Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #25: Heroes of Might and Magic the Gathering

The history of Magic writing has periods in which good writers were led astray by computer games, never to return. Well, I came back but I got an article out of it. And a Type 2 decklist.

The history of Magic writing has periods in which good writers were led astray by computer games, never to return. Some of the best minds on the MTG-Strategy list fell to Everquest. The immortal Jamie Wakefield was called away by Asheron.

And I was lured away by Heroes of Might and Magic III.

Unlike the others, I returned. However, since I have spent the last couple weeks watching the Olympics and playing M&M – at the same time – I haven’t been playtesting anything much. However, I did combine the two.

Heroes is a turn-based strategy game in which you play various characters building up their home towns and recruiting armies. As you build new enhancements/upgrades in your town, you can recruit better and better monsters. In addition, you can learn various spells.

Hang in there – this does become a Magic the Gathering article, I promise.

The game has eight types of towns; each town has particular sets of monsters. As you build each monster’s lair, you can recruit that type of monster. Monster lairs can also be upgraded once, allowing you to get the upgraded monster. For example, the Rampart town has centaurs and elves and dwarfs and forest creatures. The Necropolis has undead.

The towns also have basic structures that you can build, like Town Halls, Fortresses and Castles, Libraries, and so on. You can build larger and large mage guilds, and you get more and more spells.

So anyway, during the Olympics, I spent my time listening to the games and beating up monsters on the computer while at home. At work, I worked. Until, that is, I ended up trapped in an endless meeting where the accountants and attorneys got locked in an circular debate over appropriate treatment affiliated transactions for regulated utilities. I contributed what I could, then started taking notes.

After about ten minutes, random things started to appear in my notes – like this:


skeletons: drudge sk., Bone dancer,

zombies: gravedigger, gravebanes, scathe z.


vampires: Sengirs, Stalking Bloodsucker, Repentant

Two hours later – two very dull hours later – I had the basic ideas for a couple of casual play decks. I would recreate each town from the Heroes of Might and Magic III game. (For those ready to hit the back button, I stuck in some Type 2 stuff at the end.) That evening, I fired up Magic Suitcase and D’Angelo’s site and started searching for monster types. I built these decks for multiplayer games, and have had some chances to play several of them.

First, all mages from all town types use the same spells (except Necromancy). Here’s my list of the Heroes spells, and what I considered MTG equivalents. Nothing is perfect, so some spells don’t match exactly, and some bad spells get included because they match the name. Heroes’ names come first, Magic equivalents are after the colons.

Bloodlust: Bloodlust (that was hard)

Magic Missile: Shock

Lightning Bolt: Lightning Bolt

Fireball: Guess what?

Death Ripple: Pestilence or Drain Life

Sacrifice (kill one creature to regenerate another): Recurring Nightmare

Bless (creature pumper): Giant Growth

Dispel: Disenchant, Shelter

Frenzy: Berserk

Stoneskin: Lashknife Barrier

Hypnotize: Temporary Insanity, Ray of Command

Sorrow (destroys the morale of an enemy unit): Pacifism, Arrest

Chain Lightning: Chain Lightning (although the game version is much better)

Summon Boat: Merchant Ship (snicker – I did NOT play this)

Scuttle Boat: City in a Bottle (it destroys Merchant Ship)

Others: Earthquake, Animate Dead, Meteor Shower

Some of the buildings you can construct are the same across all towns. Some are specialized. You can build a Castle, so Castle appeared in decks running white. (But just one copy, because Castle is pretty bad. Parapet is better, but again, just one copy.) The Library suggested Library of Alexandria, but that seemed like overkill – and since these decks will be dropping beats quickly and are unlikely to have seven cards in hand, I skipped it. I did include Jayemdae Tomes in some decks, and pretended they fit. I also played a Time Walk, even though it seemed excessive and not quite in flavor, for two reasons:

1) The game has a morale component, and units with good morale get to act twice (true, Seize the Day would have matched the game’s effect better), but:

2) I just got a Time Walk from StarCity a week ago… So no matter how flimsy the excuse, I was going to play it.

