Alchemy: Phyrexia Limited Guide and Set Review
Hey everyone! Just when I thought I was done with Phyrexia: All Will Be One articles, they drag me back in. It’s time for some Compleat Metal Alchemist or Alchemy: Phyrexia if you want to be the fun police about it. We’ll have these Alchemy Premier Drafts running February 28th through March 10th so go ahead and jump in if you’re getting tired of regular ONE drafts.
Before I get into the grading, I have to give the usual caveat. Alchemy cards were designed to do bonkers constructed stuff so they tend to either be way above the typical limited power level or complete trash. The running joke is to just draft all of the alchemy cards and figure it out later. It will be interesting to see if that holds up in such a low to the ground set. As a reminder, players draft three packs of ONE, but one common card in each pack is replaced with a card from Alchemy: Phyrexia. This card can be any rarity as follows:
- 55% of packs contain an uncommon card.
- 38.57% of packs contain a rare card.
- 6.43% of packs contain a mythic card.
- Each rare appears twice as often as each mythic.
Here’s the usual grading scale:
- 5.0: Disgustingly powerful and basically unbeatable. Either answer it the turn it comes down or just pack up your cards. (Tovolar's Huntmaster, The Meathook Massacre, Starnheim Unleashed)
- 4.5: Incredible bomb that still gives your opponent a slim chance. (Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, Alrund's Epiphany, Grand Master of Flowers)
- 4.0: Great rare or the absolute best uncommons and removal. (Froghemoth, Morbid Opportunist, Skullport Merchant)
- 3.5: Great role filler or removal that you never cut. (Magic Missile, Cathartic Pyre, Battle Cry Goblin)
- 3.0: Good playable that I’m basically never cutting. (Usher of the Fallen, Search Party Captain, Dragon Turtle)
- 2.5: Decent playable and the bar I hope nearly every card in my deck to reach. (Mourning Patrol, Steadfast Paladin, Goblin Morningstar)
- 2.0: Mediocre filler that normally is your 20-23rd card(s). (Contact Other Plane, Mindleech Ghoul, Timberland Guide)
- 1.5: Replaceable, overall bad filler. Could also be decent sideboard cards. (Secrets of the Key, Spiked Pit Trap, Village Rites)
- 1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Secret Door, Mystic Skull, Funeral Longboat)
- 0.5: Very unhappy to main deck this, but maybe it has fringe sideboard applications. (You See a Guard Approach, Bramble Armor, Compelled Duel)
- 0.0: Unplayable in every possible situation. (Mimic, Change of Fortune, Curse of Shaken Faith)
Table of Contents
- Phyrexia: All Will Be One (ONE) Limited Guides
- Arek, False Goldwarden
- Bladehold Cleaver
- Contagion Dispenser
- Darksteel Hydra
- Glistening Extractor
- Gyox, Brutal Carnivora
- Ichor Aberration
- Innovative Metatect
- Mephidross Slime
- Quicksilver Lapidary
- Seething Skitter-Priest
- Skullpiercer Gnat
- Vexyr, Ich-Tekik’s Heir
- Wrap Up
Phyrexia: All Will Be One (ONE) Limited Guides
Ghalma the Shaper
This pachyderm is going to be absurdly busted in Azorius artifacts and really solid in everything else. As long as you can get it on the battlefield, the double Glorious Anthem off of Tempered Steel is going to make your artifacts monstrous. Hey Mandible Justiciar, how you doing?
Ghalma the Shaper is above rate even if you just play it as the 3/3 vigilance that poops out dudes and gives you a card when you attack. Since conjuring puts an actual card in your hand, you can also try to take advantage of that with Axiom Engraver or Thrill of Possibilityif you aren’t playing that many artifacts. The only knock on this is the casting cost is going to be rough to play on curve sometimes.
If this was a constructed review, it would 100% start with “Stop! Hammer Time!” because we all know what is about to go down with this there. However, this is a limited review and my wife is giving me a weird look while questioning why I was just listening to MC Hammer.
