March of the Machine Commander Set Review

March of the Machine: Commander Set Review

Kristen GregoryCommander

March of the Machine is upon us and is a gargantuan set full of amazing Commander cards. Today, I’m going to review what’s good in March of the Machine for Commander — but only the universal stuff. Nobody has time to read about random commons or niche cards. 

And remember, If you like what you see, you can find other recent set reviews here:


Archangel Elspeth is a wonderful callback to Elspeth, Knight-Errant. Instead of jumping, she converts a creature into an Angel, giving it flying and some counters. She exchanges an ult of invulnerability for recursion and can do it two turns sooner. 

Elspeth is a solid include for tokens decks and Angel tribal decks, and her ultimate is pretty easy to achieve if you have Flying blockers.

More white card draw, this time for putting +1/+1 counters on this vampire. Sadly it’s limited to once each turn. 

Does that matter? Maybe not as much as those of us who sigh when we see that clause on a white card might think. Seems solid in RW/WB counters or some Vampires decks.

Elesh Norn might be one of my favorite cards of the set. Four mana for a punisher effect that dissuades attacks? That alone interests me, so let’s check out the flipside. 

Sacrificing three creatures to get there isn’t the worst in decks that make tokens or reanimate, especially considering you incubate five times for the first mode. Mode two pushes through damage really well — Double Strike is serious business. Mode three? It’s a one sided wrath in the right build, and it then flips back to the punisher effect.

This card is a serious beating, and one I think should see plenty of play.

Invasion of Gobakhan might seem like a 60-card all-star, but it’s still amazing in Commander. The front side is a pseudo-one shot Reidane, and if you can grab the Wrath, then it buys you time to hit the flipside, which then protects you from it. 

Honestly, even if we just see this card as two-mana for Lightshield Array and an opponent gains 3-5 life, that’s still more than playable. Adding counters and Hexproof takes this beyond Selfless Spirit. I’m excited to play this — in Neyali, in particular. 

It’s nice that Oversimplify isn’t the only five mana exile all creatures wrath. It’s nice we get one in white. Is it good?

Well, yeah, kinda. Getting to choose when you incubate can mean the token isn’t just removed, as is often the case for Phyrexian Rebirth

Will you see a lot of it? Well, probably not. 

It’s only really going to be played extensively in tokens or control decks, because losing your own creatures permanently sucks. How much Farewell do you see? I’d argue you’ll see less of this. 

Top 5 White Common/Uncommons:

  1. Surge of Salvation: This is great interplay vs Blasphemous Act, and also a one mana way to make your own Act one sided. It does other stuff too. Solid.
  2. Phyrexian Censor: Another Rule of Law effect. It’ll play like Ethersworn Canonist for Phyrexian decks, but see less play, as it’s less flexible.
  3. Seal from Existence: Giving Oblivion Ring Ward {3} makes it way more playable.
  4. Invasion of Dominaria: This triggers making an Angel token on most of the popular producers, and then flips into one. Neat.
  5. Tiller of Flesh: Heroic decks like Feather might be able to make use of this one.


Sharknado 2: The Second Will Be One is gloriously ridiculous in all the right ways, and very, very playable. It blocks like a champ and starts building you an army. Plenty of archetypes will enjoy this, from Spellslinger to Artifacts, and from Control to Enchantress.

Complete the Circuit is Electrodominance on steroids. Don’t forget you’ll need a board to afford to cast this AND whatever it is you want to enable, generally speaking. But from there? 

This is an extremely powerful enabler, and one that will sow fear into those sat across the table. What’s the most disgusting thing you can do with it?

Ah, a new contender for passive card draw. In a world where Rhystic Study, Mystic Remora and Esper Sentinel see near universal play, what does Faerie Mastermind offer? Well, if you’re doing anything that involves combat damage triggers, he’s got you covered. 

Making treasure, drawing cards or just keeping Planeswalkers and Battles in check. While he’s not as absurd as the aforementioned cards, he’s still highly playable. 

I think Invasion of Arcavios is better than it looks. The going rate for a static copy spells enchantment is seven mana, so getting a five mana tutor for the best spell to copy with Invocation of the Founders seems like a good deal. 

Seven defense counters is a lot, though, so make sure you can reliably burn or attack this one to get it to flip. Decks already set up to do so will happily slot this in to find their win conditions. 

Segovia may be the smallest in stature, but don’t let that fool you — It’s one of the better battles. The Kraken tokens are forgettable, and largely fodder for convoke unless you can grow them. 

Once you get this flipped, getting convoke on all of your noncreature spells is sweet, as is untapping four creatures on your end step. I foresee this one overperforming.

Jin-Gitaxias is here to tell you all about The Great Synthesis, and if you just let him in, he’ll regale you with the whole saga. Much like a vampire, you don’t want to let him in

On the front side he’ll help keep your hand topped up and has a little resilience. But once he flips, he does some silly stuff. Drawing a bunch of cards, bouncing opposing creatures, and then giving you a turn of more-or-less Omniscience? Yeah that’s pretty good. 

Kill it with fire.

See Double has a line of text I thought I’d first see on a white card. Now that we’ve gotten that predictable joke out of the way, let’s investigate. 

Four mana for a card roughly adjacent to Saheeli’s Artistry and its many iterations, but for two mana less? Yeah, there’s a reason you aren’t allowed to copy this. And it’s not just because it would sneeze and go infinite if it could be copied. 

