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Pox Primer
By Oscar Tan aka Rakso
POX PRIMER
By Mathieu Bedard (Quebec, Canada) and Oscar Tan (Manila, Philippines)
Le_Lepreux and Rakso on www.bdominia.com
May 31, 2001

INTRODUCTION
Balance is one of the the most broken cards in Magic. It went unnoticed unnoticed in the earliest days because white cards in general paled to the brokenness in other colors, but a famous deck that used FOUR Balance before it was inevitably restricted underscored why it is white・s most powerful card:

BALANCE
Cost: 1W
Rarity: Rare
Type: Sorcery
Set: Alpha/Beta/Unlimited

Errata: Except the player who controls the fewest lands, each player sacrifices lands until all players control the same number of lands as the player who controls the fewest. Players do the same for creatures and for cards in hand. [Oracle 99/09/03]
Rulings:
- All cards sacrificed at one time go to the graveyard simultaneously. All cards discarded go to the graveyard simultaneously. As always, you pick the order they end up in the graveyard. See Rule Z.1.4.
- This spell is not targeted so cards which cannot be targeted, such as a creature with Protection from White, are both counted and valid choices for being sacrificed. [Aahz 94/12/02]
- Cards are not counted until the appropriate step. So, a land creature sacrificed to the first part of the spell would not count for the last part. [Oracle 98/07/01]
- Type 1 tournaments (see Rule D.13) have restricted this card since 95/04/19.
- Type 1.5 tournaments (see Rule D.14) have banned this card since 95/04/19.
- Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have always banned this card.
- Standard (Type 2) tournaments (see Rule D.16) have banned this card since 97/01/01. It was previously restricted from 95/04/19 to 97/01/01.

Artist: Mark Poole
Released: 8/1993


THE MAYSONET RACK-BALANCE DECK, ADAM MAYSONET, 1994 (Legends-era)
Artifacts (15)
4 Rack
3 Library of Leng
1 Chaos Orb
2 Relic Barrier
1 Candelabra of Tawnos
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl

White (9)
4 Balance
3 Disenchant
2 Consecrate Land

Red (11)
4 Chain Lightning
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Fireball (or Earthquake) (or Atog)

Green (4)
3 Sylvan Library
1 Regrowth

Land (12)
4 Bazaar of Baghdad
4 Mishra Factory
4 Savannah
4 Taiga
4 Plateau
1 Maze of Ith

Sideboard
2 Relic Barrier
1 Disenchant
3 Red Elemental Blast
2 Consecrate Lands
2 Tranquility
2 Circle of Protection: Red
3 Swords to Plowshares


What made this seeming pile of random cards so good compared to other famous decks of the time such as green/black land destruction and Channelball red/green ?

Adam Maysonet asked and answered that same question, "Well, you see, there are just tons of advantages that this deck has that others you play will not. Your opponent will be amazed as you destroy him or her without breaking a sweat. Not only that, it is going to attract a lot of attention when you play it, as it is like almost no other deck out there."

"1) THE MRB HAS LOW CASTING COST
"No spell in the deck has a casting cost greater than 2. Also, for those spells that cost 2 mana, one of those mana will be colorless, which means it is extremely easy to get your cards out onto the playing field, and you need little land to function.

"2) THE MRB NEEDS VERY LITTLE LAND
Because of the low casting costs of the spells in this deck, there is no need for tons of land. You can easily run the entire deck on 2 land if needed, which gives it a good resistance vs. land destruction decks. .Oh, you destroy one of my lands? Thanks, I didn't even need it.・

"3) THE MRB ACTS AS A .LIMITED・ DEMONIC TUTOR
You can cycle through this deck at amazing speeds and find the card you need very quickly using the cards correctly in the deck. This way almost any card is at your disposal at almost any time you need it.

"4) THE MRB USES NO CREATURES
"Yes folks, having no creatures is an advantage. It means that all those spells your opponent put in his or her deck specifically made to take care of your creatures becomes USELESS. It also means that you don't have to worry about keeping your creatures alive and out of the hands of your nasty opponent.

"5) THE MRB IS NON-REACTIVE
You don't need to hold cards and wait for your opponent to do something before you can act, but instead you can simply play your cards at whim. And getting cards out of your hand, as you will soon see, is a main goal to winning when using this deck."

The Maysonet Rack-Balance deck is actually the great grandfather of the "card disadvantage" school of thought that bloomed in the Tempest block with cards such as Cursed Scroll, Bottomless Pit and Ensnaring Bridge. The original card disadvantage engine featured prominently in MRB: Bazaar of Baghdad.

The central card, however, was emphatically explained by Adam: "It is SUCH a useful card I use it in every non-creature deck I make. It is a MIND TWIST, a WRATH OF GOD, and LAND DESTRUCTION all packed into one card that costs 1 White and 1 colorless mana.

"This is the card your searching for when you use your Bazaars, Sylvan Libraries, etc. You notice that when you use the Bazaar of Baghdad, it's draw 2 and then discard 3 cards. Well, eventually its going to empty your hand of all your cards, which is perfect. If you have 2 cards in your hand, and you tap the Bazaar to draw 2 more, and one happens to be a Balance, you simply discard 3 cards (and if any of these happen to be good, put them ontop of your library to draw next turn) and play Balance.

"Well now, lets see. You have NO cards in your hand, so they are MIND TWISTED and lose their entire hand (unless you still have cards in hand). You have NO creature in play, so they get the effects of a WRATH OF GOD and lose their creatures. And since this deck uses very little mana, more likely than not they will experience a bit of LAND DESTRUCTION as they must lose lands to equal the amount you have. Now the Racks become more important, because they have no cards so they take Rack damage, and of course they will hold onto their cards for 3 turns as to avoid taking damage, and in the meantime you are whizzing through your deck finding more cards to kill them with."

After Balance was restricted, Adam tried to retool MRB to include blue and Serendib Efreets to make up for the lost punch. It never regained its former glory, however, and ironically, the closest substitute for the unrestricted Balance came from White's opposing color.


WHAT MAKES POX SO GOOD?

POX
Cost: BBB
Rarity: Rare
Type: Sorcery
Set: Ice Age

Errata: Each player loses a third of his or her life, then discards a third of the cards in his or her hand, then sacrifices a third of the creatures he or she controls, then sacrifices a third of the lands he or she controls. Round each loss up. [Oracle 00/02/01]
Rulings: Creatures with Protection from Black are not ignored by Pox. This is not considered a targeted effect so they are both counted and valid choices for being destroyed. [D'Angelo 96/02/01]

Artist: Cornelius Brudi
Released: 6/1995


Like Balance, Pox is extremely powerful because it attacks on multiple fronts simultaneously (life, cards in hand, land in play, creatures in play). Unlike Balance, however, it can only destroy 1/3 of each of the four, so Pox decks contain support cards that can capitalize on the damage done on one or more fronts and finish the job.


POX ROCKS, MATHIEU BEDARD AKA LE_LEPREUX, 2001
Disruption/Removal (20)
4 Pox
4 Duress
4 Hymn to Tourach
4 Sinkhole
1 Balance
3 Spinning Darkness

Damage (12)
4 The Rack
4 Steel Golem
4 Cursed Scroll

Utility (3)
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Demonic Consultation
1 Yawgmoth's Will

Mana (26)
4 Dark Ritual
2 Charcoal Diamond
1 Mox Jet
4 Mishra's Factory
4 Scrubland
11 Swamp

Sideboard
4 Phyrexian Negator
4 Dystopia
4 Funeral Charm
3 Planar Void


RAKSO'S CASUAL POX, OSCAR TAN AKA RAKSO, 2001
Disruption/Removal (20)
4 Pox
4 Sinkhole
4 Duress
4 Hymn to Tourach
4 Diabolic Edict

Damage (12)
4 Nether Spirit
4 The Rack
3 Cursed Scroll

Utility (3)
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Demonic Consultation

Mana (27)
4 Dark Ritual
1 Charcoal Diamond
1 Sol Ring
1 Strip Mine
4 Wasteland
16 Swamp


The first rule of Pox is "3x+1." Because losses from Pox are rounded up, the opponent suffers the greatest disadvantage when Pox catches him with 1, 4 or 7 permanents. He discards only 1 card, for example if he has 3 cards in hand, but discards 2 if he has 4. This seems simple enough, but tracking the potential effects of Pox every turn can be an art form.

As Le_Lepreux always says, "Pox early, Pox often, and Pox hard!" "3x+1" is what makes Pox hit hard. Even if X is zero, it can still be hard. Against creatures, for example, Pox can eliminate almost any large creature from the game if it has no accompanying 1/1s, especially a Morphling played out of desperation.

Pox decks focus mainly on strengths #1 and #5 of the old MRB. Instead of playing a quick weenie offense, it focuses on removing an opponent's resources while eventually dealing steady damage with The Rack and Cursed Scroll (which are unaffected by Pox) or a simple Steel Golem. Thus, Pox follows an "aggro-control" or aggressive control strategy, as MRB strength #5 describes. (The modern terminology is "proactive control" with the opposite "reactive control" composed mainly of counterspells. Pox spells eliminates an opponent's resources before they can be cast or used.)

The threats are cheap because they need to be cast early to set up Pox. Many control decks try to survive and then eventually take control of the game in the mid- and late games. Pox does it all in the beginning.

A first-turn Duress is often the best Pox play without Dark Ritual because it can single-handedly change the opponent's plan or remove a card that will allow recovery from the discard and land destruction (especially a Misdirection for Hymn to Tourach). It also tells the Pox player what to disrupt next.

The second move is often a Hymn to Tourach or Sinkhole to further slow the opponent. With a Rack and Scroll in play, the opponent is set up for a Pox that will make it difficult for him to recover from the disruption. Spinning Darkness is invaluable in all this because it allows Pox to eliminate an early creature without skipping a turn's worth of disruption, and softens some of the life loss from Pox (against Ball Lightning in Mirage-era Type II, Spinning Darkness swung the game by 9 life). The opponent also loses a lot of life due to the Pox while all this disruption is being played, and Rack and Scroll beat the symmetry of the effect.

