top of page

March of the Machines Commanders You Should Try!

The best new commanders from Magic's March of the Machine.
Card: Thalia and the Gitrog Monster | Art: Howard Lyon

March of the Machine (MOM) has brought with it a slew of new legendary creatures. In an all-out war, we see new and old faces. Some of Magic's favorite characters have teamed up with one another. Other characters have become twisted forms of themselves. Meanwhile, the Praetors are still being big bad evil guys!

Today let's focus on new options for your commander, and what cards would play well with them! If you would like to follow along on Scryfall check the link here!

Team-Up Commanders - Standard Legal

First up, we have a selection of legends that remind me a lot of the partner mechanics seen in prior Commander sets. These cards represent two characters teaming up. They kind of resemble what would happen if you stapled two iconic legends together.

My personal faovrite is Thalia and The Gitrog Monster. This card is a treat for Abzan. It offers a wide range of abilities that allow it to fit into several archetypes. First off, 4/4 first strike and deathtouch is a powerful statline. This will make blocking this Horror much more difficult. We see the "you may play an additional land" ability return from the original Gitrog. Meanwhile, "creatures and nonbasic lands your opponents control enter the battlefield tapped" comes from Thalia, Heretic Cathar.

This can help keep your opponents on the backfoot while you drop many lands every turn. The last ability then allows you to "sacrifice a creature or land, then draw a card" whenever you attack. Thalia and the Gitrog Monster offer a lot of incremental value that can begin to add up.

You can take this card in multiple directions. Hatebears, lands matter, aristocrats, and even Voltron are all possible. My instinct is to run this as a midrange hatebears and lands deck. Hatebears such as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben can continue to pile on the resource denial for your opponent. Once your hatebears have served their purpose you can sacrifice them. Crucible of Worlds effects can supplement land destruction effects. Life From the Loam is also a great boon to fill and reclaim your graveyard.

Another awesome pairing is Baral and Kari Zev. These two Kaladesh icons come together for three mana. You get a 2/4 with first strike and menace. Already this is a formidable little beater. Additionally, whenever you cast your first instant or sorcery each turn you can cast another instant or sorcery with a lesser mana value. If you don't you instead create a 2/1 legendary token (all hail first mate Ragavan) with haste!

A lot is going on here. First, the prospect of getting a free spell every turn is awesome. Even with an empty hand you still get value thanks to the token. The token is legendary, though, so you cannot amass an army of Ragavans. Be careful before you go wild trying to make an army of monkeys.

Baral and Kari Zev trigger each turn. You need to cast spells on your opponent's turn to get the most out of this card! Playing lots of instants or a way of giving spells flash will help give you an edge. Leyline of Anticipation can help here.

Outside of that, cost reductions will go a long way. Given you will always want your commander in play, Font of Magic can pull its weight. It reduces the cost of your spells for each time you cast your commander. This can allow you to cast your commander a second or third time and still cast an instant on your turn.

Lastly, we want some big spells to get value from our commander. Consider playing big spells that cost less. Treasure Cruise is an eight-mana spell, but, you will cast it for much less. From here you can then dump a large spell for free!

Turning To The Dark Side

The set has brought with it a unique take on several characters from previous sets. We see mono-color legends getting the Phyrexian treatment. These cards have a mono-color casting cost. They can then transform for a Phyrexian mana cost of another color. Their transformed side shows a twisted version of this character with new abilities.

The first is Rona, Herald of Invasion. At two mana this card already tickles me. I adore two mana commanders. This taps to loot a card and untaps whenever you cast a legendary spell. Card selection on a cheap commander is always appreciated. Additionally for five mana and a Phyrexian black, Rona transforms. Her other half is a 5/5 with trample. Whenever a source deals damage to her, that source's controller exiles a random card from their hand. You can play it for free! Her name is an homage to Phyrexian Obliterator with her stat line also mimicking it.

Rona is continuing the trend of Dimir "steal your opponent's spells" archetype. While I don't have a good name for this playstyle I love that it's getting more love. Rona offers a unique take on the archetype as she wants to damage herself somehow. You can force this via combat with Public Enemy. Alternatively, Arena is a land that can force a fight between Rona and another creature.

