Wizards of the Coast just uploaded a new chapter to the March of the Machine Story. This reintroduces a character that was recently thought to be dead, and a new, powerful Planeswalker card has been previewed beside it. Angel fans will absolutely love the new Archangel Elspeth card we are getting with March of the Machine! That said, there will be some story spoilers discussed alongside this card. If you want to read the stories for yourself before diving into this discussion, you can do so here.
This newest spoiler reveals that Elspeth did not blow herself up to kingdom come at the end of the Phyrexia: All Will Be One storyline. As she triumphantly returns from Serra’s ability to allow Elspeth to ‘truly become what she was meant to be,’ she has been reborn as an Archangel in time to save the Multiverse from a cruel fate.
Archangel Elspeth is not likely to break any formats, but the card does look like it could see some Standard play. At a level one functionality, the card is outperformed in a lot of ways by The Wandering Emperor from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. For the same mana value, you get the game’s only instant speed Planeswalker, which is both a threat and a piece of removal. In that lens, this new Planeswalker can only pale in comparison.
This doesn’t take away from Elspeth’s strong plus ability. Creating a Lifelinking Soldier is pretty impressive, especially for formats that have incredibly aggressive options like Selesnya Toxic and Mono-Red Aggro. While Elspeth’s minus can turn any run-of-the-mill creature into a serious threat in Draft, it may not have much use in most constructed settings. That said, this can turn non-Angel creatures into Angels, which could have some cool Commander applications.
In my opinion, the real power behind this Elspeth is her Ultimate. There are some pretty powerful Proliferate spells in Standard, which should allow Elspeth’s Ultimate to be pretty easy to realize even one turn after she resolves. This could, but is admittedly unlikely to, create a new combo deck that focuses on filling out the graveyard with effects like Fallaji Archeologist and Jace, the Perfected Mind to make a considerable tempo swing by resurrecting a ton of permanents to the battlefield. Unless someone discovers another combo regarding her Ultimate, or even potentially her minus ability, this Planeswalker probably will not see play outside of Standard, Commander, and maybe Oathbreaker.
A big part about Elspeth’s Ultimate is that it resurrects more than just creatures. Since the Planeswalker can resurrect all nonland permanents with mana value three or less, you can also resurrect things like the Filigree Sylex that caused Elspeth to be reborn in the first place. While we may need more permanents that grant a surplus of Oil Counters for the ten-damage ability on this card to be the catalyst for a new archetype, the proposal stands. Just find some sort of payoff that doesn’t die to a Farewell the next turn, and Elspeth’s Ultimate may be able to win games out of nowhere.
Alternatively, this Planeswalker could end up seeing no play, but the abundance of accessible Proliferate abilities makes me think that someone will try to make this work.
Applauded as a Planeswalker from the Past
Many elements that govern Archangel Elspeth’s abilities have players applauding a nostalgic aspect of the card. Redditors comment that this Planeswalker feels like it was from an era that has passed:
“I don’t know how to describe it, but she feels like she was designed for a set 10 years ago. A very “classic” approach to a planeswalker.
I think it’s the fact she doesn’t give a flying counter, but straight up just perma-flying.”Fenrirr
Elspeth doesn’t interact with any new mechanics, as she simply grants Flying to a creature targeted by her minus ability rather than giving it a Flying Counter. Unlike all of the new-age Planeswalkers like The Eternal Wanderer that have a pseudo-Ultimate that can be used immediately upon her resolution, Elspeth’s Ultimate is a game-altering ability that you need to work up towards.
According to Redditor davidesma, that’s because this card heavily references Elspeth’s first Planeswalker iteration from years past. Elspeth Knight-Errant was released as a part of the Shards of Alara set back in 2008. Elspeth, Knight-Errant has the same mana value as her newest iteration and has very similar abilities. The plus ability creates a soldier token, the second ability is a bit different between the Elspeths, but both give a buff and grant Flying to a creature, and the Ultimate does something game-altering should the player reach it.
Read More: Major MTG Character Has Been Confirmed Dead!
What Will You Do?
Whether or not this Elspeth sees competitive play, Angel players are likely pretty excited to see a new Planeswalker dedicated to their tribe of choice. With Serra being the one that grants Elspeth’s rebirth, it only seems fitting that the new angel has reappeared in the March of the Machine story in such an explosive way. While Elesh Norn has begun to unravel due to her clash with the Archangel, there is still much more story left to be told.