Invasion of New Phyrexia
29, Mar, 23

March of the Machine MTG Mechanics Officially Revealed

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Thanks to its position as the final chapter during the Phyrexian Arc, March of the Machine is one of the most anticipated MTG sets in years. Promising to change the Multiverse as we know it, players have undoubtedly been excited, to say the least. Now, after literal years of build-up and months of anticipation, the wait is finally over. March of the Machine’s story has concluded, and following the recent Set Debut video, more spoilers have been released. These spoilers include a proper look at the hugely hyped new MTG card type: Battle Cards. While inadvertently leaked yesterday, MTG players have now been given a proper look at what to expect from March of the Machine’s Mechanics. So, without any more waffling, let’s get into all of the MTG mechanics you can expect to see! 

Battle Cards 

March of the Machine Battle Cards
Battle Cards | March of the Machine

After first being officially teased on Atraxa, Grand Unifier, Battle cards have been the talk of the town. Prior to a recent leak, these cards were shrouded in mystery, leading to all kinds of speculation from fans. Initially, the cards were believed to be a variant of the scrapped Skrimish mechanic. However, we now know that wasn’t to be. Instead, Battle cards are an evolution of the unused Structures mechanic, devised by MTG Creator Richard Garfield. Originally intended for Ravnica: City of Guilds, this mechanic was ultimately scrapped, however, they’ve since been reborn as Battle cards. 

Similarly to the design of Structures, Battle cards have an unusual twist compared to every other type of MTG card. Namely, when you play a Battle card in its Siege form, you’re not the one protecting it. Instead, you choose an opponent to be the card’s protector. Following that, the Battle card can be attacked, by anyone other than its protector, similarly to a Planeswalker. Just like a Planeswalker, Battle cards can also be the target of Instants and Sorceries.

Once on the battlefield, Battle cards have a number of Defense Counters, which basically function the same as Loyalty counters on Planeswalkers. After the Defense Counters has been depleted, its owner/original caster re-casts the spell transformed. Once transformed, the Battle card becomes a different card type with new stats and abilities. Notably, during the Weekly MTG Aftershow, it was revealed Battle cards can become artifacts or creatures. How this happens, however, is currently unclear.

So far, only a handful of Battle cards have been revealed. Nevertheless, many of these cards look incredibly enticing for players. The Invasion of Fiora, for instance, offers a potent board wipe ability that can leave the Battle exposed. Alternatively, the seemingly leaked spoiler Invasion of Zendikar offers a strong ramp ability before transforming into even more ramp! If you’re looking to build a board, Battle cards can also do that through Invastion of New Phyrexia. First creating X 2/2 Knight tokens, this Battle transforms into the Planeswalker Teferi, Akosa of Zhalfir.

Backup

Boon Bringer Valkyrie & Archpriest of Shadows
Boon Bringer Valkyrie & Archpriest of Shadows | March of the Machine

While Battle cards are sure to steal the show due to their novelty, March of the Machine also features some more traditional new MTG mechanics. The first of these we’ll be talking about today is Backup. Thankfully, unlike the unorthodox mechanics of Battle cards, Backup is a fairly straightforward MTG mechanic. When a creature with Backup comes into play, you put a +1/+1 counter on a target creature. Alongside this, that target creature also receives the “following abilities” of the original Backup creature until the end of turn. In the case of Boon-Bringer Valkrie the target creature will temporarily receive Flying, First Strike, and Lifelink. If you don’t want to share the love, you can alternatively target the Backup creature with its own ability. Doing this, however, only grants the +1/+1 counter, without doubling up the abilities.

So far, following the Set Debut video, only a pair of Backup cards have been revealed. Subsequently, it’s rather hard to judge the full strength of the mechanic just yet. At the time of writing, the Backup cards we’ve seen have all had fairly high costs. Archpriest of Shadows, and their resurrection ability, for instance, don’t come cheap. Should cheaper Backup cards exist, however, they may be an effective source of +1/+1 counters for aggressive decks. Ultimately, however, with so little revealed so far, we’ll just have to wait and see what spoiler season brings up for this mechanic.

Incubate

Merciless Repurposing &  Glissa, Herald of Predation
Merciless Repurposing & Glissa, Herald of Predation | March of the Machine

If Backup wasn’t a simple enough mechanic for you, thankfully, March of the Machine’s next mechanic is even easier! Named Incubate, this new numbered mechanic simply creates a double-sided token with a number of +1/+1 counters on it. Initially entering the battlefield as an Artifact, these Incubator tokens can be transformed into a Phyrexian Token Artifact Creature for two mana. Once transformed, the token’s power and toughness are dependent on the number of +1/+1 counters, as it’s otherwise a 0/0. 

To demonstrate an example, Merciless Repurposing has Incubate 3. Subsequently, upon being cast, an Incubator token will be created with 3 +1/+1 counters on it. At any point, this token may be transformed into a Phyreixan Artifact Creature that’ll have 3/3 stats. If this sounds simple, it’s because it is! We told you it would be! 

Currently, just like Backup, very few Incubate cards have been spoiled so far. Subsequently, it’s difficult to assess the mechanic’s strengths and weaknesses accurately. However, if Merciless Repurposing is anything to go by, the mechanic is destined for Limited events and not much else. As while it’s a nice added benefit to an exile effect, this extra effect is hardly stealing the show. Thankfully, as Glissa, Herald of Predation, proves, Incubator isn’t just a meager added bonus. Despite this, we’re not quite sure if players will be clamoring to build a deck around this rather slow mechanic. That being said, however, synergies with Mondrak, Glory Dominus, and other token doublers are very exciting. 

Planechase

Towashi
Towashi | March of the Machine Planechase

Alongside the new MTG mechanics appearing within the main March of the Machine set, Commander players are getting a special treat. After 11 long years, more Planechase cards are being created. Found within each of the five preconstructed Commander decks, in total, 25 new Planechase cards are being released. In case you’ve not played with the somewhat niche mechanic before, it all revolves around the Planar die.

Adorned with a Planeswalker symbol, Chaos symbol, and four blank faces, this die can be rolled any number of times per turn. While the first roll of each turn is free, subsequent rolls during the turn cost one more than the last. Upon the die landing on the Planeswalker symbol, players will Planewalk to a new plane. The new plane is determined by the active player revealing the top card of their Planar deck. Should the die land on the Chaos symbol, however, the “Whenever Chaos ensues” effect of the current Plane will trigger. 

Read More: MTG March of the Machine Precon Commanders Revealed!

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