March of the Machine Modern Highlights

March of the Machine: Modern Highlights

Michael RappModern

As we rapidly approach the release of March of the Machine, it is time once again to break down the best cards for Modern. This set has a lot of cards with a ton of text and power, but also an above average set of mana values. 

Normally that might be a conversation-ender, but higher mana values matter less right now than they have in the past with the format slowing down recently. That gives some of the more expensive and powerful cards a chance to shine.


So all of the Phyrexian Praetors in MOM have lost their titles and are choosing to take a more casual, first name basis. Urabrask is the scariest among the bunch for Modern, as I see Storm in a can. At the same time, it also has a real body. 

In the past, Goblin Electromancer and Baral, Chief of Compliance were the centerpieces of Storm decks. Then Birgi, God of Storytelling came along and provided an upgrade in that slot. Urabrask is next in that succession line. 

A 4/4 first striker for four isn’t the best body in Modern, but it is certainly more formidable than a two mana 2/2 or a two mana 1/3. Not only does Urabrask act as an enabler by refunding mana when you cast instants or sorceries, but it acts as a pseudo Grapeshot as well. The extra damage, along with the transform ability, also mean you can get a lot more value out of turns with cards like Gifts Ungiven

While it is slower than Past in Flames, the third chapter of The Great Work is a functional copy of the effect. That means with the front side of Urabrask you can cast your cantrips for value, transform Urabrask, clean up the board, reload with some treasures and get the Past in Flames effect. But while you have the Past in Flames going, Urabrask is back on the front side dealing damage and adding mana again. That’s a lot of power.

Kroxa and Kunoros

Kroxa (my personal favorite titan) and the goodest dog, Kunoros, are back and teaming up in MOM. You may think this mashup isn’t appealing in Modern at six mana (and in Mardu colors of all places), but when you staple two value creatures together, apparently they make a combo card! 

That’s right — Kroxa and Kunoros combo with Altar of Dementia! Anyone getting Hogaak flashbacks? With the artifact in play and a Kroxa and Kunoros in the graveyard, Goryo’s Vengeance is a kill. The way it works is as follows:

  • Goyro’s Vengeance to bring back Kroxa and Kunoros
  • With Kroxa and Kunoros’ trigger on the stack, sacrifice it to Altar of Dementia to mill yourself for six. 
  • Resolve Kroxa and Kunoros’ trigger to bring itself back.
  • Repeat until you’ve milled your deck, which includes Thassa’s Oracle
  • Once you’re out of cards, use Kroxa and Kunoros’ trigger to reanimate Thassa’s Oracle to win the game.

This combo isn’t exactly Hogaak, but it is fairly easy to assemble since you really only need Altar of Dementia and Goryo’s Vengeance (getting Kroxa and Kunoros into the graveyard shouldn’t be a difficult task in Mardu colors). We shall see if this new combo has enough going for it to survive the Modern metagame. As of right now, it seems that it might!

Invasion of Ikoria

Finale of Devastation already sees play in Asmo decks, as well as Devoted Druid decks. While Finale has the payoff of casting it for 12 or more mana, that rarely happens or matters. Invasion of Ikoria plays a similar role as Finale, but it’s much easier to unlock its bonus effect. 

If you can manage to knock down the six defense on Invasion of Ikoria, you’re rewarded with Zilortha, Apex of Ikoria, which will end games in very short order. And in green creature decks, it shouldn’t be difficult to attack down Battle of Ikoria to gain a new dinosaur friend! 

Whether this overtakes Finale of Devastation as the go to for these creature based decks remains to be seen. One thing to note is Invasion of Ikoria can’t tutor for Asmor or Vizier of Remedies, but that may be balanced by the significantly easier to achieve payoff.

Ozolith, the Shattered Spire

For a long time, I’ve thought that Hardened Scales has been one of the most underplayed decks in Modern, and Wizards of the Coast seems to keep printing redundant, Hardened Scales effects. The question is: How many copies of this effect do we need before people actually play the deck? 

Ozolith, the Shattered Spire is the latest in the line of green cards that put bonus counters on creatures. But while the typical concern with this effect is you need to balance the number of this effect with the number of ways to put counters on creatures…. Ozolith, the Shattered Spire plays both sides of the ball! 

I would expect to see copies of this in Hardened Scales, should anyone finally be brave enough to play the math test disguised as a Magic deck in a tournament.

Invasion of Alara

My biggest concern about Invasion of Alara somehow isn’t casting it (the mana in Modern is ridiculously good), but rather actually defeating it once it is in play. Seven is a lot of defense to get through, but the ETB effect ideally gives you something you can use to help get the job done. 

Serving as a sort of Collected Company that literally can’t completely whiff (though this can hit two undesirable targets) is quite nice. And should you manage to breach its defenses, you are rewarded with Awaken the Maelstrom, which is somehow a better version of Cruel Ultimatum. That is going to win basically every game in which it resolves. 

Whether the five color decks in Modern are interested in Invasion of Alara is another story entirely, but this card (more so Awaken the Maelstrom) certainly seems to be at the Modern power level.

End Step

March of the Machine looks like it has a ton of both powerful and interesting cards. The biggest unknown going into release weekend is how the Battles will play out in constructed formats. Should they be powerful and a positive play experience, I believe some are good enough for Modern play despite the high bar required. 

I know I’ll be battling at the prereleases this weekend. And if you can, I’d recommend hitting your local game store for what seems like a fun limited environment. 

As always, you can find me on Twitter @RappaciousOne for questions, comments or feedback. Until next time, be safe, be well and defeat some battles!