March of the Machine: Aftermath Commander Set Review

Kristen GregoryCommander

Usually what comes after-math is a solution to your problem. If your problem was needing a legal Commander for your Planeswalker deck, then March of the Machine: The Aftermath has you covered. It’s got other sweet cards, and a heavy serving of lore, too. 

Today’s Commander Set Review will cover the full set, because it’s not very big. We usually only cover the best and most useful cards, so be prepared for a couple of more indifferent opinions if a card doesn’t light our fire. We’re nothing but honest. 

You can find other recent set reviews here:


Coppercoat Vanguard is an aggressively costed lord for human decks. A power buff at two mana is a good rate, but what’s most exciting here is the Ward (1). Commander these days is about efficiency and spending mana, and even Ward (1) can disrupt an opponent’s plans to hold up interaction. 

Deification feels like an Oathbreaker card, honestly. Mono-Gideons or mono-Elspeths with Enlightened Tutor in the zone to get this or Luxior, Giada’s Gift? Seems good. You’d have to be going pretty deep to use this in Commander, so I can see it being less impactful in a 100-card deck.

Wow, Treasury Thrull got a glow up. Harnessed Snuborn even makes Norika Yamazaki, the Poet look pretty tame. Enchantress decks that use Auras and rattlesnake effects like Soul Snare, Seal of Cleansing and Aura of Silence will enjoy this one; likewise for artifact builds that want to dip in and out of the yard. 

It gets back card draw enchantments in Dinosaur decks, too, which is excellent. All of these decks can add Double Strike and Trample pretty easily. 

Spark Rupture is here to help you hold up the middle-finger at your local Superfriends player. Combined with Solemnity, those walkers won’t even stay in play if cast. It’s a techy card, and pretty meta dependent, but it can do a lot of work. You probably play it at the same rate as Gideon’s Intervention

More cheap angels make the archetype much better in today’s metagame. I wrote the other week that the Age of Haymakers Was Over, and now you can cut another top-end Angel for Metropolis Reformer instead. She helps fill the gap left by Shalai’s protection if you switch to the new Sigarda instead. 

If you can make her indestructible, she can gain you a lot of life on blocks. I mean, she does this even if she dies, but you wanna keep her around. 

Tazri is finally the definitive Zirda Companion. You actually have very few reasons to run any creatures that don’t have activated abilities, and as for the other permanents in your deck? Well, with five colors it’s pretty easy to have a functioning deck. 

I’m not sure this will appeal to the same people who love Ally Tazri, but it’ll certainly tickle some people’s fancy.


Filter Out is a game-changer at three mana. Not only is this a cheap way to interact with Dockside Extortionist’s trigger, it’s also the kind of tempo card that blue decks love — and that they need more of. Devastation Tide is boring, but blue needs more answers. 

Filter Out also screws over Voltron and Enchantress decks, a fact my editor made me include, much to my chagrin. 

Speaking of more blue ways to interact, Tolarian Contempt is interesting. You can choose which (three!) creatures are most threatening (one on each board) and get rid, kind of like a reverse Porphyry Nodes

I think when built around this gets quite good. Flickering or copying it can set up quite the conundrum and buy you time to enact your plans. I like that we’re getting more new blue removal that isn’t boring to play against. 

Vesuvan Drifter is fine, I guess? So many good creatures these days are Legendary, meaning you can’t confidently cast the creature on top in second main if you draw it. Decks that care about manipulating the top of the library also don’t tend to be rammed with creatures, meaning this will miss a lot of the time. 


Would you like Demonic Tutor on combat damage? What about if it’s on a two-drop with Menace? 

Yeah, Ayara’s Oathsworn is pretty good. You do need exactly four counters, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a repeatable effect. There’s plenty of ways to remove counters if you go over, and ways to add them quicker.

Blot Out is interesting. It causes me physical pain to say this, but again, it’s a tool against hexproof creatures, which are usually the order of play in Voltron decks. Soul Shatter is already good, and this is less value but more permanent. 

Death-Rattle Oni is good for a small number of decks, probably RB ones. Any deck with pingers and sacrifice effects can use it as a cheap one-sided board wipe.  

Markov Baron is very satisfying to read. It’s an elegant design, and one that plays to the strengths of vampire decks. Lifelink is the part that makes me actively want to consider adding another lord to my vampire deck. Edgar is spoiled for choice, but red/black decks love this.

