Etali, Primal Sickness | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast
March of the Machine is one of Magic’s biggest ever set releases. The conclusion of an epic storyline, the first brand new card type since planeswalkers in 2007, and Magic’s first ever legend team up cards (which follows similar designs in both Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon).
There’s even a bonus sheet of powerful reprints, so there’s a lot to get through. Let’s just jump right in!
Invasion of Ravnica | Illustration by Leon Tukker
As always, I want to remind you that this is a review based on initial impressions of the cards. It’s hard to figure out how these cards will play without knowing things like the speed of the format, or the relative power levels of the colors and archetypes.
This means my reviews are largely based on the card’s quality in a vacuum or assuming that their specific archetype is playable. I’ll be using a comparative rating system on a scale of 0-10.
Here’s a breakdown of the rating meanings:
- 10: The absolute best of the best. 10s will make a meaningful impact on any game regardless of when you play them and will be extremely tough to beat. This means cards like The Eternal Wanderer and White Sun's Twilight.
- 8 to 9: Extremely good cards, usually game-winning bombs and the most efficient removal spells, though not quite good enough to be a 10/10. Think cards like Vraska, Betrayal's Sting and Jace, the Perfected Mind
- 6 to 7: Important role-players. These are typically going to be the best uncommons that really drive you towards playing a particular color, like build-arounds and good removal. These are cards like Anoint with Affliction and Slaughter Singer
- 3 to 5: The average Limited card. Most commons and uncommons end up in this range, and most of your Limited decks will be mostly made up of these. This includes cards like Crawling Chorus and Chimney Rabble
- 1 to 2: These cards are generally pretty bad and ideally you won’t play any of them. They should generally be kept in the sideboard and might be useful in specific situations. Think cards like Escaped Experiment and Meldweb Curator
- 0: Absolutely awful cards. These are virtually unplayable in every scenario, and you should never put these cards in your main deck. This means cards like Encroaching Mycosynth and Ichormoon Gauntlet.
There are some very unique mechanics in this set and just want to do a quick overview of each of them before we get started.
Backup looks like an extremely powerful mechanic. A lot of the creatures look very good by themselves, at least so far, so being able to spread their abilities around seems very strong, even temporarily.
We’ve seen plenty of creatures that spread +1/+1 counters on entering and they’ve always been strong. I expect these to be even better.
Battle is Magic’s newest card type. How will they play out in Limited? It’s hard to figure, but there are a few factors I’m considering:
- Smaller defense numbers make them easier to defeat and so easier to use.
- How big of an impact do their front-face abilities have?
- Is the back-face a big enough payoff to want to attack it?
- Do their front-faces help influence combat and hence make them easier to defeat?
Assuming these all line up, the cards should be very strong. I’ll typically refer to this list in my reviews.
Convoke is a fun keyword that we’ve seen a few times before. They tend to be weak unless you can support them. So you really need to prioritize token makers and the like if you want to be casting convoke spells.
Incubate is a very interesting one, but ultimately a way to create Phyrexian creature tokens. A lot of cards in the set practically give you them for free, so it’s not too bad to pay the extra two to transform them. They also work for the “transformed permanents” archetype and will be creatures to convoke with.
These cards look like they have a lot of synergy in the set, so I’m keen to see how they play out in practice.
March of the Machine is very much a traditional Draft format. That is, it’s designed to support Draft archetypes in each of the 10 2-color combinations.
I’ll refer to them a few times in this review, so here’s a list of what those archetypes are:
- Azorius (): knight tribal
- Dimir (): mill both players (and use both graveyards)
- Rakdos (): sacrificing artifacts and creatures
- Gruul (): defeating battles
- Selesnya (): +1/+1 counters matter
- Orzhov (): Phyrexian tribal
- Golgari (): ramp and incubate
- Simic (): transformed permanents matter
- Izzet (): convoke
- Boros (): backup
Right then. Without any further ado, let’s jump into the first of over 330 cards!
As we’ve seen from cards like Gather Courage in the past, combat tricks with convoke can be very strong. The potential to be able to cast for no mana means that you’re even more likely to catch your opponent off guard with Aerial Boost, which naturally makes it appealing.
Alabaster Host Intercessor
Land cyclers are incredibly good for Limited because they’re never dead cards to draw. Alabaster Host Intercessor is probably the best of the whole cycle since it’s actually removal when you draw it late.
I’d probably take as many of these as I could get my hands on.
Alabaster Host Sanctifier
Doesn’t get much simpler than a cheap 2-drop with lifelink. Alabaster Host Sanctifier is pretty good and will help to begin a lot of your mana curves.
Feat of Resistance is one of the best protection spells we’ve ever had and was actually the best white common in Khans of Tarkir. Angelic Intervention is a minor improvement over it, and I expect this to be very good too.
Archangel Elspeth does the most important thing for any planeswalker to do: it protects itself. Making a lifelink 1/1 blocker every turn should keep it and you alive for quite some time. Then its -2 lets you turn nearly any creature into a potent threat to close out the game.
Elspeth may not be gamebreaking, but it does a good job of controlling the board and swinging a game in your favor.
We like seeing Wind Drakes with upside, and Attentive Skywarden spotting you an effect that would normally cost you two mana is a great way to enable the incubator archetypes.
I’ve always liked these kinds of cards, like Master of Diversion. Bola Slinger is a little on the expensive side, but at least backup lets you use the ability right away, which might keep it relevant in the format.
This can also tap down incubators before they hatch, so you’re less likely to get ambushed by them.
Boon-Bringer Valkyrie is effectively just Baneslayer Angel, except that backup allows you to give it pseudo-haste, getting one big hit in with another creature and still having an extremely powerful creature left back. this will take over a game and keep you well ahead in a damage race given any amount of time in play.
Of course, this is vulnerable to removal, but that’s not enough to stop it being an absurd card that would be the highlight of any Limited deck.
I’m not sure if I personally overvalue cards like Cut Short but I’m the sort of player that’s very likely to play slow decks, so I love all removal spells. This is naturally better in those decks than it would be in an aggro deck, but it’s likely very good when you need it.
Dusk Legion Duelist
It may not be impressive by itself, but Dusk Legion Duelist looks like a very reasonable build-around for any deck with a lot of that going on thanks to backup being an easy way to spread +1/+1 counters around. Not to mention having enough raw stats to be fine in any white deck.
Elesh Norn / The Argent Etchings
The new Elesh Norn packs one hell of a punch. All Elesh Norn does at first is tax your opponent, but that’s for all sources of damage, which taxes your opponent for chump blocking, attacking, and burn spells. That’s already strong, but the real prize is in The Argent Etchings.
You need to sacrifice three creatures to transform this, but you immediately get five creatures back, which puts you up on the exchange. Each mode gets progressively more destructive from there. The most important thing to note is that Norn will absolutely win a game if left to its own devices, so it can’t be allowed to do that.
Spells that deal damage to attackers or blockers tend to be underwhelming, but three damage for just one mana is likely to be efficient enough that Elspeth's Smite warrants use.
I’m not much of a fan of Enduring Bondwarden. Its best use is likely to be a 1/2 that gives its counter to something when it dies, and that’s not too impressive.
I’m not sure that backup is all that useful, but I suppose we’ll see about that.
Five mana for a 3/4 flier is the gold standard when it comes to commons these days, but they tend to not get played because you can find cards at higher rarities that fill this slot on your curve. Golden-Scale Aeronaut isn’t embarrassing if you do play it, but it’s likely you can do better.
Guardian of Ghirapur
It’s hard to find a single thing wrong with Guardian of Ghirapur. A 3/3 with flying for just three mana? Yes, I’ll take it every time. And a free flicker effect? That’s probably useful.
This is even splashable in case you have a nonwhite deck where this is a good fit.
Heliod, the Radiant Dawn / Heliod, the Warped Eclipse
Heliod, the Radiant Dawn is pretty cool but this set has very few enchantments, and even fewer that are likely to end up in the graveyard. This just isn’t well suited for the Limited environment, but if you transform it then it at least does something more than be a big vanilla creature.
A 4/3 isn’t guaranteed to be able to trade off for something that costs the same, and it definitely isn’t trading up. This sort of effect is great at lower mana values like on Deathbloom Thallid because they get to trade profitably.
As it stands, while Infected Defector isn’t the worst 5-drop you could play it’s also not something I’d want to prioritize.
We’ve seen Inspired Charge a lot, and it usually performs well. Aggressive white decks are usually happy playing the first copy they find, but you’re never happy with the second.
Invasion of Belenon / Belenon War Anthem
Giving you a creature upfront is a pretty good start for playing a battle since it can then threaten the battle on future turns. Transforming Invasion of Belenon into a Glorious Anthem is a nice reward, but there are a lot of hoops to jump through to get there.
I’d be inclined to play this at first, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up too difficult to defeat.
Invasion of Dominaria / Serra Faithkeeper
Invasion of Dominaria is a real test of how the numbers on battles will line up. A Serra Angel is a great reward for defeating it, but five is quite a bit to get through and the upfront ability doesn’t do anything to help you get that damage through.
I’d probably try playing this at the start of the format, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see it get worse as the format evolves.
Invasion of Gobakhan / Lightshield Array
Invasion of Gobakhan is among the easiest battles to defeat at three defense. Though it doesn’t influence combat to help you defeat it, it does help you make sure the coast is clear. The enchantment you get is very strong once defeated, and worth going out of your way to cast.
All of that combined with the fact that this only costs two mana leads me to believe that it’ll be quite good.
Invasion of Theros / Ephara, Ever-Sheltering
Invasion of Theros is one of the few battles in the set that does basically nothing on entering. There are too few potential cards to search for, none of which are good enough to run a tutor card to find. You get a new version of Ephara if you do defeat it which is based around enchantments, something which this set doesn’t really support.
None of this is worth the investment, so I wouldn’t bother trying.
So cute! I love it.
From what I can tell, Kithkin Billyrider is the first new Kithkin since the days of Lorwyn and Shadowmoor along with the one printed in this set’s Commander decks. It’s honestly quite good too.
This is an excellent host for all your backup abilities as a cheap double strike creature, as well as anything else that distributes +1/+1 counters.
Knight of the New Coalition
Being able to make two of a creature type is usually pretty good in any tribal deck. When they’re a pair of 2/2s with vigilance for just four mana, that’s a great deal.
Irregular Cohort was a standout card in Modern Horizons for this very reason, and I expect Knight of the New Coalition to do the same for knight decks.
Knight-Errant of Eos
Knight-Errant of Eos’ rating really depends on how reliably you can convoke it. Of course, given how its ability is centered around how many creatures you use for it, you really want at least two or three to fully enable it. But this is a great card that will draw one more often than not once you do.
You’ll almost certainly draw two cards if you’re lucky enough to cast it for free with convoke, which is ridiculous for a free spell to be doing.
You can give Kor Halberd vigilance, but a Short Sword is still a Leonin Scimitar. I expect a little more out of equipment these days, and I don’t see this being good enough with no dedicated equipment archetype.
Monastery Mentor is a classic Magic card by now. It’s been a powerful finisher in decks across nearly every competitive format and has even been a restricted card in Vintage. In Limited it needs some support, but it shouldn’t be that difficult to use.
It’s just average if you get one trigger, but two or more triggers is what you really want. Mentor will be an incredible bomb in any deck that can reliably do that.
