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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jun 13 2023 10:50am
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MARCH OF THE MACHINE: THE AFTERMATH

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 March of the Machine: The Aftermath is the first "micro set" ever released, a Standard-legal companion of this year's event set March of the Machine. Story-wise, it's meant to describe the direct consequences of the averted New Phyrexian Invasion narrative, detailing the current post-invasion state of various characters that weren't depicted in the main set, as well as some of the planeswalkers that lost their spark as a result of the Great Pruning. Because of that, while the set is not focused on any particular theme (it's the first set ever printed with no cycles in it), the number of legendary creatures in the set is very prominent: 42% of all new cards, 65% of all new creatures. More so, some mechanical attention is placed on the legendary supertype as well as the planewalker type, despite The Aftermath not featuring any planeswalker card, an occurrence that hadn't happened in a premier set since Alara Reborn in 2009. We also witness the other major cosmic repercussion of the Phyrexians failing to take over the Multiverse: the opening of Omenpaths as a new way to travel between planes.

   

 With a couple of exceptions (Efreet, Thopter), all the involved subtypes represent major tribes, particularly classes – although unexpectedly missing is the largest of them, Wizard.

 Let's have a look at the new creatures and their tribes. As always, the tribes are presented alphabetically, and you'll find a hypertextual list at the end.

 NOTE: Alchemy cards, Acorn cards, and other non-tournament legal cards aren't counted toward the tribal totals.

 Infodump

  • Cards: 50
  • New cards: 49
  • New creatures: 32
  • Reprinted cards: 1 (Training Grounds)
  • Reprinted creatures: 0
  • New Legendary creatures: 21
  • New Snow creatures: 0
  • New artifact creatures: 2
  • New enchantment creatures: 1
  • Triple-subtype creatures: 1
  • Creature types affected: 29
  • Tribes with more than 2 additions: Human (+12), Warrior (+4), Dinosaur (+3), Druid (+3), Elf (+3)

Angel: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 238, online: 234

 Related Tribes: Cleric

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Not suprisingly, the Angels played a major role in the defeat of the Phyrexians, and now we see a couple of them cleaning up and picking up the pieces on Innistrad and New Capenna. Appropriately, they're both focused on protection, and in particular they both grant hexproof. The new Sigarda, who by now has become the only object of devotion for the people of Innistrad, is essentially a living  Privileged Position, but she also functions as a tribal-based Vizier of the Menagerie. The two effects don't synergize much with each other, but they're individually powerful, and attached to a perfectly playable 4/4 flyer for four. Of course we'd want to lean into her card advantage ability by surrounding Sigarda with the relevant creature types. In Angel builds, she's further justification for a green splash, and combos smartly with a similar four-drop with Selesnya identity, Shalai, Voice of Plenty. In Human decks, which never struggles running four or five colors to begin with, she can be a valid curve-topper with the double goal of preserving key pieces and finding more gas if the game goes late.

 Metropolis Reformer is mostly a more expensive but improved Aegis of the Gods (or Keen-Eared Sentry, to mention a card that was already a strictly better, uncommon Aegis of the Gods and nobody even noticed). The last ability is just a potential burst of life that triggers once we decide to trade off or chump with the Reformer. As a way to discourage two-powered creatures from attacking, lifelink would do a much better job. As for the personal hexproof, it's usually seen as a sideboard option against burn or storm. Grafting that effect on a creature, rather than a permanent with no other applications like Leyline of Sanctity, is technically a way to pack more flexibility. But it's just not very effective; burn would just have to redirect one source of damage to the hexproof-giver, while it's better to try and prevent a storm player from executing their gameplan in the first place rather than making slightly harder for them to finish us off – plus hexproof doesn't even stop all possible storm wincons, and most of them are able to devote the first few iterations to get rid of a creature like the Reformer.