Urborg Scavengers is cute.The art reminds me of the little moon-aliens in Elden Ring

You mostly know whether you want this — like if you’re playing a Kathril or Rayami deck. It’s not completely unplayable as graveyard removal elsewhere, but it has a lot of competition.


Arni Metalbrow is some serious mana advantage in red. For a measly two mana, you can drop something into play. What’s more, dropping a creature in with Arni will trigger Arni again

You’ll need a lot of card draw to make this work (and I do mean draw, not impulse draw), but if you can, it’s a very aggressive Sneak Attack analogue. Ilharg, the Raze-Boar will like Arni, but I see him overperforming in Jeskai and Rakdos decks.

Plargg and Nassari is the next attempt at Stolen Strategy, but this time with more certainty to hit something. The downside is whatever the best spell is will always stay in exile. 

It’s not the most interesting card, but it’ll play more interestingly than it reads. It also weirdly punishes people for running more lands?

This creature feels built for Miirym decks, which quite often flop when they don’t see any Dragons to cast. It’ll do work in other Dragon decks, too, but whether you run it depends on the makeup of the rest of your deck. If you draw cards or make treasure by connecting, it’s a sure inclusion. 

Reckless Handling is another tutor in red, this time for artifacts specifically. I’m taking Gamble first, obviously, but I’m not sure if I’d rather play this or Fervent Mastery next. 

You can get Underworld Breach with the latter, helping you not to discard in vain, but it is a lot riskier. I feel that risk is just a part of playing these decks and, if I’m gambling, I’m going all-in. 


Punch spells are a dime-a-dozen these days, but if you’re building your deck literally around fight/punch spells, then Animist’s Might is actually worth a look. It’s a one mana punch that deals double damage and also hits Planeswalkers. 

Open the Way seems less good than most other options you could be playing, unless you’re in a deck that mills itself and can put cards back on top of the library. 

It’s not that Open the Way is bad — it’s just not likely to displace anything else, especially when creatures with abilities are such a big part of the format. Elvish Reclaimer and some recursion gets you more for your money, sooner in the game.

Leyline Immersion, on the other hand, is a mana source that’ll get people talking. There are the obvious places for this, like Jodah, Archmage Eternal, but there are also likely to be many builds that have ways to untap creatures when creatures enter play. 

It’s probably a lot easier to break enablers like Intruder Alarm with other cards, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some fun stuff with this aura, either.

Hey, would you look at that! It’s a Legendary Lotus Cobra! Nissa, Resurgent Animist wants you to play fetch lands in mono green so you can dig for your elf or elemental cards. 

It’s one of the more interesting mono green Commanders in that it pushes you into an archetype that’s been mostly in Temur (Elementals) or Golgari (Elves) in recent years, but it’s just as likely to show up in the 99 of Landfall decks.

We’ve seen a number of EtBs in recent sets that give you the opportunity to spend mana for an effect, which is a way to power creep Kicker, because you can Flicker. Tranquil Frillback is decent, if not exciting, even outside of Dinosaur and Blink decks. 


There’s a lot of recursion spells in this set, and Selesnya gets two of the more exciting ones. Danitha, New Benalia’s Light is here to steal your heart as your new Voltron Commander. 

It’s either that or she’s going to be the right hand of existing Enchantress and Voltron decks that are these colors. She’s extremely aggressively costed, to be honest, and I’m surprised we get all that for three mana. 

Cosmic Rebirth is another way to get stuff out of the yard. I love that it’s instant speed, and it gives my copy of Season of Renewal a run for its money. It’s versatile, can be fired off in response to graveyard removal and can even bring something back you need in an opponent’s End Step. Hot. 

Another card I’m going to have to find room for in my Sigarda Enchantress build, Calix, Guided by Fate is also pretty cracked for three mana. He doesn’t naturally have evasion, meaning you’ll need to give him it. 

Thankfully, he will then duplicate whatever aura you used to jump him, so you can jump something else next turn. It’s not only Calix that can trigger this token copy mechanic, either; it’s any enchanted creature. What in Karametra’s name, indeed. 

Speaking of Sigarda, she’s got a shiny new card in Aftermath. This one is likely to displace Shalai as the leading Angel Commander for Selesnya, and the card advantage might even be enough to tempt over the mono white Giada players too. 

Don’t sleep on the fact she also cares about humans, because it’s just as likely you either build a GW humans deck as an Angels one, and there’s nothing stopping you doing both in one deck, either. Many Angels care about humans (Angel of Glory’s Rise, Herald of War, Angelic Overseer and two of Sigarda’s other three incarnations, too). 

