What Makes Phyrexian Mana More Broken than Two-Brid Mana?

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Posted on April 7, 2021, 6:27 p.m. by DemonDragonJ

Mark Rosewater has rated Phyrexian mana as an 8 out of 10 on the Storm Scale, meaning that it is unlikely to return in a standard-legal set (but, hopefully, it may return in non-standard sets), because it apparently is difficult to balance and too easily leads to overpowered cards.

However, two-brid mana, introduced in Shadowmoor, is very similar to Phyrexian mana in that it allows decks to have access to effects that are outside of their colors, yet few players complain that it is overpowered or difficult to balance. Is paying life instead of mana really that powerful? From my experience, only if a player has a reliable source of gaining life (which requires either black or white) is the ability to repeatedly pay life overpowered, so I do not see why there is such a difference in opinion between Phyrexian mana and two-brid mana.

What does everyone else say about this? What makes Phyrexian mana more broken than two-brid mana?

DarkMagician says... #2

It's really simple, you start the game with no lands in play and 20-40 life. Mental Misstep is a perfect example of why it's a broken mechanic. Had it been hybrid mana it would cost one and you'd need to hold up a mana to cast it but instead it's a phyrexian mana making it essentially free. Your life is a resource of which only the last point matters.

April 7, 2021 6:51 p.m.

Noire_Samhain says... #3

Because the only life that matters in many decks is the last one, and many decks are willing to pay that life to get good effects for cheaper or even for free ( Gitaxian Probe for example- that sucker's banned in many formats for a reason). And they actively allow decks to play with effects from a lot of colors with no real downsides, something WOTC doesn't generally like.

Hybrid lets you CHOOSE between two different kinds of mana, and while some can break the color pie in minor ways, they aren't cheaper or free when cast with your choice. For the most part. Its harder to get specific pips over generic costs, so cards like Beseech the Queen or Reaper King are oddballs but make sense with that ethos.

K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth was only printed because he's only really good for EDH (one of only two formats that CAN use him). And even then, he's really good in mono-Black/Black-heavy decks.

April 7, 2021 6:52 p.m. Edited.

enpc says... #4

"Is paying life instead of mana really that powerful?"

Yes. Very much so, yes. It sounds like your confusion comes from the level of play that you're at. If you and most decks you paly against are running relatively high curved, stompy smash smash style decks where nothing really happens until turn 8 or 9, then I can understand why paying 2 life may not seem that valuable. But the earlier you makea deck lethal, the more tight resources become. And all of a sudden, that giant pool of life you have (that hasn't been whittled away because, hey, it's still early game) looks like a great resource to use.

A similar example is Ad Nauseam . Sure, I'm not going to cast Ad Naus when I'm on 6 life (normally at least), however if I'm on 30 life then chances are that Ad Naus will be the equivalent of a Blue Sun's Zenith for X=15 to 20. But I've only paid 5 mana for it. And ultimately, If I win the game on one life or I win it on 40 life, I've still won. Almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.

April 7, 2021 7:41 p.m.

When evaluating something like this (in MtG or otherwise) try taking it out to extremes. If all of a deck’s spells and creatures cost 2 life rather than each mana of their cmc, how fast would it’s pilot be able to play all of its spells? Probably one turn. That doesn’t necessarily mean that player would win, but the potential is there.

April 7, 2021 8:37 p.m.

TriusMalarky says... #6

Two-brid mana is inherently balanced. It takes work and building around it to be able to pay instead of , but it also takes work to be able to pay . The two-brid cards available are pretty bad outside of mono color(and even then, it tends to be Spectral Procession in Modern and Beseech the Queen in EDH that are the only ones that see play) for that reason. However, if new cards were printed, there would be no real problem outside of some annoying people complaining about color pie breaks online.

For example, Lightning Bolt but twobrid. Giving ALL colors access to Lightning Strike isn't broken at all. Does it help decks like Tron or Monoblue who typically have problems removing creatures? Yep. But will it break any format? Most definitely not. Well, it will make Modern Burn and Pioneer Red Aggro lists a lot better in this specific case.

Compare this to . You are almost always paying life instead of the mana cost. You will only ever not pay life in very specific situations. In fact, if you pay mana for it when you have enough life, people question you. They wonder what the hell you are doing in your deck. Phyrexian mana is like having a multicolored Simian Spirit Guide in your hand at all times, except it costs 2 life. It's raw, unfettered mana advantage, which quickly and easily turns into advantage in the action economy.

