Even More Commander Deckbuilding With March Of The Machine

Sheldon Menery isn’t done making Commander decks based on March of the Machine. See how he built around Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos.

Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos
Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos, illustrated by Uriah Voth

We’re on the doorstep of the most anticipated Magic set in the game’s long history.  The first previews for The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth have hit the streets, premiered with an excellent debut video. While we’re waiting for the rest, there’s still other work to do. 

While we’re waiting for the rest, there’s still other work to do.  I don’t want to fanboy the sets or anything, but there are quite a few commanders from March of the Machine and even March of the Machine: The Aftermath which strike me as worth building around.  I ended up building Rashmi and Ragavan Battles, which I look forward to playing in the near future (and did nothing to solve my Temur problem). 


When I reviewed the legendary creatures from March of the Machine: The Aftermath, a few really struck me.  There’s Kiora, Sovereign of the Deep, and me without a sea monsters deck.  Nahiri, Forged in Fury’s affinity for Equipment strikes a note that makes me happy.  I don’t have a mono-green deck built anymore, and Nissa, Resurgent Animist looks compelling—although it might point too directly to a landfall deck (which I also don’t have). 

Niv-Mizzet, Supreme

The only five-color deck I have is Children of a Greater God.  It’s pretty old and the indestructible theme getting a little tired, so my eyebrow raised at Niv-Mizzet, Supreme.  Everyone and their sister is building Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin, so we can give that a skip.  I was thoroughly excited when I saw Plargg and Nassari. Since I also don’t have a mono-red deck, everyone’s favorite Orc Efreet became the front-runner.  I’m also pretty high on the relative simplicity of Samut, Vizier of Naktamun.  I already have an Angels deck but not a Humans one, so there’s a little attractiveness to Sigarda, Font of Blessings

Bright-Palm, Soul Awakener leads the charge on commanders in March of the Machine.  It just looks like fun.  You know me and Orzhov, so both Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos and Moira and Teshar got my attention.  The latter exiles our own stuff, which rubs me the wrong way.  Brimaz wins that head-to-head fight.  Gimbal, Gremlin Prodigy would be another Temur deck, and I swear I can quit anytime I want.  Zimone and Dina chug out some Sultai goodness. 

Bringing It With Brimaz

Never one to pass up an opportunity to play Inkshield, I went with Brimaz.  

Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos

I like the kind of cool interaction between the two abilities.  It took me a second, and then I realized I’d be proliferating all those Incubators.  With X being the mana value of the Phyrexian creature or artifact spell cast (holy moly!), I think we’ll have some very large Phyrexian creatures. 

While the abilities of the commander suggest our Phyrexian theme, I also want to leverage the strength of the colors as well.  White is excellent at control, black at sacrifice, and both to an extent (with black much better) at reanimation.  First, though, I had to look at the list of the 257 Phyrexian creatures available in the black/white color identity.  Before I started searching, I knew that Argentum Masticore would be on the list. It’s one of many, many good ones from which to choose.  Looking at it, I didn’t realize that there were so many that have had the creature type added (here’s to you, Eastern Paladin!).  No complaints here.

Argentum Masticore Eastern Paladin

Back in Black

What I ended coming up with leaned far more heavily on black than I had expected.  In fact, the commitment to black was so deep that I couldn’t justify playing Phyrexian Vindicator, with its four white pips. In the trim, I actually think this is a good thing.  I like strong cards having a cost that prohibits them from just being jammed into any deck.  The good news is that I’m playing it already in You Did This to Yourself. It’ll get a sufficient workout. 

Phyrexian Vindicator Mondrak, Glory Dominus

I didn’t just lean into the Phyrexian theme.  Every creature is a Phyrexian, so no matter which one I cast while Brimaz is on the battlefield, I incubate.  As I mentioned, I’m happy that a few pretty useful cards, like Bone Shredder, Eastern Paladin, Massacre Wurm, and Psychosis Crawler, were in the great update of several years back.  Brimaz’s many tokens, especially boosted by Mondrak, Glory Dominus, mean there can a bit of a go-wide strategy. 

Before we go further, let’s look at the list. Then I’ll discuss some of the card choices and ones that have a special place in my heart.

Praetors and Psychosis

Elesh Norn Sheoldred

I knew from the outset that I wanted to play all the versions of the two Praetors in our colors.  Running them sets a kind of tone for the deck.  Here come the Phyrexians, to include their powerful leaders, and your lives will never be the same.  I’m thoroughly excited to play the newest ones and their back sides, The True Scriptures and The Argent Etchings.  Without opponent removal at the right time, either of those Sagas will dominate the game.  Nicely, all the incubated Phyrexian artifact tokens will serve as nice sacrifice fodder for Elesh Norn (as well as getting that indestructible counter on Mondrak, Glory Dominus). 

Psychosis Crawler

I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw that Psychosis Crawler had Phyrexian added to its creature types.  The card will win games.  Too bad Necropotence doesn’t actually draw the cards; it exiles them and then puts them in our hand.  Still, there’s a play for the postcombat main phase of the player to our right.  We can exile as many cards as our life total will tolerate and still have those cards in hand when the combat step rolls around.  Use Skrelv to make Psychosis Crawler nearly unblockable, and it’s a headshot. I love Commander in 2023.  Things can get pretty silly. 