 


Artificer: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 189, online: 185

 Related Tribes: Human, Kor

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: In the climax of the Invasion, a Phyrexianized Nahiri was defeated by Linvala and her allies, and ended up engulfed in the wreckage of a fallen Skyclave, seemingly to her death. Of course it's not surprising to find out that mere rocks didn't prove fatal to a Lithomancer; in fact, they somehow cured her from compleation, although her spark was separated from her, encased in a small hedron, and later apparently lost when its container accidentally broke. After a violent argument with Ajani, the reborn Nahiri has now found a new target for her usual rage: planeswalkers. In her novel creature form, the always confrontational Artificer reaches her most expensive incarnation yet, an extremely narrow "Equipment matter" card that has all our equipped creatures perform impulsive drawings when they attack, possibly resulting in free Equipment. Nahiri herself drops for potentially much less than her printed mana cost, provided we have Equipment waiting for her. The question is: how many Equipment are too many Equipment in an Equipment build? The density Nahiri, Forged in Fury seems to expect might be a tad too optimistic. Do we really plan to run a bunch of low-cost Equipment in order to deploy her for two mana? There's something to be said for artifacts that cost zero, and cards like Paradise Mantle and Bone Saw certainly qualify, but that kind of combo plan usually entails more than a cheap vanilla 5/4 as a payoff. All this said, Nahiri might still be a proficent commander for dedicated decks.

 As for Pia Nalaar, Chandra's mom is busy supevising post-war reconstruction on Kaladesh. For two mana, she's a 2/3 that gives all Thopters haste, which isn't as much of a tribal suggestion as it's a way to improve her own Thopter tokens, created every time a card is played from exile. This mostly points to impulsive drawing, which is plentiful in red but has several instances specifically in Boros as well (e.g. Showdown of the Skalds) or in other red pairings (in Izzet, Expressive Iteration; in Rakdos, Florian, Voldaren Scion; in Gruul Escape to the Wilds). Cards moving from exile to the stack are also found in the domain of mechanics like cascade or suspend, or in the abilities of "stealers" like Robber of the Rich. Generally speaking, Pia is not going to be as consistent a token maker as something like Young Pyromancer, but her tokens are as high-profile as they get.

 


Avatar: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 85, online: 82

 Related Tribes: Dragon

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Niv-Mizzet prevails! The Living Guildpact was not fazed by the arrival of a bunch of alien weirdos, and is back with another five-color incarnation. This time his card advantage isn't provided in an ETB burst, like it was with Niv-Mizzet, Reborn. Instead, it's a constant flow over time, as each instant and sorcery we play can be played again via jump-start. Now, that's a keyword that we only met briefly as the Izzet signature mechanic in Guilds of Ravnica; at the time, it felt like poor man's flashback, because it required extra resources to function. But Niv-Mizzet, Supreme drastically revises the formula, since now we can recur an instant or sorcery by discarding another instant or sorcery that will in turn acquire jump-start too. Paired with a very resilient evasive body, Niv makes for a strong new five-color commander for spellslinging decks, but also a playable curve-topper in every build in which the mana requirement is not an issue.


Berserker: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 113, online: 110

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Remember Arni Brokenbrow, the literally thickheaded Berserker from Kaldheim whose very cranium was telling the story of that time he headbutted a Troll? Well, he did it again, this time with a Phyrexian, hence the new Metalbrow moniker. He's once again a 3/3 for three, but this time he comes equipped with a convoluted ability. Basically, if we attack with him, we can pay two mana to have a two-drop enter the battlefield attacking alongside Arni – which is more or less just a complicated way to give them haste. The ability applies to any creature and scales up, though. So we could attack with a five-drop and gain a solid tempo advantage by dropping a four-drop for just the two mana of Arni's trigger activation. Many moving parts must align there. In particular, we need to deploy our creatures in a way that goes against the natural curving out process. Or else we'd have to draw the right creature at the exact right moment, especially considering the one we cheat into play is forced to attack, which might not always be ideal. In something like a Gruul beatdown list, Arni could do some work, but he's probably outclassed by cards with the same cost providing a more consistent benefit.


