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Big Boros Breaks Through

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, FNM, Standard

It’s been a while, but when I last discussed standard on here, I was working on a Boros Midrange build that featured the combination of Purphoros, God of the Forge and Assemble the Legion. If you are interested in the reading about the tuning of the list, feel free to read this. I had a lot of fun working on this list, and I was rewarded with cash finishes at both the StarCityGames Invitational in Indianapolis and the TCG 50k Championship. I continued tuning this list as I went into the first SCG open of season (once again in Indianapolis). Here is the list that I ran to a top 8 finish:

Overall, this list is not too different from what I was working with a few months ago. I did decide to add the fourth Magma Jet, and I finally relented and added Mutavaults. While there are some awkward games where you cast Boros Reckoner on turn four or five, the Mutavaults have been a huge improvement. The main differences, however, are in the sideboard. Before I discuss specific cards though, let’s take a look at the Open.

SCG Indy

The SCG Open in Indianapolis was huge, over 700 people huge. This meant we had to play 11 rounds of magic. To say this was daunting would be a bit of an understatement. I managed to get off to a strong start by going 7-0. I got my first loss in the 8th round, and I had a terrifying realization that at 7-1, you could still miss out on prize. I went out and cleared my head. I then managed to win the next two, so I could draw into the top 8.

While my notes from the day were a bit sloppy, I can say that in the swiss I went undefeated against the best archetypes in standard. My record against tier one decks is as follows:

Mono-Blue Devotion: 3-0
Mono-Black Devotion: 2-0
R/W Devotion: 2-0

My only loss came against the B/W/R deck that has gone up and down in popularity since Theros became legal. That deck features a host of cards that the Boros deck can’t deal with (Obzedat being enemy number one). Overall, I feel pretty good about the deck’s major weakness, as it is not a big part of the current metagame. I have worked diligently to ensure that I have specific board plans and game plans against the top tier decks in the format. It was pretty satisfying to see that work payoff. I ultimately lost in the quarterfinals against Owen Turtenwald. I punted game one (though I am not sure I could win if I play optimally), and game two featured us both drawing lands for six turns. I needed to find an Assemble the Legion, but he found Pack Rat first. It was a fairly anticlimactic way to end the weekend, but losing to a player of Owen’s caliber softened the blow a bit. Anyways, let me go ahead and breakdown how the deck operates in these specific matchups.

The key to this deck is versatility. The deck can play out like a burn/tempo deck and win very aggressively. The deck can also be the control deck that kills everything and wins with something giant like Elspeth and Assemble. The key to this is understanding and identifying the decks you are playing against and scrying.

Mono Blue Devotion

This is an interesting matchup because I have managed to make it a pretty positive matchup. In constructed matchups since the invitational, I have managed an impressive 9-1 record against the blue menace. This may be surprising if you look at the list due to the inherit weakness to Master of Waves. It is true that game one can be difficult if you draw too many useless permanents (Assemble the Legion is pathetically bad here), but the games can be won. The key to this matchup is Young Pyromancer. Young Pyromancer gives most aggressive decks real problems, especially Mono Blue, as they have almost no ways to get rid of it. A turn two Pyromancer backed up by a few removal spells can easily take out an unprepared blue player. Master of Waves’ impact is reduced when you continually keep those pesky blue sources off of the field.

Out: 2 Assemble the Legion, 1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, 2 Purphoros, God of the Forge, 2 Chandra, Pyromaster, 4 Chandra’s Phoenix

In: 2 Anger of the Gods, 2 Last Breath, 2 Chained to the Rocks, 2 Wear/Tear, 1 Mizzium Mortars, 2 Stormbreath Dragon

This plan is pretty simple. We take out all of the big slow permanents and add more removal. We rely on our Stormbreath Dragons to be our big closers and essentially just play nearly 20 removal spells against them. The Wear/Tears are concessions to Domestication and Bident of Thassa. A Bident of Thassa makes our plan of essentially picking off their individual guys pretty bad, as they will just reload again and again.

You have to make some important decisions pretty early in these games, such as playing a Pyromancer or holding out to cast your Anger of the Gods for value. You will also need to read the situation correctly for when to get aggressive. Make sure you have a way to turn off Thassa on their turn or be prepared to take a lot more damage than expected when they rip a timely Nightveil Specter.

