Commander Corner: Horde of Notions

Welcome Back,

On the plane of Lorwyn, how elementals are created is an interesting thing. The grander elements are actually ideas. They are manifested dreams and ideas that have taken the form of bizarre and often animalistic beings.

One of these manifestations is [c]Horde of Notions[/c]. This being is known to many as the eldest elemental. It has been around for many years, even older than the oldest treefolk and elf. ┬áIt contains the answers to many of Lorwyn’s deepest and darkest secrets. It is the embodiment of these truths that have been a part of the underbelly of Lorwyn since the beginning of time.

Its whereabouts are a mystery. No living mortal has been able to spot this bizarre creature in the wild. Its power over nature, though, goes without question. Let’s take a dive into this manifestation of all that Lorwyn was, is, and ever will be.

Horde_of_Notions

This unique creature reminds me of a whale, a bear, and a tree merged together into some unique otherworldly being.

[d title= “The Leader of the Elements (EDH)”]

Commander

1 Horde of Notions

Land

1 Azorius Guildgate

1 Blood Crypt

1 Bloodstained Mire

1 Boros Guildgate

1 Breeding Pool

1 Cavern of Souls

1 City of Brass

1 Command Tower

1 Dimir Guildgate

1 Flooded Strand

1 Forest

1 Godless Shrine

1 Golgari Guildgate

1 Gruul Guildgate

1 Hallowed Fountain

1 Island[/d]

[d]

Lands Cont.

1 Izzet Guildgate

1 Mana Confluence

1 Maze’s End

1 Mountain

1 Orzhov Guildgate

1 Overgrown Tomb

1 Plains

1 Polluted Delta

1 Primal Beyond

1 Rakdos Guildgate

1 Reflecting Pool

1 Sacred Foundry

1 Selesnya Guildgate

1 Simic Guildgate

1 Steam Vents

1 Stomping Ground

1 Swamp

1 Temple Garden

1 Watery Grave

1 Windswept Heath

1 Wooded Foothills[/d]

[d]

Creatures

1 Animar, Soul of Elements

1 Ashling, the Extinguisher

1 Birds of Paradise

1 Brighthearth Banneret

1 Composite Golem

1 Flamekin Harbinger

1 Forgotten Ancient

1 Fusion Elemental

1 Incandescent Soulstoke

1 Ingot Chewer

1 Inner-Flame Igniter

1 Liege of the Tangle

1 Maelstrom Wanderer

1 Mulldrifter

1 Nevermaker[/d]

[d]

Creatures Cont.

1 Nova Chaser

1 Shriekmaw

1 Skullbriar, the Walking Grave

1 Slithermuse

1 Smokebraider

1 Soul of the Harvest

1 Spitebellows

1 Spitemare

1 Supreme Exemplar

1 Thicket Elemental

1 Thornling

1 Vigor

1 Voice of Resurgence

1 Whisperwood Elemental

1 Wispmare[/d]

[d]

Instants

1 Dismember

1 Eladamri’s Call

1 Enlightened Tutor

1 Hero’s Downfall

1 Lightning Bolt

1 Path to Exile

1 Swords to Plowshares

Sorceries

1 Conflux

1 Cultivate

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Kodama’s Reach

1 Shard Convergence

1 Sylvan Scrying

1 Titanic Ultimatum[/d]

[d]

Enchantments

1 Genju of the Realm

1 Heartbeat of Spring

1 Maelstrom Nexus

1 Mana Flare

1 Mana Reflection

1 Mirari’s Wake

1 Oblivion Ring

1 Prismatic Omen

Artifacts

1 Chromatic Lantern

1 Commander’s Sphere

1 Darksteel Ingot

1 Door of Destinies

1 Fist of Suns

1 Gilded Lotus

1 Obelisk of Urd

1 Oblivion Stone

1 Quicksilver Amulet

1 Sol Ring

[/d]

Just like its commander, this deck is a little weird. It sort of lends itself to a toolbox strategy with a heavy tribal theme. Many elementals do different things, and the only thing they share in common is that they can attack decently and have the same creature type in common. So to leverage this, we make a simple yet effective toolbox.

You do have ways to deal with a multitude of different permanents while having recursion of your tools via [c]Horde of Notions[/c]. He creates a fun and interesting style of tribal deck that’s not just focused on smashing your opponent as quick as possible. It also doesn’t fall into the same trappings that normal tribal decks do. It can actually survive mass removal, which is key when going into the later stages of the game.