Cleric: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 544, online: 513

 Related Tribes: Angel, Human, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Aside from the Leyline of Sanctity on legs that is Metropolis Reformer, another Cleric is the freshly desparked Samut, who must have gained the subtype the moment she started taking a leadership role on the faith-based society of Amonkhet. This is not the first time she's been a creature, as we originally met her before her spark ignited. Apparently, the exact combination of first strike, vigilance and haste was never featured on a creature before – which is not especially meaningful, considering there are cards, like Akroma, Angel of Wrath, who have those three keyword in addition to others, and Samut herself had double strike instead of first strike in her original incarnation, so this time she was actually downgraded. The reason for that is that now she only costs three mana, and also comes equipped with a Curiosity mechanic that essentially applies to all our creatures with haste. Being so cheap, she could connect right away, particularly if we're on the play. Doing it multiple times with other haste beaters is increasingly more complicated the longer the game goes, but it's fairly possible to draw several cards out of this ability – perhaps in a deck where Samut is the commander, since Gruul is the color combination in which haste is more at home.

 


Demon: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 153, online: 147

 Related Tribes: Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Once again, Ob Nixilis is back to square one. The opportunistic Demon, who, true to form, didn't take sides when the Phyrexians invaded New Capenna, is now trapped on a plane where he made more enemies that he can face. This new form seems to reflect this predicament. It's a smaller Nixilis, still a frampler but dangerously low on toughness; and his ability has high ceiling of growing his body size and impulsively drawing cards, but triggering it will take some effort, as it relies on single pings to the opponent's face. It's not impossible to build around this concept, particularly in Commander, where we can count on a vast number of red pingers and other repeatable effects like Mayhem Devil. Still, the Captive Kingpin by himself has no way to enable his own shtick, which makes his life much harder in the Constructed environments he was designed for.

 The other Demon, Kamigawa-based Death-Rattle Oni, is a strange one. Its two verbose abilities sound like they should synergize with each other, as they both play into the "death rattle" flavor – but they actually don't. What happens is that the Oni wants to respond to mass removal or to a combat phase where many trades took place, so it can drop for much less than the nominal seven mana of its cost; but in that case, it won't be able to exploit flash as a way to ambush an attacker. And its other ability cares for the opposite, because it'll destroy creatures that took damage without dying. The ideal scenario is the follow-up to a spell that caused enough mass damage to decimate the board, but left something bigger alive. Ironically, black moved away from that kind of spell a long time ago (the only such card that was printed in the modern frame is Wail of the Nim in Mirrodin), as black mass removal spells either destroy altogether or inflict -X/-X.

 


Dinosaur: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 134, online: 133

 Related Tribes: Thopter

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Dinosaurs have been a very conspicuous element of the fight against the Phyrexians (no pun intended), so they show up in a relatively high number in The Aftermath too, if exclusively representing Ixalan. Gold-Forged Thopteryx is actually a robo-dinosaur, created by Huatli based on the teachings from her girlfriend Saheeli (the relationship between the two has been canon since last year), but using the flying dinos of her native plane as inspiration. It's just a cheap flyer with lifelink and an additional ability that's too situational and low-profile to matter. It could have some role in affinity builds, but Vault Skirge is just more convenient, offering the same platform for just one colorless. The Thopteryx is also sadly the only time Huatli gets mentioned on a card in the entire New Phyrexian Invasion arc. We know from a story that she led the Sun Empire against the invaders; they were later joined by the vampires of the Legion of Dusk, and ultimately Huatli called on the plane's Elder Dinosaurs, which made short shrift of the Phyrexians, if at the cost of Etali's life. Now Huatli and Saheeli are "worlds apart", according to the Thopteryx's flavor text, which tells us both have lost their sparks.

