March of the Machine has officially gone online, and it has not taken long for MTG streamers to start brewing some truly terrifying archetypes! MTG’s newest set looks incredibly powerful, leading to some completely new strategies. One new March of the Machine card threatens to create an archetype so powerful in the Pioneer format that it could completely restructure the entire metagame! The deck can run Thoughtseize, Treasure Cruise and has a super fast combo finish. Let’s take a look at the new Rona, Herald of Invasion combo deck!
Rona, Herald of Invasion
Rona, Herald of Invasion, is a two-mana Legendary Creature that synergizes extremely well with Legendary spells. They untap Rona, allowing her to continue looting, which can help find a combo piece to win the game. Fortunately, Rona’s ability to untap whenever you cast a Legendary spell makes comboing really easy since zero-mana Legendary spells exist.
For the sake of Pioneer, our card of interest is Mox Amber. This card is already making waves in the Modern format since it’s capable of going infinite with Underworld Breach and Grinding Station. This deck broke out around September last year and is still relevant to the metagame. Many players have divided opinions nowadays regarding whether the Grinding Station approach is the best way to take the Underworld Breach archetype, but the card has, nonetheless, already made its mark. Fortunately, Mox Amber saw a recent reprint as a part of the Retro Artifact Bonus Sheet, which has helped its availability in paper immensely.
Mox Amber allows Rona to untap and loot for free, which also helps with redundancy since Rona can discard extra Mox Amber. All we need, past this point, is a way to bounce and re-cast the Amber, and we’re in infinite territory. Enter Retraction Helix.
Astute MTG combo players should recognize this particular card. That’s because Retraction Helix tends to resurface as a combo option whenever some new untap shenanigans are on the table. Perhaps best known as a combo enabler with Jeskai Ascendancy, Retraction Helix is a great tool that allows Rona, Herald of Invasion and Mox Amber to become an infinite mana combo. Instead of looting with Rona, you can instead tap her to return Mox Amber to your hand. You can, in turn, cast Mox Amber for free to untap Rona. If you add mana with the Amber, you can create infinite blue mana. At this point, you only need a win condition like Diligent Excavator to mill your opponent out.
The deck can go a bit further in terms of setting up the combo. Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler synergizes brilliantly with Rona, Herald of Invasion and puts the deck squarely in Sultai. Tyvar can reanimate your combo pieces, untap Rona with his ability or on his cast, and allow Rona to tap as soon as it enters the battlefield.
For extra redundancy, we have Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. This Legendary creature also loots, which helps further in finding the combo, and can turn on Mox Amber. If you happen to mill or discard a Retraction Helix, Jace’s minus ability can help recur the spell, adding another level of consistency to the build. There’s even a wackier win condition that involves Tyvar, Jace and Cankerbloom – which can Proliferate Jace to his Ultimate ability after he flips – milling out the opponent.
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It’s only day one of March of the Machine on Magic Online, but streamers looking at the archetype already mark this deck as a potential format shaker. Credits for the early builds go to MTG streamer TandyMTG and Twitter user sarah_shearing. There’s lots of room for Pioneer staples in this build. Fatal Push helps keep aggressive mana dorks off the board. Thoughtseize can disrupt your opponent’s gameplan while getting rid of pesky removal that may stop your combo. Notably, having an opponent Fatal Push your Rona in response to your Retraction Helix can be a rather devastating two-for-one.
Treasure Cruise, finally, is a fantastic refuel option that is further enabled by all of the looters and mill effects that are already a natural part of the combo. Many players looking to try the archetype have commented that Dig Through Time may be a better Delve payoff that can find missing combo pieces easier, but Shearing, who is responsible for bringing this idea to light, currently values Jegantha as a Companion over the potential consistency of Dig Through Time.
Of course, this idea is still incredibly fresh, and the optimal variant of this combo could look nothing like its current iteration. While the deck seems much weaker in Explorer, it could also see play there. If you do try this on MTGO, note that executing the combo takes a long time, so beating the clock can be quite challenging.