Commander Week: Phage the Untouchable (But NOT Uncastable!)

Welcome to Commander Week, 2015! In honor of the deluge of Commander 2015 spoilers (and the release of the decks themselves next week), we’ll be doing a whole week of Commander fun here on the rules blog. First, we’re gonna start with a rather unconventional choice of Commander- Phage the Untouchable. Phage is pretty scary- she’s got a pseudo Deathtouch ability to take down any creature she smacks around in combat, and if she ever connects with an opponent they straight up lose. However, to counteract that, she’s intentionally hard to “cheat” into play! The only guaranteed safe way to use her is to cast her from your hand, the way you normally cast spells. Reanimating her or putting her on board with a Quicksilver Amulet kills you. The only problem with that is- what if you want to use her as your Commander?!

Commanders aren’t in your hand normally- they’re in the Command Zone, but the game lets you cast them FROM there. Phage’s trigger doesn’t care though- it doesn’t get altered for Commander, so it’ll fire off and try to kill you every time you cast your Commander from the command zone. So how can we get around that? There’s two really neat ways in a mono-black deck. The first is to use Torpor Orb, which stops triggers from triggering due to creatures entering the battlefield. Phage won’t trigger and you won’t lose! The other way to stop it is with Sundial of the Infinite. By ending the turn with Phage’s trigger on the stack, the trigger gets exiled and you’re safe! You can also use the old favorite of Platinum Angel to not care that something says “you lose”, too. For extra style points, you could cast-and-counter your very own Phage with Dash Hopes or Thrull Wizard to put Phage in your graveyard. It’s a lot easier to get cards to your hand from the graveyard than it is from the Command Zone! Lastly, there’s ways to “stop” Phage’s trigger that are going to rely on other colors, so you’d have to have “help” from your opponents (or teammates, if you’re playing 2HG Commander): Hushwing Gryff and Time Stop can duplicate the effects of Torpor Orb and Sundial of the Infinite. Many counterspells can put Phage into the graveyard to recur, or something like Remand can cut the middleman and put her right into your hand. Even a simple Stifle or Trickbind would stop it! But you can’t always rely on your opponents to help you win, so try to stick to your mono-black options.

Oh, and did I forget to mention? Keep your eyes peeled tomorrow for the real reason for Commander Week: the Rules Blog’s very own Commander 2015 spoiler card! Trust us- it’ll come in handy.

Today’s Rules Tip was written by Trevor Nunez

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