 The Aftermath offers another uncommon Dinosaur, the monowhite Harnessed Snubhorn. The repeatable recursion is useful, if a bit narrow and situational. But connecting with a four-drop 2/5 is not something we can expect to do often, or at all. Lastly, the rare Tranquil Frillback (which is probably also from Ixalan, as it was the only other dino of the same species, Orazca Frillback) is a Centaur Courser with a sort of multiple kicker. Two of the three options are dependent on the game state, so the base line is a four-mana 3/3 that gains 4 life – a worse if still playable Obstinate Baloth. The versatility is good, although the additional cost must be paid again every time we flicker the Frillback, which is inconvenient but gives us later access to the other modes. This is also one of only two cards in the set (the other being Vesuvan Drifter) that don't seem to really fit the theme of depicting the aftermath of the New Phyrexian invasion, with neither the name, the artwork, or the flavor text referencing the cosmic events that just shattered the Multiverse. This little guy is just chilling! It looks like remainder art and concept from an old Ixalan set, or perhaps the upcoming one that will release next year.

  


Dragon: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 323, online: 318

 Related Tribes: Avatar

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Since the moment he got the Living Guildpact position and powers, Niv-Mizzet became the Avatar of Ravnica; but he's still also a Dragon, even if Dragon decks probably won't care too much for a spellslinging 5/5 that has to be cast for WUBRG. Sarkhan, Soul Aflame is more of a valid option for Dragon tribal, even if he'd be off-tribe.

 


Druid: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 282, online: 278

 Related Tribes: Elf, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Now that he's lost his (artificial) spark, we find out Calix was a Druid, for some reason. It's not clear what the living manifestation of Fate created by the Theros goddess Klothys to pursue and punish Elspeth is supposed to be doing now that his target has become an Archangel, and he himself is stranded back on his native plane with no more means to planeswalk independently. While he ponders his next move, he's giving us a creature incarnation in which he keeps doing his constellation tricks, this time having each enchantment trigger a +1/+1 counter placement and granting enchanted creatures a saboteur ability that clones nonlegendary enchantments. Notably, creatures that are enchantments bring about the first boon, but not the second one, unless they carry an Aura. Calix himself does, though, so he could be deployed as a 3/3 for three that copies a permanent every time he connects. That's probably not the best use of him, though, as he would have little to no way to consistently trigger his cloning ability; then again, a build based on Auras is a tricky proposition, while Selesnya cards that routinely distribute +1/+1 counters around are a dime a dozen. New Calix seems yet another card designed as a (minor) commander.

 Much more promising is the second of the three legendary Druids that The Aftermath is peddling. Jolrael has finally rejoined the Multiverse alongside her native Zhalfir, and instead of being mad at Teferi, she starts branching into blue magic to make her animated lands into flyers that are as big as our hand is and draw more cards upon connection. In fact, all land creatures do the latter, which makes the triumphant Jolrael, Voice of Zhalfir an amazing synergy piece with all the green land-awakeners, like the various Nissas or Tatyova, Steward of Tides. Granted, it's still a strategy more suitable for Brawl or Commander, but as far as build-around cards go, new Jolrael can be very rewarding, as she traffics in both card advantge and inevitability.

 Last but not least, nonbinary Cabaretti chef Rocco is back with an incarnation that appears 100% focused on multiplayer. It's a group-hug card that gifts everyone at the table an extra card via impulsive drawing (apparently Rocco is giving out free meals to every survivor and refugee on New Capenna), and the Rocco player is getting some advantage in the form of a +1/+1 counter and (kind of counter-intuitively) a Food token each time an opponent accepts Rocco's generosity. It's fine as casual fare for Commander, not much anywhere else, since the minor benefits we gain out of the deal don't really outweigh the cards we're handing out and that our opponents even get the chance to exploit first.

