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Halo Forager Art from March of the Machine by Kevin Sidartha

March of the Machine Draft Guide

J2Sjosh is here to give you an in-depth guide to March of the Machine drafts ahead of the Arena Open!

Hey everyone! We’re a week into March of the Machine drafts and it’s been such a breath of fresh air compared to the oppressiveness of ONE. I’ve been crushing drafts while taking notes of what’s been working and what hasn’t. I’m here to drop all that Accumulated Knowledge on you to help you start dominating as well.

Use this guide in conjunction with our other March of the Machine resources to prepare for the next few weeks of competitive events such as the Arena Open, Qualifier Play-In, and the Qualifier Weekend!

Key Ideas of March of the Machine Draft

The only major complaint about MOM that I have been seeing is that there are a large number of bombs. The overall power level of the format is extremely high so you should be prepared with either your own busted cards or answers for your opponents.

I won’t lie, there are going to be times when your opponent plays four busted cards when you didn’t draw any of yours. That kind of variance can happen in almost any format though. People just focus on the times it happened with crazy rares instead of B+ uncommons that were less memorable, but left you with just as small of a chance of winning. Don’t let that prevent you from enjoying a format with a lot of skill rewarding decisions and great game play.

The best part about the power level being so high across the board is that it means that a lot of those insane cards are actually beatable by outplaying your opponent. One of the most important aspects in doing this is valuing removal and interaction highly. I know people have been making jokes for the last year or so about removal not being what it used to be in limited, but it has reclaimed its throne in MOM.

Another reason to bump your evaluation of removal up is the Multiverse Legends bonus sheet. It adds a high concentration of relevant creatures without adding any more ways to deal with them. There are also a lot of trap cards on that sheet that were good in their original format, but line up poorly in this set.

Understanding the strategy of battles and properly maneuvering around them in combat are huge parts of finding success here.  There are certainly decks that are totally fine without playing any battles, but I’ve found the optimum number for the average MOM deck to be around two. Don’t get tricked into including stinkers like Invasion of Kamigawa or Invasion of Kylem just because they are in your colors.

I don’t really have a hard cap on the number of battles that I’ll play as long as they are all absolute bangers. That only includes actually great ones like Invasion of New Phyrexia or Invasion of Amonkhet that you simply can’t pass up. Even with amazing ones, they start to have diminishing returns since you will have a harder time pressuring them (except New Phyrexia which you would play twenty-three of if you could).

For me, some of the easiest cuts at the end of a draft are actually battles. It’s easy to grab some early that seem like solid value cards, but they end up not lining up well with the rest of your deck. You can also grab better ones in a later pack that do more for you. Don’t diamond hands them just because it’s “the thing” to do in this set.

While you can’t judge a battle entirely on its front side, you do need to put the majority of your evaluation there. You can’t look at everything in its best case scenario and its very difficult to flip a battle when you are behind in a game. I’ve been saying this a lot, but my rule has been that I don’t want to play a battle if I wouldn’t be willing to play the front half if it was one mana cheaper.

You should almost always prioritize establishing a board before playing battles unless it is due to mana efficiency or something like being able to hit a relevant creature with Invasion of Azgol. You should know which turn you are going to be dropping a battle along with what your attacks are going to be after it hits. If you aren’t planning out a few turns ahead, you’re going to have a bad time.

It’s also important to figure out what your opponents attacks are going to be over the next couple turns. You don’t want to leave yourself open to them flipping a key battle because you made a loose attack. You can even find yourself playing some defense when you’re the beatdown to prevent them from swinging the game back in their favor. To steal the worst joke ever from my podcast partner Floridamun “You really have to pick your battles”. Sigh… Even dad’s are ashamed of that joke.

A big question is whether it is actually possible to play aggro archetypes in this format. Right now, I wouldn’t recommend it, but once they stop being over drafted and the blue decks start getting properly drafted then maybe it will work out better. It’s going to require the shift in both directions to get over how large the difference is in current power level. Aggressive decks are also historically at their worst against midrange decks and this is Midrange: the Formatting.

