March of the Machine: The Aftermath Review - Legends Part One

Mike Carrozza • May 15, 2023

Narset, Enlightened Exile | Illustrated by Marie Magny

Commanders I | Commanders II | Noncommanders I | Noncommanders II



Welcome to Part One of the Legends from March of the Machine: The Aftermath! 

Arni Metalbrow

Last we saw Arni, he was known as Arni Brokenbrow, a boastful dunce who had bested a beast whose horn had broken off into his brow (Ohhhhhh, I get it now...) spending his time being insufferable at pubs or whatever they're called on Kaldheim.

If you thought the character couldn't get more annoying, Arni has returned with a Phyrexian horn stuck side by side with the first horn and...he's actually pretty freaking cool.

Your high-mana-value creatures that attack or enter attacking can bring in some reinforcements of lesser mana value for the low, low cost of 1R. And that's not all! As long as you have 1R to spare, you can keep going down the chain. After three mana value, it's diminishing returns, which is likely why Arni costs three. But there's some utility to this! Sure, you don't get a discount on Dockside Extortionist from Arni's ability, but you do get to bypass casting it, which is something when you're facing down a Phyrexian Censor, Rule of Law, or you've been hit with a Cease-Fire.

Arni also gives you an excuse to run some higher-mana-value creatures whose discounted casting costs are usually a little unremarkable so they can help you cheat out something else. Think of having an Avatar of Fury or Molten Monstrosity swing into the red zone and you just get to drop Inferno Titan for two mana. Or if you've got it you can follow that plop with a Terror of the Peaks then a Goldpan Dragon and a Professional Face-Breaker, and sure, why not your Dockside Extortionist!

This deck wants to empty your hand and requires one to function, so make sure to pack your card draw spells. Wheel of Fortune is nice, but Ox of Agonas is still draw when you've just dumped your whole hand!

In the 99, I believe Arni will find homes in Isshin, Two Heavens as One and Wulfgar of Icewind Dale decks as they get to double dip on higher mana values twice. I favor Wulfgar here because his mana value is five which means you've got a pay one get one free deal going for two four-drops in hand!

Danitha, New Benalia's Light

Danitha trades in first strike for trample and another color! While Danitha, Benalia's Hope allowed you to cheat an Aura or Equipment into play from your hand or graveyard attached to her and Danisha Capashen, Paragon reduced those cards' casting cost, Danitha, New Benalia's Light gives you the most powerful thing in Commander: the color green.

As much as I dislike green, Danitha giving you graveyard card advantage is pretty solid considering that both green and white do permanent recursion and have Enchantress payoffs, like Mesa Enchantress and Argothian Enchantress. My fave of the Enchantresses is Femeref Enchantress that dares your opponents to kill your creature loaded up with Auras. If you lean into Auras, you get Xenk, Paladin Unbroken to snag from the D&D Secret Lair!

With Equipment, I'd have to say I'm less enthused because you still have to pay to equip them, so be sure to pack your Puresteel Paladin and Danitha's first form. Either way, Sram, Senior Edificer needs to be in the 99.

Speaking of the 99, new Danitha can slot into Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith decks quite easily as well as Uril, the Miststalker and Galea, Kindler of Hope. It's Equipment and Auras! It's narrow and niche! If you have the colors to include her, I would be surprised that you wouldn't bring new Danitha along. Recursion that also wears Equipment/Aura really well, sign up!

Jirina, Dauntless General

There isn't much to say about this Jirina besides she's a chip off the old block General Kudro of Drannith, but she can protect her people!

Jirina, Dauntless General is a solid inclusion in Human decks that have the colors such as, well, would you look at that, Jirina Kudro and General Kudro of Drannith. This is the funniest discovery for me with this card: the only legends that care about Humans in their textbox that have these colors in them are the Kudros!

I digress. This two-mana Jirina comes down to Bojuka Bog and gives your Human creatures an onboard Heroic Intervention? That's pretty solid, but Jirina, Dauntless General will likely be relegated to the 99 of the Jirina Kudro decks out there. I would keep an eye on Human commanders going forward. This is a lot of utility on a two-drop!

Karn, Legacy Reforged

Finally! A Karn for the command zone that isn't on the Reserved List!

Karn has lost his spark and is a new colorless offering from Wizards of the Coast to lead a Commander deck! Karn is as beefy as the highest mana value among your artifacts, so as long as he's an artifact, you've got a 5/5 for five, but if you slam down a Mycosynth Golem, your boy's swinging for 11.

The second ability makes Karn a turbo Powerstone of sorts, giving you mana equal to the number of artifacts you control with the same restriction. With that in mind, a Karn deck's going to be chock full of artifacts or activated abilities. Staff of Domination is the first thing to come to mind when wondering where to dump all that big mana.

