What Is Planechase, and Why Is It Awesome?
March of the Machine is a wild Magic set.
It's got a truly epic showdown of heroes from across the Multiverse against the Phyrexians who want to conquer it all, and we wanted to blow it out. Each booster has a returning legend in a special frame. There's a brand-new card type, battle, that really shows off the scale of this conflict. It's a bit of a doozy, and you can read up on it here!
But that's not all. When Ethan Fleischer was working on the Commander decks for March of the Machine, he realized the perfect returning piece: Planechase.
Original Planechase was released back in 2009. We had another release in 2012, but we haven't seen any new planes since then—eleven years ago. It's been a popular fan ask for ages
Also, given it has been eleven years since the last time we rolled this one out
Now, if you'd like to see this in video form, I made a companion Good Morning Magic video to this article you can watch here:
All that said
The Planechase Is On!
In Magic, you're a Planeswalker that's hopping around the Multiverse. And in Planechase, it brings that reality to life!
It uses these oversized cards—about twice the size of a normal card—called planes.
Each of these is a specific place on a plane. For example, this one is Jund, on the plane of Alara. They pretty much all have a static ability of some kind, like an enchantment that impacts everybody, and it's really tied into the plane. For example, here on Jund—the green, black, and red piece of Alara that brought us the
There's also another ability that's next to this symbol and talks about chaos ensuing—we'll get to that in a second.
Notably, Jund is not the best place to be if you're a blue-white deck. There are only green, black, and red bonuses. What gives? Well, like a Planeswalker, you can always switch planes, and therein lies the fun of Planechase.
Everybody brings their own deck of ten planes to the table, and you shuffle them as the game begins. (As an optional house rule, many people elect to shuffle all those planes together for the game—up to you and your group if you want to do that.) The first player reveals the starting plane from their deck. Then, whenever you planeswalk, you replace the current plane with the top one from your planar deck. So maybe Jund turns into
Now, this is a very unusual die. Four of the six spots are blank. One of them has the Planeswalker symbol, and another has that weird symbol from earlier.
During your turn, as a sorcery (so in the main phase when the stack is empty) you can roll the planar die. If it rolls on the Planeswalker symbol, you planeswalk to the next plane!
If it rolls on that other symbol, we call that the chaos symbol! Each plane has an effect that happens when chaos ensues. It could be simple, or it could be more elaborate. Often it ties into the first ability. For example, Jund gives you some Goblins to devour, and Towashi gives you counters to modify your creatures! Rolling to try and hit chaos can be a big boon, but you never know, because you might end up going to some other less desirable plane.
What if you want to roll more than once in a turn? Well, your first roll each turn is free. Each roll you want to make beyond that in a turn costs one additional mana. So, one mana for your second roll, two mana for your third roll, and so on. If you really need to escape a plane, you can roll a bunch and make it happen!
Over the course of the game, you're going to be hopping across planes and seeing a wide variety of chaos effects. Every now and again, you might also run into a phenomenon!
If planes are like enchantments, phenomenons are like sorceries. They show up, you do their effect, then you move onto the next plane. Oh, and as the game begins, you can't hit a phenomenon when revealing the first plane—that could just get silly.
So, with spatial merging, you end up with two planes out at once! There are all kinds of wild effects here, though there are usually very few phenomenons in a planar deck, so you don't have to worry about it too much.
One thing I also want to say about Planechase: it's just awesome to see these oversized art pieces. Seeing somewhere like Nyx shown off on a larger, horizontal stage is just awesome. What a gorgeous piece of art:
Anyway, that's the gist of Planechase: cool global effects, some wild chaos abilities, and some die rolling to get there!
Commanding the Planes
What can you expect in March of the Machine Commander decks?
Well, each deck has its own planar deck of ten cards. Five of these are new planes, four are plane reprints from before, and one of them is a phenomenon. They can span the whole range of Magic's planes and time periods—even some planes that technically aren't quite right anymore
Each deck has five new planes, four reprint planes, and one phenomenon in it.
I love traipsing through the planes, and Ethan being the lore master he is, got some really deep cuts in there. I can't wait for you to see them all!
Additionally, each deck has a planar die, so you have a fresh one you can use to bop around planes!
What should you expect in games?
Well, Planechase is a blast, and it can have some pretty wild swings. You should prepare to embrace the chaos a little bit, given the tide of the game can shift at any moment. When you add in time for rolling and wacky effects, Planechase Commander games can take a while, too, so you should probably expect to settle in for a little longer than normal, though some of the new planes really encourage attacking and moving the game along, so maybe less than you might think if you're used to Planechase Commander already!
One thing to keep in mind is remembering to roll! It's easy to forget about, especially in the early turns, so keep your planar die at the ready. My general philosophy is that you should use your free roll each turn unless the plane you're on is awesome for you. Then, as you have extra mana, sink it into additional rolls! You might change the plane, which is probably net neutral, and sometimes you'll get a sweet chaos effect.
Additionally, you should be thinking about whether you want to roll before or after combat. Several planes can modify combat in all sorts of ways. Usually in beneficial ways for the attacker, but not always. In general, if combat looks great for you, I'd wait to roll until after combat.
If you can't attack with anything, or you can't attack with much, I'd roll precombat to see what happens. Precombat also gives you more information so that you know what to do with the rest of your turn. It's hard to know for sure, but you can try and put your thumb on the Planechase scale a little bit by thinking about when to roll in your turn.
That said, you don't need to fret about before or after combat too much. It's Planechase Commander—there's plenty of time to find new planes.
I love when we can bring things back that are so nicely tied to a set, and Planechase is a perfect fit for this one.
The March of the Machine Prerelease is just around the corner, from April 14–20, so if you're on the hunt for this set, be sure to head to your local game store or retailers like Amazon to preorder whatever you're on the hunt for!
In the meantime, I'd love to know what you think or any questions you have. Should we do Planechase more often? Let me know! You can hit me up at any of the links below.
Enjoy the previews (you'll be seeing more plane previews during the Commander deck reveals—check out the dates in this article), have fun, and may you find just the plane you're looking for.
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