March of the Machine is upon us! In terms of the size, associated products, the impact on the game’s Multiverse, the number of distinct worlds represented, and the number of new card types, March of the Machine is the biggest “premiere expansion” in Magic: the Gathering’s 30-year history.
To celebrate codename “MOM”, as well as to highlight some of the more novel elements of this set, we here at Cardboard by the Numbers have put together a handy reference sheet for the main 16 planes at play in Elesh Norn’s attempt to Phyrexianize the homes of some of our favorite characters.
More than 35 planes have made an appearance so far in the March of the Machine spoilers, but only 15 of those have gotten the royal treatment, with not only a new “Battle” card but a legendary creature team-up, a custom border treatment, and a basic land. Also included is New Phyrexia, which can only claim half of those elements, but is also the location for the story’s climax and would be irresponsible to neglect.
Once the full spoiler is released, we’ll follow this up with more fun infographics about the set, as well as a survey for all Magic players that we hope every one of you will fill out to help us create additional charts and graphs that capture the community reaction to this massive expansion. We hope you’re able to participate!
The Major Planes of “March of the Machine” – Infographic
March of the Machine is remarkable in many ways, but it’s particularly notable as the only entirely new card type released in a premiere expansion in the second half of Magic’s history. The next most recent were a tie of “Tribal” and “Planeswalker”, both hinted at in Future Sight and released in earnest in 2007’s Lorwyn, released approximately 15 years ago.
The 16 battles here are all the “siege” variant, giving you a bonus upon casting and your opponent a new permanent to protect…lest you “break out” the backside of the card from a successful skirmish. Based on the flavor of all 16 battles presented here (and the dozens not included), it seems like the Phyreixans split their forces a little too haphazardly!
The Team Ups
March of the Machine provides for Magic the first serious attempt at something the Pokémon TCG has done with incredible success since 2018: team-ups. These cards meld together the mana costs and abilities of iconic legendary creatures from the same plane who would likely never side together — unless they were in the face of a plane-wide existential threat!
In addition to being flavorful and conceptually fun, this cycle of 10 two-colored rares and 5 three-colored wedge mythics seems to account for many of the most powerful cards in the expansion, and has one representative duo from every plane highlighted with a card style and basic land.
The Frame Treatments
Starting in 2015 with Battle for Zendikar’s “Zendikar Expeditions”, the experience of opening up a normal booster pack and occasionally finding a card with a novel, thematic card frame became a reality…at least once in every ~3 booster boxes worth of cards. Our first visits to Kaledesh and Amonkhet continued the trend of rare “masterpieces” of both classic cards and new favorites presented in a beautiful frame at lottery-like rates.
But with the introduction of “Booster Fun” with Thrones of Eldraine in 2019, a treatment card has become an intrinsic part of nearly every Magic: the Gathering set. With over a dozen distinctive pack styles to-date, March of the Machine brings all historical styles back save one (Ixalan’s Buried Treasures, which was excluded due to its thematic tie to the land type) and introduces two entirely new styles as well: a gold coin style for Ixalan-based legends and a cityscape theme for Ravnican heroes. Every legendary creature in the set, as well as the 65 Multiverse Legends cards reprinted from previous expansions, will also receive an addition in their home plane’s treatment of choice.
The Basic Lands
March of the Machine includes three cycles of basic lands: two full-art and one standard, each depicting a different plane under varying states of Phyrexian-induced distress with imagery of planar portals and the Phyrexian symbol running throughout each piece of art.
The “Booster Fun” initiative has dictated at least one suite of full-art lands and frequently includes a novelty land as well, though this set has the most “traditional” arrangement since the “Booster Fun” era began. Here, though, it appears that the left-justified mana symbols introduced in Phyrexia: All Will Be One were not a one-off, but the new standard going forward.
While it is bizarre in isolation that the plane where the biggest story moments occur is not depicted on a single basic land in the set — a first in Magic’s history, as far as I can tell — this is explained easily by the 20 new basics representing New Phyreixa released in the three months prior. While I would have preferred a 4th cycle of lands with New Phyrexia in its fall, or at least one on the new plane of Zhalfir, we can always hope for Aftermath to deliver on those points!
As mentioned before, Cardboard by the Numbers will be eagerly covering March of the Machine with high interest, so please keep tabs on us if you’re interested in additional infographics, and make sure to fill out the survey we’ll share once the full spoiler has been released! Thanks for reading.