Hello friends! Welcome back to my little Commander corner of Cardsphere, where they let me get away with saying things about Magic that a lot of people disagree with (a lot of wrong people, if you ask me.)
Last time we started our set review of March of the Machine by digging into the new card type, battle. Today, we’re looking at the rest of the set.
I’m gonna break this up into three categories: Sure Thing, Situational, and Sleeper Hit.
This category represents the cards I expect to see showing up in the 99 of a lot of decks, or commanders that I’m expecting a lot of people to build around.
In the 99
Archangel Elspeth - She does it all. Tokens for blocking. Beefing up your commander (or other formidable creature). Or filling your board with goodies from your yard.
Wrenn and Realmbreaker - Apparently there was some DISCOURSE a while back about
Chromatic Lantern. This planeswalker is a more killable version of that artifact, but also does a whole lot more. The ultimate is the real prize here, but everything you’re getting for just three mana makes this a winner.
Faerie Mastermind - Among my Sure Thing picks, this is the easiest. I think this one goes the distance and becomes a format staple.
See Double - Four mana is crazy cheap to copy an amazing spell, or the best creature on the board. And frequently it will be both.
Corrupted Conviction - This is an exact copy of
Village Rites, which is in 131k decks on EDHREC. Not hard to picture this taking up a small share of that card’s market.
Tribute to the World Tree -
Garruk’s Packleader and
Garruk’s Uprising are both very popular cards. Tribute is the same cost as Uprising, requires one less power for the draw trigger, and pumps the creatures that come in under three power. The only thing you’re missing out on from Uprising is the trample. But let’s also keep in mind how easily things can get out of hand with putting +1/+1 counters on your creatures entering. With Tribute and
Doubling Season out, your 1/1 tokens will come in as 5/5s.
Sword of Once and Future - This completes the beloved Sword of X + Y cycle. While it’s no
Sword of Feast and Famine, it still does a lot for a little, which has always been the strength of these equipment.
In the Zone
Yargle and Multani - Yes, I’m putting a vanilla commander in my Sure Thing category. 18 power for just six mana is absolutely nuts. This commander only has to sneeze at your opponents to kill them with commander damage. Y&M is, without a doubt, the new hot voltron commander.
Thalia and the Gitrog Monster - I had the “pleasure” of playing against this commander already. It’s absolutely broken for just four mana. The experience was a bit miserable for the people playing against it, which could hurt its chances of finding popularity at casual tables. But it’s a home run for more competitive-minded players.
Omnath, Locus of All - At this point, they’d have to intentionally make a five-colored commander bad for it to not be popular. The format isn’t exactly overflowing with popular three-color cards, but that’s part of the fun here. Plus, I’ve seen a lot of
Ramos, Dragon Engine decks that focus on “charms,” or three-color spells. And I think this can definitely move in on that territory.
Elesh Norn - Everything about this card seems crazy to me. The way the front side can prevent go-wide decks from coming after you. The way the Saga side just casually drops 10 power on the board. And then it nukes the board, leaving you, potentially, with the only creatures left. No notes.
Jin-Gitaxias - Obviously the goal is to get your hand as full as possible, and then go off. Reminds me of the
Flood of Tears +
Omniscience combo. Except this one’s your commander!
Etali, Primal Conqueror - Look how they massacred our boy.
Etali, Primal Storm is a hugely popular legend, but mostly in the 99. While this new iteration has a few things working against it, the allure of the Poison insta-kill on the back-side means that this dino is gonna show up at a lot of tables. At least at first.
Urabrask - These Praetors that flip into Sagas are really reminding me of planeswalkers, in that their ultimate is the most exciting part. But in this case, the ultimate is actually the third step of a saga, which takes just as much patience as an ultimate. I think this Urabrask does a lot, but I’m not sure if he does it more efficiently than
Birgi, God of Storytelling // Harnfel, Horn of Bounty. Because of that, I see this showing up more in the 99. But he’s still definitely showing up.
Zimone and Dina - This commander does what Sultai does best: extra. Extra cards, and extra lands. What’s not to love?
Now time for the cards that are going to show up a lot in the 99 of specific themes, or niche commanders.
In the 99
Dusk Legion Duelist - This is fantastic in
Heliod, Sun-Crowned decks, but it’s gonna find a home in way more +1/+1 counters decks than that.
Phyrexian Censor - Stax. That is all.
Sunfall - Generally, the cheaper the board wipe the better. But a board wipe with upside is always worth a little extra expense.
Chrome Host Seedshark - It’s no
Shark Typhoon, but there’s plenty of blue artifact decks out there that’ll love to get this thing going.
Transcendent Message - As situational as they come. But show me a blue token deck that won’t want to play this.
Pile On - A lot of decks can easily cast this for free. And I’m sure they’re excited to pile on.
