Are you tired of getting crushed by Boros and feel like jumping on the R/W pain train?
It feels good, Britney. Real good.
I’ve finally gotten to the point with my Arena collection that I can build real decks, and the first competitive deck I decided to build was Boros Aggro. The choice made sense for me, since Boros was already the best “underpowered” deck in my beginner’s gauntlet.
Before we get too deep into the Xs and Os of how the deck works, let’s start with a list:
As we are going to see in today’s article, there are a lot of ways to build and position a Boros deck. My version of the deck tries to stay on the aggressive side to gain the upper hand early and use burn to finish off blue-based control and Golgari “The Rock” Midrange decks, but still dips its toe into the powerful mythic Angel cards. Some things are just too nice to pass up!
The baseline of the deck is to build around these two format defining bombs. A 3-power attacker that won’t die and a Kitchen Finks that casts Overrun. Basically, what these decks are doing has become the format defining metric, i.e., The fun police. If you can’t beat this deck, it’s likely time to form a new plan or try a new deck because Boros is here to stay.
What is Boros? (Baby Don’t Hurt Me)
If you don’t have a plan, Boros will most certainly hurt you…
One of the things I absolutely love about this Standard format is that there are so many great cards that it puts deck builders to the challenge of making difficult decisions when it comes to what to include and what to cut.
There are two established builds: One is hyper aggressive and one is more midrangey and built around the powerful trio of mythic Angels:
Here’s a version built to beatdown:
OLGARN, 5th Place on MOCS
Olgarn’s version of Boros is very tokeny and designed to go wide in a hurry. In fact, the deck even takes advantage of having the city’s blessing with cards like Snubhorn Sentry and Skymarcher Aspirant.
Sometimes you just want to race!
Nizar Sarhan, 3rd place at GP New Jersey
Nizar’s version is actually a lot grindier than it looks. While it does include Militia Bugler to keep the threats flowing (Aurelia, Adanto, Bounty Agent, Dire Fleet Daredevil, Legion Warboss, Siege-Gang, and Honor Guard!), the list also has a lot of removal to keep pushing opposing threats off the board while it pressures.
Removal plus creatures that draw cards—what a novel concept!
Brad Nelson, 2nd place at GP New Jersey
Brad Nelson’s approach is less about a quick clock and pressure, and more about throwing mythics at the opponent until they submit.
Brad’s main deck has a whopping 18 mythics! While I’m really happy with the diversity of Standard in a general sense, I’ll take this opportunity to protest that mythics are not supposed to be the generic building blocks of Constructed.
Brad is correct that the approach is a potent one in a wide array of matchups. If one of these creatures sticks, it is often enough to trump multiple opposing cards. Each threat puts more pressure on the opponent to answer the next one. The other thing that is nice is that one threat sticking on the board will often halt an army in its tracks.
A Few Matchup Notes
Standard is really complicated at the moment. There are competing builds of every major archetype, and many archetypes to begin with!
In terms of aggro decks (which is where Boros resides) the spectrum goes all the way from mono-red burn to Brad’s super mythic midrange deck. Unlike an established archetype in Modern—like Humans—there is a ton of deviation and customization among archetypes in Standard.
In general, I’ve found that the Selesnya Tokens decks are a difficult matchup for Boros. Especially my list, which is a little bit lower to the ground and aggressive. G/W can simply put a lot of large bodies onto the board and gain significant chunks of life.
I play a lot of sweepers in my board to fight through G/W and opposing Angel mirrors. I’ve been really happy with Cleansing Nova and it gives me a legitimate out to Lich control.
The main reason I’ve configured my deck the way I did is to up my game against blue-based control. I’m a little bit faster and can make more early plays. I’ve also got Shalai to stonewall Settle the Wreckage on a critical turn of the game.
The biggest difference between my list and the established ones is that I push the Knight theme a lot harder. I really like Knight of Grace a lot and think it is a legitimate powerhouse for the cost. It’s a card I’m so impressed with that I’m interested in trying it out in B/W decks next.
The first strike is really good at taking down larger creatures with Shock and Lightning Strike, but most importantly he can attack into most commonly played early blockers and embarrasses black decks.
Dauntless Bodyguard doesn’t look like much but he’s a steal at a single W. Bodyguard is even an okay late draw (when a Savannah Lions would typically be a blank) since he can protect one of my Angels already in play.
There’s a lot of this effect floating around (it’s backbreaking against G/W Tokens) but it’s very good against Boros. It’s not an uncommon line of play to drop Adanto and follow it up with a Knight and a Dauntless Escort to protect it from a Clarion type effect.
Another thing I’ve noticed about playing the current Standard format (and in particular, a lot of Boros) is that there are so many powerful cards that I want to diversify rather than double down and become more specific. In particular, I see this as being true of powerful legendary cards and removal. Legend flood is a thing.
Rather than 4 of everything, I prefer a mix of threats so that I have an option about which one I can play in various situations. I also feel that a lot of the threats have varying degrees of awesomeness depending upon the board. It’s why you’ll notice a lot of 1-ofs in my list and sideboard. On the one hand, the deck is a little bit less focused at trying to do the same thing every time, but it gives me a lot of in-game options in terms of playing my games.
So not only is there a tension between whether to be more aggressive or more mythic, but also a tension between being more focused or more diverse within your particular build.
Praise For a Job Well Done
I was reading Reddit for one of my Arena articles last week and there was some discussion about whether or not I got paid off or endorsed to write a positive review of Arena.
Just to clarify, I don’t get more or less compensation for saying I like or hate something in my articles. I’m simply here to share my thoughts, opinions, and ideas about the game with you all. So when I say that I think Arena is great, and more importantly that Standard is great, I believe both of those things are true. How many years did I consistently write articles that were like, “Standard is awful, but if you insist on torturing yourself, here’s the list I’m playing…”
I think my positive review of Arena and Standard has thrown a few people off because I tend to be very critical of things I don’t enjoy and there have been plenty of things to complain about in MTG over the past several years. With that being said, I’m excited about the new direction WOTC appears to have taken and believe there is a lot to praise lately.
As a content creator, it is a joy to play a Standard format where I can write an article that features four significantly different, competitive Boros lists (I didn’t even get to Red Deck Wins) and discuss how each list exploits various attributes of the meta. It’s also a joy to have an online platform like Arena that is fun and enjoyable to play and stream.
So when I say that Arena is a fun new platform to play the best Standard format I’ve played in several years, I mean it.