March of the Machine Cavalry Charge Precon Upgrade Guide

March of the Machine: Cavalry Charge Precon Upgrade Guide

Jason KrellCommander

Cavalry Charge is a new direction for Esper, and Jason will help control players finger their inner aggression as he reviews and suggests an upgrade for this March of the Machine Commander precon.

If you had put together a bingo card for March of the Machine and slapped an “Eminence returns” space on there, I never would have thought we’d get to fill it in. Yet here we are, with Sidar Jabari of Zhalfir and Knight tribal in Magic’s most controlling colors. 

Is this Commander, and the deck he helms, as powerful as boogeymen like The Ur-Dragon and Edgar Markov? Well, maybe not. But there’s a lot that’s arguably as awesome (and less frightening) to explore.

Cavalry Charge: New Cards

We have two possible leaders for this precon, and the worst time you’ll have with this deck is picking which of these cards to build around. Sidar presents a more straightforward and attainable goal with his efficient combination of mana value, abilities and stats. Playing knights and drawing cards with him at the helm is as easy as flanking unsuspecting infantry with a wall of mounted soldiers. 

However, Elenda and Azor gives players that far-fetched challenge to chase. How often can you get a six mana Commander on the board and either keep it there OR pay the extra mana to replay them after removal? Well, who honestly cares when the payoff for drawing cards is an army of lifelinking 1/1 vampires?

It’s literally the perfect combination for this shard. Blue gives you card draw, white helps your tokens get further and black gives you all the vampires you need to flesh out the deck. But despite how cool Elenda and Azor is, I would still recommend letting Sidar give the orders if your goal is only to upgrade. If you want a fresh build around, then pick Elenda and Azor.

Next I want to look at one of the best creatures in the deck, bar none, Exsanguinator Cavalry. This thing really does it all for three mana, giving you a building payoff for connecting with your knights. 

And not only is an ever growing army going to help you apply pressure to the whole table, but those Blood tokens let you pitch targets for Sidar’s reanimation ability and replace them with a card you want in your hand. Frankly, this is one of those sneaky low cost cards players won’t want to spend removal on when they probably should.

And if you want to ensure your knights connect with your opponents, why not curve into this blast from the past? Herald of Hoofbeats gives your entire board horsemanship, a wildly fitting mechanic for this precon that effectively renders creatures unblockable by all opponents except for the oldest of veterans. 

Seriously, though — Wizards of the Coast had only printed one other non-reprint card that mentioned horsemanship in around 20 years before this card, and that came in Unfinity

OK, but what happens if your opponent kills your knights instead of blocking them? Well, Locthwain Lancer will make sure they feel the sting and you draw a card to replace what you lost. 

It’s almost like a reverse Midnight Reaper (reprinted in this deck), which is probably where the extra two mana value comes from. But in exchange, it also has a studly 5/5 body and menace. So while paying for this board insurance may not feel super fun and splashy at this cost, it’s still going to keep your tank full of gas — a key feature of any successful Aggro deck in Commander.

Why yes I would like to grow my board for doing something that happens automatically every turn. And also whenever I attack with one or more knights. And also when I resolve half of my non-creature spells. 

Wow, when you put it like that, it seems like Vodalian Wave-Knight might be putting a lot of counters on your creatures! HMMM, maybe it’s a good card…

Strobe lights? Cool. Strobe KNIGHTS? They’re fine. A consistent source of knight tokens is never bad, but it’s gated behind casting two or more spells a turn. And honestly, given the fact that you could cast Exsanguinator Cavalry for the same amount of mana… yeah, this card’s ceiling starts to feel pretty low.

But hey! Blue knights are hard to come by, and its vigilance DOES let you attack and activate it later. That’s something.

I feel like we never see equipment costed this efficiently, especially when they have an effect this handy. Sure, +1/+1 is nothing to write home about, but getting to peek at six cards and select the exact knight you want is super handy. Plus you can leave the attacker back as a blocker. 

This also, obviously, is incredible in any combat based tribal deck with white in its color identity. I know this is getting windmill-slammed in my General Kudro humans deck, which already struggles with keeping a full hand (humans are just so cheap to cast!). Anyway, this card is great and you should play it.

If you’ve read our other March of the Machine precon upgrade guides (you DID do that, riiight?), you’ve heard us talk about this card like four other times. If you haven’t, here’s the cliffnotes: it’s a bad Thran Dynamo that might be worth it if you’re playing Planechase and really want more control over your dice rolls.

Would I ever recommend this outside of a planechase specific Commander deck? Nah. But we do love varied thematic support, so I’m not going to complain about it.

Odds are you’re going to have two or more creatures attacking quite often on any given turn. And you’ll also probably have more cards than you often know what to do with, including plenty you’d rather dump into the graveyard. The fact that this card pays you off for both things while one ability enables the other is rad.

For two mana, this is the perfect card to start the game with. And it’s also pretty handy after a board wipe given you’ll probably still have a hand full of cards that can always rejoin the party with an invitation from Sidar. 

Our last new card is Path of the Enigma, which is probably among the more boring options in this new cycle. Five mana to draw four cards isn’t bad, but at sorcery speed it’s really not what you want to spend your turn on most of the time.

As for the Planechase half, you might as well pretend it doesn’t exist in most situations. That means it’s fine for this deck out of the box and in a pod with other March of the Machine precons, but there are simply better options in almost any other circumstance 

That being said, Cavalry Chase does come with 10 Planechase planes, five of which are brand new. The full list is as follows:

  • The Caldaia
  • Inys Haen
  • Littjara
  • Paliano
  • Unyaro
  • Mutual Epiphany
  • Orochi Colony
  • Sokenzan
  • Truga Jungle
  • Turri Island
The Caldaia
The Caldaia

Some of these are pretty cool for the deck. Take the Caldaia on New Capenna, for example. Blitz actually works great for your knights, given you can cast them for cheap, attack, draw a card with Sidar and then draw a card when you sacrifice them at the end of the turn. 

