March of the Machine Set Review - Enemy Pairs and Wedges

Borborygmos and Fblthp | Art by Rudy Siswanto

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts/Lands | Gold I | Gold II | Reprints | cEDH | Battles | Pauper

Oh MoM, Wedge Have You Been All My Life?

Greetings and salutations! I warily welcome you, dear reader, to my first analysis of a set, and holy mana, what a set it is! I liked The Brothers' War, I loved Phyrexia: All Will Be One, but let's be real, in my book, this set is the Omega, the Dragon, the Penumbrate, the Archsupermegawow.

Card after card, my mind has been racing with the fun and perspectives these new toys open. Cherry on top, most of these are legendary creatures, so we'll have our hands quite full in the upcoming weeks! A quick note, I decided as an added challenge not to have a look at the prospective decklists for these new legends in order to provide as genuine an impression as I could. Wish me luck!

Without further ado, let's dive into a set that feels like Future Time Spiral Sight of the Commander Legends 2023 (yes, I'm that excited).


Borborygmos and Fblthp

The union of the Ravnican cyclopes doesn't kid around! Card advantage, check. Making use of lands in hand, double-check. Sending endless pain to our oppon... erm, no, just creatures. Dang, and it was going so well.

While the limitation to critters is certainly a disappointment, I can still see Borby and his friend dissing out some serious damage, both controlling the table and messing with life totals. Fill your hand with lands (Scouting Trek and Treasure Hunt for the win!), play a creature that redirects damage (Stuffy Doll, Brash Taunter, Ill-Tempered Loner, Mogg Maniac, etc.), and get to taking your enemies down! The built-in protection, while probably there for flavor, doesn't hurt either.

This will require an interesting setup. You'll want to keep your hand full and play some recursion, like Archaeomancer or Eternal Witness. I would also include ways to shuffle lands back into the deck to be drawn again, some alternative wincons (Seismic Assault and Lightning Storm come to mind), and a few blink spells, aimed at either the commander or one of the recursion-enablers. Add in a few damage-doublers or -triplers to drive the point in, and you should start getting somewhere. Somehow, this weird pair reminds me of my beloved Sasaya.

Is this all kind of clunky? Yes. Is this going to work like a well-oiled machine? Probably not. Will it require fine-tuning to get somewhere? Looks like it. Is it an interesting challenge? Hell, yes!

Kroxa and Kunoros

Looks like the underworld doggo has decided to go turncoat and help the dead get out instead of keeping them locked in. I feel like this is a very straightforward Joey "As a Necromancer Myself" Schultz type of card. Dump major threats in the bin, then reanimate them with either K&K or another spell. Incidentally, Syr Konrad, the Grim looks right at home with that exile effect.

The stats on this jolly pair are impressive as well, with a decent body and three synergistic keywords. It hits hard and it brings friends. My only regret is that it doesn't have Escape. I wonder if you could make this a viable Voltron, reanimating creatures that grow your commander and make it a gigantic beast (pun totally intended). Mid-combat Moodmark Painter and consorts could be pretty fun!

Oh, and it turns out this thing has combos with cards like Altar of Dementia, too, so I don't doubt for a second that people will use this as a combo commander too. I personally like the straightforward reanimator beatdown, though. Get all the best parts of Chainer, Nightmare Adept and combine it with white's awesome Angels and Sun Titan effects? That's excellent! Alesha, Who Smiles at Death was the go-to Mardu reanimator for years, but now there's a new kid on the block if you want to play around in that space even more!

Thalia and The Gitrog Monster

I'm scared. This card has sparked significant enthusiasm online, because it looks extremely cool. But I'm scared. I don't want to be bonked.

However, despite all this card's hype, I can't help but feeling a bit "meh" about it. Don't get me wrong, the abilities are great. Good stats and keywords packed in a neat four mana. Built-in ramp and stax elements. Good card advantage and incredible flavor. On paper, this card has it all. I'm just not personally excited. I feel like this commander could helm almost any strategy and haul its load just fine.

