SpartanNerd…Battle Royale of the MTG Challenge Decks






big match 3 decks


So I have been meaning to do this for awhile…Sorry that I haven’t even reviewed the Journey To Nyx “Defeat a God” Challenge Deck.  But it seems a little late.  The idea is to have the three decks play against each other!  Each deck is a self running machine.  But I employed the SpartanSmurfs for help!


I chose the Hydra…SpartanSmurf #1 chose to run the Minotaur deck (Battle the Horde)….and SpartanSmurf #2, still enamored by the newness of it, decided to play “Defeat a God.” (Xenagos)


To begin with, I predicted that the Hydra Deck would win because it has beaten me more regularly than the others.  I have never lost to either of the other decks.  (WAA Waa was.)  Was I correct?  I thought the Minotaurs would fall first and the God would fall last.




For your entertainment, some pics of MOTU guys with the deck!


  • He-Man, either ready to slaw the Hydra, or representing all of the vibrant life that it embodies..Same as he does.
  • Mantenna…um….He is a member of the Horde…(Sorry.  Not rich enough for the classics version!)
  • Skeletor….In the 1987 Masters of the Universe Movie, Skeletor gains the power of Grayskull and declares himself a “god.”


big match he big match mant big match skele



OK.  On with the show.  The Hydra had an advantage…The instructions say you can’t mill his deck.  On the other hand, the other two decks can “take damage.”  You mill the decks for the amount of damage you give them.


Then Xenagos seems to have a disadvantage in that he doesn’t get to attack each turn.  On the other hand…he is indestructible…


The minotaur deck seems to be the weakest.  And those artifacts that get milled give it a big disadvantage, so it seems….


Well I was COMPLETELY WRONG!  The Hydra fell first….and in only like, four turns!  Xenagos was able to do it in.  Then fifteen minutes later Xenagos took the fall.  “Battle the Horde” actually won!

(The hydra heads generally only swing for 1 or 2 damage.  And the Satyrs and Minotaurs are both generally tougher than that.)


The artifacts don’t get life back and stuff like that for the self running decks.  So they weren’t a downside at all.  And then those minotaurs just crunch in unrelenting.


So there you have it.  Try it on your own and share your results in the comments!

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…"Battle the Horde" Magic the Gathering Challenge Deck

Battle the Horde Challenge Deck

While Magic Game Day was officially this past Saturday our local store, “The Tangled Web” decided to hold off on the celebration until next week.  Luckily, on Monday this week when I made it there they had one deck on sale left for me to purchase.  How good is the Horde?  Continue reading for my review!
Battle the Horde is the second “Challenge Deck” that Wizards of the Coast has produced for us to play solitaire or group MTG with.  The first deck, “Face the Hydra,” was pretty tough, though it had certain weaknesses, some of which “Battle the Horde” also shares.
Horde Magic isn’t new.  I made a Zombie Horde deck before when I first learned about it.  But this challenge deck doesn’t have the exact same rules.  This time, yes, you do take three turns first, but the Challenge deck reveals two cards at a time from the top.  In this game, the Horde’s deck IS its life total.  So if you hit it for three with Lightning Strike, then it mills three cards.  The only way to win is to mill all of the deck and kill all of the creatures.

So let’s talk turkey.  What are these cards and how tough are they?
This deck really uses “theme and variation.”  There are five different types of minotaur in this 60-card deck, most of them some version of the “Hurloon Minotaur.”  In other words, they are 2/3 or 3/2.  There are the Youngblood Minotaurs, which are 2/2, (But see what they did?  they built an excuse in it’s name!)  Then there are the big monsters…Reckless Minotaur and Mogis’s Chosen.
And all of these except for Mogis Chosen has HASTE!  (Mogis chosen is the biggest creature in the deck, at 5/4.  He enters the battlefield tapped, thankfully.
So the deck’s creature breakdown is…
15 Minotaur Youngblood (2/2)
10 Phoberos Reaver  (2/3)
10  Minotaur Goreseeker (3/2)
4 Reckless Minotaur (4/1)  (he is destroyed during the end step of the turn he came out)
4 Mogis’s Chosen (5/4)
This is a horde of 43 creatures!
The other seventeen cards in this deck are either sorcery or artifact cards.  10 Sorcery and 7 Artifacts.

The Minotaurs

The Sorcery Cards

Turns out that some of the sorcery cards can help you in certain situations.  For instance, Intervention of Keranos “deals 3 damage to each creature” at the beginning of combat this turn.  So it is more or less a board sweeper for all the “chump” minotaurs.  (said in the most joking way possible!)  This could help you, though, if you have bigger creatures out.  On the other hand, Mogis’s Chosen will live through this.  Consuming Rage is another sweeper type sorcery that might help you in certain situations.  This card pumps all attacking minotaurs this turn for +2/+0, but then they are destroyed at the end of combat.  If you play “Fog”  They just burned themselves out!
There are three more Sorcery cards, each is more of a problem.  “Touch of the Horned God” gives each attacking minotaur Deathtouch.  “Unquenchable Fury” causes all Minotaurs to have “can’t be blocked except by two or more creatures.”  Some of that “Madcap Skills” type magic for the whole lot of minotaurs.  And finally ‘Descend on the Prey” gives all attacking minotaurs First strike and “must be blocked this turn if able.”

