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Elspeth's Smite Art from March of Machine by Livia Prima

March of the Machine Limited Set Review: White

J2SJosh reviews and rates every White March of the Machine card for limited!

Hey everyone! The full March of the Machine card list has dropped and that means it’s time to see what MOM has been cooking up. I was going to try to twist MOM and Maro together there, but even I thought better of stooping that low. Wait, you actually want a terrible joke? Then who am I to deny such a request. This set is ready to battle more than a teenager whose MOM just grounded them. Even DAD would be embarrassed of that one.

Seriously though, it looks like a really fun set with lots of flashbacks to fan favorite scenarios. Plus, you can smash someone in the face with Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and when has that ever gone wrong.

Here’s the usual grading scale:

Aerial Boost

Rating: 1.5/5

Sometimes your creatures just need a little boost to win a combat. In a lot of cases, it also reads “flip target battle” by letting you fly over with an embiggened critter so it is more likely to make the cut if you have a few of those.

The only drawback about a potentially free trick is that Arena will tell on you with priority. That does also give playing with full control an excellent opportunity to bluff even when tapped out.

Alabaster Host Intercessor

Rating: 2.5/5

Not as insane as Faceless Butcher was back in the day, but still good even at this price. It’s not only splashable, but it can fix for other copies of itself. I’d have it higher, but six mana is an awful lot. Even with the Plainscycling option, that really limits how many of these you can play.

Alabaster Host Sanctifier

Rating: 2.5/5

There is a history of underrating this exact card whether it was Story Seeker, Steadfast Paladin, or any of its other forms. Then people realize that they keep losing races to it and it climbs up pick orders. This time I am rating it decently off the bat considering that the backup mechanic and solid equipment means that it shouldn’t have much trouble staying relevant.

Angelic Intervention

Rating: 2.5/5

A lot of people still have nightmares about getting blown out by Feat of Resistance in M21 limited (or about playing that set in general). This is a strict upgrade to that by adding colorless or the ability to protect Planeswalkers. No Touchy my Elspeth!

Being protection instead of indestructible even protects against Final Flourish or Collective Nightmare. A really solid trick that you will always have to keep in mind during combat or before using removal.

Archangel Elspeth

Rating: 4.0/5

I heard some people say this wasn’t that impressive, but game breaking Planeswalkers aren’t coming this cheap these days. For four mana, this one protects itself by pooping out lifelinking dorks. Your opponent will almost certainly be trying to get it off the field making early trades more likely to happen until it can quickly ultimate to get most of those creatures right back.

It can also just pump up the jams and turn anything you have laying around into a legit flying threat. Can’t really ask for more than that in a four mana Planeswalker.

Attentive Skywarden

Rating: 2.5/5

This can snowball a game really quickly if you have cheap ways to make incubators since it is functionally producing two extra mana whenever it connects. It is also great design that it triggers for hitting a player or a battle since it lets you flip incubators and battles at the same time.

Bola Slinger

Rating: 2.0/5

This is a great example of backup bumping a very meh card up to being playable. Getting a surprise tap the turn you play it while also having the threat of this doing it the next turn is just enough to make the cut.

Boon-Bringer Valkyrie

Rating: 4.0/5

Member Baneslayer Angel Pepperidge Farms remembers. That was hotly debated as a “too hot for TV” mythic and seeing this as a rare really says something about power creep.

You can put the counter on this and get a reasonable facsimile (the protection from demons and dragons was frequently flavor text).  The real power comes when you just put the counter on something else and smash in with a surprise flying, first strike, lifelinking monster while still having this back. Sorry opponent, good luck racing that.

Cut Short

Rating: 2.0/5

This is a great opportunity to look across the table during combat and say “I’m not trying to cut you short here but…”. The cool part about this is that you can block and then still use those blockers to pay the convoke cost on this often making this free to destroy an attacking creature.

You’ll usually forget about the planeswalker clause, but it’ll feel so good when it comes up that you’ll take a victory lap around the room. If it’s on Arena, your pets and family might judge you a bit for that, but don’t let that ruin your fun.  

