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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jun 20 2014 11:00am
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I love this game. I love writing about it. Compiling lists about it. Evaluating it. Sometimes, I even play it. I'm an Accidental Player.

 

 It's not a mystery that my two favorite formats are Legacy Tribal Wars and Commander. I like to build within large pool of cards, but at the same time I like specific restrictions, since when these two elements work together, they push deckbuilding creativity into the next level.

 And what says "tribal" more than Horde of Notions? Its whole purpose is linked to its tribes members. But unlike other over-the-top enablers like Kaalia of the Vast (which is not even part of the tribes she deals with), Horde of Notions doesn't put you in command of very obvious finishers like Angels, Demons and Dragons (seriously, could they make her any more arbitrarily overpowered? What Dragons have to do with Angels? She just likes powerful guys with wings?). Nothing like that: our bizarre whale-bear is all about its fellow Elementals.

 So I felt compelled to try and build Horde of Notions Tribal Commander. It's a 5-color deck, something which I usually don't like much, as they tend to just be a collection of the 10 most powerful cards of each color.

   

Look at me! I'm playing with all these colors! It's so hard!

 So, I gave myself some rules to balance my access to everything. First of all, no Conspiracy and Ashes of the Fallen to combo with the Horde by circumventing its restriction. This had to be a tribal deck, and once I had 33 Elementals, there was no real reason to use Conspiracy to let Horde of Notions resurrect other stuff, anyway. That would be a different deck entirely, which might be fun to build as well, but it's not for today.

 

You are banned!

 And yes, this was going to be a true Tribal Wars-legal deck, not just a deck with a tribal theme. This means that out of 99 cards in the deck, 33 had to be creatures sharing the Elemental type. I built Tribal Commander decks before, and the 33 creatures restriction is often tough to deal with, because it doesn't leave room for much else. Elemental is a nice tribe with 300+ members, though. So I was sure the selection would turn out to be fun and effective. Let's start with the decklist (here it's in Gatherling form, too, for better perusing), then I'll do a deck tech for it.

Horde of Elements
by Kumagoro
Elementals
1 Animar, Soul of Elements
1 Baleful Force
1 Bane of Progress
1 Bloodpyre Elemental
1 Celestial Force
1 Cinder Elemental
1 Deepfire Elemental
1 Doomgape
1 Faultgrinder
1 Flamekin Harbinger
1 Forgotten Ancient
1 Hateflayer
1 Incandescent Soulstoke
1 Ingot Chewer
1 Living Inferno
1 Lord of Extinction
1 Maelstrom Wanderer
1 Magmatic Force
1 Magmaw
1 Mulldrifter
1 Pyroclast Consul
1 Shriekmaw
1 Soul of the Harvest
1 Supreme Exemplar
1 Thorn Elemental
1 Thornling
1 Tidal Force
1 Tornado Elemental
1 Tyrant of Discord
1 Verdant Force
1 Vigor
1 Void Stalker
1 Wispmare
33 cards

Non-Tribal Creatures
1 Child of Alara
1 Elvish Harbinger
1 Eternal Witness
1 Joiner Adept
1 Maelstrom Archangel
1 Wood Elves
6 cards

Tutors
1 Buried Alive
1 Conflux
1 Crop Rotation
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Expedition Map
1 Fabricate
1 Jarad's Orders
1 Sterling Grove
1 Survival of the Fittest
1 Sylvan Scrying
1 Vampiric Tutor
12 cards

Mana-Related Stuff
1 Chromatic Lantern
1 Coalition Relic
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Fist of Suns
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Kaleidostone
1 Mana Reflection
1 Mirari's Wake
1 Prismatic Omen
10 cards

