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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
May 30 2023 10:34am
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MARCH OF THE MACHINE COMMANDER

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 March of the Machine is accompanied by five Commander decks, themed as follows: Orzhov Phyrexians ("Growing Threat"), Esper Knights ("Cavalry Charge"), Naya Counters ("Call for Backup"), Jeskai Convoke ("Divine Convocation"), and Temur Artifacts ("Tinker Time").

    

 The new cards, which are only legal in Commander, Legacy and Vintage, add representation for some characteristic tribes that weren't present in March of the Machine, like Sphinx and Wurm. The small tribes that receive new members are Gremlin and Monkey. As usual, some cards that are considered part of this Commander product don't actually appear in the preconstructed decks, but only in Collector Boosters and Set Boosters. These includes the "Talent cycle" of Auras that grant the enchanted planeswalker a signature ability of a famous planeswalker (the first Auras ever printed with "enchant planeswalker"), and the battle tutor Begin the Invasion.

 Additionally, three cards are exclusive prerelease promos only found in Prerelease Packs. Each deck package also include 10 Planechase cards, half of which are new.

 

 Let's have a look at the new creatures and their tribes. As always, the focus is on all the Constructed applications; 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: 388
  • New cards: 82 (including 25 Planechase planes)
  • New creatures: 37
  • Reprinted cards: 306
  • Reprinted creatures: 122
  • New Legendary creatures: 13
  • New Snow creatures: 0
  • New artifact creatures: 1
  • New enchantment creatures: 0
  • Triple-subtype creatures: 3
  • Creature types affected: 35
  • Tribes with more than 2 additions: Human (+10), Knight (+6), Phyrexian (+6), Artificer (+4), Angel (+3), Goblin (+3), Spirit (+3), Warrior (+3)

Ally: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 96

 Related Tribes: Angel

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Kasla is a fierce Zendikari Angel who has been previously quoted in the flavor text of each face of Emeria's Call. We only know that she shattered her halo and reforged it into a weapon in the shape of a scythe, and then she slaughtered countless Phyrexians with it. Her first incarnation is worthy of this introduction, even just as a six-mana 5/4 flyer with haste, vigilance and convoke. But she also works as a shockingly powerful convoke lord, casting a free Preordain every time we convoke a spell – which fits her role of designated commander of the Jeskai Convoke deck. Now, convoke is not an easy build-around theme, and has no previous instance in Ally and only two in Angel (namely Angel of Salvation and Seraph of the Masses, so not even too appealing). But the reward is high enough to tempt us, and Kasla remains a valid finisher that can drop early and hits hard and fast.


Angel: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 236, online: 232

 Related Tribes: Ally, Elf, Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The narrow convoke theme and the double splash won't help Kasla win a spot in Angel tribal, despite her potential as a heavy hitter. A comfier case can be made for the monowhite Firemane Commando, which strictly comes from the inside of Collector Boosters and Set Boosters. She's a four-powered four-drop that theoretically works as group hug and attack deterrent in multiplayer. But in one-on-one, she just draws cards for us, and with minimal effort. That's something white is getting more these days, but rarely this smoothly – particularly in an Angel deck, where attacking with an extra creature is going to be barely an inconvenience. Her low toughness is a concern, but a four-drop with such an amazing built-in card-drawing engine shouldn't be underestimated. And she's still a great addition for Commander, anyway, still strong even when played as intended.

 Even more focused is the Dominaria-based team up of Shalai and Hallar. It's a sensible pairing, since Shalai was already established as a friend and protector of the Elves of Llanowar. Hallar is one of those, though more known for being nonbinary than for actual story relevance. Their union gives birth to a three-colored Angel of Light that functions as a payoff for "+1/+1 counters matter" strategies. There's no tactical value to it, but those pings to the opponent's face easily add up in a dedicated build, providing an alternate wincon. Maybe not the most efficient four-drop one could run in that type of list, since it doesn't contribute to the plan at all – unlike both Shalai, Voice of Plenty and even the uncommon Hallar, the Firefletcher – but still valuable as a resident of the command zone. Plus it counts as the first ever Angel Elf, so there's that.