This rating is likely to change greatly depending on how valuable incubate ends up being. My inclination is to assume Norn's Inquisitor is closer to two creatures for two mana than to one. If that’s the case then we’re looking at a very solid creature that should slot into a number of different archetypes.
All you’re getting with Phyrexian Awakening at first glance is a 4/4 for a total of five mana. Granting vigilance to Phyrexians is okay, but not too exciting. But the fact that you can split that cost across two turns isn’t nothing, and knowing that there are archetypes in this set that care about Phyrexians and transformed permanents makes me think this will be better than it looks.
I’m very much not a fan of censorship, but I am a fan of Phyrexian Censor. It should be annoying enough to any opponent trying to block against your aggressive deck. And this having virtually no downside on you is awesome in specifically Orzhov Phyrexian tribal.
Progenitor Exarch has a lot of great things going for it. It scales really well into the late game and provides you with incubators and a way to transform them. I’d happily cast this as my 3-drop to get it down early, and then sometimes you’ll draw it on a board stall, cast it for seven or nine, and just win.
Pacifism is still one of the best ways white can remove creatures, and Realmbreaker's Grasp is no different. Good when you’re controlling and good when you’re aggressive, just watch out for enchantment removal to hate on it.
Flicker effects have a lot of nice uses, including reusing ETB triggers and protecting creatures from removal spells. Flicker plus draw makes Scrollshift a very nice card.
This should slot nicely into your deck assuming you have enough ETB triggers to use.
Seal from Existence
Oblivion Ring effects are certainly improved by having ward. Three mana is unlikely to matter if your opponent really wants their creature back, but it’s definitely a detractor. Even without that, Seal from Existence is likely to be premium removal for white and a very high pick because of it.
Seraph of New Capenna / Seraph of New Phyrexia
Wind Drake isn’t that good anymore, but Seraph of New Capenna has a good way to sink mana into it and help it to stop getting outclassed. I’d assume that’s enough to make this card a decent curve filler.
A 3/3 with vigilance for three is very reasonable, especially with a relevant creature type. Getting to spread around a +1/+1 counter is a nice bonus for sure, making Sigiled Sentinel good in a few different decks.
Sun-Blessed Guardian / Furnace-Blessed Conqueror
2-drop creatures need to be good in the late game, and Sun-Blessed Guardian is perfect for that. It’s fine on turn 2, and it’s still good if you happen to draw it on turn 7. It works even better in the backup archetype, where Furnace-Blessed Conqueror really starts to pop off.
Sunder the Gateway
Sunder the Gateway is an incredibly strong common. The very least it can do in a vacuum is be a 2/2 for two. But then the upsides start to trickle in.
You can incubate 2 and transform a bigger incubator. You can blow up a problematic permanent and still get an incubate 2 out of the deal. This is so flexible that for me it looks like one of the best white commons.
The most common issue with board sweepers is that they give your opponent the first chance to rebuild their board. But Sunfall, harkening back to Phyrexian Rebirth, solves that issue by leaving you with a potentially very large creature.
I expect this to be very strong in more controlling decks.
Surge of Salvation
I like when we get to see some classic color hosers, though we won’t be playing this one any time soon. Surge of Salvation‘s upfront ability of granting hexproof is far too narrow to warrant a main deck inclusion, but it will be a very powerful option from the sideboard.
3/1s aren’t as good as they look since they trade off for 1/1 creatures far too often. But Swordsworn Cavalier is going to have first strike most of the time in a dedicated knights deck which completely negates this downside, making it a very solid brawler.
Tarkir Duneshaper / Burnished Dunestomper
This could have been a great card if only the front side was just a little better. As it stands, Tarkir Duneshaper is unusable and costs too much mana to invest to get Burnished Dunestomper.
This might be okay in some situations, but I’d generally stay away.
Tiller of Flesh
I like that Tiller of Flesh triggers when you use removal spells, but I don’t see it doing a great deal. There probably isn’t good home for a card like this without a dedicated heroic archetype.
3-mana 3/3s with upside are already good, but Zhalfirin Lancer is going to be regularly attacking as a 4/4 as well as staying back to block if you have enough knights to play. I can’t ask for much more out of an aggressive 3-drop.
You’d never play Artistic Refusal in your deck at six mana. But if you can reliably get it down to about four or less, you get an excellent deal.
Dismiss is a very strong card, so this is probably worth using if you can realistically get to that point.
I’m a big fan of Essence Scatter when we get it, even if your opponent can get around it by paying four mana in the late game, though getting an Incubator out of the deal does help Assimilate Essence stay relevant in some ways. And getting to counter battles is likely to matter a lot in this format.
If you’ve read my set reviews before, you’ll probably know that I don’t like auras. But the simple fact that Astral Wingspan draws a card to replace itself immediately removes the inherent disadvantage of auras: they open you up for easy two-for-ones. Combine that with a very powerful bonus of +2/+2 and flying and you’ve got a nasty card that I expect to be good.
Captive Weird / Compleated Conjurer
I like defensive creatures, but they always have the drawback of being better early than they are late. Captive Weird solves that problem perfectly. Not only do you get to transform it and shift gears, but you get to draw an extra card for your trouble.
Change the Equation
A counterspell that has no chance of trading up on mana values isn’t where I want to be. Out of the sideboard Change the Equation counters about 98% of the spells a Flashfreeze would, so it’s very reasonable to bring in.
Chrome Host Seedshark
Chrome Host Seedshark‘s base stats are great, and getting free creatures whenever you cast noncreature spells is an incredible ability. It’s naturally more vulnerable than the Shark Typhoon it’s parodying, but not much less dangerous in play.
Complete the Circuit
Copy spells are far too situational to be good in Limited, even if you get to copy a spell twice. Especially when they require several creatures in play to be remotely cost effective.
You’re probably best off avoiding Complete the Circuit and moving on.
Corruption of Towashi
While a lot of these incubate enchantments have very minor abilities, drawing a card whenever you transform a thing is a very good payoff and a lot of blue decks in this format are going to want to be doing this a lot.
Five mana is a lot to pay for Corruption of Towashi‘s effect, but at least it spots you an Incubator to make up for it.
While I don’t think the Dimir “both graveyards matter” theme is going to be a hit, Disturbing Conversion does seem decent. Like Fear of Death and Spontaneous Mutation that we’ve seen before, this should be a reasonable way to neutralize creatures when you’re trying to be slow and controlling.
Ephara's Dispersal is like Bury in Books, except it’s Unsummon.
This does seem pretty good, especially as surveil 2 is a very nice bonus to tack on to a card I was already happy to play to slow down my opponents. It’s especially strong in a format with so many relevant tokens to kill between the 2/2 Knights and the Incubators.
I usually like these kinds of defenders, but knocking Expedition Lookout down to two power from three is a pretty big drop. And having very little control over when it can attack makes this a no from me.
Eyes of Gitaxias
Sure, you have to invest two mana at some point to transform Eyes of Gitaxias, but getting a 3/3 and drawing a card with just one spell sounds incredible. I can see this being a very good roleplayer in decks that care about Incubators.
Yuta Takahashi-sama’s World Championship card really packs a punch. The base stats are excellent, flash makes it flexible, and you can end up drawing a nice few extra cards if you time it right.
Faerie Mastermind isn’t exactly game breaking, but it’s a great addition to any blue deck.
I don’t really care about Furtive Analyst having vigilance, but I do like a Horned Turtle that can loot. That’s all I really want out of creatures in my control decks.
What are they doing to my boy Archaeomancer? Why can’t we have nice things anymore?
Whatever, putting a card back on top of your library just isn’t worth it unless the card you get back is incredibly strong. Halo-Charged Skaab will just be awful most of the time.
Invasion of Arcavios / Invocation of the Founders
Five mana is an obscenely large amount just to search up a single instant or sorcery, even if you do get one from your sideboard. But on top of that, Invasion of Arcavios has the highest defense value of all battles in the set and your reward is an enchantment that copies spells?
No, this is terrible. Neither side is worth the resources you spend on it.
Invasion of Kamigawa / Rooftop Saboteurs
I like that Invasion of Kamigawa taps down a creature, which makes it much easier to defeat. Four defense doesn’t seem too hard for that, and the reward is a very nice Thieving Magpie, which sounds like it’s worth the effort.
Invasion of Segovia / Caetus, Sea Tyrant of Segovia
Getting two tokens straight away means Invasion of Segovia is a card that a number of blue decks, particularly those that focus on convoke, will want already. Getting to defeat it and get a nice creature from the other side is a huge bonus that pushes it over the top.
Invasion of Vryn / Overloaded Mage-Ring
I love drawing cards. Who doesn’t? Sift is already a card that some decks would be very happy to play, so Invasion of Vryn could definitely slot into some of those decks.
Unfortunately, defeating it doesn’t give you much of a reward, but a free copy spell is certainly better than one that costs a whole card.
Jin-Gitaxias / The Great Synthesis
Jin-Gitaxias has really good base stats and a good way to draw a couple extra cards. Sadly, that’s about it. It’s extremely unlikely that you can reach seven cards in hand in the mid-late portion of a game. Hence the odds of ever reaching The Great Synthesis are very low.
This rating is based entirely on Jin on his own, which is good enough already.
Meeting of Minds
I love drawing cards. Having convoke means Meeting of Minds is really easy to slot into your curve. You usually won’t have to decide between casting a creature or doing this since you’ll easily be able to do both.
Moment of Truth
You might be giving Anticipate a slight bump in power level, but for the most part Moment of Truth is still just an Anticipate. You can include this in any deck, but you won’t want to prioritize it unless you have spell synergies.
Negate is and always has been an excellent sideboard card. Battles are another card type they can counter, and with 36 of them in the set it’s possible you might end up wanting these in main decks. Until then it’ll probably stay in sideboards.
Snapping Drake is a decent card, but it has started to get outclassed in recent sets. I think getting to draw a card off Oculus Whelp in the Simic transform archetype makes it good in the format, I just don’t know if there are better cards to take.
It’s a blue mana dork! Sure, it’s a situational one, but it can be tapped for convoke spells and give you two mana towards your double-faced cards’ transform abilities. This is going to be a great enabler for decks that particularly like the latter.
Oracle of Tragedy
I love cards like Oracle of Tragedy. Durdley little creatures that do nothing other than make the game go longer. It’s also a good size to help you block early game creatures.
The slower this format is the better this card becomes, and I hope it ends up strong.
Order of the Mirror / Order of the Alabaster Host
Order of the Mirror at least has a relevant creature type and can trade for other twos as a 2-drop. Transforming it makes it a very annoying attacker that’s very difficult to block with any mid-game creatures.
Three mana for 3/3 spread across two bodies is an excellent card, especially when some of it has flying and they’re very good at enabling convoke. Preening Champion is probably going to be the most important common creature to pick up for those decks.
Requiring a knight in play is a little harder to accomplish than, for example, Berg Strider only requiring snow mana to be spent on it. That said, the upside on Protocol Knight is very high, especially for an aggressive deck like Azorius knights.
Rona, Herald of Invasion / Rona, Tolarian Obliterator
Merfolk Looter is an excellent Limited card in its own right. But it didn’t have the potential of turning into a creature big enough to win a game by itself. Combine those and you have one pretty sweet bomb in Rona, Herald of Invasion.
I love tricksy cards like Saiba Cryptomancer that can let you counter removal while giving you some upside, however small that upside might be. You can counter a removal spell and then get an extra creature that may seem useless, but it can chump block, tap for convoke, and whatever else you can think of.