Again, that's my personal thing. This is guaranteed to be popular, not just because of the beloved characters, but also because it gives the format a more direct line into Abzan Landfall strategies. We've had tons of Landfall commanders in all sorts of color combinations: mono-green, Gruul, Golgari, Selesnya, Simic, Naya, Temur, Sultai, and of course, four-color and five-color. However, Bant and Abzan have yet to have an explicitly lands-based commander, though Amareth, the Lustrous and Chulane, Teller of Tales aren't bad for Bant. This new froggy combo creates a new space for players to use Felidar Retreat, Scute Swarm, and Retreat to Hagra all in one place. It's an excuse to run Knight of the Reliquary, Nissa of Shadowed Boughs, Titania, Protector of Argoth, and Eerie Ultimatum. There's no way players would just leave that stone unturned.

Maybe I've already had my fill with Landfall, so that's why this doesn't speak to me. I think the stax-y parts will also bug your opponents a lot and make this thing a removal magnet, even if it's not as powerful as the original Gitrog. It's a good card, but it really doesn't spark my imagination. There, I said it. Feel free to flame me to a crisp.

Zimone and Dina

Hellooooo, you magnificent students! I'm looking forward to building something silly around this wild pair. I really like that their ability can trigger every turn. Do you hear that, Rashmi and Ragavan? This is how it's done!

On a more serious note, this commander has the potential to go wide extremely quickly. Drawing two cards a turn is not really an issue in blue, and the sacrifice ability will make sure you can consistently ramp and keep your hand full at no mana cost. What do we have to do, just sacrifice a creature? Sure, we'll just generate some Pest tokens! Get papa Beledros or Ophiomancer or some other token-maker, or a recurrable Bloodghast or Reassembling Skeleton, and call it a day! Plus, we get to use a ton of other "second card drawn" triggers out there, like Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse, Gixian Puppeteer, and Minn, Wily Illusionist.

And frankly, this would be yet another gnarly Landfall commander, one that frankly intrigues me much more than the froggy pair above. Retreat to Coralhelm to untap and get multiple activations? Seedborn Muse and Ghost Town? Teferi's Ageless Insight and Alandra, Sky Dreamer? Oh yeah, the wheels are already turning. This strategy is super proactive and exciting.

Zurgo and Ojutai

Aaaand that's official, I'm confused. I thought that Zurgo had been demoted to Bellstriker in the reformed timeline, why is he astride Ojutai? Then I read the card, which only added to my already significant befuddlement. A Dragon-enabler that also plays bouncy castle?

Then it hit me. This is not, in fact, limited to just being a Dragon deck. The way I see it, you can swing in with the Jeskardu pair to net a card from the top three of your deck before sending the duo back to your hand. As Z&O have hexproof the turn they make their appearance, your opponents will have a hard time dealing with them; only way they'll be able to take them out is with, I dunno, a Nevinyrral's Disk? There aren't that many instant ways to circumvent hexproof, are there?

If you love Jeskai Dragons, then the world is your oyster: Utvara Hellkite, Astral Dragon, Lathliss, Dragon Queen, Dragonlord Ojutai, Dragon Tempest, Terror of the Peaks, etc. I recommend mana-making Dragons, like Ganax, Astral Hunter, Ancient Copper Dragon, and Goldspan Dragon, to ensure you have enough mana to actually recast any of these if you send them back to your hand, as well as Sylvia Brightspear and other double strike effects to trigger the commander multiple times per turn. If things go well, then tons of Treasures or mana-cheating effects can let you swoop in with Dragons every turn to strike your foes, then bounce them back to avoid your opponents' sorcery-speed board wipes.

Of course, some folks out there might also use this as a staxy, board-wipe-heavy commander, too. Clear the field over and over, with the commander swooping in to smash some life totals, maybe using Duelist's Heritage effects to make it even more potent, and then flit back to hand to evade removal. That'd be a nasty piece of work. I feel dirty (but also delighted) for even suggesting the idea!


