From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.
Theros black had us face the Hydra in an alternative game scenario. Born of the Gods challenges us to take on an army of minotaurs in Battle the Horde. I’m a fan of these occasional Magic variants that do away with the player on player notion for something else. Of course, to date there has only been Face the Hydra. How does Battle the Horde stack up?
The first and major difference is that this is for one player to Battle the Horde, whereas multiple players could Face the Hydra at once. As a multiplayer fan that’s not a plus for me, but let’s no abandon the product straight away.
A Horde of… Three?
Looking through the deck, there are a lot of identical minotaurs. The majority of creatures as 2/2, 2/3, or 3/2. There are actually not many different minotaurs here. The deck contains a number of artifacts, and while these artifacts have different names, they all do the same thing. There are also some sorcery spells which can have an impact on the game. They can make minotaurs more powerful, harder to block, and a couple of other effects. There is also Intervention of Keranos that will clear the board of minotaurs. Seriously, there are precisely three minotaur cards that will survive this spell. I assume it was added as a balancing factor but who would build a deck with a card almost guaranteed to wipe your side of the board? Minotaurs, is the answer to that, apparently.
Once you play the deck though, any worries about identical cards are soon replaced by worries about how to live beyond turn six. This deck is fast. The first time I played I was dead on turn five, and the Horde deck doesn’t even play until turn three! Doesn’t matter. The Horde takes a turn by revealing the top two cards and casting them. Chances are high this will be two minotaurs with Haste. Once the Horde has an artifact in play it draws more cards per turn, and it is difficult to turn the tide.
Battle the Horde demand the right approach. It has to be said, due to the nature of many of the minotaurs, a simple pair of 2/4 creatures can hold off almost everything the Horde can throw at you, which is pretty sad. Any amount of preparation for this game, and you are unlikely to be challenged by this challenge deck. All is not lost, however! The deck works fine against budget or sealed decks, where you can expect to get a challenging game. My recommendation is this…
Scent of a Gamer Presents…Battle the Horde Sealed-stravaganza!
What you need: 2-4 players, 6-9 boosters, a Battle the Horde deck.
How to play: As a group open 2-3 Theros and/or Born of the Gods boosters per player, but not more than nine boosters in total (hey! that’s a Fat Pack!). Lay all the cards out. Each player gets to make a sealed deck using the entire available pool. If you all do this at once with a tick sheet it will make play faster. Give yourselves a short time limit, like 20 minutes for deck building. At the end of this time, each individual will have a deck list ready for use against the Horde.
How to Battle: One at a time, each player gets to take on the Horde with the deck he or she has built. Best of 5 for two or three players, and best of 7 for four players. Once each player has had a turn at battling the Horde, the player with the most victories is the winner! In the event of a tie, there is more than one winner.
Nice, but not as good as Face the Hydra is my verdict. The deck really dies horribly to a pair of 2/4s and anything else. So you have to be prepared to be unprepared to get a decent game. If you see what I mean. The sealed-stravangaze is fun though.