The value is going to be heavily dependent on the equipment in your deck. If you can make Bladehold War-Whip Dragonwing Glider, or Sylvok Battle-Chair only cost 1 to equip then this is pretty big game. If it’s just a Savannah Lion, then that’s still playable as long as your decks plan isn’t to be toxic.
The first thought is that Nettlecyst would be ridiculous in the Azorius artifact deck. Unfortunately, unless you manage to corrupt them with this you need to commit more card slots towards toxic to ever make that dream come true.
That means that it’s basically going into a toxic deck and it comes with a free equipment that will mostly depend on mites to make it huge. Not exactly breaking worlds over here, but a great addition to most Orzhov or Selesnya decks.
Conjuring a Plains into your hand is a pretty solid fail case even though it doesn’t thin your deck when doing it. Getting a real card when you have corrupted is where this really gets good because it continues the go wide toxic theme while making sure you get something else besides a lowly 1/1 if you draw it later.
I really like this card if you’re playing the Dimir poison “burn” deck as every new spell adds to the clock. Getting a double proliferate off of an Experimental Augury seems insane especially since whatever you get off it proliferates too if you cast it that turn.
It makes sure cards like Ichor Synthesizer get turned on quicker and things get absolutely filthy if you curve this into Jace, the Perfected Mind. On top of all that, the ward two makes this hard to deal with on curve so that you have a solid early blocker which blue covets.
A Clone that can hit anything on the battlefield is always good because it can either let you trade off for their best creature or push your advantage. In this case, it can even help you catch up on tempo if you were on the draw by turning into a three drop.
The interesting thing here is that it is any permanent, not just creature. That’s a nice Planeswalker, don’t mind if I get my own. It can even be removal by copying Ossification or Mesmerizing Dose. That much versatility makes this a premium card.
This seems like a really janky card selection spell especially being in the same set as Experimental Augury. It does have some utility though since you can just jam it whenever you have two extra mana and you don’t have to make a decision on which one to play until later. Everyone who has ever taken a land off of an Impulse before drawing one the next turn knows exactly what I am talking about.
In the vast majority of cases (the ones where your deck order is unknown), this is functionally just as “random” as being the top three cards so don’t let that word scare you off.
A toxic Wind Drake with literal nothing else would see some play in this format. The haste ability is a nice touch for a surprise poison counter when you draw it later too.
What really matters is seeking a nonland card whenever you manage to connect with the face. The funny thing is that it helps you snowball early, but the closer you get to winning the less likely it is that you are going to be packing something to get off of this.
March Toward Perfection
March Toward Perfection’s Spellbook
- Entomber Exarch
- Phyrexian Fleshgorger
- Phyrexian Gargantua
- Phyrexian Obliterator
- Phyrexian Rager
- Phyrexian Revoker
- Toxic Abomination
- Vault Skirge
- Scrapwork Rager
- Bilious Skulldweller
- Archfiend of the Dross
- Myr Convert
- Zenith Chronicler
- Soulless Jailer
- Diminished Returner
Only costing one mana lets you slip this in your curve early and since almost every creature in this set is Phyrexian, you’ll get that +1+1 counter and deathtouch on pretty much the next thing you cast. If it’s curved into a Duelist of Deep Faith or a Jawbone Duelist, good luck opponent.
This also replaces itself and the delta between some of these cards is what’s holding this off from being bonkers. Phyrexian Obliterator can be busted, but you aren’t exactly going to be twisting your mana base for the possibility that you hit it. You’re also never going to be thrilled when Soulless Jailer shows up. You do get a choice of three and you would still be playing most of them in your deck making this a worthy inclusion.
On rate, a three-power menace for two is a step up from the expected. The problem is finding the right deck for it because you don’t necessarily want to just jam it in any black deck that is trying to win through poison.
The best home for this is Rakdos which is usually a bunch of aggressive red cards with Charforgers and removal spells. This is a nice addition to that archetype and you won’t mind putting some extra copies of those removal spells into your deck with the ability.
Big thing to note with this is that it doesn’t have the clause that you can pay for the card with any color of mana so don’t conjure your opponents’ cards in colors you can’t cast. You can still exile them since the conjuring is a may ability.
