It’s been a long time since I last wrote about Horde Magic, and I felt it was overdue. If you’re unfamiliar with the format, the short version is that the players work as a team to defeat a “Horde deck.” It’s reminiscent of Archenemy, but rather than having a person take on the role of the villain, it’s entirely cooperative: the Horde deck runs itself based on a set of rules, and the players all win or lose together.

I’ve put my own spin on the format a few times, and made decks representing the Eldazi invasion of Zendikar, the tomb of the lich lord Zur Ashur, and Bolas’ attack on Ravnica during War of the Spark. These were all built with casual Standard or Pioneer decks in mind, and the idea was that players could use their existing lists against them. Adventures in the Forgotten Realms got me thinking about classic adventuring parties, however, and it inspired me to make a set of decks specifically designed for Horde Magic.

For simplicity, I decided to start by putting together a set of five mono-coloured decks. This way I could focus on their themes and not have to worry about their mana bases. Limiting each deck to a single colour would also help me narrow down my options, which in turn let me come up with finished lists faster. I have vague plans to expand my collection of heroes to include other classes and colour combinations, but for now I’m sticking with just these five.

Each deck would be based around a different adventuring class from Dungeons & Dragons, with a unique Magic strategy. While I considered building these decks around the new Class enchantments, I decided to go in a different direction. This allowed me to dig into my collection for old cards that never quite found a home, and experiment more with mechanics and theme. What’s more, a lot of the Class abilities aren’t actually a good fit for Horde Magic; they either do nothing, or win the game singlehandedly, neither of which is suitable for a fun cooperative experience.

Ultimately, the goal with these Hero decks was not to make something competitive. Quite the opposite, in fact. Because everyone is on the same team in Horde Magic, giving the players lower-powered lists adds to the difficulty, since the resources available to the group will be weaker and less efficient. It can certainly be fun to demolish the Horde every once in a while, but when it’s not a challenge there’s really no point in playing. Cooperative games are at their best when they’re almost-but-not-quite too hard to beat, and by giving the players weaker tools to work with, it’s one more challenge for them to overcome.

With all that in mind, here’s what I came up with for the Heroes of the Horde….

The Guard


Deck by Ben Iverach-Brereton

A natural-born leader and strategist, the fighter quickly rose through the ranks of the town guard, and still has strong ties with the local militia. As a battle master they know that the key to victory is coordination, and they are adept at several combat maneuvers that will quickly turn the tide of battle.

The Diviner


Deck by Ben Iverach-Brereton

Gifted, or perhaps cursed, with the power of foresight, the wizard knows better than most the dangers they are about to face. They strive to prepare their allies for what lies ahead, and to steer them to a future where they are successful. Stopping the enemy may take a miracle… or perhaps just being in the right place at the right time.

The Assassin


Deck by Ben Iverach-Brereton

An opportunist at heart, the rogue is quick to exploit any opening and deal the killing blow. They’re well stocked with a variety of tools, ranging from knives and poisons, to more complicated clockwork devices, and are always ready with a plan to eliminate their target. All they need is time to set up their sneak attack.

The Bloodrager


Deck by Ben Iverach-Brereton

Hailing from the harsh mountains, the hearty barbarian charges headlong into battle with little concern for their safety. Weapon in hand, little survives their furious strikes, which only become more violent as the heat of battle propels them into a greater frenzy. Their allies are grateful that this wild monster is on their side!

The Cultivator


Deck by Ben Iverach-Brereton

The druid’s magic is rooted in life and growth, and their kind demeanor is a source of great comfort to their allies. That’s not to say that they’re helpless in a fight, however. When the time is right, that gentleness gives way to an eerily calm might. With the full force of the land at their fingertips, woe betide anyone foolish enough to have wronged them…

Of course, nothing is stopping you from using your own deck when playing against the Horde; it’s a convenient way to get into the format, and is still a lot of fun. These Hero decks are really just meant to provide players with a new, thematic option for their games. I’ll be storing mine alongside my Hordes and Theros Challenge decks so I’ll have everything I need to play in one box. I should probably toss in some dice and tokens while I’m at it…

I had a lot of fun coming up with these lists, and especially enjoyed focusing on theme far more than I would for a competitive deck. Even when making something for Commander, I can’t help but think about how viable my card choices will be in a game, and I always end up making compromises for efficiency. For these Hero decks, however, flavour could win out over everything else, and being a little inefficient was fine. It was surprisingly freeing, and now I’m eager to do something like this again. I just need to decide who my next character will be…

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