This entry is part 7 of 13 in the series Notions of Horde

Billy headshot

by Billy

 

August 29, 1997. Skynet becomes self-aware at 2:14 AM. In retaliation for its human handlers attempting to shut it down, it launches a nuclear strike against all of humanity. The survivors would call it Judgment Day. It is now the distant future–the year 2000–and you and your fellow commanders must lead the resistance against the onslaught of machines.

 

This is a Terminator-themed horde, based on the classic James Cameron films. It’s also loosely Golem Tribal. There’s some constructs thrown in, but for the most part it’s Golems that will be benefiting from most of the synergy, as well as representing the most iconic of terminators: the T-800s. Overall, this horde’s strategy is to throw as many 3/3 Golem tokens and 6/12 Construct tokens at the players as possible, while also fielding support artifacts to disrupt the players’ resources and maintain the pressure of a ticking clock in the form of your slowly dwindling life totals. Also, it sometimes gives all artifact creatures flying.

 

Let’s move into card-by-card breakdowns:

  • 3/3 Golem Tokens are our trusty T-800s. Use New Phyrexian Golems if you have them, as they’re practically terminators already. I know the tokens don’t normally get featured here, but if you’re used to 2/2 zombie tokens the 3/3s are surprisingly large. 3/x first strikers are much harder to come by, and that three power makes Golems harder to block profitably with cheap creatures. You feel the pressure right away.

  • 3/4 Gargoyle Tokens represent the HK-Aerials. They’re the air force of the machines, flying over ground troops and proving remarkably durable with their four toughness. There’s only a few of them here, because too many fliers makes a horde non-interactive very fast, but a couple here and there add some spice.

  • 1/1 Wasp tokens are little reconnaissance drones. They act as spotters for the bigger bots.

  • 6/12 Construct tokens are the HK-Tanks, trampling over the skulls of the fallen. These guys are bad news. Absolutely brutal in groups, they will cause your players to crave a Vandalblast. They can’t be chump blocked and their twelve toughness means they are nigh-unstoppable, making them one of the scariest things to come off the top of the deck.

  • Rackling, Viseling, and Skullcage offer pressure on an unusual angle, and keep players on their toes. Rackling and Viseling can be replaced with The Rack and Black Vise, respectively, if you have them. Those are much more durable options than the creature versions, and much less likely to step out in front of a large blocker.

  • Trinisphere, Isolation Cell, and Storage Matrix all put a tax on player resources, forcing players to endure scavenging in the wastes for supplies. For those of you with a spare Winter Orb lying around, you could likely replace Storage Matrix with it to greater effect.

  • Golem Foundry makes more golems, and I’ve found it acts as a superior Endless Ranks of the Dead in this deck. Sure, you only get one golem for every three artifacts cast, compared to Endless’s 1:2 ratio, but getting the triggers on casting ( rather than on surviving to the next upkeep) more than compensates.

  • Sundering Titan brings the nuclear fire when it comes and when it goes, forcing players to destroy one basic land of each type. Brutal on the multi-color decks and a large beater besides.

  • Phyrexian Hulk is listed twice for a reason. One is the Eighth edition art, with the children’s rhyme flavor text that I think sums up The Terminator perfectly; the other is the New Phyrexia art that looks like a terminator, with some upgrades.

  • Beast of Burden is a neat bit of old-school Magic. By counting creatures on both sides of the board, it frequently turns the players’ strength against them.

  • Blade Splicer and its friends are there to provide semi-permanent buffs without costing the horde a body like most temporary buff spells. Even the 1/1 body of the Splicer itself is frequently worth spending a blocker on to remove whatever buff it brings.

  • Tangle Golem and the land-Affinity golems are there because I needed more golems to get the splicer buffs, and Dross Golem and Spire Golem provide just a hint of evasion with Dross Golem getting double points for looking a bit like a terminator if you squint.

  • Darksteel Sentinel represents the sheer persistence and unstoppable nature of the terminators. You can’t stop it without dunking it in molten steel or catching it in a convenient crushing device.

  • Epochrasite represents the time-displacement field, as well as being another persistent threat.

 

The one thing this deck is missing is Skynet itself. Sadly, I looked for a good representative, but came up short. Myr Matrix seems thematically appropriate, but myr are much to small to be considered real threats. Darksteel Reactor seemed equally thematic, but was sadly just too slow. I’m open to suggestions. Feel free to comment here or on Tappedout with any ideas.

 

One thing this horde notably lacks is a board wipe. I got so caught up looking for a sweeper that hits only non-artifact creatures that I never actually picked up a Day of Judgement for it. I’ll be looking to rectify that shortly, so if there is one on the list by the time of publication, I’ve finally gone and bought one.

 

Well, that’s all for today. I hope I’ve inspired some of you to play more Horde magic and remember: the future’s not set. There’s no fate but what we make for ourselves.

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