This is a guest post from /u/SofB, who wanted to write a little about Horde of Notions – so here’s his article!-SolemnParty
When I first saw this card in a trade binder I was looking through, I lit up in a way I hadn’t in a very long time. Horde of Notions didn’t speak to me in a particularly weird way, many players know exactly how my deck plays just by looking at his ability. Horde’s a very simple whale, tree, bear, fox, rabbit hybrid…. thing, but actually simple is what he wants to do: Hit hard, block hard, and bring out his other big Elemental friends so they can go hard on your opponents.
Once you hit that casting cost, he hits the ground running, swinging in for 5 damage with haste, ignoring chump blockers with trample, and he even stays up to block with vigilance. What’s more interesting is what you can do with his activated ability: you can pay WUBRG to play an Elemental from your graveyard without paying its mana cost. No restrictions on when you can activate it either; if you have one mana of each color, any Elemental spell in your graveyard threatens to return to battle once more.
This card is a windmill slam for Horde of Notions. Our number one go to mana guy casts for 1R, and is a 1/1 with the ability to tap for 2 mana in any combination of colors, so long as the mana is spent casting an Elemental or activating an ability of an Elemental. Maybe it gets beat out by Generator Servant in most environments, but in a deck chock full of Elementals… lets just say that this is one of very few mana dorks that can elicit groans from opponents. If you have 3 different colors when you untap with this guy, he can power out Horde on turn 3! And then you can swing for 5 commander damage with vigilance! On turn 3! This card is an absolute must in any list that uses Horde of Notions.
For 2 and a white, you can exile any creature, but you opponent gets a 1/1 creature token in return. That seems pretty boring, right? WRONG. This upgrade over Afterlife has the ability Changeling, which means it has all creature types all the time. Since this includes the subtype Elemental, you can have this innocuous little instant sit in your graveyard until just the right time, and then pop it out with Horde of Notions ability! 5 mana to exile a creature with a downside sounds bad on paper, but in a game where you can sit on 5 mana while commanding the board with an Elemental horde, this babymaker can take out a whole lot of resilient threats.
The Force cycle (except blue): This cycle is one of the most drawn out cycles in Magic history, starting out way back in 1997 with Verdant Force appearing in Tempest, and finishing with Baleful Force in Commander 2013 (okay, the blue one was printed then too, but we aren’t going to talk about that one). The Forces are all 8 mana for a 7/7 with an ability that triggers on each upkeep. In a two player game, they can be a little lackluster, but in a game with more than 3 people, they get out of hand, and they do it FAST. The white force gains you 3 life each upkeep, the black one is a phyrexian arena, the red one bolts things, and the green force makes 1/1 saprolings. In a 4 player game with all of these guys out (all of which are 7/7, it’s worth noting), by the time you get to your next upkeep, you’ve netted yourself 8 life, drawn 4 cards, made 4 blockers and bolted 4 other things. It’s worth noting that the blue one twiddles things, but I mean, why twiddle things when you can hit thing in the face with a lightning bolt or draw cards? I’m sure it has a home, but it’s not in my stompy list.
When I first put my list together, I thought that Skullbriar, the Walking Grave was going to be a very worthy include. You play him early, hit people until he gets killed, and then bring him back as big as he was with Horde of Notions. Unfortunately, without evasion he stops getting big, and he is very vulnerable to exile, bounce and tuck effects. Without the safety of a command zone, Skullbriar is quite lackluster.
While Liege of the Tangle is a rousing Vorthos success in an Elemental deck, he is never something I want to cast. Turning your lands into big beater with a subtype that your deck is built around feels really good, but having it immediately followed by a Wrath effect feels considerably worse. Liege is fun, but leaving yourself so vulnerable is never a great plan.
For ten mana, you could activate your commander’s ability twice, or you could gamble it on this card. It’s not a bad option for all that mana, but if you use ramp or fixing spells like Rampant Growth, Shard Convergence or Cultivate, or run removal, like Swords to Plowshares, Wrath of God or Cyclonic Rift, your chances of whiffing on Primal Surge go up, especially later in a game, when you don’t want to exile your removal. I’d only recommend this if you’re playing a build that’s almost entirely permanents.
A 6 mana 5/5 that stops your other guys from attacking? That seems pretty bad, I hear you say. And when you cast it during your turn, unless your opponent is at 5 life, yeah, it’s pretty bad, but if it’s in your graveyard, you can use it to fog all of your opponents, and leave them vulnerable to an alpha strike by your untapped army when the turn comes back to you.
3 mana to exile your board can not only protect it from any Wraths, it can also get quite a lot of value from creatures with ETB effects, and especially creatures with Evoke, since some creature trigger upon leaving the battlefield while others trigger when they enter the battlefield. Since basically every evoke creature worth anything is an Elemental, you can usually get quite a bit of value out a well timed Ghostway.
This card surprised even me when I first got to cast it from my deck. In a long and drawn out game, where you’ve got a good board but can’t quite get the damage through, Foundry Champion can come in and straight burn out most threats, and if you have enough guys, you can burn out a player with one too.
Here is the decklist I currently run for Horde of Notions. As with many 5 color decks, the biggest issue is going to be the mana base, which is a problem which is solved best by throwing money at the deck, unfortunately. While my deck runs 1 of each shockland, and a Cavern of Souls, there are also some more budget alternatives. Primal Beyond is tailor made for this deck, and Crystal Quarry can help you out in a pinch. A good number of fetchlands would also benefit this deck, whether they be from Zendikar, or just the Alara fetchlands and an Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse. A Maze’s End and 10 gates are also something I considered, but Maze’s End often paints a target on you, as players will assume that you plan to win with it.
And that is a look at some tech and traps for Horde of Notions! If you want to build a deck yourself, I hope you keep these cards under advisement, and if you’ve got a deck already, maybe you have some other cards that perform well or badly for you, which I’d love to hear about!