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Distorted Curiosity

Phyrexia: All Will Be One Limited Mechanics Guide

Guide on the mechanics for Phyrexia: All Will Be One Limited format: Toxic, Corrupted, For Mirrodin!, Oil Counters, and Proliferate.

Hey everyone! The Phyrexian invasion is officially upon us as All Will Be One is about to drop. We’ve already gone over the individual card grades so today I’m here to talk about the mechanics. This will give you a good idea about what is actually going on in the set as well as some cool ways to synergize.


When a creature with Toxic deals damage to a player, that player gets a number of poison counters equal to the toxic value on the creature. For those who’ve never dealt with poison counters before, a player loses the game when they have ten or more poison counters. It’s an alternative win condition that could be popping up a lot in this set.

It is basically a “fixed” version of Infect that still deals regular damage to the opponent which takes away some of the awkwardness in limited of your creatures not all being on the same page. It also isn’t scalable with pump spells so you don’t have to factor that in to your blocking. It does work wonderfully with trample though as even doing one point of damage will give the whole amount of poison counters.

Multiple instances of toxic on a creature are cumulative so if you cast Aspirant's Ascent on a Branchblight Stalker, the opponent would get three poison counters from the now flying elf connecting with their face.

It’s going to be very interesting because it allows you to attack on two axes simultaneously without sacrificing too much for the privilege. While the poison counters might be the primary plan, you are chipping away at their life total as well giving you the opportunity to find other lines to get you across that finish line.

Since you only need to get to ten counters, it can happen a lot quicker than people are prepared for. Board states when you are normally stabilized are much different when a couple cantrips can end the game so it is going to take some adjustments from normal play patterns.

While toxic is an alternate path to victory, it’s also an enabler for our next mechanic.


Corrupted grants an additional ability to permanents or spells when the opponent has three or more poison counters. It is very similar to threshold (if you know what that is, how’s your back feeling today?) where you ignore that text until you reach the threshold (see what I did there?) for it. If you no longer meet that criterion, then you can pretend that text has disappeared again.

It’s a fairly simple idea and really rewards you for getting in some early poison counters. It’s also an ability that can lead to games snowballing as soon as it’s activated. While Juzam Djinn hasn’t been premium in many a year, they quake in their boots at the thought of Ravenous Necrotitan rumbling into the red zone early.

It’s not just the possibility of an early monster that makes corrupted scary. How about turning Bring the Ending from Quench into a strictly better Counterspell. Drawing two cards for only one mana with Distorted Curiosity, don’t mind if I do. I could keep going with individual cards, but the point remains that it turns some cards from good to great all because your opponent has three poison counters.

It will be fascinating to see how this develops as the set goes on. Will it ever matter enough that you chump block early instead of taking that third counter? There might not even be anything you can do about it once the first one sneaks through because of proliferate.

For Mirrodin!

For Mirrodin! is an ability where when an equipment enters play, you make a red 2/2 and attach the equipment to it. It’s a trigger so even if they kill the equipment, you still get the bear. Did you like Living Weapon where you got a germ token? It’s exactly like that but it’s a 2/2 red creature instead of a 0/0 germ.

There are a pretty big range of these from the very threatening Dragonwing Glider to the not-so-great Mirran Bardiche. They couldn’t make them too powerful because they are an inherent two for one. While some of them have outlandishly high costs to reequip, it is because it was basically thrown in with the creature you already had.

One of the more comical corner cases with this is something like Red Sun's Twilight that puts hasty copies in that are sacrificed at end of turn. They don’t actually get to attack because the equipment has haste and not the creature the equipment creates.

Oil Counters

On their own, Oil counters are the flavor text of counters. In the majority of cases the cards could have basically just used a generic counter for them. It starts to matter when other cards get involved as they care about things like the number of permanents with oil counters or allow you to move oil counters around.

There really isn’t much to discuss about them in particular because the functions vary. Most of the cards that use them either come into play with some amount of them or have a mechanic to add them on for something like whenever you cast a non-creature spell or a creature dying.


Our old friend Proliferate has returned. When you proliferate, you may choose any number of players or permanents that have counters on them, then for each kind of counter it has, give it another one. While it is technically the same the ability has always been, it has typically been used mainly for +1/+1 counters which they made a design decision to exclude from the set.

While you choose permanents or players, you have to copy every type of counter on them. It is very, very rarely going to come up because it is extremely difficult to get two types of counters on the same one. This is actually the functional advantage of making everything oil counters because it helps to reign in proliferate.

The most obvious thing that you are going to be proliferating is poison counters.  We’ve talked about them, but hey it’s not often you get to kill your opponent by casting a card draw spell. (Unless you want to talk about Turbo Zvi or Stroke of Genius off of Tolarian Academy, but those were targeting them)

Oil counters are the other thing that you are going to be proliferating a lot. Read above for more details. A great payoff for proliferate is Scheming Aspirant and no one is going to turn down adding more loyalty counters to their planeswalkers.

I almost forgot to mention that you can add another indestructible counter to your gods. It doesn’t serve an actual purpose other than being able to say that they are REALLY indestructible now.

Wrap Up

That brings us to the end of our look at the mechanics of Phyrexia: All Will Be One. It’s going to be an interesting ride that leads to a lot of different decision trees in possibly a short amount of time. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow when I’ll be dropping the archetypes column.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

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Josh is a member of the elite limited team The Draft Lab as well as the host of The Draft Lab Podcast. He was qualifying for Pro Tours, Nationals, and Worlds literally before some of you were born. After a Magic hiatus to play poker and go to medical school, he has been dominating Arena with over an 80% win percentage in Bo3 as well as making #1 rank in Mythic.

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