Welcome to March of the Machine Madness, where we’re taking the next week to ask you which Magic characters would win in a fight. Considering March of the Machine is taking us all over the multiverse, forcing characters against each other in mortal combat, we thought the timing was perfect.
However, we would never just pit two characters against each other, head-to-head, and ask you to pick based on personal preference. No, we’re sure you’ll be using the most strict, canon-driven reasoning when you vote on our Twitter.
But just in case you’re not up-to-date on Magic’s lore, we decided to do a power ranking that breaks down each contender’s strengths, weaknesses and feats. We’ll also mention their cards, too, since it’s hard to separate story from gameplay sometimes.
It’s also worth mentioning that this region is a bit different. See the thing is, basically every villain who shows up in this story is either with Phyrexia or basically fighting for good. As a result, to give Elesh Norn a real challenge, we decided to draw from any point in Magic’s history, here. So let’s find out who is actually the scariest threat to the multiverse!
No. 8: Mavren Fein
Somebody had to be at the bottom of the barrel here, and that honor goes to vampiric conquistador Mavren Fein. He was a powerful Legion of Dusk leader during Ixalan’s original story, but he failed (alongside everyone else) to secure the Immortal Sun that his people had sought for so long.
He also seemed to have been imprisoned at some point between original Ixalan and March of the Machine, though no reason was given. He helps Huatli out during one of the side stories but has a relatively minimal role to play, all things considered.
As a card, Mavren made about as much impact as anything else from Ixalan (a famously underpowered block). Still, his recent partnership with Ghalta could result in a much bigger role in the coming Standard days.
No. 7: Oko
While the seventh seed may feel a bit low for Oko, he has the makings of a real Cinderella story. After all, he is perhaps one of the trickiest planeswalkers in the multiverse. But while bending Garruk to his will was impressive, he was also thwarted by a pair of “meddling kids.” And while Oko does not appear at all in the March of the Machine story, he may be back to make mischief when we return to Eldraine later this year!
It’s also worth mentioning that Oko may be the most powerful, busted Planeswalker in the history of Magic. He was so efficient, disruptive and hard to remove that almost every deck in Standard revolved around him until his ban. This quality echoed back to older formats, too, to some extent, and he is currently not playable anywhere outside Commander and Vintage.
No. 6: Extus Narr
Extus maybe looks cooler than he actually is, but controlling a secret cult like the Oriq is still a credible feat. Plus, he did summon the Blood Avatar successfully (even if it also killed him). That requires a significant knowledge of the arcane. He also technically handled Liliana while making child’s play of Rowan and Will Kenrith.
Unfortunately for Extus, his card never made a mark in Standard. The Blood Avatar packs some serious punch, but Mardu aristocrats didn’t have the support necessary to make the archetype function.
No. 5: Gisa and Geralf Cecani
No pair of siblings have meant more trouble for the multiverse than Gisa and Geralf. Sure, they may lack the ambition or means to stage an Elesh Norn level invasion, but the denizens of Magic’s many stories should all count themselves lucky. Whether with Ghoulcalling or Stitching, they have rained endless, undead havoc on Innistrad in pursuit of their… interests.
It’s also worth noting that their rivalry led to the successful defense of their home plane when Elesh Norn came knocking. Even if Gisa and Geralf could not work their craft on the corpses influenced by Phyrexia, they did enough to make a difference.
The duo made their first appearance in Magic together, though zombies couldn’t compete with the likes of Emrakul. They did get a spotlight in Commander 2014, though, and another in the most recent trip to Innistrad. None were enough to stand out, but that doesn’t make the cards any less fun when playing on theme.
No. 4: Vadrok
Is a predator really a villain? No, but especially so because Vadrok finally put Lukka in the ground. Still, this angry kitty has plenty of human blood on his hands throughout Ikoria’s history. And given the plane’s penchant for monsters, it would have felt wrong to leave one off this prestigious list!
Vadrok really is an impressive force of nature. He is believed to have the largest hunting ground out of all the apex predators, even dipping into Ketria a bit.
It would also take a heroic effort or significant preparation to take down this beast, which is why Vadrok’s 3/3 stat-line was a bit of a surprise. Mutate really never caught on anywhere in Standard, though I have been personally victimized by the Apex of Thunder repeatedly and egregiously. We shall see whether he can accomplish the same in this tournament.
No. 3: Ob Nixilis
Once human, now demon — but always a massive jerk — Ob Nixilis is a thorn the multiverse can’t quite remove from its side. Many have grappled with him, from Planeswalkers of the Gatewatch to the five families of New Capenna. In all of these conflicts, not only has Ob Nixilis only very narrowly been defeated, but he has never been fully subdued. The adversary always finds a way to threaten all that is good another day.
Speaking of the Adversary, Ob Nixilis’ most recent card proved quite adversarial for a window of Standard. Many players slowly watched their hand and life total trickle away as this demon and his token copy ticked ever upward. Some of his other versions have seen their uses, too, though I’m sure his strongest iteration is yet to come.
No. 2: Nicol Bolas
Nicol Bolas is one of the oldest villains in Magic’s history, and perhaps the most menacing. As a pre-mending planeswalker originally, he lusted after his old power and spent untold centuries manipulating the multiverse to regain his former standing. He was the God-Pharaoh of Amonkhet and had numerous, powerful people in his pocket at any given moment. Liliana Vess and Tezzeret, particularly, suffered under his thumb (claw?).
It took a lot of opposition to stop him from becoming an all-powerful Dragon-God, and he isn’t even 100% out of the picture. Sure, Ugin has him locked up and only Jace knows their whereabouts, but the mind-mage certainly isn’t himself lately…
From a card perspective, Nicol Bolas, the Ravager and Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God had their moment in the sun of Standard. It’s also worth mentioning that Nicol Bolas is one of the five, original Elder Dragons, which helped spawn a little known format called Commander.
No. 1: Emrakul
We still don’t really understand Emrakul in her entirety, but that’s kind of the point. The Eldrazi are unknowable, for the most part, and it takes a serious amount of work to kill them. And by the time Emrakul got trapped in the moon on Innistrad (possibly by her own design), she had devastated two planes.
That may be a bit less impressive than Nicol Bolas’ track record, but Emrakul’s cards are some of the most powerful in Magic: The Gathering, bar none. In many ways, she sets the bar for powerful creatures and has been central to the metagame of multiple formats.
Can anyone, alone, really stand up to the empress of eldritch horrors? That is for you to decide.
That’s it for the our various, other threats to the multiverse! And now that you know them all better, you can vote for the first round of battles on our Twitter right now. Don’t forget to read up on our other power rankings and check back throughout the week to make sure your pick makes it all the way to the end!
Also, if you’re looking to prepare for March of the Machine in real life, you can find everything you need through our pre-order, today!
Jason Krell is the content manager at Card Kingdom, meaning he helps make all of this possible. He is also an unabashed Esper control player, and he hopes the two things at least cancel each other out. He loves when everyone gets to do their thing in a game of Commander and spends way too much thinking about game design. Jason also comes from an esports journalism background, which probably explains a lot about his work.