Samut’s gotta go fast. So fast, indeed, that she now rewards others for joining her zoomies by granting that most predictable yet delicious succor: card draw. 

As much as drawing cards is good and nice, it gets a little dull when we hit the umpteenth payoff for doing something and it’s just drawing cards. She’s strong, if uninteresting, and I’m still gonna jam her in my other Samut deck. 


Not content to let green/white have all the graveyard fun, Campus Renovation is kind of a Boros Urban Evolution in the same way Reconstruct History is the Boros Harmonize

While it’s not as powerful as Reconstruct History, I really appreciate the fact you can add a red mana to Refurbish to get some extra impulse draw.

Nahiri’s Resolve is a really cool card. Usually when you flicker stuff until your next upkeep, you lose out on attacking with it because it has summoning sickness. Not here, because this enchantment also has an anthem for +1/+0 and haste. 

The balance of this card will come in deciding just how many blockers to leave up, and how greedy you want to get. Boros flicker obviously loves it, but so too do decks that invest heavily in the board and want to keep it from being board wiped. 

Ah, Nahiri. She just needs a therapist, not for a Leonin to pathologize her pain and use her to assuage his own guilt.

Anyway, I already waxed lyrical about Nahiri in this Harbinger of an article. She’s not the usual Boros equipment Commander, so don’t build her like that. Instead, go wide with tokens, cheap equipment, and cheap equipment that comes in and makes a token: Living Weapons. 

Also her art is incredible, big props to Marta Nael. 

Two mana Legends are great in a format where you can keep recasting them from the Command Zone. They’re also great when they’re strong, and Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival does a lot for two mana. 

While she could well lead her own decks, it’s in the 99 of decks centered around impulse draw that she will truly excel… kinda like the one we just talked about. 

Hail the Victorious Dead! This is an aristocrats card if I’ve ever seen one, and plays well with some of the newer cards for that archetype. It’s also probably really good in older decks like Teysa or Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim. It’s not exciting, but it’ll have homes.


Coppercoat Vanguard isn’t the only good Human in this small set, and Pia isn’t the only cheap Commander. Jirina, Dauntless General again does a lot for two mana. She saves your board and exile’s an opponent’s yard. What’s not to love? 

It’s sad to not get green or red, but despite everything that tells us otherwise, not every card is designed for Commander. She’ll be a great humans Commander anyways. She’ll also, like Pia, fit great in the 99. 

It feels like every card is a card for Dihada, Jodah or Sisay these days, and whatever you call it, it’s the opposite of parasitic design. Being spoiled for choice at least keeps these decks fairly distinct, but only to a certain point — they’ll always run the best-in-slot cards either way. 

Is The Kenriths’ Royal Funeral a new legendary-matters staple? I think so, especially in Dihada.

On average you’ll draw four or five cards for four mana, making this a slightly cheaper Stinging Study. But it doesn’t end there, as it provides permanent cost reduction afterwards. What a silly little card.

Provided you have some restraint in your deckbuilding (or you’re just a bit of a cool cat), you might opt instead to carve out room in your Blue/White Legendaries Niambi deck for Gold-Forged Thopteryx instead. 

This one is decidedly not a staple for all of the four and five color legendaries decks, but works great in decks where you have a decent amount in your list and want to protect your Commander/take advantage of combat damage triggers. It looks great for the right Raffine deck.

I’ve often found Simic is left wanting when it comes to innovative Commanders. The new Jolrael is innovative enough, though.

Jumping lands is powerful, especially because they’re a lot harder to remove when it’s not your turn. You’re in Simic already, so ramping enough lands to lose one is relatively okay. She also fills your hand when land creatures deal combat damage, which ensures you can send them in big to start with. Super fun Simic Commander.

From Legendaries to lands to leviathans, and we have Kiora, Sovereign of the Deep. Arixmethes has long reigned supreme in the sea creature menagerie corner, but recent upstart Kenessos, Priest of Thassa has some things to say about that. He’ll probably have his faith shattered when he finds out Kiora stole his god’s Bident, though.

Kiora is a Sunbird’s Invocation for sea creatures, and what’s more, she has a hefty Ward {3}, representing both her ability to dive down and also how much Wizards wants Simic stompy players to flock to this new general. 

Ah, Ob Nixilis. He doesn’t care about a creature type so much as a card type: pingers. Whether it’s Reckless Fireweaver or Blood Artist, you want to be offing opponents via the thousand-cuts method. 

