We’re almost there.
Only a few days remain until Theros is legal, and I’ve got an idea burning in my head.
I’ve been dreaming of a fiery vixen for some time, and I think now is her time to burn bright.
Chandra, Pyromaster has been making splashes in Legacy and Modern, and I believe that this new Standard fueled with Theros is going to be perfect for her.
Hellrider and Thundermaw Hellkite are both gone, so I think that everything is going to be turning up Chandra now. Since she can go right to five loyalty the turn she comes into play (sometimes even killing a creature in the process), there are few threats that we have to worry about that kill her, and against control decks she is really hard to get rid of now that Restoration Angel isn’t around to pressure opposing planeswalkers.
Chandra, Pyromaster gains a lot from the losses of the format with most of her predators leaving, but we gain one extremely powerful piece that I believe is the main reason she is going to shine in the new format.
The Big Boros deck I worked on in the last format was extremely close to being awesome; it was just missing a Slagstorm and a Mind Stone. We didn’t get our Mind Stone—but the format did slow down a little, and we got our Slagstorm. In fact, we got a Slagstorm that neuters Voice of Resurgence.
I’ve been trying to find the best shell for a dedicated Chandra, Pyromaster deck, and I believe Big Boros is still the best way to go. We want Warleader’s Helix along with Lightning Strike so that we can make her ultimate an actual game ender—just like before. Thankfully for us, white also got some awesome new tools to go along with Chandra, Pyromaster.
I foresee many a scorched meadow frolicked by Chandra and Elspeth hand in hand. Being the Sun’s Champion, Elspeth is used to the heat, and even though Chandra usually works alone, you can’t really say no to someone who is the champion of the sun.
Chained to the Rocks is another important addition, as previously we struggled with creatures that had more than four toughness. Now we can just throw away the key and let ’em rot on some rocks.
Here is where I am currently at with Big Boros:
As you can see, a lot of the same elements from the previous Big Boros deck are present, but we do have plenty of spicy new ones.
Frostburn Weird is a Block port and does a great job at holding down the fort against Burning-Tree Emissary and its minions. Having four toughness is very important, as it doesn’t die to opposing Lightning Strikes and survives our own Anger of the Gods. My first build of the deck had Ash Zealot in this spot, but it was a little awkward playing with Ash Zealot, Boros Reckoner, and Anger of the Gods. Frostburn Weird profitably blocks any 2/2 and can even put pressure on opposing planeswalkers by pumping to a 4/1 very easily.
Lightning Strike is a functional reprint of Searing Spear, and I’ve never been so happy to have it back! During Theros spoiler season, I was concerned that cards like Fleecemane Lion and Call of the Conclave were going to be these super giant monsters in a world of Shocks, but that was all quelled when we got Lightning Strike.
I’ll never take you for granted again—I swear!
Stormbreath Dragon is our Thundermaw Hellkite. I know that it will never be "as good" as good ol’ Thundermaw, but it’s damn close, which more than enough. In fact, unimpeded Stormbreath can kill an entire turn faster than Thundermaw can by going monstrous and killing the opponent on the third attack.
Stormbreath Dragon is going to be a staple finisher for any deck that can cast it as we venture into the new Standard format. We have all learned our lesson with sleeping on Thundermaw Hellkite for so long, and I expect to hear the cry of "DRAGON!" as people hope to topdeck Stormbreath Dragon for the win. It’s very difficult to kill since it dodges a lot of the removal we can expect to see from the decks that it’s very good against (primarily all of the Hallowed Fountain and Temple Garden decks) and can even pressure Sphinx’s Revelation with its monstrosity ability.
Stormbreath Dragon is the truth, and I shall abide by it gracefully.
Next up on the chain of absurd power level we have Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.
Many people have dismissed Elspeth simply because she costs six mana, but I say that it’s a steal she only costs six mana. She kills all of the creatures that our Anger of the Gods doesn’t and lives. She goes to five right away, protecting herself with three 1/1 Soldiers, and can singlehandedly win games with her ultimate if left alone for too long.
She can protect herself multiple ways and wins the game with her ultimate.
She is one of the few cards in Standard that can catch you up when you’re behind, catapult you when you’re on an even board, and put the nail in the coffin when you have even just a slight edge.