Baral and Kari Zev

Helloooo, spellslingers! This improbable duo has value written all over it. The first ability is the true star of the show, allowing you to always get a two-for-one. I can easily picture a deck full of cheap cantrips and heftier instants and sorceries, along with the usual package benefiting from casting and/or copying spells. Archmage Emeritus, Storm-Kiln Artist, Young Pyromancer, Irencrag Pyromancer, and Balmor, Battlemage Captain are all solid candidates, but I could also see Aria of Flame, Veyran, Voice of Duality, Arcane Bombardment...

I'll stop there, lest I end up giving a full decklist, but you get the idea.

I also like the fact that Baral and Kari Zev actually cast the free spell, which could be relevant in some specific cases. The token-generation is more anecdotal, but could still provide a nice chump blocker if need be. A solid and fun commander, if not overly original.

Djeru and Hazoret

Legends matter, baby! The God and the Human are all but a laughing matter. While summoning sickness is certainly a constraint here, and we'll likely want a haste-enabler to help get value from the commander ASAP, this duo is a great way to rebound quickly in case you've run out of gas, Boros decks being what they are (well, less nowadays, but still).

I really like that this card could fit both at the helm of the deck or in the 99 as a sheer value engine. In both cases, it will truly shine if a hefty chunk of the cards are of the legendary sort. I'll spare you the specific mathematics, but you'll need around 20 to 25 legendary creatures to have at least an 80% chance of hitting one of them when attacking with Djeru and Hazoret for the first time. Commanders like Dihada, Binder of Wills are absolutely ecstatic.

While it's tempting to go down the big bad boys route, I would exercise caution in not relying solely on the leading duo, either by playing affordable cards or backing up the plan with a massive ramp package. That being said, I can totally see games where they would flip a big Eldrazi or another similar monstrosity, and that's just off of one attack step! Imagine what we can do with two, or if we start copying the triggered ability....

Drana and Linvala

I love this card. Just look at the art! Just look at how they're eyeing each other! They are up to some crazy shenanigans, I'm telling you. Something something board management, something something value. All I know is that at some point, unexpectedly, they will combo off in a spectacular fashion, courtesy of two creatures owned by two different opponents who had no idea that the game would blow up in their face thanks to their unfathomed combined efforts. Granted, that's not going to happen every game, maybe not even that often, but when it does, it's going to make a tale for the ages.

I kind of expect this deck to mostly end up being a hatebears list, full of stuff like Drannith Magistrate and Kambal, Consul of Allocation, but don't be afraid to try something goofy with them! Like, is it possible in these colors to Donate the relevant creatures to our enemies so that our commander can combine all their abilities? I don't know, but it would be way fun!

Glissa, Herald of Predation

Sneaky, sneaky Glissa. Gone are the days when you wandered Mirrodin in search of its secrets.

This is a very parasitic commander, though. Her abilities are very strongly tied to the cards in this set. Her tokens feel low-impact, and there are only 11 other cards with with the Incubate keyword on them. That's not a lot.

I think the main plan here is to build around that final ability and make a purely Phyrexian deck, then. Ichor Rats and plenty of older cards have been errata'd to have the Phyrexian creature type now, and Glissa gives all Phyrexians first strike an deathtouch, making them outright horrible to block successfully. Pair up with Throne of Geth and Proliferate all that poison. Or just go with non-poisonous Phyrexians that bash face too, like Massacre Wurm, Defiler of Vigor, and Blight Titan. If you're feeling especially nasty, Glissa would love to use Maskwood Nexus and Conspiracy to turn everything into a Phyrexian.

Inga and Esika

Well, this is another card I'll be sure to include in my Imoti + Keruga deck. The art is hilarious, and the abilities are great as well.

Strategy-wise, we want big mana dorks, like Llanowar Tribe and Somberwald Sage. Murkfiend Liege and Seedborn Muse can give us tons of mana, we just need a place to put it, and I suspect flash-enablers, activated abilities like Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy, or extra-card-draw-enablers like Beast Whisperer, will give us tons to do with all that mana. Is this deck likely to have infinite combos with Intruder Alarm? Yeah, probably. Hard not to, really.