However, the threats are also cheap because all Pox decks must plan for the game after using Pox. Pox decks often have no less than 26 mana sources because it must have 5 mana after Poxing to reliably use Cursed Scroll. If the threats were more expensive, they would not be playable before Pox and would not be playable after, either.

Because the threats are cheap, the Pox player's hand is often near-empty by the time Pox is cast, which softens the Pox's effects on its owner. Choosing which cards to keep is very important, and this really depends on what the opponent has on the board. Often, a disruption card such as Hymn or Sinkhole is best to keep the opponent down, but other times, a Rack, Scroll or Golem will already win the game.

Ideally, again, after Poxing, the Pox player will have a Rack and Scroll on the board (or Steel Golem in hand) to give it some punch despite a near-empty hand, and be able to finish off the Pox-damaged opponent before he can recover from the three-way disruption. One should be careful about using Pox without checking the cards in play (on both sides), however, because a Pox deck is in a very dangerous situation if it is forced into a topdeck situation (an empty hand) without Cursed Scroll.

One should especially be careful about playing a first-turn Pox as it expends half the opening hand to destroy all cards in play and force the opponent to discard three cards. However, one is left with only two cards in hand, one of which had better be a land. This is a very bad position for the Pox deck.

Both players' hands might be empty, but an opponent may topdeck a Jackal Pup or other cheap threat while the Pox player topdecks discard spells. Pox has much weaker topdecks compared to other decks, and an opponent may just draw something like an Ancestral Recall or Fact or Fiction to swing the game. This makes land destruction important in Pox because it also limits the opponent's topdeck possibilities.

It can be very difficult to understand how a Pox deck works without actually playing it because the decklist cannot capture the mutli-pronged Pox attack. If one still has trouble understanding the concept, one should try to keep two things in mind: 1) Remove just about everything the opponent has in hand and in play; then 2) Steadily attack his life total while he helplessly waits to draw more resources.

For contrast, note the following deck:

BUTTER KNIVES, CHRIS PIKULA, 2000 MAGIC INVITATIONAL
Creatures (11)
4 Hypnotic Specter
4 Juzam Djinn
3 Phyrexian Negator

Discard (9)
4 Duress
4 Hymn to Tourach
1 Mind Twist

Utility (10)
3 Diabolic Edict
1 Necropotence
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Demonic Consultation
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk

Mana (30)
4 Dark Ritual
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Sol Ring
1 Black Lotus
4 City of Brass
4 Underground Sea
4 Badlands
2 Scrubland
1 Strip Mine
4 Wasteland

Sideboard
4 Hydroblast
4 Red Elemental Blast
3 Disenchant
1 Phyrexian Negator
1 Diabolic Edict
2 Masticore

This archtype, made even more lethal by Beyond Dominia's JP Meyer by adding Flesh Reaver, appears somewhat similar to Pox. However, this tries to beat an opponent quickly with large creatures while slowing him with discard. Pox disrupts an opponent then kicks him while he is down, and never lets him get up again. Both styles have their strengths and weaknesses, but Pox cannot be stopped simply by topdecking a Swords to Plowshares or some other cheap removal.


CARD SELECTION

Unlike older and more diverse archtypes, there is very little variation possible in Pox decks. These decks are based around Pox and spells must be cheapest and most efficient possible. Any spell over 3 mana is difficult to work into a Pox deck because 4 is a bad number for Pox (remember "3x+1"?).

DISCARD SELECTION

DURESS
Cost: B
Rarity: Common
Type: Sorcery
Set: Urza's Saga

Errata: Look at target opponent's hand and choose a noncreature, nonland card from it. That player discards that card. [Oracle 99/05/01]
Flavor Text: We decide who is worthy of our works." -Gix, Yawgmoth praetor

Artist: Lawrence Snelly
Released: 10/1998

Pox's best first-turn play. It removes Misdirection, anything that will speed up the opponent's offense or allow him to recover from Pox, and key artifacts and enchantments that Pox cannot otherwise deal with. Remember, it cannot be Misdirected against you, so always cast this if you suspect an opponent may be playing with that card. If, however, the opponent has no Misdirection and you have a Dark Ritual, Duress and Hymn in your opening hand, cast the Hymn first to increase your chances of eliminating his best cards, unless his deck has a lot of creatures (which make Duress dead).

HYMN TO TOURACH
Cost: BB
Rarity: Common
Type: Sorcery
Set: Fallen Empires

Errata: Target player discards two cards at random from his or her hand. [Oracle 99/07/23]
Flavor Text: The eerie, wailing Hymn caused insanity even in hardened warriors." --Sarpadian Empires, vol. II
Flavor Text: Members of the Order often played the Hymn on instruments made from their victims' bones.
Flavor Text: Knowing the Hymn's power, the followers of Leitbur carefully guarded their pillaged transcriptions.
Flavor Text: Tourach's power was such that his followers deified him after his death." --Sarpadian Empires, vol. II
Rulings:
- The two cards are chosen at random and then discarded at the same time. This means the player chooses the order they are stacked in the graveyard. [DeLaney 98/04/08]
- Standard (Type 2) tournaments (see Rule D.16) have banned this card since 97/01/01 since it is no longer part of the environment. It was previously restricted from 96/10/01 until 97/01/01.
- Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have banned this card since 99/10/01.

Artist: Susan Van Camp
Released: 11/1994

This card is very nasty by itself but, after Pox, it is DEADLY! If your opponent has 4 cards in his hand, a Pox followed by a Hymn empties it.


Discard decks cannot use more than 12 discard cards (topdecking more discard after the opponent already has an empty hand is pointless), and Pox easily provides the third set of discard. Other spells are more expensive and less efficient, and are much less useful. Unmask's alternate casting cost is too expensive in a deck that always has very few cards in hand, and others such as Stupor pale in comparison to Hymn.

Persecute, however, is a good sideboard card, as it is almost an automatic win with a Dark Ritual against a mono-colored deck (first turn Duress, second turn Persecute). Bottomless Pit is also lethal for many control decks, and was nasty in Tempest-era Pox decks along with Cursed Scroll, Ensnaring Bridge and Null Brooch.

MIND TWIST
Cost: XB
Rarity: Rare
Type: Sorcery
Set: Alpha/Beta/Unlimited

Errata: Target opponent discards X cards at random from his or her hand. [Oracle 99/09/03]
Rulings:
- Type 1 tournaments (see Rule D.13) have restricted this card since 00/10/01. It was previously banned from 96/02/01 to 00/10/01 and it was restricted from 94/08/01 to 96/02/01.
- Type 1.5 tournaments (see Rule D.14) have always banned this card.
- Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have always banned this card.
- Standard (Type 2) tournaments (see Rule D.16) have banned this card since 96/02/01. It was previously restricted from 94/08/01 to 96/02/01.
- Note - Also see X Costs, Rule K.27.

Artist: Julie Baroh
Released: 8/1993

Finally, surprising as it may sound, the best discard spell ever printed is simply too inefficient for Pox. Yes, you heard right: inefficient. Mind Twist becomes more effective than Hymn only at 4 mana, and 4 is a bad number for Pox. It would be useful only if the Pox player feels he needs a fifth Hymn that may sometimes be topdecked with more mana and against an opponent with cards in hand.


LAND DESTRUCTION

Even in the Mirage-era, Pox decks ran Choking Sands. Controlling the opponent's land count is the second but underestimated front Pox attacks on. If the opponent had 4 land before Pox, a timely Wasteland or Sinkhole post-Pox will keep them down longer, and every mana counts, especially against a control deck.


SINKHOLE
Cost: BB
Color: Black Rarity: Common Type: Sorcery Set: Alpha/Beta/Unlimited Card Text: Destroys any one land. Errata: Destroy target land. [Oracle 99/09/03] Flavor Text: N/A Rulings:
- Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have always banned this card.
Artist: Sandra Everingham P/T: N/A Released: 8/1993

The cheapest land destruction spell ever, it would be a lot worse in the deck if it cost 3 like every other spell. It does not and it can be used for timely disruption. Again, remember that Pox does not aim to destroy all the opponent's land (although it can, and can often afford to Pox just to kill the opponent's first topdecked land). One may be tempted to replace Sinkhole, but it often spells the difference against control decks, especially against mono blue and its basic Islands.


STRIP MINE
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Land
Set: Antiquities

Errata: {Tap}: Add 1 colorless mana to your mana pool. ; {Tap},Sacrifice ~this~: Destroy target land. [Oracle 99/09/03]
Flavor Text: Unlike previous conflicts, the war between Urza and Mishra made Dominia itself a casualty of war.
Rulings:
- Type 1 tournaments (see Rule D.13) have restricted this card since 98/01/01.
- Type 1.5 tournaments (see Rule D.14) have banned this card since 96/10/01.
- Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have always banned this card.
- Standard (Type 2) tournaments (see Rule D.16) have banned this card since 97/01/01. It was previously restricted from 96/10/01 to 97/01/01.

Artist: Daniel Gelon
Released: 3/1994


WASTELAND
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Land
Set: Tempest

Card Text: T: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool. T,Sacrifice Wasteland: Destroy target nonbasic land.
Flavor Text: The land promises nothing and keeps its promise." --Oracle en-Vec

Artist: Una Fricker
Released: 10/1997

These are the basic land destruction cards in almost every deck, but their use in Pox over Mishra's Factory is a long-running debate. These lands are colorless, which is an issue because Pox needs to have BB or BBB available at all times. Some players prefer Mishra's Factory for added punch and early creature defense, some prefer Wastelands for added disruption. Running both is infeasible.

Note that it is important to keep BB in play after Pox, and if one has to sacrifice a Wasteland (if Pox is played with 3 Swamps and 1 Wasteland in play, for example) do not be tempted to keep the Wasteland for use post-Pox because the topdeck situation is often too dangerous at 1 Swamp.

