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How Good is Atraxa, Grand Unifier in Magic the Gathering?

Atraxa, Grand Unifier is the second incarnation of Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice, one of the most popular Commanders of all time. But, whereas the first Atraxa was created with just EDH in mind, the Grand Unifier is also a Standard playable card who can fit into a variety of deck building strategies. The Grand Unifier was also an early spoiler of a new Magic the Gathering card type in Battle. 

Whereas the first Atraxa was a major proponent of the Proliferate mechanic, which has been taken to a new level in the Phyrexia: All Will Be One set, the Grand Unifier takes an entirely different approach. Like the first Atraxa, the Grand Unifier is a four color card, with a casting cost of three generic, one Green, one White, one Blue, and one Black mana. When she enters play, you reveal the top ten cards of your library. From among those, you can choose one of each card type to put into your hand. The rest of the cards go to the bottom of your library in a random order.

Notably, the card types listed on Atraxa, Grand Unifier as reminder text are as follows: artifact, battle, creature, enchantment, instant, land, planeswalker, and sorcery. Magic head designer Mark Rosewater also confirmed that Tribal, a card type that was used during Lorwyn and Morningtide, is technically still a card type, too. But, with this card’s printing, we still had no idea what the Battle card type entailed. (We’ll return to this topic in the near future.)

With these card types in mind, it’s very likely that you will draw four or five cards whenever Atraxa, Grand Unifier enters play. But if drawing four or five cards wasn’t enough for seven mana, that isn’t all you get! Grand Unifier has a 7/7 body with flying, vigilance, deathtouch, and lifeline. If your opponent doesn’t have a way to remove her quickly, she can quickly take over a game, especially if your opponent doesn’t have any way to block a flying creature.

What is the Best Standard Deck for Atraxa, Grand Unifier?

On release, Atraxa, Grand Unifier immediately saw play in brews around Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines. The MOM deck is similar to those that were based around the artifact Panharmonicon. Whenever a triggered ability is activated on your side of the battlefield, you get to copy that ability and choose new targets if you wish. But, MOM has another ability, which shuts off the triggered abilities for your opponents entirely.

Naturally, Atraxa, Grand Unifier appreciates getting her ability twice when entering. Digging through the top ten cards of your library twice is a massive swing in card advantage. It doesn’t hurt that she’s just a big chonker your opponent has no choice but to immediately answer. Of course, you don’t need to get Grand Unifier’s ability copied for her to be worth playing. She’s a strong enough card advantage engine already that it wouldn’t be shocking to see her played in Esper Control (White/Blue/Black, splashing Green just for her) or Bant Midrange (White/Blue/Green, splashing Black just for her). 

How Good is Atraxa, Grand Unifier in Modern and Pioneer?

Another home for Atraxa, Grand Unifier also appeared in Modern with Five-Color Indomitable Creativity. While that deck prefers to simply run four copies of Archon of Cruelty as its only creature, it’s not hard to see why players may want to include a single copy of Atraxa, Grand Unifier as a potential Indomitable Creativity target. After all, Atraxa herself may well draw you into another copy of Creativity, but also keep you from drawing copies of Archon of Cruelty that you’d much prefer remain in the library. 

Here’s one Modern Indomitable Creativity deck list with one copy of Atraxa, Grand Unifier that got a Top 8 finish at an RCQ on February 3rd, 2023 for Star City Games’ SCG CON Indianapolis.

Several daily tournament players at the Japanese Hareruya game store chain have found some interesting ways to work Atraxa, Grand Unifier into both Modern and Pioneer decks. Tokunaga Hiroki jammed a copy of Atraxa into his Modern Elementals deck, presumably simply for the card advantage.

In pioneer, Watanabe Taiga put two copies of Atraxa, Grand Unifier into his Marvelous Pioneer deck. The deck is built around the artifact Aetherworks Marvel, which can cast cards from free among the top six cards of your library for a whopping six energy. This isn’t an issue for a Marvelous deck, of course. But, the main win condition for this deck previously was melding Bruna, the Fading Light and Gisela, the Broken Blade into Brisela, Voice of Nightmares. Granted, this is still a great endgame play for the deck, but Atraxa, Grand Unifier gives the deck another major threat for opponents to contend with that also gives the deck absurd card advantage.

