Magic: The Gathering’s latest full set release, March of the Machine, is just behind us. Despite the blistering pace of product releases, I’m still enjoying this set quite a bit. Believe it or not, my exposure to most of the cards from MoM has been in Limited. Don’t worry, this is indeed the Commander Corner (welcome back, by the way!),  and I have one of my favorite sleeper hits from this set to talk about today.

If you read the second half of my two-part March of the Machine set review, there was quite a bit there, and one of the more quiet and innocuous cards is today’s feature. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised it’s currently ranked around the mid-800s in popularity according to EDHREC, especially since the set was packed full of Commander playables. That’s right folks, today we’re talking about…

During my set review, I compared this card to Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. While Jace is widely considered to be a stronger card, within the context of Commander you get a lot of mileage out of extra colors. Rona happens to also have one. Access to black mana goes a very long way towards making her a viable Commander, but somehow the aforementioned Jace is still more popular in the format.

The similarities between Jace and Rona are obvious enough. They both cost two mana, they both tap to loot, and they both take some work to flip. That’s pretty much where it ends though. Although the back side of Jace, Jace, Telepath Unbound, was extremely strong during its time in Standard, I’ve always found it to be quite meek in Commander. Conversely, I think that Rona, Tolarian Obliterator has a much higher ceiling in the Commander format. While the unbound telepath encourages players to attack, the Tolarian obliterator does almost the exact opposite.

Rona, more so than any Commander I’ve covered in the Commander Corner so far, has room for experimentation. With under 650 decks even registered on EDHREC, I have no doubt you can build something unique and fun. Of course, I’m gonna take a stab at making a list myself, but first let’s talk about ways to emphasize her strengths.

Untapped Power
Clearly the biggest bonus we get from the front side of Rona, Herald of Invasion is the ability to loot. With black in her color identity, we can definitely aim towards a reanimator deck which doesn’t really need as many discard outlets as others. Play Rona on turn two, discard and reanimate a threat on turn three. Literally, it’s that simple. I’m sure I’m not breaking any new ground with this analysis, but I feel like I have to at least acknowledge how well that works.

Of course, there’s a lot of extra value you can get out of the graveyard besides reanimating creatures. There’s the jump-start ability from Guilds of Ravnica, spells with flashback, cards like Wonder and Filth, and many others. The sky, or graveyard I suppose, is the limit. Echo of Eons is probably the most noteworthy noncreature to dump into the grave, turning into a Timetwister as early as turn three. Generally though, most Rona decks tend to stick to pitching creatures to the yard and looking for additional lands.

At first glance, Rona, Herald of Invasion is a cheap card with a great looting ability which asks you to play fewer lands. You don’t have to play fewer lands though. Sure, you’ll probably be able to draw into lands if you’re cutting a few out of your deck, but you also get to loot away the ones you don’t want.

With this in mind, I don’t think cutting down to a low number of mana sources is ideal. We want to be able to recast Rona if she’s hit with removal, and I do believe she will indeed attract removal. Additionally, even though we’re in two colors it’s still pretty important we have consistent mana across the first several turns of the game.

Mana rocks are at their worst in a deck which wants to play its commander on turn two. But, some number should still be inside the deck, if only as ways to recast your commander and cast the bigger spells in your deck ahead of schedule. Make no mistake though, you should probably always be casting Rona on turn two in this deck.

I’m going to devote some time to talking about Rona’s backside. Wait a second, don’t start side-eyeing me just yet, I mean Rona, Tolarian Obliterator! A 5/5 with trample is a pretty thick creature, after all. I mean, I’m not gonna shame anyone for pointing out that the art is rather reminiscent of Lady Dimitrescu, what with the imposing height and monster claws, but… Where was I going with this again?

Yes, of course, what exactly are we doing with the flip-side of Rona? Well it certainly makes cards like Blasphemous Act a less appealing play from your opponents, but that’s more incidental than anything. Rather remarkably, the templating allows you to damage her yourself to play your extra lands out and cast your own spells for free. The only issues here are that it does say at random, meaning you don’t choose the cards you’ll be exiling, and that you’re capped to one card per instance of damage.

Even so, it would be a mistake to ignore just how good Rona, Tolarian Obliterator is at retaking the initiative, letting you become the monarch, pressuring planeswalkers, defeating battles, and becoming a real obstacle for anyone who wants to return the favor. This, more than anything, is why protection like Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots, and Winged Boots are probably worth playing. Your two-mana commander isn’t a big problem to recast, but after you’ve invested another five-or-six mana you don’t want to have it go to waste.

The Deck
I’ve talked at length about Rona, Herald of Invasion and Rona, Tolarian Obliterator. Frankly, you already know most of the wonderful tools at the disposal of blue and black, so I won’t bore you with discussions about counterspells and variations of Vraska’s Contempt. Instead, let’s get right into the list I’ve crafted. There’s some sweet stuff you may have thought about, and hopefully some stuff you haven’t.


Creature – 20
Vohar, Vodalian Desecrator, Hoarding Broodlord, Hullbreaker Horror, Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, Sheoldred, Whispering One, Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant, Baral, Chief of Compliance, Hidetsugu and Kairi, Nezahal, Primal Tide, Cuombajj Witches, Prodigal Sorcerer, Unctus, Grand Metatect, Archfiend of Ifnir, Notion Thief, Shadowgrange Archfiend, Sire of Stagnation, Archpriest of Shadows, Thornwind Faeries, Acererak the Archlich, Phantasmal Image

Artifact – 9
Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Talisman of Dominance, The Celestus, Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots, Winged Boots, Currency Converter, Paradise Mantle

Enchantment – 7
Animate Dead, Mystic Remora, Necromancy, Kaya’s Ghostform, Demonic Vigor, Heartless Summoning, The Eldest Reborn

Instant – 13
Supernatural Stamina, Frantic Search, Mystical Tutor, Infernal Grasp, Malakir Rebirth, Dig Through Time, Reality Shift, Negate, Rapid Hybridization, Dispel, Circular Logic, Arcane Denial, Wash Away

Sorcery – 9
Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering, Stitch Together, Incarnation Technique, Karn’s Temporal Sundering, Exhume, Whispering Madness, Irenicus’s Vile Duplication, Scheming Symmetry, Reanimate

Planeswalker – 3
Narset, Parter of Veils, Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, Teferi, Master of Time

Battle – 3
Invasion of Amonkhet, Invasion of Arcavios, Invasion of Fiora

Land – 35
9 Swamp, 9 Island, Command Tower, Clearwater Pathway, Morphic Pool, Underground River, Tainted Isle, Drowned Catacomb, Sunken Hollow, Shipwreck Marsh, Choked Estuary, Temple of Deceit, Dimir Guildgate, Dismal Backwater, Ice Tunnel, Contaminated Aquifer, Path of Ancestry, Evolving Wilds, Terramorphic Expanse

That’s the deck how I’d build it right now, but as always there’s a lot of room for creativity. You might notice there are some slightly more expensive suggestions in this list, and that’s really all to do with the color combination. Turns out a lot of those cards are really in demand. Of course, you can pull out some of the high price tags and make it super-budget pretty easily with a bit of effort.

I’m up to my ears in great commanders to choose from in March of the Machine, and I’m sure we’ll be back for at least one more from this set before long. Perhaps a certain dwarf/faerie team? That’s all folks! I’ve been Luka “Robot” Sharaska, and thanks for coming back to the Commander Corner!

Luka V. Sharaska (they/them) earned the nickname “Robot” by having a monotone voice, a talent for calculating odds, and a perfect poker face. Robot has been playing Magic for more than a decade, starting during the days of New Phyrexia in 2011.

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