Artificer: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 187, online: 183

 Related Tribes: Goblin, Gremlin, Phyrexian, Rogue, Vedalken

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Predictably, three of these new Artificers are part of the Temur Artifacts precon called Tinker Time – including its own designated commander, Gimbal, Gremlin Prodigy. Specifically, Gimbal cares about artifact tokens, and he wants to collect as many different types of them as possible. This way, the free token he generates at every end step will be bigger. The base line is a 1/1, and Gimbal also supplies his own 4/4 body and grants trample to all our artifact critters, but that's definitely not enough to justify five mana in three colors, unless we take advantage of his main ability. Which is kind of narrow, to be honest.

 Also narrow is Schema Thief, whose penchant for copying opposing artifacts via saboteur might be a sure hit in most Commander games, but it just qualifies as a clunky sideboard option elsewhere. More to the point is Hedron Detonator, which is a wincon in the right build (one filled with moxen, baubles and infinitely recursive Underworld Breach shenanigans), while also providing card draw. It's primed to become a combo piece, albeit perhaps not a primary one.

 The final new entry for the Artificer tribe is possibly the final and only second rare member of the Splicer sub-tribe, first appeared in New Phrexia. At seven mana, Darksteel Splicer is the most expensive of the bunch, tied with the green common Maul Splicer. But where Maul Splicer used to create two trampling Golems, its Darksteel counterpart makes up to three indestructibles ones – potentially even more if we're sitting at the unusual six-player table. Of course, that number is sadly brought down to just one in non-multiplayer games; but the real power of Darksteel Splicer resides in being retriggered every time we drop another nontoken Phyrexian, which is a huge tribal boon. It remains not too viable in a 60-card environment, but the potential to take over the game is all there.


Bird: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 324, online: 310

 Related Tribes: Phyrexian, Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle was prominent in Standard during the era of the Kethis combo decks. After being compleated, the once devout Bird was paired with the Spirit of Moira (how a ghost can become Phyrexianized remains largely a mystery), which we had just recently met in Dominaria United Commander. The two already shared an interest in graveyard recursion, so their team up results in free unearth fueled by historic spellcasting. They're also a decent five-drop flyer. Consistently triggering the ability isn't particularly hard, since any deck nowadays includes some amount of artifacts and/or legendaries and/or Sagas. Exploiting it to the fullest might require a more committed level of deckbuilding, though.

 Of course, the five preconstructed decks are especially centered around their theme this time around, so very few the new cards cater to generic "good stuff" builds. On the other hand, they can be absolutely powerful when placed in the right habitat, like Nesting Dovehawk growing when a creature token enters the battlefield and then proliferating those tokens further. It's not a gameplan often associated with the Bird tribe, but they support it well enough, from the big token generated by Wingmate Roc and Roc Egg to the smaller ones from Kykar, Wind's Fury and Akim, the Soaring Wind – and even the Food from Gilded Goose!


Cat: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 266, online: 256

 Related Tribes: Phyrexian

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Alas, the wise Brimaz is yet another victim of the New Phyrexian Invasion. Not the King of Oreskos anymore, he's now the Blight of its Therosian homeland, leading a horde of biomechanical monstrosities as the commander of the tribal-oriented Orzhov precon. This new Brimaz does nothing at all for his fellow Cats, but is amazing in a Phyrexian midrange deck, matching every Phyrexian or artifact we cast with an Incubator token of variable size, and then potentially proliferating all those counters. If left unchecked, it might takes him very little time to build an overwhelming board state, even if it's all dependent on how effective it turns out to be the flow of our spells past the fourth turn. In this sense, Phyrexian Brimaz might end up being just win-more, or else a terrible topdeck while we're behind.


Citizen: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 32

 Related Tribes: Devil

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Citizens have rarely shown up in red so far (they're not a passionate bunch, apparently, contrary to what anybody that ever attended a council meeting would think). All of the previous instances were also from New Capenna, like this angry working-class Devil, who appears to be part of the Riveteers syndicate. He's a barely decent three-drop 2/3 menacer, but he makes Treasure every turn we cast a spell, which is ideally every turn. Bad news is, opponents get to do the same; they're slightly punished when spending the Treasure, but one life for one extra mana is not a terrible deal – not to mention what having a free permanent on the battlefield could entail for them.


