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I was looking through the Black Legends with thoughts of building a mono-black EDH deck, when I came across Phage the Untouchable. Am I right in assuming that if she is cast from the command zone, you lose the game? (As the command zone is not considered your hand.) Is there any way to get her from the command zone into your hard or graveyard so you could cast her without losing the game?

The only one I can come up with is having a Platinum Angel in play, so you don't lose the game when you cast her.

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You're correct in assuming that you would lose the game. Casting Phage the Untouchable from the command zone would be a sorcery-speed "Summon Game Loss" spell.

Edit: As Affe points out, she could be countered when you play her, which would put her in your graveyard (or library, depending on the countermagic). You'd still need to get her back to your hand to cast her, though.

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I suspected as much. Can you think of any creative ways to get her from the command zone to your hand or graveyard? –  Discord Jun 14 '12 at 17:24
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The only way to play a card from the command zone is to cast it. I think having the Platinum Angel is the only way you could safely do so. –  Hyppy Jun 14 '12 at 17:56
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And it's in zone, so you can't fetch it with Ring of Maru'f or Death Wish, which let you get cards from outside the game. I guess she's pretty useless as a general, then. –  Discord Jun 14 '12 at 18:10
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It doesn't have to be your general. Why not stick it in your deck and fetch it with a tutor? –  Hyppy Jun 14 '12 at 18:16
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Also note you don't lose for casting her, she triggers on entering the battlefield. If you can arrange to have her countered (you totally wanted to pay 14 for a Chalice of the Void, right?) she will go to GY and you can go from there. –  Affe Jun 14 '12 at 20:45
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Hyppy's exactly right: the command zone isn't your hand, so casting Phage the Untouchable will cause you to lose the game.

Unfortunately, there are very few ways to get around Phage's drawback in a mono-black deck. The options available to you include Platinum Angel, Torpor Orb Sundial of the Infinite, and some truly awkard counter-your-own-Phage-and-then-Disemtomb-her shenanigans. I don't think any of these are reliable enough to make Phage a worthwhile commander.

The easiest way to play Phage in Commander is to use an alternative general and just dig her out. Your options include:

  • Maralen gives you the built-in ability to dig for Phage, though the big downside of running her is that your opponents will tend to immediately assume your deck is an "unfair" combo deck before the game even begins. (Ditto Griselbrand, but he's banned.)
  • Cards like Sheoldred, Whispering One and Geth, Lord of the Vault are less threatening but still thoroughly powerful mono-black generals.
  • The black legends from Odyssey and Onslaught blocks are the closest "flavor" fit. Going whole-hog "Vorthos" here probably means playing Cabal Patriarch as your general with Phage, Chainer, Dementia Master, Braids, Cabal Minion, and Balthor the Defiled in the deck. With cards like Cabal Coffers and Mirari, you can still make a pretty powerful deck despite any flavor constraints. (Alternatively, you could use Karona as your general and play Phage and Akroma within the deck in reference to her individual parts.)
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Great recommendations! –  Discord Jun 14 '12 at 20:50
    
Note: Griselbrand is currently banned in Commander, so he's no longer an option. –  Brian S Nov 15 '13 at 20:20
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Torpor Orb should work. You could make the deck have a minor focus on creatures that normally are a pain to get out, like Leveler...

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Welcome to the site, Paul! Good catch on the Torpor Orb. :) –  Alex P Aug 23 '12 at 17:42
    
Sundial of the Infinite is another colorless option; if your turn ends in response to Phage's trigger, you don't lose. –  Brian S Nov 15 '13 at 20:21
    
Yeah, you would need several cards along the lines of Toppor Orb and Sundial, because you won't have much chance of ever seeing any 1 card. –  GendoIkari Nov 15 '13 at 20:45
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Casting her from your command zone results with a resounding you lose the game, if she enters play. There are several ways to still use her effectively.

I will list a few ways below that will help you to "Make it Work". It is not the strongest style, but black has the tutors to pull it off if you really want to do it. It is funny to see the look on people's face when you reveal Phage as your commander. They don't know whether or not to take you seriously at first, but some might realize how big of a threat you are when you throw down a pair of Lightning Greaves.

A few ways that prevent the loss are (there may be a few others, but this is all I can think of off the top of my head and I can't look through my deck at the moment):

  • Having Platinum Angel in play (You can not lose)
  • Giving one of your opponents Abyssal Persecutor (keeps their opponents, you, from losing)
  • Having a Torpor Orb in play (Phage's enter the battlefield ability does not trigger)
  • Having a Sundial of the Infinite in play (End you turn in response to her ability going on the stack
  • Having Phage countered by an effect, such as Nether Void or Withering Boon/Dash Hope so she goes to graveyard (choose to let her go to graveyard and use one of black's many ways to get her back into your hand to hard cast from there)
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You need to explain how to give your opponents a creature in Black to include Abyssal Persector. Red and Blue are capable of doing this, but I cannot think of a way of doing so in Black off the top of my head. –  user1873 Aug 23 '12 at 21:17
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Endless Whispers –  user1873 Aug 23 '12 at 21:22
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If you're going to use Endless Whispers, you may as well take advantage of the Endless Whispers + Phage = Win the Game Combo. ;-) (Or make someone lose if it's multiplayer…) –  ghoppe Aug 23 '12 at 21:48
    
Dash hopes won't usually work... an opponent would happily pay 5 life to instantly make you lose. –  GendoIkari Nov 15 '13 at 20:47
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