Dusk Legion Duelist

Rating: 3.5/5

A vigilant bear has it’s uses (such as preventing Goldilocks from robbing their house, come on bears pay attention), but the moment you get a card draw off of this it becomes premium. Considering backup is an entire mechanic based around putting +1/+1 counters on creatures, this is going to be a beatdown machine and a card advantage engine all in one.

I suspect that vigilance is going to perform much better than expected in a world where people are fighting over battles.

Elesh Norn

Rating: 4.5/5

It should surprise no one that mommy is able to dominate boards in the MOM set. She has a great body and her ability is for every source on either offense or defense so it will tax them hard. Good luck going wide against that.

Sacrificing three creatures and taking her off the battlefield seems like it would set you back, but you immediately replace them with five Phyrexian bears followed by turning them into a pile of game ending threats the next turn. If they manage to survive that, she blows up the world except for Phyrexians (and artifacts because she considers them family) before coming right back to ruin their day.

Elspeth’s Smite

Rating: 2.0/5

This type of effect has almost always ended up underwhelming, but Elspeth manages to make it pack a little more punch them normal. The differential between one mana and two mana is huge when it comes to a combat trick while you even get exile thrown in for basically nothing.

Enduring Bondwarden

Rating: 1.5/5

There are certainly going to be decks you actively want to put this in such as if you have Dusk Legion Duelist. Unless they are already in a rough spot, they probably won’t block in a way to let you take advantage of the temporary backup ability. That leaves this as basically a chump blocker that puts a +1/+1 counter on something.

Golden-Scale Aeronaut

Rating: 1.5/5

The juice doesn’t feel worth the squeeze here. Aeronaut Cavalry was a solid card, but certainly not game breaking in BRO. Was the Jump and being able to put it on a non-soldier really worth a full -1/-1? I’d be a lot more excited if this at least had an extra power.

Guardian of Ghirapur

Rating: 3.5/5

A discounted Phantom Monster is worth the price of admission on its own. That’s especially true in a format where cheap evasive creatures are going to make it easier to flip battles.

The blink effect is where you have the opportunity to really pile on the value. There are the obvious blinking something with enchantment removal on it or repeating an ETB effect. Another thing to consider is that once a battle is flipped into a creature, you can blink it with this to get the initial effect again.

Heliod, the Radiant Dawn

Rating: 3.5/5

If you are likely to return an enchantment with this then you can bump it up half a grade. That opportunity will be limited though because there aren’t many that put themselves in the yard besides Crystal Carapace and Failed Conversion. Outside of that you’re relying on mill or one dying to get that value.

The back half seems great since you can ambush them with discounted creatures when they try to attack. You might have to swing with this first to get them with it though because not much is going to be swinging into a 4/6.

Infected Defector

Rating: 2.0/5

This is the infection that comes back right when you think you beat it. A 4/3 that dies into a Hill Giant (for two more mana) is a fine deal even if they have forsaken their knightly duties to join Team Phyrexia.

Inspired Charge

Rating: 1.5/5

This effect has been around enough times that I’m not very inspired to write something about it. If you’re going wide then you want this in your deck. If you’re not then pass it along.

Invasion of Belenon

Rating: 3.0/5

Since this is the first battle I’m reviewing, I need to talk about them first. It is not “giving up five damage” to flip this because there are lots of cards like War Historian or War-Trained Slasher that get a bonus for attacking them. There are also cards such as Etched Host Doombringer that directly remove counters from them.

You do need to treat each incidence independently when it comes to the actual cost of flipping a battle. It will change based off the other cards in your deck and the board state. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming (aka my blathering).

Anthem effects are almost always strong in limited, but having five defense will usually require at least some investment unless you are already far ahead on board. You’ll want to be packing some evasive creatures to flip it as well as going wide enough to benefit off of it.  Getting a slightly overpriced knight at least contributes towards those goals.

Invasion of Dominaria

Rating: 2.5/5

The front half doesn’t really help get you to the back half. Even though it gives you some life and a card, it’s really not what you want to be doing turn three. You want to develop your board and play this when you have the opportunity to quickly flip it. In that case, a three mana Serra Angel that draws a card is really good.

