From 13:30-14:30, EST MTG Players at MagicCon Philadelphia got an exclusive first look at the upcoming set: March of the Machine. Although the event was not live-streamed, the footage of it was uploaded onto YouTube and can be found here.
There were some huge story beats, as the Phyrexians launched their invasion across the cosmos. Characters from all over the multiverse got Compleated, whilst others formed unlikely alliances to fend off the invaders. We saw a sneak peek of a card from March of the Machine: the Aftermath and even got some Planeschase cards announced for the first time since 2016. Let’s take a look…
We saw a cavalcade of corruption as a collection of characters were Compleated.
Heliod, the Sun God of Theros, has been transformed into a new double-sided card: Heliod, the Radiant Dawn/Heliod, the Warped Eclipse. Heliod’s front side is a 4/4 enchantment creature that fetches a, non-God, enchantment from the graveyard as it enters play. For four mana, one of which is Phyrexian Blue, this card can be transformed into its Phyrexianised side. Heliod, the Warped Eclipse is a Vedalken Orrey, with 4/6 stats that also makes all of your spells one mana cheaper for each card your opponents have drawn this turn. Definitely a card to watch!
Omnath has become corrupted by Phyrexia and transformed into the horrifying Omnath, Locus of All. Costing one mana of each color, with the Black mana being Phyrexian, Omnath is a 4/4 with two powerful abilities…
The card’s first effect causes unspent mana to become Black. This is a reference to the original Omnath, Locus of Mana’s ability from Worldwake all the way back in 2010. While the original Omnath allowed you to preserve unspent Green mana, this card turns all of your unspent mana Black. This is a flavorful demonstration of how after all of this time, and even after becoming corrupted by Phyrexia, the essence of Omnath is still lurking beneath the surface.
The card’s second ability allows you to add the top card of your library to your hand, so long as it has three or more colored mana symbols in its cost. You can then add three mana in any combination of those colors to your mana pool. This card seems like a very exciting 5-color Commander, it could even potentially appear in other formats. Will the new Omnath be as problematic as its four-color predecessor, Omnath, Locus of Creation, and end up getting banned in Standard?
While the Phyrexian invasion has corrupted some characters and turned them against one another, it has also started up some strange new friendships…
An absolutely bizarre card, Yargle and Multani shows a team-up between Yargle, Glutton of Urborg and Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar. We haven’t had a new vanilla card since Spined Karok from Strixhaven back in April of 2021, but that almost two-year gap is now coming to a dramatic end. Yargle and Multani provide an absolutely absurd 18/6 statline for only six mana, double the stats of the original Yargle.Giganotosaurus has been officially deposed as the most threatening vanilla creature in the game. This card may well be a bit of a meme, but it shows you don’t need any abilities to be amazing.
Yargle isn’t the only frog making a comeback in March of the Machine. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben appears to be riding The Gitrog Monster into battle against the Phyrexian army. This card has First Strike and Death Touch, a lethal combination as the opponent’s creature will be killed by Death Touch before they have a chance to strike back. Thalia and the Gitrog Monster possess Thalia, Heretic Cathar’s ability to make opponent’s creatures and nonbasic lands enter play tapped, alongside The Gitrog Monster’s first ability which allows you to play additional lands. The additional ability of this card which makes you sacrifice creatures or lands in order to draw cards is also a helpful part of this powerful package.
The Phyrexians never should have come to Ixalan. Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle and Ghalta, Primal Hunger seem to have become best buddies on this powerful Vampire/Dinosaur card. This seven-mana Selesnya card may have a high cost, but it has even higher stats. A 12/12 with trample, this card has you covered whether you want a board full of small attackers, or a handful of powerful ones. If you want to go wide this can card generate X 1/1 White Vampire tokens equal to the number of other attacking creatures you control. If you want to go tall, then this card can generate a trampling Green Dinosaur token with power X where X is the greatest power among other attacking creatures you control.
This card’s high mana cost probably keeps it out of consideration for formats beyond Commander and maybe Standard. If you’re determined to play Ghalta and Mavren though, then the card does make an excellent reanimation target.
