Phage the Untouchable Who Touches You at Night

  • #1
    Phage the Untouchable
    A Primer in touching people in the wrongest way possible.

    So you wanna touch people eh? Phage the Untouchable is a hilarious yet powerful EDH multiplayer general. I have to warn you about a few things before we begin this insanity.
    - Yes the goal is to touch people with Phage.
    - Yes you lose the game if Phage is played out of the Command Zone.
    - Yes this deck has a gimmick that people can see from miles away.

    I am also the very political type player. My play style involves bartering, putting people into very awkward positions and making them make terrible decisions about the board state. This is often why the cards I picked for my decklist is the way it is. My decklist isnt optimized for best in slot but this Primer will dive into the many facets of playing Phage the untouchable.

    Why Play Phage?
    Phage has incredible power. Once the gimmick is out after the first two or three times you play with this deck in your play group, you will find the games change entirely and require you to play with more finesse and deliberation. Phage is incredibly fun and interesting and because of the cost to her abilities to touch people, the rewards are so much more satisfying. Often times or not I have games where people completely forget they are exposed to her.

    Reasons to Play
    - Touching People turns them into soot
    - Seeing the fear in your opponents eyes knowing they could be touched at any time
    - You like a complicated board position
    - You believe Magic is a puzzle game where you need to figure out the pieces in order to win with a very unique condition.
    - You always have a graceful way of removing yourself from the game.

    Reasons NOT to Play
    - You have to somewhat understand your meta in and out
    - You have to be charming and play politics. People wont just let you touch them!
    - Your board positions are alluring and obviously inviting and because of it Phage's plans to touch people are always exposed.
    - You always have a crux that could remove yourself from the game very easily.

    How the hell do I Summon her Majesty and use her Effectively??

    There are multiple ways to get Phage into the field safely. Some are more involved than others but often there are only a few situations where Phage needs to be cast.

    1 - You immediately want to touch someone as soon as possible. Maybe you're lonely or someone really is asking for the caress, but if a player is threatening the game with a combo, often times a hasted Phage can find her way in unexpectedly. Warning, this is extremely dangerous and often causes you to tap out. Be prepared for the Table to respond in kind when a player is removed from the game like this.

    2 - You want to threaten the board. This is probably why I dont have as many evasion/haste effects as I should. Often times I find having Phage on the field causes players to do quite the irrational plays such as try to gain control of her, or play vows on her that make her trample, or stronger. It changes the way they tutor for cards and play creatures. This is where politics comes into play and requires a good understanding of your meta.

    This is black control remember. The toolkit here is to slowly take away advantages where at the point where Phage is threatening to touch someone, that player lacks just the right amount of resources to stop it.

    Tools of the Trade:

    Sundial of the Infinite
    The most powerful cards that work best with her is Torpor Orb and Sundial of the Infinite. I rarely attempt to cast Phage without at least 2 guarantees if I am unsure about my opponent's hands. If something should happen to your Torpor Orb while Phage is on the stack, Sundial of the Infinite can remedy the issue at a cost but at least you wont lose the game instantly. Often times Sundial of the Infinite also causes the person sitting next to you be completely unable to do end of turn effects. This is because as you are ending your turn, and he responds by trying to do things, you can activate the Sundial after his spells/abilities are on the stack and have them exiled as well.

    Endless Whispers
    Let's you kill an opponent by sacrificing Phage and giving it to an opponent. Since it comes into play from the Graveyard, Phage triggers the instant death for that player. They lose the game and can't give it back so Phage is exiled to your command zone. Let alone sacrificing, the opponent HAS to block Phage. So you can use her deathtouch to an advantage and kill something huge and important while then giving it away to another player. It is multiplayer politics at it's finest.

    Also you could combo with Abyssal Persecutor and give him away to allow you to play Phage safely as well.

    Other cards that end up with hilarious interactions could be Eater of Days, Phyrexian Dreadnought, and Leveler

    Beware! Players can Sacirifice her in response to the lose trigger if you give Phage to them. They could then give it to someone else even you if you do not have your defenses up!

    Torpor Orb
    This card is an absolute menace in EDH. It stops ETB effects and it even stops creature abilities that trigger when other creatures enter the battlefield. This is often the key piece of the puzzle I get in every game.

    Swiftfoot Boots, Lightning Greaves
    Costly shoes for the girl but gets the job done.

    Hall of the Bandit Lord
    This land gets people unexpectedly and often times people FORGET this card is on my board. "How did Phage get haste?" get's asked a lot.

    Beacon of Unrest
    Incredible utility here. Gets you back important artifacts or let's you reanimate a creature from opponent's deck and is recursive. I have often time's combo'd this with Liliana Vess but I have since replaced her with a Diabolic Tutor.

