MTG March of the Machine explained: spoilers, story, and deals

Three heroes from Magic: The Gathering stand in the foreground, with Phyrexian leader Elesh Norn looming in the background
(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Wondering what makes March of the Machine special, or whether it's worth investing in? MTG can be hard to get into, so we've rounded up everything you need to know about the latest set.

As an example, just where do you start when buying March of the Machine? There are plenty of different packs on offer, but not all of them are compatible with one another. To help you zero in on what's best for you, we've laid it all out as simply as possible with advice for exactly what each item is for.

We've also broken down the plot so that you'll be up to speed on release day. Following on from February's Phyrexia: All Will Be One, it'll apparently change the face of the Magic multiverse as we know it… 

March of the Machine - essential info

A fiery battlefield during the March of the Machine storyline, with Phyrexian soldiers clashing with armed resistance

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

What is March of the Machine?

This is the next major Magic: The Gathering set and ends a long-running storyline revolving around MTG's biggest villains, the Phyrexians. These biomechanical horrors are hellbent on transforming all life into 'perfect' machine hybrids, and now they're swarming across the multiverse in an attempt to conquer everything. In other words? Expect cards from every Magic world, with plenty of throwbacks.

In terms of gameplay, March of the Machine is a 'Standard' set so can be used competitively with other MTG releases from the past year. However, beginner-friendly Jumpstart and multiplayer Commander options are also available.

Speaking of which, 'Planechase' cards will be included in Commander decks for March of the Machine. These allow you to hop from one plane of existence to another, and the rules will change depending on where you are.

March of the Machine release date

March of the Machine is slated to join the best card games this April 21, but things will kick off much earlier than that. More precisely, the pre-release campaign begins in mid-March.

You'll find all the upcoming dates below.

  • March 16 - 19: March of the Machine story
  • March 29: Set debut, cinematic trailer, and previews begin
  • March 29 - April 4: Card previews
  • April 5: Complete card image galleries revealed
  • April 14 – 20: In-Store Pre-release Events
  • April 18: MTG Arena and Magic Online Digital Release
  • April 21: Global Tabletop Release
  • May 1: March of the Machine: The Aftermath story
  • May 2 - 3: March of the Machine: The Aftermath previews

New gameplay in March of the Machine

Planechase is returning for March of the Machine, and this mechanic allows you to 'visit' other planes of existence. Doing so adds a new rule to the game, like the Isle of Vesuva that lets you create a token copy of a creature when it enters the battlefield. 

These Planechase cards will only be available in the multiplayer-focused Commander decks, with 10 (five new and five reprints) in each one.

March of the Machine - spoilers

Two dragons in the sky are locked in combat, with one breathing red electrical energy on the other

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Plenty of cards have been revealed for March of the Machine (from Standard to Commander), and we've listed them all in the gallery below. If you want to go in blind, consider this your final warning! 

March of the Machine - what to buy

Artwork showing multiple Planeswalker heroes charging into battle during March of the Machine

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

It's always tricky figuring out which MTG sets to get; there are always so many to choose from, and March of the Machine is no different. To help you get a better grip of what's out there (and who it's for, more importantly), we've broken it all down here. That includes what you should buy depending on how you like to play Magic.


Jumpstart | Best for beginners
Looking to start playing Magic for as little as possible, as easily as possible? Jumpstart is ideal. All you need to do is grab two Jumpstart Boosters, shuffle them, and get going.

Here's what you can get for the Jumpstart game type:

Jumpstart Booster pack (Buy in-store)
Jumpstart Booster 2-pack (Check price at Amazon)
Jumpstart Booster Box (Check price at Amazon)


Commander | Best for casual play
There are five Commander decks in March of the Machine, and they are ready-to-go packs that allow you to play multiplayer sessions with up to six people. Because you don't need to make a deck or mess about with boosters for Commander, it's a great starting point for newcomers and more experienced Planeswalkers alike.

There are five Commander decks in total for this release, and each one uses a different Mana/color type.

Growing Threat (Check price at Amazon)
Cavalry Charge (
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Call for Backup (
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Divine Convocation (
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Tinker Time (
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Standard | Best for experienced players
March of the Machine is 'Standard legal', and that means you can use cards from Set or Collector Boosters to build your own decks for competitive play. To do so, you'll need to construct a deck of 60 cards using Booster packs or the bundle pictured here. However, you can't include more than four of the same card. (Well, apart from the Lands that power your abilities.)

Here's what you can buy for Standard games:

Bundle (Check price at Amazon)
Booster Box (
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Collector Booster (
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Collector Booster Box (
Check price at Amazon) 


Draft Booster | Best for experts
For those are are very experienced in the ways of MTG and/or play at events, Draft is often the way to go. As a more spontaneous kind of match, you'll create a deck of 40 cards by drawing from a shared pool of Draft Booster packs. Because these packs are specifically designed for drafting, you can't use the cards in Standard, Collector, or Jumpstart matches.

Here's what you can buy for Draft Booster games:

Draft Booster pack (Buy in-store)
Draft Booster Box (Check price at Amazon)

March of the Machine - story

March of the Machine Ajani slays one of Elesh Norn's rivals

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

The Phyrexians have been plotting for a decade, and this is the culmination of all their schemes. It's not pretty; they've invaded every plane of existence after converting many of MTG's best-known heroes, and now want to transform all of reality. As such, March of the Machine is a final stand that'll span the breadth of the multiverse. As Wizards of the Coast mentioned in its first-look preview, "opening a pack [of cards] should feel like you're catching visions of planes from all over."

The story so far

Phyrexia: All Will Be One artwork with two Planeswalkers (Elspeth and the Compleated Ajani) locked in combat

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

This plot has been running for quite a while, but here's the gist of it - the biomechanical Phyrexians, led by Elesh Norn (that boomerang-headed woman seen throughout much of MTG's recent artwork), have been taking over worlds and converting heroes into mindless servants. To stop all this, the survivors went on a suicide mission to sabotage the Phyrexian homeworld. It didn't go so well...

The stakes are significantly higher than normal, too. On the back of many heroes being converted into soulless, evil robots, it looks like some of the survivors won't make it out alive. According to that same preview, March of the Machine: The Aftermath (a set of 50 cards showing off what happens following the main storyline) will show us "which characters live, which ones get a happily ever after, and which ones don't live to see the aftermath themselves."

Wizards has made a big deal about how March of the Machine will fundamentally change the Magic multiverse, so we'll have to wait and see if that's true come April. However, this comment would suggest that it'll shake up the status quo at least a little. (Though we're pretty sure some, or most, of the transformed heroes will be returned to normal after all this is done.)

You can get the first official March of the Machine short story here, in which villain Elesh Norn oversees the invasion of countless iconic MTG worlds. She also encounters the gods of Ancient Greece-inspired Theros, and resolves to compleat them - something that will well and truly tip the balance in Phyrexia's favor. 

March of the Machine - deals

A Phyrexian battles vine-like creatures in March of the Machine

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Our price-matching software is always on the lookout for deals, so take a look at the offers below if you're hunting down a bargain.

For more tabletop recommendations, don't miss the best tabletop RPGs, the best board games, and these essential board games for 2 players.

Benjamin Abbott
Tabletop & Merch Editor

As the site's Tabletop & Merch Editor, you'll find my grubby paws on everything from board game reviews to the latest Lego news. I've been writing about games in one form or another since 2012, and can normally be found cackling over some evil plan I've cooked up for my group's next Dungeons & Dragons campaign.