Dreadhorde Invasion is an interesting take on a “fixed” Bitterblossom, one of the most impressive 2-drops in Standard history. To be fair, Bitterblossom did have an entire tribe and Cryptic Command backing it up, but regardless, the rate was impressive. Generating a 1/1 flyer is “free,” since 1 life is far less than 1 mana. This was pure gold for decks that could abuse sacrifice effects or had lords to pump up the 1/1s, not to mention that an army of small flyers could easily win the game on their own as long as you controlled your opponent’s threats.
With Dreadhorde Invasion, we already see how they’ve addressed the first issue of generating too much of an army for no future investment. Instead of Bitterblossom, where games often cascaded to the point that you could safely attack for 2-3 each turn and use your fresh token to chump the opponent’s largest creature, it becomes an all-or-nothing choice with Invasion. The baseline defensive and sacrifice opportunities are still available, you just can’t rely on them to race and play defense at the same time.
A notable drawback of Bitterblossom was that it was bad in multiples and you carried a serious risk in having two out at the same time. In other words, there was a built-in drawback for maximizing your potential to play a turn-2 Bitterblossom, and the game discouraged you from playing consecutive copies if you didn’t have a way of removing one already in hand.
Dreadhorde Invasion mimics this by having the same life loss drawback, but gives you a bit of an incentive to go big or go home with multiples. Attacking with a rather large Zombie token will give you back all that sweet, sweet life you just invested into your Zombie army. This means that playing back-to-back copies in the early game doesn’t lock you into a situation where you absolutely must win early or remove a copy of Invasion before you fall to your own cards.
What this also means is that instead of Dreadhorde Invasion being better suited toward slower and more controlling decks, having other amass cards or being more aggressive may be the way to go. We already had Death Baron kicking around without a real home, and with WAR we’ll be seeing extra Blood Artist effects coming into the format. Not to mention we already have cards like Fireblade Artist and Priest of Forgotten Gods, which love to generate value from random bodies.
4 Dragonskull Summit 4 Blood Crypt 2 Unclaimed Territory 6 Mountain 7 Swamp 4 Gutterbones 4 Diregraf Ghoul 2 Lazotep Reaver 4 Fireblade Artist 4 Priest of Forgotten Gods 4 Judith, the Scourge Diva 2 Mayhem Devil 4 Death Baron 4 Dreadhorde Invasion 2 Spark Harvest 3 Angrath's Rampage
This is just a simple example of a Rakdos Aristocrats deck, but I like how well it comes together at a glance. While I wouldn’t mind having another good 1-drop for the deck (maybe go heavier red for Grim Initiate?), the rest of the shell has a lot of room for experimentation. For example, Dreadhorde Butcher looks like a card that would be worth giving a shot since it plays well with the core of the deck and other anthem effects. Eternal Taskmaster is another card that works well if the format slows down, but at the moment I can’t see wanting to spend 3 mana to just buy a creature back to hand.
The point is that there are a ton of synergy cards here to swap in and out and that’s without even taking into account the Orzhov or Mardu Aristocrats possibilities. I don’t think Dreadhorde Invasion is nearly as good as Bitterblossom as far as single card threats go, but as for this type of deck’s engine it seems like exactly what it needs to grind out the likes of Esper and Sultai.