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Thread: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasions

  1. #1
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    [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasions

    Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasions

    This is a very fun format Peter Knudson developed. What're everyone's thoughts on this? I think alternative formats (such as this) are a great way of expanding and making use of the Magic cards we have on hand.

    Personally, I'm pretty interested in developing Survivor decks. :)

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    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    This looks like a lot of fun. It can be played with Commander decks or casual decks, and it inherently solves the problem of different power levels around the kitchen table.

    I like this plan, and I'll be building one of these. If you look in the comments, people suggested a Sliver deck and an Eldrazi deck along the same lines as the Zombie deck.
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  3. #3

    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    Seems cool. Reminds me of Archenemy.

  4. #4

    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    I think the default Horde deck provided in the article can probably stand to be powered up a little bit. I don't know about anyone else's EDH groups, but around here that deck would get destroyed pretty consistently by two to three other people (barring nut-draw situations of six tokens into Army of the Damned or something).

    Some changes I would consider making:

    1) Adding Innocent Blood/Barter in Blood/Fleshbag Marauder: yeah, they force the zombie deck to make some choices, but you can always opt to have the Zombie deck sacrifice a dude at random or something, and they give the deck more removal. I'm surprised Syphon Flesh wasn't even in there.

    2) Give the deck a way to survive longer. I can see a medium draw for the zombie deck being defeated pretty easily and then all the Survivors go on the offense at once, killing the Horde deck in a turn or two barring a topdecked Damnation/Plague Wind. Especially in cases where the Survivors are packing Wraths and tutors, the Horde deck doesn't stand a chance.

    3) Give the deck a little more recursion. There's the new at-random Zombies-only Gravedigger in Innistrad (Ghoulcaller or something?) that would be useful. Dawn of the Dead would be sweet, and you could choose the creature at random as well.

  5. #5
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    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    I think I'm gonna try to build one of these. Do you have any other suggestions? There are a few people in my playgroup who like to play stupid infinite combos so I definitely want to build a more resilient, disruptive version. I don't want the zombie deck to be a free win. People should fear it.

  6. #6

    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    Dunno. This feels a lot like Archenemy, and the biggest problem with that format was that it wasn't really balanced; the schemes were fine and all but if all the decks were on equal footing in terms of power then the schemes often weren't enough to save you against 3-4 other people. Your deck really needed to be better than theirs, or specifically built to withstand getting ground out by a bunch of people at once.

    I would probably start with slightly modified rules:

    The Zombie deck has 100 cards and no life total. Tokens count towards the total number of cards in the Zombie deck. The Zombie deck wins when any one of the Survivors loses; it loses when it runs out of cards in its library. The Zombie deck will make no actions for its first two turns.

    1) For each life point the Zombie deck would lose, it mills one card instead.

    2) For each life point the Zombie deck would gain, shuffle a 2/2 Zombie creature token into the deck instead.

    3) The Zombie deck skips its draw step. During its precombat main phase, it reveals cards from the top of its library until it reveals a nontoken card. All tokens are put onto the battlefield, then the nontoken card is cast, then any cards in the Zombie deck's hand are cast. If there are multiple cards in the Zombie deck's hand, they are cast in a random order.

    4) The Zombie deck starts the game with an emblem that reads, "All creatures you control have haste and attack each turn if able."

    5) The Zombie deck makes all decisions as randomly as possible. Cards like Innocent Blood will cause the Zombie deck to select its own creatures at random.

    5a) If one or more of the Survivor team members controls a planeswalker, the Zombie deck will need to randomly choose whether to attack the Survivor team or the planeswalker(s) for each creature it controls. If the Survivor team has multiple planeswalkers, then the Zombie deck chooses between them at random. Cards that force the Zombie deck to attack specific things, like Gideon, will force all of the Zombie deck's creatures to attack that thing. For example, suppose there are three Survivors, and the Survivors control one Elspeth and one Garruk. For each of its creatures, the Zombie deck will randomly choose between the following: this creature attacks the Survivor team, this creature attacks Elspeth, or this creature attacks Garruk.