The “If” in “Proliferate”

Staying with the creature type theme didn’t leave much room for a proliferate strategy.  There are a few cards that do, but in this deck it’ll be incidental.  When we do, it’s great for the token army, making going wide extra deadly. Throw Vanquisher’s Banner into the mix for more hilarity.

Vanquisher's Banner

Brimaz himself will likely provide the primary source of proliferation, as creatures will definitely die on our turns.  Between the sacrifice outlets and the targeted removal (really, in how many games is Eastern Paladin not going to have juicy targets?), we’ll get there.

The Lifegain Package

Shattered Angel

Shattered Angel is a mensch.  It’s nearly guaranteed to gain nine life every turn cycle, if not more.  The card puts me in mind of Sangromancer. It’s all part of a lifegain package intended both to keep us from getting killed and to mitigate the Phyrexian mana costs, like on K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth.  Lifegain will also offset what we paid into cards with Defiler of Faith and Defiler of Flesh.  Neither triggered ability is all that spicy, but I bet that giving something menace will have game-ending impact occasionally.  

Feast of the Victorious Dead

Three other cards in that lifegain package are Feast of the Victorious Dead, Resurrection Orb, and Shadowspear.  As I mentioned earlier, creatures are going to die on my turn.  Gaining a little life and passing out +1/+1 counters seems good, especially at just two mana for Feast of the Victorious Dead. 

Resurrection Orb

I’ve been kind of infatuated with Resurrection Orb ever since the Warhammer 40,000 cards came out.  The equip cost is a little spendy, but not for what it does.  In addition to giving the creature lifelink, it stays true to its name and resurrects the creature if someone tries to kill it. 


Shadowspear is ridiculously cheap for what it does.  The equip cost of two means we’ll be trampling and lifelinking to our heart’s content.  On top of that, it adds the ability to remove hexproof and indestructible from opponents’ creatures, all for the cost of a single generic mana. I’ll have to restrain myself from just stuffing into every new deck.

Essence and Medallions

Essence of Orthodoxy

Essence of Orthodoxy is another card which will provide insane value in this deck.  Since every creature we cast is a Phyrexian, here come more Incubator tokens.  I’ll have to get a dice tower to handle all the business here.  Now we can go even wider.  With Brimaz on the battlefield, we get two Incubator tokens for each creature we cast.  We get even more with Mondrak around. 

Jet Medallion Pearl Medallion

You’ll notice that I’ve chosen to play Jet Medallion and Pearl Medallion over some mana rocks. The basic truth is that they will effectively provide additional mana more than once in a turn.  A mana rock gets tapped once and is done.  The Medallions just keep on giving. Sure, they don’t provide colored mana, but there are generic costs in everything.  I’m reasonably sure they’ll provide excess value.


There’s a reanimation package, including Ever After, Haunting Voyage, Patriarch’s Bidding, Unbreakable Bond, Unburial Rites, perennial favorite Makeshift Mannequin, Phyrexian Rebirth, and Invasion of Tolvada. Rescue from the Underworld is particularly spicy, since it’s battlefield sweeper protection for two valuable creatures. 

Ashnod's Intervention Gift of Immortality

I’d also call Ashnod’s Intervention and Gift of Immortality reanimation spells.  There were a few more like them, such as Demonic Gifts, Fake Your Own Death, Feign Death, Malakir Rebirth, Return to Action, Supernatural Stamina, and Undying Malice, which I simply couldn’t find room for.  I really like such cards because they’re not commonly played and can have a huge impact on the game state.  Just ask anyone who plays Gray Merchant of Asphodel (which sadly is not a Phyrexian).

Breach the Multiverse

One card you might notice missing is Breach the Multiverse, one that I’d normally love to play.  I simply think that when most of my games are via SpellTable, it doesn’t make for the best experience.  I similarly took Villainous Wealth out of decks and a fair number of other cards that steal permanents. When we play a higher percentage of games in person, I’ll definitely jam them back. 


I’ve already mentioned Invasion of Tolvada as a reanimation spell.  It also becomes part of the lifegain suite as the enchantment The Broken Sky, as it gives tokens +1/+0 and lifelink. There’s more! At end of turn, it creates a black and white Spirit token with flying (they could have made them Inklings, you know). 

The other Battle, Invasion of New Capenna, seems quite good at two mana.  When it enters the battlefield, we can sacrifice an artifact or a creature; if we do, we can exile an artifact or creature an opponent controls.  This seems excellent when we’re creating a bunch of Incubator tokens.  When defeated, it comes back as the somewhat silly-named Holy Frazzle-Cannon.  It’s an Equipment with an equip cost of just one.  When the equipped creature attacks, it gets a +1/+1 counter and gives one to each creature we control that shares a type with it.  That’s the whole team. 

How the Deck Plays

This deck will play well in the high battlecruiser range. It doesn’t have tutors, fast mana, or infinite combos.  Its acceleration is modest.  The individual cards, however, are often extremely powerful on their own.  There are plenty of synergies, like Vulpine Harvester repeatedly getting back Wayfarer’s Bauble or rescuing an important artifact that’s gotten destroyed. 

The deck wins via combat damage, although there are creatures with toxic, so a poison counter kill is also possible. It doesn’t have excessive card draw, so Psychosis Crawler won’t provide a big win, instead being content to just ping people.  All in all, the deck leans into its theme and simply enjoys taking the game actions that come along with playing a game of Commander.


Also, coolest card ever created. 

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