This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Guest Article

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By Matt Rob

 

With the best holiday coming up in a few days, I wanted to talk about a new theme for a Horde deck. This one is especially timely and especially flavorful (and, for what it’s worth, this is also probably the easiest Horde to assemble).

 

So much of fantasy is built on the Tolkien-esque binary of good vs. evil. As most folks try to be good people in their own lives, we naturally identify with and root for the good guys in a story. After all, which is more appealing: aligning yourself with the besieged, shiny people in cool white robes, staves, and bright swords, or with the mud-covered, genocidal monsters? That the good guys’ goal is also technically extermination of an entire race is a discussion for another day (ain’t nobody pushing for treaties outside of Zelazny, in other words).

 

That tendency to ally yourself with the good guys can be a red herring. Consider I Am Legend, Hyperion, A Canticle for Leibowitz: as spectators, we are only given what the author wants us to see, and our brains make assumptions to fill in the gaps. We are blinkered by our experiences: the protagonist of I Am Legend is fighting evil vampires until he realizes that he’s killing people just trying to overcome an illness; the Shrike is a symbol of evil and destruction until it’s revealed to be integral to humanity’s renaissance; raiding parties and a fiefdom in the Great Plains aren’t just bandits pillaging, but the vestiges of new civilization.

 

And with this in mind, I present today’s horde: humans and angels.

The White Hat Horde

 

15 Angel (4/4 flying) tokens

40 Human (1/1) tokens

 

Enchantments (11)

1 Angelic Voices

1 Cathars’ Crusade

1 Collective Blessing

1 Crusade

1 Gleam of Battle

1 Honor of the Pure

1 Martyr’s Bond

1 Noble Purpose

1 Righteous Cause

1 Sphere of Safety

1 True Conviction

 

Sorceries (8)

4 Mass Calcify

4 Tempt with Glory

 

Creatures (26)

1 Ancestor’s Chosen

1 Angelic Arbiter

2 Angelic Overseer

3 Angel of Glory’s Rise

1 Blinding Angel

1 Empyrial Archangel

1 Fountain Watch

1 Geist-Honored Monk

1 Konda, Lord of Eiganjo

1 Lavinia of the Tenth

1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence

1 Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker

1 Radiant, Archangel

2 Serra Angel

1 Silver Seraph

2 Skyspear Cavalry

1 Sublime Archangel

2 Sunblast Angel

1 Twilight Shepherd

1 Victory’s Herald

 

So you and your buddies get into a pickle on the plane of Kaladesh and immediately jump to where you think is as safe as milk: an agrarian plane of humans and angels, order and peace. There are four seasons and harvest festivals and lots of hymns and homespun values. But what you didn’t account for was that maybe a plane with so little variation may not be tolerant of outsiders. Perhaps this place of rigid social castes and immortal, flying enforcers is not, to be diplomatic, cosmopolitan.

 

Soon you and your dragon/goblin/merfolk/golem friends are beset from the sky by hordes of angry angels, clad in iron and wielding all manner of potent weaponry. You’ve barely stopped to catch your breath before the first anthem hits your ears and the humble farmers have gone from tilling their fields to wielding clubs the size of oxen.

 

Who’s the bad guy? Who’s the good guy? Who cares! You’re trying to survive!

 

This horde provides an interesting challenge thanks to the powerful flyers. WotC has upped the quality of 6+ CMC creatures in the past decade, especially for an iconic tribe like Angels. The result is cards like Empyrial Archangel and Angel of Glory’s Rise, two hugely swingy tanks. The lower CMC angels aren’t slouches, either: Linvala, Keeper of Silence shuts down your activated abilities, Angelic Overseer requires you to remove all humans before you can stop it, and Blinding Angel keeps you locked down on your attack steps.

 

The nontoken humans are fierce, too. Lavinia is basically a time walk, Konda is just a straight-up tank, and Skyspear Cavalry’s double strike gets out of hand with the help of the anthems.

 

Oh, did I mention the anthems? If there’s one thing that the forces of order love, it’s singing songs about how much they love order. And somehow those songs make them bigger. I’ve included an array of anthems (feel free to use whatever you have on hand; there is no shortage of options). Every anthem makes it harder for you to fight through on the ground, and makes defeat that much more likely through the air.

 

The spells are pretty simple and flavorful. Not much to say there. Sweepers and more anthems.

 

The thing that’s fun about nominally being the bad guy is that you get to thumb your nose at the righteously ignorant and take a few swings at the hegemony. Those dang angels sure are easy to dislike when they’re being patronizing, aren’t they?

 

It is very easy to assemble something analogous to this horde decklist. Every set has humans and nearly every set has angels. You could easily make it themed around Heliod or Avacyn, or go more sinister with Elesh Norn’s forces of assimilation or Konda’s breaking of the balance between living beings and kami. There are all manner of anthems and lords for humans, and no shortage of disruptive or prison enchantments.

 

It is nearly Halloween, the holiday where the binaries of the other 364 days of the year are thrown aside for a while. Good and bad are relative, the barrier between the natural and the supernatural is weakened. Embrace it. Be the bad guy for a little while.

 

 

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