When this card was first released, I was convinced that Phyrexian Obliterator plus Lashwrithe in mono-black Standard would equal Good Game. Of course, there was also a little uncommon in New Phyrexia called Deceiver Exarch that made a bulk rare called Splinter Twin a fairly good win condition.
Yeah, mono-Black infect was pretty sweet, and having the Obliterator around to hold the ground was pretty awesome. Sure, 4 Black mana symbols is a rough casting cost. But that’s not a problem in Mono-Black, even when you were running 4 Inkmoth Nexus.
Still, he was a $25 mythic rare that no one seemed to want. He was stuck in some Pod decks and saw some Legacy play. Really, though, when you looked at him, he looked like a 4-drop win condition with 5/5 and trample, plus a nasty Annihilator-type ability whenever he’s dealt damage. Heck, you could use Darksteel Plate on this guy and he’d be an indestructible force of destruction. Dismember and Go for the Throat (and perhaps the occasional Day of Judgment) were really the only ways to take him out. And with a Lashwrithe equipped, you were talking about at least a 9/9 with trample, and likely more.
As time has passed, the Obliterator is still a really nice card to have. He’s found homes in many mono-black EDH decks. Modern decks have occasionally found room for him, with variants of Birthing Pod and even some Jund brews utilizing him. Mono-Black Devotion, however, is the deck that would seem to be able to use him the most. You make Erebos, God of the Dead active and make Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx extremely relevant quickly. So why has no one built that deck? It’s not quite good enough to compete with the rest of the format, it turns out. Path to Exile exists to wipe him away in that format. At least in Legacy, where Swords to Plowshares is the removal of choice, you’re gaining 5 life. Obliterator just doesn’t last long in the format, and relying so heavily on his 4 Black mana symbols for the deck to fire off is a risky proposition.
Yet he’s still a pricey card. That’s because he’s a mythic rare from a very highly sought after set. There are a ton of good mythic rares in the set. Phyrexian Obliterator is a good card – he just doesn’t have much of a home in competitive play. But he is relevant in Commander and he is very relevant for Devotion. There is still potential for the Obliterator to sneak his way into a Top 8 Modern deck in the future. I believe in him. Is he worth the $25-30 that you’ll have to shell out for him? I don’t see why not. It’s likely he won’t see a reprint anytime soon and New Phyrexia is becoming very rare to find. He’s a pretty safe investment, and he can always find a home in many mono-Black Commander decks, so he’ll always have demand.
– Elspeth for the Win