March of the Machine: The Aftermath Review - Noncommanders Part II
(Spark Rupture | Art by Viko Menezes)
Commanders I | Commanders II | Noncommanders I | Noncommanders II | cEDH
Aftermath?? I Can't Even Do Regular Math!
Hello, everyone! It’s your friendly neighborhood Jesguy here, and welcome to the March of the Machine: The Aftermath Set Review!
We're a little over a month since the last review, and
for better or for worse we have more new cards to go over! Luckily for us both, I don't have any legends to spend an egregious amount of words on, so let's make this review like WotC made Aftermath: Short, sweet, and to the point!
First up, we have a nice little inclusion into Sidar Jabari of Zhalfir decks, Ayara's Oathsworn!
Ayara's Oathsworn is very reminiscent of Knight of the Ebon Legion to me. Both are slow and accrue counters over time, and while you need to put a bit more work into Oathsworn, the payoff is arguably quite a bit higher. Being able to tutor out a card is definitely a nice option to have, though the specificity of it can make it feel quite clunky. If its tutoring ability triggered whenever it got a fourth counter, it would be an interesting inclusion for +1/+1 Counter decks as well as Knight lists, but due to its restrictions, it doesn't even have a home there.
The bottom line is that you won't be playing Ayara's Oathsworn for the tutor aspect of it, you'll be playing it because it'll be a nice addition to Knight decks. There is its best (and only) home, but it should excel there.
I was never too high on Worship, but as a Djeru, With Eyes Open enjoyer, I adore Deification.
While it only helps you protect one type of 'walker, having the ability to make sure that they stick around is awesome. Name Elspeth, and her various iterations can stay on the battlefield, pump out tokens, and keep growing your board. Name Nissa and animate some lands or double your mana. Name Bolas and... well, if you can't find a way to win with them, I can't help you.
Deification's natural home is Planeswalker decks, though, if you are running a planeswalker commander that has access to white, like Commodore Guff, Dihada, Binder of Wills, or Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools (when paired with a white Partner), Deification is a free way to protect your commander and should be one of the first cards you include.
A cheap Angel Cleric that gives you hexproof and has additional lifegain synergies? Sign me up!
Metropolis Reformer is a lot like Kingdom Hearts: simple and clean. It lists the decks that want it right on the card: Angel decks, Cleric decks, Flying decks, and Lifegain decks! It's an excellent curve-filler for these archetypes, especially in Angels where their curve is notoriously high. More three-drops are definitely appreciated there.
There isn't much else to say about Metropolis Reformer. It's a solid card, and if you want it, you'll know it!
I'm so happy whenever I see a narrow hate card that replaces itself. It raises the chances that they see play considerably, and I appreciate that.
That said, in most instances, Spark Rupture will see more play in 60-card formats than it will in Commander. Even if it draws a card, a narrow hate card is still a narrow hate card, and those perform better on average in more competitive formats. I could see this being a potential fun wincon for Planeswalker decks a la Starfield of Nyx for Enchantment lists, but aside from that corner case, this was made specifically to hose 'walkers, not help them. There is the potential for Enchantment decks to include it as an incidental way to keep planeswalkers in check, since it is a hate-filled Divination if an Enchantress is out, but that's really it.
If your meta is plagued by planeswalkers, Spark Rupture can certainly help you out. Otherwise, I'd say don't worry about it too much.
Next up is Urborg - wait a second....
Urborg Scavengers is next in a line of black creatures that can accrue a bunch of keywords, and it does so quite excellently.
As long as there are cards to exile in players' graveyards, the scavengers will only grow and grow, hopefully nabbing a new keyword or two each time it attacks. Any black deck that has some +1/+1 Counters, keyword synergies, or that just want a mini titan that can carefully curate a graveyard will be interested in Urborg Scavengers. It isn't big or splashy, but it is a lovely little card that has a number of little synergies that I think add up over time.
Vesuvan Drifter is a cool concept, but I'll be frank: we have better clones.
