This week I am going to talk about a few different ways to play Boros in Standard. In my attempt at breaking the format for Pro Tour M15 I brewed up tons of deck lists. Some were terrible while others showed promise. There ended up being four different Boros decks that made it into the later stages of playtesting, each with a unique theme. The obvious first build was Boros Burn, but there was also Boros Soldiers, Red/White Auras, and even a Red/White Tokens deck. Today I'd like to share each of my Boros decks with you.Boros Burn
The most successful version of Boros recently has been Boros Burn. Among the "combo" decks in Standard (including Burn, Dredge, and Hexproof), burn was the one that my teammates and I agreed was the best. We felt like our tech card from M15 was Hushwing Gryff. It stops Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Master of Waves, and Nylea's Disciple – three of the hardest cards for burn to beat out of the most commonly played decks. In the end, no one on our team played burn. We were instead split between GW Aggro, UW Control, and BW Control. Matt Sperling, however, proved that burn was still a strong choice for the tournament as he made Top 8 with it, despite not running any Hushwing Gryffs in his list. Battlefield Forge and Stoke the Flames were enough from M15 for him.
Another version of Boros that I put a lot of time into was Boros Soldiers. Obeslisk of Urd was a great way to combat the green decks that aimed to win on the ground. It is fast and able to punish opposing draws that skip a beat while having great sideboard options against the top decks.Boros Soldiers
This deck is low to the ground, aggressive, and attacks for a lot of damage quickly. After playing out a bunch of soldier weenies, it drops a Spear of Heliod or Obelisk of Urd to make those weenies into giants.
Post-board it has answers to some of the deck's biggest problems. Legion's Initiative is for Golgari Charm, pumping the toughness on most of your creatures. Skullcrack stops lifegain spells on a critical turn, whether it's a Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Nylea's Disciple, or a Sphinx's Revelation. Boros Charm makes your creatures indestructible in response to a Supreme Verdict, Anger of the Gods, or overloaded Mizzium Mortars. Brave the Elements also protects against these red wraths while also making your team unblockable against all the monocolored devotion decks. Reprisal is mostly for Polukranos, World Eater and Fortify counters a Drown in Sorrow with its +0/+2 or accelerates your clock by a turn with its +2/+0. Mizzium Mortars is our answer to Blood Baron of Vizkopa and Stormbreath Dragon.
This next deck is a bit more on the wild side.Red/White Auras
This list came to me from my buddy Joe Bernal. It has pretty good game against Monoblack Devotion and the other decks that try to point and click kill things. The secret to beating good removal spells, for this deck, is to present a steady stream of crappy creatures instead of any good creature worth killing. The strategy works, especially against black decks!
You basically play an Akroan Crusader and then target it with Dragon Mantle, making a Soldier Token. Then you play Heliod's Pilgrim, getting more Dragon Mantles to put on your tokens. Making everything into a Firebreathing threat eventually forces the opponent to tip their hand and exhaust a removal spell on your guy. Then you start playing your real threats, including Hero of Iroas and Prophetic Flamespeaker. This causes them to use the rest of their removal spells to keep these real creatures from getting out of hand. Then once they're on empty, you cast another Heliod's Pilgrims, this time finding Awaken the Ancients, allowing you to turn a mountain into a 7/7 haste creature the following turn. Boom!
There are some other bullet options similar to the Junk Pilgrim deck earlier and also a sideboard with fairly self-explanatory options. Boros Charm vs. wrath decks, Shock vs. fast creature decks, life gain vs. burn decks, etc.
This next one is also a bit on the wild side, though maybe not as much as it otherwise would have been after Team Revolution played Rabble Red at the Pro Tour.Red/White Tokens
Lead with Foundry Street Denizen, then Young Pyromancer, attacking for two. Next turn cast Molten Birth, making two Elemental Tokens and triggering the Pyromancer to make a third. You'll win half the flips on average, which means each copy of Molten Birth, on its own, will net you a little less than four tokens (50% + 25% + 12.5% etc). And each time it will trigger the Pyromancer again. These tokens also all pump the Foundry Street Denizen.