On the plane of Zendikar, the vampiric Bloodchief Drana and the Angel Linvala have come together. A 4 mana 3/4 flyer with Vigilance. Drana and Linvala turn off all of your opponent’s creatures’ activated abilities. In fact, not only do they turn those abilities off, but they steal them, gaining access to all of your opponent’s creatures’ activated abilities, and automatically fixing your mana to activate them. This is a brutal Stax effect, which will surely make the card kill on sight. This card could very well have multi-format potential, at least as a sideboard option, disabling everything from Llanowar Elves to Yawgmoth, Thran Physician.
There are also a trio of team up Legendary cards which will be appearing exclusively in pre-release kits.
Double Sided Praetors
One of the more dramatic announcements was that it looks like we’ll be getting a cycle of Phyrexian Praetors who are Creatures on one side and Sagas on the other. We got to see one of the cards from this cycle, a new version of Jin-Gitaxias which transforms into the Saga “The Great Synthesis”. This card is unique, even compared to the double-sided Sagas from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty as it has the potential to transform from a creature into a saga and then back into a creature again.
Jin-Gitaxias is a five mana 5/5 with Ward 2 which allows you to draw a card whenever you cast a non-creature spell with mana value three or greater. If you have seven or more cards in your hand, Jin-Gitaxias can be transformed into its saga side for four mana. All three of the effects on the saga side of this card are very powerful. First, you draw cards equal to the number of cards in your hand, and lose your hand size limit for as long as you control The Great Synthesis. Since you need seven or more cards in your hand to even transform Jin-Gitaxias, this card will probably be drawing you a minimum of seven cards. The second effect of this saga returns all non-Phyrexian creatures to their owners’ hands, potentially clearing the board in time for its final effect which allows you to cast any number of spells from your hand without paying their mana cost and then transforms The Great Synthesis back into Jin. This card’s power is plain to see. Who knows what the rest of the Praetors will have in store?
Chandra in Tears
A new Chandra Planeswalker was also revealed at the preview. For six mana, Chandra, Hope’s Becon copies the first Instant or Sorcery spell you cast each turn. The card also has a +2 loyalty ability which adds two mana in any combination of colors to your mana pool, helping you cast those spells, and a +1 ability which allows you to exile the top five cards of your deck to find an Instant or Sorcery to cast. The card’s ultimate deals -X damage to each of up to two targets. Since the card enters play with five Loyalty, this is 10 damage to two targets by default. While six mana is quite costly, this card is so powerful that it will surely see play, or at the very least experimentation, in Burn decks.
The art of this card also appears to depict Chandra weeping, a fact potentially related to her confrontation with the Compleated Nissa.
A Look at the Aftermath
One card revealed during the announcement isn’t from March of the Machine at all but is instead a preview of an upcoming card due to release in March of the Machine: the Aftermath in May. The Kenriths’ Royal Funeral depicts the funeral of Kenrith, the Returned King, and Linden, the Steadfast Queen. The card does not seem hugely exciting, but it thematically demonstrates the idea of a funeral nicely, exiling up to two legendary creatures from the graveyard as a representation of burying the dead.
If you exile two legendary cards with The Kenriths’ Royal Funeral, then you draw two cards and all of your Legendary spells become two mana cheaper to cast for the rest of the game, at the cost of losing life equal to the greatest mana value of a card exiled this way.
The deaths of Kenrith and Linden will also undoubtedly impact the set Wilds of Eldraine due for release in quarter three of this year.
It was revealed that this set will feature a non-standard legal bonus sheet called “Multiversal Legends”. This bonus sheet, similar to Strixhaven’s Mystical Archives and The Brothers’ Wars retro artifacts, will contain iconic cards from across the game’s history. In this case, the bonus sheet will contain powerful Legendary creatures. We don’t have a lot of information on which Legends will appear here, but it is know that both Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice will be making an appearance.
Confirming speculation which has been occurring for a while now, the New Commander decks also feature Planchase cards. Planechase is a game mode, which takes gameplay across the different worlds of the Multiverse as turns go by. Some of these cards are new, and some of them are returning old favorites. This is an appropriate decision, considering March of the Machine’s multiverse-spanning scale.
This first look at March of the Machine has given us an exciting glimpse behind the curtain at what’s coming in April. What’s even more fascinating is that, despite all that we now know, there are still so many more unknowns. Just what exactly are Battle cards, which have been teased on Atraxa, Grand Unifier? Who will survive this multiverse-spanning conflict? Will it be possible to heal those who have been Compleated? For all of those answers, we’ll just have to wait a little longer.