    Platinum Angel
    You dont lose the game. Make her indestructible and give her a pair of greaves and you are set.

    Call to the Netherworld
    Chances are after you cast Phage once, you are leaving her in your graveyard. She becomes way too expensive at 9 mana and you are probably out of tricks to get her back into the field other than from your hand.

    Volrath's Stronghold/Unholy Grotto and Withering Boon can be an easy consistent way of getting Phage back into your hand.

    Thrull Wizard
    A Slightly meta card, but often you will be countering Phage yourself to put her into the graveyard and finding ways to put her into your hand afterwards with cards like Disturbed Burial, Lord of the Undead,or Phyrexian Reclamation. Phage is quite content and safe in the graveyard this way.

    Whispersilk Cloak, Rogue's Passage
    Unblockable is pretty unfair.

    Getting There and Protecting your Assets:

    Tutors and Card Draw
    Phyrexian Arena, Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor are absolute musts for this deck. You can run out of cards very easily and often times or not your board position just isnt ready without another piece of the puzzle to really lock it in.

    Phyrexian Obliterator + Arena
    One of my favorite end of turn control mechanisms. Removes creatures and opponents have to sac permanents.

    Blood Speaker
    This card is incredibly useful in monoblack. There is a sizable amount of demon cards that cause Blood Speaker to give a good slow advantage overtime that is hard to disrupt and generally not worth the effort. This is perfect for Phage because we are not about giant shows of force. Runescarred Demon, Bloodgift Demon, Abyssal Persecutor, Carnifax Demon, Demonic Hordes, Dread Cocademon, Harvester of Souls, Kagemaro, First to Suffer, Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis, Seizan, Perverter of Truth are all amazing utility granting demons. Add the ones you want to fill in the roles your deck needs.

    Read the Bones, Druidic Satchel, Snowlands + Scrying Sheets
    Deck manipulation is needed. You want lands when you need them, removal when you need them and creatures when you need them. Druidic Satchel with Scrying sheets is absolutely an amazing tempo combination. I have seen players get so far ahead with a turn 4 druidic satchel just blindly doing it every turn in multiplayer.

    Nether Void
    Insane black enchantment and perfect for control. Get out a good engine for something (Defense, mana engine or durdling draw engine) and use Nethervoid to counter Phage to stick her in the graveyard. All the while it is slowing down your opponents considerably.

    No Mercy and Lethal Vapors
    Phage is slow. It has a hard time with swarm decks or ramp decks. Monoblack control is about slowing down the early game, locking out players resources mid game and then killing them as chances arise. These cards let you stay in the game and play politics.

    Phylactery Lich
    Protects those all important artifacts

    Massacre Wurm
    Answer to token decks. Phage has an incredibly difficult time handling a lot of creatures attacking her. This could potentially kill players if they are not careful. Also consider Netherborn Phalanx as another version of this. It also has transmute should you need to tutor for 6 like a Wurmcoil Engine if you're low on health.

    A very hateful card but if played at the right time, could keep people out of the game for a while for you to setup. Be ready to kill people before this leaves play.

    Call to the Grave
    Call to the Grave is an expensive enchantment but is just enough power to not be instantly hated out but can be enough to keep you in the game. Phage is a zombie so even just threatening the board with her in play can often do enough damage to the political scene that causes players to be on tilt. Plus you are sporting a good zombie package so having this lets you keep a field advantage with creatures.

    Guardian Beast
    An expensive $ card, but artifact protection is very useful. You can use Darksteel Forge instead but it much more mana costly.

    Boseiju, Who Shelters All
    Protects your removal spells. Consider Cavern of Souls as well.

    Polluted Bonds
    I run this card because punishing ramp is very important in Monoblack control. You do not have a way to catch up quickly so the best alternative is to make them pay for it in life difference. This way maybe you could ping them to death or put them in kill range for another player. Monoblack has no need for fetches but the 3 color decks live almost exclusively bolting themselves with a Fetch land + Pain land. Adding more damage ontop of their fetches can slow them down or cause them to bleed very well at a price to get rid of this card.

    Meta Cards (Still Heavily Advised):

    Nothing like DESTROYING pesky green spells as they are being cast. Green Ramp is incredibly dangerous because they will outaggro you or cast a tooth and nail and you end up just plain out of the game. Plus this answers incredibly difficult to play against Generals like Maelstrom Wanderer, Uril the Miststalker, and Green Token decks like Rhys the Redeemed or Omnath.

    Strength of Lunacy
    Helpful against pesky white spot removal.

