Magic: The Gathering’s biggest set of the year, March of the Machine, is just around the corner, and if you’re currently swotting up for your first couple of drafts, trying to figure out the best cards in the format, then we’ve got a treat for you.
DraftSim has collected the data from more than 23,000 simulated March of the Machine drafts and shared it with Wargamer, giving us a very clear idea which cards are popular, which ones are being picked early, and which are being left by the wayside.
Once players know the format better these numbers will likely shift a bit, but if you want to see where things lie going into March of the Machine, we’ve picked out the biggest bombs in the format, and taken a look at the top commons in each colour.
The biggest bombs in March of the Machine
March of the Machine appears to be quite a bomb-heavy format, but which bombs are the bombiest and most enticing? The first four cards on this list have an average pick position of 1.00, meaning they were first-picked every single time they showed up. You’ll soon note that many of the top cards are not actually new in the set – many are from the Multiverse Legends bonus sheet, consisting of choice reprints of legendary creatures.
Our first card with a perfect 1.0 score is a new March of the Machine card, however, Archangel Elspeth. This planewalker card does three extremely valuable things for a reasonably low price. It poops out little dudes to protect itself, it resurrects all your weak creatures (who may have fallen while protecting it), and if you’re already in a fairly comfortable position when you cast her, Elspeth closes out the game in no time, turning anything you pick into a highly relevant flying threat.
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
There’ve been a lot of very strong Elesh Norn cards printed or reprinted lately, but you just can’t go wrong with the classics. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite makes combat a non-starter for your opponent, and often kills off several creatures as soon as she enters the battlefield.
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Another OP Praetor with an equally game-winning ability. Sheoldred, Whispering One demands an answer, or else she’ll run away with the game. Even when your opponent has a removal spell waiting, they’ll probably end up sacrificing something before they can kill this formidable threat.
Skithiryx, The Blight Dragon
A scary dragon that’s almost impossible to block, as long as you’ve got the mana to regenerate it, Skithiryx doesn’t offer as much value as the other cards on this list, but it represents a formidable and hard to remove threat all the same.
So many white and black bombs! Board wipes are fantastic in limited, where you can usually trick your opponent into over-committing to the board and it’s much harder to recover from a big loss. Sunfall gives you a creature, letting you play a bit less conservatively when you’ve got the sweeper in hand.
The best commons in March of the Machine
You’ll be extremely lucky if you see each of these cards once throughout your March of the Machine drafting career. So now let’s look at the top-ranked commons, the cards you’ll actually encounter in most of your drafts.
Overall, commons seem less popular in March of the Machine than other recent sets. In Brothers’ War the top common had a pick position of 1.9, while in Phyrexia it was 2.6. In this set, it’s 3.6, suggesting the uncommons or rares are more attractive than normal this time around. It’s probable all those Multiverse Legends are skewing things, since every pack has one, and more of them are first-pickable than BRO’s Retro Artifacts.
Top red common: Volcanic Spite
Removal always does well here – it’s good regardless of a deck’s strategy or a format’s foibles. So it shouldn’t be too shocking to see Volcanic Spite as the top common of the set, with an average pick position of 3.6. It benefits from the lovely bonus of letting you ditch an unwanted card for a chance at finding something better. Plus, it can even flip your battles!
Top colourless common: Skittering Surveyor
Not every set has a high-picked colourless card, but in MOM Skittering Surveyor is back for all your fixing needs. An average pick position of 3.7 shows players definitely remember how good this was in Dominaria. Limited formats are usually a bit more aggressive nowadays, so it won’t be as good here, but if you’re playing three colours or a slow or sacrifice strategy, you’ll want this surveyor skittering into your deck.
Top white common: Realmbreaker’s Grasp
A two manner pacifism effect that shuts down abilities is pretty standard now, but certainly still solid, and Realmbreaker’s Grasp likely deserves its pick position of 4.0. Notably, this one can hit incubate tokens before they flip on you, and can also give vehicles a flat tyre.
Top black common: Deadly Derision
Normally the black removal common is near the top of the list, so it’s interesting to see Deadly Derision in the middle of the pack at 4.3 this time. An instant speed kill spell is mighty, and the treasure helps mitigate the cost, so at first it’s hard to see why this might be. My sneaking suspicion is if you’re in black you probably have better cards to pick up early, since pretty much every black rare and mythic in the set is a stone cold bomb.
Top green common: Cosmic Hunger
We’re in familiar territory with green’s top common, a nasty instant speed (one-sided) fight spell that can even hit planeswalkers and battles. Very efficient and very handy! This one’s average pick position is 4.6.
Top blue common: Preening Champion
Blue being traditionally a support colour in draft, it always seems to be at the back of the pack when it comes to the commons, and it’s no different for this set. Preening Champion got an average pick position of 5.7. This peacock knight gets you a 2/2 flyer for three which would be below rate nowadays, if you didn’t also get a token, turning the card from meh to most excellent.
Bonus top common: The life-gain dual lands
These are great for avoiding mana screw and enabling splashes, and you shouldn’t be too afraid to take them early. In terms of pick order, these all fall pretty close together, but Wind-scarred Crag is the most popular, with an average position of 4.8, and Dismal Backwater the least popular, at 5.3.
If you’re a digital magic player, you’ll already have received three free March of the Machine booster packs in your Inbox – but do make sure you’ve filled your pockets with all available free MTG Arena codes too.