Top 5 March of the Machine: the Aftermath Cards For Pioneer/Explorer

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Aftermath is a set like nothing I've seen since I started playing Magic. With only 50 cards in the set, you might assume that none have playability outside of Standard or Commander. However, after reviewing the entire set it's clear that there are some hidden gems for Pioneer and Explorer, the two formats I play the most. Today I'll share with you my Top 5 picks for best cards from March of the Machine: the Aftermath. Make sure to check the video portion out as well because I go into deeper detail and may or may not have a few honorable mentions.

5. Metropolis Reformer

In my initial look at Metropolis Reformer, I didn't think too much of it. The fact that it can be found off of Collected Company isn't nothing. I think that this has a chance of slotting into Selesnia Angels. The fact that it protects you from Thoughtsieze effects and in Pioneer, and specifically it helps protects against Peer into the Abyss which is Lotus Combo's win condition of choice these days. Additionally, the incremental life gain that this card has built into fits with Angel's game plan. I know that Selesnia Angels has taken a back seat recently but maybe Metropolis Reformer is a tool that that deck can use to regain some metagame share in the format.

4. Narset, Enlightened Exile

Now this is a card that excites me from this set.

Narset, Enlightened Exile doesn't come with a home that she can slot right into in Pioneer/Explorer. This, to me, is a huge flavor win. However, I do think this card could be useful in a Pyromancer-style deck alongside Young Pyromancer and Third Path Iconoclast which is an established archetype. You would have to stretch the mana base into white to do so but it could prove to be powerful. The fact that Narset, Enlightened Exile grants all your creatures prowess is massive. Imagine having her, one Pyromancer, and a couple of tokens in play. The damage potential is huge. I haven't even mentioned her other ability because when she attacks things get nasty. Even if all you have in your graveyard is an Canoptek Scarab Swarm you can cast it off of her ability, trigger Prowess on everything and it only gets better from there. If you have a Fiery Impulse you can likely kill one of their blockers while growing your attackers. It's pretty clear to me that the potential is there. The only question is will players want to stretch their manabase to include Narset, Enlightened Exile?

3. Jirina, Dauntless General

Much like Narset, Enlightened Exile, Jirina, Dauntless General doesn't exactly have a deck to fit into. However, Orzohv Humans is something you will run into here and there on the Ladder on Arena and in Leagues on MTGO. When she enters the battlefield she nukes your opponent's graveyard which is great against Greasefang, Okiba Boss decks and Lotus Combo. It also has that secondary ability where she can sacrifice herself to protect your whole team. Whether it means saving them from a Supreme Verdict/card] or just a pesky [card]Fatal Push, Jirina, Dauntless General is certainly something I'll be on the lookout for in the coming weeks.

2. Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin

If Ob Nixilis had a quarter for every time he lost his spark he'd have two, which isn't a lot but it's just weird that it happened twice, you know? With that being said his latest iteration is looking like he could resurrect an old archetype in Pioneer and Explorer. I'm talking of course about what is in my opinion the most obnoxious deck to ever see the light of day in Pioneer, Rakdos Cat Oven.

When paired with A-Cauldron Familiar and Witch's Oven he can get massive with a quickness. Then you can start bashing your opponent with the Flying, Trampling Demon. It can definitely be the top-end that this deck has been lacking.

But wait there's more to the story. It goes infinite with the card All Will Be One. Not that I think this will be a legit contender in Pioneer or Explorer but I'd be wary of it while grinding the Ladder or at weeklies at your local game store (LGS).

1. Coppercoat Vanguard

Yes, it's the uncommon Human lord that's taking the top spot on my list. Why? Because Coppercoat Vanguard slots perfectly into a preexisting deck in Pioneer and Explorer. Mono White Humans is among the best decks in the format and any given week is arguably the very best deck in both formats.

If this was just a Human lord it wouldn't even crack the top five for me. What makes this card special is the Ward 1 it grants to all other Humans. Mono White Humans is a deck that already kills quickly. Tacking Ward 1 text to all of your creatures is going to make them extremely hard to deal with. Vanguard plus Thalia, Guardian of Thraben makes opposing Fatal Push's cost three mana, which is so bad for opponents. It gets almost unbeatable in multiples because the Ward 1 stacks. This card is going to tear up both formats and I can't wait. Mono White Aggro has always been one of my favorite strategies in Magic so this will be a fun one to revisit!

See More In Today's Video!

Now that you've read the article check out today's video. There's a more in-depth discussion of each of these cards, and I also share some honorable mentions that I think could also show up in Pioneer and Explorer!

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LessAlex, AKA Alex Blackard, is a Magic: The Gathering content creator who is passionate about playing Control decks in Constructed, particularly in the Pioneer, Modern, Explorer, and Historic formats. He also enjoys experimenting with combo decks and brewing up new and exciting strategies to stay ahead of the competition. With a focus on in-depth strategy breakdowns and gameplay, LessAlex offers a unique perspective on the game that is both entertaining and informative. His competitive resume includes a Top 4 at an SCG Open in 2014, splitting an NRG Trial in 2017, as well as countless SCG IQ Top 8s and Game Day wins. He hosts The Control Freak Podcast where he discusses playing Control decks in Constructed, and brings on guests including prominent players and creators to share their expertise. You can catch him streaming on Twitch weekdays at 9 am, and on his YouTube Channel for even more content.

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