This deck pretty much does it all. It has bits of card advantage with [c]Slithermuse[/c] and [c]Mulldrifter[/c], ways of dealing with non-creature permanents via [c]Ingot Chewer[/c] and [c]Wispmare[/c], and ways of smashing your opponents face with [c]Liege of the Tangle[/c] and [c]Maelstrom Wanderer[/c]. Each card has some specific use that you can tutor up with this decks various tutoring effects. These tutors go a long way to keep the deck together and make sure you have what you need at the right time.

There are two ways to win with the deck. One is by beating your opponent down with all of your powerful threats. The other is by using [c]Maze’s End[/c].

[c]Maze’s End[/c] wasn’t originally intended to be in here as a win condition, but as a mana fixer. During testing though, this card did come up a handful of games. More often than not you’re going to be winning through combat damage, but sometimes the board just gets clogged up and it’s nice to still have a viable way to win over the course of the game. It’s more of an incidental win condition, but it’s still a win condition all the same. The importance of [c]Maze’s End[/c] does highlight one of the decks major shortcomings, which is its mana base.

As with any five color deck, the mana base is generally not the best. As I was tweaking it, I found that this is the most ideal mana base I could come up with without spending a ridiculous amount of money. You have enough fetchlands to be able to search for what you need and, as I said before, [c]Maze’s End[/c] will definitely help you fix your mana. There are a handful of five-color lands in here as well which will help smooth things out for you. You really have to put in a lot of effort to make these mana bases work, and even then they still might not cooperate.

There are some games that you simply won’t get the right color you need at the time and just lose the game. It’s the risk you have to take whenever you play with a deck with five colors. If you can make it sing though, you will have a hard time losing.

Once you can establish your mana base, you can pretty much handle whatever comes your way. This deck has the tools it needs to survive almost any situation. What leads to this resiliency is its commander. [c]Horde of Notions[/c] makes this deck shine. Having the ability to reanimate your threats and answers is wonderful, as you basically get to do what not may tribal decks get to do, survive into the late game. With Horde in play, you will be able to beat your opponent down after they cast their wrath effects.

It puts you into an interesting position. Sometimes you almost want them to wrath the board, which is why I included [c]Oblivion Stone[/c] in the list as a way to break stalemates. You get to wrath the board and then easily bring back your threats and crush your opponents.

This deck can be tons of fun for people who are looking for a different style of tribal. Its toolbox nature helps it last into the late game by providing flexibility, which not many other tribal decks have. This is not a linear strategy. It’s about answering your opponents’ threats and surviving.

Once you establish yourself, it’s time for the beat down. Or you can just clog up the board and win with [c]Maze’s End[/c]. It never ceases to put a smile on my face when I win with that card.

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. If you have any suggestions for commanders that you want featured in a future article, please let me know in the comments below. Next week, I work with one of my enemies.

See you soon, my friends.

-Steven Gulsby

Legacy on Mondays: Cascade Reforged

Welcome Back!

Alright, everyone everywhere seems to be flooding articles and speculation about all of these new Fate Reforged cards. I did one about Ugin, the Spirit Dragon last week, and I do not want to torture you with any more. Content like that gets old in my humble opinion. That being said, if you want speculation, post a comment below.

Anyway, I have an update for you this week. After some more testing and tweaking, I have edited my Cascade Creature Aggro deck into something that is a bit more playable. It is certainly not ready for GP Vegas, but maybe a Daily event or FNM. Here is that with which I am working (FYI if that sounds convoluted to you, I had to circumlocute to prevent ending my sentence with a preposition :) Yes, I am a grammar Nazi.):

[d title=”Legacy CascAggro V2″]
Creatures
4 Baleful Strix
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 True-Name Nemesis
4 Shardless Agent
4 Tarmogoyf
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Vexing Shusher
Non-Creature Spells
4 Ancestral Vision
2 Abrupt Decay
1 Sylvan Library
3 Green Sun’s Zenith
1 Vindicate
Land
3 Verdant Catacombs
4 Polluted Delta
2 Misty Rainforest
3 Tropical Island
1 Bayou
2 Underground Sea
1 Taiga
1 Savannah
1 Volcanic Island
1 Scrubland
1 Badlands
2 Ancient Ziggurat
Sideboard
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Sower of Temptation
2 Thoughtseize
2 Engineered Plague
1 Gilded Drake
1 Mana Maze
2 Qasali Pridemage
1 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Meddling Mage
1 Vexing Shusher
1 Gaddock Teeg
[/d]

In a nutshell:

If the opponent has a way to deal with my threats, I lose, if they cannot, I usually win. I have not been keeping exact count, but I believe I am about 50/50 with the deck. It’s not bad.

