March of the Machine Updated Decks for Standard

March of the Machine: Updated Decks for Standard

Chris CornejoStandard

March of the Machine is invading Standard, meaning decks in the format are due for an update. While new lists and archetypes are sure to emerge, sometimes you don’t want to give up on a deck you already know. So, here’s a look at how three current decks could evolve when the new set drops. 

Mono-White Control 

Mono-White Control has been a staple of Standard for a few sets now — never the consensus best deck but always hanging around the top tier and putting up solid results. This deck is all about slowly building up resources, keeping the board clear and then snowballing an avalanche of small advantages once your opponent’s spirit is thoroughly broken. 

March of the Machine has a bunch of good tools in it for White decks, so part of how this deck evolves with the new set is going to depend on which direction you want to go. The most known quantity among the new cards is the extremely powerful Monastery Mentor.  

Often just a removal magnet, if the Mentor can stick around for a few turns, it will take over the game. Current Mono-White lists are already heavy on non-creature spells, so the biggest issue with this card is figuring out what to cut to make room.  

And if Mentor is going in the list, then cards like Angelic Intervention and Surge of Salvation slot right in as well. Surge has more general utility, as in addition to protecting a Mentor or a Serra Paragon, it can also stop Invoke Despair in its tracks, since you gain hexproof as well. 

From there, we get into the murkier choices. In a deck that already runs a good amount of planeswalkers, does Archangel Elspeth make the cut? I think so, at least as a one-of, it only for the sheer upside her ultimate (which isn’t too tricky to reach) can have in this deck, recurring all your various enchantments, Bankbusters and Ambitious Farmhands.  

On the other side of the conflict, how does the new Elesh Norn stack up? Marginally, at best. While her other side does a lot of work, and the taxing ability on the front side can buy you some time, I think she rides the line on playability here. She’s the sort of threat that’s not too tricky to play around, but she is certainly going to be a question that needs answering if she does make the cut. 

Past that, the only battle I can see possibly making the cut here is Invasion of Gobakhan, and even then, it’s borderline. Elite Spellbinder came with a nice, aggressive, evasive creature attached to the front-side effect. And while the other side is good wrath insurance that makes your attacks increasingly difficult to deal with, I’m not sure how often it’ll be worth it to send attacks at a battle rather than straight at your opponent or a planeswalker.  

Finally, if you really want another board wipe, Sunfall is an intriguing option — but there’s a lot of competition for that role in the deck already, with Farewell being best in class and Depopulate or Vanquish the Horde being good, lower-cost options. 

Grixis Midrange 

Grixis has been rock solid for a long time now, jockeying for the top spot among Standard decks for a while. With a core of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Bloodtithe Harvester, Corpse Appraiser plus a suite of removal, permission and discard, it’s going to take a lot to break into this archetype. 

Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink can act as a backup Reflection of Kiki-Jiki, with an absolute haymaker waiting if you can manage to get to nine mana. I don’t think he ends up as a four-of, but I can see him breaking into a few lists here and there.  

Faerie Mastermind is my pick for breakout, cross-format all-star in the set, and this deck can take full advantage of him — even using his activated ability alongside Sheoldred, the Apocalypse to close out games.  

Halo Forager functions as a distant cousin to Snapcaster Mage that can hit harder and has evasion but loses flash and requires payment for the selected spell in a graveyard up front. But the ability to cast from ANY graveyard can be important, and buying back a key piece of removal at an opportune time can swing games. 

Cards like Corrupted Conviction always have a home, and I could see a couple of copies slotting in here, used to cash in a chump block or removal target or getting even more milage out of Reflection copies. I remain largely skeptical of battles’ ability to break through in constructed for the moment, but the front side of Invasion of Fiora has enough play against Esper Legends decks that I could see it taking a sideboard slot or two here. And if it does happen to flip, Marchesa is a house.  

Beyond that, Meeting of Minds and Pile On could end up with spots in the list. Convoke can help them catch foes off guard and Chrome Host Seedshark intrigues me and works quite well with the convoke spells, but I think those options end up fitting better in a deck more dedicated to that kind of strategy. 

Red Deck Wins

Red Deck wins has a — look, it’s Urabrask. Urabrask is a killer top end for this deck, doing everything RDW wants to do and doing it amazingly well. 



Red Deck wins has a way of keeping things honest, even when (as is true lately) it’s not particularly good in the format. It is fine right now, but it isn’t finding its way to the top tables as often as the archetype has in days past. March of the Machine does bring a lot of new toys for the aggressive archetype, but will it be enough to boost it to the top tiers? 

Urabrask certainly is a good place to start — a first-striking 4/4 that gives you even more incidental damage every time you cast what are highly likely burn spells to begin with (and even giving you mana to cast more as you go). This means flipping it is more a matter of having enough cards to work with than anything else, and it’s a doozy if it does flip.  

It is looking for a little less creature-heavy version of the deck than perhaps the current list, but we have some other cards to consider to help with that. 

First up, Stoke the Flames. This card has been a monster burn spell when it was around in Standard before, and there’s no reason to think things will be any different now. It supplies a ton of reach at a flexible casting cost.  

Lithomantic Barrage is a silver-bullet sideboard card, cleaning up annoying planeswalkers and large threats alike. Bloodfeather Phoenix is one of the most aggressive Phoenixes ever printed, encouraging pointing burn spells at your opponent…or a battle. 

Red is probably the color best suited to flipping battles, as it isn’t reliant on creature combat. Of the incoming battles, Invasion of Karsus acts as a nice, mini-board wipe. It also flips into a one-sided Eidolon of the Great Revel-style effect, which can add up the damage right quick.  

Invasion of Mercadia is a correctly costed red draw spell and can flip into a token maker for you to throw excess mountains you draw into, alongside boosting your whole team. And Invasion of Regatha helps flip your other battles (or, you know, kill your opponent) and clean up a random small creature as well. Then it overcharges your other burn spells on a beat-stick of a body once it flips.  

End Step

March of the Machine is sure to change the landscape of Standard as all new sets do, moving some decks up the ladder, shaking some off their lofty positions and creating brand new challengers to contend with.

Whichever deck you choose to take into battle, you can provision yourself however you need at, where presale is underway!