Building on a Boros

Posted in Reconstructed on February 5, 2013

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

The Boros Legion tends to comes crashing out of the gates strong and proud—which makes it appropriate that it's the first guild featured in the Gatecrash guild-theme weeks!

Pick up a sword and get ready for battle—it's Boros time!

Wojek Halberdiers | Art by Nic Klein

This week, we're going to look over a brutally quick Boros deck, sent in by none other than 2012 Community Cup competitor and popular deck builder Jesse Smith. (Many of you might know him as @Smi77y online.) Jesse's deck caught my eye this week because it has a lot of usual Boros tools plus a few lesser-seen neat interactions.

Ready? Let's take a look!

Jesse Smith's Standard Boros

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    The Battle Plan

Boros is all about attacking—and that's exactly what this deck aims to do. It's more fast and furious than a Justin Lin movie, using efficient creatures, haste, and a bit of burn to take down your opponent as fast as possible.

The key element of Boros is to curve out, especially if you're playing with battalion cards. You want to get your battalion active as fast as possible by playing creatures on the first three turns of the game, and often you want to be sure to not trade off your creatures early on, so your battalion remains active. This deck only has one creature with battalion, so it's a little different, but even then, it's important to keep that goal in mind. The Boros Legion wants to stick together. They have power in numbers!

Assemble the Legion | Art by Eric Deschamps

In any case, this deck can curve out admirably. With seven one-drops, twelve two-drops, and eight three-drops, playing creatures the first three turns of the game will happen fairly consistently.

If this deck performs properly, it's going to be attacking each turn and dealing damage to your opponent. The key in any modifications, then, is to try and optimize the damage output and the deck's flexibility. Are the most optimal creatures sitting at each mana cost? Which mana costs should have splits between different creatures? What tweaks can be made to improve its resiliency? Should the numbers on the curve be switched up somewhere? Those are the kind of questions that have to be answered.

Let's start answering them!

    Deck Breakdown

For this deck breakdown, I'm going to do things a little differently, and talk about mana cost on the curve as opposed to individual cards. Our goal is to optimize what each spot on the curve can do in a Boros deck as opposed to looking at individual cards, and so that's going to be the best way to present the conversation.

Here we go!


The one-drops in this deck are Champion of the Parish and Stonewright. (Well, and Boros Guildgate if you want to put that into the conversation.) Are these optimal? Should there be more?

In a deck that wants to attack each turn, I would rank having an effective one-drop pretty highly. Missing your one-drop results in several missed points of damage over the course of the game. Additionally, in a deck that wants to play creatures each turn as badly as this one does, one-drops allow you to still hit your curve when you stumble. If you have to play off curve to play a Guildgate on the second turn, or if you have two one-drops instead of a two-drop, you're still in pretty good shape. It doesn't really work the other way around—you can't play a two-drop on the first turn if you're missing your turn-one play.

Out of the two in the deck, I think Champion of the Parish definitely wants to stay. Not only is he often a 2/2 for on turn two, but he quite often grows much larger. The draw of Champion of the Parish into Gather the Townsfolk hits extremely hard and is one of the best openings this deck can have.

Stonewright, on the other hand, is one I'd be less sure about. In Mono-Red decks, he has been okay for spending your excess mana and forcing your opponent to deal with each of your creatures in turn. The Mono-Red deck will often play off curve. However, this deck wants to absolutely stay on curve. This means that, quite often, you won't have a lot of extra mana to throw into your Stonewright. Although Stonewright is a Human, I'd rather look elsewhere for one-drops. The synergy is nice, but for a card I'm often going to cast on turn one before Champion is active, I'll go for power.

The four others that look attractive for this deck are Boros Elite, Doomed Traveler, Rakdos Cackler, and Dryad Militant.

Boros Elite has the upside of being a Human, but otherwise it looks weaker than the other options since it's only situationally a 3/3. I'd rather take the creature which is consistently 2 power in case my opponent has a boatload of removal.

Doomed Traveler is fantastic if you're playing a battalion-heavy deck, since it keeps your creature count up. However, this deck isn't so battalion heavy that I would want this over a creature with 2 power for one mana.

Out of Cackler and Militant, I'd normally choose the one that has better base stats. There are plenty of ways to fight off 1-toughness creatures in this format (especially Tragic Slip and Augur of Bolas) and so I would pick the Cackler.

However, something else to consider is how it impacts the mana base. Getting red on turn one in this deck isn't going to be as consistent as I'd like without having to spend your Cavern naming a non-Human type. If you play with Militant, you can skew the untapped lands to be white and have your turn-one plays run relatively smoothly. For that reason, I'm going to pick Dryad Militant over Rakdos Cackler.


