This entry is part 10 of 13 in the series Notions of Horde

Billy headshot

By Billy


Today we jump the shark. A couple of sharks, actually. There’s three things happening here that Notions of Horde has never handled before: Advisor Tribal, defensive Horde design, and custom cards. As much Mark and I joke about Advisor Tribal, I saw Kambal, Consul of Allocation, and decided that it was time for Advisor Tribal to see the light of day.


Step one was go to Gatherer and search for Advisors. Turns out there’s not been a ton of them,  and many are N.G.I.H. (Not Good in Horde). Step two was realizing that none of them are very good on offense. Step three was the realization that there are no official Advisor tokens. These were significant challenges to conventional Horde design, so it was time to think outside the box.


Wizards of The Coast released a set of official Horde decks a few years back with Theros block. The first of these was the Face The Hydra deck. Unlike the hordes featured here, the hydra is a defensive oriented deck. Instead of playing creatures which attack the players, the hydra produces “heads,” which deal flat amounts of damage to players each turn, and were attackable. That’s right: in this scenario you don’t attack the deck, you send creatures after specific heads in order to kill all the heads.



I’m going to be stealing this idea for today’s horde.


Our other problem is the lack of numbers. There are 46 advisors in Magic, and none of them are particularly combat oriented. Many of them are utility creatures designed to be used for their abilities. That’s fine for Gaddock Teeg in the Horde, but Diaochan, Artful Beauty is more than a little out of place in this format. So, lacking the critical mass of horde-ables for this tribe it falls to me to make my own. Conveniently, I was already going to have to produce Advisor tokens for the horde, so I opened up Magic Set Editor and got to work.


First thing’s first, the rules:

  • Creatures the horde controls have Defender.
  • The horde will always block if able, the players choose how the horde blocks.
  • Creatures the horde controls can block any number of creatures.
  • All targeted spells and abilities controlled by the horde target randomly.
  • Players do not get any free set up turns, unlike in normal horde rules.
  • Each turn the horde reveals cards off the top of its library until it reveals a non-token card, then casts all of those cards.
  • Tokens are treated as spells for all purposes.
  • The horde begins the game as the monarch, and treats any damage dealt by Advisor Tokens as Combat Damage for purposes of becoming the monarch.
  • Droning Bureaucrats will always choose the most common cmc (converted mana cost) among creatures on the board.
  • Masako The Humorless allows creatures with defender to attack as though they do not have defender.


Now that the rules are out of the way, let’s look at the list:


Card Name Quantity Real Cards 33 Custom Cards 7 Total Non-Token 40 Tokens 60
Gaddock Teeg 1 Take a Number 1 Paper Pusher 25
Agent of Masks 4 Closing Time 1 Paper Fort 15
Droning Bureaucrats 1 Mind Crusher 1 Desk Jockey 10
Azor’s Elocutors 1 Maze of Lines 1 Sedentary Secretary 10
Corrupt Court Official 1 Numbing Boredom 1
Council of Advisors 1 Bureaucratic Backlog 1
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV 1 Law And Order 1
Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon” 1
Leovold, Emissary of Trest 1
Masako The Humorless 1
Mayor of Avabruck 1
Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker 1
Obzedat, Ghost Council 1
Riven Turnbull 1
Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts 1
Teysa, Orzhov Scion 1
Tobias Andrion 1
Propaganda 2
Kambal, Consul of Allocation 1
Null Rod 1
Siphon Mind 1
Paliation Accord 1
Proclamation of Rebirth 1
Psychic Spiral 1
Supreme Verdict 1
Capital Punishment 1
Garrulous Sycophant 1
Tyrant’s Choice 1
Bite of the Black Rose 1


This deck is all about defense. Its goal is to keep the players from attacking through if at all possible, and prevent the players from dealing damage to it at all costs. To that effect there are a lot of cards here that will impact the ability of players to take the offensive.


