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|Commander / EDH||Legal|
|Commander: Rule 0||Legal|
Endless Ranks of the Dead
At the beginning of your upkeep, create X 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens, where X is half the number of Zombies you control, rounded down.
1 month ago
I thought I would try my hand at creating an article series centering around the beauty of different card designs, as each card truly is unique in its own way, and I wanted to make my appreciation of that into a tangible form so that everyone could experience it.
A general outline of how this article series will go is this: a basic introduction (similar to what you’re reading now), cost versus effect, the flavor of the card, how the card interacts with its limited environment, cards that are similar to it and a short little blurb on what makes them different, a custom card inspired by the analyzed card and a short explanation of the process used to create it, the legacy of the card, and finally, a conclusion to round it all out.
That being said, let’s begin!
The card of today’s analysis is Dreadhorde Invasion, a card I chose to kick off the series with not only because War of the Spark is my favorite set, but also because it will give us a good platform to walk through the steps of this article series.
Dreadhorde Invasion is an oft-overlooked card that provides its user with a Zombie Army (a mechanic introduced and incredibly localized to War of the Spark, excluding a few exceptions such as Lazotep Chancellor) at the cost of a single life each turn. Obviously this adds up quickly, and the Army that is produced is rather clunky, as it is easier to remove (a la Fading Hope), non-evasive, and rather small even in its beginning stages. For it gives you a 1/1 creature on turn 3. That’s not a great payoff, especially for more advanced formats.
This is where the second clause comes in. If your Army can make it to six power, then Dreadhorde Invasion rewards you handsomely with an added lifelink, allowing you to gain back all that lost life and quickly breaking symmetry with your life versus your opponents. It’s not incredibly cost-effective (heck, a Forced Adaptation is more cost-effective in general), but it’s very fun to play with and can provide a lot more when juxtaposed with the rest of the game. But we’ll get into that later.
The flavor of Dreadhorde Invasion is perhaps my favorite part of the card. The Eternals are probably one of the most unique MTG villains (I mean, come on, they’re blue metal zombies that can cross between worlds and steal planeswalker sparks), and definitely one of my personal favorites. The idea of Dreadhorde Invasion is that Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker is executing his plan to become Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God, invading the plane of Ravnica with his army of Eternals empowered by The Elderspell in order to steal the sparks of the planeswalkers, trapped there by The Immortal Sun and invited there by the Interplanar Beacon. The invasion is eventually quelled by a joint effort by Liliana, Dreadhorde General, Gideon Blackblade, Ugin, the Ineffable, God-Eternal Oketra, and God-Eternal Bontu, with the defeat of Bolas wrapped up in the brilliant card Despark. Dreadhorde Invasion more than anything flavor-wise represents the whole of War of the Spark, perhaps better than any other individual card in the set (except maybe Enter the God-Eternals). And that is why I love it so much; it is a testament to my favorite set of all time.
As far as Dreadhorde Invasion’s performance in Limited goes, I must say that it has quite an unitive feel to how it operates in multiple deck strategies, similar to how it unites the flavor of the set. It has the keyword amass on it, which is the new ability introduced in the set, and which synergizes well with proliferate. Zombie Armies themselves receive gracious tribal support in the form of Gleaming Overseer, Eternal Skylord, Widespread Brutality, and the like. Beyond this fairly obvious synergy, however, there are many more options for how Dreadhorde Invasion can function in this set. For example, the creation of a creature every turn lends itself very well to sacrifice strategies revolving around Spark Reaper, Ahn-Crop Invader, and Spark Harvest, or even Liliana, Dreadhorde General and God-Eternal Bontu. In addition, the lifelink that can be attained on later turns goes well with Ajani's Pridemate and fits into a subtheme of life gain that the set has.
Dreadhorde Invasion-style effects are somewhat rare, but there is precedence for their existence. The most obvious example is Bitterblossom, an enchantment well-known for its splashes in Modern and which creates small flying threats every turn at the cost of some life. However, there is also Ophiomancer and Endless Ranks of the Dead, or more recently Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia. The thing that sets Dreadhorde Invasion apart from these other cards is its unique combination of losing life and gaining life alongside its ability to make a token larger versus just creating a new token.
Here is a custom card that I made that was inspired by Dreadhorde Invasion.
The process I went through to design this card went something like this.
1) Look at Dreadhorde Invasion and think about what the card is wanting you to do. What's the general theme of the card?
2) Build a general shell around the idea of losing life to gain life, pulling in inspiration from cards like Bloodghast.
