This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Wild Research


Horde Magic is a spectacular variant of Magic. I might even say that it is my favorite format, if I can call it a format, to play. You can find the rules and article that kicked Horde Magic off here. The beauty of Horde Magic is that there are almost no deck construction limits or rules. There are suggestions like all Horde spells cannot be countered, but if your buddy only has a legacy deck and you only have a standard deck there is no reason you cannot team up to vanquish the Horde. I have also found there are almost never games where the players get mad or complain about how the game played out. When you lose to a player-less stack of cardboard, all of a sudden people seem to be alright with the idea of losing. In fact, I have frequently witnessed a desire to play again because they are sure they know how to beat the Horde next time. Any format that drives people to play it more when they lose is great!

Building a Horde is a similarly unique and interesting project. Most Horde decks revolve around tokens that share a theme. The origin of the format was a zombie Horde though you could equally build a Horde for any other tribe or theme. You could extend the idea of zombies to include all undead. This is more or less how my friends built the first tiered Horde deck. We thought the idea of a zombie Horde would be fun, so everyone grabbed all of their 2/2 zombie tokens. It turned out that between all of us we had 20-30 tokens, no where near the target 60 we were looking for. So we branched out and looked at what black creature tokens we had a lot of. We ended up deciding to use 1/1 regenerating skeletons, 2/2 zombies, and 5/5 flying demons. Between the three groups we had nearly 60 tokens with which to build the Horde. Originally we may have tried a game or two with all of the tokens shuffled together randomly, but quickly realized that a pair of demons on the Horde’s first turn was almost unbearable. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Wild Research

In today’s installment of Wild Research, we will put the spotlight on one of my decks. This particular deck is one of my favorite experiments I have ever concocted. The deck was conceived in the midst of an arms race in one of my play groups. After the Commander product was released, many more people at my local game store started to play EDH. A month or so later, several people had decided EDH was not for them and given up, but everyone else started to tune and tweak their decks. Eventually an arms race ensued; cards like Myojin of Night’s Reach, Jin-Gitaxias, and Vorinclex became regular and recurring elements of our games and the meta game shifted to nearly all mid range control decks. The average game became a staring contest for 15 turns until someone dared to try to oppress the rest of the table. I quickly got bored and frustrated playing these games.

My first solution was to try the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em approach”. I tuned my decks to play a less interactive game of hand sculpting and two card combos. I was still dedicated to the idea I should be winning my fair share of the time. In short, this solution failed miserably. If anything, I hated playing more than I did before. I thought some more about the games, how they played out, and what I did not like about them. First I did not like the staring contest to 15 mana. Many of the decks were sculpting their perfect hand and waiting until they had enough mana to play out their whole win condition in one turn and have mana to protect it. More or less everyone was ignoring the early and mid game and waiting for the late game. I had already experimented a little bit with being an early aggressor, but this just focused the whole table on my demise. Second I hated feeling like I had to win all the time and getting frustrated when I could not. I am a very competitive person unless I deliberately focus on not winning. So I set out to build a deck that would only win by accident and launch the whole table from the early game to the late game as quickly as possible. Group hug naturally rose to the top of my good ideas list. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Wild Research


Welcome to this season’s last installment of Wild Research. It has been a hell of a ride getting here, but I made it. Before I wrap up the duel deck project, I want to thank you all for taking the time to bother reading my direct and not very flavorful writing. Life has proven to be exceptionally busy this summer and fall between work, school, writing, and my other obligations. Your comments are the only thing that kept me struggling to get articles out at 11PM in a hotel room 800 miles from home. Similarly I want to bring to your attention just how much work and dedication it takes to produce content on any kind of regular basis. We are all extremely lucky to have Andy and the rest of the CommanderCast crew working diligently to make all of this possible and I am thankful for the opportunity to write for you all. That should be about enough sappy crap for a while, it is time to get to business.

This project has been awesome and I am quite happy with how the decks turned out. I have especially enjoyed the variance of the decks without tutors. This is most noticeable in Bruna since a suite of tutors would make nearly all of the auras except for Eldrazi Conscription and Diplomatic Immunity nearly worthless. Similarly my wife has enjoyed the lack of tutors because she does not have to sit and read through an entire deck of cards and assess which card would be most useful to her. Overall I think the decks are a little bit more swing-y than I would prefer them to be, but that is more a product of a hundred card singleton deck than anything else. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Wild Research


After building and tweaking the decks, I asked my wife to sit down and play a few games with me. It turns out Sheldon is completely right that recording games to write articles about is extremely cumbersome and annoying. My wife was not excited when I asked her to record all of her draws so I could present the play from both sides. I started the games by offering my wife first choice of the decks and she selected Bruna. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Wild Research


Before I begin tweaking my Sonebrow versus Bruna EDH duel decks I will address some of the comments you have all left for me. First thank you for taking the time to let me know what you think of the articles. This has turned out to be more of a time commitment that I could have imagined and knowing someone enjoys the articles is a great motivation. Second, a few comments have been left suggesting ways to make the decks better, Bruna in particular. Remember the goal of this project is not to build the best Bruna deck possible and see how it fairs against a Stonebrow deck, but to build a Bruna deck and a Stonebrow deck that play evenly matched games of one-on-one EDH. Several card choices from the initial builds were far worse than sub-par and this week I will address them to the extent needed to balance, not optimize, the decks.

After finishing deck construction, I sleeved up the decks and asked my wife to play a few games. Here is the first lesson to be learned from this project: if you tell your wife you need to play a few games to be able to write a column, she will play Magic with you more. That aside, the testing went moderately well. As I have already alluded to in the previous article and responses to comments, there were some problems with the deck balance. It only took a few games playing each deck to realize several of my card choices, mostly in Stonebrow, turned out to be rather useless. The decks also had much different tempos. It only takes one or two attacks from Bruna to finish off one opponent from General damage while Stonebrow usually wins by chewing through all 40 life with a group of attackers. However, when both decks usually come online within a turn of each other Bruna easily won most of the games. I also bought and traded for a few cards to take out some of the sub par cards I had chosen or been forced to use because I lacked a better alternative. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Wild Research

The moment of truth is nearly here. Last time I selected Bruna and Stonebrow as the generals for my duel decks and hit the web in search of some solid deck ideas and pitfalls. I cannot stress enough how much heartache a half hour of searching and reading on the MTGS or official Commander forums can save. Apparently Stonebrow is not a very popular general, so deck lists dripping with tech I have never seen were scarce. Bruna on the other hand, offered tens of lists several containing some great auras I did not know about and probably would not have found otherwise. For example, the ideas of including Fool’s Demise as a super-totem aura or Flight of Fancy for card advantage would not ever have occurred to me. Next I headed to the Gatherer to look up red, green, or red/green creatures with trample. Again I found a few gems I would not have thought of otherwise like Mana-Charged Dragon. Of course I knew the card was a sweet red dragon, but I forgot it was a sweet red dragon with trample.

After my initial scouting, I consulted my two five row boxes of commons and uncommons to see which of these obscure cards I actually had to put into the decks and dug into my EDH collection until I had a pile of probably 150 cards for each deck. From here I decided I would give the 7×9 EDH deck construction technique a try, so I sorted the cards by primary function and started making cuts. Read the rest of this entry »