Toxic is a new keyword introduced to Magic in Phyrexia: All Will Be One that gives creatures the ability to dole out Poison counters to your opponents. While it is a lighter form of Infect, divorced from the attacker’s power, an opponent still only needs 10 Poison counters to lose the game. But as with any mechanic, some cards that make use of Toxic are better than others — so let’s look at a top 10.
10. VENSER, CORPSE PUPPET
We’re starting off this list with Venser, Corpse Puppet, a legendary creature in Dimir that gives you free value for Proliferating. But despite the synergy between Toxic and Proliferating, it is actually the extra value that earns this former planeswalker a spot on this list.
For example, getting a free 3/3 creature token over and over again lets you use it to power the kind of sacrifice-based strategies you often find in black (even Proliferating again if you use Throne of Geth). And in a worst case scenario, you can just help a big artifact creature get in and deal lots of damage.
Venser also has plenty of extra support in Phyrexia: All Will Be One from cards like Staff of Compleation, which appreciates the incidental Lifelink, and Scheming Aspirant, which helps you snowball even faster.
9. NECROGEN ROTPRIEST
Necrogen Rotpriest is a zombie with a healthy five toughness that allows your creatures with Toxic to give your opponents even more Poison counters in combat. It also increases the likelihood of them connecting thanks to its second ability, which can dole out Deathtouch at the cost of three mana. With enough bodies on the board to benefit, you can really speed up the clock on your opponent.
8. BLOATED CONTAMINATOR
Bloated Contaminator offers you a 4/4 beefy beast with Toxic 1 and Trample for the low cost of three mana. Almost guaranteed to do some amount of damage and give opponents a Poison counter, its ability to Proliferate upon doing so is what really puts it over the top. If opponents don’t find an answer to this card quickly, they may find the game will end sooner than they think.
7. KARUMONIX, THE RAT KING
Karumonix, the Rat King is an awesome Toxic card, as its anthem ability makes your rat swarm even more deadly in combat. You’ll also get excellent card advantage when running all those rats, helping make sure your board stays full of threats. We actually wrote a whole Commander Deck Tech about Karumonix, though, which will make his value far more clear than a single blurb could manage, so check it out if you’re interested.
6. CONTAMINANT GRAFTER
Similar to Bloated Contaminor listed previously, Contaminant Grafter is another stompy green creature with Toxic, Trample and the ability to Proliferate. It may cost more, but that gives you a bit of extra power and toughness plus a handy Corrupted ability.
Not only will this card help keep your hand stocked with more action, but it can help you ramp out other scary threats even faster, too.
5. SKRELV, DEFECTOR MITE
Skrelv, Defector Mite is another legendary creature with Toxic, but it’s more of a supporting player than the all-star itself. Since Skrelv costs only a single mana, you’re able to get this down early and start backing up your more important creatures with its second ability.
While Hexproof from a specific color is far from protection, Skrelv’s target does still become unblockable — offering both defensive and offensive benefits. In many ways, this card calls back to Mother of Runes or Giver of Runes, giving access to a useful effect in both Standard and Pioneer.
4. TYRRANAX REX
The title of stompiest Toxic creature easily goes to Tyrranax Rex, though. It may cost seven to cast, but it’s well worth the price.
This 8/8 dinosaur is not only uncounterable, but Ward 4 will make it harder to deal with once it’s on the board. This big dino boy also has Trample, Haste and Toxic 4, meaning an opponent can be almost halfway dead (through normal damage and Poison counters) with one swing. And if you can cheat Tyrranex Rex out with something cheeky, like Elvish Piper, you’ll be closing the game out super fast.
3. VISHGRAZ, THE DOOMHIVE
An alternate commander in the Phyrexia: All Will Be One Corrupting Influence precon, Vishgraz, the Doomhive is a fantastic Toxic creature that grows larger the more Poison counters your opponents have. You may even win the game with Commander damage before Poison counters if you spread the love around.
Menace helps Vishgraz get in more reliably, but it also generates some additional Toxic-having mite tokens when entering the battlefield to make pumping this Commander even easier.
2. IXHEL, SCION OF ATRAXA
Who needs their own spells when you can cast your opponents’? The face commander of the Phyrexia: All Will Be One Corrupting Influence precon, Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa, not only gives you major card advantage (up to three extra cards each turn!) but helps deprive your opponent of potential threats.