Other Stuff
1 Legacy Weapon
1 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
1 Privileged Position
3 cards
Lands
1 Ancient Ziggurat
1 Bayou
1 Breeding Pool
1 City of Brass
1 Command Tower
1 Crystal Quarry
1 Exotic Orchard
1 Forbidden Orchard
1 Gemstone Mine
1 Jungle Shrine
1 Mirrodin's Core
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Murmuring Bosk
1 Opal Palace
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Pillar of the Paruns
1 Primal Beyond
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Rupture Spire
1 Savage Lands
1 Savannah
1 Seaside Citadel
1 Shimmering Grotto
1 Stomping Ground
1 Taiga
1 Temple Garden
1 Tendo Ice Bridge
1 Thespian's Stage
1 Transguild Promenade
1 Tropical Island
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Vesuva
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
35 cards

 
Horde of Notions

 

 Let's begin by looking closely to what Horde of Notions actually does. 

 First of all, for 5 mana, we get a 5/5 with vigilance, trample and haste, which is sweet. Of course, those 5 mana need to be of 5 different colors, which is the whole challenge here. Once you have reached that point, though, you will also be able to exploit the Horde's main ability and recur Elemental cards (not just creatures) from the graveyard. But how to consistently achieve the WUBRG part of it all? There's several answers in the game, and in the deck.

  

 

 So, in order of resilience, Crystal Quarry, Prismatic Omen, Chromatic Lantern, Joiner Adept, and Kaleidostone are my tools. The goal of the deck at this point becomes twofold: to get one of these effects online, and to have things at hand to be exploited by both Horde of Notions and the WUBRG routine in general. (I didn't include Composite Golem, which has a few ways to be abused, because it felt overkill. But you might want to consider it).

 The first part of this plan is attained via tutors, which is the reason why I included so many, fully tapping into our five-color base. If you feel like I've gone overboard with these, consider that this deck seriously runs the risk to awfully durdle if the engine doesn't keep going. It's a casual deck at its core, so all these tutors just try to level the playing field a little.

 Expedition Map Crop Rotation Sylvan Scrying Expedition Map, Crop Rotation and Sylvan Scrying search for Crystal Quarry.

 Enlightened Tutor Sterling Grove Enlightened Tutor and Sterling Grove search for Prismatic Omen.

 Fabricate Fabricate searches for Chromatic Lantern.

 Survival of the Fittest Elvish Harbinger Survival of the Fittest and Elvish Harbinger search for Joiner Adept.

 Demonic Tutor Vampiric Tutor And of course, Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor search for all of them.

 Buried Alive Jarad's Orders In addition, Buried Alive and Jarad's Orders search for Elementals to be recurred.

 Once it's established that the main engine of the deck is about having all colors of mana, I thought I might well use this card to apply it to everything.

 This opened the way to include any strong card with WURBG in its mana cost. There certainly are many. I didn't have much room, so I limited myself to these four (note how the first three are from the same set, named after one of them):

   

 Conflux is the ultimate tutor; Maelstrom Archangel gives me a secondary way to put all those big Elementals onto the battlefield (yes, there will be big Elementals, wait for them); and Child of Alara and Legacy Weapon radically solve all kind of problems. My wide net of tutors allows me to search for these things with ease. And while I had such a rich mana base, why not to play the ultimate planeswalker, too? (Same set again: Conflux really was all about the 5 colors of mana coming together, wasn't it?)

A guy to be afraid of.

Discarded possibilities include Etched Monstrosity (I find it cute, but didn't made the cut in the end), Progenitus (it would require double the penta-colored effort), and all the Bringers. I might bring in Maelstrom Nexus and especially Collective Restraint in future tweaks of the build, though.

 

These look good in the deck. 

 The rest of the non-Elemental cards are just a few more mana fixers, namely Wood Elves, Fellwar Stone, Coalition Relic, Darksteel Ingot, and Gilded Lotus; a couple rampers (Mana Reflection, Mirari's Wake), to help me pay for the more expensive Elementals before they go to the graveyard; Eternal Witness to recover a lost key card; and Privileged Position to defend them. The included enchantments also give me more targets for the specialized tutors once Prismatic Omen has been found.