Invasion of Gobakhan

Rating: 3.0/5

This is cheap enough in both the initial cost and to flip that I would be very happy with it in any aggressive deck. It lets you make sure the coast is clear and then smack in for a fairly easy flip before you start stacking counters on your critters.

Adding counters instead of a static buff is nice because it lets you sacrifice this without worrying about shrinking your team.

Invasion of Theros

Rating: 2.5/5

If I don’t have anything that this can tutor, then I don’t want this card anywhere near my deck. It’s a build around, but it does have plenty of upside if you can get the right support for it.

A lot of the enchantments in the set are the backside of cards so you can’t search for them, but at least you get the card draw when they flip (as long as it says exile like battles or the Praetors).

Kithkin Billyrider

Rating: 2.0/5

You can’t go wrong with a Kithkin rolling up on some Phyrexians riding a goat. I’m not going to lie, that image in my head may make me slightly biased on this. Double strike amplifies any backup or equipment that you have so make sure to properly provide your Kithkin with what they need.

Knight of the New Coalition

Rating: 2.0/5

Decent number of stats spread across two bodies on a relevant creature type. It gets much better with Marshal of Zhalfir or Inspired Charge.

Knight-Errant of Eos

Rating: 3.5/5

Back in the day I would say that you really need to convoke at least three creatures to make sure you get enough value off of this. The overall power level of one and two drops has increased enough that you should be happy even if you can only convoke this for two. Obviously that decision is very deck dependent and I look forward to whiffing with this on a ninety percenter.  

Kor Halberd

Rating: 2.0/5

Adding vigilance to Short Sword is well worth the tradeoff of having to be white. There are plenty of cheap creatures running around that would love to spike (or whatever one does with a Halberd, can’t say I’ve ever used one) a Phyrexian with this.

Monastery Mentor

Rating: 4.5/5

This gets played in Vintage as a finisher and had to be restricted. I suspect that equates to being pretty good in limited as well. In all seriousness, as long as you have a decent number of noncreature spells (almost like there’s a new type that counts as this too), this gets out of hand very quickly. Not only a great card, but one that leads to a lot of ridiculously fun things happening(for the person playing it).

For those who are new to the monastery life, don’t run this out on turn three. Wait until you can get some value out of it.  

Norn’s Inquisitor

Rating: 3.0/5

As long as this doesn’t die, then this is 4/4 worth of stats across two bodies for four mana payable in two easy installments. That’s pretty solid on its own, but it also tosses counters on all of your other Phyrexian babies you’re popping out too.

It creates a bit of a tension with their removal because they want to deal with the invasion coming at their face, but they also don’t want to let you keep buffing your new critters.

Phyrexian Awakening

Rating: 2.5/5

We’re long past the days where a 4/4 for five with vigilance is more than janky filler. If you have Attentive Skywarden or other ways to flip it, then suddenly that is down to an absolute bargain at only three mana.    

It even tosses in vigilance for the rest of your Phyrexians. It is a nice little design space that they created with these incubator tokens that also leave effects on the field if the creatures are dealt with.

Phyrexian Censor

Rating: 2.5/5

I’d like to see them try to censor me. You can censor BEEP BEEP…damn it, I guess they can… If your opponent isn’t supporting the glory of Phyrexia then this is going to be a real pain in the BEEP…seriously…again…whatever… Sometimes this is just a Centaur Courser, but when it’s good, your opponent is going to want to flip a table.  

Progenitor Exarch

Rating: 4.0/5

Early on it’s 4/5 worth of stats for only three mana while still being able to flip your other incubators for the low, low cost of free. Later on, it makes a whole team of Hill Giants to conquer whatever plane you feel like invading.

Cards that are good early and late are exactly what I want to be drafting so I’ll be slamming this most of the time I see it unless I get some busted thing on the Multiverse Legends bonus sheet.

Realmbreaker’s Grasp

Rating: 2.5/5

Not quite Planar Disruption since it can’t hit Planeswalkers, but you can’t complain too much about an Arrest effect for only two mana.

