// floating card image

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Commander Review: Born of the Gods – Inspired by Phenax, God of Deception

November 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Commander/General Ideas, Review


Ruling from the Nyx

The concept of Gods from Theros is continued in Born of Gods, this time featuring the minor Gods. These minor Gods are two colors combination with each depicting the respective concept of their colors combination. The colors combination for Born of the Gods are allied colored; and for today article we are looking into Phenax, God of Deception, the Dimir colors of Blue and Black.


The One Who Got Away

Ritual of the Returned

The dead do not necessary stay dead forever on Theros.

Phenax was initially imprisoned by Heliod in the Underworld and unsatisfied with that bond; he eventually discovered a way to and became the first to attempt escape from the Underworld, succeeding at it. He hid himself in the tattered cloak of Athreos and crossed back over the Rivers That Ring the World. Because he was hidden by illusions, Athreos could not detect him then and Erebos could not find him to drag him back. He was also the only one to be able to return with his memories intact. This method was followed by the Returned who saw what their patron God had done and tried to copy his way of returning, named thereafter as the Path of Phenax. However, the Returned do not have the vast amount of magical powers like Phenax, thus their memories are surrendered in order for them to escape, causing them to lose their identity as they return. That identities or memories are part of the spirit of the Returned which would return together and later become the Eidolons. Both the Returned and Eidolon will then roam the world of the living not knowing each other’s existence. The Returned worship Phenax though for him showing them the way to return. Phenax is hailed as the God of lies and cheats, largely in part of the fact that he was able to cheat death, something which even Elspeth, a Planeswalker was not able to do. It is truly worthy to even say that Phenax is the God of Intelligence to be able to accomplish such feat. So what does the God of Deception do in card form? Let’s have a look at Phenax’s stats below.


 Phenax, God of Deception

Card Name: Phenax, God of Deception


Types: Legendary Creature Enchantment – God

Card Text:


As long as your devotion to blue and black is less than seven, Phenax isn’t a creature.

Creatures you control have “T: Target player puts the top X cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard, where X is this creature’s toughness.”

P/T: 4/7

As a God, Phenax has all the same mechanics of the Theros Gods. But Phenax is a minor God and thus is a bit different from the five main Gods. First off, he needs a bigger devotion to his colors at seven instead of five to be a Creature, probably so since he is of two colors. Unlike the major Gods who have both an ongoing and activated ability, Phenax lacks an activated ability or rather kind of merged it with his ongoing ability. His ongoing ability grants all your Creatures the tap ability to mill players according to their Toughness, finally a reason to play lots of Walls who usually have high Toughness. As usual with the Gods, Phenax power / toughness are not too shabby himself; at 4/7 making a good blocker with Indestructible and could also mills a total of seven when you had hit his devotion.


Milling – Winning without Attacking

Mind Funeral

Attacking the Mind.

As can be seen from his stats, Phenax is of Dimir natural. You could even say that he is the God of Dimir for the milling he grants to your army. One such collaboration between Phenax and Dimir can be seen with him and Consuming Aberration. Having tried it myself in normal variant, the Horror grows double in size with each mill and comes with its own mini Mind Funeral to further increase its size. Putting that in EDH multi-player makes it a more deadly combination as the number of graveyards is increased. Furthermore its mini Mind Funeral affects all opponents too which speeds up the milling process. Combining Phenax with Dimir’s milling power can also give you an EDH mill and recur deck, an ago old tactic commonly used for milling during the early days of MtG. There are cards which allow you to pull Creatures from your opponents’ graveyards. Phenax can help to fill up graveyards in this case through his ability. Examples of such cards are as below.


Animate Dead / Dance of the Dead / Necromancy Auras to steal milled Creatures.
Beacon of Unrest Steal milled Artifacts and Creatures; and reshuffle itself back to the library after use.
Chainer, Dementia Master (see here) / Coffin Queen / Gravespawn Sovereign Repeatable steal of milled Creatures.
Endless Obedience / Reanimate / Rise from the Grave Non-Aura ways to steal milled Creatures.
Liliana Vess / Rise of the Dark Realms Ultimate reanimating. Steal all milled Creatures.


Rise of the Dark Realms

Recycling the Fallen.

