Pox

  • #1
    :symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb:black mana

    ~ The Pox Primer ~

    :symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb::symb:black mana


    I. Introduction
    -The History of Pox
    II. How to Play Pox
    -The Idea Behind a Pox Archetype
    -The Math
    The Science of Three
    III. The Pox Archetype Standard Card Pool & Explanations
    -The Core
    -The Mana Base
    -The Discard Pool
    -Other Removal Spells
    -Creature Pool
    -Other Threats
    -Control and Tools
    -Sideboard Pool
    IV. Deck Lists
    -Standard Budget Pox
    -Contamination Pox
    -Crucible Pox
    -BW Pox
    -GB Pox
    V. Update and Edit Log
    I. Introduction
    Welcome to your modern day Pox Primer. Here you can expect to gain a detailed understanding of the archetype known as Pox, which obviously revolves around it's namesake card, Pox. It is my goal to provide this primer as a source of continually-updated, modern information on the Pox archetype for the competitive Magic: The Gathering Legacy community. Lets begin with a short history lesson, shall we?

    The History of Pox
    The concept of a deck revolving around the card Pox began shortly after it's debut way back in Magic: The Gathering's Ice Age. The earliest record of an online attempt to engineer and cultivate a deck revolving around Pox began with the efforts of German Magic player Martin Huemmerich, and progressed in development through a litany of emails, playtesting, and the culmination of several minds intrigued with the concept. It can be argued that for many players of yore, the initial interest in a pox-themed deck can attribute its spark to a once-devastating card, Balance. Balance decks proved heavily influential in their metagames before the card's banning, and Pox became Balance 2.0 to many intrigued players.
    II. How to Play Pox
    Here I will share with you an in-depth explanation on several of the machinations of the Pox archetype. Pox is much more than meets the eye!

    The Idea Behind a Pox Archetype

    Pox is the cheapest and most effective legal source of mass disruption available in the game. It disrupts lands, creatures, cards in hand, and life totals. The beauty of Pox is not that it disrupts so much for such a little investment (:symb::symb::symb:), the beauty is that you, the player casting Pox, are the one who gets to play it to his or her advantage, reducing the effects of disruption on yourself while maximizing them upon your opponent. That, and Pox doesn't target anything, either Hooray!

    However, playing Pox is not incredibly easy; in fact, it is one of the more difficult deck archetypes to master. There's quite a bit of math involved, but once you get the hang of it, it can provide a whole new layer of intricacy to the game of Magic, which is the main reason I myself am such a fan of Pox.

    The Math
    There is much to learn to play the Pox deck archetype efficiently and effectively, but it is not that hard to catch on after some practice. Let's first assess the importance of "a third, rounding up".
    The Science of Three
    This is one of the main ways in which Pox is truly intriguing. Let's say your opponent has four land in play, and you have three. You cast Pox, now let's look at that count again. You have three lands, and you lose one third, rounding up. That's:
    3 x 1/3 = 1.
    So, one land lost for you. Your opponent has four, and loses one third as well, rounding up. That's:
    4 x 1/3 = 1.3333+ ("+" = infinite 3's)
    Which, rounded up, is two land lost for your opponent. Taking advantage of the rounded up portion of thirds is one way of limiting the effects of Pox's disruption on yourself while maximizing the effects of its disruption on your opponent.

    Now let's take a look at life totals. If a given player is at 20 life and Pox resolves, they will lose one third (6.6666+), rounded up, which is 7. So, for :symb::symb::symb:, you've knocked 7 life off of your opponent's total. Let's take a look at some other life total numbers. Don't worry, there's plenty of explanation to follow this data list:
    " life total vs. "X" life total after a resolved Pox">
    20 -> 13
    19 -> 12
    18 -> 12
    17 -> 11
    16 -> 10
    15 -> 10
    14 -> 9
    13 -> 8
    12 -> 8
    11 -> 7
    10 -> 6
    9 -> 6
    8 -> 5
    7 -> 4
    6 -> 4
    5 -> 3
    4 -> 2
    3 -> 2
    2 -> 1
    1 -> 0
    You'll notice that there are several points in this list where two different initial life totals will yield the same life total after a resolved Pox. There are a few ways to take advantage of this as well.

    Example:
    You are at 19, 16, 13, 10, 7, or 4 life. You have the option to cast Pox, and the option to do something that will make you take one damage or lose one life in addition to its other effects ("in addition to" because just making yourself take 1 would be rather silly in most situations :p). Examples include casting Smallpox and losing a life from that, or tapping your Tomb of Urami for mana and taking a damage from that. Anyway, if you choose to do whatever it is that makes you lose that life before you cast your Pox, as long as you plan to cast Pox directly or soon afterward (meaning, no expected fluctuation of your life total caused by an opponent in between you losing 1 life and you casting Pox), that life loss will become negligible. To spell it out:
    You are at 16 life, you tap your Tomb of Urami for mana and take a damage, going down to 15 life. You then cast Pox, losing one third of your life total, going down to 10 life. Afterward, you spend more mana to cast another spell or play another effect.

    If you were to instead cast your Pox with mana other than that produced by Tomb of Urami first, you'd be at 16 life when Pox is cast, and then lose one third, rounded up- you'd go down to 10 life. Afterward, if you spend more mana to cast another spell or play another effect, and Tomb of Urami is one of those mana sources, tapping it will reduce you to 9 life. So, essentially, you can save yourself a point of life by simply playing these actions in the correct order.
    The example just provided may seem miniscule, and the situation with Tomb of Urami may seem random and not often, but there will be several ways in which you can take advantage of this way of playing throughout the game, and they add up.
    Further ways of how to play Pox efficiently should be becoming rather clear to you now, such as how many cards in hand you want when Pox resolves, and I'll spare you an even more in-depth explanation of every possible general example I can think of where you can take advantage of the "one third, rounded up" clause, though if you still have questions concerning correct play-styles for the Pox archetype, feel free to ask and I will answer to the best of my ability.
    III. The Pox Archetype Standard Card Pool & Explanations
    This section will list and describe several cards that work well in the typical Pox archetype. This is where the deckbuilding begins. It will encompass cards that have seen use often in Pox decks, as well as some that I and others find as interesting candidates for new Pox decks.

    First of all, lets start with the heart of Pox:

    The Core
    -Smallpox: Your namesake's herald. Answers a variety of threats, often a perfect turn 2 (or 1 with Mox Diamond/Dark Ritual) play, especially if your opponent has a creature in play.

    -Pox: The queen of your hive, and oh is she brutal. Your opponent will feel like Ripley at the end of Aliens, except without a back-up Power Loader because you made them, uh, sacrifice it Evil Lol

    Three or four of each depending on how many mana sources your deck runs, though I personally would always argue one should run four copies of each, as extra copies can simply be pitched to either, and they should almost always be useful.

    The Mana Base
    The mana base is very different in many Pox decks, ranging from usually 19 to 25 lands, the larger count depending on whether or not the given build takes advantage of spells with retrace, Mox Diamond, and/or Crucible of Worlds. The use of nonbasic lands ranges from heavy to mild to none at all, and this factor is also rather dependant on both the aforementioned reasons as well as how heavy one expects their given metagame to be on nonbasic land hate. That being said, there are some particularly useful nonbasics that really shine in a Pox deck.

    -Swamp: A bubbling pool of muck. From here spawns greatness!

    -Other basic lands, duals, etc: For splash builds, of course Smile

    -Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth: Makes life much easier if you plan to run some to several nonbasic lands, especially ones that tap for colorless or deal damage to you when tapped. Also combos well with Funeral Charm, allowing you to make one of your creatures unblockable via Swampwalk. Depending on the amount of nonbasic lands you're running, anywhere between zero and four are ran maindeck (four usually only if you also run 4x Mox Diamond or something along those lines).

    -Wasteland: Always a gem to have.

    -Mishra's Factory: An effective beater that dances around the sacrifice creature effects from your Poxes and Smallpoxes.

    -Mutavault: Similar to Mishra's Factory; less potentially powerful, but dodges artifact removal, prevents feedback damage from Tomb of Urami, and can be particularly useful versus Slivers, Merfolk, and Goblins.

    -Tomb of Urami: While comparable to a swamp, you can alleviate the damage from it with an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, and its secondary ability can win you games.

    -Volrath's Stronghold: Often no more than a 1-of if ran, but can get you back your beater, and can allow your Nether Spirit to keep returning to play if you happen to have another creature clogging up your graveyard.

    -Cabal Pit: Dependant on how often your deck reaches threshold, and often ran in conjunction with land recursion such as Crucible of Worlds.

    -Urborg: The original, not to be confused with Yawgmoth's. Better than a swamp in every way except for the fact that it is nonbasic. Useful in the mirror versus enemy creatures swampwalking via Funeral Charm, useful against white weenie with their litany of first-strikers, etc.