If nonbasic lands are not common in one's environment (like in Le_Lepreux's), Mishra's Factories are the obvious choice, however.


CREATURES

STEEL GOLEM
Cost: 3
Color: Artifact
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Artifact Creature - Golem
Set: Weatherlight

Errata: 3/4. ; You can't play creature spells. [Oracle 99/07/01]
Flavor Text: Although I would give my life to protect Gerrard, my conscience will not let me take another's. There are many who would not hesitate." - Karn, silver golem
Rulings:
- Yes, this only affects you. [D'Angelo 97/06/12]
- You can put creatures into play by means other than playing them. [DeLaney 97/06/12] For example, token creatures or Animate Dead.
- A creature spell is any "Creature" or "Artifact Creature" spell. [D'Angelo 99/07/10] Older cards of type "Summon" are also Creature cards.
- Note - Before errata this card had no creature type. [Oracle 99/07/01]

Artist: Donato Giancola
Released: 6/1997

Pox creatures must meet very strict requirements, just like the discard spells. First, they must be cheap, and this rules out otherwise effective finishers such as Masticore and Juzam Djinn. Second, they must be excellent at both offense and defense, which rules out many key black aggressive creatures. Third, they must also be difficult to kill.

For a long time, Steel Golem was the only creature that fit the bill, since it could easily be cast first-turn to act as a lethal wall or after Pox to finish the opponent. It was nicknamed the "Man of Steel" before Morphling received the nickname "Superman," and it was the key creature of many Mirage-era control decks from Draw-Go type decks to Necropotence decks. Obviously, the drawback is meaningless in a deck that has so few creatures.

In Type I, note that it cannot be killed by a single Bolt, and is unaffected by The Abyss. It is a must in all creature- and burn-heavy environments. There is one important trick in Pox, in addition: Against a black or creatureless deck, Spinning Darkness can be used on Steel Golem without killing it just to gain life or empty the hand for Cursed Scroll.


CHIMERIC IDOL
Cost: 3
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Artifact
Set: Prophecy

Card Text: 0: Tap all lands you control. Chimeric Idol becomes a 3/3 artifact creature until end of turn.
Flavor Text: After a chimeric idol attacked them, the Keldons smashed all unfamiliar statues. Rulings: Your lands are tapped as part of the effect, not part of the cost. [D'Angelo 00/06/19]

Artist: Mark Tedin
Released: 6/2000

This new card from Prophecy has the advantage of being unaffected by Abyss, Pox, and every non-instant creature destruction spell in the game. However, it can be destroyed by red bolts, unlike Steel Golem, and prevents the use of Mishra's Factory. The drawback is often not a drawback and can be played around with since Cursed Scroll is often the only instant ability in Pox. It is usable as a supplement to either Steel Golem or Nether Spirit for Pox players who feel they need more than 4 creatures.

Note that Chimeric Idol supersedes one of the original Pox creatures, Chimeric Sphere, which required 2 mana to activate (Chimeric Idol can be activated even if all your lands are tapped).


MISHRA'S FACTORY
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Land
Set: Antiquities

Errata: {Tap}: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool. ; {Tap}: Target Assembly Worker gets +1/+1 until end of turn. ; {1}: Until end of turn, ~this~ becomes a 2/2 artifact creature named Assembly Worker that's still a land. [Oracle 99/09/03]
Rulings:
- When it is an Assembly Worker, it is still a land and retains all of its other abilities. [Duelist Magazine #2, Page 14] The card name is no longer Mishra's Factory at this time. It is an Assembly Worker.
- When animated into an Assembly Worker, it has no creature type. [Oracle 98/07/01]
- The Assembly Worker is an artifact creature only until the end of the turn, and then any Enchant Creature or Enchant Artifact spells on it are put into the graveyard. [Duelist Magazine #2, Page 15]
- It can attack on the turn an Assembly Worker is created, but it may not attack on the turn the land itself is brought into play. See Rule G.37.3. [Duelist Magazine #2, Page 15]
- Any counters on the Assembly Worker remain even if the counters stop being meaningful when it de-animates. [D'Angelo 98/02/03]
- An Assembly Worker is considered to have a zero casting cost. [Duelist Magazine #5, Page 14]
- Tapping a land for something other than mana is not a mana ability. [D'Angelo 99/10/01]
- The ability to turn it into an Assembly Worker can be used while it is an Assembly Worker and will reset the initial power/toughness to 2/2, but this will not override temporary effects such as Sorceress Queen. [D'Angelo 98/05/28]
- When it is an Assembly Worker, it is an artifact and can therefore be affected by spells and abilities that affect artifacts, such as Disenchant. [WotC Rules Team 95/02/09]
- If another player takes control of this card while it is an Assembly Worker, using Aladdin for example, that player keeps control until the control effect ends. They do not lose control just because the card stops being an Assembly Worker. [WotC Rules Team 95/02/09] Note that enchantments which steal cards (such as Control Magic and Steal Artifact) do go to the graveyard if the permanent they enchant is no longer valid.
- If an Assembly Worker is changed into another kind of land by something like Phantasmal Terrain, it will stay a 2/2 artifact creature (until end of turn) but will not still be called an Assembly Worker. [Duelist Magazine #9, Page 60]
- Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have banned this card since 99/10/01.
- Note - Also see Changing a Permanent's Type, Rule K.5.

Artist: Kaja Foglio & Phil Foglio
Released: 4/1995

Under the Sixth Edition rules, tapped creature deal damage, and this uncounterable creature is a great early blocker (though it cannot tap to become 3/3 the turn it is played due to summoning sickness and it can get killed and slow Pox's mana development). You can attack with it after a Pox cleared the way and deal the last needed damage. The problem with Mishra's Factory is that it does not produce black mana and dilutes the mana base. This means it is difficult to play Wasteland with this card.

Whether to play Mishra's Factory over Wasteland has been a running debate on Beyond Dominia, but this early blocker is invaluable in a creature-heavy environment.


PHYREXIAN NEGATOR
Cost: 2B
Rarity: Rare
Type: Creature - Horror
Set: Urza's Destiny

Card Text: 5/5. ; Trample. Whenever Phyrexian Negator is dealt damage, sacrifice a permanent for each 1 damage dealt to it.
Flavor Text: They exist to cease.
Rulings:
- Sacrificing this card does not prevent you from having to make the other sacrifices. [DeLaney 99/06/13]
- Note - Also see Trample, Rule A.27.

Artist: John Zeleznik
Released: 6/1999

How can we ignore a 5/5 black creature with a casting cost of three? This card is best used in the sideboard or only in environments without blockers and burn spells, because Pox rarely has extra permanents in play to feed the drawback. When its drawback is irrelevant, nothing ends the game faster than the Negator, however.


HYPNOTIC SPECTER
Cost: 1BB
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Creature - Summon Specter
Set: Alpha/Beta/Unlimited

Errata: 2/2, Flying. ; Whenever ~this~ deals damage to an opponent, that player discards a card at random from his or her hand. [Oracle 99/09/03]
Flavor Text: ``. . . There was no trace Of aught on that illumined face . . .`` --Samuel Coleridge, ''Phantom''
Rulings:
- Must do at least 1 point of damage to cause opponent to discard because the effect only happens if at least 1 damage remains unprevented. [WotC Rules Team 94/02/07]
- If damage is redirected to opponent by some spell or ability and is not prevented, opponent must discard a card as if they were attacked directly. Equally, if damage is redirected away from the player, no card needs to be discarded. [WotC Rules Team 94/02/07]
- Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) tournaments have banned this card since 97/10/01.
- Note - The artist's name, Shuler, was misspelled on the Limited Edition and Unlimited Edition versions of this card.

Artist: Douglas Shuler
Released: 8/1993

The classic black creature is deadly in any combo or control oriented environment, and a first-turn Specter was one of the dreaded plays in the earliest days of Magic. Combined with The Rack, he can do a lot of damage. However, he is very, very poor in defense.


A NOTE ON NETHER SPIRIT

NETHER SPIRIT
Cost: 1BB
Rarity: Rare
Type: Creature - Spirit
Set: Mercadian Masques
Card Text: 2/2. ; At the beginning of your upkeep, if Nether Spirit is the only creature card in your graveyard, you may return Nether Spirit to play.
Flavor Text: It roams in both the worlds of the living and the dead but belongs to neither.

Artist: Alan Pollack
Released: 10/1999

Nether Spirit is the youngest addition to an otherwise constant Pox card pool. Looking at the card, it simply looks built for Pox. It can be cast first-turn to act as a blocker that trades for 1 weenie a turn. It makes first-turn Pox a good play, especially when going second, as it acts as a "buffer" or free discard for Pox (instead of holding Steel Golem in hand, one can hold a Hymn or Sinkhole). It allows one to play Pox when it is already in play (unlike Steel Golem) and is simply difficult to kill. It is, again, a very good card.

However, using Nether Spirit requires a few changes. Most importantly, Spinning Darkness becomes worse with Nether Spirit, since it can no longer be cast on Pox's creature when it has no targets. All other choices are often worse than Spinning Darkness.

One must also be careful about playing more than 1 Spirit, and one generally has to hold excess Spirits in hand rather than risk making them all useless. However, this presents a problem with Pox, and one is forced to keep the second Spirit in hand and discard other cards. This slightly affects Cursed Scroll, as well. Spinning Darkness is Pox's only reasonable way of removing excess Spirits from the game, but as mentioned, Spins are less useful with Nether Spirit because they are a liability against another black deck. One solution is to use 3 instead of 4 Spirits, but unless Chimeric Idol is also used, one may not draw a creature at the time added pressure on the opponent is needed.

Whether to use Steel Golem or Nether Spirit (one cannot use both and can only use Chimeric Idol with either) has been a long-running debate on Beyond Dominia. Players in more casual environments generally find Nether Spirit more powerful due to its unkillability and synergy with Pox. However, competitive players have one strong argument against Nether Spirit: It is affected by The Abyss, unlike the Golem, making Pox weaker against control decks that rely mainly on Abyss.

