Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hoarding the Nation of Horde of Notions

Is it possible to combine both collecting and competing in Magic? Collecting and competing are two aspects of Magic that I’ve always pondered on whenever I browse other players’ albums. It all started in Kamigawa block when the said expansion had a bunch of legends to jumpstart an idea of filling up several albums. In the Champions of Kamigawa prerelease, I opened up a Jugan, the Rising Star and a Konda, Lord of Eiganjo. Add to that the prerelease foil, Ryusei, the Falling Star, and I said to myself that I already had 3 of the numerous legends in Champions of Kamigawa. How many more to go…

True enough, I’ve been able to fill up my albums with Kamigawa block legends but at a financially crippling cost. To date, I can say that the Kamigawa block is the block where I bought a lot of packs just for the sake of searching for those legends. Useful cards from the block that were not legendary would be available for trade in exchange for any crappy legend. I often would say, “This is what I deserve for mixing collection with competition.”

Before Kamigawa, I already had a “respectable” Angel collection – an inspiration from an ex-girlfriend who liked angels a lot. But collecting the angels never compared to the eccentricity that I had burning in me with all the Kamigawa legends.

The trend has continued to Ravnica block (2 legends per guild), Coldsnap, Time Spiral block (the classic characters but I honestly lost count of what I have and have not), and recently in Lorwyn with a legend for each represented tribe.

Other recent themes added to the collection included lands, the Time Spiral 0 casting cost cycle of spells, Future Sight textless creatures, and X Edition tokens. Unfortunately I couldn’t keep up with the high cost of my purchases and had to give up the sparkling Time Spiral shocklands that I have been lucky to get in every fatpack.


The reason for mentioning my collection troubles is because I recently went into an Ebay bidding binge and among the cards that I won was a set of Horde of Notions that ended at $0.99. Having already bought another item from the same seller, the shipping for the said set was discounted to $1.70. Then the other shoe dropped. I am actually spending more for the shipping than for the actual cards. Again, I have outdone myself, all for the sake of collecting legends.

I decided that I should try as much as I can to make use of the Horde of Notions in a deck. At least, this set of cards won’t end up just being collection album fodder. And how more convenient it is to turn this idea into an article. My inspiration for the deck is the preconstructed Elemental deck.
Deck construction it is

To start off, below is the decklist for the preconstructed Lorwyn Elemental deck. It’s a 5-color deck that’s primarily heavy on red cards.

# Name Cost
1 Wispmare
1 Dawnfluke
1 Mulldrifter
2 Æthersnipe
1 Shriekmaw
2 Mournwhelk
1 Flamekin Bladewhirl
2 Flamekin Brawler
2 Flamekin Harbinger
3 Smokebraider
3 Soulbright Flamekin
1 Incandescent Soulstoke
2 Inner-Flame Igniter
1 Inner-Flame Acolyte
2 Ceaseless Scarblades
2 Changeling Berserker
1 Faultgrinder
1 Briarhorn
1 Changeling Titan
1 Horde of Notions
3 Consuming Bonfire
2 Springleaf Drum
2 Wanderer's Twig
1 Plains
2 Island
2 Swamp
12 Mountain
1 Forest
2 Shimmering Grotto
1 Vivid Crag

The strategy of the preconstructed deck, as obtained from the site, is to use some of the creatures’ Evoke ability early. Later on when the game drags on, these creatures can be played at their full cost. Amusingly, Horde of Notions is a centerpiece due to its ability to play Elementals from the graveyard. The creatures that were played earlier with Evoke would be targets for Horde of Notions’ 5-color ability.
Preconstructed observations

2 automatic inclusions for my new deck are the Smokebraider and the Flamekin Harbinger. Smokebraider is a Signet for Elementals and helps speed up the deck. The Flamekin Harbinger is the cheapest of all the harbingers in Lorwyn and will search for the needed Elemental here. An Elemental deck would need a set of these two cards.

There’s only one Horde of Notions in the original build. That’s understandably so because it’s a preconstructed deck and there are always only 2 rare cards inserted. Talking about rare cards in the deck, the other rare is Incandescent Soulstoke. The Soulstoke pairs well with the Horde as its activated ability can bring an Elemental into play and bring the said Elemental into the graveyard at the end of turn. Horde of Notions, being a legendary creature, should have 3 copies. The Incandescent Soulstoke should have 4 copies.

There are only one each of Mulldrifter and Shriekmaw in the precon list. I’m curious why there’s only one Mulldrifter when it’s a common card. The Shriekmaw is also another Elemental worth considering because of its Terror-like ability (despite that it’s at Sorcery speed). It should be noted that the Mulldrifter flies while Shriekmaw has Fear.