    -Undiscovered Paradise: Secret tech that I would only run if you are also running Crucible of Worlds and retrace spells (Raven's Crime and/or Syphon Life). It is particularly efficient with the retrace ability. Tap it for mana, returns to your hand next upkeep, use it for retrace, replay it that turn with Crucible of Worlds, tap it for mana, it returns to your hand next upkeep, rinse, repeat. A continual use for retrace; allows you to keep your opponent's hand on lock down with Raven's Crime or win with Syphon Soul.

    -Mikokoro, Center of the Sea: I run one of these in my build. You can perform some neat one-sided card advantage tricks with it, mid to late game. Here are some example situations:
    -You activate it before or in response to you casting Hymn to Tourach when your opponent is at 1 card in hand
    -You activate it before or in response to you casting Smallpox or casting/retracing Raven's Crime when your opponent is at 0 cards in hand
    -You activate it before or in response to you casting Pox when your opponent is at 0 or 3 cards in hand. If they are at 3, they'll draw a 4th then have to discard 2 to Pox; you'll usually only want to do this latter example if they're tapped out so they can't respond with playing an instant.
    -Flagstones of Trokair: In B/w builds obviously, but can be effective to sacrifice to Pox/Smallpox.

    -Mox Diamond: Useful with a Crucible of Worlds build, helps you minimize the effect of Pox/Smallpox on you and allows you to get a first turn Smallpox/Hymn.

    -Dark Ritual: Like Mox Diamond, greatly increases your speed. If you're not taking advantage of a Crucible build, I suggest Dark Ritual as a alternate route.

    -Phyrexian Totem: If your Meta is not filled with loads of Burn decks (but Burn is G1 a bad match-up anyway), this card is amazing. Immune to Pox, gives mana and is a nice finisher as well. Also works well together with Mishra's Factory, where as Chimeric Idol does not.

    The Discard Pool
    Funeral Charm
    Duress
    Thoughtseize
    Raven's Crime
    Cabal Therapy
    Hymn to Tourach
    Gerard's Verdict (If you're splashing white)
    Blightning (If you're splashing red)
    Unmask (sideboard usually)

    One of the more primary disruption targets of a Pox deck is often your opponent's hand. These mentioned cards encompass those generally used for this theme, though you obviously don't want to run four of each of these (or of most) in your given Pox deck, as that would be too much dedication to a single theme, leaving you unable to answer several other situations, and discard spells can become much less effective once your opponent has entered top-deck mode and is playing each card he or she draws.

    Of these, Hymn to Tourach is pretty much the auto-include for any Pox deck (and most black decks for that matter); it's incredibly powerful and generates a 2-for-1 effect.

    -Funeral Charm: Don't underestimate this card; it is extremely versatile, and each one of its abilities can be useful throughout the game. Instant-speed discard. Kills enemy Goblin Lackeys, Goblin Welders, Dark Confidants, Bird of Paradises, etc. Can pump for 2 extra damage. Can give your critter swampwalk, which combos with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth should you choose to run it.

    -Raven's Crime: Turns all top-decked land into potential discard spells. Very synergistic with Crucible of Worlds, and has a neat little combo with Undiscovered Paradise. While it is not selective discard, it does keep your opponent low on answers and can efficiently fuel The Rack if your build is running it.

    -Duress (poor-man's-Thoughtseize) & Thoughtseize: Your stars versus combo, but usually pretty ineffective versus aggro, Duress more so of course.

    -Cabal Therapy: Teams perfectly with Nether Spirit. 2 of max, most of the time, because it's better after another Duress-like effect has been cast.

    -Gerard's Verdict & Blightning: For splash builds, more 2-for-1 effects.

    -Unmask: A sideboard option versus combo, where you need an answer as soon as humanly possible.

    Other Removal Options
    Innocent Blood
    Diabolic Edict
    Smother
    Sink Hole
    Rancid Earth
    Infest
    Damnation
    Ghastly Demise
    The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
    Snuff Out (sideboard usually)
    Spinning Darkness (sideboard usually)
    Vindicate (if you're splashing white)
    Pernicious Deed (if you're splashing green)

    Most of these cards are self-explanatary, though I'd like to make a solid point of one concept that is often overlooked in initial deck construction- The heavier focus you put on land destruction in your deck, the less focus you should put on The Rack-like effects, as naturally if your opponent has little or no land in play, their hands will start filling up fast, and to continually attack both their land in play and the cards in their hand with specific, targeted removal would be a pretty good example of having your cake and trying to eat it all too.

    -Ghastly Demise: This is another solid removal spell that works with a full graveyard. its low cost is useful when you want to be sacrificing lands or to play it alongside a hymn. This is offset by a reliance on the graveyard which can be attacked either by your opponents if it is a tempting target or by your own Tombstalkers.

    -The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale: You start of with about 8 land destruction spells and have the option of sinkhole as well. This card really hurts some decks. The downside is that it takes some timing to get the most out of it. You need to make a decision about whether to play it to slow them down or waiting until they over-commit to get a confirmed kill from it. Both are good but how the number of cards adds up for Pox is also a key consideration when you face both of them. In G1 I would be more tempted to delay play as 1) it dodges a lot of common discard spells so keeping it back is slightly better than for many cards, 2) sometimes you will realize that other cards in your deck are better with additional information and you can choose to pitch it. Taps for black mana with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth out.

    Creature Pool
    Nether Spirit
    Tombstalker
    Chimeric Idol
    Nyxathid
    Necroplasm
    Mishra's Factory
    Mutavault
    Tomb of Urami
    Bitterblossom
    Necroplasm
    Nihilith
    Epochrasite
    Undead Gladiator
    Bloodghast

    The general Pox deck will run creature threats that have a natural way to dance around the sacrifice effects of Pox and Smallpox, and/or threats that are meant to be resolved as finishers following a Pox/Smallpox (or can provide recurable creatures to "bite the bullet" in their stead).

    -Nether Spirit: Nether Spirit has been included in many a Pox deck since his release in Mercadian Masques. He can be discarded from your hand to a Pox effect and comes into play for free the following turn, and comes right back again after each resolved Pox effect thereafter. The downside to running Nether Spirit is that if you run too many creatures, you risk canceling his return-to-play ability once another creature hits your graveyard. In Pox decks that run him, Nether Spirit is generally a 2 or 3-of, and often ran in conjunction with Tombstalker, whose Delve ability also happens to work well with clearing your graveyard of extra creatures so your Nether Spirit can return again if you find yourself in such a situation.

    -Tombstalker: Tombstalker is quite an effective finisher. You will often cast him for :symb::symb: because Pox effects can fill your graveyard rather quickly, as well as your litany of discard and other removal spells. A 5/5 flyer is a heavy problem for many decks, and puts your opponent on a quick clock. He is naturally immune (mostly) to Counterbalance, as well as immune to Smother and Threads of Disloyalty. The downsides to Tombstalker are that he can't be cast that early in many situations, and his being cast for less is dependent on your graveyard, so if your opponent sideboards in Leyline of the Void game 2, for example, it will become rather hard to cast your Tombstalkers. Most Pox decks that run Tombstalker run 2-3 copies.

    -Chimeric Idol: Technically not a creature, of course. Easily dodges your pox effects, and aggressively costed. The downside to running Chimeric Idol is that you will not be able to also take advantage of Mishra's Factory, as activating the Idols will tap your factories, and it may detriment running cards like Cursed Scroll which you may want to activate at the end of your opponent's turn.

    -Nyxathid: A potential heavy body for a cheap cost; sometimes better as a sideboard card, to sideboard in versus opponents that quickly empty their hands, or in game 3 after your opponent sideboards in graveyard hate game 2 (such as Leyline of the Void) against your Tombstalkers among other things.

    -Necroplasm: (This explanation provided by Carnifex)
    Necroplasm can serve as complimentary weenie sweep alongside such cards as Infest or Powder Keg and is usually best as a sideboard card in those matchups where tokens / weenie are prevalent. The fact that he grows over time and gets to hit as a 4/4 before dying can make him a decent threat also. He even hits 0cc creatures at the end of the turn he first comes in. His dredge ability, while minor, can be of detriment if you put too many creatures into the graveyard and lose the utility of Nether Spirit or if you hit crucial cards. However dredge also fuels Tombstalker and ensures that if you're running low on threats and the way is clear, you're going to be able to draw (dredge) something that can deal damage.

    -Mishra's Factory: Also technically not a creature, Factories, just like Chimeric Idols, are good at dodging the sacrifice a creature clause from Smallpox and Pox. Particularly useful if you are also running Crucible of Worlds.


    -Mutavault: Similar to Mishra's Factory; less potentially powerful, but dodges artifact removal, prevents feedback damage from Tomb of Urami, and can be particularly useful versus Slivers, Merfolk, and Goblins.

    -Tomb of Urami: A potential game winner once you reach 5 mana, uncounterable (other than Stifle), quick clock.