In addition to the Elemental Tokens, you also have Goblin Tokens from Goblin Rabblemaster, which of course also trigger the Denizen. Akroan Hoplite can get huge when attacking alongside all these tokens and the Rabblemaster can likewise get very big not only from the tokens he creates but also from the other goblins in the deck (Foundry Street Denizen and Legion Loyalist). Speaking of which, the loyalist gives these two monsters trample while granting first strike to all the tokens. We also have six additional anthems between one Hall of Triumph, one Spear of Heliod, and four Legion's Initiatives. Since the Legion Loyalist grants first strike, the +1/+0 bonus from the initiative functions about the same as either of the +1/+1 anthems do. It's also cheaper and not legendary, so we run more of those than any of the others.
Finally we have removal spells. Chained to the Rocks is one mana and handles almost any creature, given that we have 10 mountains in the deck. The second removal spell of choice is Stoke the Flames since it cast also deal four points directly to the opponent and we can convoke it for cheap with all our tokens. The convoke cost can sometimes even be a beneficial cost if we have a Goblin Rabblemaster and do not want to attack with our goblins this turn.
Post board we get protection from wraths ( Boros Charm) which incidentally can make a huge Rabblemaster or Hoplite double strike (and trample if you have Legion Loyalist). We also get Banishing Light as an all-purpose removal spell, a second Hall of Triumph to protect against Golgari Charms and such, and Fortify to boost toughness against Drown in Sorrow or power to end the game quicker. We also get Firedrinker Satyrs for the slower matchups where having a one-drop is especially important.
Let me know if you have any comments or suggestions about any of these lists.Bonus Section: Vote for Future Article Topics
Given that Standard will be rotating in a couple months and Khans of Tarkir cards have already begun being revealed, I wanted to leave things to a vote as to which topics are most interesting to you and that you would like me to talk about in upcoming weeks. You can vote for multiple topics or just one, or you can write-in your own topic. Vote by mentioning your choice(s) in the comments section below.
Topic 1: Khans of Tarkir Preview Cards
This is something I'll be talking about in some capacity regardless, but as more and more cards from the new set get revealed, is that a topic you are especially interested in hearing about? You can be more specific here as well. For instance, people tend to be especially interested in my opinion about new white creatures or white planeswalkers.
Topic 2: Standard and Modern Finance
I mostly talk about Finance only when a new set is released, but there are a variety of topics I could also discuss, mostly concerning speculation. For instance, which cards do I expect to retain value after rotating out of Standard? What cards from Theros Block do I expect to rise in value after Ravnica block rotates out? Also which Modern cards do I predict will continue to rise in value as the Modern format continues to grow in popularity? Any specific financial questions or topics can also be written in.
Topic 3: Post-Rotation Format Analysis
I did this for the last Standard Rotation a year ago and it was well-received. I basically analyze the format from the ground up, talking about what decks survive rotation, what strategies now have the ability to compete that were previously held in check by cards or strategies that are rotating out of Standard, and which individual cards have to start carrying more weight than before. For instance, without Supreme Verdict and Sphinx's Revelation, Blue/White Control decks will have to take on a completely new form. Similarly, with all the primary devotion enablers leaving Standard and Khans presenting us with a multicolor "wedge" theme, will there be sufficient incentive to play monocolor decks?
Topic 4: Pre-Rotation Standard
Instead of focusing heavily on the future, would you rather me continue to discuss pre-rotation Standard? The WMCQ's will be taking place over the course of the next month or so and despite the format being fairly "solved" by now, there will likely be some amount of innovation and new decks popping up. Would you like me to discuss these things in detail or only in passing while focusing more on post-rotation ideas?
Topic 5: General Magic Theory
Some of my favorite articles to read or write focus on general Magic theory. Are you interested in me breaking down board states, offering tips for improving your game, ways to prepare better for tournaments, and things of that nature? These types of articles aim to take high level strategy and break it down into easy to understand concepts and examples for the purpose of improving your understanding of the game and hence help you to improve your Magic skills. Does this interest you? As with the other topics, feel free to suggest more specific topics such as "general principles for sideboarding" or "how to turn a rough brew into a winning deck" or "when and why to bluff and how to properly conceptualize the risks and rewards", etc.
Let me know below which of these topics are most interesting to you. Also if you have any questions or suggestions about any of the Boros lists discussed in this article, feel free to ask me about those as well!
Craig Wescoe@Nacatls4Life on twitter