After months of anticipation, the release of Dominaria United is almost upon us. Over the weekend, players flocked to prerelease events to get a taste of the set ahead of Friday’s official launch. Despite Dominaria United featuring format warping bombs, it was a different set that stole the limelight. Not due out until 2023, Phyrexia: All Will Be One briefly became the most talked about set of the weekend. This was thanks to the surprise leak of a card from the set five months ahead of schedule.
Elesh Norn, Legion Machinist
Revealed long before Wizards of the Coast would have hoped, Elesh Norn, Legion Machinist is the significant bad threat of Phyrexia: All Will Be One. That would be the case, at least, if the leaked card weren’t entirely fake. That’s the opinion of the MagicTCG subreddit, at least, who essentially condemned the card shortly after it was posted. After less than a day of critical dissection by the subreddit, moderators swiftly took down the post. Since this is far from the first leaked card to be posted, it’s no surprise moderators are quick to action.
While users were quick to joke that Elesh Norn, Legion Machinist was an “obvious fake” because the “picture quality is too good,” there were plenty of reasons to be skeptical. The printing quality, for instance, is all over the place. Most visibly, the entire card is shifted to the left, so much so that it’s uncanny to look at for long periods. Additionally, the all-important security seal isn’t correctly placed or shaped on the card. All of these issues are as clear as day thanks to the lack of camera trickery. As the leak for Sheoldred, Insidious Conqueror proved, a bit of blur can go a long way to convincing people that your leak is real.
Beyond the wonky printings, MagicTCG users had even more bones to pick with Elesh Norn, Legion Machinist. Rather astutely, it was noted that the art on the card was vital art from the set which had recently been announced at Wizards Presents 2022. Using a set’s key art in this way is very nontypical for Wizards of the Coast, further casting doubt on the leak. The collector number of the card also seemed slightly suspicious to keen-eyed players. As user Micalovits noted, “the collector number is also a little low, in Dominaria United this card would have been 18, and 11 in New Capenna which had a big multi-color focus.”
Elesh Norn, Absolute Powerhouse
While Elesh Norn, Legion Machinist has been utterly dismissed as a somewhat shoddily made fake, the card is nonetheless interesting. There is a slim chance that this fake may not be far off the mark. Like all Phyrexian Praetors, Elesh Norn, Legion Machinist features two mirrored abilities, one that aids you and one that harms your opponent. By continuing this design trend that started in New Phyrexia, Elesh Norn, Legion Machinist looks fairly correct at first glance.
However, doubts start to appear again when analyzing the power of Elesh Norn’s abilities. To put it lightly, Elesh Norn, Legion Machinist would be powerful, devastatingly so, in fact. While its positive ability, which gives +1/+1 to creatures whenever a creature you control enters the battlefield, is helpful, it isn’t something we haven’t seen before. Elesh Norn, Legion Machinist’s negative ability, however, is utterly apocalyptic. By giving your opponent’s creatures -1/-1 whenever a creature enters the battlefield under their control, Elesh Norn, Legion Machinist can absolutely ruin your opponent’s day.
Unlike Elesh Norn’s previous printing, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Elesh Norn, Legion Machinist is also exceptionally cheap. At just three mana, Elesh Norn, Legion Machinist would be quite frankly oppressive to play against. Any deck built around tokens or even thinking about going wide would be completely hosed instantly. If you thought The Meathook Massacre was bad, think again. Thankfully, due to this overwhelming power, Wizards of the Coast would likely never let this card get printed.
Elesh Norn, Five Months Away
As much as it might be fun to think that Elesh Norn, Legion Machinist, is a peek into the future, ultimately, the real deal is still a ways away. Currently, Phyrexia: All Will Be One is scheduled to launch in January 2023. This means we’ll likely wait for four or five months to learn more about the Phyrexian leader’s return. Once they do return anew, players are expecting something big.
As the climactic villain for the Phyrexian Arc, Elesh Norn’s appearance is expected to be a big deal. With plans to “conquer the Multiverse,” and probably kill some Planeswalkers along the way, Elesh Norn certainly has lofty ambitions. As a result, many players are expecting something bigger than the three mana Elesh Norn, Legion Machinist. Players are also expecting a name that’s not “boring af.”