat Red anyway through Batterskull


3thingstoknow about Porcelain Legionnaire.

1) Historically, 3 power creatures for 2 mana have made quite an impact in constructed, let alone their limited formats: see Watchwolf, Qasali Pridemage, Goblin Deathraiders, Tarmogoyf.

2) Unless you have a good 2 drop and no good 3 drop you should probably cast this on turn 2 in your limited deck because the 2 life you pay is offset by the 3 damage this guy gets to do by being able to attack one turn earlier than otherwise.

3) This creature is yet another reason to play all the removal spells you can that deal even only one damage in this limited format – Mortarpod, Fume Spitter, Virulent Wound, Contagion Clasp, Blisterstick Shaman, Gut Shot etc…


3thingstoknow about Gut Shot.

1) Is a good answer to Porcelain Legionnaire and all the other great 2 drops which have 1 toughness – Myrsmith, Embersmith, Plague Stinger, Blight Mamba etc.

2) As with Mutagenic Growth, this card can be cast while still curving out perfectly so you get quite the tempo boost by making your own guy and killing theirs.

3) It’s pretty inefficient at what it does, but 1 damage is often all that is needed, even if it is to trade your small guys for their big ones in combat. The best moments will come when your opponent is on precisely one life – savour those moments and always remember to ask what they’re on (then check that you’re above 2 life) before showing them the Gut Shot.


3thingstoknow about Act of Aggression.

1) This card is very reminiscent of Ray of Command but is colourless and a mana cheaper.

2) Every deck is likely to want to play this since if your opponent is attacking you it will quite often be able to kill two of their creatures. Quicksilver Geyser wishes it was this good.

3) The 4 life you pay is probably less than the damage you would have taken by the two attacking creatures, plus the creatures are now dead – what a deal!


I think I have covered the basics of the mechanic now and the cards which should be most often considered in limited (plus one which shouldn’t be considered). Have a lot of fun surprising your opponents at your local Pre-release and please let me know about any huge blow-outs you manage to land *cackles fiendishly*.

Rob Wagner

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