  


Efreet: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 26, online: 25

 Related Tribes: Orc

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: This is the only team up card from The Aftermath, depicting two of the surviving professors of Strixhaven, the Orc military historian Plargg of Lorehold College and the Efreet art teacher Nassari of Prismari College. They seem engaged in restoration work at the school. Their card does an impression of the Etali, Primal Conqueror ETB trigger, except in their case it keeps happening at every upkeep. There's a catch, of course, which is that we only get to cast one free spell, at least in one-on-one games, and an opponent gets to veto the most advantageous one. Still, it's guaranteed card and tempo advantage without further investment past the initial five mana, which also net us a perfectly functional 5/4 body. It becomes even better in multiplayer, but it's quite fine outside of it as well, with the only caveat being that the teaching duo needs to survive the first full cycle before any reward is obtained.

 By the way, the presence of a team up past March of the Machine might be indicative of the concept becoming more commonplace in the future. It wasn't actually a new idea, although it was never used so extensively before. The first occurrence of two legendary creatures sharing one card actually dates back to Tibor and Lumia from Guildpact, and that was 2006. Until now, however, we had only seen team ups between characters that were regularly paired in the story, even if sometimes they would appear separately. It was that way for Anax and Cymede, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, Mina and Denn, Wildborn, Gisa and Geralf, Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis, Firesong and Sunspeaker, Rin and Seri, Inseparable, Adrix and Nev, Twincasters, and Halana and Alena, Partners.


Elf: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 532, online: 517

 Related Tribes: Druid, Scout, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Nissa's story has a large focus in March of the Machine: The Aftermath, where we see the de-Phyrexianized Elf depicted in several cards (Animist's Might, Leyline Immersion, Open the Way) that translate key moments of the story titled "She Who Breaks the World", where her relationship with Chandra finally takes an explicitly romantic turn. Best way to celebrate, beside those hot pyromancer kisses? What about getting one of the most powerful Nissa cards ever printed? And it's not like she had a bad track record so far, power level-wise, but the straightfoward landfall payoff Nissa, Resurgent Animist is by far the most impactful card in the set, a Lotus Cobra with extra benefits that's already seeling for more than 50 bucks in paper and MTGO.

 The other Aftermath Elves pale in comparison: Rocco with their street cuisine, and Tyvar with his status of "mana dork lord". To be fair, Tyvar the Bellicose makes for a pretty good Golgari commander, turning all of our creature ramp into their very own wincon. Imagine our Birds of Paradise getting bigger every time it taps for mana! And some specific interactions, like the one with Marwyn, the Nurturer, can escalate quickly. As a generic leader of Elves, Tyvar is not that relevant, as he only provides deathtouch on attack; but if those Elves are all of the mana-producing kind, things will really get cooking. Sorry, Rocco.

  


Golem: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 140

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Karn didn't suffer the effects of the Great Pruning; he volutarily forfeited Venser's spark, which was contained within him and gave him planeswalker powers, in order to heal Nissa and Ajani. So now he's just a silver Golem again, happily refocused in leading artifact-based decks, as commander or otherwise. His body is as large as the most expensive artifact on the battlefield, which in most cases will be himself until the late game, so we can correctly look at Legacy Reforged as a 5/5 for five. What's more interesting is that the new Karn works as a spontaneous source of colorless mana based on the number of artifacts we control. Again, the base line is one mana produced by Karn himself, but since we can only spend that mana to cast artifact spells or activate abilities, it's easy to gather what kind of deck we're talking about here. The whole affair might be a bit slow, since Karn will do next to nothing until our next upkeep, and he's a five-drop to begin with. Commander will love it for colorless builds, his impact to the rest of Constructed remains to be seen.


Human: +12

 

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 New Tribal Total: 3085, online: 2879

 Related Tribes: Artificer, Berserker, Cleric, Druid, Knight, Monk, Shaman, Soldier, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant

 Highlights: Many de-sparked planeswalkers now belong to the Human tribe, but that's still mostly irrelevant. Both new Soldiers have an explicit "Humans matter" template, though. Coppercoat Vanguard provides a decent power boost for a two-drop, and with some added resilience – albeit we're still far away from cards like Thalia's Lieutenant or even Mayor of Avabruck.

