Magic: The Gathering’s newest set: Phyrexia: All Will Be One looms mere days away, and with that in mind I’ve taken notes on how the format looks at lower rarities, focusing on how you can dominate your prerelease and destroy your draft pods. You don’t have to Pore Over the Pages of previews, I’ve done that work for you. I’m Luka “Robot Rallis” Sharaska, and you’re about to level up your game.

If you have a Thirst for Knowledge regarding All Will Be One’s new (and returning) mechanics, you can check out this article by HotC all-star Zach Barash. If you’re Out of Time, here’s a non-exhaustive and quick refresher on the most relevant and common mechanics you’ll see.

Toxic is a new mechanic that causes creatures that deal any combat damage to a player to also give that player poison counters equal to whatever the toxic value is. For example, a 5/5 creature with Toxic 2 can deal five damage and two poison to a player.

Corrupted is a new mechanic that gives a boost to the card it is on if an opponent has three or more poison counters. This can be as granting abilities like deathtouch and lifelink in the case of Bonepicker Skirge, or even granting a boon to your whole team in the case of the toothy Incisor Glider.

Oil Counters are a new type of counter, showing up across a wide variety of cards and doing vastly different things on most of them, so I won’t bother listing each example. You will be placing them, removing them, moving them around, counting how many permanents you have with them, and more, so be ready to read carefully once the prerelease begins.

Proliferate is a returning mechanic that enables you to pick any number of permanents and/or players with a counter of any kind and add another to each. This is especially relevant for oil and poison counters, which are the most common you’ll see in this format.

For Mirrodin! is a mechanic that shows up on equipment, and creates a 2/2 red rebel creature token that immediately suits up with whatever equipment created it. This is a cool way of avoiding the major pitfall of equipment doing nothing without another card (a creature) already on the battlefield.

There are a few minor returning mechanics, but those mostly show up on individual cards and are not the main focus of the set. Before we move into discussions about individual colors, there are some important notes regarding the two-color uncommon cards, often called signpost uncommons due to how they signal what each color pair is generally supposed to aim towards. With only a few exceptions, most color pairs feature an uncommon that cares about toxic, proliferate, or oil counters. In many sets there is a clear stinker that doesn’t seem to get there, but I’m proud to say all of the two-color uncommon creatures in this set are rather strong, even if you don’t go deep to support their game plan. Without any further explanation, let’s dive into my picks for the five best commons of each color in no particular order.

An uncanny resort of flesh and bone for the followers of Elesh Norn.


This color contains many cheap, aggressive cards and flexible removal, encouraging a rushdown strategy of always keeping your opponent on the back foot. This is most obvious in these five cards, which present a tough proposition for anyone looking to survive the onslaught.

Planar Disruption starts off strong as a very versatile removal spell that does something Pacifism didn’t: It turns off activated abilities, which is very relevant in this set.

Incisor Glider might be the stuff of nightmares, but you should point it at your opponents. The base rate is solid for a cheap flying creature, and the upside, in a color filled to the brim with ways to produce 1/1 mites with toxic, is very high.

Indoctrination Attendant is only okay on its face, and you might not want to bounce most things back to your hand. Of course, For Mirrodin! equipment is perfect for this job, as you get to keep your 2/2 rebel and replay the equipment to get another!

Flensing Raptor hits hard and fast. Not only does this molar monster enable extremely aggressive starts, it also can push through surprise damage in the late game. This is a potent threat that you should never underestimate.

Basilica Shepherd technically does give you 5/5 worth of stats for your mana, although some of it might be a bit less powerful. If you’re ahead, this card is a disaster for your opponent. You do need a way to use these mites, but those are not in short supply.


This color features a wide array of tricks and ways to push through damage. A lot of the cards in this color have setup costs that you cannot afford to ignore, but much like white, blue wants to turn creatures sideways until the game ends.

Quicksilver Fisher has 4 power and flying. I mean, if you need more, you also get to loot when it comes into play, which is good at every stage of the game and only gets better with each passing turn. It is almost a must-kill, and trades with (or outright beats) almost every flying or reach creature at common.

Chrome Prowler is no Frost Lynx, but it will do a fine enough impression if you’re looking to deal damage or keep a creature from hitting you. As an artifact, it also gets to trigger certain abilities on your opponent’s turn, which can create wild situations with cards like Eye of Malcator.

Gitaxian Raptor has one huge boost that puts it in this list: You don’t have to spend mana to activate its ability. This plays defense and offense quite well, in addition to being an oh-so-important artifact.

Malcator’s Watcher is a tiny, albeit noteworthy common. Vigilance means you basically always get to attack without fear. If your opponent has any X/1s, this punishes them for their insolence big time.

Mesmerizing Dose is blue’s common removal. Like many of its predecessors such as Charmed Sleep, it is a bit clunky. Thankfully, you get to proliferate as a minor bonus for your efforts. That’s just enough to make this a worthwhile inclusion over Meldweb Curator or Meldweb Strider.