    -Bitterblossom: An interesting choice in pox builds; can improve match-ups versus aggro, and allows you to keep the pressure going for a :1mana::symb: investment, but is also detrimental to yourself. Faerie tokens can bite the bullet in Tombstalkers' (or the like) steads when you resolve a Pox/Smallpox and are required to sacrifice a creature or few. Particularly effective in conjunction with Nether Spirit in keeping a Contamination lock.

    -Nihilith: (This explanation provided by Carnifex)
    Nihilith obviously has the immediate problem of being a rival 2-drop alongside more crucial disruption elements like Hymn to Tourach, Sinkhole and Smallpox. However if you're running Dark Rituals or Mox Diamonds and can get him down early, he's going to resolve probably right after or one turn after a Pox. Smallpox shaves half the counters off him if they have a creature out, and coupled with 2-for-1's like Tourach, or tempo disruption like Sinkhole, he'll be in play as fast as a Tombstalker would. Fear is an underrated evasion mechanic in legacy, since in the current high-tier decks black creatures and artifact creatures (outside Phyrexian Dreadnought) are not prevalent. Nihilith only becomes average vs MBA and in the mirror match (if the constant Poxing doesn't keep the field clear, in which case The Rack is probably the better choice anyways). Don't forget that when Nihilith comes in, he has haste.

    -Epochrasite: Comes down early, chump-blocks or sacrifices to a Pox effect, comes back with a vengence. More ideal the more your build focuses on the lategame.

    -Undead Gladiator: In builds with a high land count and Crucible of Worlds, he is a synergetic drawing-eingine and serves as an additional beatstick. In these builds, usually a 1-of is a nice addition.

    -Bloodghast:(This synopsis provided by r3p, thanks!) Bloodghastis often seen as Ichorid v2.0. His usage is practically the same seeing that he is a mindless beater that can come back under certain conditions. After the opponent reaches 10 life he becomes even better by getting haste. The main reason to run this, is because it ups threat density without endangering cards like Nether Spirit. Builds using Life From the Loam and Crucible of Worlds can make great use of him. The only con it really has is the fact that he cannot block, which is a major concern for us since we are always racing.


    Other Threats
    Cursed Scroll
    The Rack
    Syphon Life

    -Cursed Scroll: One of my personal favorites in Pox builds. Cheap and efficient artifact damage that proves its worth over and over again, and fits rather nicely in a Pox deck as you'll often be down to a low hand count. That being said, it truly shines mid to late game, and as such, somewhere between one and three copies maindeck will do. I personally find two a good number.

    -The Rack: A very effective source of damage for a very minimal investment. Simlarly to Cursed Scroll, running four copies maindecked is too much, as an early The Rack won't be as useful. Two or three is a good number, though its inclusion is entirely dependant on how much your dedicate your build to discard. If you are instead focusing on land destruction, your opponent's hand will fill up fast with spells they cannot play, and the inclusion of The Rack would be anti-synergistic.

    -Syphon Life: While it may seem underwhelming at first, it can help turn the match around in several situations, though most notably against Burn decks. Similarly to Raven's Crime, combos well with Crucible of Worlds, and Undiscovered Paradise.

    Control and Tools
    Tangle Wire
    Crucible of Worlds
    Contamination
    Smokestack
    Animate Dead
    Powder Keg

    Pithing Needle
    Sensei's Divining Top
    Ghostly Prison (if you're splashing white)
    Entomb

    -Tangle Wire: Slows things down for your opponent, rather effective with Smallpox and Pox's ability to usually cut your opponent's total permanents in play down by at least two.

    -Crucible of Worlds: Allows you to mostly ignore the drawback from losing land to Smallpox/Pox, and you can even discard land to them form your hand. Synergistic with Mox Diamond and a litany of nonbasic lands, as well as cards with Retrace (Raven's Crime & Syphon Life).

    -Contamination: A nice mana lock versus non-black decks, usually fueled by Nether Spirit and/or Bitterblossom and/or Crucible of Worlds + Mishra's Factory.

    -Smokestack: Keeps your opponent low on permaments, fueled by the same examples listed directly above for Contamination.

    -Animate Dead: More effective the more creatures you choose to run maindecked. Alternatively, helps keep the 'yard clean for Nether Spirit.

    -Powder Keg: If your metagame warrants it, helps you handle early swarms of creature tokens or artifacts. Being able to deal with artifacts can sometimes be rather key, as Pox is usually lacking in that department.

    -Pithing Needle: Survives Pox and deals with a lot of your opponents cards that also survive Pox. This is an incredibly versatile card that picks out Mishra's Factorys, Tormod's Crypts, random stuff like patron wizard, etc. Problems are that anything that doesn't work tends to be sacrificed so they can offset some of your other removal; sometimes you just need it though, especially in mono-black.

    -Sensei's Divining Top: Pox enters the game in top-deck mode for both players very quickly and anything that improves this situation is even better in Pox than in most other decks. Add to that the fact that Pox involves some of the most difficult decision making in the format; do you use Innocent Blood or Smallpox to destroy an opponent's creature? The answer may depend on knowing if you are likely to draw a land next turn. Sometimes you want to know if Pox or Spinning Darkness is the right call. If you know that you will be having a Tombstalker in hand next turn then Pox may be the better option.

    Sideboard Pool
    Extirpate
    Unmask
    Tormod's Crypt
    Engineered Plague
    Spinning Darkness
    Leyline of the Void
    Infest
    Pithing Needle
    Planar Void
    Contagion
    Blackmail
    Duress


    These are just some of your sideboard options. Hopefully they are self-explanatory or already explained.
    Section IV (and more) in following post (ran out of maximum characters for a single post...)
    Last edited by Xanth: 8/23/2010 10:53:56 AM
  • #2
    IV. Deck Lists
    Standard Budget Pox
    Standard Budget PoxMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Land (21)
    21x Swamp

    Acceleration (4)
    4x Dark Ritual

    Disruption (25)
    1x Raven's Crime
    4x Innocent Blood
    4x Funeral Charm
    4x Duress
    4x Hymn to Tourach
    4x Smallpox
    4x Pox

    Threats (10)
    2x Nether Spirit
    4x Chimeric Idol
    4x The Rack

    This build is of course budget-oriented. One of the lovely things about the Pox archetype is that you can build a successful list for relatively cheap. This whole list here will probably cost you under $30-40, and no single card in the list is worth more than a few bucks Hooray! Players can of course add their own twists to this build, especially meta-based decisions, such as choosing not to run 4x Innocent Blood maindeck if you often face mostly combo and control in your metagame.

    Granted, the addition of more expensive cards such as Tombstalker and Cursed Scroll could add to the decks power, but this list as it stands certainly has a chance in a decent metagame.

    The deck is rather efficient versus creature-heavy and creature-dependant builds, and the sideboard introduces more answers to help secure these victories- you'll typically want to sideboard out Duress, and the lone Raven's Crime + 2 Swamps for 3x Spinning Darkness & 4x Engineered Plague against decks like Goblins and Elves.

    Blackmail is in the sideboard in lieu of Thoughtseize to help versus combo and control. If, in these matches, your opponent is rather lacking in the creature department, Innocent Blood can obviously come out in games 2 and 3.

    The 4x Tormod's Crypt can be replaced or mixed with Relic of Progenitus as well, though I chose Crypt over Relic for those occasions where you'll want to also sideboard in your Spinning Darknesses and need your graveyard pool to feed their cost.

    Contaminaton Pox
    Contamination PoxMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Land (23)
    20x Swamp
    3x Wasteland

    Disruption (28)
    2x Innocent Blood
    4x Thoughtseize
    4x Hymn to Tourach
    3x Powder Keg
    4x Smallpox
    4x Pox
    3x Tangle Wire
    4x Contamination

    Threats (9)
    3x Nether Spirit
    2x Chimeric Idol
    4x Bitterblossom

    I would first like to accredit the mainlist of this build to King_Canute, who has been a wonderful source of information on the Pox archetype and in helping me with this primer.

    This build obviously focuses on heavy disruption, followed and supported by a Contamination lock, and fuels its lock with Nether Spirit and/or Bitterblossom.

    Quote from King_Canute »
    Powder keg needs some justification: It fills a removal slot and should be compared to other removal. Its strengths are
    1) You can drop keg and not lose it to a subsequent pox
    2) It is mass destruction over and above a single kill (bridge from below swarms)
    3) It can trigger at instant speed
    4) Black doesnt realy have much other artifact removal

    On to testing:
    Ichorid: You can slow them a little by confining them to black mana and keg is strong. Still 85%+ their favour pre SB (SB needs some adjustment, the slightly different style makes things more complex).

    Eva Green: They stomp you. Top decking removal wins for you. 55%-60% them. Their curve is low enough to help vs land destruction and your creatures cant stand up to theirs

    Goblins (R/RW/RG): Contamination lock shuts them out utterly, removal stalls, and you have the better long game. You have tanglewire that helps you get the most from pox etc. 55%-60% your favour.