Lastly, you can deal damage to Rona yourself and cast your spells for free. Pestilence is first in class here. This four-mana enchantment lets you pay one mana to deal one damage to each creature. You can activate this several times per turn for multiple triggers!

Moving from a tricksy Dimir deck to Gruul stompy we have Etali, Primal Conqueror! Seven mana for a 7/7 with trample is a fine body. Additionally, when this dino enters the battlefield each player exiles the top card of their library. You can cast those spells for free without paying their mana cost!

This harkens back to Etali Primal Storm's attack trigger. Free spells are always appreciated. This already opens its way to flicker shenanigans. Multiple free spells are hard to pass up. On the other side, we have an 11/11 with trample, indestructible, and "infect." Etali is a one-shot kill assuming you are willing to pay the transform cost.

If you're building Etali you will be best served to play him in a big Gruul package. You need a lot of mana to get this big dinosaur out and able to swing. Consider playing protection effects such as Conqueror's Flair. This can help you get around exile-based removal and cards like Teferi's Protection.

Etali does not have true infect. The poison counters only come into play when you deal combat damage. Consider some extra combat effects to get the most out of your swings such as Seize the Day. Assuming you fill the deck with big beaters you should try Return of the Wildspeaker to keep your hand full.

Transforming Praetors

The iconic Praetors have received a new treatment. They each enter the battlefield as a creature. However, they can transform into a saga. This gives you a cyclical creature that keeps coming back. I won't go through each praetor in detail but I will take a moment to talk about my favorite.

Urbrask seems to be the most explosive of the bunch to me. Urbrask performs similarly to a deck like Birgi, God of Storytelling. Leverage cheap spells to generate mana and an obscene storm count. Urbrask also pings every time you cast a spell. This allows you to push for damage and pressure life totals.

You can also transform Urbrask for only one mana as long as you've cast three or more instant/sorcery spells this turn. He transforms into The Great Work. This saga gives you three damage to everything, three treasures, and the ability to cast spells from your graveyard. This deck loves putting pressure on the opponent and firing off a torrent of spells. Underworld Breach in combination with rituals and cheap draw effects are essential. This can lead to a swift victory.

Direct to Commander Cards

All the cards above are available in March of the Machine Standard. However, the set also has several cards found only in Set Boosters and Collector Boosters. These cards are printed for Commander and other eternal formats only. There are 13 altogether. Let's jump into some favorites!

First up Shalai and Hallar are a Naya legendary pairing. For four mana you get a 3/3 with flying and vigilance. They also deal damage whenever one more +1/+1 counters are put on a creature you control. What an incredible take on a +1/+1 counter deck! Here we turn +1/+1 counters into a source of burn! My mind immediately jumps to mechanics like persist and undying. Grumgully, the Generous, Kitchen Finks, and Ashnod's Altar can net you a combo win.

The deck can also play a midrange beatdown strategy. Leveraging the counters for incremental damage is key here. This makes X spells incredibly powerful. Stonecoil Serpent and Voracious Hydra enter the battlefield with counters and deal damage! Synergy with cards like The Ozolith also becomes important here. Moving counters every turn nets more and more damage.

Another straight-to-EDH card is Moira and Teshar. I believe this pairing has the potential to be explosive. This pairing likely needs to be kept in check with graveyard hate or they will run away with the game! For five mana you get a 4/5 flyer. As well as that whenever you cast a historic spell you return a nonland permanent from your graveyard to the battlefield. It gains haste then you exile it at the next end step. As a reminder "historic" means saga, artifact, or legendary spell.

This deck wants to fill the graveyard with big permanents and then cast a cheap historic spell to reanimate them. The setup will be the same in most decks. Use efficient self-mill cards like Stitcher Supplier. Alternatively, you can use Buried Alive to tutor exactly what you want into the grave. Blightsteel Colossus seems like an obvious reanimation target. Let us know what way you would take this deck! The prospect of reanimating any nonland permanent seems incredibly powerful.


That brings us to the end of our breakdown of the commanders in March of the Machine. The set is full to the brim with exciting legends. The set is a fantastic boon to Commander players. Let us know what decks you are brewing and share them with us!


❤️If you want to support Bolt the Bird, consider checking out our Patreon page and sharing this article! ❤️

636 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page