Changes

A few cards were rather underwhelming; ergo they were cut. [c]Domri Rade[/c] was alright, but was not performing at the desired level. I do not thing he is worth the spot. I also lessened the number of [c]Abrupt Decay[/c] in the deck down to two. I just hate getting multiples in the matchups and game 1’s when they are superfluous. Also, [c]Deathrite Shaman[/c] is gone. This is an experiment, and I have played 1 game without them against Miracles. I was glad to have my other cards and not DRS in this matchup, but they may come back.

Additions

So that’s what I cut. Several of my replacements are new additions to the deck that have not received much testing. The [c]Green Sun’s Zenith[/c] package, for example, is only 2 games old. It won me the game against Miracles handily by getting first a [c]Vexing Shusher[/c] to cut off his counters, and then a [c]Gaddock Teeg[/c] to stop [c]Entreat the Angels[/c] and [c]Terminus[/c]. In the sideboard, the Pridemages are more effective, and the Teeg has replaced a [c]Mana Maze[/c]. I have been impressed so far, but this does require further testing.

Some of my other additions are a bit older. I was experimenting with 2 [c]Scavenging Ooze[/c] as an out to graveyard decks and to just make a large dude that gains a little life, but cut down to 1 when I added the Zeniths. He does a decent job, and will probably stay. Cutting down on Decays was another move I wanted to remedy a bit. I wanted 1 more piece of removal, and [c]Vindicate[/c] fit the bill perfectly. It is very handy, and is just a [c]Stone Rain[/c] at the worst in matchups where it does nothing else.

The only other real change was to remove a fetch land and a [c]Bayou[/c] to make room for 2 [c]Ancient Ziggurat[/c] in the main deck. I like Ziggurat in that it lets me play all of my creatures and comes into play untapped, but I do not want too many, since I also want to be playing my non-creatures. The count on this has increased, but I am happy with the changes that have resulted.

Well, that’s all for this week. If you have any suggestions, please let me know! I love to hear from the community. If you have had enough of my crazy brewing, you can always request something else, too. Thanks for reading!

/Peyton

The Man With The Golden Gun

Hi all,

If you’re as old as I am, reader, then you remember the Nintendo 64 game Goldeneye well. Countless Summer and Friday nights were spent playing the game, trying to unlock the Invincibility cheat on your own or jamming in round after round of multiplayer, where winner stays and chooses the level and weapons. For me, it was always proximity mines and the complex. The goal was to lay the mines at all the spawning points and watch as your opponents floundered. Sadly, the decks I enjoy playing in Magic are much the same way.

My least favorite way of playing was The Man With The Golden Gun. The golden gun killed in one shot, whether it was in the head, the foot, or even the enemy’s gun. The player who spawned nearest the golden gun was incredibly difficult to defeat.

Golden cards in Magic: The Gathering are very strong as well. [c]Jeskai Ascendancy[/c] has been cried about well enough (while I wouldn’t quite agree that the combo deck is a “real Modern deck” just yet), and [c]Glittering Wish[/c] is a gold card that provides the player with another powerful piece. Well before talks of banning [c]Jeskai Ascendancy[/c] came to be, there was some discussion about banning [c]Manamorphose[/c] due to the prevalence of Storm. [c]Living End[/c] and [c]Restore Balance[/c] decks are other combo decks fueled by the Cascade trigger of gold cards, and gold cards round out control decks as well with [c]Lightning Helix[/c] and [c]Electrolyze[/c]. Even Aggro decks enjoy [c]Qasali Pridemage[/c], [c]Dryad Militant[/c], [c]Loxodon Smiter[/c], and [c]Figure of Destiny[/c]. All archetypes find support in their maindecks or sideboards with gold cards.

When gold cards are so powerful and lands such as [c]Gemstone Mine[/c] and [c]Mana Confluence[/c] are so valuable, it is hard for me to believe that [c]Pillar of the Paruns[/c] cannot support a functional archetype.

There are a few considerations to make to try and use [c]Pillar of the Paruns[/c] functional in Modern:

1) The first is the elephant in the room: the deck has to be effective against U/R Delver and Burn. Modern is lousy with these decks and variants of each right now. Stats pages list R Burn, RB Burn, RBG Burn, RG Burn, RUG Burn, RBW Burn, RW Burn as different archetypes represented in dailies, but the fact is, you’re going to be bolted a lot. Similarly, [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] has several archetypes of his own in just two colors: U/R. Our creatures have to survive to [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], and I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to some life-gain. This also means that [c]Firespout[/c], perhaps moreso than [c]Pillar of the Paruns[/c], will be integral to the viability of this deck.