I believe that Elspeth, Sun’s Champion is the best new card in Theros and will make that apparent as people start playing with her. (Thoughtseize is the obvious best card overall in Theros, but that’s not even arguable.)
Building a sideboard for this deck is a little tough since there are so many awesome options and the format is pretty wide-open, but I think the first place to start is with Burning Earth.
One of the weaknesses of this deck as I can see it will be the control decks, especially those with Thoughtseize and Sphinx’s Revelation, and I think that Burning Earth will still be a good way to attack them. I have a feeling that people will forget that "Manabarbs you" is still an option and will just jam all the Temples, shock lands, and Guildgates they can get into their deck. Decks like Jund, Junk, Bant, Esper, and Grixis are all feasible since we have so many new and awesome cards, and Burning Earth punishes every strategy that’s three or more colors.
Glare of Heresy is a great card against G/W Aggro decks with Voice of Resurgence and Loxodon Smiter and is also another great answer to an opposing Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. Unfortunately it doesn’t hit an Obzedat, Ghost Council, but we don’t have much in R/W that does. If it turns out that Obzedat is everywhere and we need to have an answer, we can look to Renounce the Guilds or Blind Obedience. Thankfully, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion does a good job of holding off an Obzedat, Ghost Council for us, so there’s that.
Wear // Tear is a good catch all since it can hit powerful cards like Whip of Erebos, Hammer of Purphoros, and Bow of Nylea while also hitting Unflinching Courage, Boon Satyr (yes, it is an enchantment), and Detention Sphere. Wear // Tear also hits Trading Post, much to Brad Nelson dismay.
Tough luck Mr. Narson.
Peak Eruption is awesome against any deck with Steam Vents in it, although we may not even need it since we will probably be bringing Burning Earth in against those decks anyway. If the mirror becomes a thing, we may want Peak Eruption for that as well since having a mana advantage means we get to Chandra, Dragon, and Elspeth first.
Heliod, God of the Sun is a very powerful card against any of the control decks, and I’m excited that we get to play him in this deck. With very few cards that can actually handle a resolved Heliod, he can quickly put pressure on our opponents to do something, which will usually open the window for our other big spells like Chandra, Dragon, and Elspeth, and if they don’t do anything about it, we can just overrun them with an army of 2/1 white Cleric enchantment creature tokens.
Big Boros is the first place that I gravitated to when I started working on decks for Chandra, Pyromaster in the new format, but I think that she fits perfectly into any aggressive strategy. Since her +1 ability makes the creature it hits unable to block, she does a remarkable job of allowing us to continue to pressure our opponents with our creatures while putting them in an awkward situation where they can attack her to start knocking her loyalty down, which lets us continue to attack, or sit back and play more blockers, letting us keep working any mode on Chandra we want.
At only four mana, she sits right in that sweet spot where more controlling decks can always (Gods willing) play her on turn 4 and 23/24-land aggressive decks can expect to play her on curve often enough to have an impact.
A good example of this is the G/R deck that BBD smashed me with in our Versus video last week.
- 3 Scavenging Ooze
- 4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
- 2 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
- 4 Zhur-Taa Druid
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 3 Polukranos, World Eater
- 1 Polis Crusher
- 4 Stormbreath Dragon
- 4 Boon Satyr
Here we see BBD’s Chandras in the sideboard, but after testing more with the card, it’s much better than Xenagos and fills a perfect role of pressure and card advantage. Being flexible is why I think that Chandra, Pyromaster is so awesome and is going to be the key to her success in the new Standard.
I’m not going to be in Worcester this weekend for the first SCG Standard Open of the new format, but it’s for a good cause. I’m still helping BBD, Gerry, and JVL test for Pro Tour Theros, and that’s just fine by me. I do, however, recommend the Big Boros deck for anyone looking for something to play this weekend.
I plan on doing some streaming this week and will probably be playing some Pauper! I’m pretty new to the format, but I look forward to checking it out and having some fun. I might even be able to get local Pauper master David McDarby to Skype in, so who knows what shenanigans we will get into!
Thanks for stopping by this week and checking out my ramblings about how awesome Chandra and Elspeth are. I look forward to seeing the results from Worcester this weekend!