I think in the 99, Karn will shine in Breya, Etherium Shaper, Saheeli, the Gifted, Osgir, the Reconstructor, Megatron, Tyrant, Daretti, Scrap Savant, etc. Give Karn a spot and even just a deck that regularly untaps with Smothering Tithe and a few activated abilities will get use out of Karn. Cycling, Embalm, Eternalize, Unearth, Forecast, Foretell, Encore; there are so many abilities that you can use a big beefstick pay for.

Where am I jamming Karn? Will the Wise and Mike, the Dungeon Master love to make Clue tokens, and here comes Karn making them cost nothing to crack!

Nahiri, Forged in Fury

Boros Equipment decks are well-loved and -supported. We've got Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist and Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh at the top of the archetype's popularity, followed by Wyleth, Soul of Steel, Bruenor Battlehammer, and Akiri, Fearless Voyager. All of these commanders do something with Equipment in a way that makes them different but not all that much.

I believe Nahiri, Forged in Fury might be the most powerful of the bunch, netting you really strong card advantage and cheating Equipment into play. It's not nothing to hit a Hexplate Wallbreaker off of an attack and getting to cast it for free. While she doesn't equip them for free, Astor, Bearer of Blades and Puresteel Paladin have your back to make it cheap or free. Not to mention Equipment sticks around, so if a creature board wipe hits and Nahiri is back in the command zone, her Affinity for Equipment keeps recasting her within reach. This version of Boros Equipment requires more set-up in the early turns than the aforementioned creatures, but when it gets rolling, it can commit to the board. That said, it's a glass cannon that way. Be sure to pack a Teferi's Protection!

In the 99, Nahiri fits with all of the commanders I mentioned above. As I said, this archetype is well-supported, and any card that makes it possible to improve will probably find its way in if it's strong enough, and Nahiri is most definitely strong enough.

Narset, Enlightened Exile

This is one of the most open-ended and cool commanders in these colors. There are so many directions you can be pulled in with Narset at the head of a deck.

Noncreature, nonland card means artifact, enchantment, instant, sorcery, planeswalker, and/or battle. That's a lot of types to be able to build around or simply get from a graveyard when Narset attacks, assuming her power is high enough. Not to mention giving all your creatures, including herself, Prowess means that if you go wide, you're getting more bang for your buck per noncreature spell cast.

I kinda want to see Narset as an Equipment or Mill commander. It could be fun! Play a Skullclamp, attach to Narset, that's a 5/4 swinging and getting to pick a noncreature in a graveyard to cast for free with mana value equal or less than her power. Add a Mindcrank to the mix and you've got more to choose from.

Narset, Enlightened Exile also just happens to be such generically good value that slotting her into Jodah, the Unifier seems like a no-brainer. Giving Narset a slot in any deck she fits into can suit her nicely. I might even try her out in my Brash Taunter Sevinne, the Chronoclasm deck because a lot of wipes are three or four damage, and she dodges them when they're cast!

Nissa, Resurgent Animist

We know Lotus Cobra, we love Lotus Cobra.

Lotus Cobra's Landfall ability, while it is just the first sentence of Nissa's, is one that land decks really want to have more and more of. Redundancy is not a bad word in Commander. In fact, I think Nissa's primary use will be as a second Lotus Cobra that doesn't get pinged off by Spikefield Hazard.

It's not like those last seven lines of text are just decorative, either. If you play and crack an Evolving Wilds with Nissa out, not only do you get two mana of any color, but you also get an Evolutionary Leap for an Elemental or Elf. Here are just a few of the most popular creatures of that type off the top of my head: Llanowar Elves, Reclamation Sage, Beast Whisperer, Avenger of Zendikar, Bane of Progress, Bloom Tender, Nyxbloom Ancient, Oracle of Mul Daya, any of the Omnaths, like Omnath, Locus of Rage, Vigor, Risen Reef, Devoted Druid, Delina, Wild Mage, and that's just a few that I can remember right now.

Can you build Nissa, Resurgent Animist as a commander? Yes, most definitely, but I can't tell what the endgame becomes besides ramp, ramp Craterhoof Behemoth. This is why I think she's more interesting in the decks her textbox nudges you toward, like Landfall decks and Elf or Elemental decks. See you in my The Gitrog Monster and Omnath, Locus of the Roil decks, Nissa!

Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin

Get ready for your tables to have at least one King of the Ping for the foreseeable future. Life totals will dwindle and then collapse. Incidental moments of the game, like an opponent cracking a Marsh Flats, will turn into a +1/+1 counter and an impulse draw for ONCKle Ob.

Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin can take from some popular commanders, like Prosper, Tome-Bound (and including Prosper himself): Nalfeshnee, Passionate Archaeologist, Keeper of Secrets, Wild-Magic Sorcerer, Delayed Blast Fireball, Hoarding Broodlord, all popping up for Prince Prosper and will do work for Ob Nixilis.

Pack your Pestilence and Pyrohemia and a whole lot of mana, you'll be snuffing out your competition pretty quickly, I reckon.