The two-drops in this deck are Lightning Mauler, Wojek Halberdiers, and Gather the Townsfolk.

Lightning Mauler is an ideal two-drop for this deck. It's a Human, often has haste, and can grant your other creatures haste. It keeps the damage rolling and I definitely want to play four.

Gather the Townsfolk is also fantastic. The pair of 1/1s can both serve as good attackers and also allow this deck to buy extra time in creature mirrors. Any draw with Champion of the Parish into Gather the Townsfolk is super powerful, and the tokens help you easily hit battalion as well.

The newcomer to talk about here is Wojek Halberdiers. It is a base 3/2 for , which is already interesting as a beatdown creature since it has 3 power. Battalion helps give it a little evasion as well, granting it first strike. It's also a Human, which pumps up the Champion.

Is this the best creature we can have in this slot?

There are four other cards I'd like to talk about here: Ash Zealot; Firefist Striker; Truefire Paladin; and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben.

While I would love to play with Ash Zealot here, since it has haste and natural first strike, my concern is with its mana cost. Getting on turn two when we want to have on turn one and on turn three is a recipe for not being able to cast your spells on time. In a deck that wants to curve out this badly, I don't want to risk that.

Truefire Paladin is a fantastic card—but it has a similar problem to Stonewright. You won't often have the extra mana to use its abilities and also play a creature. Since this deck wants to curve out so badly, I'd rather play something else.

[card]Firefist Striker[/card]

Firefist Striker, on the other hand, is a more interesting discussion. Although it may seem innocuous, getting past a single creature in this format can be a big deal. For example, if your opponent is counting on Thragtusk to hold down the fort, Firefist Striker lets your army zoom right past. It's also a Human. A lot of red decks have found good recent success with Pyreheart Wolf, and this card is much in the same vein.

Thalia sits on the other end of the spectrum. Thalia is strong against control decks that plan to use a lot of spells instead of creatures to fight you off.

The answer? It's really a metagame call. It completely depends on how relevant you expect Firefist Striker's ability to be in your metagame: if there are plenty of Thragtusks and Augur of Bolases sitting back to block, you want this guy on your team; if there are tons of spell-heavy decks, you want Thalia; and, otherwise, I would rather have the raw extra power of the Halberdiers.

In the end, I would split the numbers of Wojek Halberdiers and Firefist Strikers and then adjust for your metagame.(The control decks these days are commonly the ones playing cards like Thragtusk and Augur of Bolas anyway, so Striker is still relevant against them.) If you think you're going to need to fight through some troublesome blockers, then I would play more Strikers. If that isn't as much of an issue and you just want the other point of power, then playing the Halberdiers is what you should be looking for. Either way, I would probably sideboard Thalia to help fend off the control decks.


The three-drops in this deck are Silverblade Paladin and Boros Reckoner.

Both of these three-drops are fantastic. Finding good three-drops isn't really an issue for Boros, as both of these, as well as Frontline Medic, are in the conversation of cards you might want to play. Even a card like Kessig Malcontents is reasonable to look at for a Human-heavy deck like this!

However, it's a tricky balance: while the three-drops are powerful, they don't help you curve out in the first two turns. Much like the aforementioned one-drop discussion, you can always play a two-drop on turn three (or even a two-drop and a one-drop) but you can't play a three-drop on turn two.

Because of this restriction, I don't think I want to play eight three-drops. An opening hand with three of these is going to be incredibly slow for what we'd like to do. Considering the deck also has four-drops to consider, I'd like to move some of these around and end up with slightly fewer three-drops.

So, what's should change?

Silverblade Paladin is excellent for slicing through the opposition. It is usually good for a little bit of damage on the turn it comes down, it and the creature it bonds with are tricky to block, and in conjunction with Spark Trooper it can absolutely knock out an opponent. On top of all that, being a 2/2 double striker for three mana most of the time is plenty strong as well.

Boros Reckoner is a great card to have for fighting against any kind of midrange or aggressive deck. It can win combats with ease thanks to the activated first strike, and it also reflects tons of damage. I'll also praise him as a fantastic Thragtusk answer, either sending 5 damage back to that player's dome or fighting past Thragtusk and its token too.

However, Boros Reckoner has one major problem: its mana cost. In a deck that leans on Cavern of Souls, a lot of the time you won't be able to cast this Minotaur on turn three. While I will praise him for his power, the minotaur does have the downside of not always being on curve in this deck. Since this is a deck that really wants to curve out, I would set him aside in favor of another three-drop: Frontline Medic.