 Jirina, Dauntless General offers a protective countermeasure for our entire Human team, at the cost of her life but with no further requirements, kind of like a universal Selfless Savior or Saffi Eriksdotter. She also has a graveyard-hating ETB trigger, which feels a bit random but may come in handy. Last but not least, Sigarda keeps being positioned as a potential off-tribe curve-topper for Human lists, with her Font of Blessings incarnation digging for more tribal gas while shielding everything else on the battlefield.


Knight: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 380, online: 367

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Danitha Capashen is now in charge in New Benalia, after being forced to execute her own Phyrexianized father during the events of Dominaria United. This somehow relocated her color allegiance from monowhite to Selesnya. Her established focus on Auras and Equipment remains primary, although among her usual triptych of keywords, this time first strike was traded for trample – which seems somewhat wasted on a 2/2, but I guess we're supposed to enchant and/or equip her to make better use of her combat prowess. Recursion is not the most powerful effect you can associate with Equipment, but it does make Auras a bit better, provided they weren't placed on Danitha herself. However, not a lot of "Auras and Equipment matter" cards have had success in Constructed in the past.

 On the black side of knighthood, we can see that Queen Ayara's death hasn't prevented her still partially-Phyrexianized Knights from still roaming Eldraine in her name. This is a novel take on the classic Whirling Dervish ability, in that it has a definite ceiling at four +1/+1 counters, after which it casts none other than freaking Demonic Tutor instead. The effect is of course powerful, but extremely, extremely slow (supposing we start connecting with the Oathsworn on turn three, it'd take until turn seven before we'll be able to tutor). And of course it's predicated on a board state that allows our Knight to keep hitting the opponent unopposed. Menace helps with that as does the growing body – so maybe that's the correct way to look at it: a two-drop beater that gets more and more of a threat over time. In Legacy Knight builds, she can count on the assistance of Exsanguinator Cavalry as well (Vodalian Wave-Knight also works, but it's double off-color). There are in fact many ways to artificially increase the number of +1/+1 counters on Ayara's Oatshworn without relying uniquely on her own ability (e.g. Drana, Liberator of Malakir, Luminarch Aspirant), so maybe the hard tutoring is not just a pipe dream.

 


Kor: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 79

 Related Tribes: Artificer

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Kor are naturally inclined to build "Equipment matter" decks, thanks to cards like Kor Outfitter, Akiri, Fearless Voyager, and of course Stoneforge Mystic. So there's at least one environment where this sparkless Nahiri may shine, and it's amongst her compatriots.


Merfolk: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 264, online: 260

 Related Tribes: Noble

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The impetuous Kiora is yet another victim of the Great Pruning. Now reduced to a simple, if mightily resourceful mermaid, her natural self-worth kicked in, and she's now styling herself as the queen of all Zendikar's oceans. She's still armed with the weapon of a sea goddess, after all! Any card featuring the always-amusing Kraken, Leviathan, Octopus, and Serpent batching is bound to look fun and appealing, especially to Timmys and Tammys. These mega-tribal cards invariably play as nothing more than casual fare, though, and Kiora, Sovereign of the Deep is no exception, despite her best efforts at cascading from any specimen of giant marine megafauna we cast (or, you know, from any changeling mimicking them). Kiora herself is resilient enough with her big high-warded vigilant booty, but that's not gonna change the fact that she's a very specific, very hard to pull off build-around. This said, she can be an entertaining commander, and a decent off-tribe inclusion in a tribal deck devoted to any of those species. Plus her dynamic artwork just oozes charisma, in both versions. Nobody puts Kiora in a corner!


