March of the Machine Commander Precon Highlights

March of the Machine: Commander Precon Highlights

Kristen GregoryCommander, Uncategorized

March of the Machine is in full swing, and alongside the gargantuan main set, there are five Commander precon decks with a bunch of spicy new cards. Which ones are worth a look? Kristen takes us through what to keep an eye out for.

As with all releases these days, there are Commander decks, Set Booster exclusive cards and for the first time in living memory (and by living I mean my memory) — exclusive cards for attending prerelease. 

Before I get into the precon cards, let’s check out the more exciting Prerelease cards. If you open a Prerelease kit, you can open one of three extra promos. 

Katilda and Lier is the other not mentioned here, and it’s mostly because it’s a pretty forgettable card: flashback on instants and sorceries for casting Human spells. It’s either a janky Bant combo deck or a janky Humans-matter deck. Not the most interesting.

Goro-Goro and Satoru
Goro-Goro and Satoru

Goro-Goro and Satoru, on the other hand, is really badass. Grixis is a color combo that usually ends up heavy in spells, so to see a creature combat focused Commander that isn’t reliant on reanimator is a breath of fresh air. 

This deck is all about Haste, and your Commander can thankfully grant it. Your reward for Haste-y beats is a 5/5 Dragon Spirit with Flying. 

There are many ways you can build this, but I like jamming the most obnoxious finishers and either Sneak Attacking or recurring them to attack straight away. Plus it’s a mob boss Ninja and a little Goblin Samurai. What’s not to love?

Slimefoot and Squee
Slimefoot and Squee

If you love graveyard loops or Jund decks and want something a little different to the old Prossh or Korvold lines, Slimefoot and Squee is a fun new option. Given we get a 1/1 on EtB, and that there are plenty of ways to make mana from creatures dying, you can loop around your unlikely buddies and whoever else they bring along for the ride. 

Avenger of Zendikar, perhaps? Just add Phyrexian Altar and Pitiless Plunderer for all the mana.

Best Precon Cards from March of the Machine Commander

Now we can get into the Precon cards, and what better place to start than with an Eminence creature? Sidar Jabari brings back the controversial mechanic. 

Is it broken? Not at all. Will it be a lot of fun, enable the strategy of the deck, and encourage more players to play a themed deck around a creature type? Absolutely. 

I like tinkering with the Eminence dial to enable decks that aren’t ostensibly “good stuff,” and I think this is right in the sweet spot. You’ll have no trouble getting in with Sidar, given he’s a 4/3 Flying First Striker. It’s almost like I wrote an article on playing more blockers recently… 

Knights are cool, and Syr Gwyn is way better at Voltron/Equipment than Knights, so I’m happy to see another great option. 

The Esper deck is certainly shaping up to be my favorite of the bunch, partly because Elenda and Azor is such a fun card. Ward {2} is much appreciated on six-drop Commanders, so thanks R&D for that one.

Here we have a twist on the Sphinx’s Revelation aspect of the RIX Azor, and a twist on Elenda the Dusk Rose that makes Vampire Knight tokens. I also love that this is each end step, particularly because Esper colors are the best at incidental card draw and instant speed draw. There are a dozen ways to build this, and I’m interested to see what people come up with. 

Rashmi and Ragavan is way more exciting than the face Commander of the Temur Precon. I’m sorry, but it’s true. 

We don’t get to filter our mana to cast the spells we exile if they’re a greater mana value than our artifact count, but the Treasure generation certainly helps us get there. 

What’s of note here is if we exile a spell with an alternate casting cost (which, unlike Kicker, cannot be paid if we cast it for free), we get to choose to not cast it, and cast it this turn instead. This lets us pay alternate costs, like Overload. Neat!

I see no reason not to clone Rashmi and Ragavan a bunch and then ride the chaos to see what we can spin off the top. 

I’m not sure what it is with these precons, but the alternate Commanders are all great designs. Shalai and Hallar plays in a similar space as Jared Carthalion, but a little less linearly. 