The dungeon town has the following monsters: Troglodytes, Harpies, Beholders/Evil Eyes, Medusae, Minotaurs, Manticores, and Dragons. MTG has nothing directly equivalent to Troglodytes, but I decided that lizards were close enough to the game’s monsters. Here’s my equivalents:

Troglodytes: Shivan Raptor, Deathgazer

Harpies: Screeching Harpy, Cavern Harpy

Beholders/Evil Eyes: Wandering Eye, Evil Eye of Orms by Gore

Medusae: (I don’t own an Infernal Medusa, but she should be here.)

Minotaurs: Anaba Shaman, Tahngarth

Manticores: Masticore or no? I played Flailing and Crimson Manticores

Dragons: Shivan Hellkite and Vampiric Dragon

Additional spells: 4 Lightning Bolt, 2 Dark Ritual, 1 Shock, 1 Time Walk, 2 Fireball, 2 Diabolic Edict, 1 Raise Dead, 2 Befoul, 2 Bloodlust, 2 Temporary Insanity, etc. Lands: Salt Marsh, Urborg Volcanoes, Badlands, Underground Seas, swamps, mountains.

In action, the deck seems reasonably solid. I have enough smaller blockers that I can usually hold off attackers (Deathgazer and Shivan Raptor are okay here). Cavern Harpy can be hard to cast, given the limited number of blue and black early creatures. Evil Eyes of Orms-by-Gore are in spirit, and have a very interesting effect in multiplayer games, since they prevent me from attacking with the Shivan and Vampiric Dragons. People actually let me keep the dragons around, and laughed when I would say things like”attack with – aw, damn.” I got the”Last Laugh” when I used Cavern Harpy to bounce the Evil Eyes, and the dragons were suddenly free to beat. (That was the first time anyone saw the Cavern Harpy that match, by the way).

Not that this would be anything like politicking in multiplayer – we all know that doesn’t happen.

The Castle Town has chivalry as a theme. It has pikemen, crossbowmen, swordsmen, griffins (no idea why), monks, knights and angels. Here’s the rough outline:

Pikemen: Pikemen, Ardent Militia

Crossbow guys: Crossbow Infantry, Heavy Ballista, Ballista Squad

Griffins: Razorfoot, Armored or Charmed Griffin (live dangerously)

Swordsmen: Sword Dancer

Monks: Soltari Monk, Reliquary Monk

Knights: Paladin en-Vec, Benalish Knight

Cavaliers: Order of Lietbur, Order of the White Shield

Angels: Serra Angel, Archangel

Other stuff: 3 Crusade, 1 Castle, 1 Parapet, 2 Gallantry (very much in theme), 3 Jayemdae tome, 2 Breath of Life (in the game, Archangels resurrect your fallen creatures), 3 Cho-Manno’s Blessing (dispel, protection). Lands: Plains, Forbidding Watchtower.

I haven’t had a chance to play this deck. It would be a good choice for someone who likes to play defensively, but really likes to meddle in other players’ attack phases (with the Crossbow Infantry and Ballistas). It could use some removal and disenchants, and four Swords to Plowshares. Lifegain could also be a plus, and a Moat or two would be perfectly in character, although the deck has lots of non-fliers. The main benefit to the deck is that it has no color problems, and a reasonably long list of evasion creatures. The disadvantage is that it has little removal or tricks.

The Necropolis has an undead theme, which is no surprise. Here’s the creature list:

Skeletons: Drudge skeletons, Skeleton Scavenger

Zombies: Gravedigger, Scathe Zombies.

Wraiths: Bog Wraiths (w/ the cool Saga picture), Dirtwater Wraith

Vampires: Sengir Vampire, Stalking Bloodsucker,

Liches: Krovikan Horror, Minion of Tevesh Szat, Phyrexian Plaguelord

Death Knights: Black Knight, Knight of Stromgald

Ghost Dragons: Catacomb Dragon, Teeka’s Dragon (colorless = ghost)

Necropolis: Keldon Necropolis would work, but the deck is mono-black. Necropolis from The Dark is in flavor, but it is just a big wall.