Copying it only once at four mana would still be very, very good. 

Fly away on my Zephyr Singer. Well, not quite on it, but Universally Speaking, it invites you onto the Aeroplane to scoot Around the World. I don’t want to cause a Storm in a Teacup, but this card is Easily one of the best flyers we’ve had in the 21st Century. If You Have to Ask if this is playable, Me and My Friends would take One Hot Minute to tell you it’s Transcending. 

If you didn’t quite follow, I’m not going to Give it Away now. Take a Walkabout and think it over.

Top 5 Blue Common/Uncommons

  1. Omen Hawker: Think of this like a one mana Training Grounds and you’ll start to see what it could do. 
  2. Invasion of Vrynn: Four mana for this many cards is pretty standard, and getting a one-shot copy effect on the other side is tasty. 
  3. Artistic Refusal: Free spells are powerful, and while this will more often be two to three mana, the fact it can be free is worth noting. 
  4. Moment of Truth: Filtering through the top three cards in this way is powerful. Just look at Expressive Iteration
  5. Oracle of Tragedy: There’s not much else going on in blue; Oracle is at least playable, though. 


Archpriest of Shadows isn’t particularly innovative, but I do like how it offers some on-theme, Human-based reanimator to any Human decks. It’s also a lot more certain to connect and stick around than, say, Rakshasa Debaser, who only grabs opposing creatures anyways. 

Giving this ability to a token or other forgettable creature for a turn is pretty neat. The art is on point, too. 

So what if Sepulchral Primordial, but once, with mill ten? Well, Breach the Multiverse does that, but also lets you bring something back from your own yard. 

It’s a big, splashy effect and should see a home not only in Reanimator but in Dimir Mill strategies to keep yourself alive while milling out.

Grafted Butcher is quite the lord. Granting Menace to the team on EtB is potent, and having a built-in way to bring it back to play means you can keep reusing the combat trick while ensuring the buff is never far away. 

Hoarding Broodlord made me chuckle. I don’t think anybody asked for this card, but it’s actually really interesting. It’s rarely going to cost eight, and more often around four. 

The spell you get with it could be a big X spell, or an Omniscience. But don’t lose sight of the fact that it grants all spells you cast from exile convoke. If you’re playing red as well, that could be quite a few spells.

Invasion of Fiora sees our Queen return. On the front side, it serves as another snap include for Legendary-matters decks. The fact you can make it a Day of Judgment, if you like, is actually pretty useful. On the flipside? Dang, she’s radiant. And she’s here to slay. 

Marchesa will win all of your battles, and dispatch every Planeswalker that comes her way. She also gives a pseudo-monarch card draw effect, too. Very playable card.

Recently I named Lethal Scheme as one of 20 Essential Commander cards for playing black. Pile On plays in the same space — with convoke giving you what amounts to a free spell, roughly speaking. It’s not quite as good, but it’s an excellent budget option if you want more interaction. 

Never count Sheoldred out. Spider-mom asks each opponent to sac a nontoken creature or walker, which is a tasty upgrade over most other edicts. And as long as an opponent’s yard is a healthy size, you can flip her, which is one of the easier conditions to meet. 

The True Scriptures offers removal, resource denial and enables what amounts to Rise of the Dark Realms. Objectively speaking, it feels like Sheoldred and Elesh Norn are the cream of the Praetor-crop for Commander. 

Rounding out our rares and mythics, Terror of Towashi keeps getting in and has repeatable recursion stapled to it. 

Some of the time it’ll just trade with whatever an opponent throws in front of it, but at that point, you’re often happy you got to use it as removal. It’s an attack trigger, after all, so it doesn’t need to connect. 

Top 5 Black Common/Uncommons

  1. Gift of Compleation: a roleplayer in any Phyrexian deck. Two mana for this feels more than fair. 
  2. Seer of Stolen Sight: it’s not quite Stony Silence, but it helps you set up while opponents sac treasures
  3. Render Inert: if you’re going all-in on battles, or want to remove walkers in Oathbreaker, this card is pretty “baller”. 
  4. Deadly Derision: Murder for one more that makes a treasure. A neat budget option.
  5. Mirrodin Avenged: There are decks that want a second copy of You Are Already Dead. Maybe.  


Chandra, Hope’s Beacon is another spell copier at less than the usual seven mana rate. She costs less because she triggers once a turn and can be attacked to be removed from the board. She makes up for that with the ability to dig for a spell to cast, or add two mana to help cast one. 

She can also trigger in an opponent’s turn, and she can remove pesky fliers. A pretty great Chandra, all said and done. Will definitely find multiple homes. 

City on Fire is Fiery Emancipation for the masses in more ways than one. That’s a French thing, a Double Entendre. We could learn a lot from the French when it comes to this sort of thing 😉

I’m not sure what deck I want to be tapping my creatures down for double damage in. Maybe a Kykar Spirits deck with burn? Yeah, that sounds good. Triple Damage will often be overkill, but reducing the cost of the effect goes a long way to making it worth it.

Invasion of Karsus is a typical three mana red wrath, but for four. The extra mana gets you a surprisingly relevant creature on the other side. 

Refraction Elemental pings for 2 to each opponent when you cast a spell. Countless decks want these pingers, and being able to staple one to a wrath before deploying the others will always be good.