 I mentioned before how Horde of Notions lets you play any Elemental card from the graveyard, not just creatures. Now, the noncreature Tribal Elemental cards are nothing to be too excited about; mediocre stuff like Hoofprints of the Stag, or terribly situational cards like Eyes of the Wisent, Rebellion of the Flamekin, and Consuming Bonfire (this latter not without some merit, but still awkward).

   

 However, the Horde's ability applies to Changeling cards, too. And while I didn't want to use Chameleon Colossus or Mirror Entity in place of one of the 33 Elementals, it still gave me access to removals such as Nameless Inversion and especially Crib Swap. In the end I didn't include any, but it's something to keep in mind.

 

I can give -3 to a creature's toughness again and again! For just 5 mana of each color!

 Finally, I should mention how the land base features a collection of all the lands that give any color of mana, plus all the dual lands and triple lands centered on green, since green is the base of the deck, as it's only natural in these cases. I obviously included the Elemental tribal land, Primal Beyond, but also Pillar of the Paruns, given that I have quite a number of multicolored cards, on top of the Horde itself.

   

THE ELEMENTALS

 So, who my 33 Elementals are, and what they do? I started by including the whole "Force" cycle by default.

  

 

 These five guys are all very powerful, especially in multiplayer (their ability triggers at each upkeep, so up to 4 times per turn!), and you're always happy to have any of them on the battlefield. Other big guys I was sure I wanted: Maelstrom Wanderer, because it's just uber-powerful; Doomgape, that combo with Horde of Notions even just by killing itself for 10 life per turn; Thorn Elemental, which is unstoppable; and Tyrant of Discord, because while its actual outcome is unpredictable, it can deal absurd damage to one opponent's board position and it's awfully abusable with Horde of Notions.

   

 The next category was: Elementals that kill stuff. I didn't have any room for removal except for a few big spells, so the tribe needed to provide help in this department. Fortunately, the Elementals are quite adept at destruction.

 Ingot Chewer Wispmare Bane of Progress Faultgrinder Ingot Chewer kills artifacts; Wispmare kills enchantments; Bane of Progress kills ALL artifacts and enchantments (a bit dangerous given how very important my own artifacts and enchantments are, but some situations may call for an emergency reset of this kind); Faultgrinder kills lands.

 Shriekmaw Bloodpyre Elemental Tornado Elemental Living Inferno (Shriemaw) kills creatures; Bloodpyre Elemental kills creatures and combos with the Horde; Tornado Elemental sweeps the board of flyers; Living Inferno kills a lot of guys at once, and keeps doing so if timed right.

 Deepfire Elemental Deepfire Elemental is a forgotten creature with an amazing, repeatable ability against creature and artifact. Not cheap to activate, but useful.

 Void Stalker Void Stalker interacts well with Survival of the Fittest and the Horde, and it's my creature removal of choice in the deck. (Vortex Elemental was another, similar option, but clumsier.)

 Pyroclast Consul Pyroclast Consul exploits the kinship mechanic to potentially cast Pyroclasm each turn. My Elementals are mostly Pyroclasm-proof, but then the Horde would resurrect them in any case.

 Some Elementals deal direct damage that can hit the players, too.

 Cinder Elemental Hateflayer Magmaw Cinder Elemental works as a repeatable Heat Ray in the deck; the process is slow, but steady. Hateflayer is a powerhouse with its 5 damage per turn (the untap mechanic risks for it to be killed in an attack? Don't worry, the Horde will bring it back!). And Magmaw is mainly just there as a sacrifice outlet to abuse ETB effects via Horde, but you get to ping in the process, which isn't bad.

 Then there's a group of Elementals that draw me cards or access the deck. 

  

 Mulldrifter is a classic, Soul of the Harvest feels like a no-brainer in a deck with so many creatures, and Flamekin Harbinger is yet another tutor, this time in-tribe.