In Extended shortly before Necropotence and Survival of the Fittest were banned, Sean McKeown aka Gandalf wrote on Mindripper, "Other players have criticized my use of Nether Spirit in this deck to accompany Chimeric Idol and Cursed Scroll as the kill cards, but the Spirit is for more than giving the deck a semi-combo feel when casting Pox: it also provides a creature that is long-lived against creature decks, as well as impossible to prevent me from having against control decks. While not very large and not very impressive for its stats alone, the Spirit has proven itself to me in every match I played, and is in part the heart and soul of the deck for me."


UTILITY

The following three cards are consistently in Pox decks when legal, as they smooth the flow of the deck's cards.

DEMONIC TUTOR
Cost: 1B
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Sorcery
Set: Alpha/Beta/Unlimited

Errata: Search your library for a card and put that card into your hand. Then shuffle your library. [Oracle 99/09/03]
Rulings:
- This is not a draw. [D'Angelo 95/02/27]
- You do not show the card you pick out of your library to your opponent. [bethmo 94/06/01]
- You pick a card on resolution. [D'Angelo 95/07/21] Because you pick on resolution, this spell can be Forked so that the Fork's caster can pick a different card. [Aahz 95/09/05]
- Type 1 tournaments (see Rule D.13) have restricted this card since 94/03/23.
- Type 1.5 tournaments (see Rule D.14) have always banned this card.
- Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have always banned this card.
- Standard (Type 2) tournaments (see Rule D.16) have banned this card since 95/05/02 when it left the environment.
- Note - The artist's name, Shuler, was misspelled on the Limited Edition and Unlimited Edition versions of this card.

Artist: Douglas Schuler
Released: 8/1993

It gives you any card you need, especially a timely Cursed Scroll. The main note is that it is a sorcery and you cannot always cast the spell you searched for in the same turn, but nothing is perfect. Note that it is especially useful with other restricted cards such as Yawgmoth's Will and Balance.

Vampiric Tutor is less useful because it sacrifices 2 life in a deck that damages itself and slows the deck by one card draw. This is rarely worth it in a very redundant deck, but is more useful if one uses just 1 or 2 copies of certain cards.


DEMONIC CONSULTATION
Cost: B
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Instant
Set: Ice Age

Errata: Name a card. Remove the top six cards of your library from the game, then reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal the named card. Put that card into your hand and remove all other cards revealed this way from the game. [Oracle 00/02/01]
Rulings:
- The spell fails if you do not find the card before your library is empty. You do not lose the game at that point. You lose on the next time you have to draw. [Aahz 95/06/08]
- You name which card to look for on resolution. [D'Angelo 00/03/09]
- You must name a card that actually exists in the game of Magic. [Aahz 95/10/07]
- There is no way to make this card affect your opponent. It affects "you", and "you" means the caster. [Duelist Magazine #7, Page 9] It has no targets and cannot be Deflectioned.
- Type 1 tournaments (see Rule D.13) have restricted this card since 00/10/01.
- Type 1.5 tournaments (see Rule D.14) have banned this card since 00/10/01.

Artist: Rob Alexander
Released: 6/1995

This was one of the most underestimated cards in the game for a long time, and was not even used to the fullest in Ice Age-era Necropotence decks! In Pox, its instant ability is amazing as one can search for a second-turn Hymn to disrupt the opponent or a Spinning Darkness in response to Ball Lightning. Often, it can safely be used if there are at least 3 of the desired card in the library, and even 2 is not particularly risky (though it is possible to lose most of your library).

The drawback is irrelevant because the cards removed may actually be at the bottom of the library (one does not lose cards in play or in hand), and Pox has enough threats that Consult will rarely remove most of the damage sources. When this is drawn, it is often best to use it immediately if one has no other use for the mana.

Desperate Research is a funny variant of the now-restricted Consult, though it is a sorcery. The only other option, Rhystic Tutor, is more expensive and usually less playable despite Pox's ability to restrict the opponent's mana supply.


YAWGMOTH'S WILL
Cost: 2B
Rarity: Rare
Type: Sorcery
Set: Urza's Saga

Errata: Until end of turn, you may play cards in your graveyard as though they were in your hand. ; If a card would be put into your graveyard this turn, remove that card from the game instead. [Oracle 99/07/21]
Rulings:
- If you play a Buyback spell (see Rule A.9), then there will be two effects trying to replace where the card goes. You get to choose if the Buyback returns the card to your hand or the card gets removed from the game. [bethmo 98/10/12]
- To "play a card" is to either announce a spell (see Rule T.4) or to put a land into play using the main phase special action (see Rule P.8.4). [D'Angelo 99/01/18]
- If an effect asks you to discard a card, you cannot "discard" something that is in your graveyard. Those cards are not in your hand for any reason other than letting you play them. Thus, Cycling abilities of cards in the graveyard cannot be used. [DeLaney 98/10/15]
- If you play a card using Yawgmoth's Will and something triggers only when "played from your hand", that something will not trigger. [bethmo 99/03/05] Such things trigger based on where the card came from.
- It does not look back in time. It only removes cards from the game that go to the graveyard after it is cast. [D'Angelo 98/11/04]
- The second ability is a replacement ability (see Rule T.10). It applies to both costs and effects. [WotC Rules Team 98/11/03] There is no infinite loop mana generation with Dark Ritual. [D'Angelo 98/11/04]
- It will remove itself from the game since it goes to the graveyard after its effect starts. [D'Angelo 98/11/04]
- Note - Also see Yawgmoth's Agenda.
- Type 1 tournaments (see Rule D.13) have restricted this card since 99/10/01.
- Type 1.5 tournaments (see Rule D.14) have banned this card since 99/10/01.
- Extended tournaments (See Rule D.15) have banned this card since 99/10/01.

Artist: Ron Spencer
Released: 10/1998

This card is extremely broken when it can recycle cheap gamebreakers like Ancestral Recall and Balance. In Pox, it is useful enough even if it returns just a Scroll or two Racks into play. However, its brokenness increases exponentially with each Dark Ritual in the graveyard (play any Rituals in hand before playing Yawgmoth's Will to reuse them; playing them after removes them from the game), and playing Will with Rituals can reuse the entire graveyard on the opponent to devastating effect.

Tutor for this in midgame as it breaks most stalemates. Always remember to replay a land from the graveyard, and do not play a land if you are playing Will and have one in the graveyard.

When using Spinning Darkness, remove cards from the graveyard as if Yawgmoth's Will were your next card. Never remove Dark Rituals if it can be avoided.


DAMAGE SOURCES AND CREATURE REMOVAL

CURSED SCROLL
Cost: 1
Rarity: Rare
Type: Artifact
Set: Tempest

Errata: {3},{Tap}: Name a card. An opponent chooses a card at random from your hand. Reveal that card. If the card is the named card, ~this~ deals 2 damage to target creature or player. [Oracle 99/07/21]
Rulings:
- You choose a target creature or player on announcement. You choose the opponent and they pick a card from your hand during resolution. [D'Angelo 99/06/01]
- It does not target the opponent, but you still choose an opponent. [WotC Rules Team 98/02/01]
- If you have no cards in hand, you still have to name a card, but your opponent does not pick one. The card they chose cannot match the card you named, since they didn't get to pick one, so the Cursed Scroll does not deal any damage. [D'Angelo 98/05/18]
- Tempest/Stronghold}/Exodus block format tournaments (see Rule D.18.5) have banned this card since 98/07/01.

Artist: D. Alexander Gregory
Released: 10/1997

This card took several months before its potency was discovered. When it was, Scroll was banned in Tempest block constructed and used in almost every Tempest-era Type II deck that did not hold counterspells back in its hand. The supposedly junk rare soon became single-handedly responsible for the "card disadvantage" school of thought, and became "pseudo card-advantage" by giving decks that emptied their hand quickly a reusable permanent ability.

Almost half a year after the Scroll was printed, Ben Seck wrote on the Dojo: "The single card that has made this all possible is the infamous Cursed Scroll. This new theory of Card Disadvantage should be considered as a viable and dangerous concept in the current Standard environment, as its manyfold offensive and control aspects allow it to 'risk' card advantage in the early game while being able to still not run dry when it is overcome through the use of mass destruction. The Pox deck, previously a fringe deck type, as found a strong foundation with Tempest, thanks to Cursed Scroll."

Cursed Scroll is obviously most useful with just one card (or multiples of one card) in hand, so never keep more than one kind of spell in your hand at any time, even if a Scroll is not yet in play. If, for example, you have both Hymn and Duress in your hand, play one of them even if your opponent has an empty hand. If a Scroll is out, play one and activate Scroll at the end of your opponent's turn. If you draw a land with a Scroll, remember to use the Scroll before playing the land.

Scroll can single-handedly win the game against a weenie deck, and both it and Pox eliminate pesky protection from black weenies.


THE RACK
Cost: 1
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Artifact
Set: Antiquities

Errata: As ~this~ comes into play, choose target opponent. ; At the beginning of the chosen player's draw step, ~this~ deals X damage to that player where X is the number of cards in his or her hand fewer than three. [Oracle 99/09/03]
Flavor Text: Invented in Mishra's earlier days, the Rack was once his most feared creation. Rulings:
- You choose one opposing player on casting and it only affects that one player. This target is not changed even if this card changes controllers. It becomes useless but stays in play if the target player leaves play. [Duelist Magazine #4, Page 64] See Rule M.1.3.
- This ability normally goes on the stack after the player's mandatory draw and will therefore resolve before their draw. This is because the rule for triggered abilities is that the current player's triggers are put on the stack first, then the other player's, and The Rack is normally controlled by an opponent. [D'Angelo 00/04/04] [This has changed due to the new "draw" step triggers rule - Spidey]
- Amount of damage is determined when effect is resolved and not when it is announced. [D'Angelo 95/10/05]
- Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have banned this card since 99/10/01.

