With the banning of Jace, The Mind Sculptor
Jace, The Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic
Stoneforge Mystic in the next week the Standard environment is going to be going through a lot of changes. While I don’t play a lot of Standard Constructed decks, I may be tempted to experiment with some new decks and try them at FNM. One card I was really interested in when I saw it was Caress of Phyrexia. It’s a bit on the expensive side and can be a bit dangerous, but achieving compleation was never an easy process. There are a few tricks that can turn many of its drawbacks into advantages for you!
The most noticeable thing about this card is that it is very similar to Sign in Blood
Sign in Blood with both card draw and loss of life. These cards can also be used on any player in order to give you cards or to hurt your opponent. Caress of Phyrexia gives an opponent 3 poison counters, nearly a third of their life! This is clearly a card that belongs in an Infect deck.
The goal is simple for a card like this: get your opponent to 7 poison counters, then surprise them with this card! This is one of the few non-creature cards that adds poison counters directly. It can get the last few counters on your opponent if they’ve set up a wall of blockers that your Infect creatures can’t get around. With some early Plague Stingers
Plague Stinger and Glistener Elves
Glistener Elf it should be pretty easy to get up to 7 counters by turn 5 when you can play Caress of Phyrexia for the win.
Of course, if you aren’t able to finish your opponent, they’re up three cards. Why not use it on yourself? Those three poison counters are the most dangerous part about this card. If you’re up against an Infect deck then there are very few times when adding some more counters to help them out would be beneficial to you, even if it gets you 3 cards. With that it mind I think Caress of Phyrexia would be a pretty good sideboard card to use on yourself if your opponent is not playing Infect.
For those that would like to try a deck built around Caress of Phyrexia, there are a lot of neat combos to give yourself the upper hand in any situation with this card. A great card to use with Caress of Phyrexia is Consecrated Sphinx which will ensure that you wind up with card advantage even if you use this card on your opponent. They may be drawing the 3 cards with the associated drawbacks, but with the sphinx in play you’re getting 6 cards for yourself! Adding blue would also allow you to use Blighted Agent
Blighted Agent to get in some unblockable poison-counter generation. Regardless of what deck you’re up against, the Agent is a ten-turn clock – they need to have a response.
While getting 6 cards is great for you, it may not be worth it if you’re giving cards to your opponent. The solution to this problem is easy: Nobody draws cards! When I first saw Caress of Phyrexia I was really excited for its interaction with Omen Machine. Omen Machine does not allow anyone to draw, ever. If you use Caress of Phyrexia on your opponent then they are stuck with losing life and gaining poison counters with no benefits. With this combo both players run the risk of becoming slaves to the Omen Machine. There are a couple ways around this, however. You can’t draw, but you can look at cards and then put them into your hand. Shrine of Piercing Vision
Shrine of Piercing Vision is a great little artifact that will keep getting stronger with each turner, allowing you to dig deeper into the deck to find what you want.
While it seems straightforward, there are many ways to make use of Caress of Phyrexia. I think the best way to use it is against your opponent, with tricks to give you the upper hand if you don’t win the game right there. This is also a very versatile card which is able to defeat your opponent in 3 different ways! When else have you been able to empty their library, bring them to 0 life, and give them 10 poison counters all at the same time? Maybe Caress of Phyrexia can be a worthwhile addition to your FNM deck this week!