    Thresh: targeted discard gives you clearance to cast your big spells. Their threats are few enough for you handle. Counterbalence can be a problem but wasteland assists in keeping them off colours. White splash is worse than red as stp hits spirit. 60-65% your favour

    Dragon stompy: Played loads of this and the deck was built to win. Moon effects are almost irrelevant, their threats are big investments and they dont use black mana. Wasteland slows them down and keg can cut into artifacts. 80% your favour. The higher curve does not harm in this MU.

    Angel stax: Similar to stompy builds. Less testing on this however.

    Storm combo: If you can survive turn two you should win. This may be lighter on disruption but it still packs a LOT. The slow clock hurts vs igg as this will often put your opponent right back in the game. I think a couple of tweeks would realy strengthen the MU. 45%-65% your favour depending on the build.

    Landstill: If you keep crucible off the table this is a clear win. The fight is very much over mana. Wasteland realy helps this one. Keg for manlands and tokens. Contamination helps but manlands can still take you down. 75%+ your favour.

    Dreadstill: This is another one that has had very little testing. I won a couple of games but dont know if it is a true representation.


    The sideboard, added by myself, introduces Spinning Darkness & Syphon Life to help particularly against Zoo, heavy aggro, and burn archetypes where Contamination Pox's heavy life loss elements (Pox effects, Bitterblossom, Thoughtseize) hurt the most. Duress obviously helps against combo/control match-ups, and the rest should be self explanatory.

    Crucible Pox
    Crucible PoxMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Land (25)
    4x Mishra's Factory
    4x Wasteland
    4x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
    1x Urborg
    1x Tomb of Urami
    1x Volrath's Stronghold
    1x Cabal Pit
    1x Bojuka Bog
    1x Undiscovered Paradise
    7x Swamp

    Acceleration (4)
    4x Mox Diamond

    Disruption and Control (21)
    1x Raven's Crime
    4x Funeral Charm
    4x Hymn to Tourach
    4x Smallpox
    3x Pox
    3x Crucible of Worlds
    2x Entomb

    Creatures (4)
    1x Nether Spirit
    3x Tombstalker

    Other Threats (6)
    3x The Rack
    2x Cursed Scroll
    1x Syphon Life

    This decklist was created by myself, and is by far my favorite Pox build to run, though I try to not let that influence my advice and description of other Pox builds Tongue

    However, of all the different routes Pox decks can go, I would argue that this route is the one that will take the most advantage of Pox and Smallpox effects by introducing the heavier focus in its land department with the addition of Crucible of Worlds and retrace spells.

    This list runs more threats than your average Pox build, 15 total:
    4x Mishra's Factory
    1x Tomb of Urami
    1x Nether Spirit
    3x Tombstalker
    2x Cursed Scroll
    3x The Rack
    1x Syphon Life
    And, thought it may seem like there are many colorless mana sources in the deck that would detriment achieving the :symb::symb::symb: casting cost of Pox, don't let that fool you, the deck runs twenty black mana sources, 4 of which turn all those colorless lands into black mana sources as well (Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth).

    The main focus of this build is to disrupt heavily, and to continue disrupting while gaining heavy tempo advantage as the game progresses. Mox Diamond is almost never card disadvantage, Raven's Crime in addition to the other discard spells helps keep your opponent stuck at zero cards in hand, and your opponent is constantly kept on hot coals while you continually prod them with threats and answer their own.

    Sideboarding gives us decent answers to burn, goblins, elves, combo, and graveyard focus. I've thought about including Thoughtseize or Duress in the sideboard to help versus combo and control, but I've found that Extirpate can often be more detrimental versus combo, and I'm not nearly as worried about the control match-ups, as the deck's recursion abilities and uncounterable threats will give control a run for its money.

    BW Pox
    BW PoxMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Land (21)
    4x Wasteland
    3x Mishra's Factory
    4x Scrubland
    3x Polluted Delta
    3x Swamp
    4x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

    Disruption (24)
    4x Thoughtseize
    4x Hymn to Tourach
    4x Sinkhole
    4x Vindicate
    4x Smallpox
    4x Pox

    Control (7)
    2x Sensei's Divining Top
    2x Ghostly Prison
    3x Crucible of Worlds

    Creatures (5)
    1x Nether Spirit
    2x Epochrasite
    2x Tombstalker

    This build focuses more on mana denial with the addition of 4x Sinkhole and 4x Vindicate. BW Pox is arguably the most efficient version for a land destruction focus, but, in focusing on this, a focus on keeping the opponent's hand as low as possible is bypassed, and as such, cards like The Rack and Raven's Crime are dropped entirely.

    Ghostly Prison gives the deck greater immunity to aggro-heavy builds, while Disenchant from the sideboard helps versus Stax builds, Dreadnought builds, AEther Vial (which rather detriments the decks' mana-denial strategy), etc. Having access to Circle of Protection: Red in the sideboard gives BW Pox an upper hand against burn over other Pox builds as well.

    There are of course other directions a BW Pox build can go; this one in particular has a neat focus on fetchlands and combines Sensei's Divining Top with these to ensure quality draws. However, fetchlands can be substituted with Flagstones of Trokair, and the land destruction focus can be swapped back to hand destruction by replacing Sinkhole with Gerrard's Verdict.

    This list provided by King_Canute:
    Updated as of April 6th, 2010:
    Xanth's DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    3 bloodstined mire
    3 polluted delta
    4 Scrubland
    11 swamp
    3 Tomb of Urami

    4 enlightened tutor
    1 Crucible of worlds
    1 ghostly prison
    1 null Rod
    1 powder keg
    1 genju of the fields
    1 seal of clensing
    1 contamination
    1 Bitterblossom
    1 luminach ascenscion
    1 duress
    4 hymn to tourach
    2 nether spirit
    4 pox
    4 smallpox
    4 thoughtseize
    3 tombstalker
    2 vindicate


    GB Pox
    ***This entire deck synopsis provided by King_Canute, many thanks!

    This pox deck explores another way that pox can move. Whilst many builds focus on the control aspect of pox this is moved towards the aggro end. The Pox core provided a strong core of disruption to build on and this deck uses two colours to cover some of the weaknesses and to provide some powerful creatures that fit into the mana curve. Green adds some depth and resilience to the deck with Life from the loam and gives access to the awesomely versatile pernicious deed.

    The plan is to use small pox and pox's life loss to really pile the pressure on the opponent. Resilience is a key feature. Too often pox is too reliant on the graveyard or artifacts and will lose to a single well timed spell. The synergies are divided between these to avoid exposure to some lucky hate draws.

    The downside of this build is its colour requirements. Triple black for pox is unforgiving of non swamp basic lands and the cards used are key not incidental. With a substantial proportion of the threats in the deck being green a lot of pressure can be put on you from an opponent’s judicious use of cards like wasteland. The deck does have some answers in the form of seals of primordium (blood moon, back to basics) and life from the loam (wasteland) but again these require green mana to use after the event. This is also one of the reasons thoughtseize is used of duress; it is important to be able to stop cards like magus of the moon form coming into play. These weakneses are not insurmountable and with experience you can play round the threat of mana loss. Furthermore the brutal speed of the deck alone will often secure a win even in the presence of non-basic land hate.

    The sideboarding strategy is disparate. Serum powder gives added search power and adds value to the more specialist parts of the deck. These help ensure your T1 thoughtsieze vs combo or leyline of the void vs dredge. You get extra value from your engineered plages vs elves and goblins. In addition they also help sort out those hands that are just plain bad. The deck:

    GB PoxMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Land (24)
    4x Bayou
    7x Swamp
    4x Bloodstained Mire
    3x Polluted Delta
    1x Forest
    1x Tomb of Urami
    4x Wasteland

    Disruption (17)
    1x Raven's Crime
    4x Thoughtseize
    4x Hymn to Tourach
    4x Smallpox
    4x Pox

    Threats (13)
    3x The Rack
    4x Tarmogoyf
    3x Tempting Wurm
    3x Tombstalker

    Other (6)
    2x The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
    2x Seal of Primordium
    2x Life from the Loam

    Updated decklist as of April 6th, 2010:
    Xanth's DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    1 ancient grudge
    2 duress
    4 entomb
    4 hymn to tourach
    1 life from the loam
    4 mox diamond
    1 nether spirit
    2 pernicious deed
    4 pox
    1 ravens crime
    1 roar of the wurm
    4 smallpox
    4 thoughtseize
    3 tombstalker

    4 bayou
    2 bloodstained mire
    2 cabal pit
    2 poluted delta
    3 swamp
    1 tomb of urami
    3 urborg, tomb of yawgmoth
    3 verdant catacombs
    4 wasteland

    Some of the SB is still a little experimental (garruk and terravore as alternate win-cons). Terravore is begining to look like a worthy investment now. More colours with more fetchlands and add in your own pox effects/wastelands and it can easily come down as a 5/5 on turn 4 and grow from there. Manabase hurts almost as much as zoo though.

