The Great Machine of Evolution

The Machine Orthodoxy's truth is as follows:

"The last of the Not-Whole shall be discovered, though our eyeholes wince at their hideousness. Their bodies shall be absorbed and their imperfection shall be purged. The Machine Orthodoxy shall engorge the Not-Whole and their deficient isolation shall be obliterated in the Unity. Only then shall the last wounds in the Circle be healed. Only then shall this world compleat itself."

—Izathel, High Chancellor

Your opponents are the true manifestation of the Not-Whole: they are the weak and misguided who desperately cling to their heretical imperfection of embracing flesh. If you wish to spread the glory of Phyrexia and purge the weakness out of your opponents then this is the deck and more importantly - Commander for you. Atraxa is a force to be reckoned with - possessing enough keywords to overshadow most creatures, but her true strength lies in her last keyword: Proliferate. This ability plays into the central themes of the deck which incorporates counters to bolster the power of your own forces or weaken those of your opponents. The inclusion of a "Soft Lock" sub-theme utilizes enchantments and artifacts with Fading counters alongside New Phyrexia's Praetors to help control the battlefield and speed of play while your main wincon - Infect - brings your opponents closer to the sublime truth of Compleation.

This deck is an example of an "ideal" (as in monetary cost is not an issue, only the most efficient cards allowed - within context) Phyrexian tribal Atraxa Infect deck. Infect counters alone cannot win games - the inclusion of +1/+1 counters, "stax-like" cards that remove or detain creatures, lands and resources are vital to overcoming the political and mechanical difficulties unique to the Infect wincon. For flavor, the deck includes each Praetor that had an active hand in Atraxa's creation. But the Preators' inclusion is more than just a whim - each one contributes to limiting opponent resources while bolstering our own - contributing to a Soft Lock (See Slang: Lockdown) on the board.

Just so it's clear - you only need 10 poison counters on an opponent for them to reach compleation - (See rule 104.3d). Infect damage cannot be healed or transferred - Phyrexia's touch is nearly impossible to remove. There is however, a big but to consider - playing such a unique and arguably strong wincon as Infect will place the pilot of this deck at a political disadvantage for most games. Infect/Poison counters are typically viewed (from my own personal experience) as a high priority for opponents to address. Sometimes the whole table pitches in to completely dismantle your boardstate and keep you from playing magic. To try and counteract this, it is always important to set the expectation. With this deck in mind, announce to your opponents the themes that are core to its function before the game begins. For opponents who wish to not experience the wonders that Phyrexia could bring them - give them a chance to express their opinion (and disgusting embrace of flesh).

On a good draw, the deck can consistently threaten to win between turns 4-6 in a 4 player pod. According to the following the chart listed in The Command Zone podcast's How to Determine your deck's Power Level that would place this deck at a relatively high level of power. Not quite cEDH, but definitely at the stronger end of the spectrum.

There are no infinite combos in this deck. Instead, it functions with alot of interactions that build off of each other using Proliferate as the primary enabler.

  • Glistener Elf + Sword of Truth and Justice + Tangle Wire : Lurking Predators of the Tangle - A "soft lock" synergy that limits opponent resources while a single creature advances as a Champion of Phyrexia - gaining +1/+1 counters, increasing Poison counters on an opponent, while maintaining Fading counters on Tangle Wire via combat damage and Sword triggers. Note: Tangle Wire can be one of the tapped Artifacts, Lands, or Creatures that must be tapped during your upkeep.
  • Proliferation Source + Parallax Tide + Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger : Infest the Tangle - This "soft lock" synergy severely limits opponents' access to mana. Ideally, there would be at least two Proliferation sources with the order of play being: 1. Sources, 2. Tide, 3. Vorinclex. For opponents who have known or suspected removal/interaction options you can use Tide to shut off the mana that would be necessary to play those spells. For the remaining lands that aren't exiled under Tide (yet), Vorinclex will tie up opponents' resources giving Phyrexia a comfortable stranglehold on the board.
  • Proliferation Source + Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite + Parallax Wave : Norn's Dominion - A "soft lock" synergy ensuring that Phyrexia will have the strongest (or only) creatures on board. Ideally, there would be at least two Proliferation sources with the order of play being: 1. Sources, 2. Wave, 3. Elesh Norn. This synergy creates openings when opponents eventually get more and more creatures on the battlefield that can challenge Phyrexia's boardstate. The goal of this synergy isn't to erase the board of all creatures hostile to Phyrexia, only to get rid of enough such that creatures with Infect can more reliably deal combat damage to opponents.
  • Proliferation Source + Llanowar Reborn/Sword of Truth and Justice/Spike Weaver + Infect Creature: Make my Monster Grow! - Any of these combinations result in increasing the lethality of your creatures with +1/+1 counters on a consistent basis.
  • Proliferation Source + Spike Weaver: Web of the Machine - A simple synergy that bolsters Phyrexia's ranks with additional +1/+1 counters while having a Fog on demand. This combo helps deter opponents from attacking you, while at the same time giving Phyrexia a valuable political tool - those who accept Phyrexia's aid are only further staging themselves and their opponents to joining it's ranks.
  • Thrummingbird + Parallax Tide: Thrumming Tide – This synergy either locks an opponent out of a color temporarily or in an ideal scenario (before turn 5) soft locks them out of playing magic entirely. With both permanents on the field, exile 4 of the opponents’ lands by removing 4 Fading counters from Parallax Tide. Then use Thrummingbird (or Grateful Apparition) to proliferate Fading counters on Tide. This combo functions best with at least 2 proliferation sources on the board to ensure future lands played will be exiled as well.

