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Budget Magic: 13-Rare ($60) Poison Proliferate Control | Phyrexia Standard

Hey there, Budget Magic lovers, Phyrexia: All Will Be One is finally here, and today, we're kicking off our budget-friendly exploration of our new Standard format with one of the most Phyrexia decks possible in the format: UW Poison Proliferate Control! The idea of the deck is pretty unique: rather than overloading on creatures with toxic, we're trying to give our opponent a single poison counter and then proliferate it a bunch of times as we cast our card draw, counterspells, and removal. If we need one last burst of proliferate to close out the game, our one mythic—Vraska, Betrayal's Sting—can come down and proliferate each turn until our opponent finally gets 10 poison counters and dies! Can a poison proliferate control deck compete in Phyrexia: All Will Be One Standard? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck! 

Oh yeah, today's video was recorded during early access day. Thanks to Wizards for the invite and the free account to use during the event!

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Budget Magic: Poison Proliferate Control

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The Deck

As its name suggests, Poison Proliferate Control is a control deck. The idea is to get the opponent a single poison counter and then proliferate it a bunch of times as we cast our removal, card draw, and counterspells until our opponent finally gets 10 poison counters and dies!


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While we eventually need to give our opponent 10 poison counters to win the game, the first counter is by far the most important because it turns on all of our proliferate cards. Once our opponent has a poison counter, all of our proliferate cards essentially come with a kicker of "give the opponent a poison counter," but before we get the first poison counter in, our proliferate spells are just spells. So, how do we give our opponent that all-important first poison counter? We have two plans. First, we have two creatures in the deck, both with toxic 1, in Voidwing Hybrid and Venser, Corpse Puppet. Both creatures are extremely synergistic in our deck, with toxic letting them give our opponent a poison counter, but also because they both have abilities that trigger when we proliferate, with Voidwing Hybrid coming back from our graveyard to our hand, making it an infinite blocker and a recursive toxic attacker, and Venser making Golems that help keep us alive while we are executing our control plan.

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We can also just give our opponent a poison counter directly with our card-draw spells Prologue to Phyresis and Infectious Inquiry. While both would be slightly overcosted if they didn't give the opponent a poison counter, both are great in our deck when you consider that a single poison counter is essentially two damage in a poison deck. Plus, these cards give us a way to give our opponent a poison counter if we don't draw (or can't get in with) our two creatures.

Proliferate Control

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So, let's assume we get our opponent that first poison counter—how do we turn that into a win? By proliferating a bunch! Our removal, card draw, and counterspells all proliferate. For example, Drown in Ichor is a fine two-mana removal spell, but it also proliferates, giving our opponent an extra poison counter. We also get to take advantage of some corrupted cards, which are fine normally but become super strong once our opponent gets three poison counters, like Anoint with Affliction, which exiles any creature for just two mana at instant speed once we corrupt our opponent!

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Our counters and card draw are the same way, either proliferating to give our opponent more poison counters, like Reject Imperfection and Experimental Augury, or becoming super-charged once our opponent is corrupted, like Bring the Ending (which turns into an upgraded Counterspell) and Distorted Curiosity (which becomes a one-mana draw-two).

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Finally, we have our mythic finisher Vraska, Betrayal's Sting, which is perfect for our deck in multiple ways. The five- (or six-) mana planeswalker does everything our deck could want by proliferating and drawing us a card with its 0 ability, killing creatures by turning them into Treasure tokens with its –2, and potentially giving our opponent nine poison counters with the ultimate (which means any single proliferate spell wins us the game!). While Vraska is our most expensive card both in paper and on Magic Arena, it's more than worth the cost. It's super powerful and synergistic in our deck!

Playing the Deck

Only one note today: make sure you can get the opponent the first poison counter! We've talked about this a few times already, but it's worth bringing up again: our proliferate cards are sort of medium until our opponent has a poison counter, but they are all super powerful once the opponent has a poison counter because, along with having their effect, they are also essentially dealing our opponent damage. Try to make sure your opening hand has a least one card that can deal a poison counter early in the game. Having to cast proliferate spells but not be able to proliferate isn't ideal.


Record-wise, we had a bit better than a 50% win rate with the deck, although I don't really put much weight into a deck's records on early-access day because people are trying new things and the meta isn't usually very similar to "real" Standard. That said, the deck felt solid and like it has a chance to be a solid budget option for our new Standard format. 

The biggest challenge for the deck is aggro. One thing UB Poison Proliferate Control is lacking (or really, what UB Control in general is lacking) is a wrath. Against aggro decks, we can sometimes fall too far behind (especially if we are on the draw), and we don't have a good way of catching back up. I'm not sure there's a way to solve this issue without splashing into another color. Going Esper to play cards like Depopulate or Farewell could be a good option, although this likely would be for non-budget builds because playing a three-color mana base is going to cost a lot of wildcards. (Plus, the wraths themselves are also rares.)

So, should you play UB Poison Proliferate Control in our new Standard format? I think the answer is yes! In some ways, the deck reminds me of the old Nephalia Drownyard control decks. We don't really have to play a finisher because our random removal spells, card-draw spells, and value planeswalkers act as finishers once we give our opponent a poison counter since they proliferate the poison counters. This means that we can overload on an absurd amount of interaction—even more than a normal control deck—which is a good place for a control deck to be!

Ultra-Budget UB Poison Proliferate Control

As we talked about before, the deck currently has a total of 13 rares and mythics, although this is somewhat deceiving because more than half of them are the eight rare dual lands in our mana base. Discounting the lands, the deck requires just three rares (Venser, Corpse Puppet) and two mythics (Vraska, Betrayal's Sting), both of which are essential to the deck's plan. If you want to make the deck even cheaper, the only real option is to replace some rare dual lands with tapped duals, which I wouldn't recommend but could work in the short term. It is worth mentioning that we're playing Darkslick Shores and Underground River as our dual lands (since they are the cheapest in paper). If you have Shipwreck Marsh in your collection, feel free to use it to replace one of the other duals, or just run it over basic lands to add a bit more consistency. 

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As I mentioned before, the one problem we ran into with UB Poison Proliferate Control is that we don't really have access to a sweeper. As such, our non-budget build splashes into white for Depopulate and Farewell to help against aggro decks. The rest of the deck is essentially the same as the one we played for the video—we just trim a few cards to find room for the wraths. Sadly, this small change increases the deck's price by a lot, with the deck costing nearly three times as much, both in paper and on Magic Arena, thanks to all of the dual lands we need to make the mana work.


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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