Rebuilding Boros (One More Time) – Firesong and Sunspeaker

 

Welcome to another edition of the article series where I go over changes to my different EDH decks in detail (and where I trash them and rebuild them into something better).

There have been a number of my decks over the last few years that have been on the chopping block after disappointing performances and poor games, and many have been culled or changed. Much as I have done before, I rebuilt decks that just aren’t working; this may involve either changing some cards around deck to deck, changing who the general of the deck is, or completely overhauling the entire deck.

Now, with Rivals of Ixalan long since released and Dominaria out as well, I’ve been going over each set of changes and additions to my EDH decks, and man, have there ever a lot of them!

Today, we’ll be looking at what I’ve done with one of the more troublesome color combinations: Boros, or red/white, as I change them from Tajic, Blade of the Legion control to new Dominaria general Firesong and Sunspeaker! Let’s take a look!

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Years ago, I started a series of Random Friday articles dedicated to rebuilding my EDH decks, with the ultimate goal of making them all fun to play, and fun to play against. The plan is always to rebuild any decks that aren’t performing the way I wanted them to.

Thus far, I’ve built, retooled, and rebuilt several of my EDH decks in this series.

In 2012:
• I put together Arcum Dagsson, a dangerous general who could Tinker up win conditions at will here.
• The original incarnation of Karona, False God and her Allies, here and here.
• I looked at my initial attempt to build a Rakdos deck here, here, and here.

In 2013:
• Our Abzan deck was transformed from Ghave, Guru of Spores into Doran, the Siege Tower‘s “toughness matters” deck here.
• I’d changed my Boros list, from Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer into Brion Stoutarm‘s sacrifice-based deck here.
• The lovely Angela had changed our Dimir deck from Vela the Night-Clad to the milling-based Lazav, Dimir Mastermind here and here.
• I changed our Rakdos deck to Rakdos, Lord of Riots after the release of RTR here.
• I rebuilt the powerful Bruna, Light of Alabaster‘s combo-control deck here.
• I rebuilt the Planechase 2012 duo, Thromok the Insatiable and Krond the Dawn-Clad here.
Nekusar, the Mindrazer‘s Painful Wheel was built here.

In 2014:
• The Jeskai deck that finished off The EDH Project, Zedruu the Greathearted, was built here.
• Angela’s tribal Soldier build helmed by Coldsnap’s Darien, King of Kjeldor here.
• I went over my brainstorming and the final list I looked at for Khans newcomer Narset, Enlightened Master (who is just ultra-powerful), here.
• The first rebuild of our Izzet deck, from Nin, the Pain Artist to Melek, Izzet Paragon, was done here.
• I rebuilt our Clone and Shapeshifter “tribal” deck, Sakashima the Impostor, which is chock-full of copy effects, here.
• I went over the changes to our Equipment-friendly mono-white deck, Kemba, Kha Regent here.
• I looked at the changes to the budget-friendly Nath of the Gilt-Leaf here.

In 2015:
• I went over the changes to Commander 2014’s Titania, Protector of Argoth, my favourite of last year’s Commander generals, here.
• I rebuilt our U/R control deck, from Melek, Izzet Paragon into Keranos, God of Storms, here.
• I rebuilt the very first EDH deck that I’d ever put together, our Jund deck helmed by Adun Oakenshield, into one led by Kresh the Bloodbraided from Shards block here.
• I rebuilt our Boros deck again, this time changing it from Brion Stoutarm to Tajic, Blade of the Legion, a R/W control deck, here.
• I looked at a huge culling of my decks, where I disassembled Kemba, Kha Regent, Volrath the Fallen, Zedruu the Greathearted, and more here.
• I retooled two artifact-based decks: Karn, Silver Golem changed into creatureless artifact-based control, and our Esper deck Halfdane turned into Sharuum the Hegemon artifact aggro, here.
• I went over my first new Rakdos build of the year, building around Innistrad’s Olivia Voldaren here.
• After Olivia failed to be any good, I built a ‘new’ Rakdos deck (again), this time using Malfegor the Demon Dragon as general, and a hellbent theme here.

In 2016:
• I had reworked our five-color Ally deck, and changed the deck from Karona, False God to a more token- and combo-based General Tazri here.
• I finally sat down to build around Captain Sisay, a deck where “legends matter”, here.
• Two decks were merged into one as I merged the +1/+1 counter-based Skullbriar, the Walking Grave and our Abzan deck, Doran, the Siege Tower, into new +1/+1 counter deck Anafenza, the Foremost, here.
• I redesigned the five-color manabases for each of my five-color generals here.
• Our Jeskai deck, Zedruu the Greathearted, and our mono-white token swarm deck, Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon”, were merged together to form Narset, Enlightened Master, here.
• I rebuilt our Golgari deck, Skullbriar, the Walking Grave, and took pieces from Titania, Protector of Argoth, to form our new Golgari deck The Gitrog Monster here.
• I went over big changes to our Izzet control deck, Keranos, God of Storms, here.
• I went over some big changes to our Jund deck, Kresh the Bloodbraided, here.
• Our Temur deck was changed, from fun-loving Maelstrom Wanderer, to Khans bear-puncher Surrak Dragonclaw here.
• I looked at what our five-color Superfriends planeswalker deck, Progenitus, would look like after dropping the red cards and switching to four-color general Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice here.
• I went over the changes to our artifact aggro deck, as I added red to Sharuum the Hegemon, changing it into Breya, Etherium Shaper here.
• Our “copycat tribal” deck, Sakashima the Impostor, gained the use of white and black cards, and became our new Esper deck with the same theme, Halfdane, as shown here.
• I looked at the third of our four-color decks, led by partner generals Vial Smasher the Fierce and Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix (who were a surprise entrant in The EDH Battle Royale V), here.
• I went over the hostile takeover of our Mardu deck, instigated by Conspiracy II’s Queen Marchesa and the monarch mechanic, here.

