Red and white always seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to legendary creatures. Most of the Boros-colored legends tend to offer creatures that mess with combat. While I appreciate that (in fact, I love my current Boros build!), it would be nice to find other ways to play the color pair. With the spoiling of many of the cards from Dominaria, we find a new legendary creature that breaks this mold!
Firesong and Sunspeaker 4RW
Legendary Creature – Minotaur Cleric
Red instant and sorcery spells you control have lifelink.
Whenever a white instant and sorcery spell causes you to gain life F and S deals 3 damage to target creature or player.
When I first saw the card it struck me as being similar to a few of the red and blue legendary creatures who focus on instants and sorceries. If that was the case, why would I want to lose all the blue cards from those decks and replace them with white? Blue offers more card drawing and in a deck that is going to lean on non-permanents, I'm definitely going to want card draw. This is beginning to seem like a losing proposition!
The difference here is what is being offered. While red and blue tends to be cost-reducers, here we have the ability to gain a lot of life or create a ton of ways to do three damage. It fits perfectly within the themes for red and white and gives all sorts of new deckbuilding options! The most obvious is Lightning Helix. For just one red and one white mana you deal three damage and gain three life, then gain three life and do three more damage! Lightning Bolt becomes Lightning Helix, but for only one red mana! This is what I put together:
Right off the start, I decided not to include Felidar Sovereign or any of the other "life total is X. I win" options. They seem ridiculously cheesy and once my friends know that those are in the deck, I will be targeted every time since this deck should be able to hit 50 life with relative ease. However, I'm not here to talk about what is not in the deck, but about the cards that really bring the deck to life.
Well of Lost Dreams isn't used too often in decks as life gain is seen as a bit of an afterthought for most Commander decks. Why spend four mana for a card that then asks you to spend even more to draw cards, but only when you happen to gain life? In this deck, it becomes an overflowing well of card draw! The only danger becomes making sure you keep enough mana back off that X spell so you can draw a pile of cards!
When you cast Boros Charm for four damage, you also gain four life. As long as you saved four mana, you can also draw four cards! So for six mana you are getting four damage to an opponent, gaining four life and drawing four cards. Like I said, Well of Lost Dreams gets stupid fast!
Knollspine Dragon follows in the same vein. Play a Divine Offering and do three damage to an opponent. Swing with a creature and do two more and when Knollspine Dragon enters the battlefield, you are getting five more cards! Now I know this isn't as good as Well of Lost Dreams. The Dragon costs seven mana, so if you are playing spells to do the damage it is looking for, you are going to need more than ten mana on the battlefield to make this happen. It may turn out that the cost just makes it impossible to use, but I really want to live the dream!
Neheb, the Eternal is a card that can make living the Knollspine Dragon dream a reality. In fact, I'm beginning to question the validity of any deck that runs red and doesn't run this card. If you do any damage to your opponent on your turn – including combat damage – you get that much red mana. Swinging through for even just two points of damage nets you two mana to use. Getting to turn all the damage you do into mana is huge. When you realize that something as simple as Lightning Bolt means that you are netting two extra red mana, you begin to understand how Neheb is a game-changer for all red decks! The scenario I described for Knollspine Dragon required over 10 mana. With Neheb out, you only need five mana sources. This is a gamechanger.
For a deck like this one, Neheb provides a supercharged engine! Your red direct damage spells can give you a lot of mana, while your white life gain instants and sorceries give you three more mana each with the three bonus damage they are doing.
Grapeshot can work wonders in this deck. With Neheb out, a well-placed Grapeshot can make the finishing X-spell into a monster! With Well of Lost Dreams, Grapeshot and all the storm copies gain plenty of life and offer a ton of card draw. Even without either of those, in a deck that is running as many instants and sorceries as this deck, along with the mana rocks and other relatively cheap spells, I expect to see Grapeshot hit for five damage (and gain you five life) without even trying. The deck doesn't offer many ways to put the storm count through the roof, but even without a complete focus on it, Grapeshot will be an all-star.
Izzet Chemister is one of the cards that should work well with Grapeshot. Even getting just a couple of instants exiled should help to up the storm count without creating an onerous mana requirement.
Even without Grapeshot, getting a second chance at a few of the non-X spells should work out well. Since it doesn't require the spells to be red, it means that the Chemister also increases the number of enchantments and artifacts that the deck can destroy. I'm a little concerned with how slowly the Chemister works, but I want to try it out a few times before disregarding it out of hand.
Pyromancer's Goggles is a straightforward card for the deck. Adding red mana to the deck is the side effect, while doubling the spell is the real star. Doubling Boros Charm or Grapeshot will make for some solid gains, while doubling a Blasphemous Act should provide more life than necessary to outlast opponents for the win! Primal Amulet offers a lot of the same benefits Pyromancer's Goggles do, but in a slightly different package. Making sorcery and instant spells cost one less isn't quite as good as the Goggles, but for this deck I'll take it, especially since once it is transformed it gets just a little better, offering red or white mana and doing the same thing as the Goggles! I look forward to using Pyromancer's Goggles and Primal Wellspring to cast a Boros Charm or Lightning Helix!
War Elemental has been a pet card of mine for a long time. I have generally relied on combat damage to make it bigger, but a deck like this makes it outrageous. Any instant or sorcery will provide the damage needed to cast it, and another one after will likely make it into a 4/4 at least. Most opponents show little respect for War Elemental since it has no evasion, but with damage flying all over the place, breaking open at least one opponent's defenses should be manageable with this deck!
Ajani's Pridemate is War Elemental on steroids for this deck! With an easier casting cost it will come out faster and when you look at Firesong and Sunspeaker's ability, it will almost certainly cause there to be more life gain than damage dealt. Any damage dealt through sorceries and instants will be matched with life while any lifegain, no matter how large, will provide three damage. This should mean that the Pridemate will grow ridiculously fast, however I'm hoping to see them both out when I can use Deflecting Palm to stop 10 or more damage!
Searing Meditation should be a curious addition, mostly because I'm not sure how effective it will be. While there will plenty of instances of life gain, will paying two mana to do two more damage make sense? Those two points of damage won't result in two more life since Searing Meditation is an enchantment. Will the mana be better spent adding two more mana to an X spell, or just playing another card? I look forward to seeing if this mana sink proves its worth!
Archangel of Thune should be another all-star for the deck. Every sorcery or instant will be a source of life gain, so I expect every creature to have several +1/+1 counters when Archangel of Thune is in play. The only issue is that I have a limited number of creatures. If Archangel works the way I hope it will, it may push me to find room for more creatures or at least ways to produce more token creatures to take full advantage of what the Archangel offers.
Serra Avatar tends to be a win-more card in most decks. If your life total is high enough that the Avatar is good, you were probably winning anyway. In this deck I see it as a finisher, able to take out an opponent in one swing. Obviously you need to catch them with their defenses down, but with all the ways you'll have to do damage to opponents' creatures, hopefully you'll be able to work that out.
I think the deck is currently at the alpha testing equivalent. There are undoubtedly better options for many of the cards in the deck, and it would need to go through a few games to determine if more or less sorceries and instants are required, if there should be better defense or if Firesong and Sunspeaker need more protection from removal. However, getting the chance to build in Boros that allows for a deck that isn't planning a massive creature attack each turn is a refreshing and welcome change! I look forward to seeing your suggestions on Twitter and in the comments!