You have to look at this as getting three game pieces for the price of one. You would be sad to play a 3/2 for three, but having a cheap equipment to move around afterwards is worth it even if it’s worse than a Short Sword. You even get a Goblin Gaveleer thrown in which starts looking pretty nice once equipped. The price is right for so many pieces even if they are all a bit below par on their own.
All you have to do to ensure that this always trigger this is to not put the sphere lands or Terramorphic Expansein your deck. That’s a cost I am willing to pay to get a free Lightning Bolt when this hits play.
I’ve had more decks that have been heavy red than any other color in the format so I’m more likely to have a deck that this is actually playable in than with Phyrexian Obliterator or Phyrexian Vindicator. It is still very difficult to cast and can be cleanly dealt with by multiple cards in the format. I want to be playing at least eleven red sources to consider playing this.
Rothga, Bonded Engulfer
I’m so glad that this doesn’t have toxic so that it can avoid the fate of so many other chonky green creatures that have been devastated by Hexgold Slash. The trample is going to play very nice with the combat tricks running around with Titanic Growth turning this into The Incredible Hulk.
What do you want to follow this up with? A 14/14 Atraxa, Grand Unifier is my fever dream (coming soon to a bounty on the podcast), but even at common an 8/9 Furnace Strider coming in hot is going to destroy some opponents.
Unfortunately, mites are not insects so you’re going to be pretty limited on what this buffs up. It does actually give itself the bonus so it can snowball quickly if your opponent kept a slow hand. It provides another viable one drop that toxic Selesnya desperately wants.
They certainly played it safe with this Birthing Pod variant. I’m sure there’s going to be some abusable chain in constructed, but it’s a lot harder to craft a deck like that in limited. Being a Seek instead of a tutor takes away the toolbox application by adding randomness to it. I’ll pass.
Arek, False Goldwarden
A hard to cast bear that can be pretty easily dealt with if it gets close to mattering. It takes some time to build up to a big enough drain to be worth five mana and a sacrifice. This isn’t the format that lets you mess around and keep a creature out of combat while it gets intense.
This was clearly designed to have multiples since it counts up even in library, but it’s a mythic so good luck with that in limited. You’ll always play this if you are in these colors, but it’s a surprisingly middle of the road power level for an alchemy gold card.
Bladehold Cleaver’s Spellbook
- Accorder Paladin
- Ardent Recruit
- Auriok Sunchaser
- Blade-Tribe berserkers
- Goblin Gaveleer
- Hero of Bladehold
- Hero of Oxid Ridge
- Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer
- Mirran Crusader
- Oxidda Scrapmelter
- Sunspear Shikari
- Oxidda Finisher
- Barbed Batterfist
- Bladehold War-Whip
- Dragonwing Glider
This comes in as a 4/4 for four that gives you a card whenever the creature dies. As you can see from the spellbook, there aren’t many clunkers in there so it’s going to put them in a rough position on whether or not to trade with it.
It’s pretty sweet that whenever they deal with your creature (outside of bounce, Pacifism removal, etc) you get a new one to keep the train going. A great card for one of the already top tier archetypes.
Contagion Dispencer’s Spellbook
- Bloom Hulk
- Contagion Engine
- Contagion Clasp
- Evolution Sage
- Contentious Plan
- Flux Channeler
- Inexorable Tide
- Merfolk Skydiver
- Pollenbright Druid
- Roalesk, Apex Hybrid
- Sword of Truth and Justice
- Smell Fear
- Tezzeret's Gambit
Do you think you’re going to get away with playing a four mana do nothing in the worst color combination? If so, you’ve been getting dispensed something and it sure isn’t contagion. Jokes aside, you need to build a defensive deck to survive long enough to take advantage of this.
The cool thing is that all of the cards you can get off of this proliferate so you can keep getting more new cards off of it. A one card engine will eventually win the game for you as long as you don’t get ran over in the mean time. Definitely going to be tempting me to try to get it to work.
