MTG Arena Zone Premium
MTG Arena Zone Premium
March of the Machine Key Art

My Theory on the Phyrexia Story Ending: March of the Machine, Quintorius in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, and More

It’s no secret that, when it comes to Magic antagonists, the Phyrexians usually rank at the top for most fans. Thus, the upcoming story that kicks off with Dominaria United and ends with March of the Machine, centered on the war against the Phyrexians, is sure to get the attention of a lot of players.

We’ve seen the Phyrexians leave New Phyrexia and, so far, arrive on Kaldheim, Kamigawa, New Capenna, and now Dominaria.

We’ve also seen two Planeswalkers, Ajani, Sleeper Agent and Tamiyo, Compleated Sage, fall to the Phyrexians and become compleated. The threat Phyrexia poses to the Multiverse has never been greater, so what can possibly come next, and where is this all leading?

I’ll lead with my theory, and then break it down: The war against New Phyrexia will end with non-Planeswalkers being able to visit other planes beyond their own. I’ve seen some people mention it online as a possibility, and some have even found hints in the promotional art shown at Wizards Presents (which I’ll go over shortly), so this theory isn’t uniquely mine.

That said, I will be delving into this from both a narrative perspective and, more importantly, a business perspective. I believe this change is coming specifically because of the rise in popularity of Commander, and the company’s attempts to appeal more to that crowd.

First, let’s talk about the evidence. Two preview images were showcased for the set during the Wizards Presents event, and they are flanking this paragraph. The first showcases Teferi and Elesh Norn, as well as what look like monstrous vines, with three different planes (Theros, Zendikar, and Kamigawa). The second image showcases Chandra alongside several non-Planeswalker characters from different planes: Baral, Dina, Borborygmos, Esika, and Kairi. Normally, these characters and worlds could not interact within the normal rules of Magic, so that means something is now different. Somehow, March of the Machine has changed the rules of the Multiverse, and I believe the monster vines are the key.

March of the Machine Key Art

The Kaldheim story ended with Vorinclex grievously wounding Esika and stealing some sap from The World Tree before returning to New Phyrexia. It’s worth noting that The World Tree on Kaldheim connected ten different “realms”, which were mini-planes, allowing the denizens to interact with and fight against one another. The Phyrexians, of course, want to conquer the Multiverse. That’s their singular goal. Thus, we can conclude that March of the Machine revolves around them trying to attain their goal. I believe the vine-looking things visible in both promotional arts are the fruit of their efforts on Kaldheim: A Phyrexian World Tree. Part organic, part machine, it is the machine that is doing the marching, so-to-speak, growing out into the Multiverse, connecting all of the Planes directly so non-Planeswalkers can travel between them.

Phyrexian Rager Art by Stephan Martiniere

From a story perspective, this makes a heck of a lot of sense. Phyrexia wanting to connect the Multiverse in such a way so that they could invade any given plane at any time is a logical goal for them as a villainous force. The question we should be asking is what does this “new normal” accomplish for Wizards from a story-telling and from a business perspective? The answer to that is, of course, centered on the Commander format, which has become the dominant paper format for the game, for better and for worse.

One of the many complaints that has arisen online about Magic’s story is that a certain sector of the player base actively dislikes the Planeswalkers as main characters. They’d prefer a return to the “old days”, with the Weatherlight crew being able to travel the Blind Eternities and explore various planes. This also connects to Commander, wherein the games and, arguably, the “stories” center on the Commanders, who are almost all legendary creatures. Suddenly, with the planes connected by this Phyrexian World Tree, we could see legendary characters showing up in entirely new settings.

Stonebound Mentor Art by Svetlin Velinov

Quintorius, Field Historian, the Lorehold legendary can show up on the plane of Ixalan to explore the Lost Caverns. Maybe we can see a character like Niv-Mizzet, the current Living Guildpact and genius leader of the Izzet, exploring Innistrad and learning about the necro-alchemy being performed there. With this change, Commander players can count on the story following more of the characters they care about, regardless of what planes the game is visiting.

Magic is a game that is always changing. This holds true for both the gameplay elements and the story elements. A shift in the actual lore and rules of the lore to accommodate the growing Commander format may sound like a radical move on the part of Wizards, but from a business perspective, the math checks out.

Wheel of Fate Art by Kev Walker
Wheel of Fate Art by Kev Walker

Finding ways to get those players to remain invested in the lore regardless of what setting the game chooses to use next is a powerful tool, especially when that audience puts so much emotional weight on the characters and the overall experience. I believe my theory will end up being true, the rules of the lore will be changed forever, and we will soon see that when it comes to the Multiverse, maybe the Phyrexians will get their wish, in a sense: All Will Be One.

Enjoy our content? Wish to support our work? Join our Premium community, get access to exclusive content, remove all advertisements, and more!

MTG Arena Zone Premium
Metallix87
Metallix87

My name is Jose Manuel Lopez. I've been playing Magic: the Gathering since 1999. I was previously a paper tournament grinder for several years, but shifted my competitive focus almost entirely to digital with the release of MTG Arena. I also am an avid Cube designer, and I'm relatively active within a niche Cube community which focuses on Spike-oriented Cube design. I've played every major format competitively at one point or another, and I play Commander semi-regularly, as well. I love Magic, it's my favorite game, and I play it and/or talk about it almost every single day. I often say that Magic is like pizza, since even "bad" Magic is still Magic, and that mantra pushes me to engage with the game and the overall Magic community regularly to both keep up with what's going on in Magic, and also try to share my passion for the game with others.

Articles: 13

Leave a Reply