The Best Steals and Deals From March of the Machine: The Aftermath

An already-forgotten Standard release, but incredible for budget players.

Released in May, March of the Machine: The Aftermath was Wizard of the Coast’s first foray into releasing a micro-Standard expansion, offering a buffer post-March of the Machine while tying up loose ends beforeWilds of Eldraine in September. Since this was a mini-release, there are only 50 cards in the expansion which tell the story of the mass desparking, with many Planeswalkers now becoming Legendary Creatures after the Phyrexian invasion.

Nissa, Resurgent Animist (Retro Frame)

Market Price: $27.07

Nahiri, Forged in Fury (Showcase)
Tyvar the Bellicose (Showcase)

Regardless of how you feel about March of the Machine: The Aftermath (and trust me, I have opinions on the matter), you have to admit the Standard expansion offers some excellent cards for Commander while encouraging innovation for constructed formats. Another thing about this somewhat forgettable release is there are a handful of cards that are synergistic but pretty affordable for those budget-minded Magic players.

So while it’s more than reasonable to ignore March of the Machine: The Aftermath as the release was wedged between March of the Machine and The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, there’s perhaps a few gems you may have missed that could serve well in your next Commander or constructed deck. 

Markov Baron

Markov Baron (Showcase)

March of the Machine: The Aftermath

Markov Baron (Showcase) - March of the Machine: The Aftermath - Magic: The Gathering

Much like Dragons, Vampires are also a popular theme to run in Commander, with Edgar Markov and Anje, Falkenrath being the popular options to lead an army of Vampires into battle. And with Markov Baron, you can easily cast the March of the Machine: The Aftermath card by tapping your creatures thanks to Convoke, which you can also achieve if you cast the card for the Madness cost too!

Anje Falkenrath
Edgar Markov

Market Price: $128.70

Markov Baron (Foil Etched)

While cards such as Markov Baron are limited because they only care about a particular creature type, they are fantastic when incorporated as they do the important thing right, which is buffing those creatures and turning them sideways. As such, these cards aren’t fancy or do anything particularly exciting, but they play an essential role when it comes to typal Commander archetypes, and Markov Baron is a decent option if you care about Vampires.

Filter Out

Filter Out

March of the Machine: The Aftermath

Filter Out - March of the Machine: The Aftermath - Magic: The Gathering

Cyclonic Rift remains one of the most polarizing yet powerful cards in Commander and, as a result, comes with a hefty price tag. And of course, cards such as Cyclonic Rift remain out of financial reach for many, or just can’t reasonably justify spending that kind of money on one card, but March of the Machine: The Aftermath did give us Filter Out, an affordable take on the card. Granted, Filter Out isn’t in the same league as Cyclonic Rift, but it does offer a reasonably affordable substitute if you want to keep things affordable.

Dockside Extortionist

Market Price: $74.48

Cyclonic Rift

Market Price: $31.88

Smothering Tithe

Market Price: $24.42

For three mana, the Instant allows you to return all noncreature, nonland permanents to their owners’ hands, and while this does affect your cards, it does mean you can recast Sol Ring, Arcane Signet and the rest if you really want to accelerate on mana. Another neat aspect of Filter Out is how it doesn’t bounce the opposing Dockside Extortionist back to hand but does sweep away all those Treasure tokens, or any other non-creature Token for that matter. In addition, it does serve as an answer to problematic Commander staples such as Smothering Tithe and Rhystic Study in a pinch, giving you a reprieve from the incredible resource generation these cards offer. While not every Commander strategy isn’t going to want Filter Out, the decent mana and low financial cost of the card are worth considering to add to those Blue-based Commander builds going forward. 

Pia, Consul of Revivial

Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival

March of the Machine: The Aftermath

Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival - March of the Machine: The Aftermath - Magic: The Gathering

A Legendary that was severely under looked during the March of the Machine: The Aftermath previews and the release is Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival, who is now beginning to see heavy interest in Pioneer as it’s in the name-sake strategy, called Boros Pia. This breakout deck is a riff on the popular-and-affordable Prowess builds you often see in Mono-Red, but by incorporating White and Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival, you have an excellent Token-generation engine alongside Wrenn’s Resolve and Reckless Impulse. As a result of this recent innovation, Boros Pia is beginning to see success in Magic Online (MTGO) Challenges and various Regional Championship Qualifiers (RCQs).  Pioneer

Boros Pia

Market Price:$182.71

Maindeck, 60 cards

Sortsort deckCreature (16)

  • 4Bonecrusher Giant// 
  • 4Monastery Swiftspear
  • 4Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival
  • 4Soul-Scar Mage

Sorcery (8)

  • 4Reckless Impulse
  • 4Wrenn’s Resolve

Instant (4)

  • 4Play with Fire

Enchantment (12)

  • 4Chained to the Rocks
  • 4Kumano Faces Kakkazan
  • 4Showdown of the Skalds

Land (20)

  • 4Battlefield Forge
  • 4Inspiring Vantage
  • 6Mountain
  • 2Needleverge Pathway
  • 4Sacred Foundry

Sideboard (15)

  • 2Alpine Moon
  • 2Invasion of Gobakhan
  • 1Jegantha, the Wellspring
  • 2Justice Strike
  • 2Reidane, God of the Worthy
  • 2Rending Volley
  • 2Rest in Peace
  • 2Silence

Through seeing competitive success over the last few weeks, the market price of Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival are slowly creeping up, with traditional copies seeing the most movement. If you play Pioneer and want to expand your collection, acquiring a playset of the Legendary Artificer is a good starting point, as it allows you to play a decent aggressive strategy in the format while also being kind on the wallet. 