He also triggers when they crack a fetch land, by the way, which is pretty neat. He might also combo with All Will Be One, which you may or may not care about. If you’re bored of Prosper, give Ob a look. 

Sarkhan is finally a legendary Dragonlord’s Servant. I mean, sure, we got Nogi, Draco-Zealot, but that’s both mono red and a card people forgot existed because it was in Game Night, right? Besides which, Sarkhan doesn’t just become a 5/5 when he attacks like Nogi

Instead, he can turn into a copy of what you cast until the end of turn, except he’s still Sarkhan. In practice, this means casting Drakuseth for six gives you a second Drakuseth for the turn that won’t die to the legend rule. That’s pretty neat. 

Tyvar the Bellicose is pretty powerful for four mana, and that’s a phrase I’ve been using a lot today. Four mana, three mana… the cards are just really good. 

Anyway, in your Lathril deck, this guy makes your dorks big enough to attack, and he turns Marywn into a nuclear power station. He can also lead the charge in a similar way to Raggadragga


Narset looks to finally have a Commander card that doesn’t make people react so viscerally. She does something powerful that, at first glance, doesn’t quite come across. Basically, as long as she’s got some power, you’re making copies of opponents’ artifacts, enchantments, battles and Planeswalkers for free when you attack. 

In some ways she’ll feel similar to her old iteration, but the idea here is she’s limited by what you’re playing against. I’m not sure she’s better than Archimandrite for a go-wide Jeskai beats deck, though.

Nashi, Moon’s Legacy is another rat Commander, but one I’m not sure many will flock to. The existing options are already flavorful, decently strong and have a strong identity being mono-black. 

Sultai is cool, but there’s a risk it becomes “good stuff” and loses its appeal. On the other hand, you can do Sultai legends with him instead, because he can also target legendary cards as well as Rats. I guess it’s only fair Sultai gets to hop on the “legends-matter” theme. 

Rocco’s modern life is as a street chef. It’s nice to see them expanding into delivery and food trucks, honestly. The economy is in freefall especially after the invasion. 

Ostensibly a group hug card, I’m not sure how we’re winning with Rocco using the tools available, because a few counters and a sandwich doesn’t win a game of Commander. At least it’s a deck for Share the Spoils.

Rebuild the City is interesting. You can use it in a ramp deck to annihilate a slower player’s start by copying three Strip Mines. You can use it to get three Cabal Coffers and make a bazillion mana. I don’t see either being done often, though; the former breaks the social contract, and the latter is win-more. At least it gives you blockers for your Lord Windgrace.

You know what they call a quarter-ton dragon in Ravnica with hexproof from monocolored? A Niv-Mizzet Supreme.

Niv will find a home in existing Niv-Mizzet five color brews, sure, but there’s also an opportunity to build him separately as his own deck. He avoids most of the popular removal in the format like Path, Swords, Pongify, Reality Shift and Go For the Throat, which is the part that makes him most worth running. 

I rarely get excited about five color Commanders, but Niv-Mizzet, Supreme has just enough going on to set him apart that I think he’ll be a fun build.

Karn, Legacy Reforged is basically a personal Blinkmoth Urn, except with the Powerstone rider that it can’t be cast on non-artifact spells. If he’s your Commander, you probably won’t run into too many issues here. 

He’ll always be at least a 5/5, and so there’s a Karn Voltron deck waiting for you if you want it. He’ll slot nicely into the 99 of artifact decks, too, but I’m not sure what you’re cutting for him at this point.

And finally, our last card: Drannith Ruins. Unlike most scenes of destruction, this doesn’t destroy lands, recur things from the yard or give us an extra copy of Engineered Explosives

Instead, it offers you the chance to pay three whole mana to give a minor buff to a non-Human that entered this turn. 

In a deck like Shalai and Hallar, you’re running Opal Palace, and there’s no room for this. In Ikoria mutate decks, your Commander rarely actually enters the battlefield. This is a pretty forgettable card.


And so the ramifications of the Phyrexian Invasion are felt across the multiverse. Aftermath gives us a preview of what’s to come, and it very much feels like the post-credits scene that it was intended to be. The question I have is whether that’s actually a good vehicle for storytelling in a card game. 

Focusing purely on the cards, there’s a lot to like in this small set, and a little something for everyone. I know I personally have decks for at least a dozen of these cards, and I’m honestly pretty intrigued at the prospect of building the new Sarkhan. If you’re after singles, then as ever, we have you covered.

Let me know what you’re excited to brew with on Twitter.