A ton of cards were shown off during the kick off to the March of the Machine spoiler season! We have Legendary characters that have come together from across planes to defend against the Phyrexian Invasion and a series of incredible new mechanics that will grace MTG’s tables from here on out. We won’t be going into detail about new mechanics in this article, but we do have a breakdown of what we know about the three new mechanics in this set here.
Instead, this article will cover 30 new cards we saw in the recent kickoff to the March of the Machine spoiler season. This will not include the Commander face cards that may have been spoiled earlier than intended or the cards spoiled to be reprinted in the Legends bonus sheet as a part of March of the Machine. Let’s get into it!
It appears that each of the Praetors are getting a double-sided card that can transform into a Saga. Elesh Norn, honestly, looks like an absolute powerhouse. I would not be surprised if this card saw competitive play in multiple formats.
For Elesh Norn to truly start amassing a ton of value, you need to flip her. That said, her base creature is already very powerful. For four mana, you receive a 3/5 Vigilance creature with a deceptively powerful taxing ability. Each time an opponent’s source deals damage to you or a permanent you control, they need to pay one or lose two life. This means that each instance of damage, whether it be combat, activated ability, or spell, will either cost an additional mana or two life. Three attacking creatures can cost an extra three mana or six life (or some combination of it). This will add up very quickly.
Should you manage to flip Elesh Norn, you are immediately awarded with 10/10 worth of stats. This can quickly grow further with Proliferate or Incubate strategies. These can quickly turn into a 30-damage alpha strike with the second ability on Norn’s saga. Finally, if you’re behind on board and need to use your Incubated tokens for defense, Elesh Norn will wipe all other permanents except for artifacts, lands, and Phyrexians before turning back into a creature.
This card simply does it all. It’s a creature that threatens huge value on-curve. It turns into a win condition that can win out of nowhere, and it can wipe the entire board if you’re behind. I can already imagine this card being a game-changer for White Weenie decks.
Zurgo and Ojutai
Zurgo and Ojutai is one of the new team-up Legendary Creature spells being introduced in March of the Machine. These two characters from Tarkir team up to create a hasty Orc Dragon that has Hexproof when untapped.
Dragon players will love this card since its triggered ability cares about any Dragon. Should you successfully deal combat damage to player or battle with a Dragon, you get to Anticipate, just like you did with Ojutai’s appearance in Dragons of Tarkir. This can also allow you to Anticipate off of other Dragons’ combat damage if you want to keep Zurgo and Ojutai untapped for Hexproof purposes.
Etali, Primal Conquerer
The new Etali is capable of one-shotting players with ease. You need to pay a lot of mana to do this, but the card can do much more than become the second coming of Blightsteel Colossus.
Etali, Primal Conquerer is a very capable card even before it transforms. As soon as this Elder Dinosaur enters the battlefield, players exile cards from the top of their library until they exile a nonland one. Like the Etali of old, you get to cast any number of the nonland spells exiled this way for free. This, obviously, is much more deadly in a game with more players but is still threatening as a Transmogrify or Indomitable Creativity target. However, unless there are further combos that players intend to do with Etali’s triggered ability, there are probably better Transmogrify candidates.
Sword of Once and Future
Finally, the decade-old cycle of dual-colored swords has been completed! Sword of Once and Future is the Dimir version of this template, and it looks powerful. Aside from granting +2/+2 and Protection from Black and Blue to an equipped creature, Sword of Once and Future allows you to Surveil two and cast instant or sorcery spells from your graveyard whenever you deal combat damage with a creature equipped with the Sword.
You can only recast instants and sorceries with a mana value of two or less, but that still allows you to Thoughtseize them for the umpteenth time. Five mana for a card (between cast and equip) that doesn’t function on its own is quite expensive in a constructed format, but there may be a slight opportunity for this to see play in Stoneforge Mystic decks – as long as the Protection from Blue and Black is relevant enough. For now, protection from Red may be better in Modern, at least.
Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree
A new, bizarre artifact, Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree, likes stealing lands by milling your opponent. The goal with this card is to get to its second activated ability, where Realmbreaker sacrifices itself and dumps your library full of Praetors onto the battlefield. Sorcery speed Praetors don’t lend well to a controlling strategy, but this could be a deceptive control win condition in the right metagame. With those types of decks, you would probably rather draw interaction than threats, so the second ability may not be too useful. It can also, of course, do a lot of damage in Commander.
Quintorius, Loremaster can amass an army of spirits and turn them into powerful noncreature spells that it exiles from your graveyard. All you need to do is exile the card in question with Quintorius’s triggered ability at your end step to create a Spirit and use its activated ability once it doesn’t have summoning sickness to sacrifice a Spirit. The 3/2 red and white Spirit creature tokens are nothing to sneeze at, either. This card is likely too weak to see competitive play outside of Standard, but it seems like an incredibly fun Commander to build.
