Phyrexia: All Will Be One Cards for Commander Cube

 Phyrexia: All Will Be One is looking to be a much better set for commander cube than it does for traditional cube. The counter/ proliferate focused approach of the set has been a boon for my commander cube as it allows me to run more incidental support for counters. Prior to this set, proliferate cards were narrower in application and many did not thrive in my cube. Aside from this, the set has taken many EDH popular effects and repackaged them in more appealing and unique ways. Though I'm not sure if this set help diversify commander cubes, it did power it up and I'm looking to play the mentioned cards. Whether or not they stay is a different story.

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For this post, I'll be discussing the cards from Phyrexia: All Will Be One that I plan to run in my commander cube. I will be categorizing cards based on their function in Commander cube since the format is constructed differently from traditional cube. The categories will be Recommended, Recommended as Commander, and Cards of interest. Each category will be explained in their own section.

The Short List

  • Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines
  • Vraska, Betrayal's Sting
  • Nissa, Ascended Animist
  • Mondrak, Glory Dominus
  • Mindsplice Apparatus
  • Conduit of Worlds
  • Sword of Forge and Frontier
  • Hexplate Wallbreaker
Recommend as Commander
  • Atraxa, Grand Unifier
  • Jor Kadeen, First Goldwarden
  • Glissa Sunslayer
Cards of Interest
  • Vishgraz the Doomhive
  • Norn's Choirmaster
  • Contaminant Grafter
  • Norn's Decree
  • Skyhunter Strike Force
  • Chiss-Goria, Forge Tyrant
  • Ichormoon Gauntlet
  • Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus
  • Drivnod, Carnage Dominus
  • The Eternal Wanderer
  • Bloated Contaminator
  • Unctus, Grand Metatect
  • Ezuri, Stalker of Spheres
  • Ovika, Enigma Goliath
  • Kethek, Crucible Goliath 


In this section, I'm planning to cover the cards I recommend. My criteria is based on the power and synergies of the card. This list will include potential commanders. If they are mentioned in this section, this means the card had merits beyond being a commander. There is a separate section for cards that only qualify as commanders.

Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines is easily one of the best cards to come from this set for commander cube. She has multiple things going on that commander cubes are excited to add. First and foremost, she doubles your ETB triggers of permanents, which is the most exciting part about her. This lets her fit into not just creature decks, but artifact and enchantment decks as well. Panharmonicon is a card that does similar and is colorless, however the card had limited utility as it only cares about creatures. Secondly, her second ability is a Torpor Orb for just your opponent's cards, making her excellent as a hate bear piece adding more options for the deck. For the uninitiated, a majority of the best creatures in Magic have ETB abilities and this removes that aspect of those cards, essentially neutering the cards. Additionally, it hits enchantments and artifacts, which is more potent with the release of Portal to Phyrexia from BRO. Lastly, the card is a legendary creature, qualifying it to be a commander.

I highly recommend the card as it looks to be a versatile commander with varying build/ draft routes. For my commander cube, I value versatility over power as I want the decks to feel different. This card does well in both categories and will probably be a mainstay in commander cube for a longtime.

Vraska, Betrayal's Sting is looking to be a solid addition to commander cube. The card function similar to Ob Nixilis, Reignited, which is a boring, but solid card to play. The compleated aspect of that card also makes it fall in line as a 5 mana card rather than a 6 mana card, making it comparable. Vraska being able to proliferate counters makes her a solid support cards in both counters and planeswalkers strategies, while sacrificing minimal amounts of the utility that came with Ob Nixilis. Black currently is limited in how it supports these strategies. The printing of Vraska supports a Green Black base for the deck versus the traditional Green White base. The removal aspect of the card is different since it turns a creature into a treasure versus outright killing them. This allows players to rescue their card by flickering/ bouncing it to return it to its normal state. Additionally, you are giving them an extra mana through the treasure. From initial prospects, this generally won't have a significant impact as mana is less impactful with less cards in hand. This isn't to say it's useless as it potentially enables swingy plays, so do be careful. Lastly, her ultimate is her worst trait as it doesn't kill your opponent, which is exacerbated when you remember there's 4 opponents, who will each proceed to beat you in for using this ability.

Overall, I'd recommend the card. Overlooking the ultimate, the card is a sidegrade to Ob Nixilis, Reignited, but the proliferate adds extra utility and synergies that strengthen niche archetypes.