    Stromgald Cabal
    White has really good removal. I mean REALLY GOOD REMOVAL. Plus did I mention I really hate Uril?

    Homeward Path
    I have been touched by my own Phage about 3 times. It did not feel good.

    Mana Engine:

    Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth + Cabal Coffers + Deserted Temple
    The Mana combo that should be in all black decks. This makes a lot of mana but will be hated out quite fast. Consider cards like Petrified Field and Crucible of Worlds.

    Thespian Stage
    Very important land. With the new Legendary Rules this Thesbian stage has saved me an Urborg several times. I found people would rather strip the Urborg as opposed to the Coffers if I have this card out simply because having 2 Coffers with no Urborg is not as good as having 1 Coffers and an Urborg. If they target your Urborg you can have Thesbian Stage become a copy of it in response and with the new Legend Rules choose to get rid of the original that they targeted.

    Liliana of the Dark Realms
    Often players overlook this card or they focus it seemingly mindlessly and devote too much to getting it off the field. Either way it helps you fix mana a little bit and can remove pesky indestructible creatures if need be. At 4 mana it is a manageable ramp card to fill a slot.

    Nirkana Revenant
    Very good creature to keep alive on your board, can accelerate you very nicely. This card will draw you incredible hate the moment you drop it since you can take advantage of it's mana powers immediately.

    Magus of the Coffers
    Cabal Coffers #2 on a pair of legs. More likely to die but can be grabbed in pinch if you choose to go the Exsanguinate, Consume Spirit, Rise of the Dark Realms alternate win condition.

    Black Market
    This card can be combo'ed with Phyrexian Tower For mana or something like Miren, the Moaning Well or High Market for life gain instead, + Bloodghast, or Reassembling Skeleton to generate a lot of counters.

    Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
    Devotion, Devotion to the true god

    Basalt Monolith + Rings of Brighthearth
    Tutorable combo for infinite colorless mana. This an important engine if you need to win with Geth, Exsanguinate or something like that.


    There are a lot of options for removal in Black but many of these are mandatory due to the general slowness of your deck at the start of the game.

    Black Sun's Zenith, Sever the Bloodlines, Bane of the Living
    These cards are insane value for Phage because she usually does not have a lot of creatures in play and even if she does, they are the fodder kind like Bloodghast or Reassembling Skeleton. It handles two things Phage has a difficult time dealing with, tokens and indestructible creatures. Phage is slow, she is intended to strip away resources until she can safely arrive on the battlefield and do her job. Consider also Mutilate and Cannibalize if more exile is needed.

    Night of Soul's Betrayal and Ascendant Evincar
    These two cards out together is incredibly brutal for your opponents. Sometimes you can single out another player also with a Curse of Death's Hold also to give a player -3/-3 if they aren't playing black. This could hold back a player for a few turns while they dig for removal instead of putting up their token/creature board and this is often where I find the chance to get a hasty Phage in.

    Dark Imposter
    This card is an absolute house in monoblack. If you can consistently maintain a good mana engine going, this card can pick apart board positions incredibly easily while protecting itself if it hits a nice creature.

    Barter in Blood, Diabolic Edict, Gravepact
    Good removal is good removal.

    Syphon Flesh
    One of my favorite removal tools in black. This has the added effect of giving us bodies to mess around with. Additional Gravepact triggers, Extra mana to Phyrexia tower, blockers. This card is extremely powerful in multiplayer. Also Uril sucks.

    Cards to Consider:

    Vorrac Battlehorns
    Trample and a nice combat feature. Very useful if you can get Phage in with the combat trick.

    Leshrac's Rite
    Urborg is almost always out in my Meta. Swamps are probably the most prolific land type due to Urborg, second is Islands.
    Although Filth is probably a much better replacement.

    Lich's Mirror
    This card is more of an "Oops, **** really hit the fan" card. I am also not really sure what happens if you died instead by 21 points of General Damage, but I imagine Lich's Mirror does not protect against that. This is probably the last option of getting Phage into your deck so you can tutor her up and play her properly.

    Dark Depths + Vampire Hexmage or Hex Parasite
    Easy to implement combo. I like Hex Parasite better because the utility to instant kill planeswalkers is better than the one time use Hexmage. But it depends on your meta and plus Hex Parasite can get good beats in early.

    Choosing the Queen's Legion

    So those cards listed above are the key parts of the Phage deck. The skeleton to the zombie we are constructing. The next part is figuring out what kind of deck you need in your meta. There are multiple variants you can run in mono-black EDH that Phage naturally builds into. Alternative win conditions easily can include a life-gain package and run Sanguine Bond and Exquisite Blood, or any other classic Black "I Have a ton of Mana and I will put it all into this one card" combos such as Boseiju and Exsanguinate.


