Just call me the Phyrexian crusader.

I recently won the Phyrexian half of the Mirrodin Pure Vs. New Phyrexia Duel Decks contest and was a Mirran finalist to boot. This means my Phyrexian deck will end up available as part of a Magic Online-only Duel Deck coming later this year! Want to know about the two decks I designed and the process I used? Read on!


When I heard about the competition, I knew I had to get in on it. As a designer, something I constantly crave is simply having something to design for.  I continually create ambitious projects for myself just to keep the design half of my brain satisfied, and with the completion – or perhaps compleation – of each one, that hunger only grows more ravenous for the next.


This contest gave me something fresh to work on. I treated it as if I was a design team, being handed duel deck specifications down from the boss himself.


I closed my eyes. In my head, I was sitting at my desk, stickering cards and doing other various intern work, when I saw a figure approach from behind. I wheeled my chair around to find Aaron Forsythe standing there.


“Have a moment?” the imaginary Aaron asked. I nodded. “Staffing is short because of the imminent focus on ‘Friends’ design and ‘Roll’ development,” Aaron began. “Can you design and develop these upcoming decks, at least for the first couple weeks? We’ll get Zac Hill in with you as soon as ‘Roll’ finishes up, but we need to get a head start on this product.” I gave him the thumbs up, and he paused to jot down a few sentences on a yellow sticky notepad and hand them over. “There are just a few specifications to follow. The rest is up to you.”


I opened my eyes again. It was time to start working.


At this point, I should give you fair warning. There are going to be a lot of card names in this article, and I’m not going to manually link to all of them. If you think you’re going to have to look up your fair share, I would recommend opening up your preference of card search website (I use Gatherer) so you can keep track of what I’m talking about.


Alright. Back to the task.


The first thing I wanted to do was look over duel deck history and see what the unwritten “rules” were. In other words, it was a question of what else was important to designing a duel deck besides the minuscule number of instructions provided. I’ve played several of the duel decks before, but there’s a difference between playing one and building the contents of one. I wanted to see what I was trying to go for.


I quickly found that, even more so than I remembered, duel decks were built upon the foundation that every game should be different. Most duel decks are comprised mostly of one-ofs with 3-5 supporting two-ofs that are crucial to the deck. This is important for a product like this for a couple reasons.


One reason is that you want the decks to be able to be played against each other over and over and not have it become boring. If it just turns into a constructed matchup, it stops being fun for a lot of people. There are a few reasons people really like formats like Commander and Highlander, and one of the top ones is because you can play over and over with the same decks and have radically different games.

Another major reason is it lets you do add powerful cards into the decks without having to ratchet up the power level of every other card. If I put, say, a Spiritmonger in the Phyrexian deck, that’s okay. Maybe if I accelerate into it on turn four it’s going to be more powerful than everything else and the game will end within a matter of turns, but the odds of this happening over and over are small enough that it adds a welcome source of variance to game play. Spiritmonger is also a card that isn’t nearly as game changing on turn 12 as on turn 4. Sure, it’s still good, but it’s fair enough that it won’t necessarily end the game in short order. Because there would be only one, it’s more likely to show up later in the game, if at all.


I made a general mental note of the common/uncommon ratios, the creature to spell ratio, and cards that had already been reprinted. After that, I was well on my way to putting cards in decks! I fired up Gatherer, and began to throw in cards that were –


Hold up! Not quite yet. That part is tempting, but there’s still more to do before you start throwing in cards. The thing about duel decks is that you can pull from all of Magic as long as what you pull fits the theme. Just like when drafting or building a Standard deck, you can’t just go in and start pulling out sweet cards that seem Mirran or Phyrexian at random or you’ll end up with a mishmash of cards and no coherent strategy.


This is doubly important with this particular assignment. Each deck had a predetermined mythic rare. The rules called these the “face cards.” For the Mirran side it was Platinum Angel and for the Phyrexian side it was Phyrexian Plaguelord.


This information muddled things considerably.


