March of the Machine: First Look
With the first Pro Tour behind us, and an eye looking at the Regional Championships, I’m taking the week off from playing Magic games. It’s been nice to sit back, relax, and enjoy the game as a spectator.
During the Pro Tour, we got some previews of what’s to come in March of the Machine. This set looks unique and interesting so far. Let’s examine some of the already previewed cards.
Fairie Mastermind, the long-awaited World Championship card for Yuta Takahashi, looks awesome. A 2/1 flash flying creature is nothing to write home about, but this card may as well read “draw a card” since it will almost always provide that value in the right context.
This card looks excellent for draw-go style play for match-ups like a UW Control mirror, as it threatens to take over the game with its activated ability, which if used during your opponent’s turn basically says you draw two and they draw one.
This is by no means a slam dunk, as it’s going to be contextual, but I suspect we’ll see a good amount of this card in Standard barring any huge shake-ups. I can also see this being played in formats like Legacy that are predominantly blue, but its fragility to cards like Lightning Bolt may be problematic.
Fairie Mastermind also looks like a slam dunk for EDH, as the extra cards will add up quickly. It’s a great card and a great way to pay homage to the former world champ.
One of the wordiest cards printed in a while, Jin-Gitaxias looks interesting, but I’m not a big fan of cards such as these that are mostly vanilla unless you have seven cards in hand. Generally, if you have seven cards in hand something is going either very well or very poorly. Jin-Gitaxias isn’t solving any of those issues until chapter two when it’s able to bounce a bunch of creatures. However, it doesn’t even hit Phyrexian creatures, which may be fairly common in Standard.
While this is the first time we’re seeing a creature flip into a Saga card, kind of the opposite of a Fable of the Mirror Breaker, it’s also the opposite of Fable of the Mirror Breaker on power level. I don’t suspect this card will make many waves.
Heliod, the Radiant Dawn
This is a super interesting card. At rate, a four mana 4/4 isn’t excellent, but it’s got my attention because it replaces itself by bringing back something like a Fable, a Restoration of Eiganjo, a Wedding Announcement, an Ossification, or any of the other highly played enchantments.
Flipping Heliod into a 4/6 that gives all your spells flash is fairly powerful. In fact, you have to sink as few as three mana to flip it, but the fact all of your spells will be constantly reduced is incredibly scary for the opponent. If they so much as dare to draw extra cards at any point, you can empty your hand immediately. This is a card I’ll be looking at closely to make work when it’s in Standard.
Yargle and Multani
It appears we’ve now reached the team-up portion of MTG where weird legendary creatures join forces and produce weird Magic cards.
Yargle and Multani is as vanilla as it gets. A six mana 18/6 is not good enough to see constructed play outside of some weird combos like Fling. Don’t expect to see this card much outside of Limited, but in Limited it will be quite the banger.
Omnath, Locus of All
Omnath has been completed and is quite an interesting card. It’s hard to evaluate its ability to keep unspent mana very well, but it basically reads as a four mana 4/4 that you lose two life when you cast it, and it draws you an extra card each turn. That’s a pretty solid creature in formats where interaction is few and far between. The fact it doesn’t produce any kind of immediate value is generally problematic, and I suspect, while a sweet and unique design, Omnath, Locus of All, won’t be heavily played. It’s too fragile and doesn’t produce enough immediate value to replace the other four-drops that see heavy play.
If we do see this card in action, my guess is it will be in a format like Pioneer in some kind of five colors Bring to Light Niv Mizzet deck and as a one-of.
It’s a cool card, but I’m not eager to experiment with it.
Thalia and The Gitrog Monster
Almost identical to the two cards being mashed together, Thalia, Heretic Cathar and The Gitrog Monster, this card is fairly solid. It’s impossible to deal with in combat, as it has both deathtouch and first strike to win any fight. Thalia and the Gitrog Monster provides little immediate value if facing a removal spell. It does have static abilities of allowing an extra land to be played and tapping your opponent’s non-basics and creatures as they enter, which gives it a good chance to see play in a deck where it fits, but currently I don’t think there’s many of those.
Thalia and the Gitrog Monster have another big issue, and that’s competing in the same spot on the mana curve as Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. Sheoldred is so good as a four-mana creature that needs to be answered immediately, that there’s often little room in the same colors for cards in this mana slot to compete. As a big Siege Rhino fan, I’d love to see a creature with the same casting cost make a big splash in Standard and beyond again. I think Thalia and the Gitrog Monster is a card we’ll only see in fringe places, but you’ll see a copy of it here and there.
Drana and Linvala
I’m looking at this like a new and improved Linvala, Keeper of Silence. This is a card you’d love to have access to in a toolbox deck when you’re playing against decks like Elves, but on its own rate is just a little lackluster as a main deck card. This is definitely a card you’ll find as a one-of in those toolbox style decks though, as it’s a strict upgrade for decks that can also produce a black mana in addition to the two white mana from the original Linvala.
While this card isn’t incredibly exciting, it has its spots and it’s a card you’ll definitely see in EDH. I’ll be looking to pick up a copy but don’t think I’ll need more than that.
Chandra, Hope’s Beacon
This card is an absolute banger. I love it. It’s easily my favorite card previewed thus far. Chandra Hope’s Beacon seems incredibly powerful. It does so much on its own. I’m picturing playing this card in an Izzet control deck with cards like Big Score, Cheap Removal, and depending on format, ways to take extra turns to exploit its static ability. A common play pattern with Chandra, Hope’s Beacon will be cast it, plus for mana, cast a removal spell. Don’t have a removal? Cast and -4 to kill two creatures at once.
Attrition game and you ran out of cards? +1 find a spell and copy it. This card will quickly bury your opponents and is a game plan in and of itself.
I may be a bit off base here, but having this card and Fable in the same format is a scary core to me. I’m excited to see if we can have another great six-mana planeswalker that sees heavy play like back in the days of .
I will be surprised if Chandra, Hope’s Beacon isn’t a staple in Standard. Unless the format is Negate heavy, it will certainly find a home since it can catch up from behind, pull way far ahead, and its only real weakness is to counter Magic. I’m excited to play with this card in Standard, and I would even consider adding a copy of this to decks like Izzet Creativity in Pioneer because it’s a powerful play against midrange decks not equipped to immediately answer it.
So far March of the Machines looks like a sweet set, and with the team-up cards, I’d get cards like Plaza of Heroes ready, as I think we’ll be seeing even more great Legendary team-ups. Historically, when WotC dives into a new unique and exciting design space, something gets pushed a little too much, so I’m waiting to see if that’s true.
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