As one of my New Year’s resolutions, I resolved to replace any of my EDH decks that I was not happy with, or decks that did not play well, or decks that, plain and simple, no one liked to play or play against. I started culling my decks with the reconstruction of my Necra deck; I retooled it into two possibilities, Doran, the Siege Tower or Karador, Ghost Chieftain. You can read about my thought process behind the change here.
I was very happy with the build of Doran that I’ve come up with; aggro-ing people with high-toughness creatures is a lot of fun, and it has been a blast to play.
It turns out that no one likes playing against my Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer deck, despite it not being in any way overpowered, and quite weak to Wrath effects; I am also the only one who likes playing it. And so, it is with a heavy heart that I put Jor Kadeen up as the next of my EDH decks on the chopping block.
Going into January, this was the final working decklist for Jor Kadeen’s token swarm:
Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer - Final decklist:
Jor Kadeen was an interesting general to build around, but like many of my ideas, his deck led to me building a token swarm (what can I say, I’m a sucker for token swarm decks in multiplayer!)
Essentially, my thought process here was to make a token deck that was as aggressive as possible, to take advantage of Jor Kadeen’s +3/+0 bonus with metalcraft. The way the deck played was simple: make a bunch of token creatures, achieve metalcraft (normally through one of the artifact token-producers, ie. Tetravus), play Jor Kadeen, and smash the other players for loads of damage. For an EDH deck, this deck could be brutally fast (one of the reasons opponents groaned when I played it), and could deal large amounts of damage to someone quickly.
There were a couple of issues I had with the deck, despite liking it myself. The deck absolutely required metalcraft, so I had to shave some of the best red card-drawing spells (like Wheel of Fortune, Reforge the Soul, and Chandra Ablaze) for artifact card drawing. With all of the token-producing cards, there was very little room in it for Disenchant effects, which was one of the deck’s major weaknesses; in some games, my only recourse to get rid of a problem artifact or enchantment was Warp World, of all things. Jor Kadeen was necessary to the deck; if he was ever removed, or put on the bottom, the deck was full of terrible tiny tokens which were always outclassed by other players’ giant creatures.
The deck also played very much like my Homura, Human Ascendant deck, and if I was going to keep one of the two, it’d be Homura.
My final issue with the deck centered on a single card: the lack of Sunforger bothered me. Sunforger is extremely powerful and fun in EDH, letting you run lots of toolbox red and white instants, that you can find at a moment’s notice. That this piece of equipment lets you run a toolbox of instants gives a Boros deck flexibility; something that I’d wanted to work into the deck for a year now, but could not, since the token-producing cards took up so much room.
So, those are the reasons I am retooling Jor Kadeen into another Boros deck, a deck with Sunforger as a subtheme. What Boros generals did we have to work with?
Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran is the first Boros general, and to me he’s kinda bland. He gives a bonus to attacking red or white creatures (and a better bonus if the attacking creature is both colors); to me, this ability feels worse than Jor Kadeen’s. At least if I reached metalcraft with Jor Kadeen, I’d have a static bonus that was ‘turned on’ all the time. Agrus Kos is out. Next up, we have brand new general Aurelia, the Warleader. Aurelia is a fine general as a blunt force object; namely, all she wants to do is hit your opponent, and keep hitting them until they’re dead. I like her, but I’m sure she’ll fit better in my Kaalia of the Vast deck. Basandra, Battle Seraph is up next, and while I like screwing with people’s attack steps as much as the next man, she’s cut for not doing enough to affect a game. Razia, Boros Archangel is likewise cut, since I cannot see her ever mattering in a game of EDH; she’s too easily outclassed as an 8-drop.
So, that brings us down to two options: Gisela, Blade of Goldnight and Brion Stoutarm. There are reasons that I could see for building around either of these generals (Gisela can be very potent in multiplayer, doubling the effects of cards like Pyrohemia and Manabarbs for your opponents, and reducing the effect on you), but in the end, I will be building Brion Stoutarm. A friend of mine, Brianna, had a deck built around Gisela; from what I observed, Gisela tended to get killed a lot, and the deck drew a lot of hate when she played it. I feel that Brion should avoid this kind of thing, while being also fun to play.
(Plus, I have a special Wal-Mart foil version of Brion. How can I not play him as the general?)
Let’s get building!
When brainstorming this deck, many things were easy to figure out (mostly because my Boros deck had started off as Brion 2 years ago, and was dismantled for Jor Kadeen). Brion is a very simple Giant; he wants you to have creatures, and he wants to throw said creatures at your opponents for fun and profit. So, when building around him, creatures that want to die (ie. have ‘death triggers’) would be very useful; effects that steal my opponents’ creatures (so that I can fling them with Brion at people) would also be highly effective.
Add a Sunforger package to this, and you have quite the deck. Here is what I brainstormed:
The manabase was simple enough; it’s every R/W dual land ever (sans Plateau), plus a few simple utility lands. Sunhome gives your guys double strike, and Slayers’ Stronghold gives haste and a +2/+0 power bonus (which is important when you’re throwing your guys at people). Mistveil Plains plays an important role in this deck as part of the Sunforger package; it lets you put cards that you’ve cast with Sunforger on the bottom, so that you can search for and cast them again with the mighty hammer. Finally, Emeria, the Sky Ruin gives you a way to recur your guys in the late game, so you can keep throwing them at people.
Spells - Card drawing:
1 Well of Discovery
1 Staff of Nin
1 Reforge the Soul
1 Well of Lost Dreams
1 Mind’s Eye
1 Temple Bell
One of the issues with Boros colors is the lack of really strong card drawing spells. In this case, I’ve gone with many artifact card drawing spells, with Well of Lost Dreams comboing with Brion’s lifelink to draw many cards.
