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Theros Horde


Did you like fighting the Hydra? Are you eagerly waiting for the horde of Minotaurs on Born of the Gods Game Day? Is Commander a fond favorite format for you? Then play some Horde!

Horde is a variant way of playing Commander that pits all of the players against a rambling, shambling horde of monstrosities.

How does Horde Magic work? You build a quick deck of many creature tokens and some other cards that are on theme. Then, you play them using the rules of Horde.

What are those rules? Check them out!

Basic Rules

Army of the Damned
The players’ turn is a bit like Two-Headed Giant. You take one, shared turn between all players, (so you attack just once, block just once, and so forth). In addition, the group has a shared life total for the horde to attack, typically in the range of 40 to 60. No one dies until everyone dies. You even are able to take free turns to help you set up at the beginning of the game before the horde onslaught begins. The fewer players (than four) you have, the smaller the horde stack begins in the game.

When you dole out damage to the Horde, you mill cards into the graveyard, and you win once the library is exhausted.

Then, the horde goes, and watch out! For each turn, you flip over cards from the horde’s deck until you flip over a nontoken. All cards and tokens are played for free—no mana for the Horde. Then, the horde must attack with all of its creatures, and they all have haste. Any choices the horde must make are done randomly. The tokens the horde uses are treated as real cards (they are in graveyards, hands, etc.). A more detailed consideration of the Horde format rules can be found here.

While the original hordes tended to run Zombies, many other types have been done since. I had an artifact, Spirit, and Germ horde since then. Well, allow me to introduce you my next Horde project: a Greek mythology horde.

Inspired by Theros block, I want to run a horde that represents the spirit and attitude of Theros and Born of the Gods. (We can make changes in a few months when Journey into Nyx sees release.)

The first thing I had to do was decide which creature tokens to run. Take Zombies. In Theros, Zombies represent the Returned. In other places, they are the typical zombies we have come to respect and loathe. Just running Zombie tokens from Innistrad block would feel out of character. Therefore, a simple quartet of enchantment Zombie tokens from Born of the Gods would not feel out of place. (But they should be those pictures.)

Forlorn Pseudamma
After that, I looked at some other fun tokens. While it’s been a while since we’ve seen 1/1 flying Pegasus tokens, we have some in Unglued, and we could run them here. They are certainly in flavor! I also like the Harpy tokens. Both are 1/1 flyers, so they have some evasion, but they lack the size of bigger Zombies.

In order to make up for some of these little tykes, I added the 3/3 enchantment Centaur tokens from Born of the Gods. They give the horde some heft and zest. You can reliably roll off some 1/1 flying evasion bodies and some 3/3 beefy bodies whenever it’s the horde’s time to flip cards.

I also added some Birds. Birds are messengers of the gods, and we’ve seen them in a variety of cards. I could go in a lot of directions for the Birds, but I decided to focus on the 2/2 enchantment Birds. Not only do they feel like appropriate choices, but they give my flying horde an increased aerial threat that slides alongside the Harpies and Pegasi.

The Satyrs from Theros (made by Xenagos, the Reveler) are a way of adding some tokens en masse. After that, I included a pair of the Kraken that Kiora, the Crashing Wave can make and a quartet each of Boars and Wolves. (I know, Kraken aren’t from Greek mythology. But they are in the block, so go away.) Hunting a boar is a common theme of Greek tales, and Wolves play parts as well—so both can fit here.

Now that the tokens were set, it was time to look for creatures. You want the creature cards to be serious threats (they all gain haste and swing). I like the horde to have a few moments to make you say, “Whew! That was close!” That means it flips over a creature that is not as nasty as it could have been. So we have one copy each of Serra Sphinx, Hulking Cyclops, Pheres-Band Centaurs, and Crumbling Colossus. None of these is too threatening.

Goliath Sphinx
On the other hand, the horde should have some creatures that feel unfair. I adore Goliath Sphinx here. Normally, your generic 8/7 French vanilla flyer is not going to scare anyone. But flip it off a horde alongside three or four tokens, give it haste, and swing, and you could suddenly be on the wrong side of a huge life swing. We have unblockable bodies like (occasionally) Shrouded Serpent and Tidal Kraken that make it difficult to block. Plus, big nasties such as Tromokratis are here, too. These can change the board quickly.

I also like to give the horde some bonuses. We are running the full set of Archetypes. You can give the whole horde trample, first strike, flying, hexproof, or deathtouch as they flip. The Archetype of Endurance is a strong card because it both gives you a good-sized threat and protection for the team. You can imagine how great he is if you flip a major threat, such as a Kraken token or a Goliath Sphinx. Check out the Archetype of Finality. It turns even a small Harpy token into a one-for-one trade with any blocker. Both are suitably disgusting in a Horde deck!

I enjoy on-theme creatures for my Hordes. We have a Hydra, a titan, a Cerberus, and a pair of Cyclops. Hordes value solid, role-playing creatures, such as Lumbering Satyr. The Satyr is weak against nongreen decks, but if you control a Forest, it can be game over. Since your team is likely to have at least one green player among you, it gives the horde a powerful threat. It’s a lot nastier than it appears—trust me.

Next, I add in noncreature permanents: sorceries and instants that are in-flavor or are needed to work. Most Horde decks add Living Death to them for a late-game push or as a way of coming back from a board wipe. Otherwise, once someone plays Wrath of God, it could be game over. All creature tokens come right back into play from the graveyard. Since you are milling the horde deck as you deal damage to it, there is a lot of built-up steam in the discard pile. It’s a fun way to blow a team right off the table. You want the horde to have some of these moments. It’s also common to give the horde a few Wraths, too, in order to randomly answer a built-up defense. For this deck, Fated Retribution seemed on-theme (don’t bother to scry).

Gaea's Anthem
Most hordes include some effects that pump the whole team. While I prefer horde-specific selections (for example, I use Long-Forgotten Gohei in a Spirit horde), the generic ones, such as Glorious Anthem, Collective Blessing, and Gaea's Anthem, are acceptable. Since this deck has a variety of creature types, the tribal pumpers don’t work. Therefore, I stayed with the tried-and-true method of horde pumping. (See also: True Conviction, Primal Rage, Glory of Warfare.)

I also added an Overwhelm and Titania's Song to amp the power of the deck. I thought about Overrun, but I felt it might be too much of a blowout. I added Sleep instead. This trio of cards can turn a large number of small dorks into a game-winning arsenal of medium-sized dorks. (See also: Centaur Chieftain.)

I hope that you have been inspired by today’s article to build your own Horde deck and try it out. If your only Horde experience was playing against the pseudo-Horde Hydra, this is a great chance to build a Horde deck of your very own! Enjoy!

See you next week,

Abe Sargent

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