Construct: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 179, online: 178

 Related Tribes: Phyrexian

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: This exquisitely crafted robot sports an ETB trigger that's close to an universal proliferate starter, and then a bona fide, repeatable proliferate ability through artifact sacrifice. However, it's a bit overcosted for a 1/1 (or a 2/2, technically) and can't even sacrifice itself. Plus, charge counters read as a bit too specific, albeit they've been used extensively since their introduction in the original Mirrodin set, and also retroactively applied to older artifact cards.


Demon: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 151, online: 145

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This Collector Boosters and Set Boosters exclusive is trying to ape classic broken card-drawing engine Necropotence – a card that, it's worth reiterating, is only legal in Vintage and Commander, therefore can never appear in multiple copies anywhere in the entire game. And the reasons why that would be extremely dangerous, whereas Infernal Sovereign is quite fair, are that Necropotence drops on turn three; likely draws a dozen cards at once, digging for combo pieces; and it's impervious to most removal. For comparison, the Sovereign only rewards us on a card by card basis, which means he'd need to be surrounded by a storm-like build in order to really go off, and that kind of deck doesn't usually care for a fragile six-drop. Of course we're also getting a 6/6 frampler as a collateral bonus, but that's not even a viable finisher outside the realm of casual these days.


Devil: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 49, online: 48

 Related Tribes: Citizen

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This is actually the second Devil Citizen with a pinging trigger, after Witty Roastmaster from Streets of New Capenna. None of them seems particularly fit for competitive play. Pain Distributor plays well alongside Mayhem Devil; but then again, many cards do.


Dragon: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 322, online: 317

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This new monowhite Dragon (there are only 20 of them at the moment) does an effective impression of Sun Titan, for one fewer mana. To have the recursion as ETB we would need to place the backup counter somewhere else, ending up with a 3/4 flyer that only resurrects three-drops; but it could be worth it.


Elephant: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 65, online: 64

 Related Tribes: Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Green is the most likely to go overboard with creature mechanics, so here's an Elephant with triple backup. The granted boon is the Slith ability (even if this is a Loxodon from the Selesnya Conclave on Ravnica), but the greater advantage might just be granting trample to a select group of alpha strikers. We also have the option to make a 7/7 trampler that grows on connection, although that doesn't seem like a particularly strong tactical choice. Truth be told, six mana might still be too many for this cross between a less efficient Verdurous Gearhulk and an especially underwhelming Craterhoof Behemoth type.


Elf: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 529, online: 514

 Related Tribes: Angel, Monkey

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Amidst the chaos of the invasion on Kaladesh, the genius scientist Rashmi (the inventor of the planar bridge, which has caused so much ruckus in the Multiverse ever since) joined forces with Renegade Pirate Captain Kari Zev – and that's how Ragavan found another shoulder to perch on. Their team up feels like the perfect intersection between Rashmi, Eternities Crafter (triggers on casting the first spell, might cast without paying the cost) and Ragavan Nimble Pilferer (looks into the opponent's library, makes Treasures). The whole affair is partially repurposed as an "artifacts matter" ability (in fact, the card is printed as part of the "Tinker Time" deck); at least if we aim to cast some free spells. Otherwise, it's basically a Nimble Pilferer that doesn't need to attack. As a 2/4 for four, it's not a bad deal, even if it doesn't really suit any kind of Elf gameplan. Shalai and Hallar's "+1/+1 counters matter" shtick is more on brand, albeit probably unnecessary. Both are also calling for double color splashes that are unlikely to catch the interest of Elf players.


Fox: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 41, online: 39

 Related Tribes: Phyrexian, Shaman

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Bright-Palm was mentored by the Kamigawa regent Light-Paws (the Kitsune have names right out of a children book), until she got lost in the Spirit Realm. This seems to have awakened enormous aggro powers, since her incarnation can attack as a 6/4 with daunt, then a 8/6 the turn after, and so on. Or she can ETB and one-shot kill an opponent who's facing something like a big Stonecoil Serpent. Definitely one of the better Foxes, despite the unusual triplet of colors (she's only the second green Fox after Vulpine Goliath, as well as the second red Fox after Zirda, the Dawnwaker, therefore the very first Fox to ever actually require red to be cast).

