March of the Machines: Assorted Thoughts
Subscribe to Ja3k
That's right this blog is now a newsletter.
Thanks for subscribing!
These magic sets keep sneaking up on me. I don't have the time to write the set review I normally do but decided it'd be fun to write a bulleted list of observations. I actually do use the list of instants I include for reference so I have no choice but to publish something.
My approach of ranking the commons and looking at them carefully for themes is always slightly ridiculous because after a median draft you should have 3 rares and 9 uncommons so the commons should only make up half your deck. But you drafted 30 commons so only about the top third of commons should be played consistently. But the focus on commons is even more ridiculous in a set built around a mechanic that they didn't put at common. With 2 uncommon battles per color plus one of every two color combinations and at least 2 rares per color the average draft deck will have close to 3 battles so most games will involve at least one. The set is reminiscent of War of the Spark with planeswalkers which had even more but none at common. I can't think of another good example. Sagas in Dominaria weren't really a theme, just a mechanic too good for common.
One more high level point before I launch into bullets: there are two kinds of magic sets. Those where the mechanics are divied up into color combinations and those where every color gets every mechanic but in the way you'd expect for that color. Sets in the first category are Ravnica, Tarkir and Capenna. Sets in the second category are Zendikar Rising and Dominaria. This set is mostly in the latter category.
- I hate the "or battle" templating. How many years before they have to write "Non-player target"? Now I have to learn the new Rabid Bite art.
- Every battle is great except Invasion of Arcavios . It's important to know this in advance because there won't be time to read these monstrosities mid-draft. Somehow they aren't the cards with the most text but you won't have to read the Praeters to win the game with them.
- Is it just me or are tricks getting better and better? Just a few years ago it seemed best to play none if you had enough playables. Aerial Boost , Arachnoid Adaptation , Bladed Battle-Fan and Saiba Cryptomancer all seem very sweet, efficient and tricky.
- Coming in Hot is ridiculous. What was wrong with Daring Escape and Storm Strike ? Was Crowd's Favor too good?
- My first impression of the land cycling commons was that they were great as a 2 drop/6 drop split card is a lot of versatility. But then I thought about it some more and between incubate and the transformers this is going to be an extremely mana intensive format and you probably don't want an inefficient fixer or a clunky 6 drop. But then I thought about it even more and realized they're perfect for splashing since they're exactly the kind of effect you would want to splash. I don't think I'll play on color ones too often though.
- Artistic refusal is a reason to cast your spells first main against blue decks.
- At first I assumed March of the Machines with the battle mechanic must be a main deck disenchant format. But then I realized battles were not actually enchantments and there are only 4 artifacts rarer than common. They do get incubate tokens but since they're made incidentally that won't be a ton of value. Luckily power creep has saved us from making difficult decisions as Sunder the Gateway , Shatter the Source and Atraxa's Fall are all great versatile cards you should play.
- What is Quintorius, Loremaster doing here? Sixteen cool cards that combine two iconic legends from magic's history. And then this guy probably no on remembers all alone?
- Blighted burgeoning pays for its own incubation if you cast it as a 4 drop. Maybe it's just a good card? They've made a thousand variations on this effect and they've all been bad (Actually it was okay in Amonkhet) but maybe this time it's different.
- The signpost uncommons are a little misleading in this set. Or at least not as clearly signpost-y as they often are. For example the Orzhov signpost, Sculpted Perfection is a good incubate card but every color has incubate and the Selesnya signpost Botanical Brawler is a good backup card but every color has backup.
- It's a little weird that blue is the convoke color. Meeting of Minds is the divination everyone's always wanted. One you can play as many copies of as you want. I didn't put it in my premium commons list but maybe I should have.
- What is Referee squad 's art?
- W: Aerial Boost , Angelic Intervention , Cut Short , Inspired Charge , Scrollshift
- U: Assimilate Essence , Disturbing Conversion , Ephara's Dispersal , Meeting of Minds , Moment of Truth , Negate , Saiba Cryptomancer , Zhalfirin Shapecraft
- B: Bladed Battle-Fan , Corrupted Conviction , Deadly Derision , Final Flourish , Mirrodin Avenged , Unseal the Necropolis , Vanquish the Weak
- R: Burning Sun's Fury , Coming In Hot , Mirran Banesplitter , Shatter the Source , Volcanic Spite
- G: Arachnoid Adaptation , Cosmic Hunger , Fertilid's Favor , Seed of Hope , Vengeant Earth
- W: Elspeth's Smite , Surge of Salvation
- U: Artistic Refusal , Change the Equation , Wicked Slumber
- B: Collective Nightmare , Merciless Repurposing
- R: Stoke the Flames
- G: Sandstalker Moloch , Tandem Takedown
- U: Complete the Circuit , Faerie Mastermind , See Double , Transcendent Message
- B: Pile On
- UW: Errant and Giada
I always struggle to quickly identify premium commons by art in my first couple drafts so I'm going to record those here for quick review. My bar is something like "Better than 30% of uncommons" so there aren't many. And the list isn't supposed to be insightful in any way, I just want to be able to notice these cards at a glance.