Three colors? In this economy? Darksteel Ingot sure would be convenient to have before you try to cast it, unfortunately it’s probably not doing much afterwards.
As for the creature itself, six mana for a 6/6 is around where I am comfortable playing it since that is big enough to dominate the battlefield while being conveniently out of range of Rebel Salvo. They can still kill it with Salvo since it loses indestructible, but you’re at least getting another card out of it.
The thrown in Darksteel Plate is pricy, but can be annoying as sin in the right situation. There are still ways to get around indestructible like -X/-X so you could still get kicked in the pants after you invested five mana into it. Don’t get tricked by the Arena interface and try to use Drown in Ichor on a five toughness indestructible creature because it is showing you that it has three toughness after damage.
Four mana to not affect the board continues to be a poor decision to make in Phyrexia. Slow card draw as the payoff is not really what I’m looking to do either. There are certainly matchups I would board this in for, but this event is only best of one so it’s a pretty big gamble.
Gyox, Brutal Carnivora
This is handing out oil counters to your team like a mom with orange slices after soccer practice. How valuable that is really depends on the rest of your cards since it will be a real banger with Evolving Adaptive, but pretty mid with literally every black card in the set. It does let you recycle them into your deck with a bit of beefiness thrown in so I would happily play it as long as my Golgari is grinding (which I can assure you it is).
The only consistently successful Dimir decks I’ve seen are based around burning your opponent out with poison. While this does the Voidwing Hybrid trick of coming back, this is more of a defensive creature that can eventually end the game through damage when it gets huge.
It’s going to be really hard for them to get through this once it hits a certain point, just make sure you are packing enough proliferate to keep it around.
Curving Swooping Lookout into this is going to steal some games before they have a chance to get out of the gate. It’s even a dece early blocker for your opponent’s early toxic rush. Just make sure you have a critical mass of both one and two drops along with artifact creatures to make this really pop off though.
As long as you’re playing the long game with Golgari, this could be your end game because it is inevitable. It only takes one death to have a couple of three mana Colossal Dreadmaws in your deck and after that it just gets silly with Gigantaslimus.
Why isn’t this an Azorius card? Getting a Mox Opal would make that deck pop off. Izzet is usually playing an oil-based deck which is probably going to come up short on wanting this. It’s not worth a splash because you want to be dropping this early. So close to being great, yet so far.
While a Hill Giant with toxic one is pretty unspectacular, this does perpetually give itself and the rest of your creatures the Crawling Chorus trigger. That means your opponent mite be seething as your team skitters all over them.
Having a Pestilent Syphoner in your deck is the sad cost you have to pay sometimes to get poison counters going. This is a two-color version in a bad combination that has a pretty minimal upside attached. No thank you.
Vexyr, Ich-Tekik’s Heir
A three color three drop that is only slightly overstatted sounds like a non-starter unless it has some absurd ability. There are only six cards that seek in this set, only three of which are in these colors. While it would be insane if you somehow curved into this with an Innovative Metatect triggering every turn, in most cases it’s just a vanilla creature.
I almost forgot to mention that it does give Dune Mover, Ichorplate Golem, and Soulless Jailer vigilance. So that’s a thing…right?
Let me get this straight. You need to filter two other cards to make two more colorless land and then sacrifice three lands to get a mana intensive 6/6 onto the battlefield.
I’ll pull out my trusty abacus to figure this out. That means you need to spend seven mana (two activations of the one mana plus tapping itself and the two plus tapping itself) to three for one yourself while setting yourself back three land drops. It also takes three turns to do it so you can’t just have all that happen at once if you top deck this later.
Even after all that they can then just Anoint with Affliction or Planar Disruption your Soul of New Phyrexia up out the joint. Seems like a pretty bad deal to me.
Thanks for reading! This seems like it will be a breath of fresh air in a format that’s been getting a bit stale lately. While nothing is completely format warping it should shake things up just enough to keep us entertained for a couple weeks. Hopefully next time they also alchemize a few of the cards from the normal set.
Keep checking back on the site as I’ll be updating my draft guide and tier list later this week. Until then, stay classy people!
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.
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