Creating a token copy of a creature is See Double‘s base rate, which basically makes it a Stunt Double with upside. This quickly becomes a card that every blue deck would be after if the upside is that you might sometimes be able to copy a spell or do both.
Skyclave Aerialist / Skyclave Invader
Two mana for a 2/1 flier is a great deal. Aggressive decks get a good attacker and defensive decks can use Skyclave Aerialist to trade it off. Better yet, both can transform it to draw a card at some point, which is just pure upside over an already strong card.
I’ve been rather harsh on cards like Kasmina's Transmutation because the creature is still useful as a 1/1. But making them a 0/2 with defender makes a big difference, so while Stasis Field is far from premium removal, it is reasonably effective.
As far as blue removal goes, you could do much worse. These effects tend to be a little inflexible or overcosted, but the convoke on Temporal Cleansing makes me think it’ll feel a lot more like the all-star Bury in Books than the fairly weak Chronostutter.
A big flying creature with convoke sounds really good to me. Six mana isn’t all that much when convoke can easily make Thunderhead Squadron cost about three or four, at which point it’s a great deal.
We’ve had some atrocious big common creatures for blue in recent sets, but Tidal Terror is head and shoulders above the rest. Islandcycling is a great ability for the early game, then it’s a potentially unblockable creature when you draw it later on, or at the very least a big blocker that makes a big impact on the board.
“Draw X cards” is a sweet line of text, but one that is only good in slow Limited formats. They were, for example, very good in Strixhaven. Only time will tell if this format will accommodate Transcendent Message, and you’ll only need a couple creatures to convoke it and make it affordable to cast.
This new wording, thanks to the introduction of stun counters, is a nice upgrade over the usual Frost Breath. It basically means that you can choose to either have both targets locked down for a full turn, or choose one of them to lockdown for an extra turn.
That said, Wicked Slumber is still just a convoke Frost Breath, which is a card that only a few decks are going to want.
Wind Drake is no longer the card it once was, even with vigilance to help it along. But the activated ability here is too cheap and powerful to ignore. Even just one activation is enough to make Xerex Strobe-Knight amazing, meaning you barely even have to build around it.
I didn’t think I wanted Venerated Loxodon in blue, but that’s what we’ve got. Unlike most convoke spells you’re heavily advantaged to play Zephyr Singer for no mana at all, at which point you end up granting your entire team flying permanently.
Even when you’re not in a position to do that and set up for a huge swing on the following turn, the base rate of a 3/4 Serra Angel for just four mana is obscene.
Blue combat tricks that draw a card are pretty good, though only giving the creature three toughness doesn’t help it survive many combats. Still, Zhalfirin Shapecraft should be fine in a few situations and it at least cantrips, so you’re never losing out on it.
Aetherblade Agent / Gitaxian Mindstinger
I’m already happy with a small deathtouch creature, let alone one that transforms into a brutal deathtouching Ophidian. Aetherblade Agent is usually just going to trade for whatever creature, but sometimes it’ll get you a card or two extra before trading.
Archpriest of Shadows
Archpriest of Shadows is a fantastic use of backup. Reanimating a creature is a huge payoff, and you’ll generally be able to use the backup ability to get this trigger to work at least once. After that the creature you have left behind will continue to threaten more card advantage and absolutely must be dealt with, which is the perfect quality you want in a bomb rare.
Ayara, Widow of the Realm / Ayara, Furnace Queen
Ayara returns as a fairly potent sac outlet. On one hand, it’s an ability that suffers from summoning sickness, and it doesn’t provide card advantage. But it pressures battles while gaining you life, and can do so at instant speed.
Once you transform Ayara, Widow of the Realm, Ayara, Furnace Queen provides a steady stream of advantage that should put many games to bed.
Bladed Battle-Fan is significantly better than your typical indestructible combat trick. Leaving something behind, even an incredibly mediocre equipment, is enough of an upside that this could definitely see play.
Blightreaper Thallid / Blightsower Thallid
Blightreaper Thallid is another great 2-drop that looks good on turn 2 and is still strong when you draw it later, providing you with multiple tokens for board presence.
Everything about Bloated Processor screams awesome. The base stats are okay, dying into a new creature is great, and a free sac outlet that has no timing restrictions is also sweet.
Even without the sac ability there’s enough here for any black deck to want, but some will be able to make better use of it than others.
Breach the Multiverse
7-mana sorceries need to be extremely good to make it into a Limited deck. Granted, reanimating two creatures might be good enough, but even then, the fact that you don’t get a guaranteed board presence scares me.
You just don’t know what you’ll be able to get, and sometimes it won’t even be worth the risk of playing Breach the Multiverse.
I love everything about Collective Nightmare. -X/-X spells are very flexible thanks to how they double up as combat tricks to take down bigger creatures, and this one could even be free when you do that. You can leave up blockers, block with them, and then convoke them.
While I like having sac outlets, one that’s vulnerable to summoning sickness and costs mana isn’t high on my list of priorities. I imagine that being instant speed and giving you a good reward are reasons enough to still want Completed Huntmaster in the right deck, though.
Consuming Aetherborn, even with backup, feels far too understatted to be good. Four mana for a 3/3 with lifelink is a bad deal by modern standards, even with backup improving that somewhat.
Village Rites is a nice reprint. We’ll have to wait and see if the sacrifice theme is good, but even if it isn’t, Corrupted Conviction is efficient enough that you don’t need a dedicated deck to use it. Just play it with the intention of eating a creature in response to removal and it tends to play out fine.
Every set has one; the common black removal spell that’s likely to be the best black common, if not one of the top three. Deadly Derision is a particularly good one because it basically costs three mana thanks to the Treasure token you get back.
At the end of the day, Dreg Recycler is a 2-drop 2/2 with upside. That alone makes it playable, and it pulls double duty by being Phyrexian and a sac outlet.
No, what have they done to you! Filigree Familiar didn’t do anything wrong!
It’s sad to see this, but Etched Familiar is still good enough. Trading off and draining for two is enough for a 3-drop to see play.
Etched Host Doombringer
There’s no denying that Etched Host Doombringer can have an impact on the board, especially when it interacts with a battle. But 5-drops need to be quite a bit better than this. You only get to play one, maybe two of them, and you’ll probably find better ones.
Throttle was only ever a necessary evil in sets that had bad removal, but Failed Conversion is a fair bit better. Being a permanent downgrade, as well as getting to surveil 2, make it significantly better, even if there are much better removal spells in the set.
Speaking of much better removal, Final Flourish is unreasonably good. Vicious Offering was probably the best black common in Dominaria, and this is no different.
It should be pretty easy to kick to kill basically anything. Even if you don’t, -2/-2 is good enough to kill a lot of creatures in the format.
I’m seeing a lot of these Wind Drakes with upside. Flitting Guerrilla is a pretty substantial upside too. Getting a card back onto the top of your library isn’t a great effect, but it’s a nice bonus that you’re happy to see when it comes freely added onto something you’d play already.
Gift of Compleation
I’m not sure about the rates of some of these incubate spells since the enchantments they come with have only very minor abilities on them. I’m assuming Gift of Compleation will be good enough given how much synergy there is in the set, but only time will tell.
Much like the other color hosers we’ve seen so far, Glistening Deluge just doesn’t look anywhere near good enough for main decks. It looks decent out of the board against the right decks, but I don’t want to be starting it at first.
Like I’ve said already, landcycling is an excellent ability that makes sure a card is relevant at all points of the game. Gloomfang Mauler is no different from the others, and it actually has a big impact on the board when you drop it.
Not just a tribal lord for Phyrexians, but also a recurring threat from the graveyard and a possible sacrifice outlet. Grafted Butcher has a lot going for it. I’d even consider playing it outside of a Phyrexian tribal deck.
Hoarding Broodlord is expensive to cast, but you’d be fairly happy with a huge flier as long as it cost six or less. Tack on a free Demonic Tutor and you’d even be happy casting it for the full cost.
It’s possible you can even get a much bigger discount on it and make it an even more absurd card, but I’m happy enough with the deal we get otherwise.
While it’s weak as a 1-drop, Ichor Drinker looks like it ticks a lot of boxes. It’s good to sacrifice for value, it’s good if you mill it and it represents a pair of Phyrexian creatures.
It isn’t a powerful card, but it slots nicely into a lot of black’s archetypes.
In order for any archetype to be good, it needs good payoffs. Ichor Shade is a solid common payoff for the Rakdos sacrifice archetype. If the archetype ends up good in this format, this will probably be a big part of it.
Invasion of Eldraine / Prickle Faeries
I quite like the idea of a Mind Rot that can transform into a creature version of The Rack. It doesn’t help you in defeating Invasion of Eldraine, but Mind Rot is playable in a few decks and this is likely no different.
Invasion of Fiora / Marchesa, Resolute Monarch
Given the modal nature of this board sweeper, it’s not hard to imagine a situation where Invasion of Fiora becomes better for you than your opponent. At that point it becomes trivially easy to defeat, and the reward is huge. Marchesa’s first foray into Standard hits hard, automatically defeating any other battle whenever Marchesa, Resolute Monarch attacks, as well as basically making you the monarch.
This entire package is a great deal that’s sure to break open any game.
Invasion of Innistrad / Deluge of the Dead
The best battles have to be the ones that influence combat, making them easier to defeat. Not only does Invasion of Innistrad do exactly that, but by removing any potential blocker your reward for defeating it is an enchantment that could potentially win the game on its own.
Invasion of Ulgrotha / Grandmother Ravi Sengir
It’s been a while since Essence Drain was a good Limited card, but having it attached to a battle with a decent reward sounds like a version I’d be happy to play.
Six mana removal isn’t that great these days, but it’s worth taking another look at when it exiles and comes with an upfront investment into a 3/3 creature. Merciless Repurposing is still expensive so I doubt I’d want more than one, but I’d expect that first copy to be very valuable.
We saw Mirrodin Avenged once before, in Neon Dynasty under the name “Omae wa mou shindeiru” (or You Are Already Dead, for those who don’t know the anime reference). It was pretty good there, and there are a lot of big creatures in this set that this will be fairly effective at taking down.
Nezumi Freewheeler / Hideous Fleshwheeler
Nezumi Freewheeler is a little on the small side until you can transform it, but that disadvantage isn’t so bad if you can make use of the mill effect. It does become quite big once it transforms into Hideous Fleshwheeler, and the free reanimate is a big reward for transforming it.
I love cards like Nezumi Informant. They provide a nice little bit of value and can then be used for blocking, flickering, sacrificing, or all of the above. It’s a very potent combination that we’ve seen be good in recent formats like Neon Dynasty.
It’s like Phyrexian Rager and Mulldrifter had a very warped baby. I’ve had Phyrexian Gargantua in my Cube for a while, and it’s pretty absurd. It’s on the expensive side but still one of the easiest three-for-ones you’re likely to get for a black deck, along with some board presence to make sure you stay alive long enough to use your fresh cards.
Eat to Extinction was frankly good enough at four mana. Tacking on convoke pushes Pile On over the edge and makes it, somehow, even more first pick-able.
Render Inert would be a big failure in most sets, but MOM has a brand new type of card appearing at lower rarities that uses counters: battles. This basically reads as “defeat target battle, draw a card,” which I have no idea about how good it might be.
When exploring these new card types, it’s best to try out options like this at first and see where you come down on them.