3) Adding a tribal element to make it feel like a Dreadhorde card.
4) Adding a fitting name. "Vowmage" gives a feel of some kind of sacrifice to fufill an obligation, especially to a being like Bolas.
5) Adding flavor text that is both quippy and fits the situation. In this case, I chose to show who the Vowmage's vow is to.
6) Finding some art from DeviantArt that fit the theme. This art is from user Ryushadow, and is the only Eternal art I could find.
Dreadhorde Invasion, like most of its amass kin, is largely forgotten especially in competitive play where it is not a contending strategy. Zombie Armies are incredibly weak to removal and usually aren’t very cost-effective, so their weakness of being a single lone creature that just gets bigger and can be chump-blocked can’t really be ignored. War of the Spark as a whole is a largely forgotten story arc, and despite its misgivings it’s still a shame. Dreadhorde Invasion does not truly have a legacy, though it was reprinted in the Midnight Hunt commander set as a part of Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver’s commander deck. Hopefully, one day, we will see Amass return in a future set with greater support so that Dreadhorde Invasion may one day be viable.
Alright, everyone! That is the end of my article for today. Please let me know what worked for you and what didn’t so that I can sculpt this new article series to your feedback!
Speaking of user feedback, I would like to have every tenth card be voted upon by the community. If you want to submit an idea for what card we will go over, just let me know in your comment. The comment with the highest number of upvotes will have their card in the tenth article of the series.
Thank you all for the wonderful community we’ve made together! See you soon.
2 months ago
- The -9 takes 2 turns to get,
- is an emblem with two of the most powerful keyword abilities (auto-kill and pushing your life total so high nobody can touch you)
- Supports one of the best "go-wide" as well as "go-tall" tribes in the game, if not the single best one
- Holds amazing synergy with his -X because when the creature ETB it'll be a zombie foe the emblem to copy
- Yields synergy with Parallel Lives, Anointed Procession and all of the other green doublers. As well as Endless Ranks of the Dead and Liliana, the Last Hope
- Speaking of which, he starts at 5 so Doubling Season and Vorinclex, Monsterous Raider kick him off immediately
- Lastly, being an emblem, you could -9 multiple times. Sure Deathtouch and Lifelink won't stack, but the token copying will.
All things considered, being a tribal Commander, being able to utilize it to it's full extent is actually quite powerful.
Although, perhaps giving them +1/+1 would be nice, so if you do get multiple emblems, it'll stack as well.
2 months ago
2 months ago
Zombies are honestly one of my favorite tribes.
If it's not too much power for your playgroup, consider a decent sac outlet and Gravecrawler. It can add very nice synergies when you cast it, including infinite combos with the precon included Rooftop Storm, Diregraf Colossus, and Diregraf Captain. All around a great Zombie card for death triggers, Zombie cast triggers etc.
I honestly wouldn't focus too much on the mill aspect. Instead, focus on creatures, tokens and protection for those things. Cheap counterspells go a long way. With things like Endless Ranks of the Dead and Diregraf Colossus, creating bodies is a breeze usually. Though this is just stuff from the precon. The precon by itself is a great starting point. Cleaver Skaab can create an extra Diregraf Captain or Diregraf Colossus which nets value, threat and board presence in one move. Graf Harvest is an amazing Zombie card to keep opponents wary of you. DeathBaron solidifies an offensive position for you. A nice little combo from the precon to consider is Cleaver Skaab + Gisa and Geralf . This let's you make cheeky tokens of the same non-token Zombie multiple times. Great use on Colossus, Deathbaron, Cemetery Reaper, Captain or other important zombies. Even better on Fleshbag Marauder.
I think that's all I got right now. I have the precon and a mono black Zombie deck on my profile if you want to check them out. The precon will soon be an upgraded version.
3 months ago
7 months ago
That makes sense. If your looking for cards to cut I would suggest Endless Ranks of the Dead I know it’s really fun but I’ve always found it to be super slow. The other card that stands out is Curse of the Restless Dead. It was slow for me as well. In my experience having ways to boost your zombies power is the most effective way to win. To that end a cheap option is Bad Moon.
8 months ago
Depending on format, blinking something like Rakshasa Gravecaller or Abhorrent Overlord with Nephalia Smuggler could work. Zombie tribal fits the colors and has some good options like Endless Ranks of the Dead.
9 months ago
Have you thought about Endless Ranks of the Dead? It's pretty nice to make a zombie horde with.