Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Phyrexian Cards in Magic
Phyrexia remains one of Magic's most iconic planes, featuring fearsome praetor creatures and metal-infused monsters. With artifact-supporting cards and a unique mana symbol (which can be paid with either the corresponding color or two life), Phrexian cards also arise in other planes.
One of Phyrexia's most defining aspects is its unique line-based language. A select few cards have featured this script—here's a list of every Phyrexian card in Magic: The Gathering!
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Every color features a legendary praetor creature, with white's Elesh Norn being one of the deadliest. Though she needs seven mana, she's a 4/7 with vigilance who strengthens your other creatures by +2/+2 while debuffing foes by -2/-2, enough to outright kill your opponent's weaker creatures.
After listing her stats, Elesh's text states:
The Gitaxians whisper among themselves of other worlds.
If they exist, we must bring Phyrexia's magnificence to them.
Found in some of the Jumpstart decks, this land is a regular swamp, just with its card text written in phyrexian. It functions the same as a normal basic swamp, simply tapping for one black mana. Not all swamps in Jumpstart feature the script, so be sure to sleeve yours if you nab one.
Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
With or without Phyrexian script, Vorinclex is a beast. In addition to being a 6/6 with trample and haste (rare in mono-green), he also gives your permanents double counters (rounded up) and halves the counters that opposing cards get (rounded down)—devastating against planeswalker loyalty.
Of course, the main text of this test card (a fun insert from the Mystery Booster set) is in English, but the artwork is pure Phyrexian. It translates to the actual card text, meaning this spell basically says the same thing twice, just in different languages.
Testament gives you the rare ability to, for the rest of the turn, play face-up cards you own in exile. Plus, if a card would enter your graveyard or exile, you instead place it on bottom of your deck. It's sad this is just a test card, because it provides one of very few options for recovering your exiled cards.
Like other sagas, Scriptures activates its first effect on entry, then proceeds with the next at the start of your following main phases. The initial trigger makes a creature an artifact and gives it a +1/+1. The second is a board wipe, destroying all non-artifact creatures (shield your best one with the first trigger). Finally, you exile all cards from opposing graveyards, preventing foes from resurrecting their defeated creatures.
A cool card in both effect and artwork, the symbols in Scriptures roughly translate as:
From void evolved Phyrexia.
Great Yawgmoth, Father of Machines, saw its perfection.
Thus The Grand Evolution began
Altar lets you instantly sacrifice a creature for one mana of any color, a useful response when you'd lose it anyway. That said, "Ashnod's Altar" does the same but provides two colorless instead, often a better payout. Either way, the art here bears a short but creepy translation, simply stating "Unskin".
Pricing Phyrexian Cards in Magic
If you're lucky enough to come across a Phyrexian-script card, be sure to check its unique value on tcgplayer.com—you'll probably find it's worth far more than a normal copy. We'll undoubtedly revisit Phyrexia in future sets, but for now, share your favorite Phyrexian cards and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2021 Jeremy Gill