In 2017:
• I looked at my build for my favorite general from Commander 2017, the highly-aggressive Saskia the Unyielding here.
• I went over our build for the difficult-to-brainstorm WURG color combination (which was our final four-color deck) based on partner generals Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa and Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist here.
• I rebuilt our BUWG deck, Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice, from a planeswalker deck, to “+1/+1 counters matter” here.
• I went over major changes to Saskia (over 20 new cards!) here.
• I rebuilt another of our four-color decks, Vial Smasher the Fierce/Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix by changing one of the partners; the new deck is Vial Smasher the Fierce/Thrasios, Triton Hero, as seen here.
• Taking advantage of Ixalan’s new “planeswalkers are legendary” rule, I retooled Captain Sisay with a host of new cards here.
• I rebuilt the Vampire tribal Commander 2017 precon around Edgar Markov here.

In 2018:
• I took my first look at rebuilding our Esper deck, from Halfdane copycat ‘tribal’, to Dakkon Blackblade, here.
• In my followup piece, I went over the new decklist for our new Esper deck, Dakkon Blackblade here.
• I rebuilt our tribal Dragons list from a mono-red deck led by Zirilan of the Claw[mtg_card] to five color, led by [mtg_card]The Ur-Dragon, here.

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NOT MY FIRST ATTEMPT:
Over the course of the Random Friday series, I’ve built and rebuilt a lot of my EDH decks. This year’s culling is proving to be particularly difficult, since I have a ton of EDH decks now, and so making sure every deck has an original theme is not easy. Every deck must be both fun to play, and fun and challenging to play against. However, if a deck is just not performing, it is not safe from my wrath, and will be cut.

The Boros colour combination has always caused me some headaches, and I have rebuilt this colour combination before several times. Our Boros deck started off as a Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer token swarm deck; this deck was capable of some very fast starts, and could use Jor Kadeen as a pseudo-Overrun to kill people with. In the end, the deck was too similar to my other token swarm decks, and it was cut for general Brion Stoutarm.

Brion had his own problems, which eventually led to him getting the axe as well. The Brion deck was based around throwing creatures at other players, and ran lots of ways to steal opposing threats, like Preacher, Mass Mutiny, and Debt of Loyalty. Once an opposing threat was stolen, you could use Brion to throw that creature at someone, and thus they wouldn’t get it back. Though somewhat cheesy, I even had Serra Avatar and Phyrexian Processor in the deck for a one-hit KO (make a gigantic dude, and throw it at another player to instantly kill them). There were many different issues with the Brion deck. It was glacially slow, and suffered from the fact that most red and white card drawing spells suck (making it more inconsistent). The deck’s theme was likewise inconsistent; half the time, the deck played as a control deck, and half as an aggressive deck, and it could not make up its mind which it actually was.

Eventually, I settled on changing Boros into a R/W control deck, with Tajic, Blade of the Legion at the helm. At the time, I’d thought that building a R/W control deck should be a highly interesting challenge, since normally in EDH, control decks are black- or blue-based, with lots of kill spells and/or counterspells. Tajic was a sweeper-heavy, creature-light deck; built to control the board with Wraths and classic card Sunforger, and would eventually attack people to death with Tajic, and possibly a planeswalker or two.

Sadly, this suffered the same fate as my other Boros decks, in that it wasn’t particularly fun or interesting to play, and I’ve been looking to cut it for something else for some time now.

This was my final list for Tajic:

Tajic, Blade of the Legion - Current decklist:

General (1)
Tajic, Blade of the Legion

Creatures (16)
Stoneforge Mystic
Burnished Hart
Duergar Hedge-Mage
Steelshaper Apprentice
Desolation Giant
Taj-Nar Swordsmith
Stonehewer Giant
Angelic Overseer
Godo, Bandit Warlord
Sunblast Angel
Angel of the Dire Hour
Eternal Dragon
Myojin of Cleansing Fire
Colossus of Akros
Darksteel Colossus
Blightsteel Colossus

Other threats (2)
Midnight Haunting
White Sun’s Zenith

Planeswalkers (9)
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Gideon Jura
Ajani Goldmane
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
Nahiri, the Lithomancer
Nahiri, the Harbinger
Chandra, Flamecaller

