Trivia by the Numbers: March of the Machine Pt. 1

Trivia By the Numbers: March of the Machine Pt. 1 - Header Image using MOM key art

March of the Machine has been hyped up by Wizards of the Coast staff as a set that will “change Magic forever”. While we wait to see the epilogue expansion to assess such a grand assertion, there are still incredible records that Magic’s 96th premier expansion can claim that are worth examining. Today, we’ll be exploring Cardboard by the Numbers’ first “Trivia by the Numbers” for March of the Machine. Part one consists of eight impressive rankings of #MTGMOM compared to every expansion to come prior. Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon, and critically, if you haven’t already, please take our fan survey for March of the Machine!

March of the Machine Trivia 001/016:
#1 Most Frame Styles

As we previously discussed in our roundup on the planes of March of the Machine, this expansion boasts an impressive number of alternative frame styles with 18 in total, not counting the standard frame we’ve had since M15. 

Alternative frames have shown up in premier sets since 2007 with Planar Chaos’ “Planeshifted” style. For the next 12 years, alternative frames were fairly rare, with the occasional treatment like Theros’ enchantments or Zendikar Rising’s Masterpieces standing out from otherwise consistent card stylings. 

Starting in 2019, “showcase frames” emerged as part of the “Booster Fun” initiative, promising unique styles with each new premier expansion. Starting in earnest with Thrones of Eldraine, that promise was more than fulfilled, providing the dozen plus mainline sets that have come out since their own aesthetic flair.

March of the Machine represents each of its 33 legendary creatures and 65 Multiversal Legends with a showcase frame unique to their home worlds, accounting for 16 of the 18 total. Many of these are re-used from prior visits to the planes they refer to, like the “Kaledesh Inventions” frame being employed in a clever new way for creatures. Two of these frames are wholly new for March of the Machine: Ixalan’s doubloon art mixed with the tangle of the jungle, and Tarkir’s oppressive black and white art bordered with dragon wings and horns. 

While I don’t personally find these two compelling — particularly the notion that, after New Phyrexia’s monochrome looks introduced in the previous set, that we’d get another showcase frame that definitionally would mean cards are devoid of color, losing an opportunity for richness of visuals and, even more critically, easy identifiability at a glance.

The unfortunate extended art frame, another Magic mainstay since Eldraine, continues to ensure every card art that utilizes it has at least one version where the art is mercilessly cropped, making for 17. The borderless frame rounds out the list as the 18th frame style, interestingly on the fewest number of cards since 2020 due to MOM’s lack of a rare land cycle — a point which is itself notable as first premiere expansion to skip rare lands in more than a decade.

In comparison, the second-most unique card styles / frames for an expansion was in last year’s Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, where in addition to the now-standard extended art and borderless styles, players could open a ninja-styled, samurai-styled, or a neon-inspired version referred to as “soft glow” — which also had several variations itself called “Neon Ink Foil” for a single card: Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos. Depending on how you count it, NEO would have either 5 styles or 9.

March of the Machine Trivia 02/16:
#1 Most Powerful Creature

March of the Machine brought us Magic’s most powerful creature to date*: Yargle and Multani. If you’d like to learn about the full history of Magic’s most powerful creatures, please enjoy this infographic we made earlier this week!

* Yargle and Multani is Magic’s biggest creature in non-acorn stamped (previously known as black-bordered) Magic. Infinity Elemental and BFM both are of higher power, with Infinity Elemental guaranteeing itself the top slot on the unrestricted list until they make an “Infinity +1 Elemental”. 

March of the Machine Trivia 03/16:
#1 Named Character Deaths

To avoid undue spoilers (except the one literally printed on marketing materials), we’re only going to talk about Tamiyo by name here, but there are dozens of characters explicitly and implicitly killed off in the March of the Machine story. While many talented Vorthoses have compiled lists of compleated and/or dead characters, the previous record is not very high, belonging to last year’s The Brother’s War, which killed off just about every character within it in some way or fashion. 

March of the Machine Trivia 04/16:
#1 Most Web Stories

March of the Machine may not have had the novel-length stories of some previous Magic expansions, but its 10 main stories and 8 side-stories provided MOM the biggest footprint on the story website since it started in 2012 with Jenna Helland’s cycle of stories for Magic 2013. The runner-up in this category was surprisingly Battle for Zendikar with 15, the peak of the “Gatewatch” era of Magic’s story. 

