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5, Apr, 23

March of the Machine Brings Back a 24-Year-Old Mechanic

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Within the latest MTG premier set, March of the Machine, it’s safe to say there’s a lot going on. This is all thanks to the Phyrexian Arc ending in spectacular fashion by bringing the multiverse together. Bridging planes through the Phyrexian world tree, Realmbreaker, March of the Machine features characters and mechanics from all over. There’s even a brand new card type being introduced to show off just how impactful this Multiversal war is! Thankfully, to keep things from being too confusing, not every mechanic in the set is a brand-new innovation. In fact, some decades-old mechanics are making a surprise return within one of March of the Machine’s many products! 

Horsemanship Is Back!

Herald of Hoofbeats
Herald of Hoofbeats | March of the Machine

First introduced all the way back in 1999’s Portal Three Kingdoms, Horsemanship is a surprisingly simple but nevertheless unloved mechanic. Sitting at a nine on the storm scale, you might expect Horsemanship to be a confusing nightmare of a mechanic. In reality, however, Horsemanship is basically just a slight variation on Flying. In case you’re unfamiliar with this 24-year-old mechanic, only creatures with Horsemanship can attack and block one another, that’s it. Thanks to this simplicity, this horse-themed mechanic may seem harmless, however, MTG’s designers lamented Horsemanship for being a parasitic mechanic. By only interacting with itself, Horsemanship wasn’t very fun to play, subsequently, it wasn’t used for over 20 years. 

Within 2022, Horsemanship made a surprise return within the comedy-focused Un-set, Unfinity. Unfortunately for fans of this problematic mechanic, Unfinity only featured one Horsemanship card: Merry-Go-Round. An Eternal-legal card, Merry-Go-Round is an Attraction granting Horsemanship to your creatures with power two or less. While this effect could be surprisingly effective in aggressive decks, ultimately, the card was quickly forgotten as a mere novelty. Fast forward a few months, however, and with hindsight, it’s possible to say Merry-Go-Round was a glimpse into the future. 

As you may have gathered from this hint and the revealing image above, March of the Machine includes a brand-new Horsemanship card. Named Herald of Hoofbeats, this card could actually be quite good. By granting Horsemanship to all other Knights you control, Herald of Hoofbeats could be a compelling choice for tribal decks. After all, unless it’s taken out by removal, Herald of Hoofbeats effectively makes your entire board of Knights unblockable. 

A Fated Return

The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
The Battle of the Pelennor Fields | The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth

While the return of Horsemanship is obviously an exciting and surprising opportunity, it remarkably wasn’t the detail catching players’ attention. Instead, following off the back of the mechanics’ return in Unfintiy, many players are suspecting Wizards is up to something. On Reddit, for instance, u/youarelookingatthis claimed that this one-off card could be a throw-forward to The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth. Commenting “fully expecting this to also be in the LOTR set,” it seems almost apparent what Wizards is up to. 

“MaRo is on record that they were having trouble with incorporating an evasion mechanic for Limited in an upcoming set and that they eventually found a different solution. A lot of people assume that it was the lack of Flying creatures in LotR and that the solution is going to be a return of Horsemanship. Given the entire shtick of Rohan, I think it’s a pretty safe bet.”

u/therealflyingtoastr

At the moment, it’s far too early to tell whether or not this theory about Horsemanship’s return is actually accurate. That being said, however, the stars seem to align around the unusual mechanic. Even ignoring the recent potential throw-forwards, as u/therealflyingtoastr pointed out, Tales of Middle-earth is the perfect place for it. After all, as a Lord of the Rings-themed set, it’s pretty obvious the Riders of Rohan will make an appearance. Just look at the art for the Battle of Pelennor Fields, as an example, we can already see them there! Alongside this, the Riders of Rohan are even getting their very own Commander deck! This deck’s color identity even lines up with Horsemanship’s main colors: white, blue, and red.

Given all these details, it’s incredibly understandable why many players are predicting the return of Horsemanship. We’re even somewhat convinced ourselves! That being said, however, it’s obviously important to note that some art of a horse doesn’t mean Horsemanship. After all, within MTG, there are literally hundreds of pieces of artwork that depict characters on horseback. Despite all this art, only 38 cards have or care about Horsemanship. Subsequently, it’s probably best not to go too deep down the prediction rabbit hole.

Plenty More Where That Came From

March of the Machine Commander Card

Thankfully, if the reappearance of Horsemanship isn’t enough to excite you, March of the Machine has much more to offer. Within the quintet Commander decks, for instance, there are a plethora of Legendary Creature team-ups to enjoy. Offering dozens of intriguing and powerful potential Commanders, cards like Rashmi and Ragavan are already delighting MTG players. Alongside this, within the preconstructed Commander decks, Planechase is returning and getting new cards after an 11-year absence. As if all that wasn’t enough already, the Multiverse Legends bonus sheet from the main set offers reprints of many classic Commander favorites. With three of these cards appearing within each Collector Booster, prices of rather expensive cards such as Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer should be on the decline. From all this, it’s safe to say March of the Machine is absolutely fantastic for Commander players. 

Read More: The Most Disappointing MTG Villain Finally Has a Good Card!

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