March of the Machine has come out, and with finally being able to cube more these days, I’ve been able to get in a lot of reps with these new cards.  Here are my thoughts on the “hits”:


Invasion of Gobakhan

In a way, the Sieges reminded me of Adventure cards by being able to be used for a front side, and then having additional utility to unlock, although you can’t just cast the back side of Sieges.  Because of this, the best Battles were generally those with a “good enough” front side.  Gobakhan straddled that line.

We’ve seen these kinds of “disruption on a stick” with cards like Elite Spellbinder and Anointed Peacekeeper, that let you peek at an opponent’s hand and tax something.  But, oddly, Invasion of Gobakhan impressed much more than a mere hand tax.

Partly, it’s because of how easy it is to take down with only 3 defense, and how incredibly well it takes over a game once it flips, since it snowballs your team *incredibly* well and protects them, if need be, letting this act as one of the best anthems for white aggro decks that I’ve seen in cube.

It generally wasn’t a turn 2 play since white aggro decks generally preferred to play a warm body on turn 2, but it was generally a good turn 3 play, especially if it was able to flip on that turn.

Knight-Errant of Eos

An easy comparison is Venerated Loxodon and it’s not a bad one, since both are just Durkwood Boars as a floor, but this works well in aggro decks as a way to fuel up, requiring a bit more work than Loxodon, but with a better payoff.


I like that this token virtually “has haste” when closing out the game, since I found that it was generally at least a 2/2, and generally, all you need is a warm body to close the door.

I like this less than other 4-mana wraths since a mana can mean the difference between staying alive and dying but once those are exhausted, this is a nice supplement for cubes that want something other than/in addition to Slash The Ranks.


Chrome Host Seedshark

This is cheap enough to deploy with a 2-mana counter in hand and this rewards you for cheating high mana-value cards like Forces – it isn’t required, but the rate doesn’t get *good* until you’re getting 3/3s Incubators  I’ve liked how this Shark enables doing that when you turn the corner and holding the fort as a 2/4 blocker as well.

Rona, Herald of Invasion

Although Faerie Mastermind didn’t do much, this wasn’t bad as a looter that can randomly transform into a big beater.  I found that her negator side was medium, which makes sense since in the later stages in the game, opponents were usually casting their big things, not holding them.

Still, sometimes you’d rather just have a 5/5 trampler than a Maritime Guard looter, although, due to her triggering off of legendaries and having 3 toughness, her shelf life unflipped lasted longer than expected.

You’d be surprised at how many legends are in the average deck (which will only increase with MTGxLOTR), like this, where Rona almost felt like “storming off”.  So long as you think of her as the 2nd best looter behind Looter Jace, she’s nice.

Change the Equation

The strength of this is context-dependent on your cube and how often the unkicked Prohibit mode will be live and/or how much gold is in your cube, since that’ll increase the number of live hits on the second mode.  This may just look like a weird sideboard card, but in your cube it may end up being a maindeckable solid counterspell.


Corrupted Conviction & Wrenn’s Resolve

Corrupted Conviction and Wrenn’s Resolve are examples of virtual duplicates of cards that’re good to have in multiples – synergistic, cheap and powerful in shells that can take advantage of them.


Arguably better than Shriekmaw, but not as reliable – the real juice is her ability to turn into a Saga.  While it may look like getting the opponent’s graveyard of 8 is unattainable, I found that it isn’t difficult to enable for black control decks, especially those with lots of removal and/or discard, and the saga usually wins the game after.

Invasion of Innistrad 

This is the exception to the “if it’s good enough on the front side” because the front is Bleed Dry, but I’ve liked how much value it unlocks, since it’s graveyard hate and 4 power of bodies.  Admittedly, this may be my bias for Flash talking.


Etali, Primal Conqueror

The Etali-an Stallion follows the lead of Atraxa by providing a good body upfront, but also having a massively impactful ETB trigger; like any good Mulldrifter, killing it doesn’t make its controller feel abysmal – although killing it ASAP is generally the correct play.  The upside of flipping Etali is nice as a looming threat, but it’s mostly secondary to how much value Etali provides upfront and thus, is a good ol’ red pile of value.

Volcanic Spite

Like with Invasion of Gobakhan, this really impressed me in cube testing, not just because it works incredibly well with your own Battles, but because of its ability to hit planeswalkers.  This may just look like added utility, but it helped in matchups that weren’t based on small creatures, whereas cards like Fire Prophecy fared poorly in matchups without small creatures.  I’m unsure how much room the average cube has for red damage cards that aren’t burn, that aren’t flexible all-stars like Abrade, but this gave me similarly good vibes.

Bloodfeather Phoenix and Rampaging Raptor

Historically, phoenixes are effectively are burn spells with flashback, but also are nice since they’re able to be recurred from burn, which helps these birds get extra damage output, and ones like Chandra’s Phoenix and Lightning Phoenix get to come back from the grave when you’re aiming a bolt at someone’s head.

Like many, Bloodfeather Phoenix can’t block, but does well at being a recurrable source of evasive damage, and is one of the cheaper ways of doing so.  Requiring only a single R also helps this to charge out with haste easily, and is a welcome add to red cube aggro decks.