 Another group is made up of enhancers that all looked like auto-include.

  

 Both Incandescent Soulstoke and Animar, Soul of Elements are high-profile members of the tribe that help with the cost of the most expensive Elementals; Soulstoke also combos with Horde. Vigor is the only Elemental in the deck that can't be reanimated, but it just makes everyone stronger and my attacks harder to block. I couldn't say no to that.

 Finally, just a few finishers.

   

 Lord of Extinction and Forgotten Ancient are non-evasive, but both grow to huge proportions (the Ancient can make someone else grow, too); and Supreme Exemplar can't function on its own, but it's bound to find another Elemental on the battlefield, and at that point, its 10 evasive damage certainly feel alluring. As for Thornling, I wanted to give it a chance. It's a solid blocker and attacker, and severely underplayed (I guess it doesn't really compare with its blue counterparts Morphling and Aetherling). Truth be told, I just included it because I never use it elsewhere, while I play most of the cards I left out in other decks. It sure feels like a prime candidate for replacement.

THE DISCARDED ELEMENTALS

 What I didn't find room for.

 Omnath, Locus of Mana Omnath, Locus of Mana was tempting, but I wasn't sure how much green mana I could accumulate. It just doesn't feel at home in a 5-color deck.

 Thicket Elemental Thicket Elemental works with Horde of Notions (you are allowed to pay for the kicker cost), and it's essentially a big cascade guy. For some reason, I didn't find it captivating enough, but I might be wrong here.

 Igneous Pouncer Igneous Pouncer goes to the graveyard by itself while fetching me some dual. And the Horde can bring it back and exploit its natural haste, but would be worth it? Am I not bound to have better targets for the Horde at any given time? Like, I want to bring back members of the Force cycle, not a 5/1 vanilla.

 Fusion Elemental Fusion Elemental feels like the ultimate nombo with Horde of Notions.

 Liege of the Tangle Liege of the Tangle can set up a lethal endgame, but it's slow at it, and it's essentially a "you lose the game" card in case it's followed up by an Armageddon effect.

 Vengevine Regal Force Gaea's Revenge Flickerwisp Reveillark  Popular and powerful members like Vengevine, Regal Force, Gaea's Revenge, Flickerwisp, and Reveillark have also been left out because they just don't interact well enough with the deck. Same goes for Voice of Resurgence, even if it might have made the cut if I actually owned a copy of it! (Not going to happen while it's still in Standard).

 Avenger of Zendikar Living Hive Wolfbriar Elemental In the end, I even left out Avenger of Zendikar, Living Hive and Wolfbriar Elemental, that all create big armies of tokens. (I have Verdant Force that does something similar, anyway). The deck doesn't really exploit all these tokens, since there's nothing in it that can give them any kind of big bonuses except for Vigor. More so, a Pyroclast Consul on the battlefield is likely to wipe them all out. Sure, sometimes it's all about blocking and surviving against enemy swarms, which is the reason I might feel the need to bring one of these in, eventually.

 Nevermaker Slithermuse Spitebellows I also didn't choose any of the Morningtide Elementals that need to leave the battlefield to generate an effect, like Nevermaker, Slithermuse or Spitebellows, because, as powerful as these effects are, the Horde bringing them back doesn't do anything right away, so I would need a sacrifice outlet at hand at any time to abuse them (there's a few devour guys in the tribe, like Tar Fiend and Skullmulcher, but the whole process felt mightily belabored).

 Malignus Multani, Maro-Sorcerer Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer Silvos, Rogue Elemental I couldn't find room for non-evasive, sturdy finishers like Malignus and Multani, Maro-Sorcerer, and even tramplers like Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer and Silvos, Rogue Elemental. In this category I couldn't help but include Lord of Extinction, though, because that guy can go REALLY scary big, even if nothing guarantee it would actually connect. Silvos is very solid, though, and it's probably the best candidate to replace Thornling should I decide I don't like it enough.