It seems weird for a “berserker” with some kind of giant axe to have 0 power. Scorn-Blade Berserker is, however, a nice little creature that gives a good amount of value.
I don’t think we’re all that likely to want to sacrifice the creature we backup onto, but without that this is a 1-drop that gives you a counter, a free chump block, and your card back. I really like that.
Sheoldred / The True Scriptures
Sheoldred requires a fair bit of work in order to transform, but if you do get to do it then you’re pretty well paid off for it. The True Scriptures should win you the game given enough time to let the chapters tick down.
Other than that all that Sheoldred can do is be a medium-sized creature plus a Cruel Edict, which isn’t that impressive.
It’s hard to know if two mana will be worth it for an “incubate 3” effect because it’s not a great deal for a restrictive Coercion effect. I’d imagine the choice of either-or is enough to make Traumatic Revelation a strong card, especially in decks that can make best use of the Incubator token.
Unseal the Necropolis
Soul Salvage is a valuable asset in any Limited set. Milling cards from both libraries is a minor bonus, and I’d be happy playing Unseal the Necropolis in just about any black deck.
Vanquish the Weak
We’ve seen this a lot in the past, and it’s always a decent removal spell. Outright killing any creature played in roughly the first four turns of the game is a great deal.
Vanquish the Weak isn’t premium removal, but it’s very good and you should use it.
I’m not interested in a 1/1 for one, but the sacrifice ability does give enough of an upside that Akki Scrapchomper isn’t horrible. Still, I’d much sooner want a creature that had a more useful body in most decks.
Though two mana is a hefty equip cost, we’ve seen a similar card to Beamtown Beatstick do some excellent work: Goldvein Pick in Kaldheim. The extra mana to equip has got to be worth it to gain menace, making the Treasure token much easier to get, so I’d imagine this card would be quite strong in the right deck.
Aggressive decks should be very happy with an efficient, cheap flier, but anything else will dislike the fact that Bloodfeather Phoenix can’t block. Getting it back from the graveyard is something that you might be able to do once over the course of a game, but it’s really not something you can rely on in Limited.
Burning Sun’s Fury
As a combat trick Burning Sun's Fury doesn’t help your creatures survive in combat, making it pretty bad all round. It’s not too bad as a way to haste creatures you just played, but that’s not something you’d ever want to spend a whole card on.
Chandra, Hope’s Beacon
To be fair, I’m sold on the -X ability alone. Six mana to kill two creatures is a good deal already. Tack that onto a powerful planeswalker like that you can continue to gain advantage from and you’ve got yourself one hell of a card in Chandra, Hope's Beacon.
Copying spells, drawing a card out of your top five, and extra mana if you want to cast more spells in a turn. Everything is icing on the cake of what’s likely one of the best removal spells in the set.
City on Fire
Fiery Emancipation isn’t a good enough card for Limited.
Sure, City on Fire has a big, powerful effect, but it also requires you to be in a situation that can take advantage of it. That’s not a risk I’d be willing to take to play a card that doesn’t affect the board in a meaningful way.
Coming In Hot
Kindled Fury is a fine combat trick that helps you win quite a few combats. The creatures’ sizes need to line up, but Coming In Hot is cheap enough that it’s worth taking that chance.
Etali, Primal Conqueror / Etali, Primal Sickness
Seven mana is quite a lot to pay, but getting a huge 7/7 creature with trample as well as two free spells, even random ones, is an incredible deal for it. You might miss on Etali, Primal Conqueror sometimes, but you always get the 7/7, so you know you’re at least guaranteed a creature.
That’s a good enough failsafe to feel comfortable playing this, and sometimes you’ll hit spells that win you the game outright. I doubt you’re likely to transform Etali, but when you do at least you end up with a Blightsteel Colossus to quickly win the game for your troubles.
Fearless Skald‘s base rate of a 4/3 with double strike for five mana is a pretty good deal. It’s an even better one with the flexibility of being able to send one of your other creatures into the red zone with double strike for the turn.
Furnace Gremlin‘s firebreathing ability is quite expensive, but this looks like a strong card even if it stays at one power. The threat of activation of the ability is really potent here because you’re well ahead in the exchange if it ends up, for example, trading with a 3/3 and creating a 3/3 Incubator.
Furnace Host Charger
Furnace Host Charger is another good landcycler that you’ll be happy to play in any red deck. Lava Serpent saw a decent amount of play in Ikoria, so I don’t expect this to be much worse.
Moving Threaten effects up to uncommon reduces their playability quite a bit. I assume that Rakdos will have some kind of sacrifice synergy, but Furnace Reins isn’t good enough to play outside of that.
Even if you have to attack to do it, rummaging away cards for new ones is a very useful ability. Backup even lets you do it the same turn you play Hangar Scrounger. Even better if you get to give a +1/+1 counter to your 2-drop and get in an attack that you otherwise wouldn’t have.
Harried Artisan / Phyrexian Skyflayer
Both sides of Harried Artisan look pretty mediocre, but add them together and they end up as a reasonable card. You basically get to choose between a 3-drop haste creature and a 6- or 7-drop haste flier, which are each good in different situations.
Into the Fire
A 2-damage board sweeper is going to be good in some decks. Especially in slower decks, enabling them to counter the initial aggression from faster decks. You wouldn’t play Into the Fire for just the alternate mode unless you want that specifically.
Invasion of Kaldheim / Pyre of the World Tree
There’s a lot of card advantage to be had here. The unique wording on Invasion of Kaldheim lets you draw a ton of cards, and then transforming into a Seismic Assault lets you out-resource your opponent very quickly. All you need is enough time to make it work.
Invasion of Karsus / Refraction Elemental
Invasion of Karsus can end up as a one-sided board sweeper in the right matchup. If you know it’s coming, you could always set it up and trade off creatures earlier.
You could also play it in such a way that you can clear out the blockers that might stop you defeating this. If so this can be a very devastating play, almost like a Flametongue Kavu that kills multiple targets.
Invasion of Mercadia / Kyren Flamewright
Tormenting Voice was already borderline playable. I have to imagine that having one that you can defeat and turn into a very strong creature will be quite a decent card.
Invasion of Regatha / Disciples of the Inferno
This particular battle has a chance of killing a blocker, but the most important part of Invasion of Regatha is the fact that it can automatically defeat a lot of other battles. That and it has a really strong creature as a reward in Disciples of the Inferno.
This is the kind of battle I’d want to especially pick up for the Gruul archetype.
Invasion of Tarkir / Defiant Thundermaw
There are only a small handful of dragons in this set, but that won’t stop Invasion of Tarkir from being able to Shock a target, preferably a blocker. That’s a good start. And then defeating it gives you an incredibly strong bomb rare dragon, which makes this one of the stronger battles in the set.
Karsus Depthguard should be trivially easy to get up to five power in the right deck. Just backup onto it once and you’ve got a 5/4 that you only invested three mana into, which seems great to me.
Khenra Spellspear / Gitaxian Spellstalker
Prowess creatures are dangerous. Every instant you might have can double up as a combat trick. When they’re already a reasonable size, like Khenra Spellspear, they’re especially annoying. It’s also very easy to transform and the double prowess along with ward 2 makes it oddly difficult to get into combat with.
Once again, Lithomantic Barrage is much too weak against Jund-colored creatures for it to be worth it in the main deck. It’s a great sideboard card though, and like the other color hosers it might become a good main deck card if blue or white are the best and most played colors in the set.
The point of Marauding Dreadship seems to be that, with five mana, you can immediately transform the Incubator you make, crew up the dreadship, and attack. Except all you get out of that is a 4/1.
It’s a horrendous reward and just not great value.
Combat tricks that leave something behind are great, but they really don’t do much unless your creature can survive the combat. As an equipment that spots you the first equip for free, I don’t see Mirran Banesplitter working out, especially with none of the Draft archetypes caring about equipment.
Five damage for three mana is an excellent deal on a burn spell. Getting to draw an extra card sometimes is even better, though I think the ability is restrictive enough that we’re mainly looking at Nahiri's Warcrafting as being an efficient removal spell that kills most creatures.
Defeating battles will be harder to do as games go longer. Onakke Javelineer seems like a great defensive option that lets you continue applying pressure to your battles. It’s also just a good size for a 5-drop.
Pyretic Prankster / Glistening Goremonger
I’ve said many times that the best quality of a 2-drop is that it stays relevant in the late game. Pyretic Prankster is about as relevant as it can get, where you can transform it and it gets to trade for potentially two creatures.
You need plenty of effects that give you two creatures cheaply for convoke to work. Ral's Reinforcements is an excellent way to do that.
You absolutely need as many of these as you can find if you want to be casting bigger convoke spells.
It’s tough to find room for equipment in most decks, but +3/+1 and trample for just two mana to equip does warrant a look. Five mana to cast Ramosian Greatsword feels far too high, even with convoke, but I can imagine there will be a deck that wants it.
I would like to introduce to you, the red Questing Beast. Sure, Rampaging Raptor isn’t quite on that absurd level, but haste and trample are a very powerful combination, and this is a great way to defeat battles without having to compromise on attacking your opponent.
First strike is a good ability to give with backup, but Redcap Heelslasher is still a little on the small side. There are enough decent backup creatures that I’m doubtful this will make the cut.
On one hand, there are some very powerful things you can do with Scrappy Bruiser. On the other, this is little more than a below-rate vanilla creature if you don’t particularly want to return your creatures to your hand.
I’d like to think it’ll more often be the former of these options, so I’d lean towards playing this early on in the format before knowing for sure either way.
Three mana for just two damage is a horrendous deal. Stopping that creature from blocking and getting a 1/1 Incubator don’t do anywhere near enough to sweeten that deal.
Shatter the Source
Six mana removal spells are a tad too expensive, but convoke puts Shatter the Source well within the range of playability. Six damage is enough to kill nearly everything you come across, which actually makes this great.
Shivan Branch-Burner looks great for breaking open board stalls. You likely won’t be attacking with ground creatures in that case, so convoking them to cast a haste flier is a great way to make them useful.
Stoke the Flames
Stoke the Flames is an exceptional burn spell. Convoke lets you slot it into your mana curve at lots of different places, and four damage to any target is a much more powerful effect than it looks. Especially in this set since it can defeat a lot of battles by itself. Doing so at instant speed can even let you ambush attacking creatures with the creatures on their back-faces.
This is very likely the best red nonrare in the whole set.
Thrashing Frontliner is a decent 2-drop that gives you extra value when hitting battles and picking up backups. It isn’t exactly great when you draw it late, but it applies enough pressure in early turns that it’s probably worth it.
While we saw Bloodlust Inciter do some great work in Amonkhet, that format was incredibly aggressive. I don’t see the same being true here. Not to mention that Trailblazing Historian is significantly worse than Inciter was.
You can do a lot better in your aggro decks.
Urabrask / The Great Work
While Urabrask looks absurdly powerful, it suffers from one very fatal flaw; casting three instant and/or sorcery spells in the same turn is incredibly hard to do in a game of Limited.
For the majority of games this is nothing more than a 4/4 with first strike for four mana which, while good, falls very short of being a bomb mythic.
Fire Prophecy was one of the best burn spells we’ve ever had in a Limited format. I have to imagine that getting a strictly better version of it is a good thing.
You’re always going to be interested in whatever 2-mana burn spell for three damage you can get, especially when Volcanic Spite also lets you swap an excess land in your hand for a fresh card.
