Battlefield Strategies – The Waiting Game

Cody Gregory • February 16, 2021

Kardur, Doomscourge Art by Jeff Miracola

Vikings, a race against time, and strategic…waiting? What was going on in 1066?

Welcome to Battlefield Strategies; the series where we take a look at real battles from our past and examine the strategies that granted victory to see if they can be used to equal effect in Commander at the kitchen table. Without further ado, let’s jump into our first battle!

The Battle of Hastings

In the year 1066, Edward, the king of England, died, leaving no direct successor. The English aristocrats held a council and elected Harold Godwinson, the noble with the most prestige and best ties to the previous king, to be the new ruler of the British Isles. This selection was not the most popular worldwide as two other rulers believed they had a better claim to the throne. Harold Hardrada, the king of Norway, claimed rule based on an alleged agreement between his predecessor and an earlier king of England. The other claimant to the throne was William, Duke of Normandy. William had claimed that Edward had named him successor and that Harold Godwinson had witnessed it. There were now three claimants to the throne, and only one would be left standing.

Harold Hardrada was the first invader to land in England and immediately began a march south, raiding and conquering towns. He even managed to take the city of York which would give him a fortified presence on English soil. Unfortunately for him, Harold Godwinson marched north much quicker than anticipated and caught the Norweigians off guard and Hardrada was defeated at the battle of Stamford Bridge. The Northmen inflicted a toll on the English however and Harold Godwinson’s army was tired, battered, and diminished. To top it all off, Harold found out that William had landed and had to march that tired army back to the southern shore as fast as possible. He finally met William just outside the town of Hastings and claimed a well fortified hill.

At 9 am, the battle began. It seemed at first like the tired and beleaguered English would win the day as their defensive position uphill proved a massive obstacle for the Normans to overcome. After the Normans began to retreat, supposedly due to a rumor that William had been killed, the English pursued, thinking that the battle was soon to be over. William rallied his men and routed the English now that they were on even ground. Seeing how well that worked, William then repeated the tactic at least two more times, both with great success. Around dusk, King Harold was reportedly struck in the eye by an arrow and the battle was effectively over. William the Conqueror was now King of England.

The Strategy

While we could take a look at the fake retreat tactic used by William for this article. I would argue that it is not what ultimately gave the Norman a victory. What truly led to William’s victory was that his enemies defeated themselves and he swooped in to clean up what was left. I can say that I have won many a Magic game by doing the exact same thing. It may not strike you as a very fun tactic, but we will take this strategy and make it proactive. And we get to use one of the new Kaldheim legends to do it!

The Commander

Kardur is a great commander that is part of a slew of very good uncommon legendaries in Kaldheim. While he doesn’t blow the vanilla test out of the water, he’s not terrible. Like William, he really wants your opponents to fight each other. Goad is quickly becoming a premiere commander keyword as people begin to realize just how powerful that effect is. Kardur not only goads all opponents’ creatures, but he helps keep you going if you become a target by gaining life every time an attacking creature dies. Let’s look at some basic strategies that help our opponents defeat each other.

Goad

Not only is Kardur a mass goad from the command zone, but we also have a few great cards that give us the same effects. Disrupt Decorum is another mass goad card and Geode Rager allows us to goad with every landfall trigger. Grenzo, Havoc Raiser can also do a great amount of goading if you can get a swing in, which shouldn’t be hard if your opponent has to attack each turn. When we don’t have the cards to goad, we use creatures like Fumiko the Lowblood and Warmonger Hellkite to make sure creatures are always turning sideways.

Attack Elsewhere

When we don’t have goad online, we need ways to incentivise our opponents to attack each other and not us. Cards like Koskun Falls and No Mercy do a great job at this. Costing mana per attacking creature or even killing any creature that hits us is a great deterrent. While pillowfort is not a super deck popular theme on EDHREC, using it as part of an aggressive shell can make it a little more exciting. Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs also does a great job of telling our opponents to attack elsewhere. Not only are we able to block anything without trample, a slew of 3/3s can wreak havoc on mana dorks that have to attack and leave us with an army to counter swing.

Another way to ensure we are the last commander standing is to incentivise our opponents to attack each other. Xantcha, Sleeper Agent, Assault Suit, and Rite of the Raging Storm give some power to our opponents that aren’t allowed to attack us. One of the best ways to make our opponents want to attack each other is the monarch ability. In this deck, we actually want our opponents to take the title away from us and fight it out amongst themselves. Cards like Marchesa’s Decree put the monarch token into play and also provides a little deterrent even if we aren’t the monarch.

Finishers

Once our opponents have beat each other to a pulp, it’s time for us to clean up. Dropping a Hellrider and Firecat Blitz or Ogre Battledriver followed by Army of the Damned can clean up whoever is left on the battlefield. Standard red and black finishers like Insurrection and Torment of Hailfire can also just win us the game outright.

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Who knew waiting could be so proactive? Have fun utilizing this strategy around the kitchen table battlefield or the one in the webcams! One more piece of advice; don’t forget that Magic is a social game and your voice can also be a deterrent. Make sure to let your opponents know that the player across the table is the “real threat.” Next time we will take a look at a maneuver that Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, speculated was impossible to completely pull off! See ya then!



Cody is an avid gamer and creator. When he is not playing games of all kinds, he is making them! He has been playing Magic for over 10 years and is a true Izzet mage whose heart belongs to the Firemind. He has a passion to share the joy of Magic with those around him.