Nissa, Ascended Animist is looking to be a ridiculous part of Green's identity of my commander cube. The card heavily reminds Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury as it was a similar Green centric commander that generated tokens and was able to destroy enchantments and artifacts. The main concern/ hurdle to this card is the mana cost, but this is much easier to overcome in the commander environment versus a traditional cube environment. With a stronger emphasis on mana ramp and the padded 40 life, this card is less daunting to play and the phyrexian mana becomes added versatility versus a Fireblast to the face. Nissa's token ability is able to generate massive threatening creatures every turn. The tokens stand favorably against a lot of the creature thanks to the massive body. The Naturalize ability is nothing special, but it gets the job done when you need it. Lastly, the ultimate on the card is what brings the whole package together. She can use it to pump up the tokens she generate and/or take advantage of your board and just smack the entire table to death. What's more is that you can use the ultimate right away if you hardcast the card, adding versatility and utility to the card. This more for me personally, but I do not have a ton of overrun effects in my commander cube as I do not have extra copies of Craterhoof, making this a less expensive option.

Overall, high recommendation on the card as it is a fairly powerful card that enhances any Green deck, while still being self-sufficient in a vacuum.

Mondrak, Glory Dominus has reasons similar to Elesh Norn, Mother of MAchines of why it is highly recommended from me for commander cube. The card takes the token doubling effect found on popular commander cards like Doubling Season and Anointed Procession and slaps it onto a creature. For my cube, this allows the effect to enter my cube. My problem with every other token doubling card is that they are typically found on expensive do nothing enchantments that demand to be built around. Mondrak solves this problem by being a creature, which raises the floor as players will draft the card because it is a creature. What's more is that the mana cost pushes the card as Anointed Procession exists at the same mana cost and the body is better than the other 4 mana options. Mondrak can also achieve a similar difficult to kill status if you activate the indestructible counter ability. Lastly, Mondrak is a legendary creature allowing it to be another commander option in your cube.

Overall, having the token doubling effect on a creature is what sells the card to me as a recommendation. The merit of being a creature allows it to be playable in more decks than an enchantment would be. The legendary portion is just extra gas as it can also be your commander.

Mindsplice Apparatus might be the best version of noncreature spell reduction ever printed. This card solves problem that I had with similar cards and goes beyond. As mentioned before with Mondrak, previous interation of the cards were do nothing enchantments. This is particularly bad for highly interactive decks that wanted to hold up mana. Mindsplice Apparatus fixes this situation by having flash, allowing the player to hold up mana with less risk. Additionally the card's spell reduction increases as time goes on, which is unique among these cards. Since the reduction is based on oil counters, you can proliferate the counters to grow the effect. Since it gains counters on upkeep, you won't be able to use the mitigation right away, but this is normally not an issue if you flash it is your turn. Another thing to note is that the card is also an artifact, which opens it to artifact interactions, but also to more common artifact removal.

I'm bullish on the card since it fits well into what Blue in my commander cube wants to be doing. The flash alone makes the card worth considering if you support spells matter, however it also sits at a nice crossroads between spells matter and artifacts. 

Conduit of Worlds was already a card I was planning to run in a traditional cube and I believe Conduit will do even better in the commander cube environment. From how I view it, it's a very fair crossover between Crucible of the Worlds and Underworld Breach. It shines as a value engine that lets you play cards from your graveyard. The card fits nicely into graveyard centric decks such as lands matter and reanimator. What's more that unlike other cards that allow you to replay cards from your graveyard, the cards played do not run the risk of exiling themselves. This can create situations where you will play the same card over and over again every turn. This ability will improve as the game goes on due to the size of your graveyard. This makes it perfect for graveyard and midrange decks looking to outvalue their opponents. The main downside is that it limits you to casting one card a turn should you activate it. In traditional cube, this is a minimal downside as late game resources are generally scarce for both players. This is a big deal in a commander environment as it limits your potential explosive plays while you're dealing with 3 other players. 

I'm looking forward to the impact this card will add to my cube environment. It adds more support to decks that already exist in my cube and is a solid card for late game.

Sword of Forge and Frontier is probably the best card from the set for Commander cube. There were some concerns that the card was slow in traditional cube, however with the change of pace of commander, there's more time for this card to generate value. What's more the card does the two things that are a vital part of commander: Ramp and Card Draw.  These two things go into every deck as long as they have the creatures to hold the equipment. Another boon with the commander environment is that there are 3 other players to hit, this card will have an easy time triggering and gaining advantage for the player.

High recommendation on this card as it does everything any drafter would want in commander and can go in almost every deck.

Hexplate Wallbreaker is awesome as extra combat steps is always a welcome addition. The card thrives in Red's various strategies because of the fact that it is an equipment that also spawns a token attached to it, effectively also making it a creature. This sets the baseline for the card to being a 5 drop 4/4 comparable to Karlach. As an equipment, it fits into both equipment and artifact strategies, making it potent in Daretti decks since they can recur it/ cheat it out. The equip cost is cheap for the effect you are getting, so even if you lose the token you are still able to put it on another creature. What's more you only need to declare attackers for the ability to work. 

Low effort extra combat steps on a versatile card with a tons of synergy is an easy sell to me.