Glissa, Herald of Protection
Glissa, Herald of Predation is a fantastic Incubator payoff that can raise a small army if left unchecked for too many turns. At the beginning of combat, she can also spread the devastating combination of First Strike and Deathtouch that she is known for to all Phyrexians you control. This, once again, is probably not powerful enough to see competitive play outside of Standard, but it is an exciting application of the new Incubate mechanic. If you want to read more about Incubate, we covered all of the new mechanics in March of the Machine here.
Borborygmos and Fblthp
This creature duo was one that many players predicated after Mark Rosewater dropped some teasers about the contents of the main March of the Machine set. This bizarre creature does a great job of blending some traits that both characters have had throughout MTG’s history. While you can’t discard land cards to kill your opponent like Borborygmos, Enraged did, you can discard them to deal damage to a creature. You can do this whenever the combo attacks or enters the battlefield – drawing a card while doing so. As a weird final option, this card can protect itself by tucking it away in your deck at a moment’s notice – a callback to the Totally Lost card that propelled Fblthp to popularity. This card seems like a fantastic and goofy option in Commander and Limited. I am not sure if it will do much past those two formats.
Mono Green stompy decks have a new tool! This 4/5 for three with Reach and no other downsides (aside from its GGG mana value) is an absolute monster in its own right. To make things better, Polukranos transforms into a Wurmcoil Engine-esque monstrosity with Lifelink and Reach. This splits apart into two 3/3 Hydra tokens – one with Reach and one with Lifelink upon death. Interestingly, for Hydra tribal Commander players, this ability also triggers when other non-token Hydra creatures you control die. I would expect this card to see experimentation in Mono Green Devotion in Pioneer and be included in every Hydra Commander deck under the sun that can run both Green and White.
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A new common discard spell that showcases a heartbreaking moment as Chandra faces off against the one she loves in her Compleated form. This isn’t too impressive and will likely only see play as a Limited card. The failsafe of this card isn’t too bad, however.
Mirrodin Avenged!You Are Already Dead reappears as an incredibly crucial story moment in March of the Machine. Karn decides to take responsibility for his mistakes in the past as he goes against his pacifist ways and ends Elesh Norn’s existence with his own two hands.
Invasion of New Phyrexia
Perhaps the most unique Battle card spoiled so far, Invasion of New Phyrexia, is the only Siege we have seen that flips into a Planeswalker. This particular Battle card looks to favor aggressive strategies but could also serve as an upgrade to the Knight tribal Commander deck with the new Eminence Commander. This card might be best suited towards midrange decks since its value can scale with the amount of mana used to cast it. This seems quite suitable in the current Standard format.
Invasion of Fiora
Invasion of Fiora proposes itself as a potential threat and a board wipe. Interestingly, the flip side of this Battle can immediately remove all counters from up to one target permanent, meaning that it can instantly win Battles on an attack trigger. If you want to read more about Battle cards, you can do so here.
Convoke seems to be a returning mechanic in March of the Machine. So much so that there’s a Convoke Commander deck releasing alongside this set. Transcendent Message is likely to be a fantastic addition to this deck, but may not do so well outside of a combo setting looking to use it as a payoff.
Archpriest of Shadows
Archpriest of Shadows is an exciting application of the new Backup mechanic introduced in March of the Machine. While this card can resurrect creatures when dealing combat damage, it can also temporarily grant this ability to other target creatures until end of turn alongside a +1/+1 counter. Fable of the Mirror-Breaker into a turn four Cruelty of Gix is already a backbreaking combination should you manage to discard an Atraxa, Grand Unifier into the Fable’s second chapter in Standard. This payoff doesn’t work quite the same since it needs to be played before combat for the Backup ability to resurrect Atraxa, but it is another Black resurrection option for the archetype.
A more straightforward application of Backup, Boon-Bringer Valkyrie is a very efficient answer to aggressive strategies that can temporarily allow another creature to gain its keywords.
Invasion of Ixalan
Interestingly, we are not sure what the flip side of this Battle is yet. Regardless, this card still has a strong ETB ability if you’re looking for particular game pieces. As long as the flip side of this card is powerful, it will likely have some impact.
Invasion of Ikoria
Players didn’t take long to start brewing up some combos with Invasion of Ikoria’s ability. Vampire Hexmage is a creature that Invasion of Ikoria can find if its X value is two or more. This card can immediately sacrifice itself to remove all the Defense Counters on Invasion of Ikoria. This causes it to flip into Zilortha, Apex of Ikoria, which can start dealing eight damage to players’ faces the turn after with its reassignment ability.
More Commons and Uncommons
We’ve already prattled on long enough, looking at all the exciting new cards spoiled today that will release in March of the Machine. Here are some of the other cards spoiled today that will be a part of MTG’s newest set!