This entry is part 11 of 13 in the series Notions of Horde

Billy headshot

By Billy


This is a horde idea I’ve had in the back of my head for a while, but I’ve never actually attempted to build before. I’m going to build a horde based on a plane, instead of a tribal theme.  For my first try at this, I decided to pick a plane with a very coherent feel and flavor: Innistrad!


So, as always, first up is the list.


Innistrad was the perfect choice for the first attempt at this type of for a couple reasons, first off, the horror theme is ingrained into the fabric of both Innistrad blocks, and secondly, there are two blocks worth of cards to pull from. For reference, that gives us a pool of 1206 cards to draw from, not counting cards set on Innistrad from other sets. That is very important, because not every card from that set will be of a useful power level for Horde, and not all of them will be easy to create rules for in horde.


To compare, if we were to create a Theros horde, there would only be 564 cards to work from, again, not counting cards from other sets that are flavored to be Theran. That’s less than half the cardpool, and with Theros having a heavy Aura theme, many cards from it are not easily Horde-able. For the most extreme example of this, check out Homelands. That set is 115 cards, and almost none of those cards are Horde-able.


So, now that it’s been established that double-block planes have a significant advantage over single-block planes for Horde treatment, let’s dig into the set.


The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors

Abattoir Ghoul, Advanced Stitchwing, Afflicted Deserter,  Bloodhall Priest, Breakneck Rider, Ghoultree, Hanweir Militia Captain, Harvester of Souls, Havengul Vampire, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, Vorapede, Scourge of Geier Reach


Welcome to Innistrad, Home of the Monsters! This section is mostly the flavorful cards and a couple important notes about cards I just love. Abattoir Ghoul is a favorite of mine because “Zombie Butcher” is a great horror trope that’s a staple of haunted houses everywhere. Plus, a 3/2 First Striker is just scary enough that people don’t want to mess with it, while not being a world-ending threat. The perfect sort of mid-range “break time” card that can give the players a breather without being completely non-threatening.


Advanced Stitchwing is simply here to provide a little bit of evasion to keep players honest (also flying Frankenstein monsters are cool). Afflicted Deserter and  Breakneck Rider are the only true Werewolves in the horde, partly because they’re my favorite, and partly because flip-flopping them all the time would get very annoying, very quickly. I suggest getting two copies, or a checklist card, and keeping one in a clear sleeve for use on the battlefield, and the other sleeved up with the horde. That will make the flip-flopping less of a headache. That simple logistical issue is why you will never see me build a werewolf horde in paper. Hanweir Militia Captain and the other double-faced cards in the horde get by on the idea that they will likely only ever transform once per game, and that’s an acceptable logistical complication.


Ghoultree, Scourge of Geier Reach, and Vorapede are simply thematically cool big monsters, because every horde needs some beef, and this horde’s tokens are a bit on the smaller end. Also scary trees are a classic fairytale monster, giving young children nightmares since long before Disney sent Snow White into the dark forest. Harvester of Souls and Mikaeus, The Unhallowed each provide a bit of card advantage, Harvester with straight draw power and Dead Mikaeus by bringing the monsters back, stronger.


Madness Takes Its Toll

Always Watching, Aggravate, Barter In Blood, Creeping Renaissance, Dance with Devils, Extricator of Sin, Geist-Fueled Scarecrow, Gravepurge, Grim Flowering, Gutter Grime, Inexorable Blob, Wicker Witch, Gisa’s Bidding, Vampiric Fury


So, Madness is a keyword that simply has no place in Horde due to the rules quirks of how the horde draws and cast spells, but Madness and Threshold’s weird kid Delirium can fit into a horde if you put some effort into supporting it. That said, supporting it is harder than I expected it to be.


The horde has creatures to spare, but lands aren’t really played in any horde but this one; the fact that Hanweir Battlements helps out here is really secondary to my desire to jam Meld into a horde. Getting four card types in the yard is going to be tough, even if the players help by dealing damage and milling things straight into the yard.


I don’t know how often it would be possible for Delirium to activate, so I intentionally skewed my Delirium count low, and focused on cards with Delirium abilities that can activate at anytime, and do not rely on having it active when the spell is cast. The actual Delirium cards, Extricator of Sin and Inexorable Blob, are basically token-makers. Extricator of Flesh I would rule as turning one non-Eldrazi token into a 3/2 Eldrazi Horror token each time it attacks.


Other special rules to note: Aggravate will be cast on the players’ turn, targeting a random player. This card is here because the flavor text is a personal favorite, and because four mana is too much to spend on this spell even in Limited, so this is the only place this spell will ever be cast.


Barter in Blood is a symmetrical effect that becomes highly unsymmetrical due to the team-based nature of the format. The players will almost always be sacrificing more and better creatures than the horde will.


Do you Dance with Devils in the pale moonlight? You should. This card is here to act as a psuedo-creature. It produces tokens, then goes to the graveyard to count as an Instant for Delirium. Gisa’s Bidding and Army of the Damned serve similar purposes on different scales.


Creeping Renaissance and Gravepurge[/card] are a little bit of recursion. Just for the sake of fun, I say randomize which card type Creeping Renaissance returns. Just because it might be too good if it gets all the creatures in the horde’s graveyard, and I think it’s funny to sometimes have it get back both Artifacts, both Enchantments, or maybe even Hanweir Battlements when it can Meld.


Vampiric Fury is a weird tribal (but not Tribal) Overrun that only hits 13% of the horde, but always adds an Instant to the ‘yard. If you’re big on Vampires, maybe consider this for a Vampire horde. Geist-Fueled Scarecrow is here to count as an artifact for purposes of Delirium, while Wicker Witch is here so Mark can find his craziest Nick Cage Wicker Man gif to put here. I’m sure he has a collection of them [Editor’s Note: ironically, I actually have a framed photo of Nick Cage in my classroom that some of my students gave me a few years back (sadly, not from Wicker Man, though). I have no idea why they felt the need to do so, but it’s too weird to take down, so there it stays]. Also to enable Delirium.


The Stuff of Nightmares

Abundant Maw,  Emrakul, the Promised End, Decimator of the Provinces, Drownyard Behemoth, Graf Rats, Grizzled Angler, Hanweir Battlements, Hanweir Garrison, It of the Horrid Swarm, Midnight Scavengers, Shrill Howler, Smoldering Werewolf, Voldaren Pariah


There’s more than simple monsters in the darkness of Innistrad. Something is changing, warping the plane, its people, and its monsters into terrible abominations the like no world has never seen. And they come, never-ceasing, bringing with them a new madness, a new horror…

Rules-wise, the Emerge creatures are pretty much just big monsters with cast triggers and awesome names. Decimator of Provinces is a brutal game-ender (not much more to say there) that could be removed for power reasons if you’re worried it’ll get out of hand. Grizzled Angler needs a little bit of special rules, but I figure you can treat its tap ability as an attack trigger and that should be fine.


Graf Rats and Midnight Scavengers have only one house rule: if Graf Rats is in the graveyard, Midnight Scavengers must retrieve them and Meld. Hanweir Battlements and Hanweir Garrison will always Meld if able. As for the Emrakul-corrupted, double-faced cards that have mana activations to transform, I would rule that they transform at the beginning of the horde’s upkeep. That ensures they have a turn in their original form and we can capture the flavor of transformation.


The End is Here, Glorious Convergence is upon us weeeeEmrakul praise Her praise us praise us weeeEmrakul praise weeEmrakul weEmrakul wEmrakul Emrakul praiseherpraiseuspraiseourselvespraiseher

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