    Darkenspirit's DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Re-animator Package
    1 Sepulchral Primordial
    1 Reanimate
    1 Entomb
    1 Animate Dead
    1 Geth Lord of the Vault
    1 Sheoldred Whispering One
    1 Profane Command
    1 Buried Alive
    1 Exhume
    1 Oversold Cemetery
    1 Yawgmoth's Will
    1 Corpse Dance
    1 Grave Titan
    1 Rise from the Grave
    1 Necrotic Ooze
    1 Disturbed Burial
    1 Nim Deathmantle
    1 Nezumi Graverobber

    Commentary: Re-Animator package is extremely versatile. It opens up your graveyard and opponents graveyards to muddle around with and lets you play safely knowing your cards continue to recycle for value. Cards like Geth and Corpse dance let you continue applying pressure if you have a decent mana engine out while Grave Titan keeps you alive with infinite chump blockers and if you continue to bring him back with oversold cemetery or corpse dance, your opponents have a hard time keeping up. There is no inherent mill in this deck so early on you might not want to keep the reanimate effects in your hand, instead look for value cards like Moonlight Bargain and removal or recurring creatures from the core cards to setup an engine. Inherently there is no benefit to playing Phage with this package. Infact it is probably better to play this with a general like Balthor in all honesty.

    Zombie Master

    Darkenspirit's DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Zombie Package
    1 Crypt of Agadeem
    1 Lord of the Undead
    1 Ascendant Evincar
    1 Zombie Trailblazer
    1 Undead Warchief
    1 Cavern of Souls
    1 Cover of Darkness
    1 Endless Ranks of the Dead
    1 Conspiracy
    1 Graveborn Muse
    1 Cemetary Reaper
    1 Gravecrawler
    1 Soulless one
    1 Ghoul Caller's Chant
    1 Rotlung Reanimator
    1 Phyrexian Altar
    1 Ashnod's Altar
    1 Patriarch's Bidding
    1 Nantuko Husk

    Commentary: This is package I run with Phage because I feel its flavorful enough to match her, and it is incredibly fair. There are combos here but they require usually >2 cards and theyre not the kind that as soon as you draw the right card you win. This package involves building resources and advantages over time, protecting them and then going in with the kill. There is a built in infinite mana combo with Rotlung Reanimator + Conspiracy (Naming Clerics) + Altar + Any Creature. There are a few options to play Conspiracy in this deck, 1 naming Clerics for the Mana Combo or for the Nantuko Husk + Rotlung combo and given the many ways to make Phage unblockable/haste you could give it to the Nantuko for instant kills. Plus the Nantuko is a sac outlet. Or naming Zombies to open up the rest of the core cards to the Zombie package (Conspiracy + Call to the Grave, or Patriarch's bidding for ultimate value) , or naming demons and abusing the hell out of Blood Speaker.

    Tutor Combo

    Darkenspirit's DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Tutor and Win!
    1 Necropotence
    1 Bitterblossom
    1 Loxodon Warhammer
    1 Diabolic Intent
    1 Diabolic Revelation
    1 Diabolic Tutor
    1 Increasing Ambition
    1 Demonic Collusion
    1 Erebos, God of the Dead

    Commentary: This is the combo player's package. Draw cards, get infinite mana, kill people. Early game you tutor for pieces or draw cards for gain. Get a mana engine going then go for the late game spells like Diabolic Revelation or triple tutor increasing ambition and just kill people with anything you want. The card draw should keep you going but consider cards like Bloodgift Demon, Ambition's Cost and Runescarred Demon to stay alive early after your removal is about used up.



    Q. How come Endless Whispers does not return Phage to my graveyard after that player loses?

    A. 800.4a. When a player leaves the game, all objects (see rule 109) owned by that player leave the game, all spells and abilities controlled by that player on the stack cease to exist, and any effects which give that player control of any objects or players end. Then, if there are any objects still controlled by that player, those objects are exiled. This is not a state-based action. It happens as soon as the player leaves the game. If the player who left the game had priority at the time he or she left, priority passes to the next player in turn order who's still in the game.

    Because there is no effect that gave control of Phage to that player (It came under his control from the graveyard, you merely own it) no effects are ended to return control of Phage back to you so it then becomes exiled. You have the choice of putting her back into the Command Zone.
    Last edited by Darkenspirit: 9/8/2013 12:03:50 PM
  • #2
    Whoops, Submitted by Accident.

    Reserving this Slot.

