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Fine Tuning Big Boros

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

Recently, I wrote about the power of Purphoros and suggested a big Boros list. I wanted to share the information from my testing and to discuss the evolution of the deck. Here is the list I submitted in the last article:

The list focuses heavily on the interaction between Purphoros, God of the Forge and Assemble the Legion. While this combination is certainly powerful, it is beatable. I had hoped to play this list at the Star City Games Open in Cleveland, so I began testing furiously to determine the list”s weaknesses and strengths. Additionally, I wanted to tune the list and create a strong sideboard.

After testing the list, I came up the following weaknesses to address.

1. Loxodon Smiter/Archangel of Thune: While Smiter was much more common, the Archangel was a beating. Counting on Chained to the Rocks and multiple burn spells was not effective. Because of this, my first change was to add Mizzium Mortars to the main deck and the sideboard.

2. Games against U/W/x control where I could not land an Assemble the Legion: While Assemble is a powerful strategy against control decks, it was too hard to land through counter magic. Generally, when one did resolve they had a Detention Sphere. While side boarded games can help this to some extent, I recognized the need for another big threat. I decided to test Stormbreath Dragon as a control and midrange beater and had positive results. Additionally, the UWx control and GW match ups made Glare of Heresy an auto-include in the sideboard.

3. Obzedat, Ghost Council and Whip of Erebos: Obzedat was a definite issue in games where I could not get ahead. Obzedat is beatable, but against an even board he would just take over the game. The game state became worse if the opponent managed to land a Whip. Giving lifelink to their entire board was a problem. Assemble the Legion offered a way to slowly win the game (and stop Desecration Demons), but I found they would Obzedat me out before I could win. Unfortunately, a solution to Obzedat was not found. Sometimes you just need to recognize a weakness in your strategy and hope to dodge it. However, Wear // Tear was added to the sideboard for the Whip and other problematic permanents.

After this initial testing, the Worchester Star City Games Open finally provided more streamlined deck lists to meta game for. The top eight of that event consisted of either mono-red or Esper control (UWb). There were a number of midrange decks present as well. Unfortunately, Big Boros” two biggest enemies were right at the top. My matchup against the aggressive red decks was already strong thanks to the inclusion of strong removal and creatures like Boros Reckoner and Young Pyromancer. In order to shore up the match ups with mono red and Esper control, Frostburn Weirds were added.

Luckily a friend of mine wanted to test Esper for the upcoming Pro Tour, so I was able to play against that deck a fair bit. In order to make their Detention Spheres as ineffective as possible, my goal was to diversity the type of permanents I played. Also, we determined sideboard options to deal with the Spheres in order to lead to as many blowouts as possible. As a result, I added Stormbreath Dragons, an additional Burning Earth and a Hammer of Purphoros to ensure I had relevant threats in this matchup.

As the SCG Cleveland Open approached, the list I finalized was:

Overall, the main deck did not change much. I decided to cut back on the initial combo of Purphoros plus Assemble the Legion. Having more than one Purphoros in hand was miserable, and Assemble the Legion was a terrible draw in aggressive matchups. As a result, it reduced the possibility of a combo win, but created open spots in the list to create better match-ups against the field. Also, I made room for main deck Stormbreath Dragons and Mizzium Mortars. Stormbreath Dragon may not hit as hard as his cousin Thundermaw Hellkite, but he is a nightmare for numerous decks.

The sideboard was the key to making this deck better. I wanted to have a strong board plan against Esper specifically. My plan was to board out:

4x Boros Reckoner
2x Chained to the Rocks
2x Mizzium Mortars

In order to bring in:

3x Burning Earth
2x Glare of Heresy
1x Hammer of Purphoros
2x Stormbreath Dragon

The Wear // Tear came in against straight UW where Burning Earth was not as effective. The rest of the sideboard featured ways to combat aggressive and midrange strategies but with the focus of beating enemy number one: Esper.

I took this list to a win-a-box FNM before the open and managed to win the whole thing, defeating Esper twice along the way. I was happy with the list and ready to battle in Cleveland.

The Open

We drove up to Cleveland early casino online Saturday morning feeling good about my list. The day started strong, but I did not run very well as the day went on. Generally, I try to write down possible misplays, but I felt like most of my losses were due to poor draws more than poor play. My matches went as follows:

Round 1: G/W Midrange – Win 1-0 (2-0)
Round 2: Esper Control – Win 2-0 (2-0)
Round 3: Big Boros – Loss 2-1 (0-2)
Round 4: Esper Control – Win 3-1 (2-0)
Round 5: R/W/B Midrange – Loss 3-2 (0-2)
Round 6: U/W Control – Win 4-2 (2-1)
Round 7: Mono Red – Loss 4-3 (0-2)

At 4-3 going into round eight with only one other person in my car at x-3 (and still possibly in contention for money), we decided to drop and get some delicious food. If you are ever driving through the Akron area, you have to eat a Swenson’s drive-in. Swenson”s may ruin burgers for you forever! Getting food also ended up being the best decision because we inadvertently missed the traffic for that evening’s Nine Inch Nails concert.

It is hard to assess my performance. As stated, I wanted to be able to beat up on control decks consistently and as a result, I went 3-0 versus control decks. During these matches, I felt confident. Also, the sideboard options really worked out well in those matches. Unfortunately, I went 1-3 against everything else. During the tournament, I slogged through numerous rough draws including losing game one of the Big Boros pseudo-mirror. During that game, I was burned for 16 damage dealt via four Warleader”s Helixes on consecutive turns. Against mono red, I kept a hand that was good against 2/3 of the field but was punished for it by my opponent”s blistering start.

The largest issue I had over the course of the day was flooding out. This was disappoint as flooding out had not happened very often during testing with the addition of the scry lands. Flooding is a general weakness of midrange decks. I also lost some games due to some “hedge your bets” style keeps. Like any midrange deck, you need to see the right side of your deck at the right time. In addition, I wish there was something to sink my mana into like the rotated utility lands. Mutavault is still an option although I do not like hurting my chances of casting Boros Reckoner on curve against the aggressive decks.

Overall, I was not too upset with my performance. The format is young and there is a lot of room for change. I had great success achieving my goal of beating UWx control decks. Going forward, I need to pay attention to the shifts in the meta game to make sure that the deck is still relevant. The G/W matchup is already good, as our removal matches up well against them. Adding additional Glare of Heresys out of the board would be a great idea as it is a powerhouse in that matchup. I am planning to test cutting the 25th land along with adding the fourth Magma Jet. Hopefully adding cards with scry will offset the land problems. All aside, I plan to keep playing this deck for a few weeks, and encourage anyone to test it for themselves.

-Mike Keknee
@Big_Tears
@AtYourEndStep

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