Phenax was also designed as an Inspired enabler, the new mechanic in Born of the Gods, as Inspired requires the Creatures to untap, regardless of through whatever means, in order to trigger. This is in one way true both flavorful and mechanically. Flavorful in that how could one not to be inspired by the intelligence of the God who cheats even death; mechanically Phenax provide Inspired Creatures with a less risky way, as opposed to attacking, to tap themselves so they could untap during untap phase to trigger Inspired. Following up to the idea of abusing Inspired; you could also use Intruder Alarm to untap your Creatures for Inspired. The idea behind the Intruder Alarm combo is to tap and mill your opponents in response to a Creature entering the battlefield. All those Creatures will then untap due to Intruder Alarm at the same time triggering Inspired if any, all ready to mill again when another Creature enter the battlefield.  Intruder Alarm can be further abused by adding Bloodline Keeper // Lord of Lineage or similar Creatures who tap to produce token(s). In fact it is an infinite combo with those Creatures since each activation will untap those Creatures allowing them to tap and produce tokens again. With the combo rinse and repeat, you could get an infinite numbers of mills, tokens, and Inspired triggers. With Black in Phenax color identity, no combo is too hard to assemble. Take note though that the mill ability is granted to each Creature and thus is still restricted by summoning sickness; those new tokens cannot be used to mill. If you do want to use those tokens to mill, then Hair-strung Koto is recommended in the mix. Below is a list of the Inspired Creatures within Phenax color identity if you are interested in using the above strategy for your deck.

Intruder Alarm

Alarm Inspiration


Aerie Worshippers Inspired – Give you a 2/2 Flying Blue Bird Creature Enchantment token.
Arbiter of the Ideal Inspired – Let you reveal your top card of library and cheat that card onto battlefield if it’s an Artifact, Creature, or Land card. Card comes with a manifestation counter on it and is an Enchantment in addition to its other types.
Daring Thief Inspired – Exchange control of target nonLand permanent you control and target permanent an opponent controls that shares a card type with your permanent.
Deepwater Hypnotist Inspired – Gives target Creature your opponent control -3/-0 till end of turn.
Disciple of Deceit Inspired – Discard nonLand card and tutor for same cc cards reveal and put into hand.
Forlorn Pseudamma Intimidate
Inspired –
Give you a 2/2 Black Zombie Creature Enchantment token.
King Macar, the Gold-Cursed Inspired Exile target Creature and turn it into Gold. A very remarkably good spot removal.
Pain Seer Inspired – Reveal top card of library and put it into your hand; lose life equal to card’s cc.
Servant of Tymaret 2B: Regenerate. Sort of an Inspire enabler as regenerated Creatures is tapped.Inspired – Each opponent loses 1 life, you gain life equal to life lost this way.
Siren of the Silent Song Flying
Inspired –
Each opponent discards a card and mill one.
Sphinx’s Disciple Inspired – Draw a card.
Warchanter of Mogis Inspired – Give target Creature you control Intimidate till end of turn.



Attacking the Mental

Phenax, God of Deception

Cheating even Death. Since the Beginning of time…

In conclusion, Phenax is in my opinion a build around Commander with his main theme as milling. Although there are a couple of other mill Commanders like Ambassador LaquatusOona, Queen of the Fae; Geth, Lord of the Vault; Phenax stands out to me for having Indestructible saving you the extra trouble to protect him. He also further protects himself by not being a Creature when his devotion is not met. This protects him from spot removal which exiles Creatures instead of destroying them. Anyway since all those mentioned Commanders are all within Phenax’s color identity and can all be included into the deck as well. Unless you have a Commander who offers better card choices with a third color to your milling theme; for example going into Esper Shards with Oloro, Ageless Ascetic; Phenax is a good Commander for his Indestructible. That being said, Phenax is not without his weakness. A God without worshipers to worship it is weak. Phenax milling engine can’t start without Creatures. Board sweep may be a problem for you if you only depend on Phenax’s milling to win. Do consider including reanimation as a sub theme to milling when building the deck.


Do you think Phenax is worthy of your worship? Tell us what you think of the God of Cheats and Tricks in the comments below. That is all we have now for Phenax. We shall see you in the next Born of the Gods Commander review. Thus till then…


This is yours truly, Edward “Reaper King” Leong, signing off.


Comments are closed.