Sword of Once and Future – March of the Machine
Date Reviewed: April 12, 2023
Commander [EDH]: 4.25
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
There would be a day — there must be a day — when he would come back to Gramarye with a new Round Table which had no corners, just as the world had none.
— T.H. White, The Candle in the Wind
It’s too bad that we’ll probably never get a sword of this style with the epithet “Heart and Soul”, but this card’s name makes up for that. My jaw hit the floor when I first saw it. There is no better sword title and concept with which to finish the twenty-year cycle; and there is no better sword title and concept to have in March of the Machine. And I think they put just enough hints in its art to mark it as an artifact of Eldraine, as it would basically have to be with that name!
Sword of Once and Future is not as universally powerful as some members of its cycle, where you can put them in any deck with creatures and unilaterally pull ahead when they attack. It requires you to build around it, making sure you deck has both creatures that can carry it and spells that are cheap enough to cast with it – but when you actualy have both, it’s a devastating engine that your opponent will fear as much as Mordred feared Excalibur. If Legacy and Modern hadn’t gotten as fast as they did, I’d suggest using it alongside Snapcaster Mage, because he only flashes back one thing on entry and it’d be fitting to have him learn to do it repeatedly and earn his flavorwise Round Table seat. Perhaps there’s a deck to be made there with Stoneforge Mystic; but even if not, I have no doubt we’ll see this at numerous casual and limited top tables, even if just because of the usual major combat bonuses that this cycle grants. Some decks will be also tempted to use it just to surveil and put lots of cards in their graveyard, and even that might sometimes be good enough.
Commander [EDH]: 4.5
Two decades after it started, the Mirrodin Swords Giga-Ultra-Mega-Cycle has its tenth and final proper member, the last unused pairing. Sword of Once and Future is an interesting enough sword, largely because it feels like it fits weirdly into decks; decks with a high density of spells that are eligible to cast with this trigger might not want this, for lack of creatures to cast to haul it into battle, and decks that have a lot of creatures may not have enough things to cast with this. That being said, a second cast of a spell can be powerful indeed, ranging from smaller things like Impulse to the likes of kill spells and Demonic Tutor in deeper formats. And even if you don’t have the ability to cast something, surveil may well give you the piece you need to get the most out of the combat damage trigger.
All that said, I’d say Sword of Once and Future is good, largely thanks to the protection it gives being good at stopping non-combat ways of killing or dealing with creatures. Blue likes to bounce and black likes to kill, neither of which can hit the equipped creature, and +1/+2 is good at surviving combat proper. Even the weaker Swords have often had their day in the sun, and as one of two legal in Standard, I imagine Sword of Once and Future will fit right in.
Limited: 4.5 (valuable more for the protection)
Commander [EDH]: 4
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