The latest Magic: The Gathering set, “Phyrexia: All Will Be One“, see’s Elesh Norn lead a legion of biomechanic monsters to war against the heroes of the MTG multiverse. The horror-inspired creatures feel like they could fit in an MTG movie if David Lynch directed it, and the art is some of the most interesting this year — especially if you’re a horror genre fan like myself. The set also returns poison counters to the tabletop/digital card drafting format, which makes for a hectic and sometimes annoying game when you deal with losing at only half-health. But them-be-the-breaks when dealing with the creatures in Phyrexia: All Will Be One because they don’t play fair.
The storyline in Phrexia: All Will Be One” see’s Elesh Norn rise to power, and the heroes of the MTG Universe all gather in one place. With a story that feels as high-stakes as Avengers: Endgame. Will one of our Planeswalker heroes die?
Here’s a little bit from Wizards for the story, but please read some more yourself.
When the Phyrexians invaded Mirrodin, they fell under the influence of the plane’s colored suns. The mana from the white sun gave birth to Elesh Norn. She adopted and twisted the societies and beliefs of those she conquered into her Phyrexian faction, the Machine Orthodoxy. She preaches a vision of grand unity where no creature is separated from the other by such pitiful, mortal barriers as skin or flesh.
At first, Norn believed she was the divine speaker for Karn, the planeswalking golem who brought Phyrexians to Mirrodin. As their creator, he was revered as a god. But he proved to be mortal, flawed, and betrayed the Phyrexian cause. This convinced Norn that she must become her people’s new leader, and she dubbed herself the Mother of Machines. To shepherd in a new age of Phyrexian glory, she has orchestrated a plan to unite the Multiverse.
There are a lot of strong cards in MTG: Phrexia: All Will Be One and just as much exciting art to stare at and enjoy. Be that in your hands, or opening packs in the digital version of the game, Magic The Gathering: Arena. So far, some of my favourite cards in the set have been either the weirdest-looking ones or just straight-up scary. You have “Crawling Chorus,” a Phrexican Horror living up to the name, and then there’s “Meldweb Curator,” who I think came out more-messed up Bioshock game because they look a bit like a Big Daddy to me. My favourite Planeswalker in this set has to be “Vraska, Betrayls Sting,” as I’ve always had a soft spot for Vraska, and I think, for once, it’s both a good card and a Planeswalker I like, and these things don’t always line-up for me.
Of course, it’s hard not to look past the alt-art on Elesh Nord herself, which is nothing short of STUNNING, in the most horrific way.
The set also features alt-art cards with an influence of Japanese horror, which is stunning. Take a look at the two cards below for examples.
I unboxed a bunch of the new set thanks to Wizards of the Coast, and you can check out that video below.
New and Returning Mechanics
Let’s take a look at what new and returning abilities and keywords are in this latest set.
Poison counters are back, but with a new “Toxic” keyword on many cards. The difference between Toxic and “Infected” is that Infected creatures dealt their entire combat damage in poison damage. In comparison, creatures with the Toxic keyword will deal their typical damage and then apply a poison count equal to the number of Toxic that card has on it. A 2/2 creature with “Toxic 1” will deal two damage and apply one poison.
The rule for poison counters has stayed the same: if a player gets ten or more poison counters, they lose the game.
Proliferate returns in this set, a keyword that triggers on many cards by casting them, hitting your opponent and more. It allows you to increase the amount of counters on a card (+1/+1 counters), a permanent (Planeswalker loyalty) or a player (poison counters).
A new keyword for this set is “corrupted”, which checks to see if your opponent has three or more poison counters and will activate a new part of your card if they do. That may be something like “Corrupted — as long as your opponent has three or more poison counters, this card has lifelike”, — for example.
A new keyword ability on equipment cards, this ability attaches a creature to your equipment when it enters the battlefield. This is primarily a 2/2 red rebel creature.
Many cards in Phrexia: All Will Be One enter the battlefield with oil counters. You can then remove these to activate abilities on those cards by giving it +1/-1 or something else.