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Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / Precon Upgrades for "Corrupting Influence" | Poison | $30

Precon Upgrades for "Corrupting Influence" | Poison | $30


Phyrexia: All Will Be One Commander preconstructed decklists have been revealed and with it comes another round of my precon upgrades. We're going to do a thorough analysis of each deck, highlighting its goals and how well it accomplishes them, check out its deckbuilding fundamentals, identify its strongest and weakest cards, then use all that information to make an optimized $30 upgrade path!

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Corrupting Influence is an Abzan deck that explores new territory by focusing on the Poison archetype, providing the first multicolor commanders for this specific archetype! The goal of the deck is to poison each opponent with toxic creatures (Bilious Skulldweller), infect (Grafted Exoskeleton), and other poison cards (Phyresis Outbreak) which will make your corrupted cards more powerful (Glissa's Retriever). You then keep ticking up the poison counters with proliferate (Vat Emergence) until your opponents lose the game from 10+ poison counters!

Caution! While this preconstructed deck is one of the most unique decks ever printed and a personal favorite of mine, many casual players have an irrational fear of Poison decks, regardless of how strong/weak the actual deck is! Be warned that this deck might end up being the archenemy at tables even when it doesn't deserve to be. If you don't like decks that draw a lot of hate, then I sadly would caution against picking this one up :(

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The Precon List

Before we talk upgrades, let's take a look at the stock list to see what we're working with:

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Corrupting Influence is focused solely on Poison counters, an archetype with a rather shallow card pool, but still cobbles together enough of them for a focused deck: I count 40 cards that are on-theme, either with toxic (Blightbelly Rat), infect (Blight Mamba), gives poison counters (Vraska's Fall), proliferates (Contagion Clasp), or benefits from poison some way (Geth's Summons). Not all these cards are certified bangers but it's still impressive! 

The rest of the deck is filled with necessary cards for staying alive, either with spot removal (Beast Within) and 4(!) pillowfort cards (Ghostly Prison) to fend off some of the hate this deck will undoubtedly get.

Choosing Our Commander

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There's only two potential precon commanders found in this deck: Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa and Vishgraz, the Doomhive, both fine choices to lead the precons but want to take the deck in different directions:

  • Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa is the face commander of the precon: she's an evasive 4-drop that can reliably add 2 poison counters to an opponent each combat and while doubling as a decent blocker. Her corrupted ability provides card advantage in the command zone, "drawing" you up to 3 cards per turn if each opponent has 3+ counter. "Draw 3" is undoubtedly powerful, but it does require 3+ poison counters per opponent, and it's much worse than drawing cards off your own deck. Still, card advantage is card advantage, and Ixhel provides a reliable source of it along with a reliable way of poisoning opponents, making her a solid commander. 
  • Vishgraz, the Doomhive is the more explosive, scarier commander option: he's a 5-drop so he costs more but he enters the battlefield with four toxic 1 creatures, essentially double the amount of poison per combat than Ixhel, and he can grow into a big threat as the game progresses. There's more things you can do to make Vishgraz scarier than Ixhel, such as double strike to dish out 8 poison counters per combat, Anointed Procession to double the amount of mites, blink to get more mites too,e tc. But on his own I think Vishgraz is much worse than Ixhel since none of the mites have evasion and are just lame 1/1's so he's actually less reliable at poisoning opponents, and I'd much rather get card advantage off Ixhel than have a fairly large dumb beater that can't reliably attack.

So for this precon guide, the choice is obvious: Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa is just better in a vacuum. She's a more reliable source of poison counters and gives the deck extra cards to work with.

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Analyzing the Precon & Identifying Weaknesses

Now that we've glanced at the stock list and settled on our commander, let's take a closer look at the deck itself to identify what parts benefit the most from upgrades.