March of the Machine Trivia 05/16:
#1 Most Serialized Cards

In 2021, in what can now be viewed as a successful experiment, Secret Lair tested out including serial numbered cards from 1 to 100 on a mirrored foil edition of Viscera Seer as the bonus card on approximately one out of every 5,000 boxes of Phyrexian Praetors: Compleat Edition. Like those Preators, they’ve infected standard sets as well, inspiring a distribution of 500 of each of The Brothers’ War’s 65 Retro Frame Artifacts in the expansion’s Collector’s Boosters. 

March of the Machine follows in The Brothers’ War’s footsteps in packaging lottery ticket editions of each card on its special slot in Collector’s Boosters, this time with the 65 Multiverse Legends. However, how MOM can claim the record is in its 5 additional cards to get a numbered edition: the five Preators, even more notable for their extended art unique to the serialized version of the cards.

March of the Machine Trivia 06/16:
#1 Most Hasty Creatures

March of the Machine brings hundreds of new creatures to the game of Magic, including 12 that have haste naturally, and promise to make great work of battles in limited formats. This measurement only includes creatures that have haste themselves or grant haste to all creatures, not ones that require an activated ability or to meet a specific condition to have haste. By this standard, the previous champions of hasty creatures were Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty and Alara Reborn, with 10 hasty creatures each.

March of the Machine Trivia 07/16:
#2 Most Unique Tokens Created

When The Tokens of March of the Machine article was released on the Mothership, Cube curators around the world cried out with equal doses of anguish and joy: the tokens in the latest expansion are gorgeous, but contribute more than all sets but one to the scourge of “token creep“. With 19 different tokens (and multiple pieces of art for a few of them!), MOM has more demanding needs for ancillary items to cleanly play Magic than most expansions, making token boxes increasingly time-consuming and costly to maintain and sort. At the same time, as cards create more specialized tokens, WotC R&D is able to more carefully balance effects and maximize the strength of cards. While Magic Arena still represents a minority of games played, it’s been increasingly factored into design designs. Digital environments do not carry nearly as many downsides when it comes to so-called “token-creep”.

As others like the great Magic Data Science have pointed out, the number of cards that produce tokens has increased at an incredible rate in the last few years. 2022’s Dominaria United holds the record of the most unique tokens created in the main set with 24, and 2021’s Kaldheim shares the second place title with MOM of 18.

March of the Machine Trivia 08/16:
#3 Story Spotlight Cards

Story Spotlights are cards that demonstrate a pivotal story moment, and are called out in both the art and with a note on the bottom. While this trend has been going on since the beginning of Magic in an informal way — reaching its height with the Tempest block ensuring nearly every card related to the Weatherlight saga in one way or another — the named element began in 2016 with Kaladesh, and started slowly at first.

This changed with the previous “event set”, War of the Spark, where Nicol Bolas’ effort to take over Ravnica brought dozens of Planeswalkers from the far reaches of the multiverse to fight off the elder dragon. That expansion had 27 of these Story Spotlights, a number that would not be topped until last year’s flashback to the grandest story in the history of the franchise: The Brother’s War, a set with an impressive 37 cards explicitly detailing a pivotal moment in the battle for the ages between Urza and Mishra. With 19, March of the Machine certainly has quite a few more Story Spotlights than the typical expansion, detailing key moments of a Phyreixan invasion over a decade in the making…but it’s still only enough to get third place on the metric.

March of the Machine Trivia 09/16:
#4 Most Legendary Creatures

Commander has now been Magic’s most popular format for several years, and the card designs behind legendary creatures that can serve as the eponymous “commanders” of decks has been a key area of focus for Wizards of the Coast. With this general trend towards more legendary creatures in sets combined with MOM’s story-driven climax that brings in named characters from nearly every plane ever visited in Magic’s history, it’s a surprise that March isn’t #1 in this category.

Champions of Kamigawa, the first set in the original Kamigawa block, has held the record for most legendary creatures for over 15 years, boasting an impressive 56 different potential commanders. The two expansions that get their name from Magic’s original “home plane”, Dominaria and Dominaria United, come next in line, with 43 and 41 legends respectively. March of the Machine shares its 4th place ranking of 33 creatures with the second set in the original Kamigawa block, Betrayers of Kamigawa.

End Step

That’s it for today, thanks so much for reading! We’ll be following up this article shortly with the rest of the trivia, that time examining some of March of the Machine’s notable firsts. Also, if you don’t follow us yet on Facebook or Twitter, we’d appreciate it if you gave us a follow — we’re just starting out, and would love your support. Until next time!

One response to “Trivia by the Numbers: March of the Machine Pt. 1”

  1. […] Previously, we discussed the first half of March of the Machine’s notable accomplishments as a Mag…. Today, we’ll finish off the remainder of our 16 funnest stats from #MTGMOM! Also, if you haven’t already, please take our fan survey for March of the Machine! […]

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