Other spells: 4 Dark Ritual (Hah! We casual players can do what you Extended players can only dream of! Of course, four Culling the Weak would be more in flavor.), Pestilence, Necromancy, Necrologia (card drawing), 3 Drain Life, 3 Slay, 2 Unholy Strength, 2 Vampiric Embrace (hey, it’s fun), 2 Terror, 2 Diabolic Edict, 1 Living Death, 2 Recurring Nightmare, 2 Zombie Infestation (one of the town’s powers is to create skeletons from fallen foes), 1 Raise Dead, 1 Yawgmoth’s Will, 1 Corrupt, Grave Pact. Land: lots of Swamps, maybe 1-2 Cabal Coffers, Volrath’s Stronghold.

The deck is also mono-colored, and Teeka’s Dragon and the Sengirs beat pretty well. Some Bad Moons would be useful. Light of Day can hurt, but Teeka’s Dragon and the life siphoning can help here. Splashing a Krovikan Horror and Squees, and maybe a Minion of Leshrac, and upping the number of Zombie Infestations and Grave Pacts could make it play more like a combo deck. The combination of sacrificing creatures (Plaguelord, Recurring Nightmare) and Grave Pact is very good.

The Rampart town is all things vaguely foresty and elvish. Despite this, the deck has been a lot of fun to play.

Centaurs: Krosan and Centaur Archers

Dwarves: Dwarven Thaumaturgist, Dwarven Miner

Elvish Archers: Elvish Archers, Femeref Archers, Longbow Archer

Pegasi: Pegasus Charger, Sacred Mesa

Dendroids (treefolk): Heartwood Treefolk, Mirrorwood Treefolk

Unicorns: Capashen Unicorn (disenchant is good), Revered Unicorn

Dragons: Canopy Dragon, Viashivan Dragon, Rith

Other spells: 1 Castle, 2 Blood Lust, 2 Fireball, 1 Giant Growth, 1 Might of Oaks, 2 Chain Lightning, 1 Shock, 4 Lightning Bolt, 3 Shelter, 2 Orim’s Thunder, 1 Inferno, 2 Energy Bolt. Some of the old Dwarves are interesting: Dwarven Sea Clan can let you mess with other people’s combat phase, Dwarven Vigilantes can be fun if some players have no blockers, and others have small, valuable creatures (think Birds of Paradise). Dwarven Demolition Team destroys walls. Dwarven Armorer lets you discard cards to put counters on creatures – which works well with Madness. I did not include Spellbane Centaurs, but Spellbanes could be a metagame call.

Okay, there are several more town types left, but this is getting old. I’ll just add a few comments on actual numbers and the mix of spells, then move on to Type 2.

These decks generally came out about 70-90 cards, which is fine for multiplayer. In general, I tried to play three of the basic version of the lesser monsters and two of the upgraded monsters. I cut that to two and one for the game enders (e.g. Dragons) because you don’t want several of those clogging an opening hand. I cut back on bad cards (like Flailing Manticore), but bumped up the number of low casting-cost defensive creatures (Shivan Raptor, Pegasus Charger, Krosan Archer), especially if I was lacking in other defenses.

I’m also dedicated to playing at least a few answers to everything in my decks. When Maze of Ith and Force Field were universal – appearing every single stinking time in our games – I brought in four Tsabo’s Webs, plus versatile LD – stuff that could do double duty like Pillage, Creeping Mold or Befoul. Likewise, I try to fit in some disenchant effects in each deck (double-impact cards are good – Hull Breach and Orim’s Thunder are a current favorites, and Decimate can work in multiplayer games).

I really couldn’t justify too many global resets, even though they are really valuable when you get into a bind. The only ones that matched spells in Heroes of M&M were Earthquake and Inferno, and those hurt me as much as anyone else.