 As that cute Elesh Norn cosplay suggests, Vulpine Harvester is instead strictly a Phyrexian tribal card. It recurs one artifact from the graveyard for free at every attack, which feels a bit clunky and situational at first, but could lead to powerful results if built around. Especially because it's linked to the total power of the attacking Phyrexians, so the Harvester on its own can bring back three-drops (say, Annex Sentry or, to combo out, Phyrexian Dragon Engine), but it takes just a few companions to be able to reanimate a previously discarded Portal to Phyrexia or something equally insane.


Fungus: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 55, online: 54

 Related Tribes: Goblin

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Collector Boosters and Set Boosters are home to this team up between the two most peculiar Weatherlight crewmates, the ineffable Thallid stowaway Slimefoot and the formerly immortal Goblin cabin-hand Squee. Unexpectedly, this comedic duo gave birth to a terrific team up card, particularly from a Fungus point of view. At the cost of a single Jund triplet, Slimefoot and Squee deploys onto our battlefield two bodies at once, a 3/3 and a 1/1, and then keeps making more Saprolings. It has to attack in order to keep swarming, but this green-skinned duo doesn't fear death in the slightest, as it can return to the fray in place of any random Saproling – a move that will in turn also give us the sacrificed Saproling back as the ETB ability triggers again. And that's not even the best part of the deal, as these two crazy clowns are somehow reanimating a fellow deceased teammate along with them! That's right, if we manage to have a Saproling token around for any reason (Fungal Infection perhaps?), Slimefoot and Squee can act as Unburial Rites, in that we can self-mill them together with a finisher, and then bring everyone back for four mana, no questions asked. It's still sorcery-speed, so no Emrakul, the Aeons Torn combo, but Griselbrand and the likes are fair game. And sure, the initial Saproling requirement makes it clunkier than Rites, but past that point, it gets better and better, because it provides the Saproling material to do it again, so if our finisher of choice gets dealt with but not exiled, it's easy to simply do it again.


Giant: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 199, online: 192

 Related Tribes: Phyrexian

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: A few cards in this set seem to be attempting to mimick directly the fabled M11 Titans. This one in particular looks like a Phyrexian version of Grave Titan – name, cost, body, color, Giant subtype, keyword, causes of triggers, all match the original to a T. The only thing that changes is the form of the tokens it generates, which aren't a couple of Zombies anymore; instead, Blight Titan incubates based on the number of creature cards in our graveyard. This can result in a much larger token, but it's also not a guarantee. And it's ever only one per activation, which is 50% less effective at going wide than good ole Grave Titan. It mills two cards every time it triggers, though, which helps with the plan but could also be an annoyance in a deck that doesn't care for self-milling.


Goblin: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 407, online: 391

 Related Tribes: Artificer, Fungus, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Two of these new Goblins are only found in Collector Boosters and Set Boosters, and both of them are team ups. Slimefoot and Squee is less effective in Goblin decks, since it requires Saproling tokens to function at its best. On the other hand, the Kamigawa team of Goro-Goro and Satoru is great everywhere, and it could benefit from several cheap Gobbos with native haste. In fact, the association between the Dragon-worshiping Samurai and the Clan Umezawa Ninja resulted in an above-curve Grixis body with a saboteur trigger that threatens to create a 5/5 flyer per turn – just like Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei would do, but with no extra cost. The catch is, the creatures that enable such Dragon- summoning by just connecting must do so the very turn they entered the battlefied. And that's where haste becomes crucial; the activated ability, also similar to the previous Goro-Goro's, ensure a stream of DIY hasty attackers, but of course the whole routine becomes more efficient if we don't have to spend additional mana to take our opponents by surprise. Evasion is also a good way to push Dragon-making damage through, although going wide is another legitimate option, one that perfectly suits monored aggro builds like Goblins.

