What’s going down everyone?
This week, I’d like to take a few minutes and tell you a little bit about the Boros Legion. My own little version of the Boros Legion, that is. Before you throw your device in the garbage because it brought you to this article, I’d like for you to hear me out. What if I told you this is a Boros deck that can curve out and kill opponents as early as turn five? Sound cool? What if I said that this is a Boros deck that allows you to play the long game because it accrues card advantage in multiple ways? A Boros deck that takes advantage of multiple different zones to gain advantage. A Boros deck that can venture outside of the Combat Phase to win games. Even steal wins for other players!
Do I still have you? Does it sound like fun? Does it sound like some janky, off-the-wall business that you’ve come to expect from one of the Commander Cookout Boys? If the answer to any of those questions was yes, then you’re in luck! Today, we’re going to be taking a look at Brion Stoutarm.
Traditionally, Brion Stoutarm decks that I’ve seen out in the wild have been aggro decks. Typical Boros decks, really. They look to make the biggest possible creatures to take advantage of Brion’s Fling ability. And while that’s part of what today’s deck wants to do, that strategy is, what I consider to be an under-utilization of Boros’s strong suit. The Magic deck brewing side of my brain has always told me that gaining card advantage in non-card draw ways is the best way to play Boros.
Before we go any further, I’d like to take a moment to remind players, both new and experienced that card advantage can be gained in multiple ways. All you have to do, is look for ways that you get more than your opponents. Regularly and traditionally, that means drawing more cards than them. With Boros in Commander though, that’s very seldomly an option. That’s why generally, it’s regarded as the worst color-pain in EDH. That being said, we can gain advantage in Boros type ways with this deck. For example, we can sweep multiple creatures into the graveyard with one spell, then have a creature or two left over to pick up some free attack damage. We can interact with our own graveyard to re-use all of our best stuff. Having access to the same card, multiple times, breaks the rules of the format. Something that’s always powerful, regardless of the format you’re jamming. Finally, and my favorite, we can steal stuff from our opponents and use it against them! Typically, this results in a mega tempo advantage and may net us some life if we can Fling the thing we stole back at our opponents. In short, our red and white deck is doing green, black and blue things. You know, the best colors in the format.
This deck, like many that have stood the test of time in my personal arsenal, is one that I keep around because it seems to sit right in the sweet spot. That spot that decks can sometimes be molded into that allows them to hang with the big-swingers, but is just inconsistent enough to be able to have a fun experience with players that are newer to the format. Or, players looking for a lower powered, less competitive experience. It takes a long time to hone a deck in to where one likes it. It takes patience to be able to lose a ton of games because you’re looking for that one card to help the strategy. To lose a bunch and not scrap the deck. To win a bunch and realize that you might be deviating from the original plan you had for the deck. For me, this is one of those decks.
As we’ve done in the past, let’s start with the mana-base as a means to get a feel for the deck. As one can see, there’s a bunch of enter the battlefield untapped lands specifically just for fixing. I made a point to mention this as I’m also running Terramorphic Expanse and Evolving Wilds. Obviously, there’s cards that are better in the fetch-anything slot that I’m not running. Cards like Prismatic Vista and Fabled Passage. Those cards are fairly hot off the press and I haven’t spared the time, nor the expense of obtaining them. With the high density of other fixing and the deck only having two colors, it’s been totally fine.
Arid Mesa, Plateau – These are in there because I have them. As I’ve said in the past, and will continue to say forever; if you have them, run them. Duals and fetches aren’t doing you any good if they’re treated like investment properties, never to see the light of day due to risk of damaging them. Play the cards. That’s what they were printed for. If you don’t own them, don’t worry. They’re not essential to the deck. Not even for the fetch land interaction with Sun Titan, that we are jamming here.