As I often explain in my Budget Commander articles, every time I build a rough draft of a deck, I make sure I have a certain ratio of mana, interaction, card advantage, etc. This gives me a reference point to compare to the deck and see which areas may need improvement. My general ratio is:

  • 50 mana; lands and ramp, usually a 37–13 split
  • 10 card draw; cards that net you 2+ cards in hand
  • 8 targeted removal; split between creature / artifact / enchantment removal and countermagic
  • 3 board wipes; creature-light decks might want one more, creature-heavy decks might want one less
  • 2 graveyard recursion
  • 2 flexible tutors; higher budgets I recommend more tutors
  • 1 graveyard hate; since you need to keep Graveyard decks honest 
  • 1 finisher; something that can win games the turn you cast it without too much setup

That's always my starting point, which is then tweaked to suit the individual deck's strategy and further tweaked with playtesting. I always find it immensely useful to figure out some quick ways to improve the deck in question.

Let's see what the rough ratios are for Corrupting Influence and how it compares. I count:

The ratios here are highly impressive! We've got a lot of ramp, draw, a surprising amount of wipes (I assume this high number + pillowfort cards are to fend off hate), great recursion, finishers ... even 2 graveyard hate cards!

There's still a ton of weak cards in the deck (we'll get to those later) but there's also a ton of staples here like Beast Within and Swords to Plowshares. I even spot Krosan Verge with a dual land, Canopy Vista, love it!

This deck is SWEET! Easily in my Top 5 favorite precons ever made!

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Upgrade Goals

I have some specific goals when upgrading Corrupting Influence:

  • Cut the low-impact poison cards
  • Add haste enablers
  • Add the remaining good poison cards
  • Add more proliferate
  • Spend the rest of the budget on general upgrades

While the precon is very good overall, the biggest weakness is that there's a bunch of bad poison cards eating up card slots: Blight Mamba, Ichorclaw Myr, Culling Ritual etc. are going to do a whole bunch of nothing since they have no evasion or haste. The deck absolutely wants to get poison counters on folks to start proliferating and turn on corrupted, but we don't need to run bad cards to accomplish this. Evasive poison like Pestilent Syphoner are a tiny bit better but ideally we shouldn't run these either.

I would highly recommend cutting the weakest poison cards and focus on the best ones -- Ichor Rats, Viridian Corrupter, Vraska's Fall, etc. -- and then use the extra slots to maximize the strengths of those cards. For example, our poison creatures reeeeally want some haste, ideally Lightning Greaves ($$$) but even a Swiftfoot Boots does the trick fine ($). I'd much rather play a turn 2 Lightning Greaves than a Blight Mamba so our Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa can immediately swing the turn we cast her and we have protection!

Of course we'll toss in the remaining good poison cards that can fit within our budget: there's not much left to add but stuff like Contagion Engine and Triumph of the Hordes are obvious includes here, if not within the $30 budget then beyond that.

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$33 Upgrades

Disclaimer: Card prices are volatile and may be different at the time you read this article.

Okay, I'm cheating and adding an extra $3 to this upgrade. If you cannot abide with that then don't swap out Fumigate for White Sun's Twilight. As always, if you want to upgrade on a smaller budget then just make less swaps:

Additions:

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Cuts:

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We cut the weakest poison cards for the stronger ones, most notably Triumph of the Hordes and Tainted Strike which reliably surprise opponents with sneaky 1-shots. Creatures that can dish out 5+ poison per swing are always deadly (Phyrexian Juggernaut), especially with the two haste equipment we've slotted in (Lightning Greaves)!

Here's how the deck looks with the upgrades added:

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Further Upgrades

Some ideas for higher budget:

If you're dead-set on having Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa as your commander and want to power up the deck even further, it's hard to argue that the deck would work better under Atraxa, Praetors' Voice: the commander itself is more powerful at the same mana value, better at protecting yourself, and the proliferate ability can yield up to 3 poison counters per turn as opposed to Ixhel's 2. More importantly though is you get access to Blue, picking up more powerful auto-includes: Brokers Confluence, Thrummingbird, Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus, Tezzeret's Gambit, Corrupted Resolve, Distorted Curiosity, Tainted Observer, Inexorable Tide being the most notable ones.

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That's All, Folks!

Next week will be a return to Budget Commander! We're going to focus on the new commanders from All Will Be One for a few weeks; which ones do you want to see covered first? Let me know in the comments section!



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