 Speaking of monored Goblins that don't require exotic splashes in two of the other colors, Hedron Detonator matches the description; unfortunately, it only helps artifact-heavy decks, which are rarely where Goblins want to be.


Gremlin: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 12, online: 11

 Related Tribes: Artificer

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Here's another cosmic anomaly engendered by the Phyrexian Invasion: a Gremlin that creates artifacts instead of eating them! It's cute that Gimbal creates Gremlin simulacra, though. And, for what it's worth, he's the first mythic Gremlin – even if rarity in non-randomized products is entirely symbolic. He's also the first blue Gremlin, the first green Gremlin, the most expensive Gremlin, and the Gremlin with the largest body. Yeah, it's a tiny tribe that doesn't get around much (most of them, Gimbal included, hail from Kaladesh). The artifact token theme is also internally supported only by Furnace Gremlin. These tribal deficiencies don't detract from the fact that Gimbal is a solid thematic Commander.


Human: +10

   

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 New Tribal Total: 3073, online: 2867

 Related Tribes: Goblin, Knight, Spirit, Warrior, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant

 Highlights: Neither Grixis nor Bant are supported by the five preconstructed decks of March of the Machine Commander, so Collector Boosters and Set Boosters are the only primary-market means to acquire the team up cards of Goro-Goro and Satoru and Katilda and Lier. The latter is one of the relatively unusual Human creatures that don't feature any other subtype, therefore have to be covered in the Human entry of our evaluation. More so, the Innistrad alliance between the good witch Katilda and the sinister cultist Lier is a "Humans matter" card, granting the Snapcaster Mage ability to every Human we cast in their presence, which is pretty huge. And this on top of being a quite solid 3/3 for three. It also requires three different colors, but Human builds easily go up to five with the help of the various specialized "tribal matters" lands. So maybe this time the impact of the new additions to Human is not entirely irrelevant.


Kithkin: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 61

 Related Tribes: Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: While reviewing Kithkin Billyrider from March of the Machine, I noted how the Lorwyn-based tribe enjoys very few chances to get new member until we return to their commercially underwhelming native plane. We should salute this master flickerer then, which improves on the blueprint of Mistmeadow Witch. The older version could flicker multiple things per turn, but only at the expense of large amounts of mana resources. Just tapping the Vanisher is a much more elegant solution, and if attacking with a 3/2 is not ideal, there are many other ways to make it work, from convoke to Springleaf Drum effects. It remains a specialized creature, but blinking is a powerful ability in our modern era where every creature has some kind of ETB trigger; and unlike her Witch predecessor, the Vanisher is able to blink any kind of nonland permanent, to boot. In Kithkin tribal alone, she interacts with Kinsbaile Borderguard and Kithkin Harbinger, among others.


Knight: +6

  

  

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 New Tribal Total: 378, online: 365

 Related Tribes: Human, MerfolkSphinx, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The Knights, either those coming from Zhalfir or from other areas of the Multiverse, have been a central tenet in the lore of March of the Machine, so it comes to no surprise that they get a dedicated precon Commander deck, the Esper-colored "Cavalry Charge". Its designated commander is Sidar Jabari of Zhalfir, an evasive first striker that allows our Knight team to loot at every attack we make, even when he didn't actually drop onto the battlefield yet. This griffin-riding general, a literal callback to the Mirage era (as Zhalfir had been phased out of time ever since), also recurs our deceased Knights every time he connects, including the massive ones we might have looted away in the meantime – like Drogskol Cavalry, just to mention the most expensive rare Knight we could run under Jabari's watch. Of course he's more of a Commander-oriented tribal lord than one that would also work in 60-card formats without the command zone.