A word of advice to my fellow compleated players who wield Infect (but mostly this is a reminder to myself): Always remember to start a game of commander with the turn 0 talk (basically ask if everyone is cool with playing against your deck) to avoid (or at least delay) getting hated out of the game early on. From my own personal experience infect tends to be at a political disadvantage (see Sliver Hate). So never try to take it personally when the board collectively obliterates your board - even though it does. Try to be more Zangief in your thinking:

"Then I have moment of clarity... if Zangief is good guy, who will crush man's skull like sparrow's eggs between thighs? And I say, Zangief you are bad guy, but this does not mean you are *bad* guy."

This deck is at it's most Vorthos when you find yourself playing archenemy - you aren't merely piloting New Phyrexia, you are New Phyrexia. Just remember the turn 0 talk, and remember to have fun.

P.S., I leave you dear reader with a fun little video: Completely & Unquestionably Accurate History: Dominaria - Chapter 3: The Phyrexian Invasion by WotC.


Updates Add


With Modern Horizons 2 comes a very interesting retcon - a list of roughly 225 creatures (and a small assortment of other cards) now have the subtype "Phyrexian" or create tokens that have that subtype. What makes this retcon so interesting is that now this deck is essentially a Phyrexian tribal deck, with the exception of Grateful Apparition, Spike Weaver, and Evolution Sage. Oh, and for the curious, below is the full list of creatures affected by the errata:

So what does all this mean for the deck? At the moment, not much outside of a potential card swap of Defense of the Heart for Urza's Incubator (Ideally, this will help me get a Praetor out a turn or two earlier). Going forward, I can only hope that Wizards will print more Phyrexians that will be viable substitutions for some of the previously mentioned non-Phyrexians. My dream is to have a Grateful Apparition, but with Infect. Or a mono-white color shifted Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon. Now that would be exciting.

Separately, I chose to pre-order the Secret Lair: Compleat Edition. Honestly, I'm conflicted about this product - as a Phyrexia fan-boy I'm happy to see more cards in the Phyrexian language - but the Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite included in the package is the one card that upsets me. Back in the day I made a very big and very expensive trade to get the original Elesh Norn Judge promo, as far as I know this was the first and for a long time - only card with Phyrexian text. Now Wizards simply prints off this very rare and special print (albeit with a different border) for anyone to pick up. This Secret Lair kind of trivializes how special and rare that Elesh Norn is, or was rather - in my opinion.

Curious to see everyone's thoughts on the Secret Lair: Compleat Edition - will you buy it? Do you think it's something magic players will want to spend money on? Is it at a good price point? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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90% Competitive

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Date added 3 years
Last updated 1 week
Key combos

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

15 - 0 Mythic Rares

52 - 0 Rares

17 - 0 Uncommons

11 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.00
Folders Mine, Interesting Decks to Study Better Later, infect, Commander, Planning to build, EDH builds, Decks, Really Awesome (and expensive) Decks, Commander, Decks that interest me, See all 108
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Revision 112 See all

2 months ago)

-1 Defense of the Heart main
+1 Urza's Incubator main