    The rack acts as a cheap threat that is resistant to removal; it is supported not only by the discard but also by the other aspects of pox effects. Against something like a turn 1 sarcomancy a rack followed by a smallpox is a great start. They probably need to play another land and another threat to regain parity and they have lost a card from their hand. 3 cards down they are within discard distance of the rack causing a lot of pain.

    The creature base is the best creature in colour supplemented by a couple of more unusual creatures. Tarmogoyf is a must simply due to its perfect fit in the mana curve and its incredible power level. Tarmogoyf being printed really added a lot to the deck (it replaced werebear, a semi-legitimate budget replacement). Tombstalker is the other obvious addition; pox is one of the few decks that can realistically play multiple tombstalkers in one game. Tempting wurm is played as an incredible aggressive creature; the drawback is mitigated by the large amount of discard in the deck. If you play even a small pox your opponent will want to discard from the top of their mana curve as you are signaling that you are playing mana denial cards. Tempting wurm also slightly synergistic with the rack. Tempting wurm or an equivalent is vital in this type of deck. Against graveyard hate the rack alone does not have a competitive enough clock, tarmogoyf is a little more limited and tombstalker is difficult to play (in reality the difficulties are overstated; crypt only effects one graveyard and leaves goyf with some value, crypt must also go off as soon as you have a threatening number of cards in your graveyard to stop tombstalker from being played).

    The rest of the deck provides cover for the big beaters. The tabernacle at pendrel vale and wasteland are the function lands. These two combined makes for some serious pain for swarm decks that would otherwise be resistant to the decks removal. Life from the loam recurs both of these as required. The other major purpose of LftL is to enable more pox options; if you can discard more lands safe in the knowledge you can bring them back then you can keep more business cards resulting in a better hand). LftL is used over crucible of worlds for 4 reasons. 1) you can discard it and recur it only when you need it. If you want crucibles effect then you have to opt to keep it in hand through pox/smallpox at the expense of something else. 2) you have a very useful card resistant to disruption; discard and counterspells are only partially effective. Crucible can be disenchanted as well.3) the mana cost is cheaper. If you were wanting to use the card to recover from pox then crucible would have to be played first or you would be required to keep both the crucible and a land in hand thereby reducing your flexibility considerably. 4) Lands come back to your hand which enables them to be discarded. Whilst padding your hand against a late game pox is a good move it is fairly uncommon to require it. The big winner is the raven's crime which can lock permission and storm combo out of the game entirely. Thoughtseize and hymn to Tourach are standard disruption. The deck can use a little more discard than normal as it runs the rack and tempting wurm. Seal of primordium provides some much needed resilience to artifacts and enchantments. Its ability to be played before pox to protect it is a very strong point in its favour. Artifact hate main deck is important. Your creatures should be able to match almost any played in the format and the only ones better will be those wearing equipment. This slot could also be null rod (really is great at stopping equipment but is probably a little too narrow, even if a lot of removal is cards like powder keg and engineered explosives. As it also has a reasonable impact against counter-top is might be considered in that context as well), engineered explosives or even pernicious deed depending on preference.

    This deck has a strong matchup against a lot of the format but one or two major weaknesses as well.

    Ichorid/Graveyard combo
    This is probably the worst matchup the deck has. Discard helps them, mana denial is ineffective and they can deploy a lot of threats quickly. If tabernacle is in your starting hand then you might have a chance to slow some decks down but even then it is a poor matchup. The sideboard can support some graveyard hate to help out but the lack of card draw means that you will see it less often than many decks do (I am currently investigating serum powder in the SB to help get the key hate cards more often; excess copies are less of an issue with pox effects). Pernicious deed in the side also helps this slightly (almost any SB card will be better than discard that they select).

    Loam Decks
    These decks are mainly aggro loam decks. The problem here is that land destruction is spectacularly ineffective and it is one of the few decks that will reliably be able to get bigger creatures down. The wishboard makes the deck much harder to play around. The plan in game 1 has to be to race them; use thoughtsieze but otherwise focus only on tempo cards. With a good hand it is possible but the odds are against you. Games 2 and 3 are down to the sideboard. Their sideboarding is likely to be a little weaker as they have a lot of it set aside for wish targets; if you play graveyard hate correctly you can claw the initiative back. Don’t expect the hate to win you the game by itself though. Aggro loam has a lot of flexibility.

    Eva Green
    This deck has a very similar card pool. The difference is that you run cards that favor the type of play that both decks look for whereas they run a little more gas and run cards like dark ritual. This gives them an advantage. In this game you need to play control. You can’t let your pox cards not trade for a creature. You hope that they have a poor hand/draw and you have a good one. General anti aggro cards like tabernacle and deed in the side help but your opponent will probably also have similar options.

    Stax
    The lack of creatures undermines your removal and only a small amount of artifact removal maindeck makes game 1 tough. On the upside a mana denial strategy does them few favors when your deck runs happily on two mana. Your disruption keeps the worst of their threats of the table but you still need to be very aggressive. Life from the loam seriously bolsters this matchup. Games 2 and 3 require you to maximize the use of removal. Deed comes in as does any other removal for artifacts/enchantments you have. Stax is itself not a problem as you can usually manage to race a lock but stax + ghostly prison or Armageddon is tough. Thankfully you can usually muster enough disruption to hold this off for several turns.

    Dragon Stompy
    Dragon stompy would be a good matchup were it not for the moon effects. The mana-base really suffers for its lack of basics here. If you can keep a moon effect off the table till you get a couple of threats down then you might be ok. Your creatures should match theirs in terms of trading off although cards like tabernacle and deed are less use here than against most other aggressive decks. Thoughtsieze is the star here as it lets you better judge morphs and lets you know if it is worth targeting their manabase in addition to removing one of their scant threats. Hymn to Tourach is also sound if you can play it early enough. With a plan relying on acceleration and big threat disrupting just one of these will take a lot of pressure from you. Sideboard in slaughter pacts; these provide an out vs magus of the moon on turn 1 (still advisable to wait till T3 to play it however) and are solid vs all of the fatties in the deck.

    Fairy Stompy
    Fairy stompy has a lot of good cards in but few that really cause problems. Trinisphere may be a bit annoying but is not game ending and chalice would be bad news if set at 2 but thankfully the pox has enough disruption to stop that one way or another. The problem plays are a string of small creatures with a jitte in play. You won’t be able to keep them all from connecting and the FS player can often get enough of an advantage out of this. A mulldrifter or sower of temptation can be bad news. Of these the sower can be played around more easily; keeping that play unlikely either through land destruction or discard whilst you have a creature down is just about possible. Mulldrifter requires 5 mana but often your opponent will be able to get that with the mana acceleration and cloud of fairies.

    Goblins
    This classic legacy staple used to be the deck to beat and is still very strong. Pox can manage a good game against most aggro decks with some of the additions and cards in the sideboard. The lack of an answer to turn 1 lackey is still a major weakness. That one outstanding play is enough to make a lot of otherwise good hands lose. Play this matchup like any other aggro deck but just accept that it is likely to be a finely tuned monster with a lot of good cards in. Engineered plague, pernicious deed and serum powder come in games 2 and 3. With all of these you can have a good chance of drawing some effective cards.

    Merfolk
    Only limited testing done here but the merfolk have a lot of good plays against you. Reejeray makes it hard to keep blockers and lords of Atlantis also help make otherwise small merfolk make large inroads into your health. Counterspells complicate matters. Cheap disposable merfolk weaken your sacrifice removal. On your side however you have targeted discard; a number of their creatures are underwhelming when played without a lord and removing key cards is stronger than against most aggro decks. Hymn continues to be strong as they are not quick enough for the tempo disadvantage to be too bad for you. Simple size is also in your favour. Your average merfolk needs 3 lords out to be able to tangle with a tombstalker or tempting wurm. Pox continues to be a solid card forcing a choice between land, creatures and control. Sideboard in plague and deed. If you really want to draw these then you can bring in the serum powder as well.

    Landstill
    This is probably the worst matchup landstill could face. Discard levels are so high it almost completely negates their control and the added bonus of land destruction and life loss tagged on to some of your cards makes recovery even harder for them. Your creatures are powerful enough by themselves that each requires removal and your wastelands are guaranteed to be useful. Wasteland + crucible are the only cards in their favor and you can usually stop crucible through discard/land destruction/artifact removal. Sideboard may involve bringing in deed for soldier tokens or man-lands. Depending on the balance of threats you could even include plague (not worth it most of the time).
    The Fear
    This is harder than landstill due to the graveyard component and it being a bit more proactive. A sideboard with a decent number of answers to that really helps there. In general the combination of discard and land destruction helps here as well. Wasteland hammers home your advantage.

    Mono-coloured control
    Although these decks (black, white, blue) all play differently all of them, being control decks, rely on responding the threats with plays from their hand. Lack of hand plays similarly with each of these. Black in compensation is at least able to use discard to protect itself from the worst you could throw at it although generally without the clock to follow it up. White often has scepter chant built in which can win if they get it active however the odds of that happening are acceptably small.

