Phyrexian Censor – March of the Machine
Date Reviewed: April 25, 2023
Commander [EDH]: 3.75
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
This card can get ugly very fast (and I’m not just saying that because desecrating a library like in the art makes my blood boil). This kind of effect has a long history in Magic, but not all of the examples included a built-in way to break the symmetry for yourself. Phyrexian Censor will quite often end a game in effect – and it has shockingly efficient combat stats, meaning it can also end the game for real when it has to. I don’t know how many Rule of Law cards can honestly say that. Even apart from power tournaments, that might be appealing: in cube design, you might want to support white’s slowdown effects but also not have games drag on too long. This is one of the few cards that can meet that need.
You’ll notice I’m talking about him more as a rule-setting card than as a Phyrexian tribal card. That will likely be his main application in larger card pools, and perhaps even in Standard as I’m not sure that they can make a coherent proactive deck outside of March of the Machine limited. On top of that, a whole lot of older creatures were errataed to be Phyrexians, far more than have received updated printings or are likely to in the future. An open-format Phyrexian tribal deck is going to result in a lot of database checking (or a lot of arguments!).
Commander [EDH]: 3.5
March of the Machine is going hard in on Phyrexian tribal support in places, and Phyrexian Censor slots well into that group. It’s mostly a Rule of Law/Eidolon of Rhetoric, but with a twist on top of it in allowing Phyrexian spells to go through safely. Keep in mind that this affects all spells, and so outside of the handful of Tribal Changeling spells, you’re going to lock people to one instant, sorcery, or what have you each turn. It also even brings in creatures tapped if they haven’t pledged fealty to Elesh Norn and her pernicious posse, making this a way to stall out a stall.
I think an effect like this, one where you can easily break the symmetry on, is a very dangerous one, as you’re likely keeping this in mind when you’re building your deck. If Phyrexians as a tribe are good in this Standard, Censor will help keep them there, and it can even properly punish apostasy with an on-curve body. But even if such a deck isn’t a thing, I imagine slower, stallier decks won’t mind having this in their toolbox as a way to slow things down while they aim to win on their own terms.
Limited: 3.75 (while it’s not as easy to build around, it’s a 3/3 that can slow an opponent down, and that can pay off)
Commander [EDH]: 4
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