Even though MTG’s March of the Machine: The Aftermath is one of the most controversial sets released in quite some time, the cards being released in the set are good. Only a few days after the official release of this set, the contents of it are already topping big online tournaments. The cards have given rise to new infinite combos, and a ton of interesting brews to explore. That said, the set itself, due to its duplication issues amongst other things, may not be the most interesting one to buy sealed.
There is some value in terms of gameplay to be had from the powerful quality of these cards. As a result, many MTG players who want to engage with MTG Aftermath will likely be buying Singles, but what Singles should you be paying attention to? Here are the cards that you should consider picking up for March of the Machine: The Aftermath! Note that we will not be including Training Grounds in this list since its a reprint. We’re more interested in the new tools that this set is offering.
Special Mention: Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival
This card is, admittedly, a bit of a speculation on our part due to current secondary market trends. As seen in the recent price spike of Nalfeshnee and Passionate Archaeologist, cards that synergize with casting spells from exile are popular in Commander right now. That said, the big difference between Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival and these cards is that this one cannot go into the popular Commanders causing this price spike because of her color identity. Etali, Primal Conqueror is Gruul, which cannot be included in a Boros deck and vice-versa. For that reason, this could be a complete miss.
Either way, Pia Nalaar could also end up being quite the popular Commander thanks to exile synergies getting a spotlight. This can create a particularly deadly strategy alongside cards that can grant additional utility to the Thopter tokens that Pia Nalaar creates. While this may not end up being amongst the best MTG Aftermath cards, we still wanted to shout it out.
#12 Urborg Scavengers
Urborg Scavengers probably won’t be turning heads any time soon, but it does have the potential to. This card is fantastic enabler in the Soulflayer deck that cares about dumping cards with a ton of keywords into the graveyard. These saw a sudden resurgence in the Pioneer format thanks to Atraxa, Grand Unifier, but have since disappeared for the more straight-laced Neoform version.
Interestingly, should this strategy prove good enough once again thanks to the Scavengers, this could also be a great sideboard card against Soulflayer decks. You don’t need to be exiling cards out of your graveyard like what is the case for Soulflayer, which means you can also profit off of your opponent’s graveyard. Of course, this means that the Scavengers can also double as graveyard hate when necessary.
Keyword matters is also a theme prevalent in Commander. This archetype got a massive boost from Ikoria so, while it’s not super popular by any means, there is definitely a home that wants Urborg Scavengers in the format.
#11 Tyvar, the Bellicose
Besides its obvious applications in an Elf Commander deck, Tyvar, the Bellicose, has a rather interesting ability. This synergizes particularily well with mana dorks since it can offer them incremental growth whenever they add mana in the form of +1/+1 counters. This gets much more interesting when you consider mana dorks that add mana equal to their Power or Toughness. Suddenly, you begin to have creatures that can double their Power and Toughness while doubling the amount of mana they add every turn.
There are even some Standard cards that do this like Kami of Whispered Hopes and Cradle Clearcutter. Combine that with Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler and you could have a real combo on your hands. For Commander players, this is definitely amongst the best MTG Aftermath cards.
#10 Jirina, Dauntless General
Jirina is a hate piece that becomes maindeckable under the right circumstances. This is great in a Human tribal Commander deck thanks to its ETB ability being very relevant under the right circumstances, and has seen some early Modern attention. As will be mentioned with a pick higher on the list, Human tribal strategies are fair game in Modern, Pioneer and Standard. All of these formats currently have top tier strategies that care about the graveyard. In Modern, anything that plays Underworld Breach. Murktide Regent or Living End needs their graveyard to function. In Pioneer, Greasefang, Okiba Boss is one of the top strategies. In Standard, Reanimation decks continue to put up results.
For this reason, Jirina may be one of the most underrated cards in the entire set. You can currently find this for less than a dollar, which I think is an absolute steal. This is definitely the best MTG Aftermath card on a budget right now, but it might not remain that way.
As for Jirina’s second ability, that is almost the price of admission to being relevant at all. Its her ability to protect other Humans combined with the hatebear potential that makes her incredibly underrated.
