MTG March of the Machine New Mechanics Explained

The Phyrexian invasion of the Magic multiverse is underway.
The Phyrexian invasion of the Magic multiverse is underway. / WOTC / Adam Paquette

Spoiler season for Magic: The Gathering's latest set, March of the Machine, have officially begun, and Wizards of the Coast started with a bang in the First Look video that revealed many new cards, including some with never-before seen mechanics. Here's what they are and how they work.

March of the Machine is the epic conclusion of the Phyrexia storyline, following the inhabitants of the various planes of the Magic multiverse as they attempt to repel Phyrexian invaders led by Elesh Norn and her fellow Praetors.

MTG March of the Machine New Mechanics Explained

1. Battles

MTG Invasion of Fiora
WOTC / Joshua Raphael

Battles were revealed early yesterday, but new details have emerged confirming how they work. Battles are a new card type that enter the battlefield protected by a player (on current Battles, an opponent) - The Battle's controller gets an immediate benefit but receives an additional bonus in the form of a free spell once the Battle is "defeated," or dealt damage equal to its defense counters. Like Planeswalkers, Battles can be attacked by Creatures in combat and can be targeted by burn spells like Lightning Strike, reducing their defense directly. Spells on the back of Battles include Creatures, Planeswalkers, and Sorceries. As written, the rules dictate that cards that destroy Battles in other ways do not defeat them, weakening the effects of cards like Vindicate against them.

2. Incubate

MTG Glissa
WOTC / Cristi Balanescu

A new mechanic featured on Phyrexian cards, Incubate appears on cards attached to a number value, like "Incubate 3." When incubation occurs, that ability's controller creates a token artifact called Incubator with that many +1/+1 counters on it. That player can then pay two mana to turn that Incubator into a Phyrexian creature, representing its maturity into a flesh monster ready to attack opponents.

3. Backup

MTG Angel Backup
WOTC / Heonhwa Choe

Another new mechanic, Backup also appears attached to a number, such as "Backup 1." Backup only appears on Creatures, and allows players to put +1/+1 counters on a creature equal to that card's Backup value. The player can choose to Backup the same Creature, but if they choose another Creature, that card gains the Backup creature's abilities for one turn.

In addition to new mechanics, Convoke is a returning mechanic that allows players to cast spells cheaply by tapping their creatures. It is newly featured on Blue cards, where Convoke had previously not been present.