I certainly prefer a card like Voldaren Thrillseeker over something like Fling. It combines very nicely with Yargle, Glutton of Urborg or Yargle and Multani for an instant kill, not to mention any number of other possible combinations.
Even by itself you still get a 3/3 for three mana that doubles up as a Lightning Bolt, so no matter which way you use it you’ll be very well paid off.
War-Trained Slasher is a good size for a 4-drop creature, and its abilities push it right into the playable column. It’s especially good at taking down battles, which is of course what it’s designed to do. At the very least it’ll trade for both of its blockers.
It’s great to see a new version of Reckless Impulse. Wrenn's Resolve is quite strong, especially in aggressive red decks, and should certainly be a card that you’ll want to pick up for those.
It shouldn’t be too hard to cast Ancient Imperiosaur for just four or five mana, and if you do it’ll come down as an obscenely large beatstick along with trample and ward. In fact, it’s not unthinkable to imagine a curve where you get three creatures before turn 4, at which point this is a four mana 12/12 with trample and ward, which is enough to win most games.
+2/+2 isn’t great, but being one mana is a big upside for any combat trick. Tack on untapping the creature and being able to ambush fliers and Arachnoid Adaptation is probably decent.
While we typically prefer Broken Wings to be an instant, throw in the ability to kill battles and make it one mana cheaper and you have yourself a deal. Atraxa's Fall is bound to be one of the best sideboard cards in the set, though I don’t know if it’s worthy of making the main.
There are some rather expensive spells in this set, and you’re going to need to ramp into them to make them playable. Blighted Burgeoning is a really good version of this effect. You could even cast this on turn 4 and immediately transform the Incubator you’re given.
While not every green deck will be interested in this effect, it’ll be very important to pick up for others.
Bonded Herdbeast / Plated Kilnbeast
4/5 for five is a perfectly fine deal. Bonded Herdbeast can gum up the board quite effectively and keep a lot of ground creatures at bay. You can then transform it, and a 7/5 menace will almost assuredly be able to trade for at least two sizable creatures if it doesn’t get removed.
Sounds good for a simple 5-drop.
So, Enraged Ceratok was once a strong uncommon, yet here we have a strictly better version (for all intents and purposes) at common. Chomping Kavu is a great card that fills your curve, and I’d want it in all of my green decks.
Converter Beast basically gives you a 0/1 and 5/5 for a total of six mana. That’s not too bad of a rate by itself, and this probably ends up as a good card when you factor in the other ways you can make use of these creatures. I especially want to be flickering it if I can.
Copper Host Crusher
If Copper Host Crusher ends up playable in this format, then I know I’m going to love it. Eight mana is far too much to be spending in Limited, but the payoff for doing so is definitely worth it. You just need the right tools to make it happen, like some good ramp spells.
Cosmic Hunger is green’s Rabid Bite for the set, and it’s a very good version. Not only does it of course hit battles, but being an instant is a huge bonus.
This is premium removal for the color and you should play it when you can.
Like I keep saying, I really don’t like auras. I don’t think cycling factors into this, but at least +3/+3 is a big enough boost to be interested in Crystal Carapace, and ward makes it harder for your opponent to get a free two-for-one.
Deeproot Wayfinder is a strong 2-drop with good stats, but the trigger is a little on the situational side to make it much more than a nice curve filler.
Like a lot of the backup creatures we’ve seen so far, Doomskar Warrior is a great card on its own, and even better if you end up in a situation where you can get a hit in with whatever creature you backup. I’d be excited to play this in just about any green deck given that most of them will be full of creatures to find, and doing so is entirely free.
It’s quite cool that Fertilid's Favor combines a ramp spell and a combat trick into the same card. But those are two disparate effects that aren’t typically wanted in the same deck, and it’s also overcosted at doing either of them.
I just don’t think this has a good home.
Despite having to put a little extra work in to actually get access to these creatures, the ability to create two huge Incubators without requiring much to enable that is pretty alluring.
Gnottvold Hermit / Chrome Host Hulk
A 4/4 for four is already a good enough size that you’d play it any time. Transforming Gnottvold Hermit doesn’t give you a great upgrade, but turning a creature into a base 5/5 is especially strong on Incubators since their base is 0/0.
Other than that, this is still a fine vanilla creature.
Herbology Instructor / Malady Invoker
A 1/3 that gains three life is a decent card in its own right. Factor in that transforming Herbology Instructor lets you kill a creature gives you a very strong package. It can only give -0/-3, but you can make that considerably bigger without too much fuss since transforming won’t remove attachments or counters.
Invasion of Ikoria / Zilortha, Apex of Ikoria
Invasion of Ikoria isn’t the most useful of effects, but at least there are no restrictions on the search, so any creature is fair game for it. Hopefully doing so will swing combat in your favor, because Zilortha, Apex of Ikoria is an obscenely big threat against any deck if you can defeat it.
You could even cast this for just two mana if you have a turn where it would be easily defeated.
Invasion of Ixalan / Belligerent Regisaur
Invasion of Ixalan is a great Impulse effect to get you started, and four defense makes it relatively easy to defeat. When you do, Belligerent Regisaur is an extremely annoying creature and a real incentive to devote your attention to it.
Invasion of Muraganda / Primordial Plasm
A removal spell that also grows your creature is a great way to clear the way for Invasion of Muraganda to be defeated. I don’t think Primordial Plasm is a great reward considering how hard this is to defeat, but the Invasion does make that a lot easier to make up for it.
Invasion of Shandalar / Leyline Surge
I like being able to get three cards back from my graveyard, but the reward for defeating Invasion of Shandalar is pretty abysmal for Limited.Leyline Surge It might accelerate you a little bit, but most of this card’s value is in the mega-Restock ability.
Invasion of Zendikar / Awakened Skyclave
Explosive Vegetation needs a little extra in order to make it these days. I’d say that being a very easy-to-defeat battle with a 4/4 vigilance creature as its reward is more than enough to make Invasion of Zendikar playable again.
A 2-drop is a 2-drop at the end of the day. You’re never excited to pick Iridescent Blademaster up, but it does its job to fill your early curve and isn’t dead when you draw it late.
Kami of Whispered Hopes
Even at three mana, mana dorks tend to still be very strong. Tack on the ability to grow and tap for larger amounts of mana and you have a very strong build-around that any deck with a focus on +1/+1 counters will be very happy to get their hands on.
We’re just coming off a format where Contagious Vorrac was the best green common, and it wasn’t even close. Sure, a 2/2 is a big downgrade from a 3/3, but Overgrown Pest is capable of drawing you an actual spell instead of just a land, which I think makes this considerably stronger.
This would be my early pick for best green common until someone proves otherwise.
Ozolith, the Shattered Spire
Hardened Scales needed some work to become useful, but this new Ozolith already has a built-in method to distribute +1/+1 counters. Two mana to activate Ozolith, the Shattered Spire and give out two counters is insane.
My only gripe with this is that you won’t necessarily be able to spare the mana much of the time, but that’s a very minor worry since this’ll break open any board stall given enough time. It even buffs your other +1/+1 counter cards on turns where you can’t activate it.
Oh, and it has cycling just for good measure, but I doubt we’ll be doing that much.
This lovely and definitely not dangerous rabbit looks like it’ll slot nicely into the +1/+1 counter deck, though no other deck will care about Placid Rottentail. Even there it’s not the best card and I wouldn’t be upset if if my deck didn’t have one.
Polukranos Reborn / Polukranos, Engine of Ruin
Triple green isn’t a trivial cost to pay, though it’s still fine to cast on a later turn. From there the key to Polukranos Reborn card lies in its ability to transform, as turning into a de facto Wurmcoil Engine will swing any game firmly into your favor.
Even if you’ve invested a total of 9 or 10 mana, a huge lifelinker that leaves behind creatures when it dies is too powerful to ignore.
Portent Tracker is exactly the 2-drop mana dork that you want to be accelerating you. Not only does it do this as well as combine perfectly with Blighted Burgeoning, but its second ability allows it to stay relevant in the late game when you don’t need extra mana.
Indrik Stomphowler is a pretty decent card. While it’s too early to know how many problematic artifacts and enchantments there could be to destroy, Ravenous Sailback at least has a nice upside of being able to gain haste to make it a reasonable main deck card until evidence tells us otherwise.
A 4/2 with flash is a reasonable body already, but the upside of getting to draw a card against the right decks is very powerful. I’d start Sandstalker Moloch in basically any green deck, though it’s possible you might want to board it out against any decks that don’t play blue or black.
Seed of Hope
Seed of Hope looks quite a lot like a green Sleight of Hand. Between creatures, lands, and battles, the vast majority of the cards in your deck will be permanents. At that point the odds of you missing are incredibly low.
Running the numbers in the hypergeometric distribution suggests that if you cast this on your first turn and there are, for example, five cards left in your deck that aren’t permanents, your odds of missing are only 2%. I like those odds, so I’d probably lean towards this being a decent card. It’s hard to know if any green deck actively wants it, but it’s definitely not worthless.
Deathtouch basically enables any creature to get an attack in when you play Serpent-Blade Assailant, which can make it a very valuable backup creature to get. On its own the raw stats are fine, and I don’t see anything wrong with this card in most decks.
Storm the Seedcore
These kinds of effects are usually quite weak, but they also cost a lot more mana. Storm the Seedcore is cost-effective enough to be a valuable card in a lot of decks in a set with a ton of +1/+1 counter synergies.
The ability is kinda cute, but what it generally translates to is that Streetwise Negotiator is either a 3/3 or a 2/2 with a +1/+1 counter to go somewhere else. At two mana that’s a great deal for any deck.
Now Tandem Takedown is a premium removal spell for green, like a collaboration between Clear Shot and Band Together. The idea that you can use this during combat to potentially help creatures trade up on top of killing another one outright makes me really excited about this.
The lifegain here helps you to stay alive, but because you only get an incubator, it doesn’t actually give you board presence right away. But Tangled Skyline is an exceptional deal for just five mana if you can afford the little bit of extra time you need to transform it.
Tribute to the World Tree
Don’t get me wrong, this effect is very powerful, it’s just that Tribute to the World Tree‘s mana cost is far too prohibitive for Limited. If you’re mono-green then by all means consider this more like a 7/10, but for anything else it’s just bad.
Triple green means you can most reliably expect to cast this around turn 6 or 7, at which point you’ve already cast a lot of your creatures and the effect is in turn made weaker.
Our final landcycler in the set is a real doozy. Green decks naturally want to ramp into 6-drop creatures, which makes Timberland Ancient in particular feel more at home in this color. It’s also a pretty decent 6-drop at that, basically being a Colossal Dreadmaw, smacking through chump blockers all day long.
Vengeant Earth is cute, but all it boils down to is that it’s a green Cruel Edict, which isn’t something you’re likely to be interested in.
Vorinclex / The Grand Evolution
Vorinclex is basically a green Mulldrifter, except it’s huge. Turning it into The Grand Evolution is very expensive, but reanimating two whole creatures should end up being worth it even if you lose a 6/6 trample to do so.
And Vorinclex hits ridiculously hard and draws you two lands for only five mana even if you don’t transform it. There’s no way you’d ever cut this.
It’s starting to become typical to see a 3/3 for three with multiple upsides these days. Attacking battles with impunity is a very nice touch, even though you can still be blanked by creatures with toughness four or greater. War Historian still attacks past most things and is a good defensive creature just in case.