Then, with all of that, top things off with a boatload of big splashy beaters to stomp on opponents! I think this deck is also obligated to play Esika's Chariot too, just cuz, y'know, flavor. This commander won't win any prize for its originality, but it's ramp and card advantage in a neat package. Who would have ever thought Simic could do that?!?!?!?

Quintorius, Loremaster

My my, hasn't the young Elephant grown up since his days at the Lorehold academy!

I can see this nice pachyderm going in several different ways. Unfortunately, it's rather slow – five mana to cast Quintorius and three mana for the activation, if he survives a full rotation – but the payoffs could be rather significant, as the exiled card is cast for free. It's a shame that he has to stick around to see and later cast the cards he's exiled. I wish the cards were exiled with a counter of some sort, like Karn, Scion of Urza. As it stands, the chances of activating his ability are precarious at best, and you'll need either a relaxed table or some decent protection to pull the trick off.

If you're playing this fella to make tons of Spirit tokens, the original Quintorius, Field Historian will flood a battlefield much, much faster, and I won't be surprised if Lorehold players stick with the OG for that reason. You really want to capitalize on that 'free spell' ability if you're going to use the new Quintorius. Luckily, if you do, there are plenty of routes to explore: big enchantments, huge artifacts, massive sorceries, heck, even Superfriends might not be completely out of order.

Yargle and Multani

You know what? I'm glad this is the last rare, because despite all of the clever designs I've seen so far, this silly vanilla creature might be my favorite. I know I'm a down-to-the-ground Timmy, but come on! Frog Spirit Elemental that boasts the highest power ever written on a creature (barring Infinity Elemental, of course).

In all seriousness, this card will steal games. Essence Harvest, Traverse the Outlands, Selvala, Heart of the Wilds, Rishkar's Expertise, Return of the Wildspeaker, Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord - pause to inhale because I'm running out of breath - Ruthless Technomancer, Momentous Fall, Disciple of Bolas, Rite of Consumption Overwhelming Stampede... give this thing an Indomitable Might and your opponents will be TERRIFIED. 

You can check out my attempt for this commander to lead an army of kaiju in this CUT episode on Commander's Herald. And as the price will likely be low to the ground, I can't wait to see this show up in the 99 alongside tons of other silly monsters. I'm sure Kresh the Bloodbraided is excited, and so is The Mimeoplasm. I know it'll have a VIP seat in my Mr.Orfeo budget list. This degree of silliness is why I love EDH.

Uncommons & Commons

Khenra Spellspear

I feel like this one has the potential to go big, especially in a spellslinging deck. In a way, it reminds of Veyran, Voice of Duality. Once transformed, the double Prowess is likely to make that boy quite big even with only a couple spells. It's at least worth trying out, right?

Seraph of New Capenna

This card reminds me a lot of the good old Fallen Angel, both thematically and mechanically. That poor creature succumbed to the wiles of the Pyrexian army, just like its predecessor fell from the graces of God. Aside from that (and the stunning art), I fear it's slightly too mana-intensive to make the cut, and the restriction to a single use of its sacrifice ability sadly leaves that in the realm of Limited formats.

Mutagen Connoisseur

Why oh why couldn't you be red instead of blue? While this will probably scale quite well with the various Incubated Phyrexian tokens lying around, I can't help but thinking this would have been fabulous in Tovolar, Dire Overlord decks. So close, so close...

Phyrexia: All Will be DONE!

And... done! I really think Wizards of the Coast has gone above and beyond expectations for Commander players with this set. The legendary duos, while not inventing anything particularly new, are an extremely nice touch that are unlikely to leave anyone indifferent.

I hope you enjoyed reading through these few lines as much as I had fun writing them. I look forward to hearing your opinions. Which commanders appeal the most to you? Have I overlooked something? Am I your new Heliod or a complete fraud who deserves to burn in Phyrexian oil? Let me know in the comments!

Arnaud Gompertz has been playing Magic since 4th Edition, back in 1995. He's been an assiduous EDH enthusiast since 2012, with a soft spot for unusual and casual Commanders. He'll always favour spectacular plays against a boring path to victory. Aside from mistreating cardboard, he's a dedicated board games player, loves a challenging video game and occasionally tries to sing with his choir.

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