Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne talks about some of the changes coming with Magic: The Gathering - March of the Machine Prerelease Kits.

A week or so ago, Wizards of the Coast announced it would include an extra promotional card in the March of the Machine prerelease kits, one of three different Commander-legal cards from either Kamigawa: Neon DynastyInnistrad: Midnight Hunt, or Dominaria United, either foil or not and with a framing treatment or not.  This all means, at least as far as I can tell, that there are four possible versions of each of the three cards.  It appears, however, that some people are bothered by the inclusion of a card in the prerelease kit that players cannot use in the event.

Traditionally, of course, players have always been able to use all cards included in the prerelease kit in the prerelease event, so having a card included that is not usable runs counter to tradition and may confuse players.  WotC’s point of view is that these cards do not replace any cards normally found in the prerelease kit and since Commander is the most popular format currently played, the bonus Commander card is a nice add-on for players who get a prerelease kit.

Traditionally, all Magic prereleases were held in store and stores could not sell a new set until the actual release date.  Both of those traditions have gone by the wayside with no apparent harm to either the prerelease event or sales of Magic product, so I think the prerelease will survive an extra card.  However, I do not think WotC’s hope of enticing players, for which Commander is the preferred format, to come play in a prerelease by offering them a Commander-playable card in the prerelease kit will prove particularly fruitful.  I figure Commander players will just wait until sellers post the individual cards for sale online and purchase them individually.  No need to play in a prerelease and get a whole lot of cards that may not be usable in the Commander format when players can find them for sale individually in a couple of days.

I do find it interesting that WotC will bring back Planechase cards with this set.  Stores that opened a while ago may still have some Planechase cards around the store.  Planechase card conditions affect the entire game and were targeted toward Commander play, though they never really caught on in the format.  At least, I have not seen anyone using them in casual play for years.  March of the Machine brings them back with both reprints of older Planechase cards and new ones for this set.

The original Planechase cards came in Planechase decks and it seems Commander decks would be the best place to include them. (After I wrote the above, a WotC representative let me know that each Commander deck will contain 10 Planechase cards, 5 new and 5 reprints of earlier cards).

Finally, to emphasize that March of the Machines is a multi-planer event, the set will bring back set-specific framing treatments from past sets as well as new treatments for cards from sets that released before WotC introduced the framing concept, such as Tarkir and Ravnica.  Will players be buying cards just for the framing treatments?  I doubt it, but it is still a nice touch for the set.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of