March of the Machine: The Aftermath’s Best Cards

Nahiri is fiercely attacking

Magic: The Gathering‘s recent expansion set, March of the Machine, added a whole host of powerful and exciting new cards for multiple formats like Standard and Commander. MTG‘s first ever 50-card micro-set, March of the Machine: The Aftermath, launched yesterday, and players are understandably keen to get stuck in and start experimenting.

Overall, The Aftermath‘s community reception has been mixed at best, with players citing problems with Planeswalker creature designs and the hefty price tag. But it’s not all bad news; like any other set, “micro” or not, The Aftermath includes a handful of exciting cards that are sure to see mainstream use, especially in Standard. The main caveat is that March of the Machine: The Aftermath cards aren’t usable in Booster draft Limited, so players should evaluate them accordingly.


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Coppercoat Vanguard Is Powerful in Human Aggro Decks

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Players aren’t just looking for flashy legendary MTG creatures and multicolor bombs in The Aftermath. Standard players in particular need efficient, relevant cards for well-established strategies, and Coppercoat Vanguard delivers. It’s a low-cost 2/2 that gives +1/+0 to all fellow Human creatures and also grants them ward 1, making Coppercoat Vanguard a fantastic addition to aggressive decks.

Some Standard critics noted Coppercoat Vanguard is a fine addition to the Azorius Soldiers deck archetype as well as Mono-White Aggro. These decks need cheap but strong creatures that can rapidly pump up the board for all-out attacks to win the game quickly. Coppercoat Vanguard grants a much-needed power boost to push damage, and while ward 1 isn’t as strong as hexproof, creatures like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben show just how strong these effects can be. The opponent will be using removal spells one turn later, which can make all the difference. Forcing opponents to pay the ward cost is a great way to hog their mana and slow down their game plan.

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Vesuvan Drifter Is a Powerful Blue Tempo Card

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Vesuvan Drifter is a flying shapeshifter that can hit for 2 in the air, but evasive damage isn’t its only benefit. Vesuvan Drifter’s first ability is essential for any deck running Delver of Secrets from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, making it easier for players to know when they should or shouldn’t scry. These decks use cards like Behold the Multiverse, Consider and Fading Hope to scry and set up a Delver flip. However, if the top card is already an instant or sorcery, that scry may feel wasted.

To fix this, Vesuvan Drifter lets the player see their library’s top card first to know when to scry away an unsuitable card and when not to, saving valuable resources. Vesuvan Drifter will likely see play in any tempo deck running blue mana, mainly so players can make better-informed decisions with their library’s top card in mind. Tempo decks can be tricky to play effectively, so the less guesswork and the fewer risks the better.

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Tranquil Frillback Is a Powerful and Flexible Counter

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Tranquil Frillback is a utility creature, meaning it has a variety of relevant effects that any green deck would want in a variety of matchups. It’s efficiently costed as a 3/3 for 1 colorless and 2 green mana. When it enters the battlefield, the player may pay 1 green mana to activate one or more of Tranquil Frillback’s abilities. It can destroy an artifact or enchantment, gain 4 life, or exile a single graveyard. Gaining life should prove useful against aggro decks, along with its 3/3 body to block aggressors. Additionally, destroying artifacts or enchantments will nearly always be relevant in Standard, Commander, and other formats.

Players using mono-green Standard decks should give Tranquil Frillback a try, though it may compete with Cankerbloom for the artifact/enchantment destruction effect. Alternatively, Tranquil Frillback is ideal sideboard tech for any green deck that needs to counter graveyard decks like Golgari builds. The graveyard counter may be sorcery speed, but it comes with a 3/3 body that can do other things, too. Exiling an opponent’s graveyard is highly effective against players using Golgari cards like Deathbonnet Sprout, Reclusive Taxidermist, Overwhelming Remorse and Urborg Repossession.

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Samut, Vizier of Naktamun Gives Aggro Decks Card Draw

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Standard doesn’t yet have an established red-green aggro deck, but with Samut, Vizier of Naktamun appearing in March of the Machine: The Aftermath, things may change. Samut is enormously powerful on its own as a 2/3 with first strike, vigilance and haste, but best of all, Samut can generate serious value with the right build. Samut draws a card whenever a friendly creature that entered the battlefield this turn hits the opponent, which significantly rewards players for playing creatures with haste or granting haste to other creatures. Aggro decks often suffer from weak card draw, running out of gas after just a few turns, but Samut keeps players drawing cards.

Standard players should experiment with this formula by trying a Gruul aggro deck that borrows cards from mono-red aggro. Monastery Swiftspear, Phoenix Chick, Bloodthirsty Adversary and more cards have haste and other powerful effects, as well as plenty of efficient burn spells to clear the way for attackers. The deck could go full-on Gruul or splash into green to run Samut and one or two other green cards for extra damage. With Samut, players can enjoy unprecedented card draw, a full battlefield and a full hand — a rare luxury for aggro.


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