R/W Devotion

This matchup can be very easy or entirely frustrating. Unfortunately, most of that is up to the R/W player’s draw. The R/W devotion deck has the ability (like any of the Burning-Tree Emissary decks do) to power out a ton of damage and creatures very quickly. Draws where you blank on a Mizzium Mortars and they have a dragon ready to go monstrous on turn four are nearly unwinnable. Beyond those draws though, this matchup plays out much like the Mono Blue matchup. You need to keep a good hold on how many mana symbols they have on the field. You can race them, but many times it is better to be the control deck in game one.

Out: 2 Assemble the Legion, 2 Purphoros, God of the Forge 2 Chandra, Pyromaster, 4 Chandra’s Phoenix

In: 2 Anger of the Gods, 1 Last Breath, 2 Chained to the Rocks, 1 Glare of Heresy, 1 Mizzium Mortars, 2 Stormbreath Dragon, 1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

We once again board out a lot of our larger permanents, with the exception being Elspeth. She comes in as extra dragon protection. The glare of heresy may seem odd as well, but Boros Reckoner online casino is one of the best cards against decks with tons of 2/2’s. Glare allows us to free a Reckoner from a Chained to the Rocks, while also doubling up as a removal spell for opposing ones. The only cards you really fear here are Stormbreath Dragon and Fanatic of Mogis. Hold your Mizzium Mortars back as long as possible as they are your best and cleanest answers to the massive flyer.

Mono Black Devotion

This matchup is definitely tough. I have a positive record against it, but the main deck is definitely hedged against this matchup for a reason. You have to be careful with the hands you keep against this deck, because exposing an Assemble the Legion (an almost auto-win in this matchup) to a turn one Thoughtseize is brutal. The only card you generally fear is a Desecration Demon onto an open board. For this reason, Young Pyromancer and Chandra’s Phoenixes (with Chandra) can combine to snag wins against them. Beyond this, you need to run them out of removal. You will have frustrating games where they hit a Grey Merchant at just the right moment, but you can wear them down more often than you might expect. Besides Demons, they have few threats that really pressure you, with the bulk of your removal shrugging off Pack Rats and Specters.

Out: 2 Purphoros, 4 Boros Reckoner

In: 1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, 2 Chained to the Rocks, 1 Mizzium Mortars, 2 Last Breath

This sideboard plan has been the one that has changed the most. Most of these decks will board out Underworld Connections in this matchup, making Wear/Tear bad. Some of the decks are still keeping them in *and* sometimes they Whip which is a rough card for us. If you see these cards, feel free to bring them in for game 3 (Even Pithing Needle if need be). We take out Reckoners here because they are slow and do nothing relevant. We also take out Purphoros. Purphoros is an awesome card with Assemble, but it is much better in matchups where Jace is involved. Assemble (and Elspeth) are good enough on their own here. They will have more discard spells for games two and three, but hopefully they will also bring in Lifebane Zombies. These will always brick with our board plan, and they look terrible next to a Chandra. This is the matchup that needs the most testing/knowledge, but it is winnable.

The Rest of the Field

The rest of the standard metagame is pretty diverse. In general, you will have a positive matchup against the bulk of the aggressive decks in the format. The Andrew Shrout G/W deck offers a little more resistance, but beyond Advent of the Wurm, all of their threats are manageable. That deck also does not have the straight nut draws that the devotion decks do.

Control decks are a bit more difficult to assess. Esper is a much better matchup than U/W because they have fewer counterspells to deal with our resolved threats. U/W is tougher because you can’t overload them with permanents as easily. In both matchups Assemble and Elspeth are key, but so is getting rid of Jace, Architect of Thought (thus the Pithing Needles in the board). Overall, this deck really has a positive matchup against a lot of the current field. There are definitely tough matchups, but so far, the B/W/R deck is the only one that makes me cringe.

Looking forward to Columbus, I will still be playing Big Boros. Nothing has shown up that is surprising or metagame shifting enough for me to change. It has been stated by many players, but this format really does reward knowing you deck well. More so, it encourages you to know your deck in conjunction with the rest of the format. Luckily, the bulk of the format is settled, which allows a deck like Big Boros to prey on the unsuspecting. If you want to try something different before Born of the Gods comes into full effect, then I suggest giving this list a try.

Thanks for Reading,

Mike Keknee


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