Monk: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 104, online: 101

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Here's another former planeswalker who's finding a new way of life as a legendary creature. Even without a spark, wuxia heroine Narset is still the Multiverse's most accomplished martial artist, capable of performing two correlated and very Jeskai-friendly feats: being the centerpiece of a prowess build, and repeating the old Dreadhorde Arcanist trick of enhancing any aggro spellslinging strategy. Unlike the Arcanist, Narset cannot recur spells with mana value equal to her power; but her power starts higher, and only gets better from there, thanks to prowess. More so, she's not limited to instants and sorceries, which leads to potentially very powerful instances of "reanimation" of artifacts, enchantments, planeswalkers, and even battles. The color requirement is a bit steep, but in the right deck, this Enlightened Exile is going to be a proper beating.


Noble: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 65, online: 64

 Related Tribes: Merfolk, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: I distinctly remember, when the Noble subtype was reintroduced in Throne of Eldraine (it was originally printed on Faerie Noble from Homelands, then later eliminated in the Grand Creature Type Update), they said they would only errata old cards that represented birthright aristocrats, not self-appointed rulers. And yet, Kiora, who's not a highborn (as much as you can even be that relative to fish and marine mammals), now gets to be part of the Noble tribe. Nothing wrong with that, and long live Queen Kiora, but the inconstency had to be addressed.

 The other new Noble is, instead, nothing revolutionary (no pun intended): just another Vampire patrician from Innistrad. His not-so-comfy chair is made out of the carcass of a dead Phyrexian, and that's how we know we're in a post-invasion timeframe. The Baron is actually a pretty good lord for Vampires, but we'll talk about that in due time.

 


Ogre: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 117, online: 112

 Related Tribes: Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: All right, first of all, this is clearly an Orc, not an Ogre. The Ogres on Tarkir look like Savage Knuckleblade and Qal Sisma Behemoth, and are usually not affiliated with Kolaghan. This lore mistake aside, the relevance to the Aftermath theme seems pretty thin here: we see some stuff in the background that could be Phyrexian remnants; and the flavor text alludes to having fought against the invaders, but it's also so utterly generic that it could apply to any conflict, ever. He's also just a three-mana 3/2 with haste that technically could dig for a Dragon, but no Dragon deck will ever consider to include.


Orc: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 79, online: 78

 Related Tribes: Efreet

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Orc is as red-based as Efreet, so Plargg and Nassari's overcomplicated yet effective card advantage trick will be welcome in that tribe, too.


Rat: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 71, online: 64

 Related Tribes: Shaman

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Nashi inherited the Simic colors from her late mom, Tamiyo, together with her preoccupation for other legendaries (a quick way to reference her famous story circle, which Nashi has vowed to keep alive, as the flavor text confirms). What's more relevant from a tribal standpoint is that Nashi is willing to apply his recursive attack trigger to fellow Rats as well – legendary or otherwise. What we have here, then, is a three-mana 3/4 menacer that gives a second chance at life to any dead Rat – or, to be more precise, to any Rat that finds itself in the graveyard, and that definitely configures itself as a profitable combo with the master of the rodents, Pack Rat. Downsides: the targeted card still has to be cast for its usual costs, and we even have to decide right away while the effect is on the stack, so before the combat phase has fully played out. Also, a green splash in a Rat deck? Eh, it might be a stretch. It's no surprise that Nashi is the very first green rat to see print. More shockingly, it's only the second blue Rat, after Silver-Fur Master.


Scout: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 175, online: 167

 Related Tribes: Elf

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: We knew Nissa was a Scout since her Magic Origins incarnation, Nissa, Vastwood Seer. The tribe is grateful for this new powerful addition, even if the overlap with Elemental (the juicier subtype among the two Nissa digs for, making for potential one-of inclusions) amounts to the sole Flame-Kin War Scout, and that's not a card that had a high play rate in the 17 years since it was printed.