Artist: Richard Thomas
Released: 3/1994

THE source of damage in this deck. It costs 1 mana, it has no activation cost, and it tempts your opponent to slow his development only to have you cast a Hymn on him later. Although it is less useful in many decks because it does not contribute to advantage on the board, it amplifies the effects of Pox too powerfully not to be used. And, when you manage to get two or three on the table, it just rocks.


SPINNING DARKNESS
Cost: 4BB
Rarity: Common
Type: Instant
Set: Weatherlight

Errata: You may remove the top three black cards in your graveyard from the game instead of paying ~this~'s mana cost. ; ~this~ deals 3 damage to target nonblack creature. You gain 3 life. [Oracle 99/07/01]
Rulings: Note - Also see Mana Cost, Rule K.18.

Artist: John Coulthart
Released: 6/1997

The black Fireblast is a key card against Sligh and, to a lesser extent, other weenie decks due to the large swing in life it creates. All without even spending mana.

It works very well with Cursed Scroll to get ride of those fatties, and instant life gain often disrupts the opponent's calculations. The "nonblack" drawback is annoying, but one still has Pox and Cursed Scroll.


FUNERAL CHARM
Cost: B
Rarity: Common
Type: Instant
Set: Visions

Errata: Choose one - Target player discards a card from his or her hand; or target creature gets +2/-1 until end of turn; or target creature gains swampwalk until end of turn. [Oracle 99/07/01]
Rulings:
- Note - Also see Landwalk, Rule A.22.
- Note - Also see Modal Spells and Abilities, Rule G.24.

Artist: Greg Spalenka
Released: 2/1997

This card looks extremely weak, but was actually a key card of Mirage-era Pox decks, and was invaluable against Sligh. For one black, this card kills all creatures in a typical Sligh deck and kills regenerating River Boas and evil Gorilla Shamans. It is never a dead card because it can simply force an opponent to discard the card he just drew during his draw phase. On rare occasions, it can help deal the last 2 or 3 damage to an opponent if only a creature is available, either by boosting its strength or getting the creature past blockers against any deck with Swamps (particularly in the difficult mirror match).


DIABOLIC EDICT
Cost: 1B
Color: Black
Rarity: Common
Type: Instant
Set: Tempest

Card Text: Target player sacrifices a creature.
Flavor Text: Greven il-Vec lifted Vhati off his feet. "The fall will give you time to think on your failure."
Rulings: The choice of what to sacrifice is made by the player on resolution. [Duelist Magazine #23, Page 22]

Artist: Ron Spencer
Released: 10/1997

This card becomes more popular the more Morphling (or protection from black creatures) is played, but it leaves more to be desired in Pox. If Spinning Darkness is not used, this is simply the next best choice because it is the "least worst." It is frustrating when an opponent has a 1/1 and a larger creature and one uses Edict without a Pox to back up the play.

The next choice would be Contagion, but the extra card used is too important in a deck that already loses its hand quickly.


POWDER KEG
Cost: 2
Rarity: Rare
Type: Artifact
Set: Urza's Destiny

Card Text: At the beginning of your upkeep, you may put a fuse counter on Powder Keg. T, Sacrifice Powder Keg: Destroy each artifact and creature with converted mana cost equal to the number of fuse counters on Powder Keg.
Rulings:
- Only destroys artifacts and creatures with exactly the specified cost. It does not mean "less than or equal to". [Urza's Destiny FAQ 99/05/25]
- Putting on a counter is optional. If you forget, you cannot go back later even if it is something you usually do. [D'Angelo 99/06/01]
- Note - Also see Converted Mana Cost, Rule K.8.

Artist: Dan Frazier
Released: 6/1999

In some more control-oriented versions, Powder Keg take the slot of The Rack. This helps you destroy Moxes that are unaffected by land destruction, opposing Scrolls and large swarms of 1-mana weenies (namely Stompy, Pox's worst opponent).

Replacing The Rack, however, greatly slows the deck and makes it weaker (the opponent has more time to topdeck a solution). It cannot, however, be used with both Rack and Scroll because using it at the 1-counter level (which is often where you need it against many weenies) destroys all key artifacts.


THE ABYSS
Cost: 3B
Rarity: Rare
Type: Enchant World
Set: Legends

Errata: At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player sacrifices target nonartifact creature he or she controls. [Oracle 99/09/03]
Flavor Text: An immense river of oblivion is sweeping us away into a nameless abyss." --Ernest Renan, Souvenirs d'Enfance et de Jeunesse
Rulings:
- This is a targeted ability. The Abyss targets one creature each upkeep. It cannot target creatures which are untargetable, such as those with Protection from Black. [Aahz 94/07/13]
- If the target becomes invalid after being chosen but before resolution, you do not have to choose another target. [Duelist Magazine #16, Page 25]
- The controller of The Abyss controls the ability, but the current player chooses what they sacrifice. [Barclay 00/12/31]
- Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have always banned this card.
- Note - Also see Enchant World, Rule K.12.10.

Artist: Pete Venters
Released: 6/1994

This is too expensive to use for many players' tastes, but with Steel Golems, it neutralizes almost all creatures an opponent can topdeck.


MANA SOURCES

Again, a Pox must have enough mana both before and after Pox, and "enough" with Cursed Scroll means access to 5 mana each turn. In addition, the deck must have BB every turn to cast its spells. This means that all Pox decks must have at least 26 mana sources, at least 16 of which produce black mana excluding the Dark Rituals. Note that Le_Lepreux does not play with Wastelands, and does not even play with Strip Mine because he feels 5 colorless land dilutes his black mana too much.


CHARCOAL DIAMOND
Cost: 2
Color: Artifact
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Artifact
Set: Mirage

Card Text: Charcoal Diamond comes into play tapped. T: Add B to your mana pool.
Artist: Drew Tucker
Released: 10/1996

Black Lotus and Mox Jet are no-brainers in a black deck, but one or two extra Moxen are often used to soften Pox's blow on one's own lands.


SOL RING
Cost: 1
Color: Artifact
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Artifact
Set: Alpha/Beta/Unlimited

Errata: {Tap}: Add two colorless mana to your mana pool. [Oracle 99/09/03]
Rulings:
- Type 1 tournaments (see Rule D.13) have restricted this card since 94/01/25.
- Type 1.5 tournaments (see Rule D.14) have always banned this card.
- Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have always banned this card.
- Standard (Type 2) tournaments (see Rule D.16) have banned this card since 95/05/02. It was previously restricted from 94/01/24 to 95/05/02.

Artist: Mark Tedin
Released: 8/1993

This additional mana source requires some explanation. In a deck where black mana is extremely important, it seems useless. However, this card keeps Cursed Scroll going after Pox and allows it to be used earlier, and is thus invaluable for some players. Less often, it also has the bonus of speeding up the play of artifacts from one's hand.


SPLASHED SPELLS

One notes the Balance in Le_Lepreux's listed deck, and adding another color is logical to cover black's weaknesses. White is a logical choice to add artifact and enchantment removal. This is a big problem, however, because adding 4 Scrubland is rarely reliable enough. Few other land can be added, however. City of Brass only adds to Pox's self-inflicted damage, Undiscovered Paradise slows the deck, and Gemstone Mines run out before they can be sacrificed to Pox. Salt Flats and Lair lands also slow the deck.

Red is another choice to add red bolts to aid in creature removal, and Sulfurous Springs at least smooths the mana.

Note that nonblack producing land for splashed colors is infeasible because the deck needs black mana for its double-colored mana spells.


SEAL OF CLEANSING
Cost: 1W
Rarity: Common
Type: Enchantment
Set: Nemesis

Card Text: Sacrifice Seal of Cleansing: Destroy target artifact or enchantment.
Flavor Text: I am the purifier, the light that clears all shadows." - Seal inscription
Rulings: Note - Cycle with Seal of Doom, Seal of Fire, Seal of Removal, and Seal of Strength.

Artist: Christopher Moeller
Released: 3/2000

This is an invaluable splash (a sideboard, at least) in some cases as it allows a black deck to remove artifacts and enchantments. It can also be played early and be left unaffected by Pox. The "card disadvantage" strategy of keeping an empty hand for Cursed Scroll makes one vulnerable to mass destruction, and Seal of Cleansing can at least deal with Powder Keg and Nevinyrral's Disk, for example. It also eliminates some sideboard cards used against discard.


SWORDS TO PLOWSHARES
Cost: W
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Instant
Set: Alpha/Beta/Unlimited

Errata: Remove target creature from the game. Its controller gains life equal to its power. [Oracle 99/09/03]
Rulings:
- The controller of the creature may decide to "pump up" the creature before it leaves in order to get more life out of the deal because the total power of the creature (including enchantments and such) is counted on resolution of this spell. [D'Angelo 94/04/01]
- If the creature has a negative power, the player does not lose life. It acts the same as if it had a power of zero. [Aahz 94/06/01] See Rule G.19.7.

Artist: Jeff A. Menges
Released: 8/1993

This is the best creature removal spell in the game, it can replace the black choices if you can consistently get white mana early. Otherwise, red bolts are more easily splashed and double as finishers.


MATCHUP ANALYSIS

SLIGH/BURN/PONZA
Contrary to one's initial perceptions, Sligh is not a bad matchup for Pox. Almost all the cards in the deck hurt Sligh, especially The Rack, Steel Golem and Spinning Darkness. Do not hesitate to Pox against Sligh, because their spells played in response will resolve before Pox, which mean that if they do not put you at 1 or less, you are not dead. If they Fireblast you in response to your Pox, just laugh because they will lose almost all their lands. After sideboarding 4 Funeral Charm to slow the creature rush, the Sligh player just has no chance.

(SIDEBOARD in 4 Funeral Charm for 4 Sinkhole)


DRAW-GO/FORBIDDIAN
Normally, Pox just destroys these decks. Just cast your threats until they get out of counters, then, just cast more stuff :eek: ). They often run a few Morphlings as their roads to victory, and it will will be easy to Pox him! If they run Ophidian, Spinning Darkness will just do the job!