Recommend as Commander

This section is to highlight cards that would not have been made normally, but because they are legendary they have the potential to serve as a commander, which is kinda important for commander cube.

Atraxa, Grand Unifier is a rare case of a card becoming worse going from traditional cube to commander cube, but this is primarily due to how commander changes the way it functions. The power of this card comes from being in the deck, but due to it being 4 colors, the decks this card can fit in it are near 0 with only 5c and sans red decks being the only home for this card. Where its color identity does come in handy is that it can serve as a commander for your 4 color slot, which is why this card is recommended as a commander. This slot was only occupied by Atraxa's previous iteration prior to the release of this card. Thus if you're looking for an alternative choice this is a great one to go for. When comparing the two cards, this iteration of Atraxa is more value oriented deck build and is less build around. Looking at the actual card, she has a powerful body that allows her to stabilize your board and function as a beatstick for commander damage without support. Her ETB ability is absurdly powerful as it will give you the gas to either keep up or get ahead of your opponents and it will always be available since she sits in the command zone.

Because it is more difficult to play her in commander cube due to the color identity restriction, this limits her to only being a commander. On her own she is still extremely powerful once you are able to cast her and as the only other option for a sans red deck, this is easy to recommend her as an option as a commander if you're in the market for one.

Jor Kadeen, First Goldwarden isn't the most interesting Boros commander available, however it provides conditional card draw and is a lot more versatile than it looks. Card draw is scarce in the Boros colors as is, so any card that provides it is worth taking a look at. First off, the commander is low cost, has an average body, and comes with trample. The trample on the card provides the card with evasion making it suitable for voltron strategies. This is further supported by the card draw portion which only cares that Jor Kadeen has 4 or more power when it checks. Jor Kadeen already cares about equipment, but you can also his power up through various other means including +1/+1 counters and auras to qualify for the card draw. This versatility allows for overlap with other strategies,which is always a good thing for the draft environment.

If you're looking to include a versatile voltron or a power matters commander, this is a solid option as although its primarily centered around equipment, it also works well with +1/+1 counters, auras. and pump spells.

Glissa Sunslayer
 is a safely designed card that can fit into any deck that wants it and can play it. The body and mana cost are fair for what you are getting and the abilities on the card are never bad, but the card will never be amazing either. The on hit ability will always be good since you can use it to at minimum draw cards. The remove counters part is fairly versatile as you can use to remove loyalty counters on planeswalkers and also other types of counters such as charge counters, keyword counters, and +1/+1 counters. The two keywords on the card, deathtouch and first strike, make it difficult to block the card, further cementing your chances of getting the on hit triggers. This is on top of the fact that you have more opponents to choose to hit. These keywords also lend it to be a solid blocker as well. Lastly, she has solid creature types in zombie and elf, adding a commander and support for these two creature types.

Solid body, solid creature types, and solid abilities make it a worth considering especially if you plan on supporting an elf and/or zombie deck that is draftable.

Cards of Interest
Cards listed in this category are cards that I think are cool and could potentially make it in a commander cube, but there is no space for them for my current cube or I can't find a way to fit them in. Some of these cards will make the cut over the cards mentioned prior.

Vishgraz, the Doomhive is a card that I like as a potential commander as it seems self sufficient acting as an enabler and reward for poison counters. Vishgraz is versatile as he is able to grow himself into being a respectable voltron commander by stacking poison counters or you can opt to play him as a token since he generates 3 mite tokens. Versatility is always worth considering. My main concern is that my current counters theme does not do enough to support the card as I don't have enough cards with poison counters or proliferate in cube.

Norn's Choirmaster is another card I would have strongly considered if the space in my cube wasn't so tight. The card has a prominent body and stats, but nothing too special. What draws me to the card is the proliferate triggers since my cube lacks any real counters support in white aside from +1/+1, which is still strong. The card can also work right away if your commander was already on the field or if you have the mana to cast it. This effect also gets better with partner commanders and planeswalker commanders. Main issue against the card is that without a density of counter related cards, this card is just a respectable 5/4 flying first striker. There are more interesting 5 drops in that scenario.

Contaminant Grafter shares a lot of similarities with Norn's Choirmaster and thus it shares a lot of the same reasons that I'm interested. This is essentially a larger Bloated Contaminator, which I was big on for traditional cube because of how pushed it looks for 1v1 format. Additionally, the card is its own reward and enabler much like Vishgraz, but is more versatile since it gives what commander wants: card draw and ramp. What makes it more likely to make it in my commander cube is that my 5 drop slots are lacking in general power and instead are built off of synergies.

Norn's Decree is the weird mix of Ghostly Prison and Edric, which I like. The card influences player decisions and encourages multiplayer interaction. It also provides white decks with a way to draw cards, which is always good. In the context of my cube, it actually fits into a decent amount of different white strategies and encourages me to start looking at including proliferate, which I am wanting to do. These strategies include enchantments, politics, and attack matter. However, what is keeping it out from being an instant include is that the card is weird and requires some real thought into how to include it.

