MTG March of the Machine’s power level looks incredibly high. There are some absolutely insane cards being released in this set that won’t just warp Standard, but could affect older formats as well. The entire set is out for players to see, and one player noticed something very odd about the set. A card type that has been in every MTG core set since the release of New Phyrexia in 2011 is strangely absent.
A Landless Event
After looking through the full set contents for March of the Machine Redditor BetaGodPhD noticed something a bit bizarre. They were quick to upload this observation onto Reddit, and it gained an incredible amount of traction. It turns out that March of the Machine is the first MTG core set in 11 years not to have a single Rare land card.
Generally, most core MTG sets will feature some sort of Rare land cycle that is primarily for the Standard format. The efficiencies that these lands provide can heavily sculpt a format. If a format is full of Triome Lands that enter tapped, but grant access to multiple colors, you may end up with 3-4 color slow decks and mono-colored aggressive decks to get under them, but as soon as you begin to introduce powerful dual-colored lands that can enter untapped in the early game, suddenly multi-colored strategies that are more aggressive in nature become a lot easier to apply.
A great example of this is the rise of Gruul in Pioneer. For a surprising stretch of Pioneer’s lifespan, Gruul had absolutely terrible mana. Most Gruul decks are aggressive in their nature, but there were not a lot of great options that could enter untapped in early turns while tapping for both colors. Gruul only had access to Stomping Ground as a strong option for quite some time.
This changed when Dominaria United made its way into the Standard spotlight. This set brought back the ally-colored pain lands. This, notably, included Karplusan Forest, another fantastic untapped land option for Gruul. At this point, Gruul Boats became a competitive archetype that players had to take seriously.
This was around the time that the first Regional Championship series occurred – and innovations were still being made. Many Gruul lists were playing some number of Rockfall Vale – a Slow land from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. This ended up being the incorrect option since the card was far too huge of a liability as a turn two play. The Gruul Boats deck in Pioneer played eight copies of Llanowar Elves/Elvish Mystic because of how powerful the turn three plays were for the deck. Playing a mana dork into a tap land on turn two can slow down your curve an entire turn, which can be devastating – especially in a mirror. Mana Confluence ended up being the correct way to innovate the deck, and players who were able to identify this had an advantage against the field. Phyrexia: All Will Be One followed this season of Regional Championships, introducing Copperline Gorge to Pioneer.
Hopefully, this example can help to illustrate why these lands are so important. It may also help to shed some light on why the community found this event somewhat bizarre.
Players are Excited!
If anything, the word that best encapsulates how the MTG community reacted to this revelation would simply be: intrigue. The mana situations in most formats are pretty healthy at this point. Standard has access to Triomes, Fastlands, Pain lands and Slow lands. There’s even a surprising amount of Field of Ruin effects in the format to punish greedy mana bases! As such, there isn’t really a need for more lands in these sets from a constructed standpoint, at least in my opinion.
The most common reaction from Redditors was that of sheer excitement. That’s because, for the first time in a decade, MTG Prerelease participants do not need to fear their pools getting ruined by a series of Rare Land cards:
“This means I can’t pull lands as 4/6 rares in my sealed pool?!”DollupGorrman
While an absurd number of Rare Land cards doesn’t necessarily make your Prerelease kit unplayable, it can replace a lot of slots that would, normally, be dedicated to bombs for your deck. This can dilute the power level of your pool compared to players who were a bit more lucky. That said, these can also help you play multicolored cards in your pool. I’ve ended up in quite a few five-colored decks that ended up doing well when I got 4-5 Land cards in my Rare slots.
Expensive Lands are Unpopular
Having land cards as expensive items is not something that a lot of the community likes. It can make putting any idea onto paper in a constructed format rather taxing on the wallet. No matter how cool your uncommon tech cards are, if you want the most efficient mana the format has to offer, you need to pay for it. This idea has been the bane of many MTG players’ wallets for quite some time, causing a lot of positive reactions to the lack of a Rare land in March of the Machine:
“from a constructed play standpoint: lands should be printed at non-rare level to make sure everyone can get them.
from a limited play standpoint: I don’t want a rare to be a land.
it’s a win-win for both formats.”Michauxonfire
This comment, which seems to be a common opinion amongst MTG players, was quickly followed up from a quote from MTG Designer Mark Rosewater addressing the reason that premium mana is Rare in the first place:
“Maro has straight up said lands are made rare for money. https://markrosewater.tumblr.com/post/163266285288/dear-maro-why-are-most-dual-lands-fetch-pain
It feels bad having to spend money / wildcards just to get a consistent mana base. Even if I was paying the same overall, I’d prefer to spend it on splashy rares.”ThomasHL
In the link that ThomasHL provides, Mark Rosewater answers a question on his Blogatog in regards to why Fetch Lands have not been reprinted as an uncommon. Rosewater simply responds that, while there are “a few different reasons, the biggest is that they sell packs.”
March of the Machine Is Going to Have a Lot of Bombs!
Most of the sets over the past 11 years have had some sort of Rare land cycle attached to them. Many of the sets introduced new Rare lands, but many of them also featured exciting reprints that the MTG community was happy to receive. That’s 11 years of players dreading opening the Rare Land cards in their prerelease pods. The absence of these may have a bigger impact on Sealed March of the Machine play than we ever imagined.
Having an absence of Land cards in the Rare slot means that MTG players attending March of the Machine Prerelease better be prepared to face an onslaught of powerful Rare bombs. There’s still going to be some Rares that you don’t want to open in a Prerelease setting, but you’ll have a lot more exciting cards to pull your attention – which may also make deckbuilding more difficult than Prerelease players are used to. Either way, at least players don’t have to worry about opening an unsettling amount of Lands in their Rare slots!