(SIDEBOARD in 4 Phyrexian Negator for 4 Steel Golem)


KEEPER/FRANCHISE/5C CONTROL
This matchup is a bit more difficult. If the control player starts by emptying his hand by unloading his Mox, you should be okay. Otherwise, it will be the more consistent deck who will win, which often means Pox. The key in the first match is to try to screw his blue mana and/or empty his hand within the first turn. First turn Ritual/Duress/Hymn or first turn Mox/Ritual/Sinkhole/Hymn are just gold in this match (barring Misdirection). After sideboarding, Mr. Negator should be enough. Dystopia is there to stop other possible sideboard cards such as Ivory Mask, Sacred Ground, Spiritual Focus and Compost.

(SIDEBOARD in 4 Negator and 3 Dystopia for 4 Steel Golem and 3 Spinning Darkness.)


WHITE WEENIE
This is one of the worst matchups for Pox, especially if they run 4 Land Tax. Here, you must get an early active Scroll or you will quickly lose. Try to hold off weenies with Spinning Darkness and hit protection from black weenies with the Scroll. Mishra's Factories play an important role in this match-up because they block and kill Knights and Lions. Ritual-Steel Golem would also be a good start, but it may be Disenchanted. Finally, an early Balance is very good for Pox. Note, however, that WW can add more Disenchants for the Scrolls and Golems from the sideboard.

(SIDEBOARD 4 Dystopia for 4 Sinkhole.)


STOMPY
This is another tough match-up for Pox. The first game will be tough but you can win it by: 1) getting an active Scroll early; 2) getting Mishra's Factory out; 3) getting a first turn Steel Golem; 4) drawing your balance!!! The second and third matchup will be easier because you can bring in Dystopia and Funeral Charm (really good if they run River Boa). One of the key plays in this match-up is to Duress away Rancor or kill the target creature in response to cause it to fizzle.

(SIDEBOARD in 4 Dystopia and 4 Funeral Charm for 4 Sinkhole and 4 Duress.)


PANDE-BURST:
By far the worst match-up for Pox. The first game is almost an auto-win for the combo-player because Pox helps him to fill up his graveyard and then loses to a Tutored Replenish on turn 3 or 4. If you decide to fight back, try to disrupt his mana base and hand and rush him with Golem and Factory. Le_Lepreux once won a first game against Pande-burst with Spinning Darkness because the combo only does 21 damages :eek: )
Planar void is better than Ebony Charm and other similar sideboard spells because the Ebony Charm will almost always get countered when Replenish is cast.

(SIDEBOARD IN 3 Planar Void and 4 Phyrexian Negator for 1 The Rack, 1 Cursed Scroll, 1 Balance and 4 Steel Golem.)


APPENDIX I: HISTORY OF POX

Card disadvantage began with Adam Maysonet's Rack-Balance deck:

THE MAYSONET RACK-BALANCE DECK, ADAM MAYSONET, 1994 (Legends-era)
Artifacts (15)
4 Rack
3 Library of Leng
1 Chaos Orb
2 Relic Barrier
1 Candelabra of Tawnos
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl

White (9)
4 Balance
3 Disenchant
2 Consecrate Land

Red (11)
4 Chain Lightning
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Fireball (or Earthquake) (or Atog)

Green (4)
3 Sylvan Library
1 Regrowth

Land (12)
4 Bazaar of Baghdad
4 Mishra Factory
4 Savannah
4 Taiga
4 Plateau
1 Maze of Ith

Sideboard
2 Relic Barrier
1 Disenchant
3 Red Elemental Blast
2 Consecrate Lands
2 Tranquility
2 Circle of Protection: Red
3 Swords to Plowshares


THE MAYSONET RACK-BALANCE DECK II, ADAM MAYSONET
Artifacts (15)
3 Library of Leng
4 The Rack
2 Relic Barrier
1 Sol Ring
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl
1 Chaos Orb

White (7)
4 Balance
3 Disenchant

Red (11)
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Chain Lightning
3 Atog

Blue (5)
3 Serendib Efreet
1 Time Walk
1 Ancestral Recall

Land (22)
4 Mishra Factory
4 Bazaar of Baggdad
4 Volcanic Island
4 Tundra
4 Plateau
1 Mountain
1 Plains

Sideboard
3 Sleight of Mind
2 Relic Barrier
4 Consecrate Land
3 Red Elemental Blast
2 COP: Red
2 Swords to Plowshares


Adam explained the original card disadvantage engine, "The Libraries' main purpose, you see, is to be used with the Bazaar of Baghdad. When you have the Library out, and you tap the Bazaar, you must draw 2 cards, and then discard 3. However, since you have the Library of Leng out, you can choose to discard to the TOP of the deck. This means you can throw out the cards you don't need at the time, such as Land, Moxen, etc, and this allows you to find the cards you need at the moment much faster.

"The best time to do this is when you have no cards in your hand, because then you end up drawing 2 cards, and discarding only 2 cards. Now you can do whatever you want to with these 2 cards. If they are useless, toss them to the graveyard, but if one is good, put it on top and toss the other. Both might be good cards, so you put them on top of the deck in any order you please. Then you get to the draw phase, and if you put any cards on top, you'll know what you are drawing, and if not, you got rid of 2 turns of useless cards and get to see a card that would have taken you 3 turns to reach.

"And that's only ONE Bazaar. Imagine if you had TWO out, or even THREE. Even without the Library of Leng, it allows you to cycle through your deck fast, getting rid of bad cards while you get more and more good cards in your hand."

The restriction of Balance, however, gutted the deck. Adam described this as "devastating but logical" and tried to retool the deck, though it remained a shadow of its former power.

Pox was printed in Ice Age, but was initially dismissed by many as a junk rare, much like Necropotence. If it was used extensively, the reports were overshadowed in the deluge of Necropotence decks. In a conversation on the Bad Magic Tech Yahoo e-group, Oscar Tan aka Rakso commented, "Funny thing is, I have no clue as to what Pox decks looked like before Schneider Pox decks that appeared with Cursed Scroll. All I know is that some were red/black and dealt lots of damage (with bolts and Pox), and others were reanimators."

(One memorable story about early Pox decks was published in Inquest Magazine. A younger player made the following first-turn play with his Pox deck: Swamp-Dark Ritual-Dark Ritual-Dark Ritual-Pox. He then sacrificed a Swamp and discarded a Nicol Bolas. He then cast Shallow Grave and attacked with the dragon legend, reducing the opponent to 6 life and an empty hand. He ended by playing the last card in his hand: The Rack.)

Sean McKeown aka Gandalf replied, "The original successful Pox decks were Australian R/B "Gooby Pox" decks. They had Goblins and burn and Pox and Hymn. I don't recall if they had Racks or not. Someone grabbed 1st seed throughout the Swiss with it going undefeated but lost in the top 8. I think it might have been Rod Ho who ran the Pox and lost like that.

"Adam Maysonet had a sick Balance-Rack deck. After that, I am kind of stumped on the origins of Pox as it were. Black discard decks didn't have parity effects so they aren't really fathers."

In Mirage-era, Pox was definitely active as a rogue mono-black Type II deck that sported Choking Sands and Stupor instead of Sinkhole and Hymn to Tourach. As detailed in the primer, it was Tempest and Cursed Scroll that led to the beginning of Pox's rise. The earliest Tempest-era designs are attributed to Jay Schneider (who also designed the first Sligh decks that were named after Paul Sligh instead), and his friends labeled the deck Schneider Pox on the Dojo.

SCHNEIDER POX, JAY LUO, NOVEMBER 1997
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Funeral Charm
2 Phyrexian Furnace
4 Diabolic Edict
4 Stupor
4 Pox
4 Evincar's Justice
4 Drain Life
4 Spinning Darkness
3 Steel Golem

18 Swamp
4 Wasteland
2 Stalking Stones

Sideboard:
4 Choking Sands (for slow mana-needy decks)
4 Dread of Night (white weenie -- popular locally)
3 Touchstone (for winter orb, anti-artifact in general)
2 Perish (for green creatures, of course)
2 Essence Bottle (my feeble attempt to sideboard vs. burn)

As Jay wrote on the Dojo, "This deck was originally developed by Jay Schneider, an inspired deck-builder who was also the creator of the so-called Sligh deck. Sligh is now too deeply embedded in the magic lexicon to fix things now, but if you borrow *this* deck design, be sure to call it the 'Jay Schneider deck'.

"I made a few changes to the way Jay S had it, though. His version has fewer Spinning Darknesses, more Stalking Stones, some Dark Rituals and Charcoal Diamonds for orb-friendly mana, and uses Clockwork Beasts and Necromancy for creatures instead of the Steel Golems I settled on.

"Somehow he squeezes in some main deck Choking Sands and Nevinyrral's Disks too; he has no Evincar's Justice though. I chose the Steel Golems over his Beasts and Necromancies to make the creature base less combo-oriented. I'm a die hard blue/white control player at heart, and this is a control deck (albeit a black one), so I dropped the Dark Rituals (card disadvantage!) and added Evincar's Justice (my personal addition to the deck V every control deck needs a Wrath of God).

"I added two main deck Phyrexian Furnaces just in case I ran into Jay playing his own deck so I could show him why Necromancy wasn't a good creature. I chose to play this deck overall because it has a simply ridiculous amount of creature kill and the local environment is very weenie heavy at the moment; the deck seems to lose to the blue/white control that I personally favor, but since I was the only person playing that anyway, I figured I wouldn't need to worry."

This was taken from a report on a tourney at War Zone in Alpharetta, and Jay Luo defeated Schneider in the first round. Schneider was actually testing a Goblin Warrens/Earthcraft deck that day, not his own creation.


On November 24, nine days after Jay Luo's report, Arthur Kimes wrote about a similar decklist on the Dojo and commented on how Luo's version played then, "Kill every creature the opponent puts out asap. You might hold off if you know you can cast a E's. Justice and get a mass kill. Pox and Stupor when you can - the normal advice on Pox timing is valid for this deck. Eventually, you'll have a Scroll Rack or two out, few cards in hand and control of the game.

