It is Commander week here at Jupiter Games Online and seeing as I am the only writer who doesn’t have a Commander deck (yet) , I cannot really talk about it and tell you how awesome it is and how to hurt your opponents. With that in mind, my brilliant editor came up with an idea for me. Recently some players have developed a new game mode for Commander which is known as Horde and uses plenty of fun zombie cards and zombie tokens. Here is the list that you build for the horde and then I’ll talk about how the format works and cover a couple of games which we played.
[Editor’s Note: The Zombie Horde deck was originally outline on the Quiet Speculation blog, then tested extensively for this article by Sheldon Menery. We followed Sheldon’s suggestions for augmenting the Horde to make the game a little more challenging, so –Rotting Legion, –Severed Legion, –Walking Corpse, –Waning Wurm, + Demoralize, + Dirge of Dread,+ Everlasting Torment, + Lord of the Undead + Undead Alchemist, + Zombie Master.]
Zombie Giant Tokens 5
Zombie Tokens 52
So as you can see there are zombie tokens in the deck and then some spells. The way the Horde deck is played is each turn cards are revealed from the top of the deck until a non-token spell card is revealed. All tokens are put into play and then the spell is cast. So yes the zombies can be unlucky enough to flip over every single token and then have Damnation cast, but those odds aren’t very good. Also the zombies have haste and must attack each turn. The zombies officially have a hand and can cast spells from the graveyard and unearth if needed. There also is a banned list for the decks going against the Horde. Certain cards just absolutely kill the Horde, such as Elesh Norn, Dueling Grounds, and Moat effects. The internet provided us some insight on how to actually approach the Horde and those will be discussed in the actual game coverage. Finally, the way to survive the Horde is when you deal damage, the Horde mills that many cards, so once nothing is left in their library and their board is empty, you have survived. Go you! So let’s get into some actual play. I am going to start out by saying, I did not take down each turn perfectly, and I did not think it would matter if I cast Sol Ring on turn 1.
Horde vs. 4 Commanders. Commaders get 2 Free Turns and 60 Life.
Our first turns nothing relevant happens except someone is greedy and fetches dropping us to 59.
Horde Turn 1: Flips over Damnation. We had no creatures out, and they flipped no Zombies, so essentially we just get another free turn.
Horde Turn 2: 1 Zombie and Death Pits of Rath
Ryan uses Crystal Shard to bounce the token and Adam casts Geist of Saint Traft, using Aura Shards’s trigger to kill the Death Pits on our turn.
Horde Turn 3: Death Baron comes down and we block and trade with the token. Ryan uses Nephalia Drownyard to mill the zombies 3. Nice Lightning Bolt.
We attack the Horde for 10 damage/cards and I cast Liliana Vess and use her to grab Basilisk Collar
Horde Turn 4: 3 Zombie Giants, 5 Zombies, Rotting Rats, and flashed-back Army of the Damned.
Having a planeswalker out, the zombies are required to send a number of random creatures at the planeswalker equal to the number of loyalty counters on it. We deal with the 3 Zombie Giants, Liliana dies and we take 5 going to 54. The Horde is hit with Drownyard again and we take our turn.
Adam casts Rafiq, and the Geist of Saint Traft attacks for 10 with Rafiq’s ability and his angel buddy. I believe we kill the zombies using some mass removal spell and then I cast Olivia plus Collar.
Horde Turn 5: 3 Zombies, Unearth Rotting Rats, Mnemonic Nexus. The Horde beats us for 3 taking us to 51 and then someone got greedy again and we took 4 life to Sylvan Library. Grim-grin attacks for 6 and we pass.
Horde Turn 6: 3 Zombies and Patriarch’s Bidding (returning 5 Zombies, Undead Alchemist, Infectious Horror), before the attack Olivia’s ability with Collar attached picks off Undead Alchemist, Infectious Horror and a token. We end up only taking 1 total after the attack and life gain from Olivia’s Basilisk Collar. Ryan uses Drownyard. Grim-grin attacks for 8, and I cast Godo, Bandit Warlord to get Sword of Feast and Famine.
Horde Turn 7: 3 Zombies and Unbreathing Horde (19/19). Godo chumps the Horde and we gain a life from Olivia ping going to 47. Drownyard again.