Well fine, I can complain a little bit. Angelic Intervention, Sunder the Gateway and Scrollshift are all maindeckable cards that wreck this and that’s just in white.


Rating: 2.5/5

I would have loved this card at two mana, but three mana is a huge difference when it comes to holding it up as a trick against removal. It would have been busted at two mana though so I really can’t complain.

Great with ETBs such as triggering backup again or getting an extra 5/5 off of Converter Beast. It also laughs at Realmbreaker's Grasp and Stasis Field. Also nice for ambushing their attack with a previously tapped creature.

Seal from Existence

Rating: 3.0/5

Banishing Light effects are almost always premium since exiling takes away most of those pesky problems that enchantment removals usually run into. Having ward three also makes it much harder to deal with without taking their entire turn.

Seraph of New Capenna

Rating: 2.5/5

Wind Drake is buns in most sets, but this one is hiding a dark side underneath. Flipping this isn’t hard and hitting in the air for five damage ain’t no joke. That can flip a high defense battle on its own or just put a quick clock on your opponent.

Sigiled Sentinel

Rating: 2.0/5

They sure are making it easy to be aggressive with white creatures in this set. Even if you don’t have anything else to stick the counter on, a vigilant 3/3 for three with a relevant creature type is going to be just fine.

Sun-Blessed Guardian

Rating: 2.5/5

Another bear that can turn into more later in the game. This type of card adds a lot of decisions as well as mitigates drawing the wrong part of your curve at the wrong time. This hugely benefits from backup counters being used on it to make your dual attacks deadly.

Sunder the Gateway

Rating: 2.5/5

I love reasonably costed modal cards. The option to have your artifact and enchantment hate just be a random Grizzly Bears if it doesn’t have a target is a very low deck building cost to pay. Being able to blow something up and still get a bear out of it is a great payoff.

The playability of mainboard hate should affect the valuation of other artifacts and enchantments in the set.


Rating: 4.5/5

This is the best limited sweeper we’ve had since at least Farewell. Five mana to cleanly exile all creature while giving yourself a potentially massive creature thrown in is busted. Being able to play other unhatched Phyrexians lets you look less suspicious before you blast their side away.

Important to note that since it transforms instead of exiling and returning into play, your newest hatchling will be able to attack the turn you flip it as long as it started the turn on your side of the field.

Surge of Salvation

Rating: 2.5/5

SIR has spoiled us with not having to worry about getting wrecked by a Tamiyo’s Safekeeping when you’re just trying to cast your spells. Being able to protect yourself and the rest of your creatures is annoying enough, but the real disgusting thing is if you happen to be playing against Rakdos. Can you imagine if they try to use a removal spell mid-combat and you just destroy them with this?

Swordsworn Cavalier

Rating: 2.0/5

There are a ton of playable knights running around to make sure that this is slamming in to the red zone over and over again. If you are somehow not playing other knights, then let this one swear over in the sideboard.

Tarkir Duneshaper

Rating: 2.0/5

Just because they turn into a Phyrexian doesn’t make this doggo any less of a good boi. It can easily slip in your mana curve early on and turn into a threat later. Even though it has the plays early and late thing going on, it’s not especially great at either point.

Tiller of Flesh

Rating: 2.5/5

This triggers with every spell that you cast that targets a permanent, not just your own permanents. That means removal spells have a bear tossed into the deal. Who can say no to free bears?

Zhalfirin Lancer

Rating: 2.5/5

This is going to hit like a freaking truck early on. Obviously your mileage will vary based on your knight count, but I’m sure you can pick enough up to smash hard.

Wrap Up

White is an extremely aggressive color with tons of cheap and efficient creatures that are going to pressure your opponent hard and fast. This will allow you to flip battles a lot easier and snowball games in your favor. It has a lot of nice built in synergy pieces and Angelic Intervention is going to make combat very complicated.

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back tomorrow with my March of the Machine limited review of blue. Until then, stay classy people!

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

You can also find 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: 205

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