    6) The Survivors are a Multi-Headed Giant. For two Survivors, the starting life total is 30, and each subsequent survivor adds +10 life to that. The Survivors take turns at the same time, attack and block as a team, and gain and lose life as a unit. Cards in the Zombie deck that refer to "each opponent" or "each player" affect each of the Survivors independently, though (so, for example, an attacking Infectious Horror's attack trigger would cause the Survivor team to lose 2 life for each team member, but leaving the Horror unblocked would result in only 2 life for the team).

    I would include cards that scale well, like Syphon Flesh, Syphon Soul, Infectious Horror, and so on. Noxious Ghoul may be fine as well but I would test him since he seems like he has the potential to be ridiculously swingy (usually -1/-1 each turn but could potentially hit for a lot). Cards that gain the Zombie deck life, like Abattoir Ghoul, go up in stock with the ability to regain tokens. Those give the Zombie deck more staying power and also make for more ridiculous late-games after many of the non-token cards have been cast. I would also consider cards like Syphon Mind: the Zombie deck will cast everything it draws on its next turn, and it allows the deck to disrupt opponents somewhat. There's also cards like Undead Alchemist, but IIRC that will cause only one head in a multi-headed giant to mill, so keep that in mind.

    EDIT: I should add here that I have no idea what the correct numbers of these things are. I can see some of these cards, Infectious Horror in particular, being too crushing if they're hit early enough. I would want the Zombie deck's "average" draw to be roughly on par with the Survivor team's average draw for three players, and would tune the deck accordingly. Playtesting will help determine the correct numbers of some of the more powerful cards. You don't want the Zombie deck to crush the Survivors unless they all get insane draws, but at the same time you don't want the Zombie deck's average draw to be that much weaker than the Survivors', otherwise it will feel too easy.

    EDIT 2: Added a clarification for planeswalkers.

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    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    Thanks for the suggestions. Now I gotta go hunt down some cards and see what works.

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    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    Quote Originally Posted by danyul View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions. Now I gotta go hunt down some cards and see what works.
    You can probably just build one Zombie deck and change its in-game power level by changing the turn on which it starts doing things. The Zombie deck going first and making a play on its first turn could be hardcore mode, while not making any plays until its third turn could be normal mode, and not making any plays until its fifth turn could be easy mode, or something.

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    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    That is actually a very elegant and convenient way of tuning the difficulty. You win again.

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    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    This looks like a lot of fun, Pete. I'll have to try it with my friends some time.
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    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio


  12. #12
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    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    So I tested this today with 1-3 players but I had some card availability issues so the deck wasn't exactly the same as the one in the article. Also I talked with one of the writers for gatheringmagic.com who frequents my shop as he is testing this format as well. We shared some insights.

    The deck is very top heavy. It comes bursting out the gates with what seems like an overwhelming advantage but around turns 6-7 the Survivors usually stabilize and the Zombie deck gets shut out of the game. Also, it seems that the decklist in the original article was very underpowered. If you are playing this deck against any of the tier or known EDH generals, you will not do so well without some changes.

    The easiest way to tune the powerlevel of the deck is to adjust the number of zombie tokens. More tokens = More dudes flipped. Also, anything beyond 5 zombie giants in the list can get a little unfair.

    If you don't hit any of your lord effects, or maybe only hit one, then the deck has no lategame to speak of. You will find yourself facing 3-4 players with a bunch of stuff out while you try to flip a handful of 2/2s if you are lucky enough to dodge a mediocre spell. The deck needs to be more resilient in the later turns without making it absurdly overpowered in the early turns. Variance makes that difficult to control. Simply upping the number of Grave Titans can help, as well as playing some number of Everlasting Torment. Also, I was thinking you could place certain bomb cards 30, 45, 55, 75 cards down after you shuffle. Or you could play "boss" cards in different colored sleeves and stick those in the deck at intervals. I'm not sure how to balance things yet.

    I tested mostly against prebuilt EDH decks designed for multiplayer play. In my playgroup, some of those decks can get a little unfair so in the future I might ask people not to play those against the Zombie deck. In a perfect world, people would design and build Survivor decks specifically to play against our Horde decks.

    After several games I really came to hate the weaker non-zombie token spells the original list ran. In the late game you are really hurting for some kind of pressure to put on the board to match 3-4 players and it sucks to flip 3 zombie tokens into a Walking Corpse. I mean, a few for variance is okay but you might want to change the ratios of bomb spells to duds depending on the decks your opponents are bringing.