 Timbermare Finally, Timbermare. This guy could be sure to inflict 5 damage each turn in a Horde deck. But in order to not be attacked back while all my creatures are tapped, I should have Seedborn Muse or Prophet of Kruphix on the battlefield. Or Intruder Alarm. Too cute, not worth the complications in the end.

 So that's it. I hope this deck can be as fun to play as it was to build. I'll try it and let you know. Go Elementals!

 

4 Comments

I love elementals (almost by Rerepete at Sat, 06/21/2014 - 15:33
Rerepete's picture

I love elementals (almost equal to merfolk). I was surprised by a few omissions though. Smoke Braider And Walker of the Grove, Bloom Tender and Cavern of Souls. Splinterfright might even be fun.

Cavern of Souls: It should be by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 06/21/2014 - 17:12
Kumagoro42's picture

Cavern of Souls: It should be there, indeed. It's easy to replace one of the other lands that produce any color.

Smokebraider: As a rule, I never use mana dorks in Commander, they're really too fragile in a format where a creature sweeper hits the board every other turn. Joiner Adept is there because it gives me all the 5 colors at once. Otherwise, Wood Elves is the mana fixer for me, since it gives me the color I miss, but in a way that it's not easily disrupted.

Bloom Tender: Same as above, but I guess it could be alluring in a deck where it could generate as much as 5 mana per tap. It does so once I already managed to reach 5 colors, though, and to double the amount, Mana Reflection and Mirari's Wake are, again, more resilient.

Walker of the Grove: As mentioned in the article, I discarded all the Elementals from Morningtide with death triggers, because they would also need a sacrifice outlet to be fully exploited by Horde of Notions. I can evoke them once, then Horde just brings them back, and that's it. I made a combo deck with Walker and Paleoloth once, which would consistently abuses the trigger by re-evoking it again and again. As a one-shot effect, I'm not really that excited by it. But the Thornling slot is always open (I'd still like Silvos better, though).

Splinterfright: It might make sense. I'm always shy about random self-milling, it's a tech I don't have much affinity with.

Reveillark doesn't interact by Paul Leicht at Sat, 06/21/2014 - 19:56
Paul Leicht's picture

Reveillark doesn't interact well with elementals? Lets see it gets back mulldrifter, harbinger, forgotten ancients, Animar, wispmare, voidstalker, soulstoke, smokebraider, ashling, and the list goes on...plus if you toss in some non-tribals: Karmic Guide + Reveillark is a thing. As is Witness + Lark. I won't say its a must include but to be discarded as non-interactive seems wrong. I know, she's a pet of mine but she's a pet because she's good (!) with elementals! :D As for her leaves play trigger not repeating, well there are tons of ways to make that happen without sacrifices. (Combat, Bounce, Exile (opponent), etc) I think it fairer to say that she fits just fine but that she asks to be built around because she is so powerful and that is a reason to not include her else the deck becomes about Lark shenanigans.

Exactly, this is not a deck by Kumagoro42 at Mon, 06/23/2014 - 12:37
Kumagoro42's picture

Exactly, this is not a deck about Reveillark shenanigans. It's an entirely different deck and one that has zero room for including the tools you mention (by design: if I wanted to find the best way to build a deck around Horde of Notions, I wouldn't take the strictly Tribal Wars legal route). As you can see, once you include the tools Horde needs, there's just no space left for much. The Elementals must perform on their own, just knowing they'll be resurrected by Horde eventually.

Plus it's a casual deck (well, sort of, I just played a game where everything worked super-quickly and it destroyed its opponents, but I doubt it'll always be like that). And one that's very committed to its trick. You say Reveillark brings back Mulldrifter? Well, Horde brings back Mulldrifter, too! By just paying 5 mana, which is actually much less effort than Reveillark would require to achieve the same goal.
Of course, you have to reach the 5-color threshold first, which is the whole challenge.