 But all the other new Knights are tribal cards as well, so we can just take our pick. Herald of Hoofbeats even brings back the deprecated but very tribe-appropriate horsemanship keyword, granting it to all the Knights, which only makes sense. It's only useful evasion for those who aren't already airborne on their own, like Jabari with his griffin as well as the uneasy partnership between Elenda and Azor – the Vampire saint (yeah, it's a thing) doesnt actually fly, but the self-important Sphinx does, and he's also big and warded, and lets us cast an Esper version of Sphinx's Revelation, minus the lifegain, as an attack trigger. For her part, Elenda adds her signature massive token-making, this time synchronized with the card draw, so it looks like the two Ixalan legends are really working in unison in spite of everything. It's a strong if slow commander, with some synergy with "Knights matter" builds because of the new subtype the Elenda's tokens have acquired for the occasion. It's also worth noting that most team up cards entirely omit the original "class" of the two characters in the type line, so this is kind of a stretch, made just to better accommodate the Knight theme of the precon.

 More straightforward in its effectiveness in black Knight decks is the other mounted Vampire, Innistrad-based Exsanguinator Cavalry. It's a three-drop that compensate the lack of power with the double boon of menace and lifelink, but especially by providing every Knight with a version of the Slith ability that also creates a Blood token. Also appealing, and still in black, the Eldraine native Locthwain Lancer is a big menacer that makes all Knight replace themselves and ping the opponents upon death.

 Last but not least, Vodalian Wave-Knight from Dominaria effortlessly grows the whole Knight team except herself at every draw step – or more often if we play the game right and draw multiple cards per turn. Not all of these Knights possess the cost efficiency necessary to translate well into a non-Commander Constructed environment, but most of them can prove very rewarding if we give them a chance.


Merfolk: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 263, online: 259

 Related Tribes: Knight

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: And, right, this gal is a Merfolk lord as well! Four mana is typically too slow for Fish decks, but one or more free +1/+1 counters per turn, on everybody else? She certainly doesn't horse around. Also, yeah, merpeople with that kind of lower half can't really ride any other way but sidesaddle.


Monkey: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 10

 Related Tribes: Elf

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The Rashmi and Ragavan team up introduces blue into the Monkeys' world. It's also the third mythic Monkey (which actually makes for a pretty high percentage in a tribe with 10 members!), after Ragavan himself and Kibo from Jumpstart 2022, sadly still missing on Magic Online.


Orc: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 78, online: 77

 Related Tribes: Pirate

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: It was such a flavor fail for parley from Conspiracy to never have been associated wth a Pirate until now. Luckily, Cutthroat Negotiator puts an end to that regrettable state of things, using the ability word to amass Treasures. It's still kind of a hit-or-mostly-miss group-hug affair, though.


Phyrexian: +6

  

  

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 New Tribal Total: 436, online: 434

 Related Tribes: Artificer, Bird, Cat, Construct, Fox, GiantSpirit

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: There are a few new strong Phyrexians in their dedicated Orzhov precon, but three in particular are meant to play in tribal concoctions. Interestingly, they all care for different moments in the Phyrexian life cycle: Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos generates an Incubator token when you cast a Phyrexian and proliferates when they die; Darksteel Splicer creates one (or more) 3/3 Golems when they enter the battlefield; and Vulpin Harvester recurs an artifact when they attack. They're all cards that drop in the mid-game or later. Harvester is the one that feels more non-Commander Constructed playable, if only because it affects the board right away, albeit with some setup required. Darksteel Splicer also does that to some degree, but seven mana should buy you more than a 1/1 and a maybe-indestructible 3/3.


Pirate: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 122, online: 112

 Related Tribes: Orc

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: There are currently 63 blue Pirates, 45 red Pirates, and 31 black Pirates. So the Negotiator is in the most popular colors for the tribe. Not enough to recommend a low-toughness four-drop that needs to attack in order to do something at all, and that something most of the times will amount to "everybody draws a card, you get one Treasure".


Rogue: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 403, online: 383

 Related Tribes: Artificer, Vedalken

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: So the lore here is that this guy steals the blueprints of enemy devices and then replicates them, all while riding a hoverbike for some reason. (Well, the reason is that mechanically he has to connect, so they needed an excuse to give him evasion.) The flavor text also establishes he's doing it against Phyrexians, specifically. The effect is still terribly situational, but imagine copying a Cityscape Leveler with it! Uhm, except they'll still have their Cityscape Leveler, which will attack and destroy ours before it could do anything. Yeah, Schema Thief is jank.