    Anyway, that's what I've noticed so far. Your mileage may vary. The tuning of the deck really depends on the playgroup you will be using it with.

    Edit - Also I found that the life totals should start at 30 life for a single player, adding 10 life per additional player.

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    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    I'll start testing this as well. Aggro_zombies's suggestions look like a good starting point. Since I don't have a ton of zombie tokens sitting around, I got the idea of just using a normal monoblack edh deck and have all the land be zombie tokens. From there, you could tweak the rules and difficulty level until it seems balanced. This way, you can carry around a legit edh deck and get double duty out of it. You could have the horde automatically cast the general each turn or something too, if that makes sense. Heck, you could generalize it to any color as well.

  14. #14

    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    Hello guys, I'm relatively new to Magic and even newer to Horde Magic, but I have been captivated by it. Right now I am attempting to gather up the tokens in order to get this thing up and running, but I was looking into some variants and even creating a few myself to give it a bit more thematic effect.

    I was hoping to make new zombie tokens following archetypes set up in the text based game Quarantine 2019; a fast zombie, a smart zombie, and a strong zombie.

    Fast Zombie - 2/2 Cannot be blocked by walls.
    Strong Zombie - 2/2 Can only be blocked by 2 creatures or more (Zombies being dumb defender chooses damage dealt, generally sacrificing the first thing; kinda like you kicking your buddy to the horde to save your own skin.)
    Smart Zombie - 2/2 Extort (HP goes into an "unholy shield" that must be knocked down before you start milling again from damage straight to the head.)

    I was also thinking about adding... I can't use the term survivor, but a 1/1 White token that gives you a boon if you can keep the token alive, or if it dies a boon that goes to the horde. When revealed they roll 1d4 indicating their "barricade" level, and are either protected for that many attacks or rounds, unsure yet. After their barricade is eaten, if they survive one more round, they give the boon to the survivors.

    How prominent is it for players to attempt to use milling of the deck as a win condition through sources other than combat damage? (Jace's jankery.) I was also considering a rule that milling effects are "risky" methods, automatically killing any 1/1 White token people that way and buffing the horde. The reason is if you are in urban setting, you sure could attempt to demolish and drop some buildings on the horde to stem the tide, but you may just be killing innocents to do that.

    It's still going to be awhile before I can even pull together a standard horde deck myself to play around with and introduce to my local gaming group. If someone would love to critique my ideas I'd gladly appreciate it. I'm off to go make some custom zombie tokens.

  15. #15
    Bryant Cook
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    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    I never stopped playing this, I've been keeping my list up to date as sets come out. I haven't added the 6/6 flying zombie dragon from new commander yet though. My list is 200 and only singletons except for Zombie Apocalypse (flavor):


    80 Zombie
    25 Zombie Giant
    15 Zombie Horror

    10 Zombie Apocalypse
    1 Empty the Catacombs
    1 Living Death
    1 Patriarch's Bidding
    1 Twilight's Call
    1 Rise of the Dark Realms

    1 Phyrexian Arena
    1 Dark Tutelage
    1 Dark Prophecy
    1 Minions' Murmurs

    1 Syphon Mind
    1 Bottomless Pit
    1 Necrogen Mists
    1 Noxious Vapors
    1 Delirium Skeins
    1 Skull Rend
    1 Gibbering Descent