I’m wary of 3/1s for two mana, but I think a pair of surveil 1s over Wary Thespian’s lifetime are enough of an upside that I’d generally look to run it.
I didn’t think I’d see a green Gravedigger, but here we are. Wildwood Escort is a little expensive at five mana, but getting back battles or creatures is a very powerful effect.
I’d look to this as one of green’s best commons.
Wrenn and Realmbreaker
Wrenn and Realmbreaker is a very interesting planeswalker that I think is likely to have a few applications elsewhere. In Limited, things are a little harder.
The first thing to note is that this can use its -2 to draw a card out of your top three at the very least, so it replaces itself. If it doesn’t get attacked you could always cash it in for another card on the next turn. The +1 is fairly strong, though temporary 3/3s get outclassed in the late game.
Overall I think there’s enough here to like, particularly considering the ability to draw multiple cards while milling yourself.
Baral and Kari Zev
Who likes upside? I do, I do! These team up legends are crazy on power level.
Baral and Kari Zev have a great set of base stats, first strike and menace work incredibly well together, and the ability to create Ragavan tokens or cast free spells without very much investment is just awesome.
Borborygmos and Fblthp
You had me at draw a card. Yet somehow, Borborygmos and Fblthp also lets you toss away lands to kill creatures. And the trigger is repeatable too.
I normally write a lot more for cards I give a 10/10 to, but I think this is so obviously powerful, like a Temur Inferno Titan, that I don’t need to say much else. Take this, find a way to splash it. Enjoy.
Botanical Brawler starts out as a reasonably-sized creature, so you’d be happy with it in any Selesnya deck. It doesn’t require much work to start growing for free, works great in multiples, and can even trigger multiple times per turn, so I’d expect this is a great card to build around.
Djeru and Hazoret
Djeru and Hazoret makes for quite a lethal combination, but only if you can build around it. It’s hard to know how many legendary creatures you’re likely to have in your deck, because this is little more than a vanilla creature if you don’t have all that many.
All that being said, there’s a ton of potential here if you can enable it. And it’s still likely to come down with haste in a very aggressive deck, and that’s something worth noting.
Drana and Linvala
There are going to be a lot of scenarios where Drana and Linvala’s cool-looking abilities don’t do anything. So in most Limited games this is really just a Serra Angel, but that’s still pretty good.
The rate of a 3/3 for three with an Incubator on top is already good for any deck. Five mana is a lot to transform an Incubator, but doubling its size seems quite nice and we’ve seen some pretty large incubate numbers that Elvish Vatkeeper can really take advantage of.
Errant and Giada
Flash fliers tend to be really strong, and Errant and Giada has good enough stats that it’s worth it for that alone. If you ever get a free spell from the top then you’re off to the races, though I don’t think you’re likely to have enough targets in your deck that that’ll happen all that often.
Ghalta and Mavren
The most important thing to note here is that Ghalta and Mavren do not need to be attacking to trigger. You can play it precombat, go to combat, and get a trigger immediately. The type of token(s) you make is going to depend on the situation, but either mode is ridiculous.
This isn’t great on an empty board and seven mana with four color symbols is a big ask, but that’s enough to knock it down from being a great bomb rare. Also, it’s a 12/12. Enough said.
Glissa, Herald of Predation
Glissa, Herald of Predation provides you with everything you need to support incubate, all in one package.
Do you need more Incubators? You have them. Have a lot of Incubators but not enough mana to transform them? Transform them all! Have a bunch of Phyrexians but can’t attack on a board stall? First strike and deathtouch gets your team through.
Even outside of an incubate deck Glissa just does a ton of work on its own, more than enough to make it a bomb rare.
Halo Forager is a sweet payoff, basically a flying Snapcaster Mage without the flash. Except you get to play an instant or sorcery from either player’s graveyard, which means you’ll sometimes get to steal something even better than what you’ve got in your own deck.
Hidetsugu and Kairi
Hidetsugu and Kairi is everything I want in a bomb rare. A huge flying dragon that gives you a Brainstorm when it enters is already more than good enough, but it also hits your opponent when it dies and potentially even casts you a free spell.
If you anticipate Hidetsugu and Kairi dying early, you can even use the Brainstorm effect to set up your deck for their death trigger. Unbelievably strong card all round.
Inga and Esika
The effects on Inga and Esika aren’t particularly desirable in Limited, but they all combine very well together. It’s also just a very efficient 4-drop by itself, even if you can’t make use of the drawing ability.
Invasion of Alara / Awaken the Maelstrom
Sure, Invasion of Alara is absurdly powerful despite the high defense making it hard to defeat. Sadly the inclusion of common dual lands, ramp spells, and Skittering Surveyor still isn’t going to be enough to make a 5-color spell castable, though I assure you, I will try.
Invasion of Amonkhet / Lazotep Convert
Having your opponent discard a card and you draw a card is basically Divination, so you really need to want an effect like that to play Invasion of Amonkhet. If you do then the card is good and the reward for defeating it is pretty decent, so I imagine this’ll slot into most Dimir decks.
Invasion of Azgol / Ashen Reaper
Unlike other battles with removal modes, Invasion of Azgol doesn’t really help you to defeat it. Rather, it’s good early to kill an opponent’s only creature. If you can defeat it in the same turn then it’s nice that Ashen Reaper immediately grows.
While we don’t like playing edicts, I think this is enough better to be good.
Invasion of Ergamon / Truga Cliffcharger
Invasion of Ergamon isn’t that great, but it does make a Treasure token that can ramp you into a 4-drop on turn 3. That’s less relevant when you draw it later, which makes this far better as an early play than a later one, curbing its power level to an extent.
Still, Gruul specializes in defeating battles, so this might be one of the easiest ones to defeat. And Truga Cliffcharger is a pretty strong reward for doing so.
Invasion of Kaladesh / Aetherwing, Golden-Scale Flagship
Creating a Thopter is a reasonable start, and it helps apply pressure to Invasion of Kaladesh straight away. Aetherwing, Golden-Scale Flagship isn’t great in a format with no focus on artifacts, but it’s still efficient enough that it should do some work.
Invasion of Kylem / Valor’s Reach Tag Team
While this isn’t an effect I’d normally like, +2/+0 to two creatures is something that helps you defeat Invasion of Kylem. And Valor's Reach Tag Team is a very good reward for doing so, which makes me assume that you’ll want to do this.
Invasion of Lorwyn / Winnowing Forces
Invasion of Lorwyn should destroy any creature you need to at six mana, which in turn makes it easier to defeat it. This is one that looks quite close to being a Ravenous Chupacabra, which is really saying something.
Invasion of Moag / Bloomwielder Dryads
Not only does giving a +1/+1 counter to each creature fit perfectly into the Selesnya archetype, but it also does a great job at making it easier to defeat Invasion of Moag. And trust me, you’ll really want to do that since the reward is basically a Luminarch Aspirant or Siege Veteran, creatures we’ve seen be among the best Limited rares in recent sets.
Invasion of New Capenna / Holy Frazzle-Cannon
Invasion of New Capenna being a Bone Splinters-style effect is a lot of what I like about this. It makes the reward fairly easy to get, but Holy Frazzle-Cannon isn’t great: an equipment that provides no buffs until you attack with the equipped creature.
Granted, the buff you do get is quite strong if you’ve managed to go tribal, but I expected a little more.
Invasion of New Phyrexia / Teferi Akosa of Zhalfir
Creating X 2/2 tokens for makes Invasion of New Phyrexia an exceptionally good card, one that we’d be happy with if it was just a sorcery. Teferi Akosa of Zhalfir isn’t all that impressive, but we’ll take it as a nice bonus on top of a card we were already happy playing.
You really want this to be played for at least X=2, but you should end up winning most games if you draw it late and get to cast it for a huge amount.
Invasion of Pyrulea / Gargantuan Slabhorn
I don’t know much about the plane of Pyrulea, but I know I want to see it again as a Simic player. Invasion of Pyrulea gives you a very nice bonus up front, and the reward for defeating it is a perfect creature if you’ve put together the Simic archetype of caring about transformed permanents.
Invasion of Tolvada / The Broken Sky
Reanimating any permanent gives you free rein to get back all sorts of cards, but doing so is still a little situational unless you’re milling yourself. The reason Invasion of Tolvada is so good is that the reward for defeating it is absolutely bonkers.
We’ve seen similar permanents in the past that have been among the best cards in their respective sets since getting a free creature every single turn quickly turns into an insurmountable board position.
Invasion of Xerex / Vertex Paladin
Bounce effects look like they’ll be very good in this format with all the Incubator and 2/2 Knight tokens to deal with, as well as just being fine to deal with a pesky blocker when you need to. It’s a shame that the reward for defeating Invasion of Xerex isn’t all that great, but it’s still a good card overall.
At least Vertex Paladin has flying.
It does appear that Izzet will be looking to convoke a lot of spells in this format, and Joyful Stormsculptor is the perfect enabler for that. Five mana for three creatures is a fairly good rate and it’s fairly likely that you’ll be able to convoke something in the same turn.
The trigger to deal damage is a really nice bonus, especially as it gives you an effective way of defeating battles.
Kogla and Yidaro
Does anyone remember Ravager Wurm? Because that was a great card, and it was a mythic rare. Kogla and Yidaro is only rare, and miles better.
A 7/7 is going to be able to fight and kill nearly every creature in the set, while haste and trample let you immediately crush a battle or even your opponent in a lot of spots. I don’t know that the activated ability will get used all that much, but it’s a great option to have.
Kroxa and Kunoros
They’re really not messing around with the triple-color legends. A 6/6 with vigilance, menace, and lifelink is already absurd. In most games of Limited you should probably be able to reanimate one creature with Kroxa and Kunoros, and if you know it’s coming then you can prepare for it by purposefully trading off your creatures.
Assuming you get that to work, Kroxa and Kunoros will practically win the game as soon as it comes down.
Marshal of Zhalfir
I love when the signpost uncommon for a tribal archetype is a lord, like we saw with Yotian Tactician in The Brothers’ War. Marshal of Zhalfir is one of the best I’ve seen, costing just two mana and having a very powerful second mode on it.
This already would have been very desirable without being a tapper, but acting as a pseudo-removal spell on top of being a lord is incredible.
As far as build-arounds go, a well-sized creature that doubles the thing you want to do a lot anyway is exactly where you want to be. That’s really it, and I assume Mirror-Shield Hoplite will give you plenty of value if you have enough backups.
While I do like my Simic cards to draw cards or ramp me, I’ll be happy to take a nice big flying creature from time to time.
Between all the naturally transforming creatures and incubator tokens, it doesn’t seem that hard to imagine that Mutagen Connoisseur will be at least two or three power a lot of the time. It’ll also be hard to kill at five toughness, and it dodges a fair bit of removal.
Omnath, Locus of All
As much as the mana fixing in this set should allow us to splash the 3-color legends when we open them, I don’t think it’s likely that we’ll be able to play a 4- or 5-color card. Even if it was possible to play Omnath, Locus of All, it just doesn’t do enough to warrant straining your mana base to accommodate it.
Quintorius didn’t get a chance to properly shine in Strixhaven, but Quintorius, Loremaster is something else. Right away you get two rather large bodies to add to your board if you have a spell to exile to it. Then you get to cast that spell if you get to untap with Quintorius, and exile a new one in the end step.
Quintorius takes control of the game fairly quickly if it survives for a few turns.