Shaman: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 460, online: 454

 Related Tribes: Fox

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Can you believe this is only the second white Shaman ever printed? (The first being Shaman en-Kor, which was actually meant as just a Cleric, but later got retconned due to the name they absent-mindedly picked). For a 460-member tribe, it's almost disconcerting. Then again, Shamans are the magic users of populations that don't dwell in organized urban areas, and that doesn't go down well with white.

 The tribe also doesn't offer a ton of support for the kind of +1/+1 counters strategies that Bright-Palm wants to be around. The most prominent examples in Naya colors are Rage Forger and Grumgully, the Generous. There are some others that explicitly cater to different tribes, like Immaculate Magistrate for Elves and Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca for Merfolk. Our aggro Fox can still be an okay four-drop, backing up herself and then doubling her own counters. But it's probably not worth delving into three colors just to field a midrange beater.


Soldier: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 818, online: 757

 Related Tribes: Angel, Elephant

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: The multi-backup of Conclave Sledge-Captain can fit the go-wide nature of most Soldier builds, but its color and cost aren't ideal. On the other hand, Firemane Commando's easy-peasy card draw is as appealing in Soldiers as it is in Angels – or anywhere else, really. At least when we're dealing with one-on-one games, in which the lower half of the rule text is basically blanked out. Not entirely, mind you: the opponent's draw still triggers if they're attacking planeswalkers and/or battles. But we're the ones to decide whether or not to play those card types alongside the Commando, or even whether or not to put them in our deck to begin with.


Sphinx: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 72

 Related Tribes: Knight, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: More than a balanced team up between two of the most revered legendaries from Ixalan (Elenda of Garrano is the common ancestor of the entire Legion of Dusk; Azor is the formerly planeswalking parun from Ravnica), this card feels mostly like an Esper reworking of Azor, the Lawbringer alone. It has the same mana value, the same body, the same evasion, and the component of the attack trigger that really matters, for the same converted mana cost. You can even tell the lifegain was omitted only because it would make the token-making's loss of life negligible right from the start (it still gets offset by the fact that the tokens have lifelink). It's a strong card that can easily take over the game through both card advantage and board advantage, while also functioning as a legitimate finisher. It suffers from classic "needs to survive a turn cycle" syndrome, an issue only partially mitigated by ward 2 – by the time we cast a six-drop, the opponent won't have too much trouble spending two extra mana to remove our Vampire-Sphinx combo.


Spirit: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 582, online: 572

 Related Tribes: Bird, HumanPhyrexian

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: If Moira is not a very well-known legendary Spirit (her solo card is quite recent and released in another ancillary product, and there aren't any stories featuring her), Innistrad's most benevolent apparition of the holy Saint Traft is as classic a ghost as MTG has to offer. His original Angel-summoning incarnation of Geist of Saint Traft was and still to some extent is widely played. In his team up with the irruent inquisitor Rem Karolus, the friendly geist maintains is penchant to make tokens whenever he gets tapped. This time, though, he's not required to attack, necessarily. Also, the juicier Angel token only shows up after we managed to tap Saint Traft and Rem Karolus for the third time during a single turn. This already sounds like a Johnny/Jenny challenge right there (and also jank, but that's the nature of most Johnny/Jenny cards). Convoking is the built-in way to go at it, as that's both a way to tap our token-making duo in the first place, and it triggers its second ability that will untap it afterwards. That'll require a whopping three back-to-back convoke spells to get to the Angel, though. Even by first attacking, unless we somehow manage to give Traft and Karolus vigilance. The first convoke makes a vanilla 1/1, the second a small flyer, and only with the third we'll get our hands on the 4/4. Of course, we're also essentially generating mana this way, but the density of convoke cards in our deck has to be insanely high for this to happen even just once per game.

 More straightforward is the other Spirits that came out of the "Divine Convocation" precon. Flockchaser Phantom is not as expensive as it looks, at least in creature-heavy deck. And attacking with our vigilant 5/5 flyer is something we'll want to do regardless, and it'll grant at the very least one mana discount to our next spell. It's not groundbreaking or anything, but it could also just represent a way to drop a big evasive finisher early on in some sort of Azorius Weenie build – a gameplan Spirit tribal itself can support. In fact, the Phantom is as big as Angel of Salvation (which was reprinted in the same deck, by the way), except it's two mana less expensive and much more useful once on the battlefield.