It was clear that part of the process was designing around the two cards. Immediately ideas leapt to my mind, and those ideas had to be tempered with questions. For example, when I saw Platinum Angel, my first instinct was Leonin Abunas. But then my next instinct is that an unkillable Angel would be unfun, so black needed plenty of destroy and sacrifice effects. But then at that point, how relevant was Leonin Abunas in the first place? The questions continued to flow.

The other side of the spectrum was even more curious. Phyrexian Plaguelord was the “general” (not to be confused with the Commander variety) of the Phyrexian deck. Clearly, this was to make sure that the deck wasn’t just some mono-infect Scars of Mirrodin based lifeform. However, the Phyrexia vs. The Coalition Duel Decks already heavily used the Phyrexian “sacrifice me!” theme and had cards like Living Death to back it up. (It even had the Plaguelord in it!) These two dynamics were going to be interesting to manage.


I began to brainstorm ideas and, after a little while, eventually looked through Gatherer to see if anything inspirational stood out at me. I never wrote all the themes I considered down somewhere, but these were some of the ones I strongly considered for each side:



  • All artifacts, using a wealth of colorless lands, artifact lands and splashy expensive spells
  • R/W Metalcraft
  • R/W Ramp
  • U/W Control, building up to Platinum Angel
  • White Weenie with Equipments
  • 5-color Mirran goodstuff with Sunburst
  • R/W Heavy Artifacts but non-heavy metalcraft



  • U/B heavy proliferate, slowly and calculatedly taking over Mirrodin
  • G/B Infect
  • G/B (maybe U) Fun with counters (Doubling Season, etc)
  • 4-color Phyrexian, showing the total takeover of Mirrodin
  • B/g/u Phyrexian, with the majority of cards from Phyrexia’s past (kind of already done with the Phyrexia Duel Deck though)
  • G/B “Sacrifice me!”
  • G/B Noninfect


A huge point I considered when looking over themes was business. At its core, Wizards is trying to make money with these duel decks. A major question was, “how can you make them sell?”


First up is, of course, theme. What themes appeal to players? What themes will make their friends want to go buy a copy? Second, if you look at all of the duel decks, there are always a couple valuable rares and a few really awesome and popular uncommons, often with new artwork. Which rares would sell the decks? I decided I wanted at least one popular casual card and one popular competitive card in the decks.


In an ideal world, the competitive card would be one that you can’t get on Magic Online yet. Duel Decks don’t sell that well to competitive players, but if there’s a card they all want it will definitely generate some sales since someone would have to buy the duel decks to obtain it. It’s a win-win: good for the players because they get access to a new card for Legacy, good for Wizards because it generates Duel Deck sales.


I began to narrow down themes. For Phyrexian, the ”fun with counters” theme was a clear front runner. Players love, love, love counters and cards like Doubling Season. I knew the chance to buy a pre-made counter theme deck would be a huge sell, plus giving more people access to expensive, fun cards like Doubling Season is always good.  (More on Doubling Season later.) I also knew it would help me mix old and new Phyrexian cards since infect is good with cards that deal with counters and cards that deal with counters are helped by proliferate.


The Mirran side was harder. I eventually decided I wanted to go R/W and eschew blue because it felt most natural to me. Blue felt like the middle child of the war, with not enough interesting cards to pull it either way. Additionally, stable manabases are crucial for these decks, and I didn’t want to use a lot of manafixing lands for a three color deck.


As soon as I knew what my Phyrexian theme was, any card which used +1/+1 counters was right out since mixing +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters, while a nice mirroring of the war, was going to be far more confusing to players than it was worth. There’s a reason it isn’t done even in expert level sets.


Anyway, I had Mirran narrowed down to a few choices. Then, while doing preliminary Gatherer searches to see what would fit in each style of deck, I stumbled across Metalworker.



It was perfect! It’s a card that is powerful to and coveted by tournament players, really awesome to casual players and new players who see it (“I get how much mana for each artifact I reveal!?”) and a great fit for the deck. It adds in a little bit of variance when it comes up early and leads to some fun stories to tell about what happened on your turn four.


Furthermore, it was on the reserved list. Normally that would spell doom as a designer – but since this is a Magic Online only product, that’s okay to do. Since these Duel Decks were online only, I was hoping to put in something special that couldn’t be done. Metalworker was an extraordinary fit for the deck, and quickly pushed be into an R/W midrange ramp deck.