I think this is going to be the most popular commander from the set. Maybe neck and neck with Narset, Enlightened Exile.

Plargg and Nassari

Before I get all Prosper, Tome-Bound this or that on this card, I want to say this: I love them.

I have been a fan of Nassari, Dean of Expression, but so bummed that I can't play him in decks without blue because of that front side (Uvilda could have been so cool!). I've also really loved Plargg, Dean of Chaos but similarly wish I could play one side without needing the other to restrict deck inclusions (despite Augusta, Dean of Order being pretty great).

That out of the way, you get a pretty cool mini game every upkeep wherein an opponent chooses one of four cards revealed from libraries for you to not cast and then you can pick two of the remaining three to cast for free. You're casting from exile, so Prosper, Tome-Bound and Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald are happy to see it (as well as the next card, but we'll get there soon[/el]).

Ultimately, Plargg and Nassari seem like fun inclusions in those decks, but are also just great value and they add a fun moment of your opponents rooting for you to exile something depending on the game state. I love cards like these that have story moments baked in. When you get to exile a desperately needed removal spell from the archenemy's deck to kill their biggest threat, you'll be celebrating! I think decks that are looking for that fun plus value combo without worrying too much about optimizing are going to enjoy plopping these bad boys down. I can see these guys being silly in decks that bounce cards to the top of libraries.

In terms of leading their own deck, I think there's enough to support the two Deans with Nalfeshnee, Passionate Archaeologist, Wild-Magic Sorcerer, and Keeper of Secrets to have some game-enders involved, but it's much more difficult than when the payoff is in the commander's textbox. I'll be seeing them in the 99 of a few decks personally, but look forward to seeing Plargg and Nassari taking charge some day as well.

Rocco, Street Chef

Hey, look! A card named after my cousin and his job!

I teased this card when writing about Plargg and Nassari, and I think this has potential to be one of the most popular commanders from this set. Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin, Narset, Enlightened Exile, and Rocco, Street Chef.

Rocco has the vibe of a group hug, but benefits you immensely. Giving everybody at the table a Prosper, Tome-Bound-style impulse draw trigger, Rocco dares your opponents to play whatever you've exiled for them because it'll only make your creatures stronger and make you a food!

There's a version of this deck that can be quite mean because Drannith Magistrate exists and is asymmetrical. You can also pair that with Possibility Storm or Knowledge Pool and that's a lock.

I think you can play those last two without the Magistrate and still have a fun time. Make sure to pack a Krark-Clan Ironworks or Jaheira, Friend of the Forest to make more use out of those Food tokens. Don't forget your Reckless Fireweaver and Ingenious Artillerist type cards either. Dusk Legion Duelist tells your opponents that you'll be drawing a card when they use the card you've exiled for them.

Let's not forget either that Rocco triggers whenever a player - yourself included - plays anything from exile. Is your opponent playing Prosper, Tome-Bound, the most popular Rakdos commander? Here's some extra value for you. Is your opponent playing a Cascade deck? Here's a little extra for ya.

Rocco is a fun lil' guy who wants to feed everybody! Nothing malicious! Why would I even say that!

In terms of the 99, it's pretty tough imagining Rocco anywhere but the helm of a deck. I guess Jodah, the Unifier again?

Tazri, Stalwart Survivor

It's hard to imagine Tazri anywhere else but the command zone, frankly. This wall of text makes it clear that you have to be packing a ton of creatures with non-mana activated abilities, and there isn't really a place for Tazri to fit in with an existing five-color commander than I can think of.

I would favor cards like Kiora's Follower, Fatesticher, and Kelpie Guide as your pseudo mana dorks for this deck seeing as Elvish Mystic doesn't make the cut for Tazri's activated ability.

I'd also like to point out how cool Syr Konrad, the Grim is in this deck. When Tazri mills and hits creatures, you'll be netting two pings per creature that makes it to your hand!

Scavenging Ooze pays for its own ability with Tazri out while Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy doubles your mana for abilities when creatures are tapped for mana.

I'll be completely candid and say that while I'm happy this space is being explored, I'm in no way pulled to Tazri at the moment, but I respect anybody who is.

Here's a list of creatures of relevance with non-mana activated abilities:

Dauthi Voidwalker, Mother of Runes, Purphoros, God of the Forge, Temur Sabertooth,  Kiki-Jiki, Mirror BreakerBurnished Hart, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, Grim Hireling, Magus of the Wheel, Feldon of the Third Path, Vilis, Broker of Blood, Mirror Entity, Mina and Denn, Wildborn, The Locust God, The Scarab God, and Loran of the Third Path.


I called my shots about which commanders from here will be most popular. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you want to build one? Let me know in the comments!

Mike Carrozza is a stand-up comedian from Montreal who’s done a lot of cool things like put out an album called Cherubic and worked with Tig Notaro, Kyle Kinane, and more people to brag about. He’s also been an avid EDH player who loves making silly stuff happen. @mikecarrozza on platforms