I know you’re saying, “but Josh, the Knights deck is really good”. I don’t include Azorius under the aggro umbrella because it’s actually more of a synergy deck than a straight up aggressive deck. It is the archetype most supported by set and design mechanics so the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Those insane five color decks that people joke about can really happen here. They let you take bombs in every color and do bonkers stuff like Invasion of Alara. The Draft Lab’s resident mad scientist Tajoordan has been testing them extensively ahead of the open and he has his current pick order for them as Bombs > Skittering Surveyor / Overgrown Pest / Premium Removal > Duals / Portent Tracker > Removal > Filler with the focus on playing three plus colors every time. You don’t need to hardcore stick to that order because to use his direct words, “These decks are an artform so they are always open to interpretation”.

A big warning on the five color decks is that they can be very difficult to play. They provide you with the agency to be able to go over the top of almost anything your opponent can do, but even the best versions can be pretty medium if you don’t play them optimally.  I highly recommend that you take a couple for a spin before trying it in the open.

Color Ranking

I have blue at the top of the mountain (technically everything is on top of the mountains here because red is well…you’ll see). Blue has tons of amazing commons like Preening Champion and Ephara's Dispersal that play well in every color combination. If you question blue’s power, consider that Azorius knights is a top two archetype in win rate while Orzhov and Boros are sitting in last place. I go into every draft hoping to take good blue cards early and slide into the open lane from there.

I have black as a very close second to blue with a higher ceiling, but lower floor. Almost every Black rare (outside of the bonus sheet which is a dumpster fire besides the mythics) is amazing giving you access to plenty of ways to take over a game. It is also packing piles of removal to deal with all of the opposing problems that may show up. A lot of the creatures can be lackluster though so I slightly prefer the consistency of blue.

The next color down is Green which is lacking on quality removal, but does have plenty of mana fixing. I love Overgrown Pest as a smoothing effect that can also grab battles or double-faced cards like Herbology Instructor. There was a period where I kept ending up in Sultai every draft because all three colors play well together and it was bafflingly wide open.

White is a pretty large step down from green, but does have some amazing bombs including Sunfall along with both classic and new coke versions of Elesh Norn. It has great knight synergies with blue, but the other color combinations are underperforming.

Red is highly questionable as a main color if you don’t have something ridiculous like Etali, Primal Conqueror. While Volcanic Spite is an amazing card, it’s splashable and the rest of the commons don’t hold up. I see people taking a pick three Stoke the Flames claiming that it’s a sign, but that’s not nearly enough to get me to chase red down the rabbit hole.


I’ve been asked about these enough times that your little buddies have earned their own section. Starting with an extra card is a pretty big deal, but there are some real costs associated with it. Don’t give up a really good bomb or 2-3 high quality cards to make it happen.

Even if you can’t meet the requirements, I would include most of them in the main deck as long as they fit the theme. Kaheera, the Orphanguard and Jegantha, the Wellspring are subpar main deck inclusions if they don’t synergize with some of your other cards.

Lutri, the Spellchaser is the easiest one to companion especially if you take it early since all it asks of you is to not take two of a card. If you’re giving up some combination of three Preening Champion, Ephara's Dispersal, or Volcanic Spite then it’s not worth the hit to deck quality to run with it.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den is very interesting if you grab it early since you can focus on taking quality spells and cheap permanents like Saiba Cryptomancer to recur and protect Lurrus. The incubator producing spells such as Eyes of Gitaxias allow you to get around the restriction while still filling in your curve with creatures.

The previously mentioned Jegantha, the Wellspring is the other one that is reasonably companionable without affecting your deck too much. I’m fine skipping out on a Stoke the Flames or a decent other spell to make this happen.

Yorion, Sky Nomad is not a meme. The card quality is high enough in this set that you can pretty easily build a sixty-card deck as long as you didn’t have a hard pivot in the middle of the draft. You might have to include a few cards that would normally be on the cusp, but Yorian is a busted card that makes it well worth it.

The rest of them have way too harsh of restrictions to force them. Maybe that miracle draft happens, but it’s usually best not to try.

Tips and Tricks

Don’t worry about your curve as much as you would in other sets. Taking a medium two drop over a quality card is a surefire way to tank your draft.

Since a lot of two drops are subpar, playing Traumatic Revelation in that slot is totally viable.

I’m really hoping we do see some change soon because it has been a week and I am still seeing Halo Forager and Invasion of Amonkhet coming around pick eight. Please stop letting this happen people.

Render Inert is a real card that should typically be played in the main. Being able to cantrip flip one of your battles is a nice back up from cantrip killing one of their incubator tokens. If you have no battles worth flipping, you should probably take it out though.

Flipping the transform creatures is a legitimate cost that people don’t consider. If you spend two turns worth of mana only to get it removed in response, that’s a pretty huge tempo shift in the game.