    The Rock
    As the rock is more pro active than control decks like landstill its concerns are slightly less focused on discard. Discard is still effective but the land destruction element can keep almost all of their threats off the table.

    Storm combo
    I class storm combo as a continuum between decks that want to kill as late as they can and those that want to do the opposite. These games are generally favorable as the amount of discard you run will usually make it hard for them to go off after turn 2. Quicker decks will do better than slower, more robust decks. Ad Nauseam and Ill gotten gains are two cards that can quickly bring a combo deck back into the game so keeping up pressure after disruption is important. SB can use serum powder to have a better chance of thoughtsieze coming up to prevent a T1 win.

    Burn
    There hasn’t been too much testing here. It seems favourable however as your creatures are generally going to be outside of burn range and cards like the rack add a lot to your damage output. Pox is not good to play as the damage is too great.

    Painters Servant
    Most of these decks are red or blue hating blue or red. Not using either of these colours helps. The small amount of mana required to combo off is a problem but the chances of having both components in play is fairly small. Mid game 5 mana is needed to activate a grindstone and play a servant. This coupled with the requirement to draw two cards means that you can race the deck. Serum powder and slaughter pact come in game 2. Deed is also good against these artifact heavy decks.

    Threshold
    This is probably the current best deck in legacy and there is a good matchup against it. White variants are worse (for pox) as swords is effective removal. Pox isn’t using targeted removal so mongooses’ abilities are not relevant. The countermagic is good but will tend to be absorbed on things like hymn to Tourach. The relatively low threat-count, the unstable mana-base and the collection of cards in hand are all weaknesses that pox can exploit. Thresh in turn can use cards like brainstorm to protect against discard and to help recover more quickly after land destruction or threat removal. In games 2 and 3 you may or may not want to bring in graveyard hate depending on their deck. The plan has to be disruption first then threats. An exception can be when you feel you need to drop a creature to block. Counterbalance can be a pain here and going first is your best chance to stop it. Sideboarding depends a lot on the deck. Most thresh will not be too badly affected by leyline now so you might be better off without it. Slaughter pact comes in against red decks with dragon or magus of the moon; it is still a worthy trade vs goyf if it comes to that.

    Cards not included:
    The card most obvious in its absence is sinkhole. Sinkhole is a very powerful card and especially so in pox. It is not included as it has been edged out by additional threats in the 2 drop slots. Sinkhole is slightly weakened by tempting wurm as well.
    Spot kill is light in the deck. Large creature should be hindered by the mana disruption and smaller ones dwarfed by the creatures in the pox deck. Pox/Small pox covers most eventualities. The low curve of the deck also means that stalling tactics are less necessary.
    Cursed scroll is not used as there is rarely enough spare mana.
    Life from the loam is limited to two copies. This is because multiples are less strong and whilst it is a good card it is not needed for a good game. Increasing the number would also make the deck more vulnerable to graveyard hate. Additional copies can sit in the sideboard if needed.
    V. Update and Edit Log
    In this section I will document updates, changes, and edits to this primer. I certainly plan to keep the primer itself in up-to-date order, so that the average viewer can constantly reference it as (I hope) the most efficient source of information on the Pox archetype available to the competitive Legacy community.

    -April 20th, 2009: Added Phyrexian Totem to the Mana Base section, with an explanation by Korsakow. Added Undead Gladiator to the Creature Pool, and Cabal Therapy to the Discard Suite, both also suggested and explained by Korsakow. Thanks!

    -April 21st, 2009: Added Pithing Needle & Sensei's Divining Top, along with explanations, to the Control and Tools section. Added Ghastly Demise & The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, along with explnanations, to the Other Removal Spells section. Each card and explanation provided by King_Canute. Thanks!

    -April 21st, 2009: Added Mutavault to Mana Base and Creature Pool, suggested by Lyracian. Thanks!

    -May 11th, 2009: Fixed typo in Crucible Pox decklist, as pointed out by davidboan.
    Thanks!

    -June 25th, 2009: Added explanations of Necroplasm and Nihilith to the Creature Pool section, provided by Carnifex.
    Thanks!

    -April 6th, 2010: Added Entomb to the OP, updated the Crucible Pox list as well as King_Canute's B/G Pox list, and added a new B/W Pox list from King_Canute. Thanks!

    -August 23rd, 2010: Added Bloodghast to the Creature Pool, synopsis provided by r3p. Thanks!
    Last edited by Xanth: 8/23/2010 10:55:17 AM
  • #3
    Salutations, fantastic work in the primer. Both of you.

    I hate to play against Pox as Aggro (elves, duh) but as you mention it's a fairly even matchup. I know Pox isn't a high tier deck but which of the versions has been putting up the best results? Of the versions I played against I think I had the most trouble with an upgrade of the budget version you posted.

    I see a mention of Thresh being a strong matchup, are you sure? Especially when a CB is down (first turn counter support and then it's free game) things should be pretty hard I'd assume.

    Check out the NO Elves Primer!
    'With the cards that are out there right now it is flavorly more common to know a spell that DESTROYS AN ENTIRE PLANE OF EXISTANCE than one that summons a snake that chills near lotus flowers...'


  • #4
    CB is a problem but other than that you have a strong game. CB requires thresh to draw it and for you to not have hit it with duress Ts etc. Aggressive play often means that you have a key threat down before it resolves. Tombstalker and nether spirit also help out. Counterspells and removal are high quality in thresh but with sufficient discard they need to be able to top deck them. Unfortunatly they run top which can help them with this.

    I have used CB in a pox deck before; the mana costs match quite closely (the deck was just too weak to non basic land hate to be as good as the other builds).

    EDIT:

    Could we run other more specialised sections through hyperlinks to posts elsewhere on the forums? Some kind of tree/web structure to stop the full primer from overspilling a first post?
  • #5
    Thanks Naz Hooray!

    From my personal play experience, an "upgraded" version of the standard Pox build can be largely effective and definitely stands a chance in a given tournament scene. That being said, I personally favor Crucible Pox, which I have played in many competitive matches. It has not won a tournament yet (though I haven't played it in many tournaments), but it has come close. I'd say it generally wins more matches than it loses; at least 60%. At what point would you discern a deck worthy of the "Tier 1" tag?

    Thresh has a rough time answering several of your threats- Nether Spirit, Tombstalker, Mishra's Factory. You are hitting their hand with so much hate that it becomes very difficult for them to provide the answers they need, and their reliance on a lower count of aggressive creatures (Tarmogoyf & Nimble Mongoose) means your resloved Smallpoxes and Poxes will be all the more effective.

    @King_Canute: I'd much rather have everything here compiled in this primer, and I think that two total posts should warrant enough space. By the way, did you get my PMs?
  • #6
    Quote from Xanth
    From my personal play experience, an "upgraded" version of the standard Pox build can be largely effective and definitely stands a chance in a given tournament scene. That being said, I personally favor Crucible Pox, which I have played in many competitive matches. It has not won a tournament yet (though I haven't played it in many tournaments), but it has come close. I'd say it generally wins more matches than it loses; at least 60%. At what point would you discern a deck worthy of the "Tier 1" tag?


    Tier 1 Legacy is only Thresh, Loam, Goblins, The Rock, Landstill and ANT right now I think, I'm not expecting any other deck to be in that group, my question was; which version has had the most success, competitively? I see quite a few hits on deckcheck for Pox.

    The thing that is immediatly apparent there and something you sort of missed (or didn't want to put in) is poxless pox and I think that's something I've played against quite a bit. Looking into deckcheck a little deeper quite a lot of pox versions are poxless actually. Especially when splashing.

    Check out the NO Elves Primer!
    'With the cards that are out there right now it is flavorly more common to know a spell that DESTROYS AN ENTIRE PLANE OF EXISTANCE than one that summons a snake that chills near lotus flowers...'


  • #7
    Pox beats Thresh with LD and selective discard. Smallpox along with discard and selective LD from Sinkhole or Rancid Earth in more budget builds is devastating on Thresh's tiny and multicolor mana base. Pox destroys mana bases, and color starves thresh.

    I personally found Dark Ritual to be a sub-par card for Pox builds I tested with a friend of mine (albeit very budget builds). The amount of discard you will suffer is *staggering*, and rit is a very poor top deck, which this deck *will* start doing. I would go so far as to argue that Pox and Ritual share the same spots in a deck. There is *no* safe card draw for mono black builds except maybe Phyrexian Arena. Further life loss, especially with Thoughtseize MD, will tear you apart just as quick as it will your opponents. Dark Confidant just won't survive the symmetrical effects of the creature destruction.