This color features a host of synergistic creatures backed up by a suite of removal that makes most colors jealous. Whether you’re trying to grind out a victory with poison counters or card advantage, there are plenty of options.

Anoint with Affliction is a great removal spell no matter how you slice it. You don’t have to have corrupted your opponent for this to be great, but it sure doesn’t hurt! If you have consistent ways to apply poison to your opponents you will play about as many of these as you can get.

Gulping Scraptrap is a great way to ensure that your oil and poison counters are flowing regardless of what your opponent does. If your opponent is poisoned enough, they might not even be able to block and kill this. All that on top of a decent power and toughness makes for a very solid curve topper.

Stinging Hivemaster follows in the footsteps of cards like Deathbloom Thallid, but instead of being able to block with the resulting token, you get toxic on both halves of this card. That’s still good, and I expect to see this very often.

Whispers of the Dross is a neat little trick that reminds me of Fungal Infection. Although this can’t ambush 2/2s like the fungus could, you’ll still destroy X/1s and win a lot of combats with it, and proliferate is a wonderful consolation prize.

Annihilating Glare is a perfect way to remove annoying threats if you have expendable assets like mites or the occasional Prophetic Prism laying around. Of course, you can also pay the full five mana and have a perfectly reasonable removal spell otherwise.


This color is a sea of removal surrounding a land mass of creatures with haste and trample. The removal shines just as well as what you saw in black, although the creatures are much more aggressive.

Hexgold Slash is supremely powerful in a format filled to the brim with creatures looking to poison you, and even against decks where toxic is less common you will have targets.

Volt Charge is a flexible burn spell with the value of proliferate added on top. There isn’t much to dislike. Even though there’s a healthy number of 4 toughness creatures at common, you’ll be able to remove a lot of threats with this.

Furnace Strider gives you a lot of value for five mana, and can swing the damage race in your favor exceedingly quickly. I was immediately reminded of Charging Monstrosaur, and that card was a serious beating.

Chimney Rabble is another hasty creature with a nice bonus on the side. Even if the token is a bit anemic on attacks, putting your eggs in more than one basket is generally a great plan in limited. Bonus points if you hook up the token with an equipment.

Bladegraft Aspirant is a big enabler for decks featuring multiple For Mirrodin! equipment. Since those cards come with creatures attached, you’re basically getting a discount on those creatures and a boost if you want those attached to the Aspirant instead.


This color has an astonishing amount of value across its common slot. Activated abilities, card advantage, and as you might expect, more beef than a steakhouse. There’s a lot of complexity here, so be cautious.

Contagious Vorrac has no real flaws. You can score a land if you need one, it fits perfectly into almost any curve, and the fail case still permits a free proliferate if nothing else. How much else can you ask for out of a 3-drop?

Predation Steward is exactly what I want out of a cheap creature. I can trade it off in the early turns, and it still maintains relevance in the late game. Yes, it is sorcery speed, but you’ll often be in a position where +2/+2 is more than enough to make a good block turn sour.

Ruthless Predation is your common green removal, and the toughness boost is enough to make up for this not being templated like Rabid Bite. You’ll routinely be able to remove larger creatures with this without worrying about your creature dying in the carnage that ensues.

Oil-Gorger Troll reminds me of Rhox Oracle, and that is a very good thing. Drawing cards, gaining life, and putting a substantial body into play makes this a card you’ll never want to cut.

Lattice-Blade Mantis hits extremely hard and still stays home to defend. Even if you can’t get another oil counter on this thing, it is more than potent enough on its own to make your opponent feel some pain.

Colorless and Lands

These cards deserve a mention, as you’ll definitely see and play them. Dross Skullbomb and Basilica Skullbomb, from the cycle of cleverly-named cranial explosives are of note. Additionally, the cycle of lands including The Surgical Bay cannot be overlooked either, as value in the land slot is rarely unrewarded. Finally, the playable mana-fixing seems to be limited to Terramorphic Expanse, a timeless veteran of draft and sealed.


While there’s a lot of moving parts, you can turn your deck into a well-oiled-machine if you’re careful. There’s tons of synergy, opportunity, and fun to be had, despite the nightmare land that is Phyrexia being the setting. Even with all the synergy, most games of limited come down to curve, mana, and knowing when to use removal and/or combat tricks. I’ve been Luka “Robot Rallis” Sharaska, and I hope this primer helps you compleatly decimate your opponents.

Luka Sharaska (they/them) earned the nickname “Robot” by having a monotone voice, a mind for calculating odds, and a calm demeanor. Robot has been playing Magic for more than a decade, starting during the days of New Phyrexia in 2011. Most days, you’ll find them in the gym or creating content for their YouTube channel: Robot Rallis.

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