Magic: The Gathering turned thirty in mid-2022: the celebrations that began with the Dominaria Unita set led to a colossal reboot for the Wizards of The Coast TCG, with the inauguration of a multi-set storyline which, starting right from Dominaria Unita, it developed into the expansion The War of the Brothers and, now, also in Phyrexia: Tutto Diverrà Uno (Phyrexia: All Will Be One in English). This last set will be the penultimate of the narrative arc inaugurated last year, which should conclude by mid-2023 with the next Magic mainline expansion, of which we still don’t know anything.
Wizards of The Coast gave us the opportunity to participate in a round table with Mike Turian, Magic Game Architect, Ovidio Cartagena, Art Director of Phyrexia: Tutto Divverà Uno, and Mary Katherine Amiotte, linguist specializing in Phyrexian, who revealed to us many new additions to the set that are very welcome to collectors, competitive players and fans of the Magic lore.
New Phyrexia as Dante’s Inferno
As promised at the end of The Brothers’ War, the Planeswalkers will wage war on New Phyrexia during All Will Become One.
We talk about the home world of the Phyrexians, an artificial plane built upon Mirrodin, another universe created by the Planeswalker Karn. The Phyrexians have conquered Mirrodin, but this does not mean that they dominate the plane unchallenged: on the contrary, the ancient inhabitants of Mirrodin have organized themselves into a resistance against the machines, which in Phyrexia: All Will Become One will allied with the Planeswalkers of Dominaria . Ovidio Cartagena recounts that “new Phyrexia is based on the Divine Comedy: it represents a sort of descent into hell, made up of nine concentric circles, each based on a different area of the plane”. For this reason, the Magic designers have come up with new artwork for the Basic Lands, which for Cartagena represent “monuments to Phyrexian greatness”. Next to the latter, then, we find the Dual Lands, or “mixed” Lands, described as “the result of the conquests of Phyrexia in the Multiverse and the interpenetration between the different areas of the Mirrodin plane”. If Mirrodin represents the surface of the machine plane, each region of it is ruled by one of the Phyrexian praetors.
Among the lieutenants of Machine Mother Elesh Norn are Urabrask, lord of the Forge, refuge of the Mirrodin resistance. Then there is the mammoth Vorinclex, who dominates the Hunter’s Labyrinth and finally Jin-Gitaxias, Praetor of the Engine of New Phyrexia, who studies the Planeswalkers in Surgical Bay. Just the experiments of Jin-Gitaxias are essential for the survival of the Phyrexians. Since the latter are nothing more than soulless machines, their plan to conquer the Multiverse must pass through the control of some human Planeswalkers. As has already happened in the past of Magic: The Gathering, some Planeswalkers will join Phyrexia by succumbing to the lure of the “perfection” promised by the machines. One of these, for example, is the Wizard Jace Beleren, who in Phyrexia: All Will Become One, will be transformed into the Legendary Planeswalker card “Jace, the Perfected Mind”. Wizards of The Coast has already confirmed that a total of ten Planeswalkers will appear in the new set: it remains to be seen which ones will try to save the Multiverse and which ones, instead, will decide to give in to Phyrexian flattery.
We continue our journey to New Phyrexia: in the “circle” below the domain of Jin-Gitaxias we find the Pozzo di Slag, the arena of Sheoldred, which has already appeared among the cards of Dominaria Unita. Not all praetors are equally loyal to Elesh Norn: for example, Sheoldred and Urabrask are trying to escape the Machine Mother’s game, while Jin-Gitaxias and Vorinclex are allies of him. Even deeper is the Basilica of Mondrak, Dominus Glorioso. Again Ovid Cartagena explains that Mondrak is “based on a biblically accurate angel.
The interaction between the Phyrexians and the surrounding environment generates new creatures different from all the others”. Finally, the two lower levels are the Mycosinth Gardens and the Seed Core: this is the “heart” of New Phyrexia (or rather, of Mirrodin), to which the Phyrexians have not yet arrived and towards which they are trying to extend their mechanical limbs. Finally, controlling the efforts of all the Phyrexians is no longer Yawgmoth, defeated and killed by the Legacy at the height of the first Phyrexian invasion of Dominaria. Elesh Norn, the Mother of Machines, has taken her place. The Magic designers explain to us that the new leader of the Phyrexians is, however, in extreme continuity with Yawgmoth: “just as he called himself the father of machines , Elesh Norn also calls herself the mother of machines. They are two different figures, but their goal is the same.”