Then came the building process. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep archives of all the cards I went through and looked at. I did write some haphazard notes here and there, and at the very end of this blog post I’ll add a note with all of the cards I ended up writing down that I considered. However, thanks to modern day card searching tools, my need to write down possibilities was reduced, so it will be by no means a comprehensive list. Chime in on the comment section if there’s a card you definitely would have put in that I totally missed!


As for the process itself, for the Phyrexia deck I searched through every Phyrexian card I could find. I searched by names, sets where Phyrexia was prevalent, and flavor text to pick out any cool relics of the past. I also searched for cards that had the word “counter” on them to fit the “fun with counters” theme. I searched for a few specific effects that felt Phyrexian as well (sacrificing, for example) and picked out the best cards for the job. There was more to it than that – I used Gatherer to search for some strange things – but those were the main points.


For the Mirrans, I searched through every artifact ever printed and all of the red and white cards in artifact heavy sets. I also looked through every red and white card that had artifact in the rules text. I looked into all of the mana acceleration available, all of the different removal spells and picked out the most fitting ones, and I also searched for ways to protect the Angel. She is the herald of the deck, after all.


I knew flavor was very important for this process. You can’t put a card that makes no sense flavorfully in a deck just for functional purposes. Obviously, putting in something like Footsteps of the Goryo makes no sense based on name and cardtype – arcane, but it can be more subtle than that too.


For example, a card I really wanted to put in the Phyrexian deck was Gleancrawler. However, hybrid mana doesn’t make a lot of sense on Mirrodin. Gold, okay, I can see a few gold cards. Glissa exists. But hybrid has never been on Mirrodin. Hybrid makes your multicolored spells easier to cast and lets you put a heavy colored card in two different decks – it doesn’t seem to fit flavorwise. (Just wait, “Action” will be full of hybrid cards.)


Another good example is Necrogenesis. That card is perfect for the Phyrexians. Unfortunately, it made Saprolings and there are no Saprolings on Mirrodin. Maybe you can try and make that flavor work, but I ended up deciding to not push it more that I was going to already need to.




This is one area where I could do things different If I was actually in R&D designing these decks. Inside, I could just pose the question to R&D and Creative on these two cards and see if they thought they were reasonable stretches. However, without the ability to do that I didn’t want to risk pushing something that didn’t fit the criteria and just losing the contest. (Though I did end up taking this kind of risk on one particular card – read on to find out which.)

Then came the next step: playtesting.


I closed my eyes again. I was back in my Wizards cubicle. I looked up to find Zac Hill standing there in a Fedora, looking over my initial lists.


Zac smiled and rubbed his hands, wearing the loony grin of a five year old carefully applied on the visage of a sage. “Y’all Phyrexians do like a good minus one slash minus one counter.”


“Counters all over the place!”


“Yo dawg, I heard you like counters in your counters. Et cetera.” Zac paused to continue reading. “Metalworker might be a little too much gas. Like I understand what he is doing, but, you see, I’m concerned with what he actually does.” He took one last look up and down my prospective draft. “Sick. Looks positively ill.”


“Can you help playtest them? Aaron said you might be able to.”


Zac shook his head. “I’m gonna have to bounce on dev for now. ‘Roll’ has DI holes to patch, but holler when you ship them off and I’ll game.” Zac stopped for a second. “Just test like you did back in the ‘ol days.”


I opened my eyes in real life, seeing not Zac Hill staring across from me, but a word document with two decklists open on my computer. Time to game.


Fortunately for me, it looked like all of my time learning how to playtest when I was on both sides of the matchup would pay off.


I had thought about how I was going to playtest these decks. Since other people would be submitting decks and I wanted my decks to be fair against theirs, I briefly considered making a “stock” G/B infect deck and a “stock” metalcraft deck to try playing against to see how my builds would fare against the opposition if one of those decks was chosen. After all, the goal is to have two balanced decks at the end. However, eventually I decided that it was ridiculous to try and predict what other people would do and I was better off furthering my own designs. After all, if my goal was to win both sides, I might as well make them balanced against each other.


