Elesh Norn / The Argent Etchings
– March of the Machine 

Date Reviewed:  April 5, 2023

Constructed: 4.00
Casual: 5.00
Limited: 4.88
Multiplayer: 3.75
Commander [EDH]: 4.13

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below: 


This card is not just a variant of Elesh Norn, but a statement of her vision of conquest, and it’s just as terrifying in gameplay as that flavor concept would suggest. The creature side is a powerful defensive card, punishing damage to any of your permanents and thus changing combat math in ways you wouldn’t expect – and blocking very well on top of all that. Transforming into The Argent Etchings is quite feasible in white, and better than it looks in aggressive strategies because you’ll get not only creatures to replace what you sacrificed (with interest!), but also a built-in Overrun effect. And the cycle’s repeatable too: your opponent’s strategy basically boils down to get Norn off the table before you can transform her, because each time you do, they’ll fall further and further behind.

Constructed: 4
Casual: 5
Limited: 5
Multiplayer: 4
Commander [EDH]: 4

 James H. 


After nearly three decades, we’re at the culmination of Phyrexia’s storyline, March of the Machine, and the Praetors of New Phyrexia get a card to depict their “perfect” world, as it were. Elesh Norn, the would-be leader, gets her tamest card yet…or, at least, tamest card before it flips. But we’ll get there.

Elesh Norn has two things: her front side, and her saga back side. Her front side is…okay. It’s a fairly decent body with a light punisher effect that really hits red and green where it counts…and I should mention that there’s a new permanent type that can take damage now, so we’ll get there eventually. But the main attraction is turning Elesh Norn into The Argent Etchings, which is potent; the issue is rounding up three creatures to give up, and it’s seven mana and three other creatures to get there.

The Argent Etchings, though, is nuts. Incubate 2 means that you make an artifact token with two +1/+1 counters, and you can transform it into a 0/0 Phyrexian for 2 mana. The way this is worded means that you immediately get five 2/2 creatures, as well as any other Incubator tokens you might have. If they don’t stop you then, the second part of The Argent Etchings may well put up lethal damage, and if all else fails, the last verse nukes much of the board and lets you set up for another go.

I feel like the main thing with Elesh Norn is how quickly you can get The Argent Etchings going, which may well be on turn 5 if your set-up is reasonable. I think she’s very powerful because of that back side, and while she’s not phenomenal besides, there’s a lot that the would-be mother of machines can do in her presumably final outing. This is a potentially scary card, but how devastating it is in practice remains to be seen.

Constructed: 4
Casual: 5
Limited: 4.75
Multiplayer: 3.5
Commander [EDH]: 4.25

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