Let me introduce to you a deck that evolved from a fun idea to a serious contender. It’s common for cards to mature from a meme to a Standard viable option. Nobody can evaluate all cards in spoiler season correctly. Every card that appears bad at first glance deserves to be tested. Every Standard legal card from previous sets deserves to be considered again. It often happens that shelved cards surface from the last page of binders, and find their way into Standard decks. Mox Amber didn’t fit in Standard decks for a long time. It waited for its proper frame that arrived in the form of WUR Superfriends (or WUR Planeswalkers). But it’s rare for a merely entertaining deck to grow into a deck choice of professional players. I’m talking about “4C Command the Dreadhorde”. I love that an underrated cards gave birth to a currently top tier deck.
I derive my assessment that 4C Command the Dreadhorde is one of the best decks in Standard from the list of decks for MPL Spark Split Week 3 (https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/competitive-gaming/mpl-spark-split-week-3-decklists-2019-05-22). When players like Javier Dominguez and Andrea Mengucci decide to submit a deck to a professional event it’s probably good. Of course they can be wrong in their deck choices too. Albeit they weren’t alone to register 4C Command the Dreadhorde. Hall of Fame members Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa and Eric Froehlich alongside Pro Tour winner Alexander Hayne seem to appreciate the deck too. Please note that Eric Froehlich didn’t think the fourth color was necessary, and chose UBG Command the Dreadhorde. Let me explain the allure of the deck.
I picked Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa’s version of 4C Command the Dreadhorde for future reference:
4 Teferi, Time Raveler 4 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales 3 Vraska, Golgari Queen 1 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria 4 Wildgrowth Walker 4 Merfolk Branchwalker 4 Jadelight Ranger 3 Paradise Druid 4 Command the Dreadhorde 2 Cast Down 1 Assassin's Trophy 3 Hinterland Harbor 3 Breeding Pool 1 Drowned Catacomb 4 Woodland Cemetery 4 Interplanar Beacon 4 Overgrown Tomb 3 Temple Garden 1 Sunpetal Grove 1 Isolated Chapel 1 Watery Grave 1 Godless Shrine 1 Cast Down 2 Assassin's Trophy 3 Duress 1 Kraul Harpooner 3 The Elderspell 3 Cry of the Carnarium 2 Thrashing Brontodon
The concept of the deck is in its name. Command the Dreadhorde powers the deck. Spells that retrieve cards from the graveyard always appeal to Magic players. These spells were very powerful in the past. Reanimation spells that are only legal in Legacy are so powerful whole decks are built around them. For younger formats these spells are too potent so R&D weakened them. Therefore the reanimation archetype ceased. The original idea of reanimation strategies is to put a game-winning creature into the graveyard and revive it. In Legacy you can play Griselbrand on turn one this way. If you’re interested in this deck you can read about it here: https://www.channelfireball.com/articles/level-one-legacy-reanimator/.
Command the Dreadhorde is a new weakened reanimation spell. It carries many drawbacks - it is expensive and it deals lots of damage to you when you revive a big, expensive creature or planeswalker. Nonetheless the possible profit is enticing. What does a deck built around this card need to do? It has to mitigate the drawback of its namesake card. So it must be able to reach six lands consistently and combat the loss of life. Also it needs a way to fill the graveyard with creatures and planewalkers that are worth reviving. The deck above manages to do all of this. It contains enough lands to reliably hit land drops and uses Paradise Druid to attain six mana faster. Additionally one of the purposes of the Explore package is to ensure land drops. The second purpose is to gain life before casting Command the Dreadhorde. The more life you have the more creatures and planeswalker you can bring back. The third purpose is to combo with Command the Dreadhorde. When casting it you want to bring back as many creatures and planeswalkers as possible. Among the creatures there is ideally at least one Wildgrowth Walker and a combination of Explore creatures. You put a small army on the battlefield and gain the life back you lost for casting Command the Dreadhorde. The result is usually an overwhelming boardstate - big attackers and powerful planeswalkers - that enables you to win. Tamiyo, Collector of Tales is what keeps the deck together. You want to play her early and use her +1 ability searching for Command the Dreadhorde. You’re digging for your win condition while you’re filling your graveyard. Tamiyo’s -3 ability salvages cards you milled into you graveyard but actually need. E.g. it can happen that your removal hits the graveyard early and later in the game you need it. Sometimes you immediately find Command the Dreadhorde or it’s in your opening hand. If that’s the case you can use Tamiyo’s +1 ability to dig for situational spells.
To complete the deck there are various utility spells. You have efficient removal at your disposal. I also number Vraska, Golgari Queen among the removal suite. Of course you can also uptick her but in most cases you need her -3 ability. Decks containing more than three colors are rare. To bear the cost of playing four colors you need a reason. Teferi, Time Raveler is good enough to justify adding white. He can reset Explore creatures to gain more life with Wildgrowth Walker for example. You can utilize him as a tempo spell to bounce an enemy creature and draw a cad. You can activate his +1 ability to cast Command the Dreadhorde at instant speed. Further he prevents your key spell from being countered. Note that Teferi alongside Tamiyo ensures you can resolve Command the Dreadhorde because of her static ability.
Looking at the deck you notice its high amount of planeswalkers. The deck exploits this fact to the maximum. Of course they are essentially powerful. But there is more to it. It’s easy to splash for them thanks to Interplanar Beacon. At the same time this land incidentally gains life which is useful when casting Command the Dreadhorde. You can revive a lot of them adding to the crushing boardstate you want to achieve. In addition they pose as the utility spells you need in the deck. Considering all of these factors you could view this deck as a planeswalker deck.
This is what I love about the deck. It has a variety of aspects. It plays like a fair midrange deck, it can mime an unfair as well as explosive combo deck, and it is capable of grinding like a control deck. If you’re looking for a diverse, fun and competitive deck you should consider 4C Command the Dreadhorde.