Phyrexian Obliterator


Format Legality
Pre-release Legal
Noble Legal
Leviathan Legal
Tiny Leaders Legal
Magic Duels Legal
Vintage Legal
Modern Legal
Casual Legal
Vanguard Legal
Legacy Legal
Archenemy Legal
Planechase Legal
1v1 Commander Legal
Duel Commander Legal
Unformat Legal
Pauper Legal
Commander / EDH Legal

Printings View all

Set Rarity
New Phyrexia (NPH) Mythic Rare

Combos Browse all

Phyrexian Obliterator

Creature — Horror


Whenever a source deals damage to Phyrexian Obliterator, that source's controller sacrifices that many permanents.

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Recent Decks

Phyrexian Obliterator Discussion

xPOTATOx on Black Death

4 days ago

APPLE01DOJ, I just feel like the 4th Gray Merchant of Asphodel wasn't worth it. Top end of the curve, and it is a situational card, I only want 4 of's if I KNOW the card will always be worth it. Just like how Phyrexian Obliterator is almost always insane!!

ZendikariWol on Favorite Grusilda Interaction

4 days ago

So mine is definitely It That Betrays + Phyrexian Obliterator. I got it together turn 7 once and wiped my opponent's entire board. He actually conceded to stop me from destroying everyone else with his stuff. However, I want to hear from y'all. What's your favorite combination with Grusilda, Monster Masher?

RingweMakil on Damned Devotion

1 week ago

APPLE01DOJ - I don't know. Yesterday, I could have written you an essay; today, I'm facing down Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I know nothing until further testing. I have rushed to bring back two copies of Liliana of the Veil to the list since the unbans, a card I had eschewed very quickly in my original construction of the deck, since it hardly favours the player drawing an extra card a turn; however, with the advent of Bloodbraid Elf and Jace TMS, opponents are now likely to be able to keep up with the CA of Phyrexian Arena, and as such, Liliana of the Veil is likely to be good again (even if the format is being overrun by lots of Bloodghast, Hollow One, and Faithless Looting).

However, I can offer a breakdown of how the creatures function in non-blue matchups:

a. Pack Rat:

The deck started with the set of Pack Rat. But that all in-strategy was soon found to be suboptimal - drawing multiple Pack Rats was unnecessary and rarely served any purpose; not to mention the speed of Modern means turn 2 Pack Rat is often too slow. As sweepers, Detention Sphere, and Maelstrom Pulse became common, and as Hollow One and Death's Shadow and Tasigur, the Golden Fang started to surface, Pack Rat lost some of its luster.

The natural question, then, if Pack Rat is slow and vulnerable, why play him at all? The answer: Pack Rat is ten cards in one card. Backed up with any kind of disruption and removal, he takes over the board and ends the game, quickly and unstoppably. Two activations are more than enough to put away games, and trading spot removal for Rats is a losing proposition. So in this list, he's gone from being a windmill early slam, to a lategame engine that turns dead land drops and discard spells into an army of creatures. Barring Path to Exile before a single activation is possible, Liliana, the Last Hope can always buy him back - one copy of the Rat, therefore, is ample.

Fringe case: Pack Rat allows for arbitrarily large amounts of devotion for Gray Merchant of Asphodel in boardstalls/against Lantern.

b. Desecration Demon

I've covered the virtues of this card in a post above - essentially, he's my Tarmogoyf, but he flies. Whether he functions as The Abyss or as a 6/6 unblockable, he ends games very quickly, and many a game against combo/Tron has been put away by disruption into disruption into Demon. Of the quick clocks available to black, he's one of the better ones. I believe the added utility to be well worth the extra two mana over Goyf (besides, far be it from me to argue against 6 6 fliers for four - speaking of which, Demon is almost always a strictly superior option to Abyssal Persecutor, since Persecutor requiring us to find an additional kill spell for our own demon while Phyrexian Arena ticks down/the burn opponent is topdecking is not a good feeling).

c. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

I cannot praise this card enough in any mono black midrange list. He exiles creatures, he gains life consistently, and he makes every removal spell in our deck a 2 for 1. Traditionally, efficient mono black removal has been weak to graveyard recursion such as Flamewake Phoenix, Bloodghast, Geralf's Messenger, Kitchen Finks, and so forth, since all these cards must be killed more than once, at no additional expense to the opponent. Thoughtseize and Phyrexian Arena is a painful combination, especially in a world of Lightning Bolt and Kolaghan's Command. Kalitas solves all of these issues beautifully, and with any removal spell stalls the board incredibly easily and well.

d. Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief

Okay, have you seen the art? If Drana were real, she'd totally be my Valentine.

