This entry is part 2 of 13 in the series Notions of Horde

Billy headshot

By Billy

 

As of this writing the Eternal Masters full spoiler has officially been revealed, and while I initially had the idea to look at it from a horde perspective, I discovered that there wasn’t a lot in the set for Horde, so instead I’m going to give you my thoughts on the set, whether they are Horde related or not. This is going to be a bit more Stream of Consciousness than my usual, with more topics and less focus than usual. So, let’s dive in.

 

I’ve been playing Magic for quite a while, now. Not nearly as long as some of the Old-Timers we’ve got around here, but I’ve been playing since 8th Edition. I keep having to remind myself that was 13 years ago and there’s people playing now that probably weren’t born yet when I started playing. Many of the cards in this set I’d heard legends about. In the pre-internet days, I found out about Mana Crypt from an expired order form in the back of an old novel I found in the back of a bookstore. I almost sent in for it anyway, but I couldn’t bring myself to tear a page out of a book.

 

I hated Mirrodin. Everything was robots, and there were none of the colorful cards that had sold on the game from a buddy’s Onslaught block cards. I didn’t buy very much Mirrodin, but I loved Darksteel enough to keep playing. Then Kamigawa came along, and I got my first taste of a very insular set. None of these cards helped me build an Elf or Goblin Deck, though there were a few Clerics. . . One thing that I loved in Kamigawa were the Honden cycle of shrines. Honden of Seeing Winds was mind-blowing to me. So, of course, I had Honden of Cleansing Fire and Honden of Life’s Web. Not too shabby, but I hadn’t really mastered the “Buying Singles” thing yet. A friend of mine had, and he built a Honden/Mirror Gallery deck. 60-card casual multiplayer was the name of the game back then, so he had way too much time to assemble his doomsday device and burn us all out of the game with multiple Honden of Infinite Rage triggers. I’m putting the Hondens into my five-color “Alt-Win” deck I’m working on. I doubt they’ll do anything, but I have to try.

 

Speaking of Legend rules, Rorix Bladewing is at the heart of one of my favorite Magic stories of my life. A friend of mine, Eric, was the resident competitive player in my group. He lived just down the street from the best game shop around, and was playing in tournaments all the time. He had a Dragonstorm built for what must have been old Extended. He’d storm off, get a bunch of dragons, then hope you didn’t have a sweeper and swing for the win on the next turn. Yeah, that probably sounds casual, but this was before Kokusho, the Evening Star, or Bogardan Hellkite gave us instant win dragons, and this was hardcore compared to my Clerics deck.

 

Anyway, Eric combos off, goes searching for 4 dragons. He finds Rorix Bladewing, Rorix Bladewing, Rorix Bladewing, and Rorix Bladewing. Confused, he looks through his deck again, and discovers that his older brother had replaced all of his dragons with Rorix because Rorix has haste, and could therefore kill on the turn it hits play. The problem is that the Legend rule at the time said that all four copies of Rorix would go directly to the graveyard, leaving him with no dragons. That was the only time I beat that deck, though we both agreed that wasn’t a fair win. Hilariously enough, that Legend rule interaction is exactly what the later version of the deck relied on to get four death triggers from Kokusho, the Evening Star.

 

Folks reading this today probably think of Sensei’s Divining Top as this near-mythical force of Counter-Top dominance. I remember it as that funky card my buddy got in his Snake pre-con deck that never seemed to do anything, but was probably helping somehow. In a world without Fetch lands to shuffle away what’s on top, it isn’t quite the powerhouse of selection we think of, and Counterbalance wouldn’t be printed for another couple years. I really wish I’d dug a few of those out of the nickel box.

 

Prowling Pangolin is one of those cards I have an irrational love for. It’s probably not amazing, but I love the old art:

 

“I’m gonna get you. . .”

 

 

Now compare with the new art:

 

I think it’s a zombie pangolin now? I’m sad, couldn’t they just let him rest in peace? They’re so cute!

 

Since I’ve mentally jumped to Black cards, Havoc Demon was the payoff for Cabal Coffers in a buddy of mine’s mono-black Thrull deck. He’d tutor it up with Blood Speaker. Speaking of, does anyone remember this card? EDH is full of good demons this could fetch. Hmm.. . I should look into that. Anyway, I look forward to putting Havoc Demon in an eventual Demon-themed horde.

 

Giant Solifuge used to be the premiere R/G aggro deck finisher. I’d forgotten about that until seeing it on this list. Raise your hand if you’d heard of this card before. This was one of the cards I’d wanted most out of Guildpact boosters back in the day. Now I’m just wondering if it has eternal applications I don’t know about.

 

To everyone who might be playing Eternal Masters in Limited, remember that Armadillo Cloak doesn’t give Lifelink, and can be used on your opponent’s creatures as a pseudo-Pacifism. This card is well worth the inherent risk Auras present.

 

The Return to Ravnica prerelease was my wife’s first. We’d just been married in August, and though I taught her to play and gave her her first deck back in Shards of Alara, Magic had been something that we’d played almost exclusively with each other for years. Ravnica was the set that kept me in Magic all those years ago, after the disappointment of Mirrodin’s lack of color and Kamigawa’s insular themes the multicolor, metropolitan themes of Ravnica struck a chord. She knew that, and I might have begged her a bit, so off we went for the prerelease. She picked Golgari for her prerelease box, and pulled a foil Deathrite Shaman. This was before it blew up and ruined Modern, before the banning, before it was anything more than a neat shiny card. Later we discovered that it was the highest of high-dollar cards and sold it on eBay. It bought her a whole bunch of other cards, but–as of this writing–I still haven’t gotten her a non-foil replacement. I should work on that.

 

Zendikar brought me back to the game. Shards block didn’t really click with me, and the only other Magic player I knew at that time was my girlfriend and future wife. We played together, but that doesn’t quite spark the arms race that comes with a larger playgroup. But the Christmas after Zendikar I called every Magic-playing friend I could think of, and pulled them together for an impractically large 11-man draft. I tell you this, so that you know exactly where the headspace of my playgroup was when Worldwake and Jace, The Mind Sculptor released. We were all getting back into the game, and the idea that there was gold in them hills set us off on a spending spree that I and my pile of Terastodons would probably regret is I hadn’t gotten two Stoneforge Mystics out of it. On a related note, why isn’t Misty in this set? She should be here. It seems disrespectful that she wasn’t included.

 

Also, Ancestral Mask is amazing in the Green Enchantress deck I made out of a box of scraps and Enchantress’s Presence. I’m glad it’s getting a reprint. It caused lots of math and cursing at the kitchen table back in the day. Mix with Armadillo Cloak for best results.

 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane, I’ll be back later with things less sentimental, and more relevant. As always, have fun.

 

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