Pharika, God of Affliction

Once more we venture into the mythology of Theros for today’s commander: Pharika, God of Affliction, also associated with the apothecary whose healing medicine can also be deadly poison. Pharika, God of Affliction is a 5/5 creature for a generic, a black, and a green. Like all of the Theros Gods, she is indestructible and is only a creature when your devotion to black and green is seven or higher. For 1 black and 1 green mana, you can exile a creature from any graveyard. That creature’s owner then makes a 1/1 black and green Snake enchantment creature token with deathtouch. It’s not exactly a powerful effect. Black and green is a combination notorious for using the graveyard as a resource, mainly inĀ  reanimation strategies which cheat big creatures into play or reanimate a target over and over again for powerful enter-the-battlefield triggers and things of that nature. Exiling creatures in your own graveyard to make 1/1 creatures is not quite an ideal play, even if those creatures have deathtouch. Exiling your opponent’s creatures from their graveyard may be necessary in some cases, but it’s not something you want to do often, otherwise your opponent will end up with an army of creatures that will trade 1 for 1 with yours no matter what. All things considered, the snake tokens are better off on your side of the board. Obviously this deck needs a lot of creatures, but let’s not forget that the snake tokens are also enchantments and Theros is an enchantment heavy plane which utilizes them through mechanics like constellation which does not care about the enchantments being cast, just entering the battlefield.

There are only 16 creatures with constellation that can be used with Pharika, God of Affliction. Some of their effects are more powerful than others and you could run all of them if you want to, but I think you would get the most use out of these five: Nessian Wanderer, Nexus Wardens, Grim Guardian, Eidolon of Blossoms, and Thoughtrender Lamia. Nessian Wanderer allows you to look at the top three cards of your library and put a land card from them into your hand, the rest go on the bottom. Nothing to powerful there, but certainly useful in making it easier for you to hit your land drops. Nexus Wardens gains you 2 life. Again, nothing to powerful but certainly helpful. Grim Guardian causes each opponent to lose 1 life. Again, nothing that would be considered broken. Ediolon of Blossoms draws you a card. This is pretty good. Thoughtrender Lamia causes your opponents to discard a card. This is probably the most powerful constellation effect out of these five. Remember that these abilities will trigger when you make one of those Snake enchantment tokens and if you can do that multiple times per turn, that can be pretty explosive.

Since this is mostly a token deck, it should go without saying that you will want Doubling Season and Parallel Lives. With both of these on the battlefield, you will be making a total of four snakes tokens per activation of Pharika, God of Affliction’s ability. One card doubles one token to two, and then the second card will make two more tokens for a total of four. Since these are replacement effects, they will not let you go infinite by triggering off each other because it all happens at once. Another enchantment to take your snake tokens to the next level is Beastmaster Ascension. Whenever one of your creatures attacks, Beastmaster Ascension gets a quest and then if it has seven or more quest counters, your creatures get +5/+5. With all of these in play, you will be making four 6/6 snake tokens per activation. Now that is some power.

Other powerful cards to include in the deck are Archetype of Finality and Archetype of Endurance. They give deathtouch and hexproof, respectively, to your creatures while taking those abilities away from your opponent’s creatures. The Archetype of Finality is great here if you have to start exiling creatures from your opponent’s graveyard. However, this can also combine well with Massacre Wurm which gives all of your opponent’s creatures -2/-2 when it comes into play and then whenever one of your opponent’s creatures dies, it deals 2 damage to that player. Hooded Blightfang takes deathtouch to the next level by draining your opponent’s life total whenever one of your creatures with deathtouch attacks. It also enables your deathtouch creatures to instantly kill planeswalkers if they connect.

So far all of these cards are powerful for this deck, but remember that this needs to be a creature heavy deck so that you can activate Pharika, God of Affliction’s ability again and again. Sure some of the cards above will be in the graveyard at times, but don’t forget about some of the smaller creatures that can give you some great value. Cards like Solemn Simulacrum, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, Satyr Wayfinder, and Reclamation Sage just to name a few. For some cards like this, their job is done once their enter-the-battle or death trigger goes on the stack. For others, like Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, they will have a target on their back the moment they come into play. Hopefully cards like this will draw the opponent’s removal spells once you have taken advantage of their abilities once or twice.

Snake tokens alone may not be enough in some instances. Pharika, God of Affliction is the only card that produces tokens so far. One of my favorite token producers is Mycoloth. When you cast Mycoloth, you can sacrifice any number of creatures and it gets two +1/+1 counters per creature that was sacrificed, meaning that if you can sacrifice just five creatures, it will come in with ten +1/+1 counters which will then enable it to make ten 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens during your upkeep. Sandwurm Convergence will only produce one token but it will be a 5/5 Wurm token and the enchantment will prevent creatures with flying from attacking you or any planeswalkers that you may be running. Arasta of the Endless Web makes a 1/2 green Spider token with reach whenever an opponent casts an instant or sorcery spell and Aphemia the Cacophony lets you exile an enchantment card from your graveyard to make a 2/2 black Zombie token at your end step. Creakwood Liege gives +1/+1 to other black creatures and +1/+1 to other green creatures, which means that your snakes which are black and green will get a total of +2/+2. Creakwood Liege also creates a 1/1 worm token during your upkeep.

Of course it goes without saying that you will want other cards that combo well with tokens and should be in every token deck, namely Skull Clamp and Ashnod’s Altar. These two cards just provide too much value not to include.

Pharika, God of Affliction is a different take on a token commander, but a token commander nonetheless. That’s 5 of the original gods of Theros down and 10 to go. Next time, in the spirit of Halloween, we will be taking a look at Erebos, God of the Dead the first mono colored god to be covered in this series. After that, let me know which of the remaining Theros gods you want to see next in the comments down below.

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