With that said, I did keep some common elements in mind. For example, I predicted a lot of people might try going for Abunas-Angel or Darksteel Plate-Angel or otherwise protecting it, so I wanted to have sacrifice effects around. Same goes with Purge and Divine offering in the Mirran deck, since I didn’t know what its eventual opponent would have.


I began to play games against myself over and over, slowly tweaking the decks every couple of games to fix some oversight, add a land, and so on.


The Mirran deck was developing well. I had found a base I liked, and the addition of Sunforger felt ingenious. It both fit thematically and with what the deck wanted to do. I was turboing out fatties some games, crashing in with Chrome Steeds in other games, and it was all slowly coming together. The mix of removal, acceleration, and creatures all felt okay.


The Phyrexian deck, on the other hand, ran into a problem.


Everything was going well until the 25th or 30th game, at which point I accidentally read Doubling Season.


I knew the card didn’t work with infect hitting players. That made sense to me, and I was willing to do that. I felt most players would get it. I had skimmed the card a few times and had the gist of what it did. I knew it was unreal with Spawning Pit and Mitotic Slime. What I didn’t realize is that it only added counters to permanents you controlled. That means that if you cast Black Sun’s Zenith for 3, all your creatures received 6 counters and theirs only received 3. If they blocked one of your infect creatures, it only hit them for 2 -1/-1 counters, and so on. Suddenly, the entire core of the deck needed to be changed.


I sighed and closed my eyes again.


I was playtesting the decks against each other at my desk when the *pop* of a new notification hit my imaginary inbox. I opened it up. It was from Aaron.




Duel decks looking good. However, we just ended up cutting this card from the design file for “Action” at the last minute.  You’re going to have to find a new card to replace it.


-Aaron Forsythe

Director of Magic R&D”


I opened my eyes, this time smiling. These duel decks were definitely a great simulation of designing a Magic product. It felt just like a card had had been cut and I couldn’t use it anymore. In a weird way, it actually felt awesome that something like this happened, even though it set me back. The experience felt all the more authentic.


Fortunately, Necroskitter had my back.

I had put Necroskitter in the first draft of the deck, thinking I would eventually cut it since it had wither and not infect. It had to really perform for me to keep it around. Fortunately for Necroskitter, it did! It turned out to be awesome and worth keeping since it really helped the -1/-1 counter theme shine through without Doubling Season around. Additionally, Necroskitter is a popular casual card so it even filled the role that way. I knew it was risky because of the flavor disconnect (see my reasons for not including Gleancrawler), but playing with Necroskitter was so compelling that I was willing to take that risk.


Finally, I was done working on the two decks. I submitted them to Wizards and wrote the 250 words that accompanied them as though I was a Mirran/Phyrexian leader. I thought it would be cool to use my Creative Writing background to make my submission stand out. It also helped explain Necroskitter flavorfully, which I knew was going to be a harder sell.


A few weeks later, it was announced that my Phyrexian deck won the Phyrexian portion and my Mirran deck was one of two finalists for the Mirran portion. Awesome!


I’ll run through the cards in both decks and give a quick blurb about their inclusion.


Mirran (Click to view a page with an autocarded decklist.)


2 Great Furnace

2 Ancient Den

I debated for a long time about the artifact lands. On one hand, it’s a little dangerous to put them back in these decks. They harbor bad memories for a lot of players due to affinity. They can be blown up by the Phyrexian deck early which is unfun. Plus, as with all of the old Mirrodin reprints, you run the risk of some poor kid thinking they’re Standard legal because they’re clearly from the world of Mirrodin. However, this deck really needed a few more ways to consistently pump up metalcraft and turn on Metalworker, and these lands seemed like a nice, very thematic way to do it.


As an aside, I wanted to put a Vault of Whispers in the Phyrexian deck just for flavor reasons for so long, but with no positive interactions, I eventually decided against it.