2) Aggro, while so tempting, turns out not to be an option. I wanted it to be so badly. After all, The Man With The Golden Gun kills in one shot. [c]Spike Jester[/c] and [c]Jund Hackblade[/c] play well together, and [c]Burning-Tree Emissary[/c] is great in conjunction with the other two for the quick golden gun kill. The aforementioned [c]Qasali Pridemage[/c] is exciting because he has been proven to have application in Aggro by way of Zoo. The trouble is the one-drop slot. [c]Dryad Militant[/c] is the only creature to play on turn one without feeling awkward. [c]Tattermunge Maniac[/c] and [c]Nivmagus Elemental[/c] are significantly below her. She is good to keep in mind, though, because she offers disruption against Modern’s two best spells from Khans: [c]Dig Through Time[/c] and [c]Treasure Cruise[/c]. So we’re going to bookmark her for now.

3) [c]Pillar of the Paruns[/c] is great at casting multi-colored spells, but not so great with some core deck functionality after that. For example, [c]Figure of Destiny[/c] is a great turn one play, but if you can’t use your land in subsequent turns to activate his abilities, then he’s not so impressive. Similarly, [c]Pillar of the Paruns[/c] is perfect for running both [c]Ardent Plea[/c] AND [c]Violent Outburst[/c] in the same deck until you realize that Pillar will neither cycle [c]Monstrous Carabid[/c] nor suspend [c]Greater Gargadon[/c].

In the end, I think we’re going to be looking at a hateful midrange deck. While we’re still flooded at the 2-drop point of the curve, all the pieces are good for us to ignore. We want four toughness creatures, life-gain, powerful effects, and a rainbow mana-base. Here is draft one of The Man With The [Slower] Golden Gun:

[d title=”Goldeneye (Modern)”]
Land
2 Bloodstained Mire
1 Breeding Pool
1 Forest
1 Hallowed Fountain
4 Pillar of the Paruns
1 Plains
4 Reflecting Pool
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Steam Vents
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Watery Grave
4 Windswept Heath
2 Wooded Foothills

Creatures
1 Brion Stoutarm
1 Butcher of the Horde
4 Kitchen Finks
2 Loxodon Smiter
3 Qasali Pridemage
2 Siege Rhino

Other Spells
4 Abrupt Decay
1 Ajani Vengeant
2 Electrolyze
3 Firespout
4 Lightning Helix
1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
2 Steam Augury
2 Terminate
2 Treasure Cruise

Sideboard
2 Dryad Militant
1 Firespout
2 Fracturing Gust
2 Golgari Charm
1 Orzhov Pontiff
1 Qasali Pridemage
4 Slaughter Games
2 Wheel of Sun and Moon[/d]

I know what you’re thinking: this looks like a best of list from the past two Standard formats: [c]Siege Rhino[/c], [c]Abrupt Decay[/c], and [c]Butcher of the Horde[/c] among others are really new cards. So what this deck does is to put them together with the rainbow mana-base, and I really feel like it has the pieces to beat U/R Delver and Burn. Now, whether you get those pieces in the order you need is up to some testing and tweaking; remember, this is draft 1 of the list.

Essentially, this list is like Jund or Junk. We want to play 1-for-1 removal and win the game with midrange beats. [c]Steam Augury[/c] and [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] restock our hands to keep the 1-for-1 available.

Here are more specific reasons for card choices:

The mana-base

Fetchlands support [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] and give you a relatively painless option for mana consistency as opposed to the [c]City of Brass[/c] and [c]Mana Confluence[/c] option the Modern cardpool offers. [c]Reflecting Pool[/c] and [c]Pillar of the Paruns[/c] ensure that we have the different colors we need for our diverse spell. Our basics are available for [c]Ghost Quarter[/c], [c]Path to Exile[/c], and [c]Blood Moon[/c] that we will likely encounter.

The creatures

Boy, is there plenty that needs justification here!

[c]Brion Stoutarm[/c]: The giant is a really strong creature I’m excited to use in Modern when Burn is so prevalent. He adds to your life total resource at four mana, so [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c] will not trigger when you cast him. Further, he is very effective at closing out games.

[c]Butcher of the Horde[/c]: Again, the keys are a toughness and casting cost greater than 3. Butcher has the opportunity to gain life and haste, and he plays well with [c]Kitchen Finks[/c].