All the creatures attack and finish off the hoard. I believe there was an Eldrazi Conscription and Steel of the Godhead on Rafiq, a quite large Olivia, plus Grim-grin. Our first run through and we took down the horde without any real problems. We actually ended up with 86 life in this game.
We decided to go after the horde again, but we felt the 2 free turns was just too much for us. So we simply went first and did nothing eventful.
Horde Turn 1: 7 Zombies and Skullbriar. We took 15 and ended at 45.
We did nothing eventful again
Horde Turn 2: 1 Zombie and Yixilid Jailer. We take 20 and go to 26.
Horde Turn 3: Maggot Carrier costs us 4 life and we take 23 ending up at 2. Ryan has a Vampiric Tutor in his hand which can grab a mass removal spell, but seeing we are at 2, it’s just not possible. Our only way of not dying, is the horde to flip one of their kill spells, they do not and we die quite quickly.
We ended up playing a couple of more games where in both games we stabilized at 10 life and then finished off the horde.
Overall it seems like this could be a quite fun format as long as some more cards are developed for it and it seems like 3 people is the right number to play with giving 2 starting turns. A 4th person can add so much to the defense that it makes it much easier. We started out by adding some more advanced cards to the horde list, but still we only died once from the very quick horde start. This is something that has been tested and also I think the generals being used is quite relevant (or more so the competitiveness of the decks). I received a picture message late last night which showed Ryan’s board where he got to ultimate Liliana Vess and got back 37 tokens plus had a 19/19 Olivia and other goodies. Just shows how crazy some generals can be. I did have a blast playing the horde and hope I can in the future as well.
Now in order to prepare for Commander week I hung out at Jupiter Monday and Tuesday till way late where we played Commander straight up and used Planechase cards as well. I don’t want to cover everything but I do want to cover some fun plays that happened. Our first game, I knew I was not going to win because Ryan’s Merieki deck is just retarded good and looks beautiful (seriously, Japanese foil, like all of it). Well Adam had to mulligan twice and on turn 2, Mystical Tutored for Wargate and then cast Wargate for 0 to grab Krosan Verge to get more land. Now the whole time I talked up how I was going to top deck Wasteland and shatter his dreams. We all laughed about it and assumed I was just messing around. Well on my turn, I dropped Wasteland and killed the Verge. Love ya, Adam. I got crushed in that game like expected but it was still fun.
We then got to play some Commander Planechase and my favorite (sarcasm) Plane came up early, Lethe Lake. So the reanimator player gets milled, that surely isn’t good. Eventually the plane comes up in which spells are copied and Ryan gets to cast Beacon of Unrest, get back Rune Scarred Demon and Kiki-jiki from my graveyard, to find a land and the Beacon of Unrest that was just shuffled in and cast it again. He managed to cast Beacon 5 or 6 times in that game and get some pure value off of it. Then a couple of turns later, the worst possible Commander turn ever happened and it was all played by me. I started by using Cabal Coffers to get lots of mana, cast Necrotic Ooze and try to kill all the creatures (I had Triskelion and Mephedross Vampire in my yard), I was told nope, and it doesn’t work. So I thought, I just needed the vampire in play, so I used Ooze to act as Geth to get back Adam’s Eternal Witness and return the vampire to my hand and cast it, tried to kill all the other creatures again, but nope, the Ooze doesn’t have a counter. (Why do I suck?). I eventually gave up and passed the turn. I accomplished pretty much nothing. So then next turn I still wasn’t killed and decided I would just kill off Ryan using Profane Command for 19 and get back my Triskelion. Well, that didn’t work either. Ryan ended up stealing my Ooze with Mereiki, use it as Geth to get back the Triskelion, somehow he used Gilded Drake to steal my Vampire, shoot all the other creatures, and then copy Triskelion and shoot me for 7 and I died. Well damn. I thought my spell would still resolve, but because I was dead, it did not. Well now I need to build by own Commander deck so Ryan can use Olivia and not just totally crush me. Luckily Damia is half built but there is no real direction yet, so we’ll see how it goes.
Hope you enjoy(ed) Commander week!