I bought killed by a tree. To be honest, it wasn’t any outdated tree—it was Realmbreaker, a huge supernatural shrubbery the metallic Phyrexians are utilizing to invade the multiverse in Magic’s March of the Machine set. Nonetheless, it was a shocking technique to go.

Each time the participant who cast Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree prompts it, their opponent has to take three playing cards off the highest of their deck and add them to the discard pile. If one of many playing cards they throw away is a land, the cheeky bugger who performed Realmbreaker will get to maintain it. 

My opponent had pinched 4 Islands off me up to now, which was annoying, however I nonetheless thought I had it within the bag. I used to be successful on the battlefield, with a few flying creatures crusing over his ground-based power to ding him for a couple of life each flip whereas I used to be sitting fairly on 19 factors. He’d completed the mathematics, nevertheless, and I hadn’t.

In Magic, forcing a participant to discard from their deck known as milling, as a result of the primary card to allow you to do this was known as Millstone. The hazard is that you’re going to run out of playing cards, leading to an computerized loss subsequent time you go to attract and are available up empty. I’ve gotten used to enjoying codecs like Commander, with its gloriously unwieldy 100-card decks, and Normal with the standard 60. In these, milling somebody to demise takes too lengthy except you’ve got constructed a whole deck across the gimmick. On this explicit evening I occurred to be enjoying a format with 40-card decks, and whereas I used to be chipping away at his health he’d been chipping away at my playing cards.

By the point I noticed what was occurring, I used to be three turns away from shedding and it was too late to do something about it. I bought him all the way down to his final 5 life factors, then shook his hand.

As Magic’s grown in reputation so have the variety of methods you possibly can play it. If shopping for a bunch of booster packs and constructing a 60-card deck to face off towards somebody who’s completed the identical is not your factor, there are many different (simply quietly, higher) methods to play. Some Magic units are designed with particular codecs in thoughts, like final 12 months’s Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate, which was made for the chaotic table-full-of-players Commander format. Jumpstart 2022 was all about Jumpstart, a format where you are taking two themed units of 20 playing cards and smush them collectively, a streamlined technique to check out a manageable variety of new playing cards, and the one I used to be enjoying after I bought killed by a tree. 

(Picture credit score: Wizards of the Coast)

March of the Machine is not for a selected format, being a climactic, end-of-arc narrative set, one which finishes a narrative that is been advised over a number of earlier units. That does not imply it is equally enjoyable in each format, although. It is heavy on bombs, the sort of highly effective playing cards that signify the heroes and gods engaged on this epic battle and the powers they wield. In a restricted format like Booster Draft, where everybody builds decks collectively by passing round packs and taking one card at a time, bomb-heavy units are much less enjoyable.

When you crack open a booster and see a bomb like Chandra, Hope’s Beacon (a planeswalker who allows you to cast a second copy of 1 instantaneous or sorcery spell each flip totally free), or Glissa, Herald of Predation (who can provide each Phyrexian creature you management deathtouch and first strike every flip), you are obliged to construct your deck round them fairly than having the liberty to decide on different choices. When you do not, or if you happen to get unfortunate and do not rating any bombs whereas different gamers in your group do, you may in all probability lose instantly once you come up towards them.

(Picture credit score: Wizards of the Coast)

March of the Machine comes into its personal in different codecs. The brand new battle playing cards, as an illustration, shine in Commander. These are playing cards you place in an opponent’s battlefield after which have the choice to assault as an alternative of going for the participant, chipping away on the battle’s protection counters till they’re depleted, at which level you get to flip it over and cast the spell on its reverse totally free. 

Usually video games of Commander begin gradual, with three or 4 or however-many gamers who do not wish to be the primary to assault somebody and look like an enormous meanie the opposite gamers ought to gang up on. Battles provide you with one thing to do in these cautious early turns with out making a goal of your self. Then, once you flip them, no matter reward you’ve got simply earned might be one thing you possibly can go on a correct offensive with, moving the match into its extra aggressive part.

Plus, having a number of opponents means you possibly can select to arrange your battles where they will be best to assault, choosing the participant least in a position to shield them. Although gamers can forestall you successful battles with greater than only a horde of creatures—it took me too lengthy to understand the proliferate mechanic, which provides further counters and was lately introduced again in Phyrexia: All Will Be One, impacts the protection counters on battles too. We’ll see much more fascinating interactions with battles as gamers experiment with them. 

(Picture credit score: Wizards of the Coast)

March of the Machine seems like a strong addition to Normal as properly. When you’re sick of all of the mono-red decks bringing Phoenix Chicks again from the lifeless again and again, Seal from Existence allows you to exile them as an alternative, making it tougher to return them to play. In the meantime Atraxa’s Fall destroys any artifact, enchantment, battle, or creature with flying, a response to any variety of annoyances. It isn’t all about negating although, and people bombs will change the state of play for certain. As somebody nonetheless operating a deck with Invoke Despair in it—a card that makes folks ragequit matches in Area already—the thought of utilizing Chandra, Hope’s Beacon to repeat each I cast totally free has me virtually drooling.

I will not undergo how March of the Machine will influence each format as a result of we would be right here all day (although I notice that Ragavan, the Pilferer, the monkey so robust they advised him he could not play, is authorized in Historic Brawl if you happen to actually wish to spoil somebody’s day). And anyway, there are too many codecs for anybody individual to sustain with. The identical evening I used to be being killed by a tree, one of many judges advised me about how a lot enjoyable he’d had enjoying Two-Headed Large, a preferred format for 2 groups of two, and I simply smiled and nodded as a result of I nonetheless have not tried it.

This proliferation of codecs is undoubtedly a superb factor. There are reportedly 40 million folks enjoying Magic as of 2021, they usually do not all wish to play the identical means. A deck of odd playing cards can be utilized to play video games as completely different as gin rummy, bridge, and solitaire, and a set of Magic playing cards could be virtually as numerous. It implies that not each new set might be for each participant, however that is a superb factor too. As a result of actually, who might afford them in the event that they have been?