“Dreadhorde Invasion is my early frontrunner for most overrated card in #MTGWAR. I'm expecting it to be somewhere between unplayable and good for very specific decks (like Amass tribal or Aristocrats).”
Some Magic players have called Dreadhorde Invasion a vastly inferior version of Bitterblossom. It would seem that this Enchantment needs a very specific shell built around it. We’ve seen Aristocrats decks work out well in Standard before - decks that sacrifice creatures for value. Amass is also a very interesting mechanic. So, is this card more of a tease than an actually competitive card?
Early pre-orders for Dreadhorde Invasion were pretty crazy, as it was selling for around $7 and for as much as $9 a copy. So, the hype is real surrounding this card, especially with the excitement of a Zombie Tribal deck coming back to Standard. Also, because it’s a 2-mana enchantment, it’s possible to play multiple copies of this card in a deck with added benefit.
Dreadhorde Invasion starts out simply enough. At the beginning of your upkeep, you lose 1 life and amass 1. Amass says to add a +1/+1 counter to an Army that you control. If you don’t control an Army, you create a 0/0 Zombie Army token first. The good news about this is that if your Army token is destroyed, you get to make another one.
The other half of this card is that if you attack with a Zombie token with power 6 or greater, it gains lifelink until end of turn. With Proliferate running around the set, it’s likely that you can build an Army token fairly quickly. Also, what’s cool about this ability is the token only has to be a Zombie, not an Army. So, were you to have a non-Army Zombie token with greater than 6 power, it would also get lifelink. That lifelink is basically how you gain back the life that this enchantment drains from you.
Of course, having multiple copies of Dreadhorde Invasion allows you to amass more quickly, but also costs you a substantial amount of life. Also, because Dreadhorde Invasion only ever replaces one token, you can’t just keep creating armies. You could be pouring a ton of life into tokens that get killed before they can do much damage. A Zombie Army seems incredibly slow. But, let’s see just how much support “Amass Tribal” has in War of the Spark.
Dreadhorde Invasion and Amass Tribal
As of this writing, the War of the Spark spoilers are still in progress. But there are a couple of interesting cards to mention. One is Lazotep Plating, with costs 2 mana and allows you to Amass 1. But the more interesting aspect of this card is that you and permanents you control gain hexproof until end of turn. You can play this in response to a removal spell being used or a burn spell being used. It’s a neat little pseudo-counter spell
In Black, Lazotep Reaver is a two-drop Zombie that has Amass 1 when he enters the battlefield. But as a ½ otherwise vanilla creature, he’s not really someone you’d count on outside of Limited. There’s a four-drop that can Amass 2 when he dies, but he suffers from being an otherwise vanilla 3/2 Zombie. They are good creatures for Limited, though.
Red has a few Amass cards as well. One is a one-drop called Grim Initiate, who allows you to Amass 1 when he dies. This 1/1 Zombie also has first strike, so he has some playability. Honor the God-Pharaoh is a three mana spell that forces you to discard a card, but has Amass 1 and draws you two cards. There’s also the 6 mana Invading Manticore that has Amass 2 when he enters the battlefield, but that’s pretty much a Limited only creature.
There’s a couple of interesting multi-colored cards with Amass. One is a Blue/Black Zombie called Geaming Overseer. This 3-mana creature can Amass 1 when he enters the battlefield, but he also gives Zombie tokens hexproof and menace. He’s quite playable. Another interesting card with Amass is a Sorcery called Invade the City. It costs only three mana and it has Amass X where X is the number of instant and sorcery cards in your graveyard. It does put you in three colors if you want to play Dreadhorde Invasion, but it’s an interesting card. The best sorcery with Amass so far, though, is Widespread Brutality. It costs 1BRR and has Amass 2. Then, the Amassed Army deals damage to each non-Army creature equal to its power.
Also, there is the uncommon Angrath planeswalker, Angrath, Captain of Chaos, which has a -2 loyalty ability to Amass 2. He also gives your creatures menace, meaning they must be blocked by more than one creature. Since he has a hybrid mana cost of either red or black, he’s actually fairly playable.
As more Amass cards are spoiled, we will definitely return to examining the viability of Amass Tribal.
Dreadhorde Invasion and Arcane Adaptation
Some people have mentioned Arcane Adaptation as a way to make all of your creatures into Armies. While this is a decent idea, all that would do is allow you to put a +1/+1 counter on one of your creatures without getting a token. You could decide to make Zombie the creature type named on Arcane Adaptation, though. But, then you would need tokens that large, and that would be very difficult. So, while it’s a cute idea, it’s not really going to work out that well, especially since Amass is a Zombie-centric mechanic anyway..
Dreadhorde Invasion, Divine Visitation, and Mentor Creatures
There is a decent token generator from Guilds of Ravnica called Divine Visitation that create a 4/4 Angel tokens with flying and vigilance whenever you would otherwise create a token. But, because they aren’t Army tokens, you can’t boost them. However, that means that you would create an Angel instead of an Army token.
The reason this is relevant is that because you aren’t creating an Army token, you will actually instead create an Angel every turn. In theory, this is a great combo. Then, with each Dreadhorde Invasion you play, because there isn’t an Army token in play, each trigger will create another Army that will instead become an Angel token. You won’t get the +1/+1 counter, but you get the Angel instead which is definitely worth the trade.
Is that good enough of a combo to build an entire deck around, though? Boros Visitation is a deck and Legion’s Landing is very powerful with Divine Visitation already. Legion Warboss and other cards with the Mentor ability could also make the Army tokens you do create more powerful more quickly. You also have the Angrath planeswalker, who fits just fine in the deck. Could a Mardu Dreadhorde Visitation deck then work? It’s certainly possible. But, it seems clunky. The payoff may be worth it, though.
Dreadhorde Visitation in Mardu Aristocrats
With a pretty good Aristocrats enabler in Cruel Celebrant, a creature with a decent “when it dies” trigger in Dreadhorde Butcher, and a planeswalker friendly to the strategy in Liliana, Dreadhorde General, Dreadhorde Visitation could find a home in a new Mardu Aristocrats deck. Dreadhorde Butcher himself is pretty decent in that he’s a 2-mana 1/1 with haste that gets a +1/+1 counter each time he deals combat damage to a player or planeswalker. Then, when he dies deals damage to any target equal to his power. With Karn’s Bastion around to proliferate for a mere 4 mana, this deck seems like it could be fairly decent with Amass around. This is likely a deck we will revisit in the future.
Now that we’ve found that there are potential homes for Dreadhorde Invasion, it now comes down to whether any of these decks perform well in Standard. My personal favorite is the Divine Visitation deck - janky as it is - because of the sheer power that the Amass mechanic has with that token replacement effect of Visitation. But Mardu Aristocrats could be a decent deck, too.
Do you think Dreadhorde Invasion is overrated, or do you think it will be a key card for decks in Standard, or even beyond?
Read more War of the Spark card reviews here.