Phage the Untouchable is remarkable for quite a number of reasons. Originally printed in Legions, Phage was reprinted in Tenth Edition, and has now also been reprinted at mythic rare in Conspiracy. She has been errata’ed to become an Avatar Minion (some sources online that say she is a Zombie Minion, but the Gatherer does not confirm this). Phage is a Legendary Creature who costs 3BBBB to cast. Obviously, this is a pretty hard card to cast if you’re not in mono-Black. The truth is, however, casting her from your hand is the only way to put her onto the battlefield, if you don’t want to lose the game.
That’s right, Phage may be one of the very few, if not the only, Legendary Creature (that isn’t a flip-card from the Kamigawa block) that you cannot play as a Commander – not without a lot of help at least. If you were to cast Phage the Untouchable from the Command Zone, you would automatically lose the game – unless you have a way to Stifle her enter the battlefield ability. However, she has some benefits once she does become cast from your hand. Whenever Phage deals combat damge to a creature, immediately destroy that creature, and it can’t be regenerated. It’s a bit better than Deathtouch, very similar to the ability of Ohran Viper.
But her last ability is the reason that you have to cast her from your hand in order to play her – without immediately losing, of course. When she deals combat damage to a player, that player loses the game. That being said, why wouldn’t you want to play her in a mono-Black deck? You certainly can, but not as a Commander, unless you never want to be able to cast her. It also means that any chance of Reanimating her is out – although returning her to your hand is perfectly fine.
One funny interaction with this card is if your opponent happens to have an effect that has to bring back Phage the Untouchable as a mandatory part of its ability. Rise of the Dark Realms, for example, must bring back all creatures from all graveyards, as does Liliana Vess’ ultimate ability. Grave Betrayal, a very popular Commander Enchantment, backfires when Phage dies, killing the player with Grave Betrayal as soon as she hits their side of the board. There’s a lot of tricky gimmicks you can play with Phage.
But you can’t realistically play her as a Commander, which is kind of sad. Actually, there is a way, as long as you play a card like Torpor Orb that stops enter the battlefield abilities. That seems a bit awkward, however.
Still, she’s awesome for a Commander deck built around mono-Black Devotion, such as Erebos, God of the Dead or Mogis, God of Slaughter. Phage has plenty of uses. She’ll especially be fun to see out on the field in a good old game of multi-player Conspiracy Limited. Or will she?
– Elspeth for the Win