27, Apr, 23

MTG March of the Machine Limited Has a Blue Problem...

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Article at a Glance

It hasn’t quite been two weeks since March of the Machine Limited hit MTG Arena, so the format is still relatively new. This means players are still figuring out precisely the best strategies for the Limited format, but early data trends are a bit… concerning. According to 17lands.com, blue cards are absolutely dominating the scene, offering the best individual win rates and best archetypal win rate. This dominance is so drastic that data suggests that the second-best card in the entire limited format, when maindecked, is a blue common. Let’s take a look at what Blue cards you should watch out for!

Blue is Taking Over March of the Machine

Depending on what statistic you look at on 17 lands, the best card in the game may change. When looking at the best card to topdeck in the format, you’ll find Sunfall has a disgusting 70% win rate. Looking at cards with the highest win rate when having them in your starting hand will reveal that, to no one’s surprise, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is very difficult to beat. What if I told you that there’s a card that has a better winrate in your opening hand than the infamous Modern monkey itself? It may not seem easy to believe, but 17 Lands suggests this is the case, and by a whopping 3% as well.

The best card to have in your opening hand and in your deck whatsoever for March of the Machine Draft is Chrome Host Seedshark, and it’s not difficult to see why. As long as you’re consistently casting non creature spells, Chrome Host Seedshark gets out of control very quickly. Allowing you to Incubate X equal to the spell’s mana value, suddenly, all of your removal spells, like Ephara’s Dispersal, are also creating a creature token equal to its mana value. This synergizes absurdly well with the Convoke mechanic, providing easy-to-cast spells with high mana values – turning your six-mana counterspell into a counterspell and a 6/6 body.

This bomb only costs you three mana, and the creature itself has a decent statline. A 2/4 flier for three is nothing to scoff at, even without the other abilities. Every color is bound to have a powerful rare, so this doesn’t mean too much at face value. It’s everything else that suggests that March of the Machine Limited may have a blue issue.

The Second Best Card to Maindeck is a Blue Common(?)

preening champion

According to 17 Lands, there is a serious argument for picking this common over almost any other card in the format. Take this with a large grain of salt, especially considering that, should this statistic be true, blue as a color may be very difficult to build since every single person at your Draft pod will want it. Preening Champion has the second-best main decked win rate, only losing out to the Seedshark we discussed above.

This changes significantly if we look at games when drawn or games in opening hand winrates. These statistics suggest that, while a lot of winning decks have a Preening Champion in their deck somewhere, it is not the most impactful card in terms of game state. These numbers go to the various Rare and Mythic Rare bombs that players would expect to impact a game significantly. Massive haymakers like Sunfall, Boon-Bringer Valkyrie, Breach the Multiverse, Etali and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite fill out some of the best cards to topdeck. Some of these reappear alongside some cheaper threats like Ragavan and Zephr Singer for the best cards to open with. That said, when looking at the best cards to maindeck overall, the three best cards, according to the current data, are Chrome Host Seedshark, Preening Champion, and Zephr Singer. All of these cards are blue.

This trend does suggest that, if you open a big bomb in packs two or three in a color that you aren’t really equipped to splash for, picking a Preening Champion over it is a very real consideration.

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Blue Dominates the Common Slot

According to the games when maindecked winrate for March of the Machine Premier Draft on 17 Lands, the best common cards to main deck are overwhelmingly blue. In fact, the eight top cards in this metric are all blue! Again, this doesn’t necessarily suggest that these common cards have the most significant impact on a game state individually. Still, it suggests that blue is the most winning color overall, probably by a decent margin.

No matter which statistic you want to use, Preening Champion commonly appears in the top spots. This should cement the card as the best common in the format, but Ephara’s Dismissal also commonly appears among the top three slots regardless of whether you’re observing the highest winrates of games where the card is drawn, in your opening hand, or just in the main deck. For main decked win rate, 80% of the top 10 commons are blue. This drops to 60% for best commons to topdeck, and to 40% for best commons to have in your opening hand.

The Trend Continues in the Uncommon Slot

The story for uncommon cards mirrors that of the common slot. Eight of the top ten uncommons among those with the highest maindecked win rates are blue, six of the ten best uncommons to have in your opening hand are blue, and five of the top ten best uncommons to draw are blue. Notably, the four best uncommon cards to topdeck are all blue.

A big part of this is due to the very impactful multicolor payoffs in blue. Invasion of Amonkhet and Marshal of Zhalfir are all over the top rankings. The Marshal lends itself to aggressive Azorious Knights synergies, while Invasion of Amonkhet is a very powerful way to play the value game. Not only does this card +1 by drawing you a card while forcing your opponent to discard one, but the flip side of Invasion of Amonkhet threatens to copy a bomb in either player’s graveyard. This is all made even better by the invasion forcing your opponent to mill three cards, helping to meet the conditional requirements for many commons in both colors.

Halo Forger and Artistic Refusal are two other blue uncommons that commonly appear in the top spots regardless of metric. The only card to stop blue uncommon cards from entirely dominating the ‘games maindecked’ winrate is Norn’s Inquisitor. This powerful two-mana white creature Incubates for two and offers a buff to any permanent that transforms into a Phyrexian. Do note that this card is seventh for that statistic, beaten by six other blue cards.

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Try to Play Blue!

In a world where every color is open at your pod, 17Lands.com data definitely suggests that Blue should be one of the colors you play. Don’t let this scare you away from pivoting to powerful bombs like Ragavan and Sunfall, but if Blue is open, it’s difficult to argue that you should be doing something else.

Additionally, don’t let this data scare you from playing the format. Overall winrates for Blue archetypes are higher than everything else, but not by massive margins. Golgari also seems to be performing well overall, and having multiple seven-mana bombs representing huge win rates means that this format is a lot slower than many Draft formats we’ve had recently. Its not that the other March of the Machine colors are unplayable, its just that blue looks to be a bit better than the others.

This isn’t like Streets of New Capenna, where Brokers decks were miles better than any other strategy because early payoffs in those colors were way too powerful. Synergies have time to breathe, making other colors much better than they were in the Brokers format. Blue appears to have a higher power card-per-card on average, but there is room to do some other explosive things. Picking up on a blue signal can win you a draft, but spending time chasing a color that everyone else is after can also lead to ruin.

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