1 Iron Myr

1 Gold Myr

1 Palladium Myr

1 Metalworker

1 Wayfarer’s Bauble

1 Guardian Idol

1 Sphere of the Suns

1 Ur-Golem’s Eye

1 Darksteel Ingot

I knew this deck wanted a lot of acceleration available to it, and since it was pretty much limited to 1 ofs (unless I wanted a single 2 of in there somewhere) it was a matter of figuring out the best way to spread it out. I looked through all of the acceleration and picked and chose from the ones I was happiest with thematically and functionally.


The Myrs all seem like clear choices here. Metalworker I explained earlier. Sphere of the Suns is the weakest one, but it does fix your mana which can sometimes be an issue and it’s brand new so it seemed like a good way to make sure the deck had a healthy mix of old and new cards.  Ur-Golem’s Eye and Darksteel Ingot are fairly generic, but they fit well being from Mirrodin the first time around and make sense in the deck.


Guardian Idol is a neat card I always felt was underplayed, and it gives you a creature if you draw too many mana accelerants. Bauble is another favorite mana accelerant of mine from Mirrodin the first time around. It unfortunately prompts shuffling, but since these are Magic Online decks that’s not as large of an issue.


1 Covetous Dragon

1 Duplicant

1 Kuldotha Flamefiend

1 Myr Battlesphere

1 White Sun’s Zenith

1 Platinum Angel

These are the “expensive fatties” the deck can turbo into. Duplicant felt like a natural fit to me as a Mirran card and I always knew I wanted it in the deck. Flamefiend is a great Beseiged card that seemed like a good answer to Phyrexia’s tokens and smaller infect guys. Battlesphere was awesome as an artifact fattie that Phyrexia has a tough time with. With that said, there are some great stories with it when the Phyrexian side managed to deal – Necroskittering back a Battlesphere is quite excellent.


The Zenith is the card I was scared most of as the Phyrexian deck. You could untap and black Zenith or Contagion Engine, but otherwise a bunch of quick 2/2’s was a real problem. (As it should be, I suppose.)  In retrospect maybe including White Sun’s Zenith was a mistake, but I really liked how the Mirran zenith and the Phyrexian zenith opposed eachother.


Finally, Covetous Dragon is the one I flip-flopped the most on. I didn’t like how you could be 2-for-1’d with him, and I tested him as Hoarding Dragon for a while, but ultimately I went with the older card. I figured less players had Covetous, and I tried to reduce cards that create the same game states. (Hoarding Dragon always getting a fat creature, the game always ending with that creature on the battlefield.) Plus, it is a pretty powerful card on its own and kind of captures the “all-in” nature of the war well.


2 Chrome Steed

1 Golem Artisan

2 Razor Hippogriff

1 Myrsmith

1 Embersmith

1 Rusted Relic


Cavalry – but good cavalry nonetheless. I was a little hesitant on the ‘Smiths in case players couldn’t figure out how artifact lands worked with them, but I felt the “this isn’t a spell” clause already on the lands would go a long way toward fixing that problem. I knew I wanted a mana sink for the late game – Artisan – and some metalcraft creatures to support the modern day theme. The Hippogriffs are good at resetting your cards vs. Phyrexia’s removal. I wanted two of them so that this deck had game against the removal heavy Phyrexian draws.


1 Fireshrieker

1 Sunforger

1 Darksteel Axe

The Sunforger is probably the card I’m most “proud of” in this deck. It fits perfectly in the deck, is an equipment, and even flavorfully makes sense despite being from the wrong set. It also helps protect Platinum Angel and makes all your 1 ofs feel like a cool feature instead of random.


The other two equipments were because I felt it was important that the Mirran deck have at least three pieces of equipment. Fireshrieker is just an awesome card to read and awesome on any of your large creatures. Darksteel Axe is the card in the deck I hate having to include the most, but it was a one drop indestructible equipment that fueled your aggressive metalcraft draws – how much more Mirran could you get





1 Magma Jet

1 Purge

1 Arrest

1 Galvanic Blast

1 Burn the Impure

1 Divine Offering

1 Tumble Magnet

2 Razor Barrier


I wanted a wide range of targets for Sunforger and enough removal spells to keep a quick Phyrexian barrage on its back foot. The two Razor Barriers are important for if you assemble Sunforger and Platinum Angel. (Though I was sad to find out it had just been used in Elspeth vs. Tezzeret, it still seemed to fit very well here.)  Arrest can’t be found with Sunforger, but it felt like too much of an iconic Mirrodin card to not include. (Though, interestingly enough, Arrest did not make its first appearance in Mirrodin!)