Jokes aside, one of the issues I was frequently running into with the deck was the amount of time it took me to close out once I had stabilised. While all of my creature threats (Gray Merchant of Asphodel is basically a Corrupt, he doesn't count) end the game quite quickly, I just wasn't drawing them fast enough - my opponent would get the opportunity to find that Cryptic Command or Sphinx's Revelation, or get those last 2 Boros Charm. There is a delicate balance between disruption and pressure that must be maintained in all decks that are not pure control, and maintaining that balance required me to find another fast game-ending threat.

I considered running the fourth Desecration Demon, but the idea of another big dumb beater was not appealing. I wanted a powerful threat with intrinsic value attached to its kit, that could help deal with the board even when I was not drawing multiple cards a turn, and hopefully one that was either resilient, or dodged some of the common removal in the format (Lightning Bolt, Abrupt Decay, Fatal Push - although I was open to playing four drops, since consistently having revolt to deal with a whole myriad of four drop threats is difficult). While black has plenty of value three drops, none of them offered this game ending power, or were too easily killed - Nightveil Specter and Lifebane Zombie, for instance, offer great card advantage in specific situations, but don't really pack the same punch as something like a Desecration Demon or Pack Rat army.

Finally, I settled on Drana. There are a lot of powerful five drops in black with value built in (Bloodgift Demon, for instance), but Drana does something none of the others do - she kills things, turn after turn, while being able to attack in the air for huge chunks. In a meta with Lingering Souls, Dark Confidant and Young Pyromancer, Drana seemed like an elegant solution, and so far, she has far exceeded my expectations. I do not think I should consider running multiples of her, since she is quite expensive and can be killed for no value the turn she comes into play, but untapping with her can feel a bit like untapping after a Supreme Verdict to an empty board.

e. Gray Merchant of Asphodel

No Geralf's Messenger, no Phyrexian Obliterator; only 2 Gray Merchant. I do not believe the all in devotion plan is likely to ever become Modern competitive, for sheer want of interactive capability and card advantage - if you are playing a midrange list in Modern, you need lots of early interaction in the form of hand disruption and removal, a proactive plan to end the game with efficient threats, and ways to pull ahead on cards after both players have been stripped down to limited resources. Gray Merchant is an extremely powerful card, as good as or better than Siege Rhino if it drains for upwards of five; it swings races, it ends games, it doesn't care about board stalls, and for all intents and purposes is basically a Modern legal Tendrils of Corruption (not my quote - blame LSV. Then again, that man also calls Disciple of Phenax Mind Twist, so take these statements with several grains of salt).

But despite his inherent power level, Gray Merchant of Asphodel is a very high variance card, and can sometimes be Highway Robber. Removal in Modern is aplenty, and curving out into enough devotion for Gray Merchant to be good is not a reliable plan. Even when the traditional mono black lists do manage to implement their plan - Geralf's Messenger into Gray Merchant, for instance, after having gotten two or more of their creatures removed, despite being an overall drain for seven to nine, just lacks the power/speed to push through opposing Tarmogoyf, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, Grim Flayer, Death's Shadow - not to mention blue decks with their Cryptic Command and board sweepers and Sphinx's Revelation.

Gray Merchant of Asphodel in my list is therefore a card I'll often be discarding to the various discard outlets in the early game; using either the second copy or Liliana, the Last Hope's minus two to drain the opponent out if necessary later on. His being a zombie means he can be sacrificed to Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet either to simply grow the great vampire, or to be recursed with Liliana, as the situation calls.

I do not think running more than two of the card is likely to be feasible for Modern given the uncertainty of whether Merchant will be Corrupt or Highway Robber, and also given Merchant's relatively high mana cost; while it is possible that one is the correct number (and indeed, often in post board games, I do go down to one or no Merchant) at least in game 1, the proactive plan of discard, kill, kill, flier, smack, Merchant win is a very strong one. Having access to the second copy in case the first gets exiled and therefore cannot be returned with a future Liliana is also quite relevant against decks with Path to Exile and Pyxis of Pandemonium.

Despite Merchant's variance, I believe his power level and his ability to end the game on the spot through cards like Ensnaring Bridge and Witchbane Orb is not to be undervalued. In a deck with Phyrexian Arena and Ob Nixilis Reignited, every life point represents an extra card; while Highway Robber may be terrible, a five mana 2 4 that draws 4 cards on etb and drains the opponent for four is an absolutely phenomenal Magic card.

