A Closer Look At The Legends Of March Of The Machine: The Aftermath

Sheldon Menery is back for the second time this week to share his thoughts on the many legendary creatures of March of the Machine: The Aftermath

Nahiri, Forged in Fury, illustrated by Marta Nael

The multiverse may be without Phyrexians for now, but it’s not without its heroes.  Its legends.  March of the Machine: The Aftermath brings twenty-one new legendary creatures into the Commander fold, ready to spice up your existing decks or lead new ones.  We’ll take a look at all twenty-one of those Legendary creatures from March of the Machine: The Aftermath.  This list is chock full of good stuff.

Arni Metalbrow

A mini Ilharg, the Raze Boar, Arni is limited by the mana value of what’s entering the battlefield.  Still, getting another creature into the action for just 1R seems like lots of value. 

Calix, Guided by Fate

More sweetness for your enchantress decks, Calix’s constellation ability will make someone huge in short order.  The combat damage triggered ability will start creating lots of friends, whether that’s doubling up on enchantments like Karmic Justice or creating more creatures like Course of Kruphix.

Danitha, New Benalia's Light

Vigilance, lifelink, and trample on a 2/2 for three mana is already fine, especially since we know we’re going to put additional counters on her, like with Calix.  Having some redundancy for Aura and Equipment that get blown up will keep us on our game plan. 

Jirina, Dauntless General

Graveyard hate keeps getting better and better.  I wonder when folks will start playing more of it.  Jirina is straightforward: show up, eat a yard. The ability to sacrifice herself to save the Humans on the team is a nice little cherry on top.  We’ll obviously play this in a Human-themed deck.

Jolrael, Voice of Zhalfir

I’m still not a fan of turning lands into creatures because it makes them more vulnerable to removal.  Still, Jolrael might sway me due to the potential size of the creature.  With Jolrael, we’ll certainly want a heavy land creature deck.  Might be a fun exploration.

Karn, Legacy Reforged

Karn will always be at least a five-mana 5/5, since he himself is an artifact. While the mana from his second ability can’t be used to cast nonartifact spells, it can activate nonartifact abilities. 

Kiora, Sovereign of the Deep

Getting to cast sea monsters for free sounds like a good time.  The bigger thing we cast, the deeper we dive into the library, the more likely we are to hit something worthwhile.  Wins all around.

Nahiri, Forged in Fury

I’m a fan of affinity for Equipment.  It can be strong but not generically so.  Nahiri is pretty saucy at five Niv-power; if we cast her for less than six, which we certainly will, we’ll get her running early.  Then, we get serious value out of spreading out the Equipment to multiple creatures for multiple triggers.  The question will be if we can actually cast it all.

Narset, Enlightened Exile

Love, love, love the graveyard control (although it doesn’t get important creatures) that also turns into value.  The mana value has to be less than Narset’s power, so unmodified she’ll get Rampant Growth but not Kodama’s Reach.  Solve many problems by just buffing her up a little.

Nashi, Moon's Legacy

Our new Sultai Rat Lord means we’ll definitely want a Rat deck.  Moving into the additional colors should spark some more interesting builds than just the mono-black ones.  I’m not particularly high on this card because I don’t like exiling my own stuff—but there are possibilities here.  The token doesn’t go away as part of the ability, which is the best part.

Nissa, Resurgent Animist

Nothing busted ever came from landfall, right? They actually did a nice job of gating this one by only giving us a card on the second time around.  Otherwise, it’s just a bigger Lotus Cobra.  This is an eminently playable card, especially when the Elemental you get is something like Reef Elemental, which might even get us another landfall trigger.  Or something, something, Scapeshift.

Niv-Mizzet, Supreme

Hexproof from monocolored is super-strong, with most of the best removal (Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, and friends) being just one color.  Blue theft spells won’t work either.  After that we’re left with a 5/5 flyer that’s all five colors.  We’re limited only by our imaginations here.  We’ll want a fair number of instants and sorceries which draw cards so that we can both cast them a second time and have a card to exile for the jump start ability. 

Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin

As a commander, it won’t take Ob Nixilis long to get up to being an easy three-shot or even two-shot winner, with trample likely playing an important role.  Playing all those extra cards is the good kind of problem to have.  The card I’m thinking of here for opponents losing exactly one life is Pestilence or the more creature-based Thrashing Wumpus and Pestilence Demon.  Just a few activations and we’re there. 

Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival

I’m admittedly lukewarm on Thopters have haste.  They’re fuel for bigger things anyway.  The trigger condition is narrow but rewarding.  That said, it’s a likeable card because we’ll have to summon all our deck brewing skills to meet the challenge of making something compelling out of it.

Plargg and Nassari

I am decidedly hot on Plargg and Nassari.  It just seems like we’re going to cast loads of spells for free.  An opponent gets to take the best of the four off the table unless there are politics involved, but then casting two more for nothing is quite good.  It’s an upkeep trigger, so it’ll be able to set up the rest of the turn quite nicely, especially if it’s a creature with haste.  Folks better have their Brooding Saurians ready.

Rocco, Street Chef

Rocco has a little bit of group hug going on, somewhat reminiscent of Kinaios and Tiro of Meletis.  We still get the benefit of them casting the spell, though.  The benefit is small enough to not be broken but good enough to play with.  Rocco won’t mind there being a Prosper, Tome-Bound deck at the table.  Note that the trigger on lands is playing them, so we won’t get anything from resolving an Oblivion Sower trigger.  We will, however, get triggers from Sire of Stagnation.  Really need to play more of that card.

