March of the Machine: The Aftermath Set Review - Noncommanders I
(Leyline Immersion | Art by Wisnu Tan)
Commanders I | Commanders II | Noncommanders I | Noncommanders II | cEDH
No sooner had March of the Machine hit the shelves than WotC revealed a new mini-set, an epilogue of sorts to bring the Phyrexian invasion to its conclusion.
While I have a few reservations on the marketing policy surrounding this initiative, my inner brewer nevertheless rejoices at more cards to build with.
So without further ado and unnecessary banter, let's dive straight into it.
Well, looks like nature will eventually prevail on Ikoria. Glory to non-Humans, praise the Kaiju, you get the drift. In itself, this card reminds me strongly of Oran-Rief, the Vastwood, in that its ability boosts freshly summoned creatures. There are, however, two major differences.
The first lies in the mana needed to activate the most recent iteration. Three mana (counting the Ruins) to add two +1/+1 counters is no puny cost. Oran-Rief, on the other hand, required only to tap itself to boost ALL green creatures entering the field.
The second one is the color: Drannith Ruins is colorless, meaning it could make its way in basically any list... so I guess, yay…?
All in all, I'm unimpressed. While this could pump a creature into a significant threat in Limited formats, I don't really foresee a bright future for it in Commander. Skullbriar, the Walking Grave, Animar, Soul of Elements, or Gargos, Vicious Watcher could maybe benefit from these additional counters, but the price is really steep for such a marginal effect. Disappointing.
Now this looks much more promising. Tapping a creature to make five mana of any combination of colors is no joke, especially if you find means to repeatedly untap it. I'm fairly certain you could find some silly combos to go infinite. Something like Leyline of Singularity and Pili-Pala. Too convoluted? Maybe, but it's fun!
Even without going into combo land, this opens up several possibilities. The included protection is no hexproof, but it's a nice addition, and I very much like the built-in restriction to spells only.
The card may find a home in more casual Enchantress decks, like Sythis, Harvest's Hand or Tuvasa the Sunlit, as well as anything using green with a strong propensity to tap and untap. I'm thinking mostly of Emmara, Soul of the Accord, but I believe it could also find a home with Garth One-Eye.
Pair that up with stuff like Kiora's Follower, Magewright's Stone, or the infamous Intruder Alarm, and you could end up with more mana than you'd know what to do with.
All in all, it has an interesting aura.
This is what I'm talking about! I'll admit the mana value is high, but this has the potential to reap significant rewards for the bold. There are basically two ways I can see this being useful.
The first is a neat way to avoid boardwipes. Swing in with your team, exile them all at the end step, get them back on the next turn to smash faces yet again. Granted, an empty board is dangerously inviting for your opponents, but you can circumvent this by either choosing to exile only some of your troops, or having a strong pillow-fort defense on the side. Cards like Ghostly Prison, Sphere of Safety, or Norn's Annex will make it much more difficult for your opponents to return the favour.
The second application I see lies with ETB effects. Not only are you making your creatures harder to kill, you can reap their boons again and again. Would I enjoy triggering my Altar of the Brood again and again? Don't mind if I do. Could I tempt you in gaining a bajillion life every turn with Angelic Chorus, exile stuff with Angel of Serenity, fetch lands with Archaeomancer's Map, protect my life total with Archon of Coronation? And that's just with the As! Don't get me started on Myr Battlesphere, Ichor Wellspring, Warstorm Surge, or Terror of the Peaks!
Brago, King Eternal has already shown that repeated blinking plus ETBs can be devastating. I'm glad to see something in red joining the flickering fray. I can't wait to try this out in my decks!
Rebuild the City
I'll admit I'm not the greatest fan of Landfall, but even so, this feels really… bad? Six mana is a major investment to get three lands, especially lands that will be affected by summoning sickness.
Granted, you could probably achieve some nasty tricks, like copying a Cabal Coffers three times, or maybe a Maze of Ith. Yes, getting three additional lands is nothing to scoff at. Sure, you're getting three bodies with evasion.
But in the end, is it all worth six mana? I think not. While I could see this being a strong finisher in Limited, Commander players have many better options than this clunky spell to trigger Landfall multiple times. If these creatures had haste it could be a different story.
Open the Way
I'm torn. This card has clearly been designed with Commander in mind, so let's take a look at the best case scenario.
If you pay 4 into X, you get four lands, not necessarily basic, but not of your choosing. Decent in mono-green, okay-ish with two colors, and not great in three or above unless you get lucky and hit the specific colors you're looking for. All the more so since those lands have the poor taste to entering tapped. Oh, Skyshroud Claim, how I miss you…
If you're heavy on ramp and/or Landfall, this could yield a decent number of triggers at once I suppose. Get four mana with Lotus Cobra, create four 4/4 Beasts with Rampaging Baloths, give your Plant army a significant boost with Avenger of Zendikar, or make some more Scute or Zombies with Field of the Dead.