Coppercoat Vanguard

Coppercoat Vanguard (Foil Etched)

March of the Machine: The Aftermath

Coppercoat Vanguard (Foil Etched) - March of the Machine: The Aftermath - Magic: The Gathering

Another aggressive-minded card seeing decent play in Pioneer is Coppercoat Vanguard, which immediately fell into Mono-White Humans as it allowed a passive power boost while providing your Humans with Ward 1. It may seem relatively unimpressive in a vacuum, but giving Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Adeline, Resplendent Cathar Ward 1 made it very tough for the opponent to kill, especially if you have multiple copies of Coppercoat Vanguard out on the battlefield.

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Adeline, Resplendent Cathar

Market Price: $9.84

Coppercoat Vanguard (Showcase)

Going further, Coppercoat Vanguard is suitable for any Human-focused Commander strategy, perhaps led by Darien, King of Kjeldor with a Soldier sub-theme. At the time of writing, Etched Foil copies of Coppercoat Vanguard seem to be the most affordable, as many competitive players are often apprehensive about adding foil cards to their lists. If you are indifferent to card treatments and variants when deckbuilding, you can definitely save a dollar or two this way. 

Training Grounds

Training Grounds

March of the Machine: The Aftermath

Training Grounds - March of the Machine: The Aftermath - Magic: The Gathering

Considered one of the more well-known cards from March of the Machine: The Aftermath is Training Grounds, a much-needed reprint that only had the singular printing in Rise of the Eldrazi until now. While many have snagged copies of the Commander staple for their decks, it’s worth a mention as not everybody pays attention to the latest releases, especially one lost and already forgotten as March of the Machine: The Aftermath. What makes Training Grounds such a strong card to play in Commander is the ability to combo with many other cards, and in some cases, those combos happen accidentally.

Training Grounds (Foil Etched)
Training Grounds (Extended Art)
Training Grounds (Showcase)

For one Blue mana, Training Grounds does plenty to discount the activated abilities of creatures you control, and with the amount of above-rate Legendary creatures seeing print in various Magic expansions these days, cards like Training Grounds become more lucrative even while keeping the budget price. One good thing March of the Machine: The Aftermath did is provide multiple different printings of these chase cards, where you can acquire Training Grounds in Etched Foil, Extended Art, Showcase Frame, and even in Halo Foil. With the number of different printings available, it’s really lowered the price of Training Grounds, allowing an excellent opportunity to stock up on copies for future Commander lists, especially those who are looking to upgrade the Sliver Swarm Precon from Commander Masters upon release. 

Reckless Handling

Reckless Handling

March of the Machine: The Aftermath

Reckless Handling - March of the Machine: The Aftermath - Magic: The Gathering

Tutor effects are a powerful tool in Commander, with cards such as Demonic Tutor remaining evergreen within the singleton format. However, Reckless Handling is a reasonable option for Red mages that already incorporate the effective Gamble into their Commander lists. And in some cases, it can serve as an excellent budget option on the Urza’s Saga and Dominaria Remastered Rare.

Gamble (Retro Frame)
Trash for Treasure
Myr Retriever

Like with Gamble, Reckless Handling comes with the downside of discarding a card at random; however, if you happen to discard an Artifact card, you deal two damage to each opponent. Despite Reckless Handling only searching for an Artifact card, this gives you a decent opportunity to find a Sol Ring or Arcane Signet to accelerate on mana, or perhaps find an haymaker card to help close out the game. And if you’re a well-versed Red mage, discarding the card you’ve found is rarely a downside when you have access to spells such as Trash for Treasure, Myr Retriever, or even Underworld Breach. Overall, Reckless Handling is an excellent and affordable option for Artifact-focused Commander builds in Red. 

Sarkhan, Soul Aflame

Sarkhan, Soul Aflame (Foil Etched)

March of the Machine: The Aftermath

Sarkhan, Soul Aflame (Foil Etched) - March of the Machine: The Aftermath - Magic: The Gathering

While it’s a card that is one of the more valuable ones from March of the Machine: The Aftermath, Sarkhan, Soul Aflame is an excellent pickup for any Commander strategy that cares about Dragons, particularly one led by The Ur-Dragon or Miirym, Sentinel Wurm. Going further, this desparked printing of Sarkhan is excellent as a Commander, where you can take advantage of his triggered ability to copy a Dragon that enters the battlefield under your control. Plus, the discount of reducing your Dragon spells is also excellent, as it enables you to develop an impressive board state in the early turns.

Sarkhan, Soul Aflame
Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm
The Ur-Dragon

Market Price: $20.89

Dragons are one of the most popular creature types in Magic: The Gathering, where cards such as Sarkhan, Soul Aflame will remain desirable options as he offers plenty while not technically being a Dragon himself. At the time of writing, the Etched Foil printing is the cheapest copy of the card, with traditional printings following for a few cents more. While many budget-minded players tend to opt for non-foils due to being money-conscious, this is one of the few cases in which snagging a foil is cheaper than the normal copy. If you are indifferent to treatments, then it’s definitely worth saving a few cents if you can.