Zenith Chronicler | Illustration by Johann Bodin
A widescale Phyrexian invasion usually means two things: the compleation of some of Magic’s most beloved characters, and teeth. Lots of teeth. Growing Threat showcased the Phyrexian side of the multiversal invasion in March of the Machine and its cycle of Commander precons.
This deck puts the Phyrexians front and center, combined with artifact synergies headlined by MOM’s incubate mechanic. It also supports a few mini-themes, making it one of the more disparate decks in its batch.
Today I’m upgrading the deck, taking it from its out-of-the-box experience to an average casual competitor. Let’s get to it!
Growing Threat is an Orzhov () deck from MOM Commander, making it the only 2-color deck in the group. It’s billed as a Phyrexian tribal deck, but it’s only half dedicated to the theme. The other half is focused on artifacts with a few cards tying these themes together. I came here for the Phyrexians, so a lot of my upgrades lean into the tribal elements of the deck.
Look what they did to my boy Brimaz. Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos was compleated during the events of MOM, and the new version is all about incubating. Moira and Teshar tag-team as the alternative commander and highlight the artifact and secondary reanimator themes. I’ll be sticking with Brimaz on this one.
My goal is simple: give you 15 cards to power up the deck on a budget. I’m looking to juice the Phyrexian elements of the deck and de-emphasize the explicit artifact synergies so the deck feels more cohesive. Also, sorry to the Planechase lovers, but I’m disregarding the Planechase tie-ins that came with the precon.
- Growing Threat (White-Black deck)—100-card ready-to-play March of the Machine Commander Deck with 2 Traditional Foil Legendary cards and 98 nonfoil cards
- 10 Planechase cards and 1 planar die to trigger unique abilities and jump across the Multiverse
- 2-card Collector Booster Sample Pack—contains 2 special treatment cards from the March of the Machine main set, including 1 Rare or Mythic Rare and at least 1 Traditional Foil card
- Accessories—1 Foil-Etched Display Commander, 10 double-sided tokens, Life Tracker, and deck box
- Deck introduces 10 never-before-seen MTG cards to Commander
Strengths and Weaknesses
The immediate strength of this deck is the individual power level of the cards. While Divine Convocation is trying to win with Flight of Equenauts and Seraph of the Masses, this deck has Massacre Wurm and Noxious Gearhulk. The cards are strong for a precon, including the commander.
Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos drives the deck. Just about any spell you cast generates a token that can become a threat later on while it’s on board. The more expensive the spell, the bigger the Incubator. In fact, the precon is maybe a bit too reliant on Brimaz being in play. Brimaz ties everything together, so it feels like you shuffled two different decks together without it.
The biggest weakness of the precon is its absurdly high curve. I know there’s a light reanimation theme and decent artifact ramp, but this deck features zero 1- or 2-drop creatures. Brimaz’s ability scales well with expensive spells, but it’s 2023. Games are faster and you need to get on board early. I’m including more early-game threats to get your synergies on board sooner.
Alright, let’s see what we can do about that Phyrexian army.
Suggested Cut: Phyrexian Ghoul
Bloated Processor is a main-set improvement over Phyrexian Ghoul most of the time, sacrificing the cards that matter and leaving behind an Incubator token on death. It’s a small-ball upgrade to start things off.
Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor
Suggested Cut: Shimmer Myr
Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor is my “expensive” pick of the litter, coming in around $10. It encourages players to attack your opponents and has a cool over-the-top activated ability. As far as generically good Phyrexians go, this is top of class for its price point.
Shimmer Myr is a casualty of leaning into the Phyrexian elements over the artifact support.
Suggested Cut: Fractured Powerstone
Removing Planechase makes cards like Fractured Powerstone obvious cuts. I subbed it out for Myr Convert to maintain the ramp tools in the deck while also upping the Phyrexian count by one. Poison kills aren’t your main gameplan, but your commander can proliferate.
I’m not saying it can’t be a wincon…
Suggested Cut: Myr Battlesphere
I’m not a fan of the generic expensive artifacts in this deck. If you’re spending your turn casting an artifact, you want it to work with the Phyrexian side of your deck too.
Phyrexian Fleshgorger fits this description better than Myr Battlesphere, and prototype makes it a 3-drop if need be. Sorry Battleball, you’re just not what you used to be.
Vraan, Executioner Thane
Suggested Cut: Ancient Stone Idol
Vraan, Executioner Thane is a Blood Artist variant with the Phyrexian creature typing. It’s cheap and plays into the sacrifice elements of the deck.
As with Myr Battlesphere, I’m cutting Ancient Stone Idol to lower the curve. There are enough expensive plays that you can chop a few off the top.