It’s a Naya counters deck with basically a Terror of the Peaks in the Command Zone. Sure, you need to play creatures that enter and gain counters (through themselves, or other means), but this team-up will do a lot of extra damage. 

Making aggressive decks viable is something I love to see — pointing damage at one player’s face or board while wrecking another in combat is *chef’s kiss.* 

We Got Baller New White Cards Again

It feels so good to be an enjoyer of white decks in 2023. Long gone are the days of drought, where we’d be scraping for playables and reliant on unitaskers. 

Chivalric Alliance is a form of white draw that always should have been white: being rewarded for attacking as a group. At two mana, this’ll trigger a bunch. When combined with the fact it can fuel itself by making attackers, it’s twice as playable. I can’t wait to I am going to have to find space in Neyali for this, aren’t I?

Conjurer’s Mantle is a fantastic option for all kinds of themed decks: Angels, Soldiers, Humans, Warriors, Knights… When I first saw this, I debated on how playable it was, mainly because I, for some reason, assumed the equip cost was {4}. 

Three years ago it might have been, but today it’s Equip {1}, which is stellar. Plenty of white decks struggle with digging for creatures to keep up the pressure, and Conjurer’s Mantle gets it done. 

Wake up honey, new white removal just dropped. 

Is it any good, though? Honestly I’m not super high on it. I don’t really fancy being railed on by anything higher than a 4/4 as recompense for removing my opponent’s cool thing. Imagine removing an eight drop. You’re gonna need a second removal spell, or a wall of chump blockers. 

It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not Generous Gift. I might entertain it in mono white, but I think it’s worse than it looks. I highly value removing lands in aggressive decks, and if I’m playing a more midrange or control deck, why am I in mono white? I can play something better. 

No seriously babe, stop snoozing your alarm. New Sun Titan just dropped.

Guardian Scalelord is incredible. The only real downside is it can’t bring back lands, and therefore can’t ramp you like Sun Titan + Fetch land. 

But other than that? It’s all upside. It doesn’t have an EtB like SunnyT, but it does have Backup 1, meaning it technically has an EtB, provided you have an attacker you’re willing to jam with. 

And, while it can’t bring back lands, it can gain power to bring back bigger stuff. Oh, and keep in mind that Backup transfers all abilities below it. So while Guardian Scalelord can attack more freely, it also jumps the creature it gives Backup. 


Midnight Clock. Cursed Mirror. Crowded Crypt. All wonderful three-mana rocks (and so is Chromatic Lantern, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). Wand of the Worldsoul is the white entry in this apparent cycle, and it gives the next spell you cast convoke.

On the surface, this might seem a little janky, but let me set the scene. You have a full board, and you want to win. You have the choice of committing something to your board to help the next turn, or of holding up mana for Akroma’s Will or Teferi’s Protection

Wand of the Worldsoul lets you hold up only the mana rock, giving you ample opportunity to cast the protection spell while (hopefully) blowing out an unsuspecting opponent. 

The Fast & The Furious: Deluxe Drift

Am I the only one who thinks this card is absurd? I know there’s meant to be nothing stronger than family, but Deluxe Dragster might be. 

Historically, this effect has been way more expensive and usually attached to a creature that can be blocked, even if only in the air. Deluxe Dragster is virtually unblockable and is only Crew 2. 

It’s easy to cast and is likely to come down as early as turn three in artifact decks. Sometimes it’ll only hit ramp spells, but would you really be that mad?

Two great Knights in the Esper Precon, and I’m now edging toward picking it up. Exsanguinator Cavalry has a badass name, and it brings the beats. 

It’s evasive and it grants teamwide buffs and Blood tokens. All of that for three mana is a solid deal. 

Locthwain Lancer is a heftier beater, and a source of card draw when your nontoken Knights die. I’m surprised to see it cost the opponent life rather than the player, but given it’s a five drop I have to imagine we’re combining card draw with a punishment for a board wipe, which is contemporary Magic design at the fullest.