Forgotten Cave, Secluded Steppe, Sunbaked Canyon – These cards existing means that they should be in almost every Boros deck, mono-white deck and mono-red deck. Not all, so I don’t want to hear it from the ‘well, actually’ crowd. But almost all. They’re fine early game to drop as we aren’t trying to crack any land speed records. Late game, cash them in if you see them. Additionally, the life loss as a result of using the Canyon is quite negligible as this deck can gain a ton of life. More on that later.
Temple of Triumph, New Benalia – Some people are super soft on these types of cards. Again, we aren’t a particularly fast deck. We need ways to accrue advantage in other ways that are not only attached to things that we already wanted to do, like playing lands, but also to things that seem trivial or meaningless to our opponents. This helps to keep their eyes and removal spells pointed away from us. Super important, considering some of what we can do a little later into the game. This deck has a fairly high top-end. An exciting reason to play decks that include the color red.
Haunted Fengraf – This card can be sneakily good. Like my last point, opponents aren’t going to care about it because it says the word random on it. Until we can get it back every turn and essentially reanimate the only creature in our graveyard over and over.
Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion – Expensive, but this card can allow us to one shot our opponent in a couple different ways. Things like Malignus, Serra Avatar and Chandra’s Ignition become very good when you have this card in your back pocket.
An important part of any deck, to be sure. In this week’s list, we’ve got a few of the best ways to deal with problems. These are the standard Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exiles and Chaos Warps of the world. However, sometimes the best fix is just to present a bigger problem. One that makes your opponents creatures useless. Or, perhaps something that blanks their removal.
Avacyn, Angel of Hope – There’s no better creature than Avacyn for making sure your team survives a sweeper spell. Of which, we’re running several. Making your team indestructible pretty much blanks everything your opponents had planned.
Archon of Justice, Magus of the Wheel, Stalking Vengeance, Martyr’s Bond, Smothering Tithe, Deathrender, Mimic Vat – All of these cards make it such that your opponents don’t want to do the things they normally would like to. Smothering Tithe makes it hard for opponents to draw a ton of cards. Stalking Vengeance makes it hard for them to kill multiple creatures. If they do any of the types of things these cards deter them from doing, you’ll end up getting some sort of advantage. Long term advantage, or some form of advantage after the creature that advantage is attached to, has already laid the boots to them a couple times.
There are many ways to bring things back to life in the color white. I like to think of them as reincarnation as opposed to reanimation. It’s a little more on-brand for white. We’re employing a few of them in this deck as we may want to Fling, reincarnate then (Brion) fling a second time. That’s the kind of play that could insta-kill someone. Maybe even close out a game.
Dawnbreak Reclaimer – She beats, she reincarnates at end of turn. Only catch is that we need to have something good in our ‘Yard. And we will, trust me. Be mindful that Dawnbreak Reclaimer can be a pretty powerful political move depending on the opponent involved.
Emeria Shepherd – Landfall, get a dude back. Very excellent. A solid reason to sandbag Plains in our hand until late game, if we are able to. Thirty-eight land, ten mana rocks and a Land Tax help us with this.
Feldon of the Third Path – Reincarnate something every turn? Don’t mind if I do. This one is great to take advantage of some of the powerful enter the battlefield abilities we jam. More on this in a minute. You could also lump Mimic Vat alongside Feldon here, as well. ETB abilities are great things to abuse.
Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero – This is a relatively new addition to the deck. In this list, Gerrard is best served alongside a board wipe as a means to just get all of our own stuff back. Other than that, there’s not a ton of other broken synergies or combos. Sorry to disappoint, everyone. Maybe you could count Gift of Immortality here as it would bring Gerrard back prior to exiling himself. Gerrard every turn is great if we multiple ways to sacrifice things.
Karmic Guide, Sun Titan – These are classic, white staples. Good in almost any white deck. We’ve got added benefit here in that we can fling the Karmic Guide before its echo cost is required and our Sun Titan can act as our eleventh piece of ramp. Even at six mana, Sun Titan is still considered in the middle of the mana curve for this deck.
