Boss Sligh in M15

Tom Ross updates his Invitational-winning trademark archetype in time for you to take it to #SCGBALT! As a bonus, he provides some great M15 limited insight as well as an update to his other favorite archetype in Standard!

M15 is out and everyone is curious how the set will affect the current Standard format. Mono-Black Devotion is getting one of my favorite cards in Sign in
Blood, and Mono-Blue Devotion is getting a planeswalker upgrade in Jace, the Living Guildpact. Many decks gain better mana with the Apocalypse painlands.

But what does Boss Sligh gain?

Brad Nelson and Brian Braun-Duin playtested with an updated Boss Sligh list this week. A few things I liked, namely
the potency of Hammerhand, but M15 offers a lot of options, and more than a simple update will do the deck justice. Let’s look at a pre-M15 list before
looking into what M15 offers.

This is what I’ve been playing in Standard since the Season Two Invitational:

Currently, I run Mizzium Mortars out of the sideboard as an inefficient Flame Slash against the following creatures:

Brimaz, King of Oreskos Frostburn Weird Courser of Kruphix Blood Baron of Vizkopa Gray Merchant of Asphodel

Mizzium Mortars is narrow and I’ve never liked it. It’s reactive and doesn’t go to the face. Stoke the Flames technically costs more, but in a deck that
swarms the board with cheap creatures and makes tokens from Akroan Crusader, it’s a card that can easily be cast off of two basic Mountains. Burning-Tree
Emissary offers some nice utility to cast this as early as turn 2, even when you cast a one-drop red creature from the Burning-Tree Emissary’s mana.

This guy has done great things in the past, including winning Pro Tour Honolulu 2006. Boss Sligh is pretty good at keeping opponents from blocking with
Madcap Skills and presenting poor blocking options with Legion Loyalist and the pump spells in Titan’s Strength and Rubblebelt Maaka. WIth Hammerhand also
being a viable tool against blockers, I’m not sold that Frenzied Goblin has a place. Firefist Striker has been a card that I’ve gone back and forth on, and
I’m not convinced that Frenzied Goblin does the job better.

The most appealing option from the set. It seems like a natural fit. It feels like a cheaper one-shot Madcap Skills. The toughness boost can be helpful to
dodge a future Golgari Charm or Drown in Sorrow. To get maximum potency out of this card, you want to play it on a freshly cast creature which will often
be on turn 3. This card also makes me want to try Firefist Striker again.

Overall, it is just weaker than Hammerhand. You’ll rarely have the opportunity to leave mana open to sacrifice Inferno Fist, leaving yourself wide open for
a two-for-one. Boss Sligh is used to these things, but enough of them when you aren’t being very efficient is an easy way to lose. The stats on Inferno
Fist were kept a mystery for a long time during spoiler season, and I said that if it either cost one red mana or gave +2/+2 that I would play it in Boss
Sligh. As it stands at +2/+0 and 1R, it simply doesn’t do enough.

I’ve played my share of Gore-House Chainwalker, and Borderland Marauder is pretty close to being a strict upgrade. The only downside is being unable to
block with two power which should be an irrelevant difference. This guy will see play when there’s a need for more two toughness creatures which is when
Golgari Charm and Electrickery numbers are at their height. Right now, most Golgari Charms sit waiting in sideboards, and Eidolon of the Great Revel does
enough to increase the count of two toughness creatures. After rotation when the playable creature count drops, I can see this as a staple creature in
aggressive red decks.

When combined with a removal spell like Shock or Lightning Strike on turn 2 or 3, this guy hits hard out of nowhere. The fear of you having a burn spell
complicates blocking or even attacking into Altac Bloodseeker giving him additional value even when you don’t have the burn spell they’re fearing.
Currently Boss Sligh has a tight heroic theme going on which restricts the number of burn spells it can play, which is one reason why Chandra’s Phoenix
isn’t played either.

I liked having access to Electrickery when there were a lot of one toughness creatures in the format, namely the mirror or white weenie variants. Currently
Boss Sligh has some decent popularity, and Mono-Black Aggro has a notable number of one toughness creatures. I like sideboarding Forge Devil in for a value

I’ve never liked Pithing Needle as a solution to anything from Jace, Architect of Thought and other problem planeswalkers to Ratchet Bomb. Phyrexian
Revoker is much more appealing being a creature that pressures their life total while interacting with their most problematic card. The fact that it’s a
vulnerable creature is somewhat less of an issue given that their removal is so overloaded against your constant stream of creatures that you can often
land Phyrexian Revoker and have it live after they’ve blown through two removal spells.

It costs three mana, which is a lot for the archetype, but may be worth altering the manabase to include a few more lands to accommodate it. We already
have these low-drop goblins that we want to play that want to attack naturally and will further power Goblin Rabblemaster’s attack trigger:

Legion Loyalist Foundry Street Denizen Frenzied Goblin

Notably, Spike Jester will work well alongside Goblin Rabblemaster either as a smooth curve of two into three or to come down afterwards to jam for more
damage than expected.

