The Boros Legion Is Recruiting!

CVM tells you why he might be joining the Boros Legion for Standard this weekend at the StarCityGames.com Invitational in Las Vegas, Nevada.

We prepare and prepare. We spend countless hours testing the format, scouring over tournament results, and piecing together what we perceive as the Standard metagame. We configure our deck and sideboard with these matchups in mind, creating a cookbook of ins and outs to maximize our deck configuration against the popular archetypes.

We feel confident.

We play two G/W decks early and end up stationed at an empty table trading for the rest of the day thanks to Voice of Resurgence and friends.

This past weekend I played in a PTQ in Lugoff, South Carolina. The tournament may have literally been held in a dojo, but I didn’t do much battling with my quick 1-2 drop.

I had spent the week previous testing and tweaking and preparing my W/R Aggro deck for the popular decks in Standard and felt very confident. I went through my sideboard building process on my stream Wednesday and knew what I wanted, where I wanted it, and why I wanted it, but I ran into a couple decks that I had not prepared for and paid the Ultimate Price.

Here is the list that I ran:

I really liked the addition of Last Breath and Frontline Medic to the sideboard. A lot of people dismissed Last Breath just on the basis that we’re an aggro deck and don’t want them to gain four life, but when we are killing a Nightveil Specter or a Master of Waves, it’s worth it.

Frontline Medic allows us to upgrade our Banisher Priests against the control decks with a creature that doesn’t die to Last Breath and can push back their Sphinx’s Revelations. We also get to use Frontline Medic as a way to attack through (into) Desecration Demon, and it doesn’t die to Pharika’s Cure.

During the week, I had an Assemble the Legion in the sideboard. I wanted something that would be okay against Mono-Black Devotion, and Act of Treason ended up being good against decks with Polukranos, World Eater or Stormbreath Dragon too. Assemble the Legion was just way too slow and didn’t impact the board when I cast it.

Ben Stark took a black version of this deck to the Top 4 of Grand Prix Dallas-Fort Worth (with Josh Utter-Leyton placing in the Top 16 with the same deck). I was a bit skeptical of the black splash over the red, but I think that it’s much better right now.

Orzhov Charm is a huge boon for the deck. Being able to kill Nightveil Specter, Desecration Demon, Master of Waves, and Frostburn Weird is very important. It can also regrow a Soldier of the Pantheon against decks where he’s very good.

I really like Xathrid Necromancer as a proactive Boros Charm against the Supreme Verdict decks. It also lets us attack into creatures like Desecration Demon when we don’t have an answer and continue to put on pressure even if they are eating our creatures in combat.

Thoughtseize is still awesome—that’s not going to change—and I like having access to Dark Betrayal as another answer to Desecration Demon and the rest of the creatures from Mono-Black Devotion. Doom Blade also does a good job of killing Polukranos, World Eater; Stormbreath Dragon; and everything in Mono-Blue Devotion. Note that Orzhov Charm and Doom Blade also kill Boros Reckoner, which is never a bad thing.

I was pretty excited to see Ben Stark do so well with this deck. I was playing the W/R version during #TestingThursday with Brian Braun-Duin last week, and Chris Pikula was hanging out in the chat talking about how he was testing the deck for #GPDFW. He couldn’t make it due to the weather but was going to switch to the W/B version, and I was on board too—that is until I saw Darin Minard’s deck.

It was beautiful.

It was everything I wanted to play last Standard.

Everyone knows by now that I have quite the affinity for Chandra, Pyromaster and Warleader’s Helix, and here they were together again. It was gorgeous.

On paper, this deck just looks like a bunch of burn spells, a couple creatures, and some lands that scry.

In reality, this deck is a bunch of burn spells, a couple creatures, and some lands that scry. It’s funny but absolutely true. The trick is how you play the spells and maneuver yourself into the mid-to-late game and close it out. A lot of the time we are operating like a pseudo-control deck, killing all of our opponent’s creatures and attacking them with Chandra’s Phoenix over and over until they die. Sometimes we get Chandra, Pyromaster on the battlefield, and it becomes a game of "keep Chandra alive so we can ultimate her and kill them with triple Warleader’s Helix."

We’re still working on a shorter name for the Chandra game.

I think that this deck has a lot of potential and plan on working on it a bit during this week leading up to the SCG Invitational in Las Vegas.

I’d like to go over the things that I like about the deck and elaborate on some of the things I was unhappy with after playing with the deck and what I would suggest to change.


All The Burn!

Having access to so much burn is pretty exhilarating, especially at the different increments. It really allows us to sculpt our turns and play to our outs on which spells we need to draw. With eight spells that deal two, eight that deal three, and eight that deal four, we can add up to twenty fairly quickly.