With the added bonus of Flying, Vigilance and a toughness of five, Ixhel is as good a blocker as she is an evasive attacker. And you can bet plenty of creatures will be coming your way if you decide to rock the new Toxic mechanic.
1. VENERATED ROTPRIEST
Venerated Rotpriest is perhaps the most powerful Toxic creature printed for its ability to threaten wins out of nowhere across multiple formats.
At a single mana, it severely reduces the chances of your opponent targeting your creatures on a base level. However Rotpriest’s ability doesn’t care who targets your creatures, allowing you to fire off multiple, cheap spells and win the game. Storm is this card’s best friend in formats like Commander, but multiple copies in Standard and Pioneer makes each individual spell dole out additional Poison (and Modern gets the best of both worlds).
This will often be a must answer card whenever you see it, and Rotpriest’s miniscule cost almost guarantees it’ll be trading up when your opponent is forced to remove it. This card is pure value.
INFECT, THE ORIGINAL TOXIC
While we’ve gone through the most Toxic creatures in Magic, it would be wrong to talk Poison counters without mentioning the original menace: Infect. So, while we’re here, these are the top five Infect creatures
5. Glistener Elf
It’s a 1/1 with Infect, so what’s the big deal? Well, only costing a single mana means you can get it down and start swinging before opponents can put up blockers. And in formats like Modern, getting down early and pumping this elf’s power as much as possible is the bread and butter of Infect. Glistener Elf is basic (and not particularly good outside of 60-card formats), but sometimes that’s all you need to have an impact.
4. VIRAL DRAKE
Flying creatures with Infect are awesome in any infect-themed deck since the evasion makes it easy to connect. But like Venser above, Viral Drake also cares about Proliferating those poison counters — and you don’t even have to tap it down to activate the ability. With infinite mana, all you need is a single poison counter on a player to knock them right out of the game.
At the same time, this card probably has the most utility outside of Infect, because plenty of other counters would love a repeatable source of proliferation. The only thing keeping it down is the four mana price tag on both its casting cost and its ability.
3. BLIGHTED AGENT
What’s better than the evasion offered by Flying? How about the ultimate evasion of unblockable. Blighted Agent is a nice and reliable way to deal infect damage, and it’s an excellent equipment user to boot. Stick on as many swords as it can carry (like Sword of Truth and Justice, for example) to really buff up the Poison and knock an opponent out fast.
2. BLIGHTSTEEL COLOSSUS
Blightsteel Colossus is a house of an infect card, as this 11/11 artifact creature is not only indestructible, but it also has Trample. Seeing this come down across from you is almost a guaranteed death sentence, since a single unblocked attack will end the game (and even chump blockers don’t slow it down much).
Yes, this card costs 12 mana, but it’s a great inclusion in decks with ways to cheat out creatures for a sneaky win. Satoru Umezawa lets you Ninjitsu this obvious shinobi while Jodah, Archmage Eternal decks can get a seven mana discount by paying WUBRG.
Just don’t be surprised if you become the threat once opponents learn you run this card, whether it’s anywhere near the battlefield at the time or not.
1. SKITHIRYX, THE BLIGHT DRAGON
Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon is perhaps the best Infect creature. It can’t win games on the spot as easily as Blightsteel, but it’s far easier to get on the board. Not only that, but you can regenerate Skithiryx if opponents try to remove it (and they will try).
The other good news is with a single extra black mana, you don’t have to wait to untap with this threat to start doing damage. And since Skithiryx is a legendary creature, you can let it sit in the Command Zone like a guillotine hanging over the table’s heads.
We are entering a new era of Poison with the introduction of Toxic, so it’s good to be prepared regardless of whether you’re giving out counters or taking them. However, this list isn’t exhaustive, so let me know on Twitter whether you think anything is missing on this list! And be sure you bring plenty of Poison counters the next time you head to your LGS. You’ll probably need ‘em.
Janel SantaCruz Campbell is a writer and gamer specializing in TTRPGs, PC Gaming and all around Horror. She enjoys playing huge, stompy creatures in Commander, especially the shuffle titans when going against her friends’ mill decks. Watch her stream Commander and point-and-click adventures nightly on her Twitch channel, twitch.tv/JanelSantaCruz