Shaman: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 462, online: 456

 Related Tribes: Human, Rat

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Apparently, Nashi is a Shaman now, so thankfully has outgrown his unfortunate Ninja phase (it's still weird that they're not making him an Artificer, when it's the way he's always been described). Also devoted to the shamanic arts is the non-planeswalking incarnation of Sarkhan. As fully expected, he's still very much of a "Dragons matter" card, though. He discounts Dragons and acts as a Renegade Doppelganger for the tribe, which is sort of a roundabout way to give them haste. For three mana, he seems playable enough, moving all five-drops one turn earlier. Plus the best five-mana Dragons already have haste, so Sarkhan is actually doubling their damage output.

 Notably, neither Nashi nor Sarkhan really do anything for the Shamans, as they both care for different tribes.

 


Shapeshifter: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 119, online: 116

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This is the second card in the set, along with Tranquil Frillback, that doesn't seem to have any reason to be part of such a highly thematic project. It's a cool card, though. It can drop on turn three and immediately attack as some big hasty finisher that "happens" to be on top of our library. And I use the quote-unquote because of course we're going to set the whole thing up with tutors like Worldly Tutor or, ever better, Congregation at Dawn (which can also fetch the Drifter itself as the first in the chain), or at least with manipulators a la Brainstorm or Sylvan Library. And yeah, all these cards point to Legacy as the format that best accommodate Vesuvan Drifter shenanigans, but who knows, maybe it'll give birth to some janky-but-viable combo deck.


Soldier: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 820, online: 759

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: As already noted, the Soldiers only care about being Humans. They're both from Ikoria, by the way. Nice to see Jirina Kudro is still alive and in charge, even if the once mighty city of Drannith was left in ruins after the invasion.

 


Spirit: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 584, online: 574

 Related Tribes: Demon

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: While that weird Oni is feeding on all the death that the invasion caused, the Urborg Scavengers are just collecting Phyrexian memorabilia, which seems kind of a strange activity for a ghost, but I guess it's the type of obsession that troubles the more restless Spirits. Also, I can't really tell what these guys were back when they were alive, so who could say what their deal even is. At any rate, the exile cards from graveyard as an ETB and attack trigger, and doing so they get bigger and add an array of keywords to their repertoire. It's that type of mechanic that's too random to make sense in Constructed – we're not really going to include in our deck a wide selection of keywords just for the sake of the Scavengers' self-improvement – usually resulting in cards that are barely satisfying even in casual games.

 


Thopter: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 18

 Related Tribes: Dinosaur

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Where does the beautiful Thopter built by Huatli rank within the still-small tribe? I'd say it's average, but it's hindered by the fact that requires two colors, while most Thopters ask for none. It's a pretty Thopter, though, if maybe not as ornate as they would make them on Kaladesh.


Vampire: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 351, online: 346

 Related Tribes: Noble

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Hey hey hey, new Vampire lord here! At first sight, he feels too pricey at three mana for a card that only has the one job of being an anthem. But wait, he has convoke! And madness! One-drop into free discard outlet into Markov Baron... I mean, he'll probably still drop on turn three, but with a lot of tempo and benefits – including some lifelink, which never hurts (once again, no pun intended).  I expect to see this guy in tribal builds of various formats.


Warrior: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 940, online: 916

 Related Tribes: Cleric, Elf, Human, Ogre

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: One new Warrior cares about Dragons and another about mana dorks. So neither of them does much for the tribe. Samut encourages haste, and that's something the Warriors can work with. The weirdest of the bunch is definitely the new Tazri. She caters to five-color builds mostly populated by creatures with activated abilities, to which she grants another activated ability, so now they can tap to pay for those activated abilities. And they don't even fix the mana, because they only generate their own colors. It's the kind of super-narrow build-around that doesn't even feel too exciting to actually build around. Plus, they keep omitting Ally from Tazri's type line. Allies are still a thing on Zendikar! That tribe is being robbed! On second though, it's not like Ally would have had much use for Tazri, Stalwart Survivor. So never mind. Carry on and keep up the good work, Tazri.

   


SUMMARY

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