Other Elementals with Evoke being considered from the preconstructed deck include Wispmare (enchantment removal), Aethersnipe (another creature removal), Briarhorn (instant creature pump), and Mournwhelk (discarder). I’ve set myself not to include Inner-Flame Acolyte (smaller creature-pump), Dawnfluke (damage preventer), and Faultgrinder (land destruction).

The rest of the deck is also disregarded, save for the Shimmering Grotto and the Vivid Crag.

So now the question surfaces on whether it is imperative that the deck should just stick to red cards only (and splash one other color) or continue the preconstructed theme of 5-colors. With the inclusion of the 5-color Horde of Notions, this would need to be a 5-color deck. The deck will still be red-based but will have a splash of the 4 other colors.

The rest of the deck

Of the 6 Elementals with Evoke that has been considered; only Mulldrifter and Shriekmaw are standouts to be included in the deck. 4 copies of each card will be placed in the deck. One other addition from the 6 is Wispmare for those unexpected pesky enchantments that might be encountered. I decided not to put in Aethersnipe because it can return only and not destroy. Mournwhelk has also been removed because I’m not that a fan of discard effects. Briarhorn has been thought of but its lack of evasion makes it a non-inclusion in this deck.

Time to add more Elementals with Evoke. Ingot Chewer is in as the Wispmare equivalent for artifacts. Also in is the huge 7/7 Cloudthresher – a safeguard for possible numerous fliers.

And here are other Elementals (the ones without Evoke) that will be added to the deck: Flamekin Spitfire, Nova Chaser and the lone non-Lorwyn card added to the mix: Timbermare. Only 1 Flamekin Spitfire is in the deck as a possible deadlock solution. There are 4 copies of Nova Chaser. It’s included for the possibility to tutor another Elemental by championing a Flamekin Harbinger and at the same time being able to swing for 10 damage. The lone Timbermare might just be a 4 casting cost spell dealing 5 damage or an opportunity to just tap out opponent’s creatures at the end of turn for the big swing by the next turn (suggested use with Incandescent Soulstoke).

Finally, the only non-creature spell that’s added is Fertile Ground. It’s scary to play a 5-color deck without the proper mana fixing thus the Fertile Ground is included to help out.

The Incarnations

The Incarnation cycle of Elementals in Lorwyn are bombs. Purity and Dread are tempting to include in the deck. I initially thought that I wouldn’t worry about casting the rest of the Incarnations with all the mana fixing that the deck already has. Or I could just find a way to get the Incarnations into the graveyard then use the Horde of Notions ability to play them from there. Then I remembered that no matter what, I just wouldn’t be able to play the Incarnations that way because they just get shuffled back to the library once they hit the graveyard. I scratch the idea of the Incarnations but I’m still putting a Vigor in my sideboard.

The deck
24 Lands:
2 Shimmering Grotto
2 Vivid Crag
2 Sulfurous Springs
2 Shivan Reef
4 Gemstone Mine
4 Karplusan Forest
1 Battlefield Forge
7 Mountain

32 Creatures:
4 Smokebraider
4 Flamekin Harbinger
4 Incandescent Soulstoke
3 Horde of Notions
1 Ingot Chewer
1 Wispmare
1 Flamekin Spitfire
4 Shriekmaw
4 Mulldrifter
4 Nova Chaser
1 Cloudthresher
1 Timbermare

4 Non-creature spells:
4 Fertile Ground

1 Ingot Chewer
1 Wispmare
3 Eyeblight’s Ending
4 Eyes of the Wisent
1 Vigor
3 Krosan Grip


Now, on to the prices of the rare cards and possible substitutions in case these cards are hard to find. Incandescent Soulstoke is currently priced at $4 by which means it can probably be had for around P100. I absolutely do not have any idea for a replacement for Incandescent Soulstoke. The best suggestion would be to add more Elementals with Evoke.

Meanwhile, Nova Chaser is currently priced at $5 which would probably mean P125 to P150. If there are no Nova Chasers available, Changeling Berserker would have to do at half the damage (and at non-trample one) and at the same casting cost. Incidentally, the Changeling Berserker has the Champion ability also and can be tutored by the Flamekin Harbinger.

In case of a missing Timbermare or a Cloudthresher, I think Briarhorn would have to do at this point.

As for the lands, a list that might go like this would have to do in case of a lack of painlands:

4 Shimmering Grotto
2 Vivid Crag
2 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Plains
2 Swamp
2 Island
4 Forest
7 Mountain

The list of lands above looks scary (to me). I might think of increasing the number of forests to ensure a 2nd turn Fertile Ground. Or instead of using a set of Fertile Ground, I’ll place Wanderer’s Twig to make sure I get that needed land out to be able to play whatever is in my hand.

That’s it. That’s the deck idea for the meantime. Meanwhile, I’ll wait for my Horde of Notions to arrive.

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