March of the Machine depicts the Phyrexians launching an invasion across many of MTG’s most beloved planes. Even with the limited information that we currently have, it’s possible to determine many of the returning planes which will be featured in the set. Naturally many of these planes are some of Magic’s more popular worlds, but there are a few surprises and obscure choices thrown into the mix.
Planes Guaranteed To Appear
Our primary source of information on which planes the Phyrexians will attack comes from the cycle of gain lands which are due to appear in March of the Machine. Each of these lands depicts a different plane being besieged by Phyrexia.Bloodfell Caves depicts New Capenna at sunset, with Phyrexian corruption streaking across the sky. The flavor text notes that Atraxa is leading the assault on the city in the hopes of dealing with its halo supply, a magical resource on the plane that is harmful to Phyrexians. Blossoming Sands depicts the deserts of Amonkhet becoming plagued with mechanical flowers. The flavor text references an army called “the copper host” who are likely a green-aligned Phyrexian force due to the corrupted flowers that they are sewing across the desert. Jungle Hollow shows that the Phyrexians will be attacking Ixalan. The card’s flavor text implies that the Phyrexians are raising the dead, assumingly fossilized dinosaurs, from within tar pits on the plane. This could potentially be setting up the plot of the upcoming set Lost Caverns of Ixalan. Ixalan’s presence is further confirmed by the cardGhalta and Mavren.
Zendikar seems to have the odds stacked against it. Rugged Highlands shows the plane will appear, and Omnath Locus of all shows that one of its most iconic creatures will end up getting corrupted by the Phyrexians. Drana and Linvala remain safe from corruption though and may be able to turn the tide.Swiftwater Cliffs shows Kaladesh being attacked, with the flavor text stating that the invasion will involve Jin-Gitaxias and the Chrome host, assumingly a blue-aligned Phyrexian faction. We have also seen Baral, Chief of Compliance, a character from this world, fighting the Phyrexians off in some concept art.
Theros also comes under Phyrexian attack. Tranquil Cove demonstrates this. Though the cove likely will not remain tranquil for long as the Phyrexians have corrupted the king of the plane’s gods, turning him from Heliod, the Radiant Dawn into Heliod, the Warped Eclipse.Dismal Backwater, Thornwood Falls, and Scoured Barrens also serve to show that the Phyrexians will be invading Kamigawa, Eldraine, and Ikoria respectively.
Of course no, Phyrexian invasion would be complete, unless they returned to the world which thwarted them initially: Dominaria. The March of the Machine version of Wind-Scarred Crag shows that the invaders have carved out a monument to Elesh Norn. Interestingly this monument appears to have replaced the monument to Serra which was previously seen in the artwork of the card Clifftop Retreat.
Other Planes Due To Appear
Although none of these cards depict Ravnica being attacked by the Phyrexians, and we haven’t currently received any explicit confirmation that Ravnica will feature in the set, it would be hugely surprising if one of Magic’s most popular planes did not appear in March of the Machine. Ravnica’s presence can be inferred from one of the pieces of artwork for mountains in the set that shows what appears to be an Izzet building. This artwork also features a neat easter egg. If you look closely at the windows in the foreground they are shaped like the Phyrexian sigil. Quite why the Phyrexians are working on reshaping Ravnican windows is unclear.
Although no lands from Innistrad are depicted in this cycle, the plane is certain to appear given the presence of Thalia and the Gitrog Monster, as well as Katilda and Lier in the set.
One of the pieces of artwork depicting a forest seems to show Kaldheim. Just like on the mountain artwork from Ravnica, you can see the symbol of Phyrexia hidden in the artwork of this card, scrawled across the ground in the snow. Furthermore, the goddess Esika appears in the artwork on the Draft Booster box, riding in her iconic chariot.
Strixhaven will also appear in the set. Quintorius, Field Historian appears on the set booster box artwork, whilst Dina, Soul Steeper is on the draft booster artwork. Maybe the two will appear together as a team-up legendary card?
The final clue we currently have to determine which planes will be appearing in March of the Machines, comes from the artwork for a cycle of so-called “invasion” cards. It is on these cards that we see some hints of the more obscure planes that March of the Machine will take us to.
The cards in the cycle are: Invasion of Lorwyn, Invasion of Tarkir, Invasion of Shandalar, Invasion of Mercadia, and Invasion of Alara. Some of these are well-known and popular worlds so it’s no surprise that they will be appearing here. Lorwyn, Tarkir, and Alara all have their fans and even though we haven’t seen the planes in many years. Tarkir, the most recently visited of the planes, had its time in Standard eight years ago. No tour of the multiverse would be complete without visiting these worlds.
The two surprising planes on this list are Shandalar and Mercadia. Shandalar was the setting for the 1997 Magic: the Gathering video game developed by Microprose. There are a few cards in Magic already that reference Shandalar, most notably Soul of Shandalar from Core Set 2015 which depicts the plane’s primal essence. Shandalar is described by Mark Rosewater as a: “generic fantasy world for core set cards that are trying to be top-down fantasy tropes”. In March of the Machine, Shandalar will finally be breaking out of its core set niche and appearing in a major moment of Magic’s history.
Mercadia, meanwhile, is a plane that is deeply unpopular. According to Rosewater, the world: “wasn’t popular at the time, and I don’t believe it’s aged well”. The world has a mercantile theme, coupled with an emphasis on masques and masquerades. Mercadia was the setting for the 1999 set Mercadian Masques, which brought the game’s power level down significantly after the incredibly powerful preceeding three sets in Urza’s block. The weak cards in the set partially explain its unpopularity, and Its return is surprising to be sure.
Planes We Probably Won’t Be Seeing
Not every Magic: the Gathering plane will be appearing in March of the Machines. In a post on his blog Mark Rosewater, Magic’s lead designer, confirmed that planes in the “Un-iverse” like Bablovia from Unstable and the theme park from Unfinity will not be appearing. Given that it would create a very strange tone if the Phyrexian army had to deal with the Curse of the Fire Penguin or fight off a Vedalken Squirrel-Whacker this is probably for the best.
There is currently a debate on Reddit about whether the plane of Rabiah, which is inspired by Arabic folklore, may appear in the set. Rabiah was the setting of Magic’s second set, 1993’s Arabian Nights. Unlike future Magic sets it wears its inspiration directly on its sleeve, with characters like Alladin and Scheherazade being directly transplanted from the Tales of the Arabian Nights.
This plane is a 10/10 on the Rabiah scale, a means of measuring how likely a plane is to appear again as the setting for a Standard-legal Magic: the Gathering set. The scale is named after Rabiah, and Rabhiah is a 10 on it, to demonstrate that it is the least likely plane we will see make a return. Rabiah is almost certainly never going to be the primary setting for a set in future. Nevertheless, characters from Rabiah have appeared in Magic’s lore, and relatively recently too. Najal, The Storm Runner from Dominaria United is from the plane, according to her online profile. So while it is unlikely that Rabiah will reappear in March of the Machine, it is certainly not impossible given the scope of the Phyrexian invasion. With Mercadia coming back, it’s hard to rule anything out.