Vampire: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 350, online: 345

 Related Tribes: Knight, Sphinx

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Despite making Blood tokens, Exsanguinator Cavalry doesn't care for Vampires at all, while the Elenda component of Elenda and Azor just doesn't care enough, even while potentially creating a bunch of them. There are easier ways to populate our battlefield with vamp tokens than spending six mana of three colors (including one, blue, that's not particularly Vampire-friendly), then spending a similar amount the turn after.


Vedalken: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 65

 Related Tribes: Artificer, Rogue

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The hyper-intellectual Vedalken are an interesting creation. Originally designed to take the place of Merfolk as blue's signature humanoids, due to their better adaptability to non-aquatic environments, they ultimately only showed up on a handful of planes: Mirrodin, Ravnica, Alara, and, more recently, Kaladesh. During the four years following Ravnica Allegiance and prior to Phyrexia: All Will Be One, only three new Vedalkens have been printed, one in the first Modern Horizons set, two in the second (plus two in Unfinity). Schema Thief is part of a trio that participated in the New Phyrexian Invasion saga, the other two being Unctus, Grand Metatect and Mutagen Connoisseur. The ball was definitely dropped on the idea of making them "the new Merfolk".


Warrior: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 936, online: 912

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: All three new Warriors in March of the Machine Commander are Humans. The green Sandsteppe War Riders is from the artifact tokens deck, and it's the only instance of bolster in the product. Just like that deck's designated commander, Gimbal, Gremlin Prodigy, the War Riders care for artifact tokens with different names. It's an absurdly narrow clause, but any Gimbal Commander deck will probably want to include these guys as well.

 From the backup deck comes the hyphenated duo of Death-Greeter's Champion and Mirror-Style Master. The former doubles as a buyback way to give double strike and a +1/+1 counter to one of our creatures, thanks to dash. Four mana might or might not be worth it. The latter is a payoff for modified, which makes perfect sense in a build that's bound to distribute a lot of backup counters. It's a 3/3 that must attack and costs six mana, though, even if by backing up itself, it'll generate a copy that'll further back it up, so it can basically attack as a 5/5 plus a (temporary) 3/3. Still probably not enough, unless we find some crazier exploit for this ability. Also, shouldn't a martial artist from Tarkir be a Monk rather than a Warrior?


Wizard: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 949, online: 925

 Related Tribes: HumanKithkin

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Both new Wizards are good here, all fitting a different but rewarding gameplan. Mistmeadow Vanisher instantly enters the hall of fame of the best flickering enablers. Wildfire Awakener makes a wide board twice as wide, by conjuring an Elemental for each creature we tapped to pay for the X in its cost; and that's just the first step, since those Elementals are a wincon that threatens inevitability, either by convoking some more (which could happen right away, as they're entering the battlefield untapped), or just by attacking en masse the next turn. Granted, neither the Vanisher nor the Awakener read as Wizard tribal cards, necessarily. But the tribe is immense (in fact, the second largest after Human); it can support pretty much anything.


Wurm: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 101, online: 96

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The last new entry in "Call for Backup" is this Wurm, finally giving representation to a relevant creature type that didn't appear in neither Phyrexia: All Will Be One nor March of the Machine. The Wurms fought in the invasion, too! This one is mostly a 7/7 for seven that cheats something into play among the top seven cards of our library, Summoning Trap-style. Except not really by surprise, but covering all permanent types, not just creatures. It would be strictly casual-oriented if not for the backup clause, that can transmit the same ability to a different creature that can attack right away (so there will be a bit of surprise factor, at least), while making it large enough to potentially find more and larger targets than the Wurm itself. If we do so, Emergend Woodwurm becomes more impactful the first time around; at the same time, it loses value later, as a 4/4 is not bound to attack well or dig for much of relevance. Still, a decent design and not too awful a card, all things considered.


SUMMARY

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