Incidentally, though I have Stoneforge Mystic in here to search for Sunforger, I’m willing to believe that Skullclamp will actually be the number-one thing I search for, just for its strength as a card-drawing spell. Ironically, this segueway about Stoneforge Mystic leads us right into the next section:
The Sunforger package:
This was the initial brainstorming list of spells that I looked at adding to go with Sunforger. It’s a huge list, and I honestly had to pare it down for the actual deck itself, since I knew I’d only have about 7-10 slots total that I could dedicate to Sunforger targets.
This is the starting brainstorm list I looked at:
Sunforger brainstorm list:
There are a lot of good targets for Sunforger; the main issue I knew I was going to run into with this deck was cutting enough of them to fit other cards in the deck. I wanted Sunforger to be a nice little subtheme; not to take over the deck completely.
My line of thought with this brainstorming list is fairly evident. I have a Fork section, with Increasing Vengeance, Wild Ricochet and Reiterate; this would let me copy people’s spells, hopefully multiple times. There is a Disenchant section, where cards like Orim’s Thunder, Allay, Shattering Pulse, and multiplayer all star Return to Dust would let me destroy problem artifacts and enchantments. There are a couple of cards that let me steal opposing creatures (to throw with Brion); these cards are Grab the Reins and little-known gem Debt of Loyalty. There are cards that can punish an opponent’s plays; cards like Parallectric Feedback, Harsh Justice, Eye for an Eye, and Mirror Strike would all harm opponents for trying to hurt me.
And then, of course, there is the removal section. Between Oblation, Grab the Reins, Chaos Warp, Order // Chaos, Dead // Gone, Wing Shards, and Debt of Loyalty; there are a lot of options for removal.
This is what I ended up going with for now:
The Sunforger package:
1 Master Warcraft
1 Return to Dust
1 Ray of Distortion
1 Debt of Loyalty
1 Grab the Reins
1 Mistveil Plains
1 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Stonehewer Giant
1 Godo, Bandit Warlord
Stoneforge Mystic, Stonehewer Giant and Godo, Bandit Warlord are in this section (despite being also in the creatures section) since they let you look for Sunforger. That is their only real purpose in this deck. (Granted, they can find equipment like Skullclamp and Deathrender too, but really I wanted them in here for Sunforger).
In the end, I pared my Sunforger targets down to 7 different targets (which is low compared to some lists I had seen online with the mighty hammer). I went with Oblation as general removal for anything (and card-drawing for myself if needs be); Ray of Distortion and Return to Dust as my Disenchants; Reiterate as my Fork effect; Grab the Reins and Debt of Loyalty to steal opposing creatures; and Master Warcraft to mess up attack steps.
I will be keeping an eye on this section; I want to see just how effective the Sunforger package is before I add in more cards to it. If I was to go up to 10 targets (which was the norm from what I’d seen in other lists), my next few additions would be: Chaos Warp as additional catch-all removal, Honor the Fallen as a way to hose graveyard-based decks, and I would likely cut Ray of Distortion to add the buyback package of Allay and Shattering Pulse.
Playing around with this section to ensure it works is what will take the most work with this deck.
1 Akroma’s Vengeance
1 Aurelia’s Fury
1 Phyrexian Rebirth
1 Desolation Giant
1 False Prophet
1 Sunblast Angel
Not much to say with this section; these are some of the more interesting options for Wrath effects available to Boros. False Prophet clears the board when thrown with Brion, and Phyrexian Rebirth clears the board, and then makes a Horror token that can be thrown at people. Aurelia’s Fury is a new card from Gatecrash I was looking to try out; and Brightflame can gain absurd amounts of life.
This is also known as “the section to keep me alive.” We’ll see if it works.
1 Mimic Vat
1 Marshal’s Anthem
1 Sigil of the New Dawn
1 Phyrexian Processor
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
The rest of the spells are a motley collection of cards that I thought would be fun in here. Sigil of the New Dawn and Deathrender work well with Brion throwing creatures (with Deathrender winning the award of “card I put into brainstormed EDH lists the most that never ends up making the final list.” It felt good to finally put it in a deck and leave it in for once).
Marshal’s Anthem is great late-game recursion for a pile of creatures, and both Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Phyrexian Processor can make creatures for Brion to throw at people. Elspeth also doubles as a creature-pumper, making creatures bigger so Brion can throw them for more damage. And finally, Insurrection just ends games out of nowhere. It also works well with Brion, letting you steal a specific creature and throw it at someone.
This is a motley collection of creatures, and I look forward to seeing how well they work. Jötun Grunt and Stonecloaker double as graveyard hate (with the Grunt also being able to put your Sunforger targets on the bottom, so you can re-use them). There are a number of creatures in here that boost your other creatures; Gisela doubles your damage (making her great with Brion), while Homura gives all of your creatures a boost after he’s died, and Balefire Liege pumps every red and white creature in the deck, as well as doubling as extra lifegain or damage-dealing.
Several creatures are in here just to be huge things to throw at people; creatures like Taurean Mauler, Hamletback Goliath, and Serra Avatar get very big during a game, so throwing one of them at someone will result in huge amounts of damage. One big dude that I couldn’t quite find room for was Malignus, but if any of the cards here don’t pull their weight, he’ll be in for sure.
There’s a subsection of creatures dedicated to stealing creatures from your opponents; Preacher, Conquering Manticore, Zealous Conscripts and new multiplayer powerhouse Molten Primordial can all steal creatures from opponents, so that you can throw said creature at someone.
All in all, I like the look of this bunch of creatures, and I feel they should work out well in actual games.
Conclusion: So there you have it, that is a look at my thought process for building my new and improved Boros deck, Brion Stoutarm! I’m looking forward to seeing it in action over the next little while, and seeing how well it does.
Tune in Monday for more Shandalar escapades!