1 Tainted Wood


I was looking for a good way to fix the mana in this deck and Tainted Wood seemed like the right inclusion. It makes sense flavorfully and it kind of a lesser known, yet perfect fitting, dual land to use.


2 Flesh-Eater Imp

2 Plague Myr

2 Rot Wolf

1 Viridian Corrupter

1 Grafted Exoskeleton

1 Contagion Clasp

1 Contagion Engine

1 Phyrexian Juggernaut

1 Plaguemaw Beast

Balancing infect vs. non infect in this duel deck was tricky. I wanted the deck to be able to win by infect sometimes, normal damage other times, and – most importantly – not be frustrated if you drew a mix of infect and non-infect creatures. These cards all help that. All the infect cards but the Imps and the Juggernaut are perfectly fine creatures on their own, and the Imps/Juggernaut help to make sure some games are won by infect. The Contagion artifacts are there for counter fun and also to close games out with infect and make infect matter, while not being awful if you didn’t draw any infect cards.


On that note, Flesh-Eater Imp is really important. It combos with many of your cards, is a nice sized infect creature that poses a threat, and also just feels very Phyrexian. (That’s why there are two.)


Plaguemaw Beast is one of the weaker cards in the deck, but I wanted another five drop creature, I wanted to make sure I had enough newer cards in the deck, I wanted another sacrifice effect, and I wanted another proliferate card. You would be hard pressed to find another card to fit that order. Plus, not every card needs to be the best card ever – it’s important the duel decks have a wide range of power so each game is different.


1 Symbiotic Elf

1 Viridian Emissary

1 Protean Hulk

1 Myr Sire

1 Mitotic Slime


These guys all have death triggers. Death triggers feel very Phyrexian, and fit very well in this kind of deck.


At one point I had the whole Symbiotic cycle in here. Elf is the only one to survive.  Symbiotic Beast and One Dozen Eyes were too close for me to keep both, and I opted for Eyes since it was the prior Mirrodin card. (Though it does feel “Mirran aligned” at heart, unfortunately.) I didn’t want both of my green rares to just be “when this dies, get set X” so I opted for the slightly different Protean Hulk over Symbiotic Wurm. (I really wanted Gleancrawler, but that was nixed for flavor issues as I stated earlier.) I also didn’t like how Symbiotic Wurm was a one card kill with Flesh-Eater Imp. It’s cool the first time it happens, and becomes significantly more frustrating after that. (Note Mitotic Slime is only 9 points of damage with an Imp.)


On that note, Protean Hulk is a pretty fun card to play with and is like a “make your own Symbiote,” which is cool. My only concern is the “loading screen” factor as someone who plays this deck for the first time has to figure out which creatures to get.


1 One Dozen Eyes

Creating lots of tokens in this deck is often awesome. See above for more about why this was included over Symbiotic Beast


1 Phyrexian Ghoul

Despite being in the Phyrexia vs. Coalition duel decks, it felt too perfect to exclude.


1 Soul Snuffers

1 Skinrender

Soul Snuffers was a card I debated about for a long time. I loved the name and the flavor.  My qualm? It’s an elemental! Can Phyrexia take hold over an elemental? Is that possible? Eventually, I decided: “why not?” It’s Phyrexia. They’ll find a way. (Worth noting is that Necroskitter is also an elemental.)


1 Fume Spitter

The Spitter was added exclusively as a one drop to go get with Protean Hulk.  It has a surprising number of interactions in the deck, and also kills Myrs. I nearly added a second, but couldn’t find the room.


1 Necroskitter

I explained this guy earlier. After I saw how well he was performing, I knew all I had to do was figure out how I could explain the flavor in my 250 words (his Phyresis didn’t hold all the way) and I was set. It’s such a great card for this deck that’s just fun to play with.