Also, take a look at the banned Phyrexian mana cards. And the playable ones. Gitaxian Probe is Peek , which is basically unplayable. Mental Misstep would be unplayable if it cost instead of . Gut Shot , Postmortem Lunge , Mutagenic Growth , Dismember are all horrible if they didn't have the Phyrexian mana attached. It's the fact that they cost the generic cost only that makes them good. Dismember is a 1-mana spell, that costs a bit more later on if you have mana to spare but not the life. All the 1 mana Phyrexian Mana cards are actually zero mana.

April 8, 2021 10:03 a.m.

Mtg_Mega_Nerds says... #7

It's fairly simple. A card with only phyrexian mana can be cast for no mana ( Gitaxian Probe ) while a card with only two-brid mana can't. ( Beseech the Queen )

April 8, 2021 2:44 p.m.

Mcat1999 says... #8

Life is a resource all players have regardless of point in the game.

Mana, conversely, is not.

April 8, 2021 6:38 p.m.

You’ll understand when you pay 15 life to essentially draw 15 cards courtesy of Necropotence . Life is the most valuable resource to use. Winning the game at 40 (or 20) life is the same as winning at 1 life.

April 9, 2021 12:57 a.m.

DarkMagician says... #10

Raging_Squiggle Necropotence is an absolute machine made only better with the introduction of devotion.

April 9, 2021 6:09 p.m.

TriusMalarky says... #11

Devotion don't even matter when you play Necropotence. Necropotence reads : Win the game on your next turn. Unless you're playing really casually, but really . . . why play a $50 card in casual games?

April 12, 2021 8:47 a.m.

DarkMagician says... #12

TriusMalarky Gray Merchant of Asphodel , Nyx Lotus and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx all say you're wrong. Also since when does the price of a card dictate casual? Your logic is flawed.

April 12, 2021 11:40 a.m.

TriusMalarky says... #13

Well, IMO when I'm actually paying more than a couple bucks for a card, it'd better be usable in competitive play. I'm not wasting $50 on some Doubling Season effect when there's thousands of other fun casual decks that don't require such an investment. Especially when $50 is 2 Windswept Heath s and a Godless Shrine . But that's just my works-in-fast-food doesn't-make-$50k+ self.

And seriously . . . why use any of those when you could, I don't know, win the game? If you can draw 20-30 cards, you can probably draw something or some combination of things that reads 'win the game', and unless you have 40 Devotion(in which case you've already won) Gary isn't gonna cut it.

Those are good cards, yes, even in more tuned games. But Necropotence should read "win the game on your next turn" if you're including it. Otherwise, it's just a glorified Phyrexian Arena . I mean, yeah, "draw to 7 cards at the end of your turn" is really good for 3 mana. But when you're spending $50 on a card, when a $10 card does a very similar thing when you're playing it casually(not even considering the $1 versions that are slightly worse), I think you want a bit more of a wow factor.

April 12, 2021 1:25 p.m.

Necropotence is some of the best card draw out there. Repeatable, whenever you want, and only costs 1 life per card. Don’t stop at 7 cards, typically you’ll pay 15 or 20 life to dig a fifth of your deck. Necropotence doesn’t say “win the game.” It says “Finds the cards that win the game.”

April 12, 2021 5:56 p.m.

Phyrexian arena and necropotence aren’t comparable at all. Arena is one card per turn only. In the time it takes for arena to draw the 10 or 15 cards necropotence gives you the turn it comes down, the game will be over.

April 12, 2021 5:57 p.m.

DarkMagician says... #16

TriusMalarky you don't need 40 devotion to make Gary good. Honestly you sound a bit angry or possibly bitter.

April 12, 2021 7:07 p.m.

DarkMagician says... #17

I feel like you're one of those people that would freak out on someone because you keep losing.

April 12, 2021 7:09 p.m.

TriusMalarky says... #18

Ah, sorry, I guess my tone wasn't what I intended it to be. Communication is my worst subject, please bear with me.

Anyways, Raging_Squiggle described exactly what I was trying to say with Necro -- devotion isn't valuable once you have Necro in play, because it draws you 30 cards and you win next turn. None of the devotions spells win next turn.

And I guess I didn't make it clear, but I do believe Gary and Friends are good cards -- just entirely irrelevant when you've cast Necropotence. Arena, IMO, is better if you want devotion, because you're not gonna bother casting Necropotence without winning on your next turn, but arena wants you to grind -- and devotion tends to want a little bit of grind.

April 13, 2021 9:36 a.m.

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