Being able to know what your next draw is neat, I guess. Having a 2/4 flier for three mana is decent, I suppose. Only being able to clone a creature from the top of your deck for a single turn is... downright awful.
If I'm playing a deck with clones, I don't usually want to clone my things, I want to clone my opponents' things. Not only that, but clones like Mirror Image have been panned over the last few years because of how much lower their power level is. Now add in the fact that not only do you have access to only your cards, but only your top deck? Nah, I'm out on Vesuvan Drifter. Stick to your good clones.
- Blot Out at first might seem like an upgrade to Soul Shatter, and for what it's worth, in 60-card formats, it probably is. For us, though? It's a downgrade. The name of the game here is synergy. Soul Shatter sees play in over 37,000 decks, most of which are commanders, like Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest or Negan, the Cold-Blooded, who care about sacrifice specifically. Blot Out exiling cards makes it better on rate, but loses all potential synergy due to that. It's solid if you just need a good removal spell, but will fall short to contemporaries that can take advantage of death and sacrifice synergies.
- Coppercoat Vanguard is an excellent addition to Humans decks, full stop. There isn't a whole lot more to say. A two-mana 2/2 that comes with an anthem and ward 1 is excellent!
- Death-Rattle Oni is a bit odd. Commander is not short on ways to kill creatures, so one that's conditional gives me pause, but the body is decent, and the cost reduction is nice. We all know how messy combat can get, so this may be closer to a better Fight to the Death than I'm giving it credit for. Demon decks are always looking for lower-costed members of their type to add to their lists, so if nowhere else, they should be right at home with the rest of their devious kin.
- Filter Out is a wild little instant. It doesn't deal with creatures, but for three mana it really makes Artifact, Enchantment, and Planeswalker decks cry. This isn't Cyclonic Rift, but the power is certainly there. It won't save you from an all-out attack, but it will reset plenty of board states or help you get out from under stax locks. Thumbs up on this powerful little uncommon!
- Harnessed Snubhorn, unlike Filter Out, is most certainly not getting a thumbs up. While a repeatable Regrowth for artifacts and enchantments is nice, having to hit an opponent to do so isn't. Artifact and Enchantment decks already have better and more consistent ways to get their pieces back. Even Dinosaur decks have better options in green to get their cards back too! I'd hate to snub such a cute Dinosaur, but I don't see a home for this anywhere.
- Kolaghan Warmonger is definitely a spicy little uncommon! Its only home is in Dragon decks, but there, it shines. These styles of decks are always looking for ways to drop their curve, and a three-mana creature that can immediately draw a relevant card does that with aplomb! Not much else to say, honestly. If you have a Dragon list that needs a good, cheap creature, Kolaghan Warmonger is for you!
- Markov Baron, like Kolaghan Warmonger before it, knows what it wants to do, and it does it well. Vampire decks will adore another anthem, while Madness decks will love another card with Madness that can help Anje Falkenrath combo off. I really appreciate cards that don't try to be more than what they are. You go, Markov Baron!
- Tolarian Contempt is the slowest board wipe I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of board wipes. It's nice to have an option that Enchantment decks can use and reuse and recur, but aside from that, I'm pretty unimpressed. Blue has better board wipes, like Cyclonic Rift and Evacuation. If you're in an enchantment deck and paired with white, you have the OG Wrath of God or more interesting options like Out of Time. I'm sure there are some niche cases I am missing, but by and large, Tolarian Contempt is a pass from me.
Okay, Fine, But Can We Start with Addition First?
And there we have it! Half of the notable non-legends from Aftermath!
I was initially surprised when WotC announced that they were going to do a mini-set, but the more I thought about it, the more interested I was in it. Both Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh do sets in a similar vein to this, and a Magic set that isn't beholden to draft formats or specific set mechanics is a really cool concept indeed! While the execution of it may not have been the best on the marketing end, the potential sets like these have in terms of design is massive. Hopefully we can see something like this again without five-card booster packs.
What about you, though? How do you feel about mini sets? What do you think about the cards I went over? Be sure to let me know down in the comments below!
You can reach me on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, wear your mask, wash your hands, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.