MTG Toxic: How It Works and What It Does

Toxic is a brand new mechanic from the upcoming Phyrexia: All Will Be One set. In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about the mechanic, as well as give my picks for the best Toxic cards that have been spoiled so far.

Let’s jump right in.

Toxic is an ability found on certain creatures in the Phyrexia: All Will Be One set. The ability is always followed by a number, eg. Toxic 1. Whenever a creature with Toxic deals combat damage to a player, that player also receives an amount of Poison Counters equal to the specified number.

If this all sounds a bit complicated, don’t worry. I’ll make it all make sense. Read on for a detailed guide to this crazy new mechanic.

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02/19/2024 12:30 am GMT

What Is Toxic?

Toxic is a new static ability found on creatures from the Phyrexia: All Will Be One set. The ability is super similar to Poisonous. Both abilities let creatures give poison counters to players whenever the creature lands an attack. The only difference between the two is that Poisonous is a triggered ability while Toxic is static.

This means that Toxic works more like Lifelink. Just like the lifegain from that ability, the poison counters from Toxic will happen automatically instead of going on the stack and having to resolve.

How Does It Work?

Toxic N (Players dealt combat damage by this creature also get N poison counter(s).)

MTG Wiki

It’s pretty simple really. Whenever a creature with Toxic deals combat damage to a player, that player also gets N poison counters where N is the Toxic value. Let’s take Skrelv, Defector Mite for example.

skrelv defector mite

Skrelv has Toxic 1. That means whenever you land an attack with Skrelv, your opponent also gets 1 poison counter in addition to taking one damage.

That’s an important thing to note. Toxic isn’t like the Infect ability where creatures basically deal their power in poison counters instead of combat damage. Toxic lets your creature deal combat damage and give your opponent poison counters.

It’s also important to note that Toxic does not scale with a creature’s power like Infect does. This means that even if you give your creature extra power, it still only gives poison counters equal to the value of its Toxic ability.

What Are Poison Counters?

I’ve talked a lot about poison counters so far. I haven’t actually explained how they work though. So here’s a quick breakdown for anybody who needs it.

Poison counters are counters that are placed on players. Whenever a player gets 10 or more poison counters, they lose the game.

As you can imagine, poison counters have the potential to end a game quickly. This is especially true with the infect ability since it lets you buff your infect creatures with cards like Scale Up.

Toxic, on the other hand, takes a lot longer to end the game since it’s harder to multiply the poison counters.

RELATED: How Does Infect Work?

Toxic FAQs

Do Toxic Creatures Deal Combat Damage?

Yes, creatures with Toxic deal regular combat damage whenever they land an attack. They also give the defending player poison counters equal to their Toxic value. The damage and the poison counter both happen at the same time.

This is unlike the Infect ability which lets creatures assign poison counters to players instead of damaging them.

Do Toxic Creatures Give -1/-1 Counters when They Block?

No, creatures with Toxic do not assign -1/-1 counters. The Toxic ability does not change the way damage is dealt to blocking creatures in any way.

Toxic Rules

  • Toxic is a static ability, meaning poison counters are given instantaneously whenever a creature with Toxic deals combat damage to a player.
  • Toxic creatures assign poison counters to players according to the number associated with their ability. The creature’s power has nothing to do with the amount of poison counters given.
  • Toxic does not affect creatures. For example, if a Toxic creature damages an opponent’s creature, no poison counters are given.
  • If combat damage is prevented, through a card like Fog for example, no poison counters will be given to the defending player.
  • Any amount of combat damage dealt by a toxic creature is enough to give the full amount of poison counters to the defending player.

Card Gallery

Bloated Contaminator
monument to perfection
skrelv defector mite
venerated rotpriest
White Sun's Twilight
karumonix the rat king
lukka, bound to ruin
ria ivo, bane of bladehold
skelvs hive
venser corpse puppet

Is Toxic Good?

Okay, so we’ve gone over all of the nitty-gritty details. Now we’re left with the question, how good is this mechanic?

Honestly, I don’t think Toxic has great potential. Obviously, they could print some cards that are busted in the future. What I’ve seen from the ability so far, however, isn’t enough to inspire confidence.

Sure, you could throw together a Toxic deck and probably win a few games, especially if you can make good use of proliferate. But overall, I think the ability takes too long to win with, and is way inferior to infect or to simply winning with damage.

The saving grace of this mechanic, in my opinion, is that Wizards almost seems to be using it as ‘icing on the cake’ so to speak. In other words, they’re printing cards that are good even without the ability and then adding Toxic to them.

Take Skrelv’s Hive for example. It’s a pretty strong card in my estimation. It’s basically just a slightly less good Bitterblossom for white. This card isn’t necessarily good because of the Toxic ability, though, which is the point I’m trying to make here.

To summarize, I don’t love this ability as far as power-level is concerned. I do, however, think it has nice flavor, and I think some of the cards do have a lot of potential, despite the mechanic itself being kind of underwhelming. That leads me into the next section.

Best Cards

Bloated Contaminator

Bloated Contaminator

Bloadted Contaminator is loaded for three mana. It’s a 4/4, it has Trample, Toxic 1, and it proliferates whenever it deals combat damage to a player. This is the kind of self-contained synergy that I love. You’re probably going to want this card in any kind of proliferate or Toxic deck.

Venerated Rotpriest

venerated rotpriest

I have this card on my list only because I think there’s some combo potential here. I haven’t yet figured out exactly how to pull it off, though. At first I was thinking you could use it in conjunction with Feather, the Redeemed and Mutagenic Growth. Then I remembered that Feather returns the instant to the hand at the beginning of your next end step, meaning it would take several turns.

It’s probably a horrible idea, but hey, I can dream, can’t I? Let me know in the comments if you can figure out a combo with this card.

Skrelv’s Hive

skelvs hive

Skrelv’s Hive, as I mentioned above, is basically a white Bitterblossom, and we all know Bitterblossom is a pretty awesome card. The Hive is admittedly worse, since the token will have Toxic instead of flying. Still, this is an undeniably grindy card that I think will see some play.

End Step

I’m excited to see these new cards in action. Regardless of the power level, putting poison counters on your opponents is always a good time.

Phyrexia: All Will Be one releases February 10, 2023. Until then, be sure to check back here often for all the latest news and spoilers.

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Joe Doak

I started playing Magic in 2015 after impulsively buying a fat-pack of Khans of Tarkir. It didn't take long for me to fall in love with the game, and it's been a big part of my life ever since. Nowadays, I play moslty Modern, Commander, and Limited, but also enjoy keeping up with Standard. Whatever the format, I always find a way to brew up janky decks, convince myself they're great, get proven wrong, and love every second of it.