Making Phage the Untouchable Playable – A Commander for Everyone, by Paul Palmer

Phage the Untouchable wallpaper

Making Phage the Untouchable Playable (Deck Tech) – A Commander for Everyone by Paul Palmer

There are a lot of cards that people say are ”unplayable” in competitive constructed formats from Fugitive Wizard to Aggressive Mining. This isn’t just true in the competitive formats like Standard, Modern and Legacy but also true in the case of Commander. Whilst Commander does make some of these cards playable (Fugitive Wizard works with Azami, Lady of Scrolls and Aggressive Mining works with Zedruu the Greathearted) this article is going to be focusing on one specific apparently ”unplayable” general.

Let’s have a quick look at the card I will be building my deck around:

[draft]Phage the Untouchable[/draft]

‘When Phage the Untouchable enters the battlefield, if you didn’t cast it from your hand, you lose the game’ – I lose the game when I play her from the command zone? Great!

‘Whenever Phage deals combat damage to a creature, destroy that creature. It can’t be regenerated.’ – Essentially this is deathtouch.

‘Whenever Phage deals combat damage to a player, that player loses the game.’ – This is what I like to call super deathtouch.

This is a kind of deck that I’ve never explored making before, a Voltron deck. This kind of commander deck is focused around the deck’s general using equipment and protection spells to kill your opponents with combat 21 combat damage. Phage works well in this kind of deck because she kills your opponents with as little as one point of damage.

The first step of dealing with the unplayability of Phage the Untouchable is negating the first clause, ‘When Phage the Untouchable enters the battlefield, if you didn’t cast it from your hand, you lose the game’.

There are a few ways to deal with this:

  1. Torpor Orb – This card stops you from losing the game by preventing the enter the battlefield effect.
  2. Platinum Angel – This card stops you losing by simply preventing you from losing the game.
  3. Sundial of the Infinite – This card prevents you from losing the game by ending your turn and exiling all abilities on the stack.
  4. Moving Phage from your graveyard to your hand – This is done by countering phage and then moving Phage from your grave to your hand and then casting her from there not triggering the ability.

[draft]Torpor Orb
Platinum Angel
Sundial of the Infinite
Phyrexian Reclamation[/draft]

The next step of building one of these decks is to find the best equipment for your commander.

Some of the strongest equipments in the game are the five Swords:

[draft]Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of War and Peace
Sword of Light and Shadow
Sword of Body and Mind
Sword of Feast and Famine[/draft]

Each of these piece of equipment gives the equipped creature protection from two different colours as well as adding some extra utility such as forcing your opponents to discard cards, untapping your land and drawing cards and evening bringing creatures back from your graveyard to your hand. These give your commander protection, evasion and extra utility which is why they are so incredibly strong in Voltron decks.

The other more important equipment in the deck are there to help keep either your Voltron commander,  or in this deck Platinum Angel, alive so that you have a much better chance of closing out a victory. As ”unplayable” as Phage my seem at first glance there is also a way to make her (or any other creature in the deck) almost unkillable, for example by using both Darksteel Plate and any card that gives hexproof or shroud to your commander you leave your opponents with very few ways to kill that creature (the most common method being Final Judgment, overloaded Cyclonic Rift and Devastation Tide).

The deck also includes alot of ways to break through any blockers that your opponents have. The first way of doing this is simply by making that creature unblockable, the main source of making creatures unblockable are Whispersilk Cloak and Rogue’s Passage. The other card in the deck that makes it easier to hit your opponents is Trailblazer’s Boots, while this doesn’t make a creature ‘unblockable’ it does give it nonbasic landwalk, which is almost always relevant in Commander due to the nature of most decks manabase.

Finally you can easily break through blockers through trample. Thanks to the fact that Phage only needs to deal one damage to an opponent this means that trample is incredibly powerful. The trample equipments in this deck are Chariot of Victory, Sword of Vengeance and Loxodon Warhammer. I chose these as they give other keywords (first strike, vigilance, haste, etc.), in addition Sword of Vengeance and Loxodon Warhammer both also give additional power which makes it easier to trample over blockers.

The final interesting piece of equipment in this deck is Assault Suit. Due to the importance of politics in Commander this card can put you in a very powerful bargaining position by allowing you to gesture that you can potential insta-kill any player at any time. Think nuclear strike at your fingertips.

[draft]Trailblazer’s Boots
Whispersilk Cloak
Chariot of Victory
Loxodon Warhammer
Assault Suit[/draft]

One of the things that draws so many people to play Commander is the fact that it’s the format of big spells and big creatures like Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur and Insurrection, really fun cards that you don’t get to play in other formats. The reason you get to play these cards is thanks to the wide variety of ramp cards in the format, and this is equally true in this deck due to the base cost of Phage the Untouchable and the fact that you need to play her and equip costs in the same turn.

One of the easiest ways to ramp in Magic is by using what we like to call ”Mana Rocks”. These can be split into multiple sections. The first of these are simple mana generating artifacts, for example Sol Ring, Worn Powerstone, Thran Dynamo and Everflowing Chalice. Then there are the mana rocks that double up as card draw e.g. Hedron Archive and Dreamstone Hedron. Finally there is the rock that is also a removal spell, Unstable Obelisk.

[draft]Sol Ring
Hedron Archive
Unstable Obelisk[/draft]

The rest of the ramp in this deck is focused around interactions with land. The first interaction is Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. By playing Urborg with Cabal Coffers you are able to generate mana even from the lands that aren’t swamps. The easiest way for your mana to get out of control is by using Caged Sun, Gauntlet of Power and Crypt Ghast to double up on the mana that each of your swamps creates. Finally there is Doubling Cube, this card can get completely out of hand in combination with the other mana doublers.