All Aboard the Pain Train

More punishment for treasures! Awesome. It also gives people treasures, though, so it’s a little more group-slug than pure punishment. 

I think this card is a necessary safety valve for the recent resurgence in artifact based decks that center around treasure. But beyond decks that want Devils or group-slug, it’s unlikely to see as much play as it maybe should. 

Path of the Pyromancer, on the other hand, is a card that has a bunch of flavor text that doesn’t affect its playability at all. Despite being a Planeschase card, it’s actually just a straight up combo piece with Underworld Breach if you have enough cards in your hand. 

You can just keep going round and round, until you find what you need. Even if you’re not trying to break it, it’s a very good spell. 

Uncivil Unrest is what you get if you try and translate Cathar’s Crusade into red. And honestly? I get tired of bookkeeping, so this one looks really intriguing to me. 

Riot outside of Gruul is new, and giving those creatures double damage on top makes this a finisher. Turning the corner after board wipes is paramount to success when it comes to combat decks, and this enchantment lets you do that with far fewer resources than you’d normally need. 

New pirate! Cutthroat Negotiator has an EtB that’s a lot more reasonable than Selvala’s, given it makes tapped treasures. Selvala is a rules nightmare at the best of times, and as we all know: If an adversary demands parlay you can do them no harm until the parlay is complete.” 

At least the pirates got this memo. Way easier ability to parse and resolve.

Flockchaser Phantom is unlikely to find too many homes outside of the new precon, but it will at least give Kykar decks another mana boost. Whether that was a needed mana boost is another question, but it’s a neat card. 

I could see it enabling Council of Four decks to turn the corner quicker too, which isn’t a bad thing.

Wow, Vodalian Wave-Knight doesn’t mess around. Whether you’re in Knight or Merfolk decks, Wave-Knight grows the team whenever you draw cards, while digging for more Knights or Merfolk. 

If anything points to blue/white or Bant Merfolk in Lost Caverns of Ixalan, this does. 

Oh hey, It’s Sword of the Animist on legs. Quite literally! 

While I’m all for getting extra copies of Sword of the Animist, I think the equip {3} hurts this quite a bit. Decks that do free-equips are more likely to be invested in Double Strike, and therefore using treasure making equipment or Sword of Hearth and Home

So, while not as much of a slam-dunk as Sword of the Animist, Bitterthorn is still very good, especially in builds that play Sword of the Animist for ramp rather than as an equipment in their suite. 

Set Booster Exclusive Cards

Finally, a new Boros Angel. The Firemanes ooze badass, and Firemane Commando is no different. I can’t wait to see this in foil (if, as recent Set Booster cards are any indication, it might be available that way). 

Rewarding you for attacking while rewarding opponents for going elsewhere is just what the doctor ordered. She’ll find homes in Breena and Aurelia, obviously, but probably in most white decks that attack. 

Not to be outdone by an Angel, this Demon is actually pretty cracked. Null Profusion without the maximum hand size drawback, on a “Flample” chonker that’s easier to get rid of than an Enchantment? Hell yeah. 

There’s a cycle of Talents in set boosters, and while all of them are cool (and potential nods to Oathbreaker becoming an official format), it’s Rowan’s Talent that strikes me as the one to watch. Copying loyalty abilities is very, very strong. And with every new ‘walker, this gets even more potential to do silly things. 

Rounding out this review is Begin the Invasion. The art alone is enough to get excited about, but should you actually want to play with Battles in Commander, five color will be the way to go for the foreseeable future until we get enough to let us play fewer colors. 

Begin the Invasion, then, becomes an auto-include for Battles decks, and so should definitely be on your radar.


The precons for March of the Machine are also bound to interest you if you’re a fan of Planechase. Each deck has 10 Planechase cards and comes with a Planar dice.

If you’re not so big on Planechase, then you’re more interested in the singles to pick up. I hope this article has helped you figure out what’s worth playing.