Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How to Use Phyrexian Mana in Magic
Some Magic cards have unique phyrexian mana symbols, represented by a bisected circle. They come in any Magic's five colors, giving players the option of paying for them with two life or with the corresponding color as usual.
When you have health to spare, this lets you cast amazing spells at cheap prices, and they work great with the boosted life totals of commander format—which reign supreme? These are the ten best phyrexian cards in Magic: The Gathering!
10. K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 7
You can cast K'rrik here using seven mana, four mana and six life, or anywhere in-between. His stats are only 2/2, but he gets a +1/+1 whenever you cast a black spell, making an excellent commander for mono-black EDH builds.
More than that, K'rrik effectively turns your regular black mana symbols in phyrexian ones, letting you pay two life to avoid paying for black mana. Utilize K'rrik's lifelink to keep your health topped off as you rapidly build your field thanks to his massive discount.
9. Birthing Pod
Both Pod's base cost and activation cost utilize green phyrexian mana. Once cast, you can tap Pod and pay two (or one and two life) to sacrifice a creature and play another from your deck that costs one more mana.
You can only do this at sorcery speed, but it's a great way to upgrade weaker units, especially after exploiting their entrance effects. Like other phyrexian cards, remember that you don't need to run green to use Pod (other colors can simply pay with life).
8. Moltensteel Dragon
Like most phyrexian creatures (K'rrik being a notable exception), Moltensteel is part artifact. He's a 4/4 with flying, a fair if not overwhelming trade for his cost, but by paying either one red or two life, he can instantly get +1/+0 for the turn.
This means for every two life you have, you can boost his damage up one, often ending matches with one hit; just watch out for combat-damage preventing spells like "Fog".
7. Gut Shot
Gut Shot is weaker than similar one-cost "Shock" and "Lightning Bolt", but its ability to utilize life means you never have to keep a mana in reserve, catching foes off-guard when they think their plays are safe.
You can also run it in non-red decks short on low-cost removal, a good way to thwart red aggro decks.
6. Surgical Extraction
Cheap and instant-speed, Extraction lets you name any card that's not a basic land, exiling any you find in your opponent's hand, graveyard, and deck. This works great after opponents who have tutored spells or had their hands revealed (more on this later), helping ensure you'll deplete their hand.
Notably, this is also one of few spells that lets you search through an opponent's entire deck, giving you knowledge of exactly what they're running and how to fight it.
5. Hex Parasite
Here's today's only card with no phyrexian mana in its cost, you simply pay one mana of any type. But to utilize Parasite's effect, you spend X regular mana plus one phyrexian, letting you remove X counters from a permanent and giving it +1/+0 for the turn per counter removed.
Since you can remove counters from any permanent type (not just creatures), this works wonders against planeswalkers, creatures, certain lands, and more. You can also remove negative counters (like -1/-1s) from your own units with the effect.
4. Mental Misstep
Great in formats like modern, Mental Misstep is a unique counterspell that can only thwart cards with cost one (including another Misstep). So while situational, its surprise factor works wonders, letting you counter when tapped out or even when you're not running blue.
Less useful in formats like commander (though good against "Sol Ring"), Misstep still works wonders in its element and makes good sideboard material.
3. Gitaxian Probe
Spend either one blue or two life and Probe lets you see an opponent's hand, then draw a card. Gaining tactical knowledge of their hand is great on top of a cantrip, and it's also excellent for quickly filling your graveyard with delve, threshold, or spell mastery fodder.
Especially useful with cards like Surgical Extraction that benefit from knowing an opponent's hand, Probe is a staple in my own decks and one of today's cheapest cards, costing well under two dollars!
With two phyrexian symbols, you can cast Dismember for as little as one mana if you pay four life. It instantly gives a creature -5/-5 for the turn, a phenomenal debuff that kills all but the absolute sturdiest of foes. It's also one of the best ways to handle indestructible enemies, who still perish if their toughness hits zero.
1. Phyrexian Metamorph
Metamorph works similarly to the classic creature-copying "Clone", but with several advantages. Of course, its symbol means you can forgo one mana with two life, which also gives non-blue decks access to the card. More than that, Metamorph can enter as a copy of any creature or artifact, giving a much broader net of permanents to mimic.
Simply put, Metamorph is whatever the best creature or artifact on the field is—but for far less mana.
Phyrexian Decks in Magic
Phyrexian cards remain some of Magic's most competitive, but remember to keep their color identity in mind; non-blue modern decks can run Gitaxian Probe, but non-blue commander ones can't thanks to the color identity limitation.
No matter your format, use lifelink or other life-gaining cards to ensure you access their discounted prices, but for now, vote for your favorite phyrexian spell and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2020 Jeremy Gill