    I also personally question the inclusion of Nether Spirit. It's a fine card for Contamination, certainly, but at the end of the day it's a 2/2 bear. If you've got a Nether Spirit beating on someone for a few turns, you may as well have Mishra's Factory instead or Tombstalker. It's too slow a clock. When it comes right down to it, Tombstalker comes out at the same speed with the pile of cards you will stick into your yard, puts your opponent on a 3-4 turn clock as opposed to the 7+ presented by a traitor, and laughs at whatever creature they'll drop to defend themselves. It's the black Goyf: if you can muster BB to cast it and running creatures makes sense, you should have at least 3 of them.

    This is an excellent primer and a good read, a lot of good work obviously went into this.


    Edit: @ Naz: I would argue that Pox-less Pox builds are basically MBC or MostlyBlackControl decks that moved away from the general Pox archetype in order to avoid running cards that tried to feed off the symmetry of Pox. While Pox is absolutely devastating, designing the deck around just 1 card in it that the deck cannot dig for ends up shackling the deck and inhibiting progress. Pox should be a piece of a strategy in a deck like this, not a requirement for victory. The fact that the decks posted aren't running cards like Dark Confidant or Phyrexian Arena and a personal decklist is avoiding Rituals proves how Pox can inhibit a development process. It's a good card, but the effect is horrifyingly damaging and means other good cards are passed in lieu of the Pox you may or may not run into.

    Edit 2: Animate Dead is nuts in this deck, and having 2 MD does terrible, terrible things.
    Last edited by Jimbo: 4/19/2009 7:01:17 PM
  • #8
    excellent work on the primer, guys! Grin i definitely enjoyed reading it!

    just for reference, i'd like to say that my mono-black build takes advantage of smokestack. there are two slots in my build currently being taken up by night's whisper, but honestly these could just as easily be tangle wire or the fourth copies of pox and damnation or two copies of duress. either way, here's my current list.

    pox staxMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    //land (25)
    11 swamp
    4 wasteland
    4 mishra's factory
    2 urborg, tomb of yawgmoth
    2 tomb of urami
    2 cabal pit

    //acceleration (4)
    4 mox diamond

    //disruption (26)
    4 thoughtseize
    4 hymn to tourach
    4 smallpox
    3 pox
    3 damnation
    3 smokestack
    3 crucible of worlds
    2 night's whisper

    //threats (6)
    2 nether spirit
    2 tombstalker
    2 cursed scroll



    there are 61 cards in this list, but that's just how my decklists tend to turn out. as i stated above, if you wanted to make it 60, you could easily drop the two night's whisper and simply add in the fourth copy of pox.

    calibretto
  • #9
    This has got to be the best Pox primer I've ever read! Great work guys. I've always been a fan of Pox decks, they are such a Dark Horse if the meta isn't ready for it.

    @Xanth - Nice tech with Mikokoro, Center of the Sea. I'm gunna have to try that next time I play Pox
    Pauper EDH

    :symu::symg: Zameck Guildmage:symg::symu:
    :symb::symw: Necrotic Sliver:symw::symb:
  • #10
    Very cool primer! Smile
    An excellent overview of this archetype.

    But as allways, people tend to critizise everything ;-), I am no exception. *g*
    There are a few cards and combinations that, imho, should be mentioned as well.

    First of all:
    Phyrexian Totem If your Meta is not filled with loads of Burn-Decks ( But Burn is G1 a bad MU anyway), this card is amazing. Immune to Pox, gives mana and is a nice finisher as well. Also works well together with Mishra's. I see this one definitely over Chimeric Idol.

    The Undead-Gladiator-Drawing-Engine.
    In Builds with high land count and Crucible, Undead Gladiator is a synergetic drawing-engine and serves as additional beatstick.
    In those Builds is it, as 1-of, a nice addition.

    Cabal Therapy Teams perfect with Nether Spirit. 2 of max, most of times, because it's better after another Duress-Effect has been cast.

    2cent Smile
  • #11
    Quote from Naz »
    The thing that is immediatly apparent there and something you sort of missed (or didn't want to put in) is poxless pox and I think that's something I've played against quite a bit. Looking into deckcheck a little deeper quite a lot of pox versions are poxless actually. Especially when splashing.

    I would argue that Poxless builds are heading in the direction of a separate deck archetype- simply mono black control or something along those lines, and don't really find it necessary to include such decklists in this primer (I'd rather they be in a mono black control primer, I guess?)
    Quote from Jimbo »
    I personally found Dark Ritual to be a sub-par card for Pox builds

    I personally have never been a fan of Dark Ritual in Pox, which is why I chose the Mox Diamond route myself. However, it does work for other players, and it helps in builds that have a higher curve, and costs 1/25th the $price of Mox Diamond :xd:
    Quote from Jimbo »
    I also personally question the inclusion of Nether Spirit. It's a fine card for Contamination, certainly, but at the end of the day it's a 2/2 bear. If you've got a Nether Spirit beating on someone for a few turns, you may as well have Mishra's Factory instead or Tombstalker. It's too slow a clock. When it comes right down to it, Tombstalker comes out at the same speed with the pile of cards you will stick into your yard, puts your opponent on a 3-4 turn clock as opposed to the 7+ presented by a traitor, and laughs at whatever creature they'll drop to defend themselves. It's the black Goyf: if you can muster :symb::symb: to cast it and running creatures makes sense, you should have at least 3 of them.

    Well, I feel like you are addressing Nether Spirit out of its proper context that makes it useful. You discard it to Pox or Smallpox, and suddenly you've payed 0 mana for a 2/2 that will come right back when it dies. And it's not your only threat, like you make it appear- it is ran in conjunction with Mishra's Factorys (well, in some builds) and Tombstalkers, as well as any other threats you're packing (The Rack, Cursed Scroll, Tomb of Urami, etc.) Also, rather importantly- it helps you stall. Pox is a build that tends to dominate if it can make it to mid/late game, and Nether Spirit most certainly helps fascilitate that.

    Now, about your suggestion of at least 3 Tombstalkers- I'd say this is entirely dependant on your deck's build. If you take advantage of Crucible and playing land from your graveyard, I'd probably run only two, as you usually wont want to remove your land if you can help it. If not, three sounds good to me.
    Quote from Calibretto »
    just for reference, i'd like to say that my mono-black build takes advantage of smokestack. there are two slots in my build currently being taken up by night's whisper, but honestly these could just as easily be tangle wire or the fourth copies of pox and damnation or two copies of duress. either way, here's my current list.

    I like your list! Looks rather solid Smile A few things I would consider:
    -Bitterblossom: feeds Smokestack
    -Ancient Tomb: Accelerates you into Crucibles, Smokestack, Damnation, Tombstalker, and Contamination, should you choose to run it. If you include some of these, I definitely suggest running 3-4 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth with them. Urborg + Ancient Tomb is very groovy.

    Quote from Korsakow »
    But as allways, people tend to critizise everything ;-), I am no exception. *g*
    There are a few cards and combinations that, imho, should be mentioned as well.

    First of all:
    Phyrexian Totem If your Meta is not filled with loads of Burn-Decks ( But Burn is G1 a bad MU anyway), this card is amazing. Immune to Pox, gives mana and is a nice finisher as well. Also works well together with Mishra's. I see this one definitely over Chimeric Idol.

    The Undead-Gladiator-Drawing-Engine.
    In Builds with high land count and Crucible, Undead Gladiator is a synergetic drawing-engine and serves as additional beatstick.
    In those Builds is it, as 1-of, a nice addition.

    Cabal Therapy Teams perfect with Nether Spirit. 2 of max, most of times, because it's better after another Duress-Effect has been cast.

    2cent Smile

    Thanks for the suggestions! Went ahead and added them to the primer, and credited you in the Update and Edit Log!
    Quote from Jimbo »
    This is an excellent primer and a good read, a lot of good work obviously went into this.

    Quote from calibretto »
    excellent work on the primer, guys! Grin i definitely enjoyed reading it!

    Quote from davidboan »
    This has got to be the best Pox primer I've ever read! Great work guys.

    Quote from Korsakow »
    Very cool primer! Smile
    An excellent overview of this archetype.

    Thank you all verrryyyy much!!!! :glee::glee::glee:
  • #12
    A couple of additional cards on the control side:

    Pithing needle: survives pox and deals with a lot of your opponents cards that also survives pox. This is an inceadably versitile card that picks out mishra factories, tormods crypts and random stuff like patron wizard. Problems are that anything that doesnt work tends to be sacrificed so they can ofset some of your other removal; sometimes you just need it though, expecialy in mono-black.

    Ghastly Demise: This is another solid removal spell that works with a full graveyard. its low cost is useful when you want to be sacrificing lands or to play it alongside a hymn. This is offset by a reliance on the graveyard which can be attacked either by your opponents if it is a tempting target or by your own tombstalkers.

    Sensei's divining top: Pox goes to top deck for both players very quickly and anything that improves this situation is even better in pox than in other decks. Add to that the fact that pox involves some of the most difficult decision making in the format. Do you use innocent blood or smallpox to destroy an opponets creature? The right answer may depend on knowing if you are likley to draw land next turn. Sometimes you want to know if pox or spinning darkness is the right call. If you know that you will be having a tombstalker in hand next turn then pox may be the better option.

