Previously, we discussed the first half of March of the Machine’s notable accomplishments as a Magic expansion via number-related trivia. 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!
March of the Machine Trivia 010/016: First Commander Cards as Prerelease Promos
The last ten years have seen a distinct lack of change in how pre-release promos have been distributed. Since 2014’s Khans of Tarkir, prerelease promos have been random rares and mythics from the set, with occasional expansions providing semi-randomized options according to a specific theme/guild/tribe for particular sets.
This was a marked improvement from the previous circumstance, where each expansion only had a single promo associated with the prerelease. Whether one was able to include said promo in their prerelease deck changed over time, but either way, having a card that players would be incentivized to build around or that confused players who thought they were able to play with made pre-releases unnecessarily challenging to facilitate and opened up myriad opportunities for feel-bad.
With the new paradigm beginning with March of the Machine, these same issues will return: in addition to a stamped prerelease promo chosen at random from every rare and mythic in the set, players will also get one of three prerelease-exclusive promo legendary duo cards that are tagged as part of the March of the Machine: Commander expansion. Unlike the stamped promos, though, they are unable to be included in your 40-card deck for the event.
Beyond inviting back logistical issues previously overcome by staff wielding the knowledge and experience of overseeing years of in-store events, the matrix concerning the availability of new cards gets even more complex.
March of the Machine Trivia 011/016: Most Uncommon Slots in Boosters
Beyond the explosion of booster pack types used by Wizards to distribute new expansions to players in increasingly-specific ways, the original pack, now renamed a “draft booster”, has seen similarly profound changes, particularly in the years since Dominaria. The 20th Anniversary set was the first where Wizards of the Coast included a variable slot not printed separately (as was done on double-faced cards in earlier expansions), this time dedicated to legendary creatures. Flexing improvements in their printing and collation technology that had been in the works since the original Innistrad block, the door was opened for innovative ways to expand what could be included in a draft experience.
March of the Machine seems to be the logical extreme of these improvements regarding collation. While there still seems to be a maximum number of uncommon cards in a pack at around 5 from reports, uncommons can take the slot of standard cards, double-faced cards, multiverse legends, battles, and can show up as a foil card, replacing a common.
For context, in most of Magic’s 30 years of history, a booster pack contained exactly 3 uncommon cards, and eventually a 4th starting when 2006’s Time Spiral began replacing commons with premium foils.
March of the Machine Trivia 012/016: First Expansion with a Supplemental Set
March of the Machine is unique in receiving an “epilogue” in the form of March of the Machine: The Aftermath, a 50-card Standard-legal set that will primarily be available in five-card “Epilogue Boosters”. Never before in Magic’s history has an expansion received a follow-up just a month after its release that allows for an expansion and wrap-up on the story and mechanics from the set.
March of the Machine Trivia 013/016: First Alternative Art Exclusive to Serialized Editions
As previously mentioned, March of the Machine has the most serialized cards from any expansion. A more notable part of this record, though, is how for the new printings of each of the five Phyreixan Praetors, the serialized versions of the cards have art wholly unique to those 500 copies. These distinctive pieces are presented in the borderless style usually saved for Planeswalkers and rare land cycles.
Unsurprisingly, the double-uniqueness of these serialized Praetors has made them quite enviable, with their prices on the secondary market sitting at a premium of 50x the price of the variant edition.
March of the Machine Trivia 014/016: First Expansion With New Collector’s Number Formatting
The collector’s number featured on the bottom left of all new cards since Exodus in 1998. While the most drastic change to their formatting came with the new machine-readable frame introduced alongside Magic 2015 in 2014, March of the Machine adjusts them to a 4-digit numeral and excludes the total number of cards in the set entirely.
The reasons for this are easy to understand. With so many variants produced, an ever-increasing percentage of the cards printed in each expansion are listed outside of the “total” for the set’s print-run. Why four digits instead of three then? Is this Wizards’ indication that we’ll soon see an expansion with more than 1,000 cards? Perhaps, but I think this is much more likely to be an aesthetic decision, one which I fully agree with.
March of the Machine Trivia 015/016: Longest Gap Between New Card Types
The game of Magic: the Gathering designed by Richard Garfield in the early ‘90s came out of the oven and onto the plates of hungry gamers unbelievably well-cooked, particularly considering the lack of any substantive precedent that the TCG trailblazer had to build upon. While the game saw multiple large changes to how the game worked, the card types on release are the same ones Magic players encounter today in every game and work in extremely similar fashion to how they did in 1993.
Besides the addition of some subtypes like equipment and the discontinuation of others like world enchantments, it took more than 14 years for the lineup to see serious adjustment in the form of planeswalkers and tribal cards, both premiering in 2007’s Lorwyn. March of the Machine comes 15 and a half years after that, ending the longest streak in Magic’s history without a new card type. The Tarmogoyf grows bigger now than it ever could before.
It’s worth noting that there have been several card types printed in supplemental products — including Unstable’s Contraptions and Planechase’s Planes — but none of these are part of the core game of Magic, keeping them excluded from any official Magic format and requiring additional rulesets to operate.
March of the Machine Trivia 016/016: First Double-Faced Token
Previously, tokens could not be flipped over, and token creatures that were copies of double-faced cards were unable to transform or flip, even when the conditions would otherwise allow. With the introduction of the incubator tokens and their associated rules baggage, these factors have been overcome, and the doors have opened on more and more complicated token designs.
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