#9 Karn, Legacy Reforged
Karn, Legacy Reforged is an artifact Commander player’s dream, but that’s where it ends. This card’s effects aren’t great in competitive formats because of its mana value and that it is geared towards playing longer games. Floating mana effects only really shine when you have the time to make them worthwhile and a mana value of five for a card that does not generate any value on its own is a tough sell.
The only reason why Karn is appearing on the list at all is because of how strong it threatens to be in the Commander format. Honestly, I feel that Karn is very overrated right now.
#8 Calix, Guided by Fate
Calix, Guided by Fate is a fantastic new Enchantress tool that can be played in almost any EDH Enchantress deck that plays Selesnya which, to be fair, is a majority of Enchantress decks. It can even be a powerful Commander for those a bit sick of seeing Sythis Enchantress decks.
Calix is capable of growing your board can copying your enchantments. In other words, its an incredible threat meant to generate board presence. This may not be ideal in Commander where drawing cards is king, but literally every other Enchantress staple threatens to draw an absurd number of cards. When slotted in with those, Calix is excellent.
There is a Selesnya Enchantress deck viable in Standard that Calix slots into pretty well as well. This is the kind of threat that needs a build-around to work, but also needs to be answered pretty quickly before it creates a board that’s an absolute nightmare to address.
#7 The Kenriths’ Royal Funeral
This card has an incredibly high ceiling that requires a little bit of build-around, but any Legendary-centered EDH deck is going to want this card.
For four mana, The Kenriths’ Royal Funeral offers an opportunity to refill your hand with ease as long as you have a Legendary Creature in your graveyard with a high mana value. Combining this with a discount effect allows you to get those cards into play quickly.
This could be a fantastic addition to the Esper Legends deck. You probably do not want more than one in the maindeck (if you want any at all), but the card seems like a fantastic sideboard option when playing against slower decks. Should an opponent wipe your board, you can draw a bunch of cards and deploy your threats quickly.
Cards that reduce the cost of other spells can also easily lead to combo situations. It’ll take a bright mind who wants to invest some time into this to get that right, but the potential is there. Otherwise, this card is fantastic in any Commander deck with a legends sub-theme. Most of this card’s potential definitely lies in the Commander format, but its great at helping one catch up out of nowhere. I may be a bit higher than most on this card in terms of it being one of the Best MTG Aftermath ones, but I think it has a lot of potential in Commander.
#6 Narset, Enlightened Exile
Narset, Enlightened Exile provides an absurd amount of explosive potential. For just four mana, you give your entire board Prowess and threaten to re-cast powerful spells that can trigger the Prowess that Narset grants. This puts her in a great position in Commander, where she slots into almost any spellslinger deck that runs her colors.
When it comes to competitive play, Narset’s mana value may restrict her playability a bit. Four mana usually needs to be something that generates immediate value, is somewhat difficult to answer, or a piece that needs immediate removal. Narset does have enough explosive potential to check the third box, but needs outside factors to make the impact that a four-mana creature needs to in formats like Pioneer and Modern.
Narset, for example, needs creatures to give Prowess to and spells in graveyard to cast to obtain the value needed for a card in her slot. Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, in comparison, simply needs to exist on the board. The card is probably strong enough to see Standard representation, however, and will likely see Pioneer experimentation. I wouldn’t be surprised if this truly does end up being among the best MTG Aftermath cards once it finds its proper home.
#5 Coppercoat Vanguard
Anyone running Adeline, Resplendant Cathar as a Commander is going to want this card badly. This two-mana creature is everything an aggressive Human creature deck could want. Not only does it give all your other Humans Ward 1, making common removal options like Fatal Push more clunky, but it gives each other Human an additional attack as well. This scales very quickly with Adeline, since it indirectly gives her an additional two attack instead of one, and gives the buffs provided to her tokens she generates as well. Outside of this, Coppercoat Vanguard is a effortless auto-include in most Human tribal Commander decks.
Adeline may not be the most popular Commander, but it is a great constructed card. Aggressive Humans decks are playable in Standard, Pioneer and Modern. While this card may not be quite good enough for the Modern format, its definitely playable in both Standard and Pioneer. To cap it all off, this is an uncommon from a set that grossly overprints them, making it a fantastic budget option in any Humans deck you may want to try!