    The tabernacle at pendrel vale: You start of with about 8 land destruction spells and have the option of sinkhole as well. This card realy hurts some decks. The downside is that it takes some timing to get the most out of it. You need to make a decision about whether to play it to slow them or waiting till they overcomit to get a confirmed kill from it. Both are good but how number of cards adds up for pox is also a key consideration when you face both of them. In G1 I would be more tempted to delay play as 1) it dodges a lot of common discard spells so keeping it back is slightly better than for many cards 2) sometimes you will realise that other cards in your deck are better with additional information and you can choose to pitch it.
  • #13
    I have a Holy Pox deck after reading this I think I am going to try adding the retrace spells and Mikokoro, Center of the Sea.

    Note - Under your discussion of Undiscovered Paradise you have written Syphon Soul, not Syphon Life. I think that is a mistake?
    My Legacy Decks
    If you are in the UK join us -UK Legacy Magic Community http://www.magicplayers.co.uk
  • #14
    Yeah I love Pox decks they are awesome...and tabernacle is so good in this deck I like it especially with a urborg, tomb of yawgmoth active along with any color producing stuff.

    Yeah I like dark rit strictly for the 1/25th the cost of mox diamond's...other than that I guess it can offer some fast acceleration into tombstalker or a duress followed by smallpox
    "Yawgmoth," Freyalise whispered as she set the bomb, "now you will pay for your treachery."

    -Freyalise

    Currently Playing:
    Legacy:
    UBWRGAll manner of storm comboGRWBU
    Dark Ritual on The Source and Storm Boards
    Notable finishes:
    Top 16 SCG Kansas City Legacy Open 2012 with Burning ANT
    Top 32 SCG Minneapolis Legacy Open 2012 with Burning ANT
  • #15
    As said earlier, turn 1 lackey is a pain in the ass. the first thing I thought against it would be vendetta, though I don't know how suitable it is in this deck. It could help you to even your lifes to be optimized for Pox
    Kyllä, Burn, MBA ja sligh ovat hassunhauskoja pakkoja pelata :p
  • #16
    I would note for this primer that it isn't merely life totals that pox decimates when they are at even numbers, but even more importantly is the lands and cards in hand. When your opponent has 4 lands and 4 cards in hand, that is the perfect time to play Pox. This is far more devastating than 'merely' smacking your opponent for 7, and really can't be stressed enough. *This* is why Pox is disruptive, and this is the difference between a pox with smart timing and not.

    As for Nether Spirit, I see what it does, but I don't think I'll ever be thrilled to see it in the list. I understand the inclusion, though, and it really isn't a bad card.
  • #17
    Quote from King Canute
    A couple of additional cards on the control side:

    Pithing needle: survives pox and deals with a lot of your opponents cards that also survives pox. This is an inceadably versitile card that picks out mishra factories, tormods crypts and random stuff like patron wizard. Problems are that anything that doesnt work tends to be sacrificed so they can ofset some of your other removal; sometimes you just need it though, expecialy in mono-black.

    Ghastly Demise: This is another solid removal spell that works with a full graveyard. its low cost is useful when you want to be sacrificing lands or to play it alongside a hymn. This is offset by a reliance on the graveyard which can be attacked either by your opponents if it is a tempting target or by your own tombstalkers.

    Sensei's divining top: Pox goes to top deck for both players very quickly and anything that improves this situation is even better in pox than in other decks. Add to that the fact that pox involves some of the most difficult decision making in the format. Do you use innocent blood or smallpox to destroy an opponets creature? The right answer may depend on knowing if you are likley to draw land next turn. Sometimes you want to know if pox or spinning darkness is the right call. If you know that you will be having a tombstalker in hand next turn then pox may be the better option.

    The tabernacle at pendrel vale: You start of with about 8 land destruction spells and have the option of sinkhole as well. This card realy hurts some decks. The downside is that it takes some timing to get the most out of it. You need to make a decision about whether to play it to slow them or waiting till they overcomit to get a confirmed kill from it. Both are good but how number of cards adds up for pox is also a key consideration when you face both of them. In G1 I would be more tempted to delay play as 1) it dodges a lot of common discard spells so keeping it back is slightly better than for many cards 2) sometimes you will realise that other cards in your deck are better with additional information and you can choose to pitch it.

    All cards and explanations added to the primer, credited and logged in Section V Smile
    Quote from Masa88
    As said earlier, turn 1 lackey is a pain in the ass. the first thing I thought against it would be vendetta, though I don't know how suitable it is in this deck. It could help you to even your lifes to be optimized for Pox

    Funeral Charm Hooray!
  • #18
    It is very minor, so not sure it is worth it however one thought I have had is too use mutavault rather than Mishra's Factory as it can become all creature types and avoid feedback damage from Tomb of Urami.
    My Legacy Decks
    If you are in the UK join us -UK Legacy Magic Community http://www.magicplayers.co.uk
  • #19
    No impprovement is too minor to mention!

    Vault vs factory is tricky. I see the creature types being relavent vs merfolk and some goblin builds as well as the obvious sliver decks. The fact that it is not an artifact creature is also useful sometimes. Factory has the pump advantage. Activate, block, tap for a 3/3 blocker is probably as good as a streight 3/3 against the pumping tribal decks as you will want . Tough call though; I think it might be a meta call as many things are.
  • #20
    I think you are propably right. Not being an Artifact does give it more resistance against some decks, however a 3/3 can help keep Factories in play.


    Edit - I doubt is it really competative enough but looking at the spoiler for Tainted Sigil, I want to play it with Pox.
    "We both loose 6 Life, I gain 12 Life" OMG
    Last edited by Lyracian: 4/21/2009 4:39:26 PM
    My Legacy Decks
    If you are in the UK join us -UK Legacy Magic Community http://www.magicplayers.co.uk
  • #21
    Quote from Xanth
    Funeral Charm Hooray!


    I swear to god that card's like a swiss army knive.
  • #22
    Quote from Lyracian
    It is very minor, so not sure it is worth it however one thought I have had is too use mutavault rather than Mishra's Factory as it can become all creature types and avoid feedback damage from Tomb of Urami.

    Definitely noteworthy, went ahead and added it to the primer, logged and credited in Section V Smile Thanks!

    In my experience with Mishra's Factory, I'm almost always using its pump ability for defense or offense in a given game, though being vulnerable to artifact removal can be an issue. One can always run BOTH, anyway Grin
    Quote from Lyracian »
    Edit - I doubt is it really competative enough but looking at the spoiler for Tainted Sigil, I want to play it with Pox.
    "We both loose 6 Life, I gain 12 Life" EEK!

    Heh that's rather interesting! Also a decent form of stall. It's casting cost is a bit much at :1mana::symw::symb: though, but still interesting Smile
    Quote from Dm225 »
    I swear to god that card's like a swiss army knive.

    Evil Lol
  • #23
    Having looked at the spoiler I think that pox could have a spot of fun with the borderposts. These would alow for more 4CC cards; you could play a 4th land and bring it back to hand or use it 'post to hit 4 without a 4th land drop. As one of the major weakneses to pox splash is non basic land hate I feel that non-land multicoloured mana sources can only be a good thing. Being a free spell when you dont have a land-drop to make is solid. The question would then be about running enough basic swamps.
  • #24
    Quote from King Canute
    Having looked at the spoiler I think that pox could have a spot of fun with the borderposts. These would alow for more 4CC cards; you could play a 4th land and bring it back to hand or use it 'post to hit 4 without a 4th land drop. As one of the major weakneses to pox splash is non basic land hate I feel that non-land multicoloured mana sources can only be a good thing. Being a free spell when you dont have a land-drop to make is solid. The question would then be about running enough basic swamps.


    No joke my brother just called me with that same exact idea like twenty minutes ago I think it would work very well at least worth a try.
  • #25
    Seeing the example budget list really got my brain turning (I had never checked Pox's price, figured it was one of the expensive archetype defining cards). I actually dont have a RL legacy deck, and i wanted to check that build out and see if it was a good place to maybe start!

    Standard Budget PoxMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Land (21)
    21x Swamp

    Acceleration (4)
    4x Dark Ritual

    Disruption (25)
    1x Raven's Crime
    4x Innocent Blood
    4x Funeral Charm
    4x Duress
    4x Hymn to Tourach
    4x Smallpox
    4x Pox

    Threats (10)
    2x Nether Spirit
    4x Chimeric Idol
    4x The Rack

    Do you have any other suggestions or that build? I'll try and test it against other MWS decks. Its win cons seem a tad sparse, but I guess Pox is pretty controlling =p Are engineered plagues enough for Goblins/other aggro decks, or would infest be a good idea?

    Also, any chance you could advise me in some SBing plans? I mean, what to SB in is pretty self explanatory, whats tough is in some MUs what to SB out. Thanks! (Very very good primer)


    Thanks to Spiderboy4 of High~Light Studios!
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