Thursday, 8 January 2015


“Ring around the rosie..” Fun fact – did you know that the aforementioned children’s song is actually about the plague? Also known as the black Balance - Pox has been around for a long time, but was largely overshadowed by the other BBB costing spell in Ice Age when it first came out. It certainly has its fans however, even spawning several decks in Legacy due to its sheer power. Pox also works in the Ancient format - with access to it and a variety of cards that let you use its effect to your advantage, a player can maintain control of their opponent’s board before going for the win.

The tricky part of Pox is in the numbers. In the early days, Wizards was very focused on card flavour. As a result, Pox has each player sacrifice one third of their land, creatures in play, hand and life total rounded up. Fun fact #2 – the black plague killed approximately 1/3 of Europe’s population. Oh WotC, have you no shame?? Back to Pox though - you want to cast it to maximize its effect on your opponent while minimizing its effect on you. The words “rounded up” are VERY important here. For example: if an opponent has seven cards in hand, this means that they have to discard 3 cards. 4 lands in play means they have to sacrifice 2, etc. A well-timed Pox can decimate an opponent’s hand and board state, so it’s important to know when to cast it. It can also decimate yours though, so pay attention.

Pox decks are all about control. There are a few ways of doing this, but the focus of this particular deck is on discard and mana denial. The plan is to use cards such as Pox, Sinkhole and Wasteland to keep them from having mana (and thus casting their spells). Hymn to Tourach is great because it can act as both discard AND mana denial. I don’t think there’s much point in explaining the merits of discard, but Encroach does stand out here. Obviously, the card can either be very good or very bad depending on the situation. You want to see it early on, which is why there are 4 in the deck. If you’re on the play and the opponent keeps a 1-land hand, then Encroach can just win the game. I think of it as a lesser Hymn in that it can thin their hand and deny them mana.

The threats. To get around the creature sweep of Pox and friends, you want your win conditions to be unaffected by them. Mishra’s Factory is probably the most obvious way of doing this, but it’s not the only one. Nether Spirit is great because it can actually help you gain card advantage when discarded or sacrificed to Pox. There’s only one in the deck though. Why? Read the card. Chimeric Idol works a lot like Mishra’s in that it only becomes a creature once it is activated, thus getting around the creature sacrifice cards in the deck. Lastly, Cursed Scroll does double duty because it works as a win con AND targeted creature removal.

The last thing I want to touch upon is the 2 slots I used for Phyrexian Arena. Originally, they were 2 Bottomless Pit. I’m not sure which is correct, if either, but as always you can tinker around and customize the deck to how you want it. Happy brewing!



4 Mishra’s Factory
4 Wasteland
14 Swamp
1 Cabal Pit
1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

Total: 24


1 Nether Spirit

Total: 1


4 Pox
4 Hymn to Tourach
4 Sinkhole
4 Dark Ritual
4 Innocent Blood
4 Duress
4 Encroach
2 Cursed Scroll
3 Chimeric Idol
2 Phyrexian Arena

Total: 35


4 Tormod’s Crypt
4 Engineered Plague
4 Powder Keg
2 Phyrexian Gate
1 Planar Void

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