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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Commander Review: Journey into Nyx – Pharika the One Man’s Poison Another Man’s Meat

September 23, 2015 by  
Filed under Commander/General Ideas, Review

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

Life to Death, Death to Life.

The Golgari Swarm, the Black and Green Guild of Ravnica is the embodiment of amalgamation of life and death. The color combination blurs the line between life and death through both colors dealing in graveyard interaction; Black reanimation and Green retrieve. The guild main purpose was to provide food for the people. As they believe that life and death is the natural elements of a cycle of no intermediary break, they often use the dead as resources for their everyday guild activity, sometimes even for food. When we were first introduced to the guild, it was led by the Gorgon Sisters, Sisters of Stone Death, who were soon overthrown by the Devkarin (Dark Elves), Savra. Her rule did not last long though as she was betrayed and killed by her hidden ally and master, Szadek who used her to kill the Chorus of the Conclave. At present, the guild is succeeded by her brother Jarad who currently rule the guild as a Lich Lord. Today discussed Commander, Pharika, who is in that color combination is also a Gorgon. In fact, she is the mother of all Gorgons on Theros.


Medicine in the Poison

The topic Commander today is Pharika, God of Affliction. She is the goddess associated with grief and old age. Her province is that deadly poison can be healing medicine in small amounts. Pharika is also the keeper of apothecary knowledge and the source of dark magic, potions and poison on Theros. As mentioned before, she is the mother of all Gorgons, thus she is usually seen taking the form of a Gorgon. Prayers to her are usually letters rolled up in ceramics and dumped in bogs. Being the secretive Goddess she is, she has hidden medicinal knowledge within the natural world. She had done so with Basilisk blood causing many to die trying to learn them. Her Gorgon brood are also said to have hidden many cures within their blood. Her inspiration of design may had come from several Greek gods. Some possible inspiration could be Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft, herbs and poisonous plants; or Circe, goddess of magic and plant; or Aslepius and his son Telesphorus who dealt with medicine and recuperation from illness. Now before we further analysis the God of Affliction, let’s have a look how the actual card of Pharika is.

Pharika, God of Affliction

Card Name: Pharika, God of Affliction


Types: Legendary Creature Enchantment – God

Card Text:


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

BG: Exile target creature card from a graveyard. Its owner puts a 1/1 black and green Snake enchantment creature token with deathtouch onto the battlefield.

P/T: 5/5

Pharika stats are not too bad given that she is quite big for her low cc although like the other minor Gods, she also has that devotion mechanic which require the devotion to her colors at seven to be met to become a Creature. Her power and toughness at 5/5 and with Indestructible allows her to be used to finish up the game by beating down on the opponent when her devotion is met.

Her other ability of creating Snake tokens works two ways here. On one end it is an anti-retriever ability as it exiles Creatures from the graveyard preventing them from being reanimated; although this has the minor drawback of giving your opponent a Snake token in the process. On the other end it is pretty good on the defensive as you can use Creature cards in your graveyard to make defenders against ground attackers. Those Snake tokens make great road bumps against your opponents’ ground attackers especially with the Deathtouch which let them take down whatever they block most of the time. Although Pharika is in the colors of Golgari, the guild famous for its reanimation spells, her ability actually mechanically go against it and is pretty much a foil to the strategy. But on the flavor sense, the ability is still quite Golgari as she recycles the dead and creates life out of it; something which the Golgari is famously known to do too.


Political Warfare


Stopping the comeback at the core.

Pharika’s Snake token creating ability is actually pretty good as a political tool in EDH. As the Snake token enters the battlefield on the exiled Creature’s owner side, this allows you to create an ally by providing that player with a blocker when they need one. Creatures expire themselves relatively fast in EDH, unless you are deliberately playing a Creature less deck, they are usually consider to be the first line of defense against the opponents’ horde before someone decide to cast a board sweep. Following that, the graveyard will usually be packed with tons of Creatures ready for Pharika to use. The Snake token given to the owner while you exile the Creature from the opponent’s graveyard is really a very small drawback here; as handling the Snake is much easier than handling the supposed to be reanimated target as those targets are usually very hard to deal with game winners (eg. Avacyn, Angel of Hope) and also heavily protected once they hits the battlefield. Also due to the Black in Pharika’s color identity, one can also use discard to get Creatures into the graveyard and then use Pharika to exile those Creatures. A long but effective way to get rid of a Creature as those big Creatures can and will be hard casted during EDH games.


Enter the Snake Pit

Pharika, God of Affliction

Some Poison is necessary.

Pharika is a relatively good Commander in my opinion as she has a low cc to begin with. This allows her to be recast easily even with the Commander tax. Like the other Theros Gods, her Indestructible and devotion requirement keeps her relatively well protected. To top it all, the Snake creating ability can help in long drawn out games as you recycle the dead Creatures into Snake tokens with Deathtouch; either for yourself or politically for your opponents. Combine with her Golgari color combination, she would make a good Reanimator style Commander which can also foil against opposing Reanimator style decks.

Another interesting way to play Pharika is to use her as a Tribal Commander for Gorgons. Although she is not a Gorgon herself, her color identity is the main colors where most Gorgons are. The theme could also use Snakes as the Tribal theme if one feels that the Gorgon tribe is too small. Either tribe you choose, Deathtouch is large part of the two tribes’ advantage; given that Pharika’s Snake tokens already have that ability. Green is also the poster child color with the most amount of abilities and spells for Creatures to Fight. It is to be reminded that although First Strike and Double Strike do not count when resolving Fight, Deathtouch and Lifelink are still active. Thus you can use those Snake tokens or other Creatures with Deathtouch to take down potential blockers before declaring attackers.

Do you think that the secretive goddess is worthy of your worship? How would you use the Mother of Gorgons? Share with us about your thoughts in the comments below. That is all we have for now for the God of Affliction. We shall it end it and till the next article….


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


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