"Scroll Rack plus Golem equals 5 points a turn so you can wrap up games quickly when in control. The deck has Touchstones in the sideboard to deal with Winter Orbs (or other dangerous artifacts). Burn decks are obviously a problem for Pox decks in general. This Pox deck is no exception however in my playtesting it has been able to do much better than I expected. For a Pox deck to go 3 out 7 against heavy burn is pretty good - hopefully you'll have something in this sideboard to help yourself.

"But you have to play the metagame - if you expect heavy burn to be common DON'T bring this deck to the tournament.

"An innovative deck that's worth a close look."


Talk about the rogue deck increased sharply on Usenet. About two weeks later, on December 6, "Taylors" wrote, "There's been a lot of talk about Pox on the list lately, and I'm wondering what people think about it in extended? It seems like a great choice because of how weenie-heavy extended is. Alas, there is also lots of control in extended.

"However, I must retract my statement about Schneider Pox being weak against mono-red. After some fairly extensive play-testing, I have found that the Pox deck really gives Sligh a run for it's money, and Deadguy Sligh's lack of weenies make it particulalry vulnerable to a discard strategy. One very important thing I discovered is how powerful the Pox (and Evincar's Justice) is against mono-red. You'd think that these cards are bad because they hurt you against a fast burn strategy, but the chance to knock out many of your opponents cards at relatively little cost to you is huge. IMHO, NEVER side out Pox against a straight-red opponent. It kills creatures, land and cards in hand, something red hates."

He posted a rough list he planned to try in the early Extended:

4 Pox
4 Hymn to Tourach
4 Diabolic Edict (can't get enough of this card!)
3 Evincar's Justice
4 Funeral Charm
3 Drain Life
2 Spinning Darkness
1 Disenchant
4 Cursed Scroll
3 Steel Golem
2 Chimeric Sphere

3 Charcoal Diamond
4 Scrubland
2 Gemstone Mines
1 Undiscovered Paradise
1 Quicksand
1 Stalking Stones
14 Swamps

Sideboard
3 Disenchant
3 Swords to Plowshares
2 Phyrexian Furnace
4 Coercion
3 Agonizing Memories


Back in Standard, Schneider Pox was slowly being refined, and the modern-day Type I structure was already recognizable in the later versions:

SCHNEIDER POX, JMC RIDER, JANUARY 1998
4 Pox
4 Choking Sands (incredible...disrupts and damages...after pox its devestating)
4 Stupor
4 Funeral Charm (excellent card, discard and weenie killer)
4 Drain Life
4 Diabolic Edict
2 Spinning Darkness (what a great card...love it)
1 Evincar's Justice
4 Cursed Scroll (before everyone freaks out...read below)
3 Steel Golem
4 Charcoal Diamond
4 Gemstone Mine
3 Quicksand
2 Wasteland
1 Undiscovered Paradise
12 Swamp

Sideboard
3 Dread of Night
2 Perish
1 Spinning Darkness
1 Evincar's Edict
2 Lobotomy
3 Warmth
3 Disenchant


The first major refinement came with "Gypsy Pox," named for all the trinkets in the deck. Mox Diamond allowed interesting splash cards.

GYPSY POX, JAY SCHNEIDER
Disruption (12)
4 Pox
4 Bottomless Pit
4 Funeral Charm

Creatures (7)
4 Abyssal Gatekeeper
3 Bottle Gnomes

Artifacts (13)
4 Pauper's Cage
3 Ensnaring Bridge
4 Cursed Scroll
2 Phyrexian Furance

Mana (26)
4 Mox Diamond
2 Undiscovered Paradise
10 Swamp
4 Wasteland
4 Quicksand
4 Volrath's Stronghold

Sideboard
3 Terror
3 Honorable Passage
3 Pyroblast
4 Disenchant
2 Phyrexian Furnace

In his sales pitch for New Wave Mail Order, Jay explained his new deck, "On the bad side Gypsy Pox is also a little more challenging to play than I'd like. Pox decks are often difficult to play and this deck will often give you situations where the correct play is almost impossible to determine (i.e. do I play the bottomless pit this turn, or wait a turn so I can drop out the bridge first.) These cases have no hard and fast rule all you can do is play the deck a lot against its likely opponents and you'll start to get a feel for it. Even then you'll make the wrong choice sometimes.

"The reason Gypsy Pox is so strong is due to several wonderful Pox cards brought in from Stronghold. Ensnaring Bridge is a Moat for the opponent in a Pox deck, Bottomless Pit may be better than a Hymn in this deck, not only is the discard random but the opponent controls the effect when they discard. Blue decks can just go home if this hits. The Volrath's Stronghold requires an answer from every opponent. Recursing Bottle Gnomes vs. Red. Opponent needs to lose another creature? Bring back the Gatekeeper.

"Gypsy Pox is not nearly so reliant on the cursed scrolls as Schneider Pox was. The Paupers Cages are preferable if you're trying to apply beatdown. This deck deals an amazing amount of creature damage (any permanent damage source is a severe threat after a pox,) considering the creatures all have a 1 power. Opponents are remarkably reluctant to block a Gatekeeper even more so if Volrath's Stronghold is in play.

"The decks biggest internal weakness is its low (15) black sources. Don't be afraid to Paris mulligan with Gypsy Pox. Gypsy Pox performs superbly after a Paris or two. Bottomless Pit and Pox are wonderful eveners and the Scroll and Bridge just come on line earlier."

How did it differ from the older Pox build? Jay Schneider described, "The primary change to Gypsy Pox is the changing of the Charcoal Diamonds to Mox Diamonds. This was done to give added speed and hand clearing (a huge advantage in Gypsy Pox,) prevent tapping out on turn 2 (suicide against the Red decks) and to drastically improve the sideboard.

"The ability to drop a Turn 2 Bottomless Pit is huge against the plethora of control decks in the current environment. Against Burn/Weenies it is the ability to drop a Turn 2 Bridge with a small hand. It's important to remember you can always drop and bury a Mox Diamond if it's cluttering up your hand.

"The sideboard is vastly different and can and should be customized to the local Meta-Game. Six any-color mana sources are sufficient to board in 3-4 off color spells comfortably. The only cards that are a real must in the board are the 2 Furnaces and 3 Disenchants.

"Furnaces are a must as the new ruling on Bottomless Pit may bring back lots of very uncomfortable sideboard options against Gypsy Pox (i.e. Mangara's Blessing.) Also furnace is one of the (if not the) strongest sideboard card against 5CU or any of the Gaea's Control Decks, not to mention the Living Death decks. As for Disenchant, it may be the most useful card in the format. I suspect it will eventually find it's way into the main of Gypsy Pox."


A year later, however, Pox truly shined because it proved very strong against the dominant Extended deck: the nasty High Tide combo.

HIGH TIDE, MIKE FLORES, MARCH 1999
2 Arcane Denial
4 Brainstorm
3 Disrupt
3 Force Spike
4 Force of Will
4 Impulse
3 Merchant Scroll
4 High Tide
1 Mind Over Matter
1 Mystical Tutor
4 Stroke of Genius
4 Time Spiral
4 Turnabout

19 Island

This was a more evolved version of the combo deck with Mind Over Matter reduced to 1 slot, though it did not use Thawing Glaciers yet, and it used Disrupt and Force Spike in anticipation of Pox. Mike wrote on the Dojo, "When people tell me their Pox decks beat High Tide, they are probably right. Ordinary High Tide decks might be really weak against Pox. They get Hymned, and they have useless Minds Over Matter or land in their hands. They have no reaction to early discard. They die to the Rack.

"Our High Tide decks can resist early discard with Force Spike and especially Disrupt. I did this *a lot*.

"Duress you.
"Disrupt.
"Hymn you.
"Disrupt. Is that the same card advantage of Hymn Hymn? What do they say again? 'Hymn Hymn I win?'

"The Pox player tries to rape your hand early, but he ends up losing more resources than you.

"The other reason the deck is strong agaisnt Pox is the Thawing Glaciers (I had them in my sideboard and always brought them in). If there is one card I never counter agaisnt Pox it is Pox itself. When the Pox player casts Pox, he just gives up too many cards to beat High Tide. If you can keep a Thaw, then you generally go up 3 cards by the next turn (assume his Pox investment puts him down one card to balance the board, you Thaw *and* you have the next draw phase). It is very rare that a Pox can actually net the other player card *advantage* (rather than disadvantage) and you should have already won by that point. I think I would only counter Pox if it would otherwise kill me, put me into Rack range, etc.

"The Brainstorms are really useful, too. You Brainstorm in response to a discard spell and all of a sudden he is hitting Island while Time Spiral is hiding safely on your library.

"I already mentioned Mystical Tutor. You cast it in response to a discard spell to put whatever you need to win on top of your library.

"The last reason Cabal Rogue/Michigan High Tide beats Pox is that Pox is just too slow. Pox has no early beatdown other than Steel Golem. If the Pox player is busting out Golem instead of disruption, that is frankly a race he is not going to win against a heavy permission deck that can win on the third turn! The Pox player's secondary strategy is to kill you with the Rack, and with Thawing Glaciers, the Rack almost never does significant damage to you."


Chad Ellis, responded to Mike's article, and the exchange gives a glimpse into the Pox discussion at the time.

Date: Tue, 09 Mar 1999
09:46:43 -0500
To: dep6@ix.netcom.com
From: Chad Ellis
Subject: Re: Pox vs. High Tide

Hi Mike:

I think you made some good points on the HT vs. Pox matchup, although I disagree with some of them.


Disrupt.