Skyhunter Strike Force is a creature version of Adriana, Captain of the Guard, which is one of the commander I'm running for Boros. What I like about melee is that the mechanic encourages players to swing at everyone else for massive damage. At minimum, melee functions as an pump giving your creatures +1/+1 and has the potential to go up to +3/+3 in a 4 player game, though it is dependent on you having your commander out if you want it to be an anthem. Thus this effectively makes the card bigger than the actual stats written on the card. I currently run a bunch of anthems already and would have a difficult time finding cuts as my other white anthems have utility outside of being an anthem, but they do not add as much damage as this card can.

Chiss-Goria, Forge Tyrant is cool as it as additional crossover between dragons and artifacts in red. Potentially being extremely mana efficient and being able to generate card advantage are huge selling points for adding this card in commander cube. What I don't like is that the card is too artifact dependent, creating situations where its bad or ineffective to play.

Ichormoon Gauntlet is cool new approach to adding planeswalker support. I like that it is an artifact synergizing with blue's preference for artifacts, which also already plays Tezzeret as a supporting piece. The card adds new abilities to your existing planeswalkers with proliferate being awesome if you are running a planeswalker deck to quickly have our planeswalkers support other planeswalkers. The noncreature clause is reminiscent of flux channeler, though the ability is weaker. The card might be too planeswalker centric for my cube, but if I manage to acquire one I will test it.

Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus is sweet as it doubles all of your proliferates, quickly growing any counters you have. My cube doesn't run enough proliferate to justify playing it, which is the only thing stopping me.

Drivnod, Carnage Dominus suffers the same problem as Tekuthal. The card is cool since there's not enough card that interact with die trigger. I like it, but I do not run enough die effects to justify its inclusion. This can change with time, but not right now.

The Eternal Wanderer definitely worth looking at. It competes with Elspeth, Sun's Champion for 6 mana planeswalker and gives the card a run for its money. The card is more versatile as it can do what Elspeth does and can also flicker creatures and artifacts, synergizing with those strategies. The card doesn't generate as many tokens, which isn't a bad thing since it has a passive that protects itself and the token is a stronger defender/ attacker. What's keeping the card out of my cube is that I like Elspeth's ultimate to finish games, though it rarely happens.

Bloated Contaminator is a pushed 3 drop, having abilities and a stats way above where they should be when compared to other 3 drops. Besides this, the card's only synergies are counter strategies thanks to the proliferate. I don't see the cut I make for this being worth it if it hurts the synergies that are present already in my cube.

Unctus, Grand Metatect is an inverted Grand Architect, which has been on my consideration list for my cube every time I make changes to it. That first ability is the biggest draw as it turns vehicle crewing and tap ability into loot effects for other blue creatures. This opens up infinite combos for cards that are able to tap to untap themselves like Apphetto Alchemist, which is the main reason I'm liking this card. The problem I have with it is that its abilities seem clunky and take a decent amount of effort to make it happen.

Ezuri, Stalker of Spheres suffers from the same problem as Tekuthal, which is that there is not enough proliferate to support him. His upside is that unlike Tekuthal, he can actually proliferate on ETB, effectively drawing you two card if you pay the additional 3 mana; a respectable rate on par with evoked Mulldrifter.

I like Young Pyromancer and his friends who do similar things already. Ovika, Enigma Goliath does the same thing on a much bigger scale, which is why I like it. Why I don't like it is that the card is way too costly to play and may arrive after you're running low on resources. Cheaper body and cost would have been what I wanted.

Kethek, Crucible Goliath seems like a cool option to run as a commander and opens Rakdos up to a value oriented sacrifice deck. The limitations on the card to only non-legendary creatures is slightly problematic as commander cube tends to run a higher count of legendary creatures to provide a ton of options for builds. I find the mana value limitation also problematic as I run a higher curve for commander cube, which also limits the efficacy of the card. The limitations are what stops me from considering the card more seriously, but I think the effect is cool.

The End Phase

This wraps up my preliminary thoughts on what cards I'm speculating on including in commander cube. Unfortunately, I was going through some health issues that made it hard for me to go out and play this set, which also meant I missed prerelease. It also means wasn't able to get any real play of this set except for Arena Quick Draft and so I was reliant on the whispers on the internet to see how things were going and all I saw was complaining about the set. From what I did get to play, there's very little from the set that inspires me other than the really neat interaction with proliferate, which the set does really well and makes me want to incorporate more of it into my cube. Poison counters are another mechanic that I liked from the set, however I find them narrow and needing support. Overall, the set felt safe when it comes to commander cube and nothing really blew my mind so far. Hoping time will make me regret not going hard on the set.

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