I would also like to point out the maindeck inclusion of incidental lifegain like Collective Brutality and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in conjunction with Gary makes most burn and aggro matchups extremely favourable.

While the creature suite has been carefully picked, and is constantly being chosen and rechosen and tweaked, the engine that enables this deck is Phyrexian Arena. Any interactive deck with reactive spells always runs the risk of its reactive measures not lining up well against the threats being deployed on the other side; Arena churning through the deck presents the critical mass of answers and threats to overwhelm the opponent, ensures land drops are made, and essentially in every regard dots the deck's i's and crosses its t's. With discard outlets like Collective Brutality and Liliana of the Veil to trade potentially dead cards for relevant spells early on, irksome draws with too many high cmc cards can still function smoothly and well.

StonedJesus on Poison

1 week ago

Maybe Tezzeret's Gambit for some card draw and proliferation. Phyrexian Obliterator for an alternate win-con maybe, I just like it in anything black. Less land, otherwise nice deck. +1

Chasmolinker on BG Rock

1 week ago

Made the switch to Bile Blight and put Collective Brutality in the SB and cut one Phyrexian Obliterator. I think I'll stick with Golgari Charm over Back to Nature for now. Back to Nature seems too narrow for me. I play against BW Tokens often in my meta and the -1/-1 from Golgari Charm is more valuable to me.

DemonDragonJ on Masters 25 Speculation and Wishlist

1 week ago

Phyrexian Obliterator has been spoiled! Although I currently do not need another copy of it, I am very pleased that it is beign reprinted, to make it more affordable. I do dislike how the Phyrexian watermark on the reprint is different from the watermark on the original printing, but that is a minor difference.

Bulldawg1310 on Mono-Black Devotion

2 weeks ago

Dark Confidant is awfully risky here with a playset of Phyrexian Obliterator it doesnt do much for your devotion and could end up sabotaging you more often than it helps. Give Phyrexian Arena a shot instead, gives you the additional draw and helps your devotion.

RingweMakil on Damned Devotion

2 weeks ago

Kezvin, no, no Phyrexian Obliterator. There are several reasons why Desecration Demon was chosen over it, outlined here.

a. The mana cost is prohibitive. It sounds silly, since I am playing a mono black list with Gray Merchant of Asphodel, but quadruple black requires almost all swamps or an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in play. This will almost always be difficult to achieve in the early turns (specifically, on turn four, when you want your four drops), because Field of Ruin, Ghost Quarter and Mutavault are just so important to the list. Without Field of Ruin, you straight up lose to Tron; the control and affinity and merfolk matchups become so much worse because you don't have the free answers to Celestial Colonnade, Inkmoth Nexus, and Mutavault. Field of Ruin is a land that also kills a creature; Mutavault is a land that synergises with Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet (it's a zombie) and with Pack Rat (it's also a rat). Manlands are very powerful, and in this list, Mutavault is especially so. Given that this means anywhere between six to eight colourless sources in the deck, I cannot afford to consistently run Obliterator, or even Nightveil Specter.

b. Opponents can ignore Obliterator if I choose to attack with it; they can race me with Death's Shadow, Tarmogoyf, and Lingering Souls. In later stages of the game or in board stalls, it is possible to brute force one's way through an Obliterator on defense by sacrificing tokens and lands (Voice of Resurgence, Eternal Witness, etc.); alternatively, one can block to reduce trample damage, sacrifice lands, and win on the crackback. This does not mean Obliterator is a weak card, quite the contrary; it simply means that Obliterator is not as board dominant as most people imagine it to be. By contrast, by virtue of the fact that Demon flies, it can deal with Lingering Souls and ignore ground combat entirely. Bitterblossom, Inkmoth Nexus, Blinkmoth Nexus - it is surprising how often flying is the relevant keyword.

c. Demon has six power. This is a three turn clock because in Modern life totals often start between 18-16. Obliterator has five power. This also makes Demon better in races, especially when backed up by removal. Two Demons is also a two turn clock; two Obliterators is a three turn clock.

It is sometimes argued that Demon's capacity to be tapped down makes it weak. Towards that end, I would reply that Demon is The Abyss, but can also end the game. I am not unhappy playing multiple copies of a card that makes my opponents sacrifice a creature each turn, given that in almost every case, the late game favours me.

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