Propaganda is a classic defensive card, taxing players’ ability to attack. Ghostly Prison is a white functional reprint, though less thematically appropriate. Grand Arbiter Augustin IV is a famously hated commander, and here he is no less annoying, levying taxes on the playing of the most basic of spells. Kambal, Consul of Allocation taxes the players’ life totals, not their mana, but that life tax will add pressure to the players’ decisions. Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker taxes the evasive creatures. Players will still get damage through, but they will have to sacrifice something to earn it.


Azor’s Elocutors is a favorite card of mine, that really encourages players to play evasive creatures to keep the the filibuster under control. You don’t want to be the guy who loses by doing nothing. This is included because it is an hilarious card, and a win condition for a horde that has plenty of defense, but maybe not the teeth required to finish off the players. It’s possible that it may be the best idea to start the players off with a shared life total of 20 no matter the circumstance. This will have to come out further in longer-term testing, so if anyone else builds this, I’d like to see what you come up with.


Masako the Humorless is getting some special rules for this horde. Since she allows tapped creatures to block, I’ve also given her the ability to allow the creatures to attack. This will hopefully provide the horde with a surprise burst of damage that should allow the horde to finish off the players, or at the very least force them to adjust their strategies.



Psychic Spiral is a bit of a unique card that looks out of place in this deck, but I like having a card that helps the horde restock their deck. It slides into the horde on the basis of Azorious-themed art, and that it might surprise a player by milling them out, or at least putting them in danger of milling out.


Now to talk about the custom cards I’ve created for this. Before we proceed, I want you to know that these are not designed for real play, the costs are rough estimates. I am not a professional, and have deliberately overshot on some of the costs to not make these too broken should someone attempt to play these in the wild.



Bureaucratic Backlog forces players to only attack with their creatures every other turn. Smart players will attack with half their creatures each turn, to work around the impediment, but it will still slow things down a bit.



Closing Time is the mass bounce spell I’ve always wanted. The max hand size clause I shamelessly stole from Praetor’s Counsel, and something I always wanted to see on a mass bounce spell.



Desk Jockey is a custom token that is filling a slot similar to the Zombie Giants in the Zombie horde. It’s the big one that is there so that there is something scary other than the non-tokens. Especially for this horde, I decided there might need to be more forms of removal built into the horde. Large creatures can fulfill that role. The damage clause is taken from the Hydra heads, and is typical of the tokens in this horde



Law and Order is both a reference to a favorite band and a nice cessation of hostilities. Vanishing means it won’t stick around for too long, but it buys the horde a turn.



Maze of Lines is close to a re-flavored Crawlspace, but I wanted something that felt more DMV in flavor.



Mind Crusher is a boss monster and a Siphon Mind mixed together, I noticed that most advisors are rather small, so I decided to fatten things up.



Numbing Boredom was a top-down design to match that mind draining boredom that comes with a long wait.



Paper Fort is a big token wall that you have to fight through to get to the horde’s softer targets. This design came from the problem of the players always being able to choose their targets. Paper Fort messes with that enough that players will feel it, but not so much that the baseline of being able to choose your targets is overwritten.



Paper Pusher is the baseline bureaucrat of the horde. I picked ¼ because I wanted it to have some toughness, and I think in a multiplayer environment 3 toughness is a bit too small.



Sedentary Secretary is a 0/3 who is mostly special because of the two damage each turn clause.



Take a Number was another top down design based on making it feel like was only only one creature could go at a time. I love Detain as a mechanic, and it’s perfect for this horde.




I’ve also included quick reminder rules cards for the horde to try to make it a little easier on people. If you’re interested in trying to tweak the custom cards, or want to add your own I’ve included the download links for the custom cards and tokens here:


All in all, this has been the most work out of all the hordes I’ve ever created, though I might look into custom cards for future and existing hordes. That may be an article in the future, where I go through some of my previous hordes and adjust them with some custom cards. Overall, I like that this horde supports aggression in ways that the base horde format tends not to. I’m a big fan of how it plays, and while further testing will be required on many of these mechanics, I think it’s a great way to change things up if your horde environment is getting stale.  Thanks to both of you who read these articles (Hi Mom!).


 Until next time, may you cut through red tape.

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