Also, of note that with battles, it’s something you *proactively* can build around, unlike “walker hate” (Questing Beast) that you don’t proactively work with.  That said, neither bird or dinosaur necessarily required battles to work well, but had enough upsides to be gravy if you had that interaction.

Red works well with battles, and it’s arguably the best *with* sieges via since it has many tools to proactively flip battles (burn, haste, several cards in this set.)  Thankfully, there are also a lot of good red Sieges.

  • Invasion of Mercadia has one of the more obviously good front sides since it compares to existing cards like Thrill of Discovery and Bitter Reunion as a base effect; like the latter, I found that it was nice that this doesn’t just get punked by countermagic.  The payoff, like with all of the red ones, is from flipping; this isn’t too difficult and works incredibly well for burst damage, since it turns cards into at least 4 power of hasty damage, and usually much more.
  • Invasion of Regatha also has comparable analogues (Flames of the Blood Hand, somewhat Char and Risk Factor) but has some actual board impact, depending on the board state. The monk emulates Torbran but I like this more for decks that aren’t just mono red.
  • Invasion of Tarkir is also somewhat analogous to Bonecrusher Giant, but it’s harder to get the “giant out of it.”  Usually in cube, this dealt 2, but that was a fine rate, and attacking it into a Dragon was very good.
  • Invasion of Kaldheim – it seems like Invoke Despair kept this out of Standard, as I was a big fan of this when trying it out in cube as a way to get cards ala Showdown of the Skaalds, and usually got at least 3 cards.  Transforming into Mega Seismic Assault generally won the game right after, since it turned the worst topdecks into the best ones.


Wrenn and Realmbreaker

Although this can’t make its 3/3s untap, I’ve liked utilizing this in green decks as a way to get several ticks of value, rather than as a weird Chromatic Lantern – although this is certainly better than it.  Adjust expectations and you’ll be pleased.

Invasion of Ikoria

Compares to Green Sun’s Zenith with an extremely good backside that’s worth fighting for, and overall works better in decks that aren’t just mono green.  Invasion of Zendikar works similarly as a nice ramp spell that turns into a big beater if you beat the siege’s middling defense.

Invasion of Ixalan

is a nice selection tool but it’s a bit pricey upfront; like the other battles, it’s worth fighting for.


Like Sheoldred, I found Vorinclex to be a decent 5-mana pile of value.  Body is pretty good, and unlike Doom Whisperer, doesn’t make you feel awful if it dies to a Doom Blade (although it still feels rough.)  Relatively interchangeable though.


Invasion of Alara

is great as a buildaround to go 5-color since it does so much on the front and backside – as flipping it was almost always good game.

Invasion of Amonkhet

a nice pile of value but had some build-around potential via dumping something into the grave and then getting a 4/4 version on the cheap.  Hardly just for reanimator but great there.

Invasion of Azgol

reminded me of Angrath’s Rampage, but its backside of turning into a 2/1 menacer was worth having less flexibility, since the elemental almost always became a 3/2, and generally much larger.

Invasion of Ergamon

floored me when I saw it since it represents so much value for 2 mana, effectively costing 1 because of the treasure, and being able to get *any* land or battle via the backside Rhino was a very welcome upside.

Invasion of New Phyrexia

I usually don’t like tapping out in control decks, and like with Finale of Glory, you usually don’t get a good deal until X=3, but that’s usually enough.  Funnily, I wasn’t that impressed with the Teferi, but it wasn’t a bad goal to work towards, since control decks don’t typically care about the opponent’s life until the game’s wrapped up.

Invasion of Pyrule

looks like it requires having a lot of battles, but it’s just great on its own as a Preordain-ish effect that flips into an efficient body.  Additive distraction strikes again!

Zurgo and Ojutai

As a flying hexproof beater that generally gets at least one hit in, this is great for killing battles and planeswalkers, while still being good in its own right. I generally found it bounced more to ambush things, but it’s nice that it can stick around too, if need be.

Halo Forager

Hitting the opponent’s graveyard makes this much better than it looks, and even combining this with a doom blade to make a 5 mana flying Nekrataal is a solid general case for this, making this a solid Dimir card.  Power helps make this better, of course.

Sword of Once and Future

My impressions of this sword were that it’s worse than the Gruul sword, but it’s still pretty underrated.  It’s been utilized as a way to make a “Snapcaster Mage at home” as a way to grind attrition in midrange grindfests based on removal, ala this pre-ban Standard bo3 mono-red deck.  Like some swords with middling triggers (Sword of Light and Shadow), this has one of the better pro-removal colors, but I don’t expect its shelf life to last long; but it’s still not bad.

In my next article, I’ll be discussing the “hits” from MOM’s supplemental sets (Commander, Aftermath) and linking to my blog post where I’ll discuss the near-hits.

Usman Jamil (he/him) has been creating Cube content since 2009 and created the first and longest running Cube podcast, The Third Power. He is a member of the Pauper Cube Committee and created the Ravnica Cube on Magic Online. His linktree is:

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