The Best Standard Cards From March of the Machine: The AftermathGuide Standard
Genoslugcs · May 14, 2023 · 6 min
March of the Machine: The Aftermath dropped yesterday, and players are getting their first chances to physically play with the cards. Finding homes for new cards is always a fun part of deck building with a new set. While not everyone is into the "micro set," and it stirred up massive controversy when WOTC sent the Pinkertonts after the YouTuber who leaked the set early, it does have some generally good cards. Today, I'll discuss the best cards from March of the Machine: The Aftermath for Standard.
This card is an obvious powerhouse in formats like commander, where you can turn it into a copy of Blightsteel Colossus, Emarkul, the Aeons Torn, or Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur. In Standard, it's slightly more innocuous and value-based, but it's good never-the-less. So, how do I think it'll see play in format?
Right alongside Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration, of course. Delver decks rely on the top of their library to flip Delver of Secrets early and often. That said, being able to look at the top card of your library at any time is going to make the scry from Behold the Multiverse, Fading Hope, and Consider even better than usual.
With Vesuvan Drifter in play, you can look at extra cards and better understand when you do and don't want to be scrying. I could see this slotting into Mono-Blue Tempo as well. Any deck heavily playing blue that cares about controlling the game's pace or manipulating their top card will be able to make great use of this. And hey, it's also a 2/4 with flying.
Tranquil Frillback is simply too versatile not to see play. You get a nice 3/3 body for three-mana, and as you cast it, you can pay a green mana (up to three times) to choose one of three abilities. So, for four mana, you get the creature and one ability. With five mana, you get to choose two; for six mana total, you can select all three.
Each ability has a place to be relevant in Standard too. Gaining life can always be helpful if you're behind and can help stem the tide against aggressive strategies like Mono-Red. The Naturalize effect will also have plenty of targets in the meta. Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki is a notable one. And while it may not be strictly better than Cankerbloom, it is attached to a nice body and has two other options.
Lastly is the ability to remove the graveyard. Given that Grixis and Rakdos reanimator decks are seeing competitive play at the moment, and this could undoubtedly swing those games in your favor if you can hate out the graveyard in game one while also advancing your board.
Samut, Vizier of Naktamun
Gruull doesn't have an established archetype, but hopefully, Samut can change that. A two-mana 2/3 with vigilance, first strike, and haste isn't anything to scoff at - Samut is good from a power, toughness, and ability standpoint. Perhaps more importantly, though, the card offers some powerful card advantage if you're dealing damage with creatures the same turn they enter the battlefield.
This incentivizes you to play creatures with haste, and there are quite a few good options in the format. Some examples includes, Bloodthirsty Adversary, Magmatic Sprinter, Monastery Swiftspear which all naturally have haste. It's also worth considering that creatures with the "blitz" would be a great fit here.
Open The Way
I liked this card when I first saw it. Let's face it, ramp is always good, and with threats like Atraxa, Grand Unifier in the format having access to a lot of mana early can lead to some powerful plays. Breaking this card down: In a Standard, 1v1 match, you can cast this for up to four mana, which would get you two lands.
If you make all your land drops and cast this on curve, you could untap the next turn with seven mana. Given that Open the Way can grab any lands and not just basics, make it versatile mana fixing for multicolor decks too. Lastly, it's phenomenal for triggering Nissa, Resurgent Animist, which we'll cover shortly.
There are a few things that I think will lead to this card seeing play - And all of them are that it ruins Red-Deck Wins. Giving yourself hexproof stops any burn spells coming at your face, and it also stops a few other commonly played cards like Invasion of Azgol // Ashen Reaper and Invoke Despair.
Then, anytime it's dealt damage, you'll gain that much life. So, this thing can block for days and not only soak up damage but gain you life that will widen the gap between you and an aggressive opponent. The main downside is that it dies to Cut Down, but I think it still slots into an Azorious Angels build with no issue.
Nissa, Resurgent Animist
Nissa gives you an extra mana any time you play a land, and that's pretty insane all by itself. However, that is only a single line of text - In addition to ramp, she also offers you card advantage by putting an Elf or Elemental from your deck into your hand if you can trigger her again. Titan of Industry, and to some extent Sol'kanar, the Tainted, and Omnath, Locus of All would be right at home here.
Even if players don't create a devoted Elemental/Elf build with this, the first ability alone is powerful and Nissa has respectable stats for her mana cost, making her very playable in any deck that can put extra lands onto the battlefield. That said, with cards like Invasion of Zendikar // Awakened Skyclave and Open the Way in the format, I think getting a second trigger will be easier than it may seem.
Jirina, Dauntless General
We'll 100% see Jirina make her way into Esper Legends builds in Standard. She offers the deck a lovely trump card to wrath effects and a way to nuke the graveyard of Rakdos and Grixis Reanimator builds, all in one excellent legendary package. I know not all of the creatures in the deck are humans, but enough of them are that I think this still has plenty of value for the deck. How many copies make it into the mainboard Vs. the sideboard remains to be seen.
Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin
I've seen mixed reviews on this card. Most people think it's a powerhouse, and I can see it. Other people think it's overrated and won't be fantastic... And I can see that, as well, to a certain extent. What's not up for debate is that he's a four CMC 4/3 flyer with trample, which is solid. As far as his ability goes, it's got great synergy with Oni-Cult Anvil, and when this combo was firing Ob Nixilis will be able to grow himself into a more significant threat while keeping the cards flowing, which is also excellent.
The naysayers think these synergies won't be consistent enough for players to get that as often as they hope. To be fair, there aren't really any other Oni-Cult Anvil type effects, so you'll be relying on drawing it in every game. When you don't, you'll probably only have that 4/3 body. In other words, the ceiling is excellent - The floor is ok, but certainly more mediocre.
That said, a key "Rakdos core" dominated the recent Pro Tour - Looking at the win rates showed that decks with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki, Bloodtithe Harvester, Go for the Throat, Cut Down, and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse won 56% of the time against decks without those cards. This core Rakdos package can probably support the card pretty well, and I think it will see overall success.
Sigarda, Font of Blessings
Sigarda is one of the best cards from March of the Machine: The Aftermath. I'm confident she'll see play alongside Errant and Giada in Angel builds, where the ability to look at and cast things from the top of the deck is really piling up now. Granting your other permanents hexproof will also put a damper on opposing creature removal since they'll have to remove Sigarda first. Pair this with Metropolis Reformer, and you'll have hexproof too!
I'm excited to see how good a Bant Angel deck will be in the coming weeks. It's also worth mentioning that Sigarda, Font of Blessings has excellent synergy with playing Humans from the top of your deck. There are a lot of possibilities for this, and they're all great.
Good two-mana lords are a cornerstone of successful tribal decks, and Coppercoat Vanguard is a good lord. +1/+1 is the standard, but the protection is incredible for a strategy that has to keep creatures on board to succeed. Furthermore, there are a ton of good Humans in the format at the moment. One of which is Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, who, alongside Coppercoat Vanguard, will make your creatures even harder to get rid of.