#4 Filter Out
Filter Out is a pretty bizarre MTG card that has a high ceiling. This three-mana bounce spell can create an absurd amount of value in the right circumstances, especially when built around. It’s also absolutely terrible against creature-based strategies, which probably means it is either a sideboard or a build-around card in competitive formats.
There are enough non-creature threats in the Commander format that can make Filter Out a strong inclusion, especially if it offers your strategy a lot of value. Maybe you want to recur your noncreature ETB effects while slowing your opponent’s noncreature gameplan down. Maybe you want a quick way to replay mana-positive rocks like Mana Crypt and Mana Vault.
One underrated way to use Filter Out in a game of Commander is to completely hose the Superfriends strategy that has been getting a lot of attention lately. Thanks to cards like Ichormoon Gauntlet in Phyrexia: All Will Be One and the new Commander preconstructed deck headed by Commodore Guff, Superfriends is likely to see an uptick in play in the coming months, and this is a great way of dealing with it.
Finally, like all the other uncommon cards on this list, players on a budget have access to this powerful, yet situational, effect for super cheap. This can, therefore, be a relatively inexpensive upgrade to almost any Commander deck that doesn’t get hosed by it. Of the best MTG Aftermath cards, this one is the most unique.
#3 Reckless Handling
A new two-mana tutor, even with its restrictive clauses, is definitely going to be playable in Commander. Reckless Handling takes things a step further, however, providing support for some niche archetypes in competitive formats. The card has already shown up in a Modern Goblin Charbelcher list that top 8’d a Modern challenge and, judging from the fact that Legacy Charbelcher is interested in Gamble, it may become a mainstay in the archetype.
Putting all this aside, Reckless Handling is an incredibly cheap tutor tool for Commander. Most tutor cards can run $10 and up, but any uncommon from this set, barring an extreme increase in interest, is likely to be dirt cheap. This is thanks to how incredibly common they are in the set. As long as you have some synergy with Reckless Handling, its probably playable in your Red Commander decks, and it won’t even cost a dollar! For budget players, this may be the best MTG Aftermath card of them all!
#2 Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin
Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin was the talk of the town prior to MTG Aftermath’s paper release. MTG Arena had a pretty good jump ahead in terms release dates from the paper one, and Ob Nixilis started showing up all over the place on the Standard ladder. This is thanks to a new two-card infinite combo involving the Kingpin and All Will Be One. We talked more about that here.
Ob Nixilis’s newest iteration is powerful enough to slot into some existing archetypes, hence its early attention from the MTG community. Essentially, a more aggressively costed Korvold that’s a bit harder to trigger, Ob Nixilis looks like a perfect fit as a game-ending threat in Pioneer’s Rakdos Sacrifice archetype. Unfortunately, none of these decks popped up in the weekend’s events, which dropped it down a place on this list from where it would’ve been just a week ago. It is still, regardless one of the best MTG Aftermath cards right now.
Ob Nixilis also offers a new, unique angle to take your Commander game. These are the cards that are the most valuable in the casual format because it allows players to explore design spaces that didn’t exist before. It also slots into any deck that can reasonably trigger its abilities. For that reason, this card also has a decent amount of Commander potential.
#1 Nissa, Resurgent Animist
Unfortunately, the set’s most expensive card also looks to be the best one. Nissa, Resurgent Animist is so powerful that it may become a staple in a Modern archetype. After a very promising performance in Four Color Elementals this weekend, a lot of eyes have been watching Nissa, which has actually made her price increase over the last few days.
Not only is Nissa a Modern contender, but the card is incredible in any Commander Landfall deck. Nissa, essentially, functions as an overpriced Lotus Cobra, which is already pretty strong, but she can also find a guaranteed threat every time you play two lands in a turn. Alongside Fetch Lands, or even stuff like Evolving Wilds, Nissa turns your land drops into threats, making it very difficult to run out of gas. This is, without a doubt, the best MTG Aftermath card.