This is the Boss Sligh that I’d run post-M15

The additional Mountain makes the cut because we want to be able to activate Frenzied Goblin regularly and to cast Stoke the Flames without interfering too
much with wanting to attack. Goblin Rabblemaster makes a sideboard appearance for matchups with a lot of sorcery speed removal like U/W Control. Forge
Devil beats up on one-toughness creatures without dedicating a full removal spell to it, and Phyrexian Revoker comes in to interrupt planewalkers while
still applying pressure. Given how many ways we make blocking hard for the opponent now, I don’t mind going down to zero copies of Magma Spray.

A quick update to how I’d play U/W Ephara after M15:

Hushwing Gryff is a nice addition to the deck. It combats anything from Lifebane Zombie, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, and Master of Waves while being an
efficient little flying creature. It’s nice to have a good flash creature to pair with Ephara to get a draw trigger on your own upkeep and to not
overcommit into opposing sweepers. Note that Ephara is unaffected by Hushwing Gryff’s “no trigger” ability as Ephara checks on upkeep and nothing is
actually triggering when a creature enters the battlefield on your side.

Ajani Steadfast is proving to be an incredibly powerful planewalker and U/W Ephara is a natural fit. The deck always wanted at least a couple
planeswalkers, but Jace, Architect of Thought strained the mana too much and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion made the curve awkward when it wanted to go from
Soldier of the Pantheon all the way up to the six drop. U/W Ephara has a number of creatures like Precinct Captain and Boros Reckoner that are great at
both attacking and blocking, making Ajani Steadfast’s +1 ability really potent in this shell.

The one copy of Ajani’s Presence in the deck could easily be the second Brave the Elements, but currently it’s serving as a small hedge against sweepers
and gives the deck a Magical Christmas Land scenario of Boros Reckoner + Ajani Steadfast’s lifelink + Ajani’s Presence indestructible. If Boros Reckoner
takes damage, you keep redirecting the damage back to the Boros Reckoner. Since it has lifelink you’re gaining life each cycle and it can’t die from
indestructible, gaining you infinite life! Not sure what first strike creature is blocking it, but the possibility is there.

Before I go, here are my five of my favorite cards in M15:

Basically Sneak Attack.

It was great for me with Siege Dragon and Boonweaver Giant for the good auras like Burning Anger and Spectra Ward. Having such a huge haste play on turn 5
gave such insurmountable position, and I expect Generator Servant to enable such backbreaking plays in the future. The 2/1 body is perfectly serviceable on
its own, and I imagine your opponent will give this little guy his due respect and fire off their removal at it immediately, even when you don’t have a
monster followup to go with it.

Basically Visara, the Dreadful.

Nightfire Giant is enormous for a black creature. The cycle of “gold” uncommons are all amazing and are huge reasons to be into their respective color
combinations or to splash the off-color land with Evolving Wilds to enable it. At the prerelease, I played a R/W deck with a Forest just to enable Kird
Chieftain and it worked beautifully.

Nightfire Giant is big enough to get into combat immediately, halting the offense of anything with three or less power on the ground. Being a 5/4 means
that it’s hard to block in the first place and the 4R: Deal 2 damage ability makes double blocking nearly impossible and enables your smaller creatures to
attack into their bigger ones. Many of the flyers in the set have a low toughness and can get shot down. With the rest of the removal in R/B you should be
able to solve any creature threats when you have Nightfire Giant in play.

Basically Baneslayer Angel.

It is pretty unassuming, but the rate on this guy is really nice. Sungrace Pegasus is fine on its own and a monster when its power is increased. I can see
the curve of Sungrace Pegasus, Heliod’s Pilgrim, Marked by Honor being a very common and very hard to beat opening in M15 limited.

It hasn’t been completely proven yet how necessary two-drops are in M15 limited, but I suspect that I’d never cut Sungrace Pegasus from any White deck no
matter what.

Basically Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.

Probably my favorite card from the set and has my wheels turning for constructed. First Response will generally go into a B/W deck with four to five ways
to deal damage to yourself and another five to six ways to recover back the life. These are the cards you’re looking to pair with First Response.

Shadowcloak Vampire Cruel Sadist Sign in Blood Ulcerate Necrogen Scudder Caves of Koilos

If you happen to get two First Response, I can see playing a painland like Batttlefield Forge without a use for red mana just for the option to ping

Basically Flametounge Kavu.

There are enough juicy one-toughness targets running around, so I like playing this guy and would take him highly in draft. Each color has at least one
good common that is prime pickings to shoot down.

Generator Servant Welkin Tern Elvish Mystic Oreskos Swiftclaw Child of Night

Forge Devil enables attacks like your 2/2 into their 3/3 in which case they may not even block for fear of a trick like Crowd’s Favor. After the work of
this little guy has been done, then he’s still a creature on board to power convoke.

M15 looks exciting and I can’t wait for the release events to get going and the drafts to start firing. Good luck to everyone at the Open Series in
Baltimore running Boss Sligh or U/W Ephara!