The Circle of Loyalty | Illustration by Bastien L. Deharme
March of the Machine Commander introduced five new Commander precons to the product line-up, this time playing into the themes and settings of the mainline MOM set. From Phyrexian tribal to convoke support, these decks covered a wide range of archetypes.
Cavalry Charge is one of the tribal decks of the bunch, putting knights front and center. It comes equipped with everything a knight-themed deck needs to get started, but there’s room for improvement. Let’s retire some of these noble knights and take this deck to the next level!
Cavalry Charge is one of five precons from March of the Machine Commander. It’s a knight tribal deck in Esper () colors, giving knights a newfound presence in blue.
Sidar Jabari of Zhalfir leads the charge with the first eminence ability since C17. Elenda and Azor team up as a backup commander, but I think Sidar is the clear commander to choose.
The gameplan isn’t overly complex. You lead your knights into battle with a few tribal boosts and lean on Sidar for card selection and advantage. It’s a creature deck at heart, and heavily plays to the board.
My goal is to take the precon to the next level, elevating it from the out-of-the-box experience to a competitive contender in casual circles. I’m not intending to make this deck cEDH playable, but rather to make it more viable against the average casual deck.
I’ve taken a somewhat budget friendly approach here. Yes, Fierce Guardianship and Cavern of Souls improve the deck substantially, but you don’t need to drop money on expensive upgrades. Most of my additions are easily accessible, with one exception.
I’m also axing the Planechase subtheme. There are three cards in the original deck that reference Planechase, but I’m assuming that most of you want to upgrade this deck for normal games of Commander.
- Cavalry Charge (White-Blue-Black deck)—100-card ready-to-play March of the Machine Commander Deck with 2 Traditional Foil Legendary cards and 98 nonfoil cards
- 10 Planechase cards and 1 planar die to trigger unique abilities and jump across the Multiverse
- 2-card Collector Booster Sample Pack—contains 2 special treatment cards from the March of the Machine main set, including 1 Rare or Mythic Rare and at least 1 Traditional Foil card
- Deck introduces 10 never-before-seen MTG cards to Commander
- Accessories—1 Foil-Etched Display Commander, 10 double-sided tokens, Life Tracker, and deck box
Strengths and Weaknesses
The precon excels at drawing cards to the point where there are too many raw card advantage spells. The commander provides built-in card selection, and many of your knights like Midnight Reaper and Liliana's Standard Bearer provide natural card advantage.
Blue decks have access to better card draw, but the creatures can do the heavy lifting here instead of spending time and mana on clunky draw spells. Blue also gives you access to traditional counterspells, which are completely absent from the precon. I’m not a fan of cramming a bunch of cheap generic countermagic in my highly thematic decks, but I’ve found some flavorful additions for the counter-lovers.
Cavalry Charge is glutted with 5-drop creatures and spells, so the curve needs some work. Cheap plays help maximize card draw, so I’ll be making a few cuts for curve considerations. The precon also features multiple sweepers that counteract the main gameplan, so I’m adjusting a few of those.
Guardian of Faith
Suggested Cut: Unbreakable Formation
A little protection goes a long way, and these precons typically include a few wrath insurance plans. Guardian of Faith fills the role of Unbreakable Formation while adding another knight to the list. With the prevalence of Farewell and the new Sunfall, phasing is arguably better protection than indestructible anyway.
Suggested Cut: Return to Dust
Return to Dust is a format staple, but Righteous Confluence offers modality that plays into your strategy. You miss out on dealing with artifacts, but you get to add some knights to the board while removing problematic enchantments.
Cavalier of Night
Suggested Cut: Ethersworn Adjudicator
I didn’t know Ethersworn Adjudicator was a knight, but I do know it’s been too slow for Commander since the early 2010’s. You should be able to reliably cast Cavalier of Night with a few modifications to the mana base, giving you removal on ETB and recursion on death.
Sister of Silence
Suggested Cut: Syr Elenora, the Discerning
Sister of Silence provides a little bit of stack interaction attached to a knight. It’s a nice thematic fit that feels more natural than a generic Counterspell. Syr Elenora, the Discerning is fine in a pod of precons, but it drops off hard at more competitive tables.
Marshal of Zhalfir
Suggested Cut: Wintermoor Commander
I’m surprised Marshal of Zhalfir was absent from the precon, but it fits perfectly, giving you a cheap anthem for your knights and a small disruptive ability. Wintermoor Commander can enable better attacks but otherwise offers very little utility to the deck.