[draft]Cabal Coffers
Caged Sun
Crypt Ghast
Doubling Cube[/draft]

One of the most important components (if not the most important components) of this deck are the cards that allow you to play Phage the Untouchable. Due to the sparcity of those cards they go hand in hand with the decks wide array of tutors. These tutors range from Demonic Tutor to Sidisi, Undead Vizier and even Diabolic Revelation. These cards allow you to find any of the cards that you need to assemble your winning combo or get you out of a sticking situation.

The deck also runs alot of card draw, allowing you to dig through alot of your deck. One of the biggest draw engines involves these two cards, Decree of Pain and Army of the Damned. If you have enough mana to both play Army of the Damned and flash it back Decree of Pain becomes an eight mana card that allows you to draw twenty-six.

This deck includes two of the classic black “trade one life for one card in your upkeep” cards Phyrexian Arena and Bloodgift Demon. These cards allow you to draw a huge volume of cards over the course of the game, especially when played on curve. The deck also includes Promise of Power which allows you to not only draw a large number of cards but also allows you to create a large flying creature which can then use the array of equipment in the deck to win the game.

I also decided that because I picked an underpowered general I would play something overpowered to balance it out. Sensei’s Divining Top. I made it very clear what I think of this card in my previous article. This card is incredibly powerful, especially in a deck that needs specific cards and so I figured it would be a powerful addition to this deck.

[draft]Demonic Tutor
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Phyrexian Arena
Promise of Power
Sensei’s Divining Top[/draft]

I initially wanted to make this deck creatureless apart from Phage the Untouchable and Platinum Angel but had a change of mind when I figured that if I didn’t draw the angel or anything else that allows me to play Phage then I would be a sitting duck. So to give this deck more reach I decided to add a few extra creatures, creatures that could provide extra utility for the deck as well as be used as win conditions.

The first of these creatures is in here just as a back-up win condition in case there are any issues with casting Phage, Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon. Whilst this card isn’t an insta-kill like Phage the Untouchable thanks to the P/T increases from the decks equipment it can easily get ten power, the magic number for infect. The other two creatures are much more utility based. Reaper from the Abyss a removal spell on a 6/6 flier and Sheoldred, Whispering One a reanmiation spell (mainly used for Platinum Angel) and removal that forces players to sacrifice their creatures (incredibly useful against Commander staples like Avacyn, Angel of Hope and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

[draft]Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
Reaper from the Abyss
Sheoldred, Whispering One[/draft]

The rest of the deck has a very strong focus on removal, killing your opponents biggest attackers to save yourself or their biggest blockers to help get Skithiryx or Phage break through.

Here is a decklist:


Phage the Untouchable (0)

Crypt Ghast (0)

Sidisi, Undead Vizier (0)

Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon (0)

Bloodgift Demon (0)

Reaper from the Abyss (0)

Platinum Angel (0)

Sheoldred, Whispering One (0)

Instants and Sorceries

Slaughter Pact (0)

Night’s Whisper (0)

Demonic Tutor (0)

Withering Boon (0)

Malicious Affliction (0)

Rhystic tutor (0)

Diabolic Tutor (0)

Mutilate (0)

Crux of Fate (0)

Promise of Power (0)

Scour from Existance (0)

Necromantic Selection (0)

Decree of Pain (0)

Army of the Damned (0)

In Garruk’s Wake (0)

Dreg’s of Sorrow (0)

Diabolic Revelation (0)


Everflowing Chalice (0)

Sol Ring (0)

Sensei’s Divining Top (0)

Trailblazer’s Boots (0)

Lightning Greaves (0)

Doubling Cube (0)

Hero’s Blade (0)

Torpor Orb (0)

Scythe of the Wretched (0)

Sundial of the Infinite (0)

Swiftfoot Boots (0)

Worn Powerstone (0)

Darksteel Plate (0)

Sword of Feast and Famine (0)

Sword of Light and Shadow (0)

Sword of Body and Mind (0)

Sword of War and Peace (0)

Sword of Fire and Ice (0)

Loxodon Warhammer (0)

Sword of Vengeance (0)

Whispersilk Cloak (0)

Chariot of Victory (0)

Unstable Obelisk (0)

Hedron Archive (0)

Assault Suit (0)

Thran Dynamo (0)

Lashwrithe (0)

Batterskull (0)

Gauntlet of Power (0)

Dreamstone Hedron (0)

Caged Sun (0)

Argentum Armor (0)


Phyrexian Reclamation (0)

Phyrexian Arena (0)

Underworld Connection (0)

Greed (0)

Palace Siege (0)


Everglades (0)

Cabal Coffers (0)

Bojuka BogGemstone Caverns (0)

Rogue’s Passage (0)

Urborg, Tomb og Yawgmoth (32)
32 Swamp

As mentioned previously in this article I had never played this kind of deck before, most of the Commander decks I’ve played have been control, pillowfort or ”good stuff” decks and I can tell for the change was refreshing. Knowing that your main win con is always in your command zone is a big comfort and not being targeted until you finally get to play it gives you a lot of breathing space to do your thing. This deck was a lot of fun to play and I’d recommend it to anyone, both Voltron players and those who are after playing a less common Commander.

Pre-order your Commander 2015 now for only £24.49 per deck or £107.99 for a complete set of 5!

Thanks for Reading,

Paul Palmer

Making Phage the Untouchable Playable - A Commander for Everyone, by Paul Palmer
'When Phage the Untouchable enters the battlefield, if you didn't cast it from your hand, you lose the game' - I lose the game when I play her from the command zone? Great!

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