Magic: The Gathering – How To Use Phyrexian Mana

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  • What Is Phyrexian Mana?
  • What Is Compleated?
  • How To Use Phyrexian Mana
  • What Colour Is Phyrexian Mana?

The Phyrexians are one of the biggest threats the Magic: The Gathering multiverse has ever faced. Horrific creatures that are a merging of metal and tissue, they’ll stop at nothing to corrupt everything to their own design.

Sometimes, for the sake of Phyrexian perfection, sacrifices must be made. Fortunately, even mana itself has been tainted by them, allowing you to pay life instead of mana. Phyrexian mana can be very confusing for newcomers, though, so here is everything you need to know.

What Is Phyrexian Mana?

Phyrexian mana effectively gives you multiple ways of paying a spell or ability’s mana cost. Phyrexian mana can either be paid with one of the specified colour, or by losing two life. For example, the card Birthing Pod costs three generic and one green Phyrexian mana. This means you must pay the three generic, and then either pay one green mana or two life to cast it.

Phyrexian mana can be identified by it replacing the usual mana symbols with the Phyrexian emblem (a circle with a line cutting vertically through it). All five colours of mana have a Phyrexian variant, as well as hybrid mana that can be paid using either of two colours, or two life.

Despite the name, Phyrexian mana is not a resource, it is a cost. You don’t generate Phyrexian mana, and you can use your regular lands, artifacts, creatures, or any other mana source to pay for it if you want. The only difference between Phyrexian and regular mana is that ability to pay two life instead.

As Phyrexian mana is specified in the cost of the spell or ability, it isn’t considered an alternate casting cost. This means it won’t conflict with any cost-changing effects, and is just treated as if it were a regular card with normal, non-Phyrexian costs.

What Is Compleated?

In its first appearance in Scars of Mirrodin, Phyrexian mana was an incredibly unpopular mechanic. It was considered overpowered, especially on low-cost cards like Gitaxian Probe, that have since gone on to become staples of the game.

While nobody expected Phyrexian mana to come back, it reappeared in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty as part of a new mechanic known as compleated. This is a keyword found only on Planeswalker cards to signify that the character has been compleated by the Phyrexians and is now corrupted.

Casting a Planeswalker with compleated is the same as casting any other spell with Phyrexian mana. However, if you decide to pay two life instead of the coloured mana cost, that Planeswalker will enter the battlefield with two fewer loyalty counters.

Compleated gives you a tradeoff when using Phyrexian mana: either you pay two life to get a Planeswalker out a turn early, or you wait until you can pay the full cost and have a bigger Planeswalker instead.

How To Use Phyrexian Mana

One of the first lessons new MTG players learn is that life is a resource, and being at one life is just as much in the game as being at 20. Therefore, you shouldn’t be afraid of paying Phyrexian mana costs if it gives you an advantage.

As mentioned, Phyrexian mana can be ridiculously powerful in the right hands, as it lets you play spells either for free or way ahead of your opponent. One-mana spells become free, which makes things like Gitaxian Probe, Noxious Revival, Mental Misstep, and Surgical Extraction a huge threat regardless of how much mana you leave open.

Phyrexian mana is even better in Commander, where your starting life total is 40 instead of 20. In a 20-life format like Legacy, paying six life and four mana to cast a K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth might be a big ask. In Commander, six life is absolutely nothing, allowing you to get K’rrik into play so much quicker.

What Colour Is Phyrexian Mana?

As of The Brothers’ War, there are 38 cards that use Phyrexian mana in regular, black-bordered Magic.

Counting the regular mana cost of cards, black and red are the most common to use Phyrexian mana, with six each. White, blue, and green have five each. There are also eight colourless cards with coloured Phyrexian mana in their ability costs (three black, two blue, and one apiece for red, green, and white).

In multicolour, there are only two: the two compleated Planeswalkers. Blue/green has one with Tamiyo, Compleated Sage, while white/green has one with Ajani, Sleeper Agent.

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