March of the Machine the aftermath Pioneer Highlights

March of the Machine: The Aftermath Pioneer Highlights

Mason ClarkPioneer

March of the Machine: The Aftermath may be a small set, but that also means we got to see every card in a single day. So, I dove into the set and found four cards that made me very excited for Pioneer. Let’s take a look at how they may fit into the format. 

Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin

Rakdos Sacrifice has been one of the most popular fringe decks in Pioneer for a long time now — always less popular than its cousin, Rakdos Midrange. Sacrifice, however, has had a strong lobby of supporters at the pro level for a while now. 

Players like Piotr “kanister” Głogowski, Sam Pardee, Autumn Burchett and others played the deck at the last pro tour. So while not always fully appreciated, it is a deck that has history. So why hasn’t the deck performed consistently if such great players are picking it up? 

Sacrifice’s biggest hurdle is it’s awful against combo decks because the deck takes forever to actually end the game. It also needs to find specific pieces to make that happen. We actually saw Autumn bring Mardu Sacrifice to the Pro Tour and the PTQ at said tour, playing Showdown of the Skalds to help fix both the pressure and the finding cards elements of this deck. 

This is where Ob Nixilis comes in. He is a huge, flying, trample body, meaning he will quickly end the game as he grows. That is perfect for this deck. 

Bringing back a cat? Gain a counter, “draw” a card. Ping with Mayhem Devil, do it again. Have a random 1/1 laying around? Attack and grow Ob the turn he comes down. 

All of these are great lines this card opens up. So while a strong source of pressure on turn four against combo decks, Ob Nixilis can also be played on turn five or onward to help in grindy matchups and take over the game.

This is my pick for the most impactful card in Pioneer to come out of Aftermath

Coppercoat Vanguard

Humans has been one of the better performing decks in Pioneer for a while, but it recently fell off due to the rest of the format catching up in power and shifting away from favorable matchups. However, we are seeing a return of decks like mono green due to March of the Machine, so there are some metagame trends promoting a push back to the deck. 

Even if that wasn’t the case, I think Coppercoat Vanguard would help bring a humans deck back into the forefront of the metagame. Giving your creatures only +1/0 is a little lacking for a lord effect, but giving your other humans Ward 1 is a huge boost. 

We have seen in Standard how cards like Raffine are incredibly challenging to answer, especially when a card like Thalia or Skrelv come down first. Well, both cards are also played in humans these days (Phyrexian mites are people, too). 

Now this annoying wrinkle is added to all the other humans. This means cards like Adeline present a much stronger curve with consistent protection for her without giving up too much in terms of applying pressure. 

This card isn’t going to carry games on its own, but it’s going to be an incredibly annoying thorn in the side of all decks trying to trade one for one with spot removal — all while also doubling as a mini-lord. 

Jirina, Dauntless General 

Speaking of humans, Black/White Humans was another deck tried by players but abandoned due to a lack of power. But as the graveyard has become a bigger part of Pioneer, the ability of both General Kudro and the latest Jirina to take away that resource has become more important. 

Greasefang has often been a problematic match up for humans, but these two might give players a reasonable answer to the mob boss rat. The hexproof and indestructible option also goes a long way against decks like Rakdos, but also Blue/White Control, where Supreme Verdict becomes a hugely problematic card.

Gold-forged Thopteryx 

This is the most ambitious pick I have so far for Pioneer. 

We have seen the Esper Legends deck from Standard start to show up in Pioneer. If that deck continues to show up (and let’s be honest: at the rate Wizards of the Coast supports Pioneer, it’s very likely to continue), then this card becomes a great sideboard or even potential main deck option. 

Ward 2 is such a huge number in Pioneer. Often this card is just going to have to eat the first removal spell, which is often better for you anyway. Then, against aggressive decks, it’s a flying, lifelink two drop that curves perfectly into raffine, allowing you to start your snowball. 

And going back to the humans theme of this post for a second, there is also a Bant Legends deck that has managed a few 5-0s that’s mostly a humans deck, as well. So, this card can fit perfectly in that style of shell.

End step

This mini set has a lot of awesome cards to explore, and I am excited to see what rises to the challenge of making it in Pioneer as we head into the next Regional Championship season in just one month!