Land was generally a mix of available duals, Invasion duals and a few Dragon Lairs. I did not play any man lands, since the game theme didn’t support them. A couple Treetop Villages sure would have been useful. This is always an issue with theme decks – how tightly do you stick to the theme? I tend to stick fairly closely, but if your play group is more cutthroat, then you need to move a bit out of the theme if it’s necessary to be competitive. In my case, I stayed close to theme, partly because I am looking for new opponents. Our longtime playing partners, John and Cathy, moved to South Carolina (no, not to get away from us – at least not entirely). So I want decks that are fun, but that don’t immediately crush the opponents – that is not the way to get a group going.

Okay, on to the Type 2 stuff I promised above:

At the end of my last article, I mentioned that I would be building a R/W deck for the next FNM. I also joked about a Graceful Antelope / land destruction deck – and the very next day I saw at least two people suggest splashing white for the Antelope on a”help my LD deck” thread.

Snorting beer out your nose is not cool – but oh, man, I could not believe it! Graceful Antelope was a joke, folks! I’m probably getting a swelled head and they probably never saw my article, but I don’t recall ever seeing that particular bad suggestion before or since. Just twice on the day the article appeared. Seriously, Graceful Antelope/LD is a really bad idea. I don’t mind people borrowing my tech – but gawd almighty, please limit yourself to the good stuff.

After this bit of hubris (look it up), the fates should have me losing to Antelope/LD in three straight matches at Regionals. But I doubt it.

As promised, I played a R/W deck at FNM last week. I built the expected white weenie, splashing red for burn, Flametongue Kavu – and the game buster, of course.

A quick recap: Sideboard Pure Reflection crushed Psychatog, weenies outran G/U and control, and I ended up playing Ingrid in the finals. (Way to go, both of us!) I kept a four-land hand with Glorious Anthem, but she burned my Spectral Lynx and Goblin Legionaries. Then I drew about eight land in a row, and ten of my first twelve draws were lands. This would have been bad, but the last card in my opening hand was Goblin Trenches. Super Lucky Guy again… But Ingrid eventually forgave me. Besides, I promised she can play with the shiny new Albino Troll.

Okay, last time I gave you a decklist for a mono-white desk that went 2-2, so why would I give out the decklist that went undefeated/untied? Well – okay, but the deck has a lot of twos and threes because I didn’t have many of the cards:

3 Devoted Caretaker (play four – three were all I had. This card annoyed the Psychatog player no end – he kept Repulsing his own Psychatogs because he couldn’t touch my creatures)

4 Goblin Legionnaires

2 Spectral Lynxes

2 Patrol Hounds (I couldn’t decide between the Lynxes and Hounds)

2 Longbow Archers (the others were in casual decks)

2 Lieutenant Kirtar

1 Pianna, Nomad Captain (all I could find)

4 Flametongues

2 Flowstone Chargers (fun card – and I cannot resist playing walls and control)

3 Firebolt

2 Urza’s Rage (Ingrid had the rest)

2 Ghitu Fire

2 Glorious Anthem

2 Divine Sacrament (figured I would try both, then decide)

3 Goblin Trenches

4 Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]

3 City of Brass

6 Mountains

11 Plains


4 Reprisal

3 Pure Reflection

3 Orim’s Thunder

2 Sacred Ground

3 Dodecapod

I think that’s it. If you run Divine Sacrament, you may want to move the Flametongues to the sideboard. Sacrament can also be a problem against Wild Mongrels, but that’s about it. Pianna is sweet, and you should run two. Flowstone Charger is not that great – he is a stupendous wall (so valuable in a beatdown deck) but a vulnerable attacker. I included him only because he never gets played – which is a pretty poor reason to play anything. That type of reasoning leads to people playing Pale Moon or Winnow. (Hmmm… Nah.)

What does this deck get from Torment? Not all that much. It doesn’t have much that relies on threshold (Divine Sacrament, I guess) and doesn’t discard cards, so while Teroh’s Faithful might fit into the white deck I put up last week, this won’t see all that much improvement. Fiery Temper and Violent Eruption seem to fit better in R/G than this deck. In any case, I’m done with this archetype – Ingrid suggested mono-black, no splash, for next FNM. As for true Regionals tech, I don’t have anything both good and original, yet, but I’ll probably publish anything I develop.


[email protected]