And on subsequent turns, you just get them back for good when Sidar connects. Meanwhile, the chaos helps reuse those that don’t get called up by your Commander so you can get their Blitz value all over again.


Meanwhile, Littjara gives you shapeshifters (which are also knights) and buffs one creature type among creatures you control whenever you roll chaos. 

“So you’re picking jellyfish, right?” 

Yeah, haha, good one!

Cavalry Charge: Deck Review

Look, let me level with you. This is the best precon out of the bunch, and I don’t think it’s particularly close. Now, is that based on power level or personal preference? Yes, it is. But I truly believe it’s hard not to have fun with this deck — and I’d probably be building around it myself if I didn’t already have two esper decks (one of which is already aggressive). 

As it turns out, there are just a lot of solid knights at a reasonable real-life price point, which means Wizards had an easy time building a serviceable list. The creatures also don’t even have to be that good given all the upside you get for just being a knight. Meanwhile, the suite of supporting cards, like removal, is solid. 

There’s also an easy path forward for upgrading the deck, which I will get to right now!

Cavalry Charge Budget Upgrade

I’ll level with you here — most of the good cards out there are already in this deck. The vast majority of what’s left is also fairly obvious. Anyone armed with the internet and the knowledge EDHRec exists could probably make similar suggestions for additions. 

However, some players may be new and it’s important to understand why certain cards are worth putting in decks. For their sake, here are the details.

The removal in this precon is already pretty good, but if you can combine it with a body on the battlefield that’s even better. Blacklance comes down as a cheap surprise and can help you trade way up for little cost, all while getting a bit of life to sweeten the deal.

Meanwhile, our cavalier friends both remove permanents we don’t like for a reasonable cost (sacrificing a creature and giving the opponent a 3/3). They also give us some extra value when they die, which means they don’t mind throwing their respectable bodies around the battlefield. And given they’re on the more expensive side, they make perfect reanimation targets for Sidar.

Pour one out for Cavalier of Gales for just not being worth it!

As for this trio, they don’t really have a unifying theme other than being generally valuable. Knight of the Ebon Legion gets you an impactful creature that scales with the game from turn one, which helps you draw cards with Sidar as soon as possible in this deck.

Guardian of Faith is really here to help protect your board, which is a necessity when too many board wipes can completely remove you from a game. Plus, after you get the main value, it still triggers all of your knight synergy.

Finally, Mirror Entity is a knight that’s a perfect mana sink. This is important to have in Aggro decks, because sometimes you don’t want to commit more resources to the board (remember that thing about board wipes?). This way, even if you don’t have many creatures, you can use excess mana to ensure each one hits like a truck full of jousting knights.

As for these two, they’re just incredibly valuable creatures. Nadaar might seem weird given there isn’t much other dungeon synergy in the deck, but the Initiative can provide such value over time that you really just want to get it on the board. You can reclaim it easily by being aggressive and he’s easy to get back on the board if he dies.

Battle Angels of Tyr, meanwhile, just does everything your deck wants. More attackers, more potential card draw, more mana and more life. Ok, so you might not be down enough cards to get the draw trigger often, but it’ll still be worth it.

Here we have the (new) classic, creature finisher in white alongside a rising star of board protection. Akroma’s Will is THE way to efficiently end the game when you have a big board, and it’s worth the price tag in a deck like this. 

Clever Concealment, on the other hand, will add to your suite of protection so you don’t need to rebuild. It should almost always be free to cast given the big boards you can generate.

Drawing cards is good. Kindred Discovery draws you cards when you have knights attacking or entering the battlefield. Need I say more?

Next is Circle of Loyalty, which was made for knight tribal decks and nothing else. It’ll often cost two mana for an anthem effect that can churn out tokens relatively consistently. There is almost no downside to casting this, and the art is awesome to boot.

After that is Reflections of Littjara, another, more expensive enchantment that will do better than giving you 2/2 knight tokens — it will straight up double your board! That’s powerful stuff and you’ll be hard pressed to lose if opponents can’t stop this permanent.

Finally, while mana bases are always mid in precons, I did want to make one suggestion in Vault of the Archangel. As I mentioned before, sometimes you don’t want to commit more creatures to your board and need other things to do with your mana. Well, this land is the perfect way to spend it while holding back some creatures. 

On offense you become harder to block, on defense you can trade up easily and either way you’re gaining life in the process. The only risk is having a colorless source in a three color deck means you could have some awkward draws, but that’s not enough downside to avoid playing this.

With all that said, here are the cards I’d recommend cutting to make room for all these babies:

  • Knight of the Last Breath
  • Xerex Strobe-Knight
  • Worthy Knight
  • Wintermoor Commander
  • Foulmire Knight
  • Order of Midnight
  • Ichor Elixir
  • Fractured Powerstone
  • Path of the Enigma
  • Painful Truths
  • Return to Dust
  • Liliana’s Standard Bearer
  • Temple of the False God

End step

So there you have it! By following all this sage advice (as much or as little as you want), you’re guaranteed to grind your opponents to dust underhoof! Or, at the very least, have a good time playing Commander.

Thanks for taking the time to read, I hope you found this helpful and don’t forget to check out the rest of our March of the Machine Commander coverage! There’s lots of useful info here every set release at Card Kingdom.