I often think back to when Charging Monstrosaur ended up being the mythic uncommon of Ixalan. The combination of haste and trample is absurd, and really hard for opponents to play around.
Rampaging Geoderm is basically a 4-mana 4/4, and it grows bigger turn after turn if you can keep providing it with battles to wreak havoc on. This is a great card for the Gruul decks, and a very scary card to be sat across from.
Rankle and Torbran
We’ve gotten a lot of big haste creatures in this set. They’re all really good, but Rankle and Torbran are held back a little by costing so much colored mana. Despite that, the impact it has on the board is still great, particularly if you get to force a well-timed sacrifice of a good creature.
What’s especially nice is the fact that when this hits on first strike, it can buff the damage that your regular creatures will do, which is often enough to swing a game.
Sculpted Perfection is likely to be one of the better incubate enchantments. +1/+1 to all Phyrexians is a huge bonus, and getting an Incubator token out of the deal makes the somewhat expensive mana cost worthwhile.
A sac outlet costing mana and being only as a sorcery is exactly what you don’t want to see. Sure, Stormclaw Rager draws a card and grows with a +1/+1 counter, so it’s not that bad, but these restrictions have typically hampered cards like this.
I’m not yet sold on Rakdos as an archetype in this set, so please prove me wrong.
Thalia and The Gitrog Monster
First strike and deathtouch are a brutal combination that we’ve been seeing more often lately. Thalia and The Gitrog Monster does quite a lot on top of that, most notably having your opponent’s creatures enter tapped to make it even harder to defend against its onslaught.
Yargle and Multani
While Yargle and Multani looks like it doesn’t have any abilities, there’s a secret one hidden on it: “When this creature deals combat damage to a player, you win the game.” It has the greatest power ever printed on a legal Magic card, so that counts for something even if it’s a vanilla creature.
This absolutely has to be chump blocked every turn, which is actually a trait that makes it good enough to play.
Zimone and Dina
Zimone and Dina don’t look like it’s quite as powerful as the other triple-color legends. It provides you with a steady stream of card advantage if you can keep giving it creatures, but that’s not trivial to do.
Ultimately I don’t think this is strong enough to splash for in a 2-color format like this one.
Zurgo and Ojutai
Yet another haste creature that’s great for hitting battles. Three colors is a tad hard to support, but a creature like Zurgo and Ojutai hits really hard and is worth the investment. Defeating battles and drawing cards is a great deal, and you can keep bouncing this and it’ll dodge nearly all removal that your opponent might have if you have the mana.
Regardless of how you play it, this ought to be a devastating way to top your curve.
Flywheel Racer is quite an interesting way to create a new mana rock. It’s not that great as one, but it’s still a good size for a vehicle. And it’s not impossible to see this in a few aggressive decks with just crew 1.
At just three mana, convoke will make Halo Hopper incredibly cheap to cast and really easy to slip into your mana curve. It looks like this will be a lot more similar to Frogmite than not.
Invasion of Ravnica / Guildpact Paragon
Our set’s first battle is likely the best one. Exiling most permanents up front makes Invasion of Ravnica much easier to defeat, after which you get a free 5/5 to go along with your premium removal. You don’t even need any dual-color cards to trigger Guildpact Paragon‘s ability, because with this being colorless and every deck getting access to it, it has to be one of the highest value cards in the whole set.
Inexpensive equipment that can grant flying tends to be better than it looks. While a lot of decks aren’t going to be interested in Kitesail, I can think of plenty that would be very happy to get the first copy.
We’ve seen Phyrexian Archivist before, as Cogwork Archivist, and it wasn’t good then. Most decks can do much better for six mana, which leaves this as something that you only play when your Draft has gone poorly.
Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree
Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree is cute and has an obviously powerful effect for a Commander deck, but neither of its abilities are remotely playable in Limited. Keep this one for the binder and don’t bother with it here.
You might think this rating is a tad too high, but Skittering Surveyor ended up being the single best common in the original Dominaria. The combination of getting to fix your colors and enable splashes, all while being a creature that any deck can play, is something that a lot of decks are looking for.
I personally think that a lot of Limited environments would be significantly improved if they just added this card.
Sword of Once and Future
Our tenth and final protection sword is here, and boy it is a doozy. Sadly Sword of Once and Future only has a very small application in Limited. You won’t get to cast a lot of spells with the trigger, but +2/+2 and protection from blue and black is still good enough to play.
Urn of Godfire
I don’t particularly care about playing Urn of Godfire. Filtering mana is a reasonable ability, but unless you get some bonus up front like with Energy Refractor, the card isn’t worth it. Sure, you can use it as removal later, but I don’t see that trade being worth it.
The Gain Lands
- Bloodfell Caves
- Blossoming Sands
- Dismal Backwater
- Jungle Hollow
- Rugged Highlands
- Scoured Barrens
- Swiftwater Cliffs
- Thornwood Falls
- Tranquil Cove
- Wind-Scarred Crag
As with every set most decks don’t need to actively take dual lands, but if you get them for free (i.e., you take them out of packs with nothing else for you), then you wouldn’t cut them. If you want to splash something, like one of the ridiculously powerful team up legends, then picking up some dual lands to help you do that will become a priority.
This set also features a bonus sheet called “Multiverse Legends.” These are very cool reprints of a bunch of legendary creatures from Magic’s history, using the showcase frame from their home plane.
These cards are draftable, so let’s go over them. I’ll only talk about each of them briefly, though, since they’re all reprints that we’ve seen before.
Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit was always pretty strong, but with Selesnya caring a lot about +1/+1 counters, it should spread around enough free counters for you to actively want it for that deck.
Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
While Daxos, Blessed by the Sun is a little difficult to cast on turn 2, its size should help it stay relevant in the late game, and the Soul Warden effect tends to add up over several turns and make a big difference.
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Despite costing seven mana, the effect that Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite has on a game of Limited is disgusting. It would take an incredibly bad board state for this to not dominate from the moment it’s played.
Kenrith, the Returned King
Kenrith, the Returned King was never allowed to grace the Throne of Eldraine Limited format, but it would have been stupid if it had. Of course its power will vary depending on what colors of mana you can access, but even just having white mana to continuously gain life every turn is enough to say this is bonkers.
Kwende, Pride of Femeref
Kwende, Pride of Femeref was fine, though a little mediocre, in Dominaria. Here it’ll be good at picking up counters from backup abilities but will likely be a little disappointing outside of that.
Sram, Senior Edificer
None of the card types that Sram, Senior Edificer cares about are particularly abundant in this set. Though it is a Grizzly Bears, so it can’t be too bad, and sometimes you’ll get to draw an extra card here or there.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Just being a 2/1 with first strike for two mana is good enough for Thalia, Guardian of Thraben to see play. The fact that it makes life harder for your opponents is just a nice bonus.
Baral, Chief of Compliance
The counterspells in this set aren’t that good and you wouldn’t be that interested in a bad creature that only makes your spells cost less, so I’d give Baral, Chief of Compliance a miss for the most part.
Emry, Lurker of the Loch
If you have a few good artifacts then Emry, Lurker of the Loch can be a very strong addition to your self-mill decks, but it’s next to useless without that upside.
Inga Rune-Eyes looked really cool, but its appearance in Kaldheim proved it to be a little too hard to trigger the draw on. Still, a 3/3 that scries three cards is pretty useful sometimes.
Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
If I could reanimate Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur then maybe I’d try it, but costing 10 mana and barely affecting the board puts it way outside the range of playability.
Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive
Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive can make itself unblockable, which means it’s relevant even if you don’t have much else that can profit from it, and the right deck might have a bunch of stuff that likes becoming unblockable.
Ayara, First of Locthwain
Triple black is generally too hard to do early, but even on turn 6 or 7, Ayara, First of Locthwain is a good card that continues to provide a little value as it stays in play.
Horobi, Death’s Wail
It’s possible that Horobi, Death's Wail opens you up too much to being blown out by combat tricks getting to outright kill your creatures. Though in the right deck, it also lets you do that to your opponent. Given that it’s a 4/4 flier, I’d lean towards trying it.
Seizan, Perverter of Truth
I don’t like that Seizan, Perverter of Truth gives your opponent two cards before it gives you any. If your opponent then kills Seizan, they’re up on the deal and you get no benefit. I don’t like how that plays, so I wouldn’t bother running it.
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Sheoldred, Whispering One will naturally win the game for you if left to her own devices for long enough. But, at seven mana, a lot of decks won’t even want to play a creature that takes so long to get paid off for.
Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon hits like a bus. It’s virtually unkillable if you leave double black open, and it kills an opponent in three hits. Its strength is significantly reduced with only a small handful of other cards in the set that deal with poison counters, but it’s still incredibly strong.
Tymaret, Chosen from Death
There was a lot more graveyard synergy when we last saw Tymaret, Chosen from Death in Theros: Beyond Death, but that only docks it a couple of points. It should still be a decent 2-drop.
Yargle, Glutton of Urborg
Yargle, Glutton of Urborg is cool, but three toughness is a pretty big liability. It does hit pretty hard, but it trades down quite often so you might not want it all the time.
Captain Lannery Storm
Haste creatures are pretty good in this set since they help you to threaten battles. Not only does Captain Lannery Storm do just that, it also ramps you into your next play very well.
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
So, first of all, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is my pick for the best red creature ever printed and is among the best creatures in any color. Banned in Legacy and dominant in Modern; does that translate to being incredible in Limited? Well, no, not really.
Sure, Ragavan is still good, but Limited is played primarily with creatures, and that means that Ragavan will end up outclassed on the board a lot. An early Ragavan does nothing against a 2/3 on turn 3 or a 3/4 on turn 4.
When you play this on turn 1, that might be enough to just win you the game since your opponent is unlikely to be able to put up a blocker until after you’ve gotten a few triggers off it. From there, every turn that passes makes Ragavan less of a threat.
Squee, the Immortal
Squee, the Immortal is literally immortal. Though it’s only a 2/1, always being able to recast it will get very annoying over time, and you can find many uses for a creature like that.
Urabrask the Hidden
Urabrask the Hidden looks like the perfect creature for hating on battles. Not only is it a 4/4 with haste by itself, but stopping your opponent from putting up blockers on later turns can be devastating as they try to stave off the onslaught of this Praetor.
Valduk, Keeper of Flame
Valduk, Keeper of Flame was one of my favorite build-around cards in Dominaria, but unfortunately a lack of good equipment and auras in this set leads me to believe that it won’t be making the cut here.
Zada, Hedron Grinder
Zada, Hedron Grinder is an embarrassing size for a creature these days, and its ability is far too narrow to warrant a further glance. Maybe you can play it if you have a bunch of cool combos, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Fynn, the Fangbearer
While poison counters aren’t supported in this set outside of a handful of random cards, Fynn, the Fangbearer does some work based on just its raw stats. It’s not like your opponent can ever attack a 2/2 into it.
Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma
Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma does quite a lot. Making spells cost less isn’t too desirable in Limited, but two mana less might be enough to change our minds on that one. On top of that, giving +1/+1 and trample to your team is especially good if you have some big Incubators lying around, since giving them trample is a perfect way to stop your opponent chump blocking them.
Renata, Called to the Hunt
Renata, Called to the Hunt was very good in Theros: Beyond Death and might be even better here. Having all your creatures enter with +1/+1 counters is something that Selesnya decks in particular will be very interested in.
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger is an absolute house in Commander games, but an 8-mana creature isn’t something you can realistically play in Limited. Its abilities aren’t even something that you’d care about in the format, so you can generally ignore it.