Okay, I might have been a bit harsh on the card. With the right setup, this could decently bump your land count and generate some interesting reactions.
This is the way.
The Kenriths' Royal Funeral
Ooooh, that's niche, that's niiiiiiiiiiiiche! Screaming aside, this card has "Legendary Creatures Matter" printed all over. That being said, the theme commands 22,639 decks at the time of writing on EDHREC, so that's nothing to scoff at.
The Twins leave us with a nice parting gift in the form of card draw and ramp for legendary spells. I really like that the mana reduction applies to anything legendary and not just creatures.
Overall, we're looking at potentially great card draw with a minimal downside and a decent lingering effect. Dihada, Binder of Wills, Jodah, the Unifier, and Ratadrabik of Urborg are going to love adding this to their already hefty arsenal.
And lo the God of Versatility saw a Frillback lying asleep. And it saw that was… okay.
I absolutely love cards with multiple options. Even more so when said options are relevant.
I'll skip on the life gain, which is cute but not extremely impressive. The other two abilities, however, are quite nice. Dealing with artifacts or enchantments is always useful, as is messing with pesky necromancers' playgrounds. After all, Reclamation Sage is played in 192,371 decks, and Bojuka Bog in 401,649, so yeah, quite relevant.
With that being said, is the Frillback going to replace either? I'm not sure. First, this is color-intensive. If you want to play two of its three effects, that will cost you three green mana, which might be a problem for three-color-and-above decks.
Second, the creature itself isn't extremely impressive. Granted, neither is Reclamation Sage, but that costs one mana less.
Will this see play? Probably. Will it become a major staple?
Uncommons & Commons
Well, apparently legends are all the rage right now. Nevertheless, this card looks more like decent removal in Limited, but a bit too mana-intensive to make the cut in Commander, despite the damage output being potentially significant.
Maybe this could be of some use in Gargos, Vicious Watcher to take down two birds with one stone, or in Neyith of the Dire Hunt to kill something and draw a card. But all in all, this remains a very niche and conditional removal spell.
Looks like Quintorius has his hands full for the next century or so. Whatever spells he is using to rebuild the academy, this nifty sorcery is bound to ease his task. Five mana to reanimate something relevant and get some impulse draw to boot? Not too bad at all.
The only real drawback I'm seeing here is bound to the hefty mana cost, but I suppose this would have been way too good at four mana. Osgir, the Reconstructor might see some use in this to get back a previously sacrificed artifact. Go-Shintai of Life's Origin also looks like a decent home.
Reanimation and graveyard recursion will always find their home, and this card is no exception. I especially like that, for once, there is no black mana in here.
This looks particularly handy in Tayam, Luminous Enigma, as the deck wants to run some additional recursion outside of its commander. Aside from this specific case, however, this is a generic effect that can find a spot in pretty much any deck in these colors.
A solid support card.
Feast of the Victorious Dead
So, a way to capitalize on multiple deaths. Why not?
I really like that the effect counts any creature on the battlefield, not just yours or your opponents'. That gives it a bit more leeway.
What I like much less is that the effect is limited to your end step. I don't think it would have been too busted to extend that to all turns.
Still, for a puny two mana it's quite an interesting enchantment. Token decks toying with Dictate of Erebos or Grave Pact may find a way here to provide a massive boost to their troops. Aristocrats can have some fun with this new tool. Or maybe decks relying heavily on targeted removal, such as Kelsien, the Plague.
Not overly impressive, but I look forward to seeing this nifty toy in action.
Not much to say about this. It's more or less an Esior, Wardwing Familiar extended to all of your Legendary permanents. Too bad it doesn't warrant that protection to itself. Flying and lifelink will be useful in Limited, but not in Commander. Not on such a frail body anyway.
This one is fun. It's a slightly more expensive Gamble that has the potential to smack your opponents. Granted, two damage is not that impressive, but I might give this a shot in my Solphim, Mayhem Dominus deck. Best case scenario, I keep my Sol Ring. Worst case I smack everyone for 4 damage. It's a win-win!
Eeeeeeeh, why not? If you're in a deck playing lots and lots of expendable creatures and find a way to fill your graveyard, and maybe have an outlet to double your counters? Maaaaaaaybe?
Okay, I'll stop. I've stretched this so much I fear I may have caused a tear in your screen.
Stampede of the Clunks
Aaaaaaaaand, done! This set feels decidedly weird, and somewhat unnecessary. At least we get some new toys to tinker with. I guess. What do you think? Are you excited about these cards? Have some left a strong impression on you? Do you enjoy having an additional mini-set? Let me know in the comments!