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

Groovy Dork List….MOTUC, Magic, Coffee, Pathfinder, Arkham, and MineCraft.

Groovy…I was able to find a massive local source of Masters of the Universe items!  A dude at the Barnyard Flea-market sells them.  Workable on the price (I AM a cheapskate, remember!), and also a knowledgeable and enthusiastic fan.  I will be reviewing the three items I picked up today soon!

Dork…The problem finally appeared.  Snout Spout has a crack in his trunk.  The trunk is apparently made of blue foam-rubber.  😦

Groovy…I am Back-in-Black!  I am playing Mono-black devotion as my current for Magic: the Gathering strategy!  Just keep putting black permanents out, get that devotion ramped up, and then slam the opponent with a Grey Merchant of Asphodel.  And unless they cancel the Merchant, there is little they can do.  The fine folk at the Tangled Web were ready to trade the other day.  I scored a few more Nightveil Spectors, which I really, really needed, and a Desecration Demon as well!  Readers of this blog will know that my color is black.  I have recently been playing other colors, but it seems the old dark evil ways are returning!

Dork…Don’t get me wrong…I had a blast, but I would play someone, anyone really, for almost 45 minutes.  And then somehow lose…I would disrupt their strategies over and over, only to be trumped eventually.  You can only run Four gray merchants!

Groovy…In the same vein…The Born of the Gods set looks amazing!  I can’t wait to see what else they reveal.  I have preordered a box, and me and my two boys are going to play in the sealed deck pre-release.  I already see cards with promise for the Fencing Ace deck, and for the black devotion deck.  The inspired mechanic sounds interesting, and Mogis, God of the Slaughter is going to be crazy!

Dork…They haven’t released a new challenge deck  😦  The Hydra has been a blast!

Groovy…The Keurig Vue system is wonderful!  This machine makes not only coffee, but cafe drinks and iced tea!  Most everything I have tried tastes great!

Dork…(semi-dork, I guess)…Those Vue cups cost a bunch.  BUT, I am subscribed to the Cafe Express Savings Club, that basically means I only pay half for the Vue cups.

Groovy…I am now a Dungeon Master…I mean Game Master.  Me and the SpartanSmurfs, and even the SpartanWife have been playing Pathfinder.  This is our first taste of this kind of gaming.  I don’t know what I think about it yet.  I like being the game master.  But I don’t always feel like it.  These games tend to run over an hour.  Also, the SpartanSmurfs are too easily killed off.  I have to be careful not to off them unintentionally.  This has already happened three times.  The first time I considered it a real death, to try and send them a message.  I didn’t like it, though.  So I have been inserting lucky saves into the game.

Dork…I have a pretty good imagination, and can flesh out the Pathfinder world pretty good for the boys.  But they on the other hand tend to just want to battle constantly, rather than take in their world.

Groovy…I have been playing Batman: Arkham Asylum again.  That game is terrific!  I especially like taking out the armed thugs!  That is a lot of fun.

Dork…I don’t get MineCraft.  I played it.  I just don’t get it.

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!