Frontline Medic is a much-easier-to-cast three-mana 3/3 that takes full advantage of the tokens and curving out. In fact, it's at the perfect spot on your curve to hit battalion: if you play a one-drop on turn one and a two-drop on turn two, Frontline Medic is poised to hit battalion on turn three. To top it off, he also hates on Sphinx's Revelation and Bonfire of the Damned, which are both cards that can give this deck trouble.

[card]Sphinx's Revelation[/card]

Swapping the Boros Reckoners for three Frontline Medics helps out the mana a lot and reduces the number of three-drops, accomplishing both of my goals in the process. Perfect!


Four Spark Troopers make up the single four-drop in the deck—and he can deal a ton of damage.

On his own, Spark Trooper—or, as we knew him internally, Balm Lightning—is good for a 12-point life swing. Against other beatdown decks, that's huge! Often, against a deck like Zombies you're going to be racing back and forth, and those 6 points of life can be the difference between life and death. (Just don't run into a Tragic Slip!) But he becomes really crazy when you draw Silverblade Paladin.

If you curve Silverblade Paladin into Spark Trooper and then attack with both of them, that's a whopping 16 points of damage coming toward your opponent on turn four! (Not to mention the 12 points of life you're about to gain.) Pow!

I don't think this deck wants to play four cards that cost four mana, just so your hand doesn't get clogged with expensive cards. Three cards that cost four feels a little better. The only question is if Spark Trooper is the right one.

The card competing for Spark Trooper's slot is Hellrider. Which is better?

Spark Trooper hits hard and has trample, plus combos with Silverblade Paladin—but then he goes away. On the other hand, the 'rider is permanent and deals plenty of extra damage... plus he works well with your tokens!

This deck can use a little extra burst of ways to push through some final damage, so I'm going to give Spark Trooper the nod over Hellrider. I would definitely consider both while you're tinkering with this deck, though.

The Burn

Searing Spear and Boros Charm are both absolutely the burn spells I would consider for this deck. I definitely want to play with Boros Charm, and while Skullcrack is a fantastic card, I want to have some spot removal and reach in the form of Searing Spear.

[card]Searing Spear[/card]

The only thing I would tweak is to play the full four Boros Charms. It deals 4 damage, protects all of your creatures from Supreme Verdict, and even has the potential to give Spark Troopers double strike if you mana flood out.

With all of those changes in mind, that brings the final decklist to:

Gavin Verhey's Boros Battalion

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If you're looking to heed the Boros and charge into battle, try this out as a starting point! T

There are definitely plenty of ways you can take this archetype. You can go with more or fewer Humans, slant it heavier red than white, play more burn, go all low-curve with one-drops and two-drops—the choice is yours. Which Boros decklist will end up on top?

Well, try this out for now—and I recommend staying tuned to the Pro Tour Gatecrash coverage next weekend to see what awesome Boros strategies come out of Pro Tour Gatecrash. With Gatecrash in the mix, there are all sorts of new decks to explore!

    Honorable Mentions

Each week, there are plenty of great decks submitted into ReConstructed. Here are some of my favorites from this week!

Jeremy Yuse's Tiger Tales

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Van Mamokhan's Boros Control

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Ranjan's Burn at the Stake Combo

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kuya Fujita's Goblin Battalion

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Spencer McCombs's Boros Humans

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Sam Pate's Assemble the Enchanters

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Tom Brubeck's Awesome Deck for Awesome People

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Juck Turtle's Legion of Invulnerability

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Ricky Bernet's Boros Firefighters

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Charles Cargal's Blasphemous Reckoning

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Aaron Eisenman's Sudden Worldfire

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Angelica's Boros Séance

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Jason Byrd's Farmer Army

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Tkotz's Boros Burn at the Stake

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Takashi Kobayashi's Boros Immortal Act

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    Experiment Two

That wraps up the first of the Gatecrash guilds—and in just two weeks it will be high time for another. Next up: Simic!

Format: Standard (Gatecrash is legal!)
Restrictions: Your deck must be blue and green and no other colors. (Overlapping hybrid cards, such as Blistercoil Weird and Dryad Militant, are okay.)
Deadline: Sunday, Feburary 10, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time
Submit all decklists by clicking on "respond via email" below. Please submit decklists in a format that looks like the following, except with your name and deck instead of mine.

Gavin Verhey's Simic Powerhouse

57 Island
1 Forest
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Giant Growth

What will you build out of the Simic experiments? I'm excited to see what you all come up with!

In the meantime, feel free to send me any feedback you have! You can go ahead and send it to me on Twitter or by posting in the forums below.

I'll be back next week with a look at competitive Standard before the Pro Tour hits. If you're planning to play seriously in Gatecrash Standard, you won't want to miss it!

Talk to you next week!


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