Shock is actually pretty important right now. It’s a cheap way to rebuy Chandra’s Phoenix and quickly lets us get into a position where we’re casting two spells a turn to try to burn our opponent out. It also lets us "tag team" our burn spells to handle a troublesome creature like Blood Baron of Vizkopa. It can kill Pack Rat as well, which is nice.

Magma Jet is very good in this deck. Getting in two points of damage quickly adds up, but scrying for two is huge. It lets us plan our next few turns as we figure out exactly how we’re going to deal twenty to our opponent. Hitting land drops, finding four-damage spells, and searching out Chandra’s Phoenix are some of the main things we get to utilize Magma Jet for.

Skullcrack is a unique choice for the maindeck, but I fell in love instantly. Everyone is trying to gain some life these days. Sphinx’s Revelation, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, and Blood Baron of Vizkopa are everywhere right now, and Skullcrack is the perfect foil for the fundamental turn when they try to stabilize.

Lightning Strike is just our standard three damage for two mana spell, but combined with the rest of the burn it all starts to add up very quickly. Not much else to say about this Plain Jane, but it sure does get the job done.

Boros Charm is pretty interesting here since it’s mostly used for the two mana/four damage ratio but we technically can still use the other modes. The indestructible mode can save a Chandra, Pyromaster from being falling victim to a Hero’s Downfall, and we can double strike mode a Chandra’s Phoenix to kill a Blood Baron of Vizkopa on defense if we need to. Not the fairest of them all, but this princess has flexibility and oomph where it counts.

Warleader’s Helix is the top dog here. With a mana cost of four, it’s the most expensive card in the maindeck, but once we get to the point that we are unleashing these bad boys, we’ll be cackling our way to the results slip drop box. Just the mere existence of Warleader’s Helix in the deck lets us play to some interesting game states and threatens game over with Chandra’s ultimate.

Scry Lands!

The scry lands are awesome in this deck. With only 22 lands, combined with Magma Jet the scry lands let us make sure that we are hitting our land drops, filtering awkward cards early, and hitting nothing but gas once we get into the midgame.

Playing this deck is like working on a complex puzzle, and being able to look into the future and mulligan what we don’t like or don’t need is pretty powerful.

Having access to a lot of scry lands helps us find our high-impact cards that aren’t duplicated by the burn spells like Chandra’s Phoenix and Chained to the Rocks. Chandra’s Phoenix is the best card in the deck and does a lot of work all on its own, and Chained to the Rocks is a very good answer to Desecration Demon.

Toil // Trouble has overperformed for me out of the sideboard, and I think that it deserves a slot in the maindeck. Being on the play is a huge bonus for this deck, especially when we have Toil // Trouble in our 60. Hitting them on turn 3 for six damage puts us so far ahead that it feels very difficult to let the game slip away. With Temple of Silence also in the deck, we can use either mode of the spell, and if we get lucky, we can fuse it for some bonus damage.


Young Pyromancer has underperformed for me, and I think it might be best to bench ol’ Young Peezy. There is so much spot removal being played right now that it’s always going to die. It doesn’t do any actual damage when you cast it, and after playing the deck for a bit, I really want every spell to actually do damage. If we had some "free" spells, I think it would be a completely different story, but for now I think I’d rather have Toil // Trouble in the maindeck.

It might be that I’m just playing the deck differently and that Young Pyromancer is actually good, but for now I think that with the way I’m approaching the games against the field, I’m not down with Young Peezy.

I’ve been pretty unhappy with the sideboard in general, being a little confused about when Spark Trooper is actually good and feeling like Assemble the Legion is just way too slow. With moving Toil // Trouble into the maindeck, I think we can build the sideboard a bit differently.

Boros Reckoner is still very good, and I think that we want him against the other aggressive decks. It’s very tough for anyone to properly attack through a Boros Reckoner, and it’s always going to two-for-one them when they try to get rid of it.

I think that we probably want something like Anger of the Gods somewhere in the 75. It’s very good against both versions of white aggro and is also pretty good against Mono-Blue Devotion. Flames of the Firebrand could also be sweet against these types of decks.

Mizzium Mortars seems like it could be pretty good since it can kill Stormbreath Dragon and Blood Baron of Vizkopa and can double up with another burn spell to kill Desecration Demon.

Stormbreath Dragon also seems like it could be worth looking at. We might want to board in another land with it if we go that route though.

Here’s where I think I’d start with a sideboard:

4 Boros Reckoner
3 Anger of the Gods
2 Flames of the Firebrand
3 Stormbreath Dragon
1 Temple of Abandon
2 Mizzium Mortars

This is where I’m going to start my testing this week. I especially like swapping out the four Chained to the Rocks for the three Stormbreath Dragons and an extra Temple against the U/W Control deck, and I feel like the other spells give us game against most of the popular decks (at least the ones that we might be a slight dog to anyway).

I really like this deck! Who knows, you might see me burning some fools out this weekend in Las Vegas at the SCG Invitational.

Will you join the Boros Legion? I know I just might.