Card drawing spells (4)
Staff of Nin
Book of Rass
Mind’s Eye
Tamiyo’s Journal

Equipment (7)
Sunforger
Sword of Fire and Ice
Moonsilver Spear
Infiltration Lens
Batterskull
Bonehoard
Sword of Body and Mind

The Sunforger toolbox of spells (12)
Oblation
Chaos Warp
Return to Dust
Wear // Tear
Orim’s Thunder
Reiterate
Wild Ricochet
Boros Charm
Truce
Grab the Reins
Wing Shards
Honor the Fallen

Wrath effects (7)
Rout
Phyrexian Rebirth
Kirtar’s Wrath
Martial Coup
Planar Outburst
Blasphemous Act
Sublime Exhalation

Other spells (2)
Steelshaper’s Gift
Aetherflux Reservoir

Land (40)
40 land

To put it bluntly, I have wanted a new Boros general to build around for a long time now, these ones just weren’t cutting it.

Luckily, the Dominaria set had me covered with one of the most interesting Boros generals printed to date: the powerful and unique Firesong and Sunspeaker.

THE NEW HOTNESS:
As the Buy-A-Box promo for Dominaria, this bovine duo was already going to be much talked-about (especially since you could only get this card by buying a box). However, add to that a very unique ability and a new way to play the Boros color combination in EDH, and Wizards definitely had something special on their hands here.

For Boros, there is no understating what these guys do for EDH players starved for a new way to play that color combination. Before this, you had two options: play Brion Stoutarm, and throw bad creatures at people; or play one of the billion “I want to attack!” generals that is all Wizards thinks red/white is good at in multiplayer (ie. Aurelia, the Warleader, Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas and every other Boros general ever printed).

The cow duo offer something completely new as an option for EDH players: Play interesting burn spells instead of just attacking!

This is a big deal, and I’ve already shelved the half-hearted Aurelia extra attack deck I was working on in favor of these guys, they are the real deal. How to build these guys, though? That was the real question.

BURNINATING THE COUNTRYSIDE:
The obvious place to start brewing this deck was by looking at mass burn spells, as the “Your instants/sorceries have lifelink” is a really powerful ability to build around. Lifelink would make cards like Blasphemous Act, Inferno, Star of Extinction, and Starstorm gain you a metric ton of life, which you could then use for other things (but more on that in a sec).

I could also run single-target burn spells like Lightning Helix or Warleader’s Helix, just to shoot down problem creatures and gain a bunch of life. Though ordinarily I ignore single-target spells in favor of sweeper spells like Wrath of God, in this deck, they might not be so bad.

In a pinch, I could also easily build the deck in such a way that these red damage-dealing Wraths wouldn’t hurt my own board (by running cards like Sword of Fire and Ice, to give protection from red, or Mark of Asylum, to prevent damage). More on that in a sec.

Running burn spells did not in any way limit what I could do with the deck, which was one of many reasons I appreciated this new general.

BURNINATING THE PEASANTS:
The great thing about the cow duo is that they lent themselves to running some very cool alternate win conditions. I knew going in that I’d likely be running ways to win the game like Test of Endurance, Celestial Convergence, and Felidar Sovereign, to make use of all the extra life that I’d (hopefully) be gaining; it wasn’t until I started brainstorming the deck that I realized that I’d get to also run Aetherflux Reservoir, one of my favorite spells from Kaladesh block, to nuke people with.

When you add the cool alternate win conditions to the wacky creatures I knew I’d be getting to run (creatures like Fire Servant, Boros Reckoner, Mogg Maniac, and Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant), I knew that this would end up being an awesome deck.

WAYS TO SAVE MY GUYS:
Worth mentioning, with this deck going to be a burn-heavy deck, I know going in that I’ll want a bunch of ways to save my guys from my own sweeper spells. Conveniently, white has a bunch of fun cards that let me do just that, from Mark of Asylum, to Inner Sanctum, to Light of Sanction, to the aforementioned Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant, there are tons of ways in white to let me save my own guys.

From there, I’ll be looking at the various cards that grant protection from red, like Sword of Fire and Ice, and indestructibility, like Darksteel Plate.

I’m not sure how many of these “protect my team” cards I’ll be playing, but I’ll have some in here for sure.

SUNFORGER, OR NO?
This was actually a pretty important question going into this build. I’d warped much of my Tajic deck around the mighty sun-hammer and its Tutor targets, building a useful toolbox of spells that the deck could use in nearly any situation, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to waste that much space in this deck.

In Tajic, I ran 6 ways to Tutor for Sunforger and a toolbox of 12 cards to search for; that was 18 slots out of the deck used/wasted, so I’m not sure I want to do that here.

So those are my major thoughts going into my brainstorming of the cow duo. This is going to be an extremely difficult deck to balance, since there are so many things I’ll want to include.

I’ll be setting up a test list over the weekend, and if I like it, I’ll definitely be publishing it on Monday. As ever, stay tuned, more on these guys to come!

 

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