Suggested Cut: Scrap Trawler
Phyrexian Censor sure is annoying. That is, annoying for your opponents. It shouldn’t disrupt you much while blanketing your opponents with a Rule of Law effect and forcing their creatures to enter play tapped. If it stops you from double-spelling, you can invest your leftover mana into Incubator tokens.
Scrap Trawler is acceptable in decks playing cheap artifacts like Wayfarer's Bauble, but again, I’m assuming you came here for the Phyrexians, not the artifacts.
Suggested Cut: Psychosis Crawler
Phyrexian Plaguelord has lost some luster in modern-day Commander, but maybe making its creature type matter can breathe some new Phyrexian Unlife into this sac outlet. It plays board control and takes out a larger creature in a pinch, and it makes much more sense thematically than Psychosis Crawler.
Crawler is both artifact and Phyrexian, but that’s where its relevance stops.
Skrelv, Defector Mite
Suggested Cut: Bloodline Pretender
This deck lacks protection, so Skrelv, Defector Mite is a welcome addition. It has crucial types, and keeping your commander around is pivotal to how this deck operates. Not to mention another toxic creature surely makes more friends at the table.
Bloodline Pretender is an easy cut. It has the right card types, but it’s a forgettable body once it’s in play.
Suggested Cut: Scytheclaw
Grafted Butcher is a Phyrexian lord and another curve-cutter, taking the place of the 5-drop Scytheclaw. Butcher ties together all the different elements of the deck and gives you another premium 2-drop to trigger Brimaz.
For lack of a more elegant way to say this, Scytheclaw just sucks. Living weapon makes a Phyrexian, but it’s expensive to cast and equip, and I’m already not a fan of Quietus Spike.
Suggested Cut: Path of the Schemer
Zenith Chronicler checks all the right boxes. Phyrexian? Check. Artifact? Check. The deck also has a low multicolored spell count (five including the commander).
Spells like Despark and Mortify could even be adjusted to capitalize on playing Chronicler. Path of the Schemer loses its appeal outside Planechase games, so it’s getting the axe. Oh, that Tezzeret. Always scheming and such.
Suggested Cut: Cataclysmic Gearhulk
This deck already features Phyrexian Rebirth, and Sunfall is a huge improvement over that. I kept both Phyrexian-themed wraths and trimmed Cataclysmic Gearhulk instead. Breaking parity on the white Gearhulk is tough, and it can undo all the work you put in incubating.
Sunfall is easier to plan around; wipe the board then start transforming Incubators. At the very least you’ll have this A-tier card for your collection.
Suggested Cut: Ichor Elixir
Inspiring Statuary is a great addition to any deck pumping out artifact tokens. It turns your Incubators into mana sources for your non-artifact spells. It’s a no-brainer swap for Ichor Elixir. which planeswalked away with the other Planechase cards.
Suggested Cut: Ambition's Cost
It’s 2023 and Ambition's Cost still makes it into Commander precons, eh? I’m not big on sorcery-speed card advantage unless it’s cheap or gives me a whole new hand. Monumental Corruption does the latter, and it should be easy to enable through sheer incubation alone. It can also become a secret burn spell in a prolonged game.
Idol of Oblivion
Suggested Cut: Coveted Jewel
I know Coveted Jewel has its fans, but you run the risk of turning your opponents into super monarchs. Idol of Oblivion should cover your card advantage needs and subs out another 6-drop for a 2-drop with excellent upside.
Suggested Cut: Spire of Industry
Mirrex pumps out Phyrexian Mite tokens, feeding your sac outlets and growing your army. Spire of Industry is unnecessary for a 2-color casual deck.
You’re not coming out the gates swinging, and this is functionally the same as Caves of Koilos, which is also passable at best.
The Mana Base
Growing Threat is a 2-color deck, so just play the best Orzhov lands you have access to. Being only two colors also means you have more room for utility lands. The deck included Karn's Bastion and Vault of the Archangels, but there’s room for lands like High Market or The Mycosynth Gardens as well.
Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos | Illustration by Uriah Voth
These changes should keep the core identity intact while amplifying the Phyrexian presence of the deck. It’s strange that they emphasized artifacts here since the Tinker Time deck in the same cycle is also heavily artifact-based, but I guess they wanted to showcase incubate in full force. I just really wish it had a better name than Growing Threat. Really? Why not just name the deck “Deadly Dudes”?
How has the precon been treating you? Are there any spicy tech cards you’ve added to level up the deck? Let me know in the comments below, or over in the Draftsim Discord.
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