Disrupt is certainly irritating, and can be very nasty, but in my experience it doesn't work out to be quite as good as the Blue player wants it to. First of all, if Pox is playing, a turn-one Duress will just get rid of the Disrupt and the turn-two Hymn will probably make it through. Second, the first hand-destruction spell is often (probably 40% of the time if you played a turn-one Island) cast off of a Ritual. Ritual/Duress/Hymn, Ritual/Hymn/Scroll, Ritual/Hymn/Consult for a Hymn, Ritual/Duress/Charm/Rack...there are so many good turn-one Ritual plays that if I think I might be getting Disrupted or Spiked, I will almost always use it. Even the old-school Ritual/Hymn isn't bad, although it is rare indeed that there is nothing to follow. Of these, the only one that a Disrupt would hurt is Ritual/Hymn/Consult and only if the Hymn missed the Disrupt. I can live with those odds.

I find that Disrupt is one of those spells that is HUGE sometimes and very good against people who don't know how to play around it, but only pretty good otherwise. Definitely a card I wish my opponent wasn't playing with, but hardly fatal. Remember, if you play four (making it almost 50% likely that you have one in your opening hand), there will only be one game in 8 where you play first and have a Disrupt and I don't have a Ritual.


Brainstorm.

Now THIS is trouble. The biggest problem hand-destruction has vs. Tide is the ability of the Tide player to recover completely with Time Spiral or some other card-drawing engine. You're unlikely to counter a Duress completely, but you can almost certainly hide the spells I most want to get and leave me with something you can live without. Brainstorm isn't something I can play around and it's useful aside from its anti-disruption power. I agree with everything you said about it.


Thawing Glaciers.

Glaciers is a bit of a binary question. If you get them out and active they are huge, solving both your land and hand problems all at once. The problem is, if they get destroyed you can be in trouble, especially if you kept a land-light hand on the assumption that they would get you all the Islands you needed.

Glaciers and the popularity of Counter-Sliver and Free Whaley in Boston were the reasons I played with Wastelands in my Pox deck. With three Consults to find them and 3 Yawgmoth's Wills to reuse them I found I could often fight successfully against Glaciers. (Note: this was tested before Legacy...High Tide/Glacier/Frantic Search/Turnabout is insane and I don't claim that I can easily fight a deck that has nine or ten lands in play on turn 4.)


Ignoring Pox.

Again, this is pretty dependent on whether you have Glaciers. Since the odds are good that Duress and Baubles have given me a decent idea of your hand, I'm not likely to Pox with your Glacier being a threat. I'll either make sure I've got a Wasteland or that I can otherwise get rid of it. If you don't have a Glacier and I Pox you down to two lands and 0-1 cards, that's not necessarily fatal to you but I'm pretty sure you're not psyched about it.


Mystical Tutor.

Again, I agree. Being able to drop Time Spiral on top of your library is amazing. On balance, though, it seems to me like you want to have it both ways -- a deck that is tuned well vs. Pox fighting a Pox deck that isn't tuned against High Tide and Pox players that make fairly basic mistakes. Turn one Duress may be the best bet against turn one Island *if* you don't have a Ritual in hand, but if that gets Disrupted what sense does it make to play turn two Hymn? At that point you presumably had two Islands and he had to figure that his BEST hope was getting the Hymn Arcane Denialed. If he had a Consult he could have Consulted for another Duress and tried Duress/Hymn next turn.


I played mono-Black Pox without any great HT weapons because HT had become a small part of the Boston metagame...primarily because (pre-Legacy) it couldn't handle House of Slivers. Now the addition of Legacy makes HT a lot more powerful, and if I still had to qualify I'd probably go B/r, adding a bunch of Blasts, Boils, or whatever seemed strongest vs. Tide. Would the matchup be favorable? I'm not sure...but I bet I could offer a tougher challenge than someone who just walks into your Disrupts like they never printed the card.

Sigh...although I have to admit...if I had to qualify again I might just play High Tide. ;-)

Hugs,
Chads of MephistophEllis
Team Diesel, Team Your Move Games
Recently promoted from 'Strong among the Weak' to 'Weak among the Strong'

P.S. It may be interesting to note that Pox beat High Tide in the London semi-finals (effectively the finals, as it was a two-slotter). I don't know how the match went, but HT was running both Disrupt and Glaciers...but no Brainstorm.


The discussion shows that Pox was going through many changes. The following is an example, and it is a rough deck that reached the semi-finals of a Pro Tour New York Qualifier in Columbus, Ohio:

EXTENDED POX, KEVIN CRON, MARCH 1999
3 POX
4 Duress
4 Hymn to Tourach
2 Funeral Charm
2 Spinning Darkness
1 Contagion
1 Demonic Consultation
3 Yawgmoth's Will
3 Cursed Scroll
4 The Rack
1 Phyrexian Furnace
2 Steel Golem
2 Skittering Skirge

4 Dark Ritual
2 Mox Diamond
4 Mishra's Factory
3 Wasteland
2 Quicksand
1 Sheltered Valley
2 Spawning Pool
2 Gemstone Mine
4 Scrubland
4 Swamp

Sideboard:
2 Phyrexian Furnace
2 Oppression
2 Engineered Plague
3 Dystopia
3 Abeyance
3 Disenchant


The previous month, Mike Bregoli's Q List reported, "Week 3 - Pox goes from being a rogue deck to a major contender! (4 people qualified and many more made final 8s w/ Pox this weekend.)"

On March 19, Mike compiled the decks used by Pro Tour Qualifier invites for his Week 7 archetype breakdown:

High Tide------24
Pox-------------16
PT Jank---------9
Forbidian-------6
Sligh-------------5
CounterSliver--4
Necro-----------4
Recur/Whale---3
Recur/Survival-2
Necro Sliver----2
Jar----------------3
Other-----------11

Total------------87


Pox, however, steadily lost many of its tricks in the next Extended rotation. In addition to the loss of Sinkhole, Extended Pox lost Hymn to Tourach and The Rack, making the deck slower and weaker. When the next series of combos rolled into Extended (such as Trix and Pande-burst), Pox did not rise to the challenge as it did against High Tide. A few players(most notably Sean McKeown aka Gandalf)tinkered with Pox in the 2001 Extended, and tried adding spells such as Recoil and Lilting Refrain. Nothing conclusive, however, was heard about Pox in that format, and Necropotence was banned before Pox variants could conclusively be tested against Trix.

POX WITH BLUE, SEAN MCKEOWN, EXTENDED, 2001
4 Pox
4 Duress
4 Funeral Charm
3 Demonic Consultation
4 Recoil
4 Lilting Refrain
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Chimeric Idol
3 Nether Spirit

4 Mox Diamond
4 Underground Sea
4 Underground River
4 Wastelands
10 Swamps

Sideboard
4x Chill
3x Perish
3x Massacre
2x Spinning Darkness
2x Phyrexian Furnace
1x Ebony Charm

Sean describes this variant as a communual effort with contributions from friends and the Greg Smith mailing list that eventually became the Bad Magic Tech e-group. He wrote on Mindripper, "It (Pox) was an underestimated and insanely powerful card which had been completely ignored over time because its most powerful allies had all rotated out or even been banned: Dark Ritual, Hymn to Tourach, The Rack, Mishra's Factory, and Yawgmoth's Will were all either pulled from Extended or banned (as was the case with Ritual and Will). An archetype that has been entirely ignored is usually one that can be brought up to speed with the inclusion of new cards, and so I looked at what had come in recently that might augment the Pox strategy: namely, its kill cards, Chimeric Idol and Nether Spirit. Those two were a simple inclusion to the archetype, and were more or less the entirety of my reply to the design of a W/B Pox deck with Seal of Cleansing as it was originally posted.

"However, the notion of a Pox deck grew to me from a silly notion to a reasonable idea: the card is just that powerful. And, after several days of stewing with the design of the deck only partially complete, I remembered Recoil and considered the deck to have been completed. Recoil brought in Blue mana and the addition of Chill to the sideboard, making matchups versus Sligh unfair, and only partially brought up the Lilting Refrain question, which has been corrected to me by a strong result by the deck including Lilts in the maindeck, which I have incorporated heavily in the design I have listed here. Fortunately, this collaborative effort has seen the resurgence of the archetype, albeit in a completely changed form.

"The two key changes that I have seen to this deck are essentially changed opinions on the inclusion of two cards I considered for the deck, but decided against in my final design of the deck: Mox Diamond and Lilting Refrain. I gave Lilt only passing consideration, as it fit my bill of a permanent that plays on the table that can later be cashed in for another card (in this case for one of your opponents' spells); I had chosen Recoil over Lilting Refrain because of its tempo advantage, card parity, and ability to deal twenty points of damage to a combo player. My decision not to play Mox Diamond came from perhaps unusual draws, where my deck was getting in the early disruption and not really caring about its disjointed mana curve, which has nothing to do with two mana other than play two one-mana spells. Inclusion of Mox Diamond over Urza's Bauble is against what I had hoped to achieve with the deck, as the Bauble allowed me to manipulate my hand size to make Pox better, but I have since seen enough reason to include Mox Diamond that losing Urza's Bauble will not greatly sadden me, as in my experience in fourteen rounds of a qualifier the reason it was included in the deck only came up two or three times, while the acceleration provided by Mox Diamond would have been important more often than that.

"Other players have criticized my use of Nether Spirit in this deck to accompany Chimeric Idol and Cursed Scroll as the kill cards, but the Spirit is for more than giving the deck a semi-combo feel when casting Pox: it also provides a creature that is long-lived against creature decks, as well as impossible to prevent me from having against control decks. While not very large and not very impressive for its stats alone, the Spirit has proven itself to me in every match I played, and is in part the heart and soul of the deck for me.

"While others had cut Spirits entirely or seen fit to remove the Recoils from the deck, it seems to me instead that removing the Stupors from the decklist would make room for the Lilting Refrains adequately, as each of the other cards in the deck had long since proven themselves to me with their beneficial synergy. While I definitely feel that Recoil may be powerful enough to warrant playing in Extended, Stupor seems more than mildly ridiculous, given all options; it was included because it was functional and efficient, but in Extended it is still laughable compared to the rest of the deck."

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