Chandra, Hope’s Beacon -
Swarm Intelligence is a card I’ve tried many times, and always felt let down. The problem with it is that, unless you’ve got massive amounts of ramp happening, by the time you get it out, it’s probably too late to really be effective. Especially since the turn you cast it you probably tapped out to do it. Where Chandra is an upgrade is that she costs one less, and then she gives you two more mana. Obviously, there’s the once-per-turn drawback, which makes her closer to
Double Vision. But still, I think she’s fun.
City on Fire - This might be the one that should’ve been on the Sure Thing list, but I’m gonna go lower on it because I think the hype will die down a bit. We know
Fiery Emancipation is incredible, so the possibility of getting to cast it for cheaper is certainly enticing. But keep in mind things don’t always work out the way we hope, and sometimes you can’t keep creatures on the board to help cast your Convoke spells.
Into the Fire - You all know how much I love modal cards. This one can either take out a bunch of small creatures, or be a one-sided wheel. A great option for
Firesong and Sunspeaker.
Ancient Imperiosaur - This has the potential to be a huge creature for little to no mana, similar to
Ghalta, Primal Hunger. And who doesn’t love giant dinos?
Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree - The 10-mana ability is going to have its niche play, sure. But the two-mana ability just sounds like a repeatable ramp spell every single turn. The best part is that you don’t have to take a land you milled, it can be any land in their yard. I’m seeing no downside here.
In the Zone
Heliod, the Radiant Dawn - This is one of the easier transform costs among the Phyrexianized flip legends in the set. And really, it’s the back side that we’re interested in. The
Leyline of Anticipation add-on is great, and coupled with the cost-reducer, the compleated Heliod is stellar.
Sheoldred - Not every Praetor made it into the Sure Thing category. The
Rise of the Dark Realms on the third step is cool, and everything leading up to it certainly will have a decent amount of creatures to resurrect. But the requirements to flip her mean that she’s a lot more niche.
Polukranos Reborn - It’s a big cost, but turning all of your non-token creatures into pseudo-
Wurmcoil Engines is crazy. There’s a lot of shenanigans you can pull with sacrifice outlets and immediately bringing those creatures back. I imagine this will be more in the 99 of Abzan reanimator builds than leading its own decks.
Drana and Linvala - Stealing activated abilities from your opponents’ creatures sounds like a lot of fun. Sadly, it won’t always be relevant.
Ghalta and Mavren - A seven mana commander can be a heavy commitment, even if you’re in green. But holy hell, do you get a lot for that seven mana. And the great thing is that G&M doesn’t have to attack to trigger, you just have to attack with any creatures. Which means you can trigger it the turn it comes in.
Inga and Esika - Their abilities just scream Simic. And we all know people go crazy for those types of commanders.
Rona, Herald of Invasion - The funny thing about this one is that the front side is more of a 99 card for commanders like
Jodah, the Unifier, but her back side is very much her own thing. WIth the Phyrexian side you want to look for ways to give her indestructible, then keep pinging her for damage with something like
Pariah’s Shield (I’m sure there are easier combos, I’m just too busy to find them right now).
Vorinclex - This is easily the weakest version of Vorinclex that we’ve seen. And the weakest of the Praetors from this set. Still, it has some merits.
This last category is for the cards that I’m excited about, but I know won’t get much love in the Commander community. They’re not crazy powerful, but they do cool things. And I just think they’re neat.
Cut Short - Free removal spell? At common?! Sign me up.
Ephara’s Dispersal - The Surveil tacked on the end is what really makes this thing valuable.
Breach the Multiverse - Seven mana to get four creatures/planeswalkers in play? That sounds like a sweet return on investment to me. It’s definitely not a sure path to glory, and that’s what will keep it from getting played.
Kami of Whispered Hopes - A growing mana dork that increases your +1/+1 counters? Sounds awesome.
Final Thoughts on March of the Machine
So those are the cards I think are worth looking at from this set! And yeah, there is a lot here.
I am torn on battles, as I think many people are. The ones we’ve seen so far aren’t exactly auto-includes in anybody’s decks. But, as others have pointed out, it’s likely Wizards is slow-playing the new card type, as they did with planeswalkers in their first set. Regardless of where battles go from here, I’m excited to see how they play out in Commander games.
Despite people’s complaints about the resolution of the story (wrapped up a little too neatly), the actual cards are fantastic. Not just because they’re good, which they are. But the flavor of bringing all of these worlds together to defeat one common threat made for a very impactful set. Seeing the story played out in the cards, especially in such beautiful art as
Storm the Seedcore, really went a long way to make this set the biggest event set since War of the Spark.
Alright friends, that’s it for March of the Machine. But we’re not completely done with this story yet! March covered the climax of the Phyrexian storyline, but we still have the denouement to cover. So keep your eyes peeled for when we cover March of the Machine: Aftermath.
Until next time, take care. And play lots of games!