March of the Machine had its first look this past weekend, revealing some of the wackiest spoilers MTG has ever seen. It’s not often that a Magic card feels like its own iteration of The Avengers, but we suddenly have a bunch of Legendary creatures from MTG’s lore teaming up in a last-ditch effort to stop Elesh Norn’s plan from coming to Compleation. Among these unlikely duos is a particular creature that can easily be cheated out on turn three but could theoretically hit the board even earlier. There’s no Sneak Attack or Show and Tell tradeoff to suffer, either. This is all because the new Ghalta and Mavren card happens to be a Vampire.
Seven Mana Creatures Have Changed Over the Years
Ghalta and Mavren is a massive 12/12 beast with a converted mana cost, or mana value, of seven. This is a far cry from old seven mana creatures (we’re looking at you, Axebane Stag), showing how massive the power creep for straight stats have been over the years. Look at the new Bloated Contaminator from Phyrexia: All Will Be One – a three-mana 4/4 in one color with no drawbacks.
One major misconception with Ghalta and Mavren that can be solved with a simple read is that this card will not make 12/12 Dinosaur tokens every time it attacks. Ghalta’s first ability, which creates X/X Dinosaur creature tokens with trample whenever you attack, cares about other attacking creatures. If for whatever reason, you’re trying to go wide in a deck with a massive 12/12 creature, you can instead create X 1/1 Vampire creature tokens with Lifelink equal to the number of other attacking creatures.
This is a pretty impressive body to get out on turn three without any downsides, but how the heck are we doing that when Ghalta and Mavren has a mana value of seven? Well, this creature happens to be a Vampire, and Sorin is capable of doing some crazy things.
Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord
Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord is one of the most powerful Vampire support cards ever to be printed in MTG. This three-mana Planeswalker has three loyalty abilities that all care about interacting with Vampires in some way, shape, or form. We’re interested in the card’s third ability, which allows you to put a Vampire creature card from your hand onto the battlefield- allowing you to cheat out Ghalta and Mavren with no downsides. Easy!
The exciting thing is, should Sorin survive alongside your newly acquired Dinosaur Vampire, his +1 ability, should your creature be allowed to connect, will put you absurdly far ahead of your opponent. By Giving Ghalta and Mavren a +1/+1 counter, Lifelink, and Deathtouch, the card becomes almost impossible to block because of the Trample plus Deathtouch combination. For those unaware, this means that Ghalta and Mavren only need to assign one damage to each blocking creature to kill it. The rest will Trample through to your opponent’s face. The Lifelink is just a relevant since you will no longer need to worry about the crackback in an aggressive matchup – unless, for whatever reason, 13 Lifelink isn’t going to save you.
Until now, the most common card for players to cheat out with Sorin’s minus ability is the Champion of Dusk. This was generally played in a Vampire tribal shell, where the Champion could cash in on a board full of cheap Vampire creatures and refill the aggressive player’s hand.
While this particular pick needs some support to get right, Morophon, the Boundless may be the most powerful card that Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord, can cheat out. When played alongside The First Sliver, Morophon can create an absurd series of Cascade spells that end the game on the spot. That said, this needs an entire shell built around the three-card combo.
Will This See Play?
While someone will likely pull this degeneracy in a Commander game, I think this combo could also see some Pioneer play. We already have a similar combo in the form of Greasefang, Okiba Boss and Parhelion II in the format, which, admittedly, is probably easier to set up than this combo since cards don’t necessarily have to be in your hand. Either way, both cards are very legal in the format, and while a 12/12 on turn three will by absolutely no means break the format, it could potentially keep up. I say potentially because, honestly, whether this combo will see play or not will heavily depend on the other cards in the deck. If the shell surrounding this combo is good enough, it could be a new deck, but this likely isn’t good enough to see play independently without some decent support.