Suggested Cut: Time Wipe
It seems counterintuitive to include generic wraths in such a creature-heavy deck. Valiant Endeavor is much more synergistic for your deck than Time Wipe, even if the end result can vary. Reset buttons are a necessary evil, but Valiant Endeavor leaves you with knights on board.
Suggested Cut: Arvad the Cursed
Arvad the Cursed is a miss with no effect on your Knight tokens and only nine other legends in the precon. Mirror Entity is much more reliable at pumping a board of creatures, and it lands much lower on the curve than Arvad.
Suggested Cut: Knight of the Last Breath
Knight of the Last Breath is perhaps the worst card in Cavalry Charge. The deck doesn’t care about sacrificing creatures or making Spirit tokens, so it’s an obvious cut. Swapping in Dauntless Bodyguard lowers the curve immensely. It’s a cheap play that pairs well with your commander, protecting it and coming back with your commander’s reanimation ability.
Suggested Cut: Foulmire Knight
Forsworn Paladin offers early-game ramp and a late-game mana-sink all attached to a 1-mana knight. It’s good in general, especially for decks light on ramp options. Foulmire Knight offers minor value better suited for Limited than Commander decks.
Suggested Cut: Fractured Powerstone
Sidar Jabari of Zhalfir has a combat damage trigger, so you probably want some haste enablers. Lightning Greaves is my go-to, giving your beefier knights an immediate punch on board. It doesn’t make sense to keep Fractured Powerstone without Planechase, and you’re fine on mana acceleration without it.
The Circle of Loyalty
Suggested Cut: Ichor Elixir
Ichor Elixir also loses its relevance once you’ve ditched Planechase. This frees up a slot for a more synergistic card like The Circle of Loyalty, another anthem and token generator that often costs only two or three mana.
Skyhunter Strike Force
Suggested Cut: Josu Vess, Lich Knight
Skyhunter Strike Force is a great addition to any combat-focused deck, and it just so happens to be a knight. Josu Vess, Lich Knight has a splashy end-game ability, but it’s a 10-mana play in a deck that needs to constantly build out its board. You can play it on four, but it’s nothing special when you do.
Invasion of New Phyrexia / Teferi Akosa of Zhalfir
Suggested Cut: Path of the Enigma
Invasion of New Phyrexia is a main-set MOM siege tailormade for this deck. This battle dumps an army of knights on board, and defeating it grants you Teferi Akosa of Zhalfir to pump your knights, draw cards, and shuffle away permanents. Path of the Enigma is another Planechase casualty, and the deck has a redundancy of effects like this.
Deny the Witch
Suggested Cut: Fell the Mighty
You could fill this deck with Counterspell variants and call it a day, but I find that somewhat unexciting. Deny the Witch is more my speed, especially in decks where you’ll often have a board full of creatures. Fell the Mighty doesn’t feel like it belongs here, being yet another sweeper that counteracts your primary gameplan.
Black Market Connections
Suggested Cut: Distant Melody
Here’s my one expensive addition, but it’s well worth it. Black Market Connections is part Phyrexian Arena and part ramp, and the Changeling tokens help it slot into tribal decks perfectly. If you’re investing money into this upgrade, this card is high on my list. Distant Melody is another clunky draw spell, one that’s occasionally a stone-cold blank.
The Mana Base
I’m not counting lands towards the swaps above, but the mana bases for these precons always leave substantial room for improvement. In general you want to cut tap lands like the Thriving lands and Temples for untapped duals like shock lands, fetches, or whatever else you have available.
The deck works fine with its original budget mana base, but you can improve it as you see fit. You’re also playing a tribal deck, so there’s room for Unclaimed Territory and Secluded Courtyard.
Guardian of Faith | Illustration by Brian Valeza
These swaps should take Cavalry Charge to the next level. Again, the goal is not to have a tier-1 competitive deck, but rather to elevate it above precon status and make it a real contender at most casual tables.
Of course, there’s room for further improvement depending on your budget. I tried to keep things within reason, but there are powerful options for anyone looking to take it a step further. Battle Angels of Tyr, Fierce Guardianship, and Kindred Dominance all come to mind as expensive but powerful upgrades.
How are you fairing with this deck, and what upgrades did you make to the precon? Are there any budget-friendly, must-play cards that I missed? Let me know in the comments below, or over in the Draftsim Discord.
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