1 Drooling Groodion

Like Sunforger for Mirrodin, the Groodion is the card I’m most “proud of” on the Phyrexian side. It’s such a Phyrexian card! It sacrifices creatures, steals energy from creatures, and has a slick Phyrexian sounding name. It’s a home run on all accounts in my book.


1 Spawning Pit

There wasn’t room enough for both this and Culling Dias. Only one could survive. Eventually, I culled the Dias despite it being the Phyrexian stamped card. The Pit is a fan favorite and a cool card to have in a Phyrexian deck. I like that you can sacrifice more than one card a turn if you want and that it generates more creatures. It just felt right on so many cylinders over drawing cards.


1 Innocent Blood

1 Barter in Blood

1 Spread the Sickness

1 Oxidize

1 Putrefy

1 Black Sun’s Zenith

I was pretty happy with the removal suite here. The mirrored sacrifice of Innocent Blood and Barter in Blood feel very Phyrexian and work well with all of the tokens and death triggers. (Plus they beat Platinum Angel shenanigans!) Oxidize seemed like an obvious inclusion for Phyrexia – it even has Platinum Angel in the art! Putrefy is an awesome Ravnica reprint, and Spread the Sickness helps push the counters theme a little.


I knew I wanted a mass removal spell in the Phyrexian deck, and -1/-1 counters for everybody seemed like by far what this deck was looking for. What a Phyrexian thing to do. Play with Necroskitter for extra fun!



1 Diabolic Servitude

1 Exhume

1 Morbid Plunder


I wanted to reprint some cool cards that brought back creatures because of all the synergies in the deck, and Servitude and Exhume fit the bill. Exhume is played enough and popular enough that I figured you could commission some awesome new art for it and a lot of players would want to get them.


Morbid Plunder, while less exciting, is a newer card to help bridge the gap. Plus, bringing back two creatures in this deck is nothing to laugh at!


Well, that wraps up most of this colossal blog post. I don’t know if this will actually help anyone else (definitely post a comment if it did), but I wanted to get my thoughts down on the process before too much time passed so I could have them for future reference. What else are blogs for, after all.


Congratulations to all of the other duel deck finalists and Burke Bourne, the Mirran champion! I know the decks are in development right now, and will likely change some by the time they hit Magic Online. I would also suspect they might be waiting to show off some “Action” cards in the duel decks, so we may not see them for a few months. I’m looking forward to seeing which changes Wizards chooses to make, as well as watching people play with the decks online


Two last things.

First, someone who heard I won the contest sent me an e-mail a week ago asking if I were to commission new art for cards in the winning duel deck, which cards I would choose. I think the cards I would consider for the slots would be Symbiotic Elf, Protean Hulk, Putrefy, One Dozen Eyes, Diabolic Servitude, Tainted Wood, Exhume, and Soul Snuffers. With that said, I don’t think online Duel Decks will get new art commissioned – but I could be wrong.


Finally, I promised you the list with all of the scraps of potential cards to consider that I wrote down. I’ll put it below. Like I said, it’s nowhere near the entire list of cards I considered, nor was anything I wrote down considered for more than a handful of seconds. Still, it was written down – might as well list it for the sake of completeness.


Thanks for reading, everyone! If you have any comments, please post them below or send me an e-mail. I’m curious to know what you would have changed or if there are any cards you think I missed that you would have definitely added.


Talk with you in the comments!



An incomplete list of considered cards:



Furnace Whelp

Ion Storm

Feast or Famine

Nested Ghoul

Morbid Bloom

Mongrel Pack


Pulse of the Tangle


Spitting Image

Symbiotic Beast

Symbiotic Wurm

Genesis Chamber


Nuisance Engine

Soul Foundry

Chimeric Mass

Gilded Lotus

Myr Matrix

Leonin Abunas

Kuldotha Forgemaster

Darksteel Forge

Mind’s Eye

Lodestone Golem

Raise the Alarm

Master’s Call


Devouring Strossus


Vulturous Zombie


Devour in Shadow


Diabolic Edict

Quilled Slagworm

Welding Jar

Ghalma’s Warden

Frantic Salvage

Hoarding Dragon

Blasting Station

Darksteel Brute

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