The Sorcery Cards

The Artifact cards add some real “Rakdos” type flavor to this deck.  Each one, when on the battlefield, has the same effect.  The Horde gets to cast an extra card during the main phase.  So if multiple artifacts are out, you are going to be seeing multiple minotaurs, and your problems are going to grow and grow.
But each artifact also has a “Hero’s Reward.”  This is a throwback to the “Face the Hydra” deck, where killing certain heads would reward you in a special way.  The cool thing is, each artifact says “When CARDNAME is put into the graveyard from anywhere…”This means attacking the deck might just reward you!  (Remember, attacking the deck causes it to mill.)
The artifacts in this deck are:
“Massacre Totem,” which lets you put the top seven cards of the Horde deck into the graveyard.
“Refreshing Elixir” (Two copies)  does what you would think.  Sending it to the graveyard will give you five life!
“Altar of Mogis” causes the Horde to sacrifice two creatures.
“Vitality Salve” lets each player return a creature from the graveyard to the battlefield.
“Plundered Statue” (Two copies)  lets each player draw a card.

The Artifacts

Playing the deck
First experience…3 on 1.  Me and the SpartanSmurfs ganged up on the Horde, ever anxious to play new cards!  We played the horde on it’s most difficult setting, (Allowing us to take two turns before it takes the first turn.)  And we stomped it, of course.  SpartanSmurf #1 played Minotaur Tribal, SpartanSmurf #2 played Dimur Graveyard, and I played Turbo Fog Mazes End.
SpartanSmurf #2 played a solo match against it.  That was, his Tribal Minotaur deck against the Minotaru Horde.  It defeated him badly….
I was rubbing it in, so he suggested I try.  I used the Turbo Fog deck and beat it twice!  I think I know why.  I fogged every time a creature would swing at me.  Sometimes Consuming Rage would be activated, and I would fog, thus taking no damage, but then the entire horde was killed.  This happened twice, and then the Keranos Intervention card also killed the miniotaurs.
But I beat the deck twice….
I decided to switch decks, and try out mono black devotion.  After two wins with Turbo Fog, maybe a different kind of control strategy was called for.
Nope.  Every time, it seemed the Minotaur Horde would grow too strong for me to control…No matter what really.  And it doesn’t help that there is basically no artifact removal or mill in the black deck.
The Challenge Deck beat Mono Black twice!…
Hero Cards
This deck is meant to be taken on with Hero cards as well.  I have some of these…They go with the Face the Hydra Deck or this deck.  But I haven’t played them so far, thinking my decks were good enough.  One big difference in this deck and the Hydra deck is that the Hero cards that go with it (From Born of the Gods Pre-Release and other events) all instruct you to somehow exile it after it is used.
Weaknesses of the Horde Deck.
Detention Sphere.   Imagine having out all 15 Youngblood minotaurs.  D-Sphere.  You win.  Also the new Bile Blight, which gives everything with the same name -3/-3.

Supreme Verdict.  Of course.
Fog.  Minotaurs are only effective attackers if they hit you!  You fog them, and Consuming rage can kill them, and they get no benefit out of it.
Jace, Memory Adept (and any other card that mills.)  The horde can’t remove planeswalkers, (unless it attacks them directly.)
What is my rating of the Beat the Horde Challenge Deck?  I like it pretty good.  It is a fine solitaire game.  It is a neat challenge for a group.  What more could we ask for, really?  I do wish some of the cards will be printed/ updated for “Journey Into Nyx.”
So I give this deck a 5/5.  Remember, the Hydra was 4/5…I took off a point for the art.  But the art on Beat the Horde is really good, and like I said, I hope they use some of the art in the next set.
Now, I wonder what would happen if I pit the Horde against the Hydra???

The Playmat/ Instructions

Magic Challenge Deck review…"Face the Hydra"

I was sooo excited to see the Hydra deck for sale last Friday!  I snatched that thing up as soon as I could!

The Hydra is a challenge.  He is hard to beat.  The way this works is you get however many heads you want to slay out, and then shuffle his deck.  He uses no mana.  He gets to play whatever card he draws.  (That is why it is a self running deck.)  You on the other hand are restricted to the rules of magic, except that discard and mill spells don’t work against the Hydra.

And when you kill a Hydra head, he gets to draw two cards…And if they are Hydra heads, you guessed it…You put them on the battlefield immediately.

The Hydra is no chump either…He can burn you with cards like “Unified Lunge” (See below), and there is not hardly anything you can do about it.  Furthermore, he swings every turn unless you can tap his heads.  I predicted that a white and blue azorius type deck would beat him easily, because that kind of deck can tap things.  I was correct to a point.  It depends on how lucky the hydra is..and how early he is lucky!  (I guess this is true of all Magic playing, isn’t it.)

I have played the Hydra with my boys several times…It is a good thing to play Magic a different way…In a teamwork kind of way.

And the Hydra deck makes a great game of Magic Solitaire…In fact, this is something Magic has been sorely lacking…Sure there are a few rules for a Solitaire game floating around out there, but those games aren’t that good.  The Hydra is a good option if you don’t have a playing opponent.

The Challenge Deck is a new kind of deck, and more are promised in the future.  That said, I’m not sure how to rate it.  I Really Like It!  But it COULD have better art, I suppose.  Some of the Hydra heads look kind of “cartoony”.  On the other hand, I love the back of the cards…They look cool…It makes me wish that sometimes MTG cards had a different back, but I guess the “deck master” back is a consistent choice that promotes a variety of formats.

So I’m going to rate the deck with 4/5.  The point was lost for the cartoony heads.  Otherwise, this is an awesome product, and every Magic fan should get one!

Enjoy pictures of my Hydra deck below!