    1 Smallpox
    1 Barter in Blood
    1 Syphon Flesh
    1 Plague Wind
    1 Decree of Pain
    1 In Garruk's Wake

    1 Door of Destinies
    1 Eldrazi Monument
    1 Coat of Arms
    1 Akroma's Memorial
    1 Anthem of Rakdos

    1 Moan of the Unhallowed
    1 Army of the Damned
    1 Empty the Pits

    1 Gravecrawler
    1 Dregscape Zombie
    1 Rotting Rats
    1 Fleshbag Marauder
    1 Rotlung Reanimator
    1 Unbreathing Horde
    1 Geralf's Messenger
    1 Death Baron
    1 Haakon, Stromgald Scourge
    1 Sibsig Icebreakers
    1 Siren of the Silent Song
    1 Diregraf Captain
    1 Anathemancer
    1 Shambling Remains
    1 Dreg Mangler
    1 Skaab Ruinator
    1 Cackling Fiend
    1 Risen Executioner
    1 Viscera Dragger
    1 Ashen Ghoul
    1 Vengeful Dead
    1 Undead Warchief
    1 Graveborn Muse
    1 Grave Defiler
    1 Soulless One
    1 Liliana’s Reaver
    1 Nim Devourer
    1 Noxious Ghoul
    1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
    1 Vulturous Zombie
    1 Grixis Slavedriver
    1 Sedris, the Traitor King
    1 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
    1 Maalfeld Twins
    1 Kheru Lich Lord
    1 Terrus Wurm
    1 Tresserhorn Skyknight
    1 Thraximundar
    1 Sutured Ghoul
    1 Ghoultree

    Total
    200

    Recent Cuts

    1 Blood Scrivener
    1 Servant of Tymaret
    1 Infectious Horror
    1 Grim Guardian
    1 Forlorn Pseudamma
    1 Dread Slaver
    1 Lightning Reaver
    1 Coffin Puppets
    1 Nested Ghoul
    1 Twisted Abomination

    1 Cover of Darkness
    1 Intimidation
    1 Endless Ranks of the Dead
    1 Call to the Grave

    1 Tasigur's Cruelty
    1 Reap the Seagraf
    1 Cabal Conditioning
    1 Innocent Blood

    1 Immortal Servitude
    1 Return to the Ranks
    1 Necromantic Selection
    1 Raving Dead

    1 Strength of Night
    1 Distant Melody

    1 Brass Herald
    1 Adaptive Automaton
    1 Zombie Master
    1 Grave Titan

  16. #16
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    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    I like this idea but 200 seems too much. I'll go for 100 and not necessarily highlander. I'll steal some ideas from you guys though.
    I am convinced that WotC is "dumbing" the game because of all the stupid posts they come across on MTG-related forums
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    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    Quote Originally Posted by (nameless one) View Post
    I like this idea but 200 seems too much. I'll go for 100 and not necessarily highlander. I'll steal some ideas from you guys though.
    Its make your own rules, for example I use Scavenge creatures (always goes to the largest creature they have in play). But I think 200 makes it more competitive since I play a highly competitive deck.

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    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    It makes sense. I've never done it so don't really know what I'm going with. I have 10 guild decks that I use to teach/play multiplayer when I'm on tour. I'll add a horde deck. I might even give Eldrazis a try with Eldrazi Scions (1/1) as the tokens.

    Speaking of that, I probably won't add any creatures with activated abilities. Just triggers. The big three Eldrazi should be challenging to face.
    I am convinced that WotC is "dumbing" the game because of all the stupid posts they come across on MTG-related forums
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyle View Post
    13NoVa plays Force of Will from his hand.
    Finglonger plays Spell Pierce from his hand.
    [10:22:43]  13NoVa: lol
    sure
    Finglonger points from his Dack Fayden to 13NoVa's Sol Ring.
    [10:23:04]  13NoVa: lol dumb ******; nice draws with retard.dec
    stupid cocksucker
    You have been kicked out of the game.

  19. #19
    Bryant Cook
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    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    Quote Originally Posted by (nameless one) View Post
    It makes sense. I've never done it so don't really know what I'm going with. I have 10 guild decks that I use to teach/play multiplayer when I'm on tour. I'll add a horde deck. I might even give Eldrazis a try with Eldrazi Scions (1/1) as the tokens.

    Speaking of that, I probably won't add any creatures with activated abilities. Just triggers. The big three Eldrazi should be challenging to face.
    I imagine that'll be incredibly tough to win through considering that they shuffle in your graveyard each time you would mill them (it's how you win).

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    Re: [Non-EDH Article] Horde Magic: A New Way to Play Magic and Survive Zombie Invasio

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryant Cook View Post
    I imagine that'll be incredibly tough to win through considering that they shuffle in your graveyard each time you would mill them (it's how you win).
    Could just "forget" that piece of text is there I suppose. It's mostly so they're not busted with Reanimate or whatever...for this variant it seems largely irrelevant.

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