In case you’ve somehow missed all the hubbub, in 2023, Wizards is experimenting with premier sets in a major way. Rather than just releasing the usual quartet of Premier MTG sets, Wizards is also debuting a new “Micro Set.” Aptly named March of the Machine: The Aftermath, this first-of-its-kind set provides plenty of consequences to the long-running Phyrexian Arc.
Filled full of powerful tribal legendary creatures and desparked planeswalkers, March of the Machine: The Aftermath has a lot to be excited about. Despite these compelling details, however, the set is also steeped in controversy. Thanks to diminished story content, tiny but nonetheless expensive packs, and release schedule woes, a lot of players aren’t happy with this fledgling product. So much so, that some players are trying to keep micro sets from being a part of Magic’s future.
At the time of writing, the future of micro sets in MTG is somewhat ambiguous. With Wizards stating they’re “going to start by seeing how this one goes,” it seems the future of this new product hangs in the balance.
Currently, it’s far too early to tell if this newfangled product will actually be a sales success. After all, March of the Machine: The Aftermath hasn’t even been released yet. Despite this small detail, however, MTG players are already trying to tip the scales of balance to determine the fate of micro sets.
As you might expect from the title, overall MTG players aren’t entirely fond of the idea of more micro sets. When kicking off this discussion, however, Werewolfcommanderplayer offered a more positive opinion to MTG’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater. Proposing that “one or two 50 card story-based micro sets,” a year is a “positive route for MTG,” Werewolfcommanderplayer had quite the pitch.
Highlighting how micro sets expand a plane’s lore and scope, alongside “archetypes that received less love,” there are certainly positives. So much so, in fact, that while “Aftermath may not hit the mark,” Werewolfcommanderplayer doesn’t believe the idea should be scrapped entirely. After all, with some tweaking, micro sets have a lot of potentials that could be realized in the future!
Unfortunately for Werewolfcommanderplayer, as positive as the features seem for the future of MTG, this one suggestion wasn’t enough to convince Rosewater. Subsequently, rather than providing a definitive answer about the future, Rosewater turned the question around. “What do you all think of this general idea?”
Across Tumblr, several of these responses were rather positive, as you can see below. As we’ll get to shortly, however, weren’t so happy about a micro-set-filled future.
“I would love this, as it can help flesh out the plane without the involvement of planeswalkers, and it can support some mechanics that didn’t get a ton of love in a main set.”Terminotter
“As a story-focused player (when it comes to standard sets) I love the extra attention to the story in a time period when Standard is in ‘off-season’.”Thisisanuncreativeusername
“I agree with this statement. This might be the only way we see Mercadia and Ulgrotha again.”Exactchangeman
Problems Problems Problems
Despite the positive potential that micro sets have for MTG’s storytelling and format health, on Tumblr, many players pointed out that this new product still has a lot of problems that Wizards needs to fix. The first, and arguably most damning of these, is the price. Currently on Amazon, an Epilogue Booster Box for March of the Machine: The Aftermath costs $82.45. In the eyes of many players, this is far too much to pay. All the more so when you consider March of the Machine: The Aftermath Epilogue Boosters only contain five cards.
Based on Amazon prices, a single card from an Epilogue Booster Box costs $0.68 on average. In comparison, a card from a March of the Machine Draft Booster Box costs just $0.33. Thanks to this price difference, it’s no wonder Tumblr users such as Caulifloodle aren’t too happy about Epilogue Boosters.
“The price-per-pack of Aftermath is an absolute joke. It’s literally offensive.”Caulifloodle
Alongside the rather problematic price point, MTG players also weren’t too happy about the applications of a micro set. As March of the Machine: The Aftermath demonstrates, micro sets can certainly have good cards for Standard and Commander players. For Limited fans, however… Well, you can’t even use March of the Machine: The Aftermath packs in any sanctioned event! Since Limited is one of the most popular MTG formats, which reportedly isn’t declining in popularity, this may seem like quite an odd choice. Whatever the reasons for this decision, however, numerous MTG players aren’t too happy about it!
“I am strongly opposed to having standard legal sets that cannot be used for limited. I really dislike this idea.”Llanowarminotaur
“I’d be interested if there was a way to hook these into Limited to shake things up a bit. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t buy boosters just to buy them, but I also don’t mind the product existing if other people enjoy it.”Escapingburger
As if MTG players hadn’t already condemned micro sets enough, others suggested their greatest potential strength is actually a weakness. Rather than providing a decisive and compelling end to a story, some players are complaining Aftermath cards feel like teasers.
“[Aftermath] cards don’t feel like ‘closing plot holes’, but teasers for future things. So it’s not like, “the part of the story that didn’t fit in March”, it’s cliffhangers and teasers, which I’m not fond of like this”Apo08
“I don’t pay to watch the Marvel post-credit stingers.”Timelyintervention
From the responses across Tumblr, it’s safe to say micro sets have a lot of problems that need addressing right now. Even if all of these are fixed, however, these additional sets will always be causing trouble. This is thanks to the additional stress they place on the crowded MTG release calendar.
In theory, since Alchemy sets currently occupy the slot one month after release the number of releases would stay the same. Provided that micro sets getting continued causes Alchemy sets to be no more, that is. In reality, however, even if Alchemy sets stop existing, the release schedule problems don’t disappear.
Since it is a much-hated and digital-exclusive format, Alchemy releases can very easily be ignored. After all, few devoted MTG players actually play the format, let alone care about it. The same is not true, however, for micro sets. Legal in almost every MTG format, players would have to keep up to date with the spoilers to remain knowledgeable. Even if only 50 cards get released, this is still 50 new cards, and countless art treatments, to pay attention to.
Ultimately, Wizards of the Coast has not confirmed their plans for future micro sets just yet. In fact, as we noted at the start, Wizards is starting “by seeing how this one goes.” Subsequently, if March of the Machine: The Aftermath isn’t a success, players may not have to worry about micro sets in the future. If this unique upcoming set is a sales success, however, then micro sets may well become the norm! Whether or not that happens, however, remains to be seen, as March of the Machine: The Aftermath hasn’t been released yet.