[c]Kitchen Finks[/c]: These are symptoms of the Modern era we are playing in right now. They work well with sweepers and hold the fort down against Aggro and Burn, which is becoming more and more combat-dependent with [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c].

[c]Loxodon Smiter[/c]: This card gives us game against decks that this list isn’t specifically geared to beat: Jund, Junk, discard, etc. We forgive the mana cost in an Eidolon-heavy environment because of the discard clause and the inability to be countered. He’s crucial in a lot of the match-ups we face today.

[c]Qasali Pridemage[/c]: The deck needs an answer to [c]Blood Moon[/c], [c]Daybreak Coronet[/c], [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c], [c]Jeskai Ascendancy[/c], and most creatures Affinity plays. Pridemage is that answer, and he allows you to put pressure on the opponent while holding back defense.

[c]Siege Rhino[/c]: I only question playing him here over other [c]Kitchen Finks[/c] because the opponent can easily hold up [c]Skullcrack[/c] and [c]Flames of the Blood Hand[/c] at this stage of the game, but the fact is that he is quite a bomb in the Burn and Aggro-Control match-ups.

Other Spells

[c]Abrupt Decay[/c]: This card will save you equally in fair and unfair match-ups. It’s one of the pillars holding up Jund and Junk, and it helps this deck defeat combo, aggro, and control. In today’s meta, the primary targets will be Delver, Pyromancer, Swiftspear, Eidolon, and whatever is receiving +1/+1 counters from [c]Arcbound Ravager[/c].

[c]Ajani Vengeant[/c] and [c]Sorin, Solemn Visitor[/c]: There are a few other multi-colored planeswalkers that we can choose from to occupy these slots, but I thought that these had a good incremental advantage over the course of the game and immediate board impact against Delver and Burn.

[c]Electrolyze[/c]: I’m not sure this card warrants an explanation. It’s essentially an [c]Ancestral Recall[/c] in so many match-ups, particularly when everyone is playing [c]Young Pyromancer[/c], [c]Delver of Secrets[/c], various Soul Sisters to defeat Burn, Affinity creatures, etc.

[c]Firespout[/c]: This card really shines, and I do believe that it is worth building a deck that can produce green and red, support x/4 creatures, and cast this card in today’s meta. Why not play a one-sided [c]Wrath of God[/c]?

[c]Lightning Helix[/c]: Who could have ever said that [c]Healing Salve[/c] would be such a powerful effect to tack onto [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] ten years ago? Then this was printed, and it’s been a staple in the Extended of its day and now Modern. Control the board, gain a card against Burn, and gain a turn against Aggro.

[c]Steam Augury[/c]: [c]Fact or Fiction[/c] is back in Modern, but it is golden. That suits this deck perfectly. After nickel and diming your opponent into the fifth and sixth turns of the game, you have this to refuel your hand. As a bonus, it feeds the graveyard for [c]Treasure Cruise[/c].

[c]Terminate[/c]: Everything dies to [c]Doom Blade[/c], and [c]Terminate[/c] is better.

[c]Treasure Cruise[/c]: The only non-golden card in the deck is still well worth the two slots as a late-game draw engine. Perhaps more are necessary.

There is really so much room to work on the sideboard in the golden Modern cardpool. We have a big number of Charms, hand disruption in [c]Tidehollow Sculler[/c] and [c]Sin Collector[/c], counterspells such as [c]Counterflux[/c], big finishers for grinding matches like [c]Sphinx’s Revelation[/c], etc. If I were just looking at a snapshot of today’s Modern metagame, though, I believe I would run these 15 cards in the sideboard, with this plan for the two most common matches in MTGO Dailies:

Against U/R Delver: The cards we want in here are [c]Golgari Charm[/c], [c]Orzhov Pontiff[/c], and possibly graveyard disruption as well. If we are sure there are no [c]Blood Moon[/c] cards coming on the other side of the table, we can eliminate [c]Qasali Pridemage[/c], but that is risky. [c]Firespout[/c] is less impact here than in a matchup like Zoo or Affinity, so we can drop these 3. Finally, some number of [c]Kitchen Finks[/c] can be removed.

Against Burn: We want [c]Qasali Pridemage[/c] and [c]Golgari Charm[/c], so we remove the [c]Firespout[/c] cards for them. This may be a little low impact, but if you can gain any life and destroy their creature sources of recurring damage, you should be very well suited to beat them.

Thanks for reading. Good luck, have fun.

-drinkard