    The first few turns you are looking to setup any sort of engine. Phyrexian Tower with a Reassembling Skeleton, Gravecrawler, or Bloodghast can be a good way to put some pressure on early. You are looking for ways to hold cards because unless you have an arena out or some form of mana engine going, it is difficult to hold out early aggressors without going into top deck mode. Save your removal for things that can only threaten you. They can be limited sometimes depending on your deck package so stick to removing combo pieces that could make the board completely unstable for you.
    Last edited by Darkenspirit: 9/8/2013 8:30:44 AM
  • #3
    Quote from Darkenspirit
    Whoops, Submitted by Accident.

    Reserving this Slot.

    What was submitted by accident? The primer?
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  • #4
    Yea I meant to keep hitting Preview but I hit submit at one point. Anyways slowly editing it and finishing it.
  • #5
    Absolutely brilliant so far! I am pondering about building my own Phage deck (although I'd loath to kill my endrek sahr, master breeder deck...) and this is very well written!

    Looking forward to the completed version!

    One little remark: Griselbrand is banned in Commander Smile
    Last edited by Magnus Magicus: 9/7/2013 5:42:41 AM
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  • #6
    Oh wow, I had no idea about Griselbrand. I knew he was banned as a general but I did not know he was banned entirely!
  • #7
    I <3 phage almost as much as I <3 Braids, Cabal minion
    I'm going to try a similar deck soon.
    [Primer]Mimeoplasm reanimator[Primer]
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    Tariel stax, because I hate people

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  • #8
    I'm ending up writing way more than I first intended. Its actually becoming more of a commentary on monoblack EDH... haha
  • #9
    I really love the idea (I'm actually playing Gaka's Norin and love all generals with weird abilities). But the fact that you only have 2 ways to cast it from the Command Zone and that one is involving Torpor Orb, an artifact that will get instantanly destroyed most of the time because of its power in the format... I don't really see how you can get any consistency there. Sundial of the Infinite is okay but still, only having 2 cards that get the job done isn't much.

    What do you do against Stranglehold on the battlefield and the mono-green guy destroying artifacts turn after turn? Maybe I'm missing something here, because I would really love to build a great deck with Phage as a general (just to watch your opponents reading it and laugh, like they all do for Norin).

    Edit: Platinum Angel makes the count at 3.
    Last edited by dnLL: 9/8/2013 1:56:05 PM
  • #10
    Quote from dnLL

    What do you do against Stranglehold on the battlefield and the mono-green guy destroying artifacts turn after turn?

    I think both Karn Liberated and All is Dust need to be in here for dealing with troublesome cards like Stranglehold, Humility, Moat, Null Rod, and similar which you currently have no outs for.

    Defense Grid and pinpoint discard like Thoughtseize and Distress , which are underrated in EDH, can help you push through your combo at the critical moment.
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  • #11
    This is the overall problem with mono-black. But not being able to deal with Stranglehold isn't much of a problem when your general doesn't rely on 2-3 cards in your whole deck.

    You can obviously win without Phage but it looks a little bit harder. I'm not counting Abyssal Persecutor because here again, this is a 2-card combo.

    Edit: thinking about this, just doing a mono-black tribal zombie-minion goodstuff deck still seem okay while having the possibility to slam Phage whenever you finally hit that Torpor Orb (or any tutor). A little more aggro maybe, lots of tutor and graveyard recursion (that's what we want in mono-black I assume). Still not a lot to deal with troublesome enchantments/artifacts but with a few tutors, we should be okay.
    Last edited by dnLL: 9/8/2013 3:35:20 PM
  • #12
    Very fine read. lol keep it up and update daily!

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  • #13
    Quote from Darkenspirit


    Q. How come Endless Whispers does not return Phage to my graveyard after that player loses?

    ... truncated ...

    Because there is no effect that gave control of Phage to that player (It came under his control from the graveyard, you merely own it) no effects are ended to return control of Phage back to you so it then becomes exiled. You have the choice of putting her back into the Command Zone.

    This is true, but you can get around this with Homeward Path in response to the trigger to get her back. It's a roundabout way to do stuff, but it does give you an interesting option.

    On another note, Endless Whispers can be used with Leveler and Eater of Days as well. Just a little mind-candy for the combo freaks following this thread.

    I'd also suggest Phyrexian Dreadnought since it goes so well with Orb and Sundial. Unfortunately, the only thing it tends to do with Endless Whispers is hot potato around the table, slowly.

    I also recommend some way to remove Torpor Orb from play so you can enable the Endless Whispers combo. Claws of Gix springs to mind as an option, which also gives you another convenient way to sac Phage, Eater, Leveler, or any other creature you may want to "gift" your opponent.

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