Samut, Vizier of Naktamun

All we need is a little haste to turn Samut into a very flexible commander.  Once we know we’ll be attacking right away, we can fill our decks with creatures that suit our wants, needs, or desires.  What’s really great about this version of Samut is that the creatures which enter the battlefield tapped and attacking qualify, since they too entered the battlefield this turn.  I like this one a great deal and I suspect it’s going to be my go-to new Gruul deck. The only other one I have is Ruric Thar’s Beastly Fight Club, which was built a long time ago. I’m thinking that I could also jam it into my high-powered Najeela Secretly Winota deck, but if we’re going the Najeela/Warrior route, we’ll have to be careful.  The card draw is not optional.  Wouldn’t want to deck ourselves before getting through enough combat damage. Risk is probably worth it.

Sarkhan, Soul Aflame

Can’t say much other than it’ll be pretty easy to have to savagery with the Dragons.  Sarkhan making them cheaper is effectively ramp, so while we don’t have access to green’s acceleration, we have other methods of getting to the six or seven mana we want for the biggest ones.  Even changing forms, Sarkhan is still our commander, so it will get commander damage kills.  Having a second copy of any Niv-Mizzet seems alright.  Having blue in the deck means access to card draw and good interaction.  There’s a good deck here that I think we don’t have to break the bank for or think too hard about making.

Sigarda, Font of Blessings

Even not playing an Angel or Human theme, Sigarda is worthwhile just for giving all our other permanents hexproof.  Still, we’re going to run one or both of those themes in order to get the value out of casting stuff off the top of the library, which is effectively card draw.  With four other Sigardas for company, we have the start of a deck.  I already have an Angel deck led by Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice.  It does something different and is predicated on Trostani’s life gain.  I have two Zombie decks. I guess there’s no reason I can’t have to Angel deck (although I notice good Angels are a little more $$$ than Zombies; in this case, foiled out Trostani is $2100, Lord of Tresserhorn $1638, Gisa and Geralf $954). 

Tazri, Stalwart Survivor

Awhile back, we encouraged the folks in Studio X to return to making five-color commanders actually cost five colors to cast as the drawback for the value of getting access to every card in Magic. We can see some of the problems caused by Golos, Tireless Pilgrim or Kenrith, Returned King, among others.  Tazri does the same, but her abilities are so narrow that we were fine with how it came out.  I’ll enjoy seeing folks figure out how to do cool stuff with her. 

Tyvar the Bellicose

Yeah, Elves.  People love ’em.  A four-mana 5/4 attacking with deathtouch who also gives out deathtouch is very, very strong.  Even limited by triggering just once per turn, there are still piles of counters to be given out with creatures like Elvish Archdruid or Gyre Sage.  Adding black to a normally mono-green mix means a new selection of deadly spells, making Tyvar a solid choice even if we just want to splash black.  I both want to explore this card as a commander because it’s kind of cool and leave it be because it’s an overdone theme.  Like Mike Guptil at Ruth’s Chris overdone. 

Bonus Top 5 Spells

5. Filter Out

Filter Out

Is it Cyclonic Rift? Thankfully no.  Will it really mess with board states?  Absolutely.  Changing combat math is probably the most likely scenario here.  We can also look at the upside of bouncing our own things at end of turn of the player on our right in order to take advantage of their enters-the-battlefield triggers (and still clearing out everyone else’s stuff). 

4. Open the Way

Open the Way

Five mana, three lands.  It’s as simple as that.  We’re also not restricted to basic lands, so the sky is really the limit. 

3. Nahiri’s Resolve

Nahiri's Resolve

Haste is the real key here, although the blink effect is obviously going to provide a great deal of upside value with any neat enters-the-battlefield triggers. Untapping artifacts is compelling as well, especially if they’re mana rocks.

2. Death-Rattle Oni

Death-Rattle Oni

This is a sneakily-good one.  We only need three creatures to have died to take advantage of the triggered ability to destroy creatures which have been dealt damage.  That will most often be combat damage, but there are other situations, like when someone’s playing Powerstone Minefield or whatever, where it can become relevant.  A board sweeper PLUS a 5/4 for one black mana is, as the kids say, a pretty good rate.

1. Feast of the Victorious Dead

Feast of the Victorious Dead

Are you kidding me? For just two mana?  This is the card which will absolutely strain my promise to put only one copy of any new card into the deck suite.  It only cares about creatures dying, not just ours.  Then we get stuff.  For free!  Karador, Ghost Chieftain decks will love it, as will anything that’s in the colors and messes with the graveyard.  Top shelf stuff right here.

I’m a fan of the idea of mini-sets to close out a block or narrative.  It’s hard to fit them into an already-full release schedule, but I don’t think we’re suffering from too many choices. I prefer to see it as there’s more likelihood that there’s something for everyone.  March of the Machine: The Aftermath provides excellent choices for builders and brewers alike, kicking us off into an exciting post-Phyrexian multiverse.

On a brief personal note, this will be the second piece I’ve authored from a hospital room. They’re fixing up some of the lung problems that one of my medications has caused. Unfortunately, part of that fix involves being here at least two weeks, so these two won’t be the last.  The good news is that I’m at one of the best facilities in the country and am getting amazing care.  Thanks to everyone so far for the well-wishes and positive vibes.  I look forward to seeing everyone at Command Fest Orlando and then the biggie, MagicCon Las Vegas.

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