The second Standard Magic: The Gathering set of 2023 is March of the Machine. The final battle capping off the epic Phyrexian plotline that’s been running for four sets now, March of the Machine is set across numerous planes and contains fan-favourite characters from the length and breadth of the multiverse. It looks like these worlds have been joined in some way, as promo artwork shows Kaldheim gods standing shoulder to shoulder with Strixhaven students. Mysterious!
The set isn’t far away now, and here come the spoilers! Below you’ll find everything from March of the Machine’s release date to its story – all you need to know about the biggest MTG set of 2023. Be sure to check out our MTG 2023 release schedule for everything else that’s coming out in the coming months. And of course, if you’re new to playing Magic digitally, get a stack of free cards with our guide to MTG Arena codes. Otherwise, read on…
March of the Machine release date
The global tabletop March of the Machine release date is April 21, 2023. It’ll be fully available in paper after a week of prerelease events from April 14–20. For all you Magic Arena (or Magic Online) players, the set gets its digital release on April 18.
Those are the key March of the Machine release dates, but we also know when the set’s spoiler season is starting up. Card previews will be running from March 29 – April 4, so definitely check back in around then, as we’ll show you all the best cards as they come ‘marching’ in.
March of the Machine spoilers
Spoiler season has begun, and many March of the Machine spoilers have already been shown off. First of all, there are tons of cards showing MTG characters teaming up, unlikely alliances between legendary creatures who would normally hate each other’s guts. Everyone from Fblthp and Borborygmos to Yargle and Multani is joining hands.
We’ve also got a couple of new big name compelation victims, with more sure to follow. The Theros god Heliod has been turned Phyrexian, which according to Wizards suggests his believers have been corrupted. And the beloved Omnath gets his fifth colour, becoming a Phyrexian in the process. Omnath, Locus of All has an interesting take on ramp and card draw, while this double sided Heliod gives everything flash and a cost reduction. Our favourite dino, Etali, also gets a compleated card, starting off regular and then transforming to robo-form.
We’ve also got reprints of these classic life-gaining MTG land cards to admire, showing all kinds of planes looking rather the worse for wear.
Then are plenty more MTG cards to look at. Including a new Chandra planeswalker, Chandra, Hope’s Beacon, which, as well as its regular effects, can copy all of your spells. Then there’s Breach the Multiverse, an expensive black spell which lets you mill your opponents and then steal their best stuff out the graveyard.
There’s the final ‘Sword of’ card, which we knew would be the Dimir part of this cycle. And there’s a snazzy legendary artifact representing Realmbreaker, which lets you steal lands out your opponent’s deck, and – for a lot of mana, summon a ton of Praetors to the field. Speaking of Praetors, here’s the new Elesh Norn!
March of the Machine’s set symbols and booster packaging give some insight into the set. The main set symbol appears to be planeswalker Elspeth’s sword thrusting through the Phyrexia symbol, while the Commander set symbol is big bad Elesh Norn. Packaging for the set shows the MTG Planeswalkers Teferi and Chandra taking a prominent role, as well as characters from basically every modern plane you could care to name.
March of the Machine mechanics
We now know a whole lot about MTG March of the Machine’s mechanics. There’s a brand new card type, Battles, first introduced on the Atraxa card in All Will Be One. Not a subtype like Sagas mind you, a whole new card type, like Planeswalkers. We soon found out that Battles are double-sided cards, and that one will appear in every single pack of March of the Machine.
The way these cards work is a bit like reverse-planeswalkers. They’re cards that come down on your opponents’ side with defence counters. They give you an effect, and then when you defeat them (through combat or damage) you get to cast their flipside for free.
Another new mechanic is Incubate. This is a new type of artifact token, one that creates little cocoons with +1/+1 counters on them. You can then pay mana to transform those cocoons into Phyrexian creatures. Transforming tokens, what will they think of next?
Finally, we’ve seen Backup. Backup creatures put a +1/+1 counter on another creature and give it all of their abilities for a turn. These might be simple keyword abilities (as seen on Boon-Bringer Valkyrie) or more complex, powerful effects (like Archpriest of Shadows).
March of the Machine story
MTG head designer Mark Rosewater has said March of the Machine will introduce huge changes that will shape both Magic: The Gathering’s mechanics and its story. There’s even a whole mini set planned just to show off how “the very fabric of the multiverse has fundamentally changed”. Whatever happens in the fight, whether the Phyrexians take over entire planes or are effortlessly crushed, MTG March of the Machine definitely won’t be your average Magic set.
The key beats of March of the Machine’s story are: The Phyrexians have built Realmbreaker, their own version of the Kaldheim world tree, which allows them to break into different planes and attack the whole multiverse at once, under Elesh Norn’s command.
It seems, though, that the goodies will use these portals too, and come together to fight the Phyrexians as one big army: a bigger Avengers Assemble moment than War of the Spark. What’s unknown currently is who will make it to the other side of the war, and if the multiverse is going to remain all joined up afterwards. Plus, there’s also the new evil league of compleated planeswalkers to worry about.
The plan for fighting the Phyrexians involves bringing Zalfir (Teferi’s home) back to invade New Phyrexia. This was done by Wrenn merging with the Realmbreaker doomsday device to create new portals. Check out some more March of the Machine story hints here.
March of the Machine: The Aftermath
If there’s one thing about this set that Wizards of the Coast seems really keen to drill in, it’s that March of the Machine has consequences. So many consequences, in fact, that apparently it needs an entirely separate Standard-legal set to cover them all.
That’s March of the Machine: The Aftermath, a ‘micro set’ that will release on May 12, 2023. It’ll be sold in collector boosters and little epilogue boosters containing just five cards. The key thing to know about this set is that it’s smaller, and has no Common cards – just Uncommons, Rares, and Mythics. The WPN website cryptically suggests the set will see players “Rebuild the Multiverse while building up your collection”.
So far, one card from Aftermath has been shown: The Kenriths’ Royal Funeral. RIP to Will and Rowan’s mum and dad – this is sure to have some impact on the MTG Wilds of Eldraine set coming later in the year.
March of the Machine Commander decks
While we don’t know much about March of the Machine’s commander decks yet, we do know that there’ll be precisely five of them. Here are the themes:
- Phyrexians – White/Black
- Knights – Blue/Black/White
- Convoke – Red/Blue/White
- Artifact tokens – Red/Blue/Green
- +1/+1 counters – Red/Green/White
The really big news though, is that Planechase is back!