Battles functionally boost player’s life totals so you have more time to take advantage of things like drawing extra cards.

Milling yourself out can actually be a thing especially if you are packing Breach the Multiverse. Oracle of Tragedy and even Phyrexian Archivist can be decent additions if this is a major concern. You can even loop Oracle of Tragedy with Ephara's Dispersal to keep it going.

While the initial take on Skittering Surveyor was that its time had passed. It’s still a perfectly fine playable that I am actively looking for when I’m splashing.

I’ve been fine with running an Atraxa's Fall in the main if I am really light on removal AND weak to flying critters. Don’t get crazy and pack two though.

The Portent Tracker into Blighted Burgeoningstart can lead to some downright silly games. They never see turn four Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite coming.


Sunfall is the OMG are you freaking kidding me bomb that has been destroying (or in this case exiling) games out of nowhere. Knowing that its coming lets you hold back other incubators to have attackers ready to go on top of the massive monster this provides you. Remembering that should make you very wary if you see someone not flipping incubators when they logically should.

Invasion of Fiora is the other full kaboom to watch out for. It is six mana, but between the flexibility and flipping into an insane creature it’s a ridiculous bomb as well.

Invasion of Karsus and Into the Fire are the damage-based sweepers. Karsus is just big enough to matter against knights while Into the Fire shouldn’t be a mainboard card.

Glistening Deluge should be a sideboard card, but I’ve ran into quite a few people hoping to high roll with it in the main.

Technically Chandra, Hope's Beacon could be included here since it kills more than one creature, but if that hits the board you have plenty of other things to worry about.


The convoke tricks are something you should be keeping in mind especially when you see your opponent have priority when tapped out. Early on you can usually narrow it down between Aerial Boost, Cut Short, Collective Nightmare, Meeting of Minds, and Stoke the Flames. Later you have to worry about Transcendent Message and Artistic Refusal.

Ephara's Dispersal has been performing like Repulse on an Unsummon budget. Be careful with the autotapper because it doesn’t factor in that this can be discounted when making decisions. That being common knowledge lets you bluff this by manually tapping to leave one blue up.  

Angelic Intervention and Saiba Cryptomancer are the “Oops, guess I got wrecked” spells of the format that have been steadily getting more play as the format develops. Surge of Salvationand Bladed Battle-Fancan play similar roles, but are much less prevalent.

Arachnoid Adaptation is the main green pump spell to concern yourself with, but I have seen a few Vengeant Earth out in the wild.

Zhalfirin Shapecraft isn’t in the same league as Suit Up, but it might get some more play as blue starts to dry up.

Inspired Charge is the typical go wide trick. It’s not getting much play, but block accordingly when you see a suspicious all-in attack.


Artistic Refusal has been a huge over performer and is the only straight up counter target spell with no restrictions. Considering the range of bombs flying around this set, that’s a very valuable ability.

Assimilate Essence is pretty medium, but still serviceable. Figuring out whether they are holding up this or Negate can make a huge difference. 

Speaking of Negate, I’m down to play it as a one off in the main since it hits battles and protects your bombs.

Change the Equation is pretty strictly a sideboard card, but you can’t completely rule out your opponent YOLOing it into their deck.


These are the Pack One Pick One (p1p1) no doubt, windmill slam, just take them rares of the set. These are not in rank order, just take these over any non-mythic uncommon or common. There are actually a lot more in this set, but you don’t want to be here all day so I cut it to fifteen.

Mythic Uncommons

These might be uncommons, but they sure don’t play like they are.

Do Not Draft List

These are the ones that some people talk themselves into, but you should always pass.

Wrap Up

I haven’t enjoyed playing a new set this much in quite some time. I really hope you’ve been having just as much fun chilling with MOM as I have. Good luck with crushing the Arena Open this weekend!

Thanks for reading and I’ll be back in a few days with more limited analysis for you. Until then, stay classy people!

I’m always open to feedback, let me know what you loved, what you hated, or just send dog pics. You can contact me at:

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Josh is a member of the elite limited team The Draft Lab as well as the host of The Draft Lab Podcast. He was qualifying for Pro Tours, Nationals, and Worlds literally before some of you were born. After a Magic hiatus to play poker and go to medical school, he has been dominating Arena with over an 80% win percentage in Bo3 as well as making #1 rank in Mythic.

Articles: 206

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