– Commander Legends
November 25, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
In addition to its relationship to the other rare lands from Urza’s Saga, Phyrexian Tower has a connection to Exodus‘ Culling the Weak – and despite them both being Phyrexia-themed, the stronger version of the effect is definitely the land. It doesn’t cost mana, and it’s repeatable (at least until somebody draws their Ghost Quarter, but if you’re in black you have ways to come back from that too). That’s exactly what you want whenever you need a quick burst of mana, not to mention when you have anything at all that cares about your own creatures dying. Many decks will play it for the death triggers on demand, but I should point out that it allows black decks to have an effect rather like Llanowar Elves when people don’t expect them to, and that’s definitely worthy of note.
As a fun fact, this is another card I thought was on the Reserved List, but if you check the records, you’ll see that it’s been reprinted three times since 2018! If you are not sure whether something is on the Reserved List, please don’t ask me – I’ll most likely mislead you by mistake.
As an interesting tidbit, Phyrexian Tower is part of the same notorious Urza’s Saga cycle that gave us such exemplars of balanced card design as Gaea’s Cradle, Tolarian Academy, and Serra’s Sanctum. (The fifth member is the honestly bad Shivan Gorge.) But while Phyrexian Tower is not as conspicuously busted as the other three that get remembered from the quintet, it’s still a frankly solid card in a number of decks, with even some Legacy play to its name from time to time.
Phyrexian Tower is two things in one card: a sacrifice outlet and a mana source. Turning a cannon fodder creature into double black is pretty good, and it’s most beneficial to the color that likes to see its creatures meet with unfortunate death experiences. There are definitely “cute” tricks you can do with it (like a turn-one Bitterblossom with this, a zero-mana creature, and the titular Faerie enchantment), but it’s just a solid value engine that gives decks two useful things for not much of an opportunity cost. It’s not “broken”, but it is good, and that’s notable in and of itself.
Constructed: 3.5 (it’s not a card to slam into every Legacy deck, but it does see some play here)
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