So by now everybody has seen the new God of Dimir colours, Phenax. When he was previewed (without the rest of the set) it was met with mixed reactions, at least it was on Mythicspoiler.com. Half the people were saying how this card sucked and that they wished that Wizards would move away from the Mill deck, and the other half were screaming at how great the card would be, especially if you combined it with Consuming Aberration. Let that combo sink in for a minute. A powerful combo indeed and almost guaranteed to kill your opponent within 2-3 turns. But that is almost entirely a casual deck. Not that there’s anything wrong with casual, as it drives the market, but what surprised me was that nobody was talking about how this card could impact limited.
In limited this card is going to be a bomb, and in my opinion it is almost assuredly a snap first pick. When you figure that your opponent is running a 40 card deck then draw 7 on average for their first hand leaving them with 33 cards, and then by the time you get to play this baby down they have drawn 4-5 cards more leaving them with 28 cards or so. And with this guy as a milling engine, the games won’t last long. Much in the same way that Jace used to pump your deck in 2-3 turns when he hit the table and milled 10. Only this isn’t a planeswalker, can’t be destroyed or attacked directly. It’s an indestructable God. So there is my limited analysis for you.
But back to the group of people that really drive this game, the casual market. This guy is going to be a lot of fun and people are going to try and work him to death to make the fabled mill deck that seems to have become as niche a collection of cards as classic burn has. So I thought to myself, why not try and see what can be done by combining as many high toughness stall out wall-type creatures in the deck as possible and waiting out Phenax to drop.
Sadly we have no one drop defenders in Black or Blue, but we have several two drops that will fit in quite nice. The first is Doorkeeper, a 0/4 defender which has built in milling already, which works well if you don’t have Phenax out already, but is probably a little lackluster once Phenax is in play. Next we have Murmuring Phantasm, a very simple 0/5 defender for one and a blue. Nothing too complicated, but it will clog up the ground rather nicely. In keeping with going alphabetically we have Returned Phalanx next at a 3/3 with defender and a little combat trick that will let you attack if need be.
Moving into our three cost slot we can find Corpse Blockade, a nice 1 /4 creature that has a little combat trick of sacrificing a creature to gain deathtouch. An ability that should make opponents wary about attacking into you at all times if you have another creature to offer up to the god. After that comes a very nice Hover Barrier, a 0/6 defender with flying to boot. There isn’t much out there that isn’t monstrous that this fat wall won’t take care of. And after that comes an old goodie in Wall of Frost, a 0/7 defender that can cause your opponents creatures to stall out for a turn if they are blocked by him. And then we have the new member to the Fat Defender family from Born of the Gods with Black Oak of Odunas, a 0/5 defender for two and a black that can pump itself up with +1/+1 until the end of the turn at the cost of a Black mana and tapping another creature.
But we can’t rely on just these defenders in order to keep our opponent at bay, we need spells too. Defensive spells, such as Hero’s Downfall, Doom Blade, and Voyage’s End. Cards that can stall out our opponent until we can get our awesome defender mill engine online. Another card that came to mind is Far//Away, a multi-purpose card that acts as both an edict and a boomerang effect. Versatility goes a long way in deck construction.
So where would that leave us? Well, lets throw something together.
- 4x Phenax, God of Deception – The engine
- 4x Murmuring Phantasm – Defender
- 4x Doorkeeper – Defender, Secondary Engine
- 4x Returned Phalanx – Defender, Alternative Attacker
- 4x Hover Barrier – Defender Supreme
- 4x Wall of Frost – Defender of Lockdown
- 3x Doom Blade – Straight Removal
- 3x Voyage’s End – Tempo Removal
- 3x Hero’s Downfall – Straight Removal
- 3x Far//Away – Options are good!
Overall, this is a very casual deck, and doesn’t appear to do very much, but when you get the engine online your opponent is bound to pull his (or her) hair out. It has the potential to be a very deceiving deck.
Until next time,
~ Gerald Knight