Also in Pioneer, Kenta Shimizu found that one copy of Atraxa, Grand Unifier gave his Fires of Invention deck a huge boost. That deck is strong enough in the Pioneer format, but being able to cheat it into play with Fires of Invention after hitting seven lands in play is a card advantage swing like no other.

With these early format innovations, it’s quite likely we will see many four-color and five-color Modern and Pioneer decks jamming at least a single copy of Atraxa, Grand Unifier for quite some time. Whether she becomes a permanent fixture of any of these deck strategies remains to be seen, but it’s very likely her very presence in Marvelous and Fires of Invention decks will remain for the foreseeable future.

Is Atraxa, Grand Unifier Good in Commander?

Atraxa, Grand Unifier herself seemed the perfect Commander for a Phyrexian Tribal deck. After all, a slew of Phyrexian tribal creatures were printed in Phyrexia: All Be One. Recently, there was a revamp of creature types for older Phyrexian creatures, going all the way back to Mirage! Of course, this creature type update includes Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice, who is now a Phyrexian Angel Horror, as seen in her Secret Lair Drop reprint.  

With all of this new fodder for the Phyrexian creature type, it’s not surprising that Phyrexian Tribal became the most popular build for Atraxa, Grand Unifier EDH deck lists on EDHREC. Unsurprisingly, Infect became the second most popular, with the Infect-like Toxic mechanic being a major factor in All Will Be One.

It’s hard to say if Atraxa, Grand Unifier is actually a good tribal Commander, though. Her ability is so generic that she really could fit into any five-color Commander deck without much issue at all. Of course, perhaps her best home is in decks led by her counterpart in Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice. Actually, Praetor’s Voice, with her Proliferate trigger at the end of every turn makes her a better Infect Commander, and with most of the Phyrexian tribal creatures benefiting from Proliferate, the original Atraxa is probably a better fit to lead such a tribal deck.

It may take some time for things to shake out, but Atraxa, Grand Unifier is likely going to be a strong complimentary piece for many five color Commanders rather than being a particularly nasty Commander herself. Still, clever EDH players have built some Atraxa, Grand Unifier deck lists around Angel Tribal, Blink, Birthing Pod, Lands, and Planeswalker themes. Pretty much any Magic the Gathering deck ever that can support her four-color mana cost will likely at the very least consider jamming a single copy of her into their library, just for the instant card advantage and massive on-field body.

How to Best Play Atraxa, Grand Unifier

Atraxa, Grand Unifier is of the first cards I pulled from an All Will Be One pack on Magic the Gathering: Arena. So, I was excited to figure out how to best build around her abilities. Atraxa’s tremendous draw power is so brilliantly easy to splash that it’s hard to know which direction to go. She seemed an obvious strong Commander in Brawl, the Standard and Historic legal analogues to traditional Commander / EDH. As Bant Midrange is one of my all-time favorite deck archetypes, I won’t hesitate to splash Black just for sideboard cards and a single Atraxa. After all, who the heck expects an Atraxa in a Bant Midrange deck?

My initial thoughts about building an Atraxa, Grand Unifier Commander deck (as well as Brawl and Historic Brawl) is to take a value-centered approach. You want to build the deck with a relatively balanced number of artifacts, creatures, enchantments, planes walkers, instants, and sorceries to make the most of Atraxa’s ability. I’d also pair her with Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines to get the most of enter the battlefield abilities. 

The overall core of an Atraxa, Grand Unifier deck will include cards that put tokens or other cards into play. This makes each card that Atraxa draws much more potent. Just as with most Bant and Abzan (White/Black/Green) Midrange decks, the idea is to get the most for every mana tap you spend. I haven’t seen anyone build their Atraxa, Grand Unifier decks in this way just yet. If I find success with one, I’ll be sure to make a write-up about it!

How would you play Atraxa, Grand Unifier?

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Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy. Personal Website: https://www.thephoenixdesertsong.com

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