Yedora, Grave Gardener
I’ve never played with Yedora, Grave Gardener before, but it doesn’t look above average. Its raw stats are quite good, but the ability to ramp yourself whenever a creature dies is a lot less useful to you once you’ve already hit the five mana to play it in the first place.
Aegar, the Freezing Flame
Unlike Kaldheim, we don’t have a great deal of giants or wizards to be dealing excess damage to creatures, but we do have quite a few burn spells to trigger Aegar, the Freezing Flame. Plus it also triggers if, for example, you trade Aegar off with a 3/2 creature.
At the end of the day it’s hard to not like a card that draws you extra cards for doing something you were likely to do already.
Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle
Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle is a really cool design, and one that I happen to like. There are going to be some decks in this format that will appreciate a 4-mana ramp spell that can turn into a massive threat over time. But drawing it late is devastating since you’ll no longer have enough time to remove all the counters.
Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice
Atraxa, Praetors' Voice isn’t quite as devastating as its All Will Be One counterpart. It has all the same keywords, but that’s about it.
This is still extremely hard to cast, though it might be possible in the right deck. Generally I doubt you’ll ever cast it, and it’s likely not worth trying.
Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths
I loved casting Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths when it was in Standard. The body is quite good, and I just love the mind game you get to play with your opponent.
Regardless of how you split things, you’ll be drawing at least one card from it and that’s a great deal no matter what you get.
Aurelia the Warleader
Aurelia the Warleader is a weird card. On one hand, it’s extremely powerful, but on the other, 6-drops and aggro decks don’t really mesh well together.
We’ve already talked about how haste creatures are extremely good at applying pressure to battles in this set, and Aurelia might be the best card in the whole set to do that.
Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer
Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer is good enough as just a 6-drop creature that generates a 2/1 token every single turn. This extra ability to turn all your tokens into the same kind could be very useful in the context of the set.
For example, turning all your transformed Incubators into something else will give them an immediate power boost. If you’re lucky, you could even turn them all into Thopters, like the one you get from Invasion of Kaladesh, and fly over for a big win.
Dina, Soul Steeper
Dina, Soul Steeper was quite strong in the context of Strixhaven, where the Witherbloom’s entire theme was based on lifegain. But it seems very underwhelming in this set.
It’s perfectly fine, it just doesn’t have a great home to slot into.
Ezuri, Claw of Progress
If you can get Ezuri, Claw of Progress to trigger and give you some experience counters, then it’s absolutely nuts. The only issue I foresee is being able to trigger it in the first place.
Halana and Alena, Partners was one of the most busted rares in Crimson Vow for doing this exact thing, but it required no setup to get going.
Firesong and Sunspeaker
This set has no white instants or sorceries that gain you life, nor does it have any Boros multicolor instants or sorceries at all. This means that it’s impossible for Firesong and Sunspeaker‘s second ability to trigger.
As just a relatively small 6-drop that grants your red burn spells lifelink, I’m not that impressed, but it’s not the worst you can do.
Firja, Judge of Valor
Kaldheim had an entire theme centered around double-spelling that was a really good home for Firja, Judge of Valor. It gets a little bit worse without that, but you ought to be able to double spell every now and again. In fact you should be aiming to do so, which ought to make Firja quite good if you can slot it in.
Okay, so you do have to be able to continually feed Grimgrin, Corpse-Born sacrificial lambs to keep attacking, but it’s absolutely crazy when you do. Each go of it grows it by +2/+2 and lets you destroy any defending creature.
If you can sacrifice useless 1/1s and kill big 5/5s, that’s well worth it to keep doing over and over again.
Gyruda, Doom of Depths
First, let’s have a quick chat about companions so that I don’t have to repeat myself. All 10 of the companions are in this set, so how good are they in general? Companions might be the single biggest design mistake in Magic’s history.
It led to the first ever functional errata of how a mechanic works, because companions were just too good. This is mostly because of how they worked in Constructed, and even with the rule change, both Lurrus and Yorion have been banned in different formats thanks to their power level.
They aren’t broken at all in Limited. A lot of them are just good creatures by themselves, but most importantly, satisfying their companion rules is a really fun challenge. If you can get it to work then you get a massive reward for doing so. I’d encourage you to give some of them a shot, although some are a lot easier than others.
Okay, on to Gyruda.
Gyruda, Doom of Depths is really dumb. Simply put, a 6/6 for six that will sometimes be able to give you an extra creature when it enters is really damn good. Its companion rule is generally going to be too hard to get working, but not impossible.
Imoti, Celebrant of Bounty
Having played with and against Imoti, Celebrant of Bounty in Cube Drafts, I can confirm it’s absolutely bonkers. Cascade is already a brutal mechanic (and one of my personal favorites), but representing multiple possible cascades is a lot of free value just waiting to be tapped into.
Jegantha, the Wellspring
Jegantha, the Wellspring is one of the easier companion rules to satisfy, so it’ll maybe be one of the easier challenges to do. The creature itself isn’t that great, but hybrid mana makes it very flexible, and it’s great if you can add it to your hand for free.
Judith, the Scourge Diva
Judith, the Scourge Diva was incredible back in Ravnica Allegiance. You don’t even need to be based around sacrifices for it to pull its weight since it lets 1/1s trade up for 3/3s and other such interactions that really add up over time.
Juri, Master of the Revue
This is the payoff you want if you go with Rakdos sacrifices. Juri, Master of the Revue is great when you sacrifice other creatures and great when you eventually sacrifice it, making it the perfect card for the deck.
Kaheera, the Orphanguard
Kaheera, the Orphanguard is likely one of the hardest companions to get working. There are a total of 19 creatures of the listed types in this main set, and seven more among the Multiverse Legends.
This is one that I wouldn’t really attempt, but as a 3/2 vigilance that sometimes buffs another creature, this is perfectly fine in your main deck.
Keruga, the Macrosage
Keruga, the Macrosage is a companion that’s relatively easy to make work, but not actually one that you want to make work. It’s awesome to run in the main deck, but cutting all 1- and 2-drops from your deck is too high a price for a game of Limited.
Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger
Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger is an absurd bomb. The first escape card had a lot of value in your Theros: Beyond Death deck, no matter how bad it was.
Given that this is the only escape card in the set, you’ll likely be able to eat your graveyard over and over again and keep getting it back, which will eventually overwhelm your opponent. The mana cost is quite prohibitive, but worth it if you can make it work.
Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn
Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn has a very powerful ability if you can enable it, but you don’t have a great way of doing so. As a 2/2, it’s not going to be able to brawl very well.
You could use backup and other such effects to make it so that Lathiel can get into combat, but that’s going to be a little hard to do a lot of the time, which considerably hurts its consistency.
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
It’s extremely difficult to satisfy Lurrus of the Dream-Den’s companion rule in Limited, but not completely unheard of. It’s still pretty good as a basic card to include in your main deck. A 3/2 with lifelink for three is great, and it also makes your 2-drops immortal, letting you trade them off and keep getting them back each turn.
This seems especially powerful in sacrifice decks if you’re lucky enough to get it.
Lutri, the Spellchaser
Lutri, the Spellchaser is probably the easiest companion rule to satisfy, even though stopping you from doubling up on key commons for your deck might be too much of a hindrance for some.
Still, it’s pretty good as a main deck card, and getting it for free from your sideboard is enough of an upside that I’d try to make that work.
A cost of all five colors seems wildly uncastable to me, especially when there aren’t enough dual-color cards in the set to enable the ability. I’d love it if we could cast Niv-Mizzet Reborn, but I just don’t see it happening.
Obosh, the Preypiercer
I remember seeing some Obosh, the Preypiercer Draft decks that worked back in Ikoria, so this is probably a fun challenge to try to make work. The effect is also good enough to play on its own without jumping through hoops for the companion rule.
Radha, Coalition Warlord
We don’t have any domain enablers in this set, which means Radha, Coalition Warlord will more often than not only be able to grant +2/+2. That makes it fine, but not too exciting.
Raff, Weatherlight Stalwart
I loved playing Raff, Weatherlight Stalwart in Dominaria United, and this set might be even more suited for it. Its ability should be fairly easy to support with all the extra tokens kicking about for the convoke strategies, and drawing extra cards is always welcome.
Reyav, Master Smith
There just aren’t enough equipment or auras in this set to regularly trigger Reyav, Master Smith, though it’s not entirely impossible.
Rona, Sheoldred’s Faithful
I was excited for Rona, Sheoldred's Faithful in Dominaria United, but it consistently underperformed. You could mill it for some free value in this set, but even then it just isn’t what you’re after.
Shanna, Sisay’s Legacy
Green and white in this set don’t care too much about tokens, though you might get a little overlap from other archetypes to make Shanna, Sisay's Legacy reasonably big. Its protection ability is only a little bit relevant, so you’re basically playing it as a creature that will grow in size and likely just be a bit better than a 2/2 for two.
Taigam, Ojutai Master
Making some of your spells uncounterable doesn’t really matter, so let’s skip that. Giving your spells rebound on the other hand is very desirable. But you need to be able to attack with Taigam, Ojutai Master, and in the case of sorceries, have it survive that combat.
I’m not sure how likely that is to happen, but the idea of attacking and then using an instant to remove a dangerous blocker is very exciting.
There are actually very few death triggers for Teysa Karlov to double in this set, so you need to care about giving creature tokens lifelink and vigilance. Given that Orzhov Phyrexians will have plenty of Incubators, that ability is probably quite good.
Umori, the Collector
If you manage to build the Umori, the Collector all-battles deck, then please show us on Discord! Sadly that might be impossible to make work, but an all-creature deck isn’t too difficult to do. Umori in your main deck should also be quite strong, especially since its raw stats are very high.
Yarok, the Desecrated
Three colors is a little hard to support, and Yarok, the Desecrated doesn’t hit anywhere near as hard as the 3-color team up legends in the main set. But there are quite a lot of great ETB triggers for you to double up on thanks to backup, so building around this isn’t out of the question.
Yorion, Sky Nomad
Building a 60-card Limited deck is pretty hard to do. You get 45 total picks and you need to play about 34 of them, plus have a mana base of nearly all basics.
Even if you can’t make that work, literally any white or blue deck would be very happy with a 4/5 flier for five mana that flickers everything when it enters. Even if you don’t have anything good to flicker, a 4/5 flier like Yorion, Sky Nomad is absurd.
Zirda, the Dawnwaker
Zirda, the Dawnwaker looks legitimately good in this set thanks to all the double-faced transforming Phyrexians. It might not be impossible to satisfy the companion rule, but even as a main deck card, there are a lot of abilities that Zirda can make cheaper.
Hidetsugu and Kairi | Illustration by Chris Rahn
This is a huge set for Magic, and I’ve been excited for it for a while. The cards are very interesting and I’ve noticed that the commons and uncommons are significantly stronger than usual. It should be an interesting set to play, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it at the prerelease.
What do you think of March of the Machine Limited? Are there any cards I rated highly that you think are going to flop, or vice versa? Let me know in the comments below, or over on the official Draftsim Twitter.
Until next time, take care of yourselves!
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I think Vigilance will be crucial and the Kor Helbard much better than you give it credit.
Don’t forget, you are also defending battles not only trying to take them down.
And +1/+1 for w and a 1 is really fairly priced.
Not a fan of some of the choices for the “extra cards sheet” but well see this weekend. 😉