A toxic world, a rising resistance
In addition to new lore and lore, the new Magic set will introduce several new mechanics, while others will make their return with great fanfare with the expansion arriving in February. Among the latter we find “Poison” with its counters and “Proliferate”, which is closely related to the Phyrexians.
Poison has been revised in the keyword “Toxic”, which does not assign poison counters based on static effects but as a result of specific actions performed by creatures during combat. Proliferate goes hand in hand with Toxic, as it allows you to multiply the counters on each player, doubling them. It goes without saying that the counter-based playstyle will be the most popular in decks based on Phyrexians, whose aim will be to make the opponent reach the total of ten poison counters, causing his immediate defeat. To make it even easier to achieve this goal, then, the new set will integrate the Corrupted mechanic, which will allow some cards to activate particularly powerful effects once the opponent has reached a given number of counters (usually three).
But not only poison counters will be at the heart of Phyrexia: All Will Become One. On the contrary, Wizards will also introduce the “Oil Counters”, a completely new type of counter based on the Glistening Oil – also known as Phyrexian Oil, or Glistening Oil in English – the poisonous substance used by the machines to spread their corruption on the plans to conquer.
The synergies between Oil Counters, Proliferate and Corrupted will be multiple, opening up a number of different play styles to fans. In short, for those who want to use the phyrexians, the news seems really intriguing. At this point, though, fans who side with the resistance may feel left out. Fortunately, Magic will also introduce the For Mirrodin! mechanic, the main one linked to the anti-Phyrexian rebels: it is a keyword similar to Living Weapon and linked to Equipment Artifacts, which allows you to put a 2/2 Rebel token into play together with each Equipment. Furthermore, the Rebels will once again be a subtype of Creatures in their own right: their last appearance in the TCG dates back to 2006, in the Time Spiral expansion.
Among “oily” Rares, manga style and Phyrexian language
Our journey through the new Magic set concludes with announcements of bundles, release dates, and card rarities for Phyrexia: Everything Will Become One. The expansion will debut worldwide on February 10th, with launch parties scheduled until the 12th of the same month.
Pre-release events, on the other hand, will be set between February 3 and 9. Finally, the full set card gallery will arrive on January 26. As always, it will be possible to buy the packs in different ways: on the one hand we will have the Draft Packs, which will contain more cards but will have fewer guaranteed rares. On the other hand, however, there will be the actual Expansion Bags, which will have foil cards secured in each package. Finally, there will also be Collector’s Boosters designed for those looking for higher rarity cards, and Jumpstart envelopes, which will allow newbies to start playing with the new expansion right away. Next to the boosters, then, we point out two Commander Decks, Rising Rebels and Corrupted Influence, each with its own specific game mechanics and faction, and two bundles, namely the standard one and the “Compleat Edition” one.
The latter will arrive in stores about a month later than the other Phyrexia products: Everything will become one, but the contents should certainly pay off the wait. In fact, the edition includes various “oily” raised foil cards, with a rarity based on the Shimmering Oil of enormous elegance and impact. Among the cards that will receive this type of treatment we also find Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines, which will also have a text written in the Phyrexian language. The linguist Mary Katherine Amiotte also explained that, with a little effort and dedication, “it will be possible to translate the Phyrexian texts present on the special cards of the set into English”.
Next to these cards, then, we find the Basic Lands designed by the artist Mark Riddick, also with text in Phyrexian and with a decidedly captivating metal style. In addition, Wizards of the Coast also announced that legendary manga artist Junji Ito will draw some cards of Phyrexia: All Will Become One, among which we find the variant full art version of Elesh Norn, the Planeswalker Koth and Jor Kadeen. However, the borderless treatment will not be limited to manga-style cards: on the contrary, it will be extended to various other variants, such as those of the Phyrexian Praetors (Elesh Norn, Jin-Gitaxias, Sheoldred, Urabrask and Vorinclex), as well as the new cards with Icore treatment, whose style wants to show the effect of the corruption of the machines on the victims of Phyrexia.