Deathrender, Gift of Imortality – These act as a way to achieve repeated fling ammunition. When something dies, you just get it back, or get a new thing to fling. I like the ring of that! I’ll see myself out.
Steal Your Stuff
What good would flinging things be if we always had to use our own stuff. That would be too fair. Instead, lets steal some of our opponent’s things, beat their asses with them, light them on fire, then shoot them back at them with Brion’s catapult-arm. Great times are ensured to be had by all.
Threaten, Traitorous Blood, Traitorous Instinct, Insurrection – Steal creatures, give them haste, beat, fling. Need I say more?
Captivating Crew, Conquering Manticore, Molten Primordial, Zealous Conscripts – These are all creature versions of the same thing. The added mana cost brings along with it a body that beats, can be flung or has the benefit of stealing multiple things.
Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The money shots. The big kahunas. The things we actively try to Fling as fast and hard as we can.
Malignus – Nobody knows what this card does when I drop it. They learn very quickly.
Lumbering Battlement – This is another one that people have to read. Basically, cast it, exile your whole board, so it’s huge, use one of the multiple ways to throw it at your opponent’s face, then get all your stuff back. Bonus points if it’s super-late-game and you have enough mana to fling in response to a board wipe to really leave the remaining opponents in a world of hurt.
Serra Avatar – Did I mention that Brion Stoutarm has lifelink? And yes, you gain life from his activated ability. Additionally, there are five other ways to gain life in the deck. Nothing major, but repeated flings with Brion will definitely make this a one shot. Both in the Combat Phase and in the flight phase. Along with Malignus, sometimes we can attack with this the turn we drop it because we run Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots, throw it, then reincarnate it. It’s marvelous when a plan comes together like that.
Sunscrotch Regent – This is in the list primarily to beat. It’s also good alongside all the fliers for the casual Moat that was kicking around my collection that I decided to include one day. A lot of the time though, it does get into double digit power and is an awesome reason to cast Fling or our Heart-Piercer Manticore.
By this time, I’m sure everyone has a pretty good idea of how the deck wants to run. Ramp, beat, fling, repeat. I just made that up. It might be a good slogan for the deck, though. Basically, everything else in the deck is to serve as protection if things get out of hand or as a means to service out beatdown plan. These are the Gisela, Blade of Goldnights and Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herders of the list. Fun cards that feel very Commander’y that just happen to fit nicely.
The deck can feel pretty linear if you have a medium-power opening hand. If that’s the case, just go with the flow. Control the board when you’re required to. Avoid getting smashed. The usual.
If you get a hand with one of your money shot cards and a mana rock to power it out ahead of schedule, I would urge you to throw politics to the wind. Go for it. That’s the kind of high risk, high reward Magic that I love to play, write about and hear stories about. Nothing feels as good as powering out a turn-four of five Serra Avatar, flinging it and reincarnating it next turn. It’s a great power move to set the tone for the pod and to give them an idea of how awesome Boros can truly be. If it’s there, go for it.
If that’s not the type of pod that you find yourself in. Make sure that everyone understands that you’re representing lethal fling damage with your Commander on the board. Nothing is worse for newer players than the feel bads of missing some important interaction. In these scenarios, tread lightly as new player’s first few experiences tend to shape their decision to stick with the format, or not.
Generally, we want to be the control deck. Despite having ten sources of ramp, there will be green decks, or mana-dork decks that are faster. Or decks that hit their top gear prior to this deck. That’s why we play the efficient removal and sweepers that Boros affords us the option to. If that’s the case, weather the storm until you can land a couple beaters. Bonus points for anything that gains you life here. You’ll need it after you dispatch the good-stuff player’s board a couple times and the aggro player wises up to the average power level of cards in your deck. Also, you never know when a fifteen-point Earthquake to end the game is going to come in handy. Especially if you’ve been going shot for shot against the other ramp/good-stuff deck at the table.
Most of the time, the opponent that sets the tone as the fastest punchy smashy deck in the pod will be the one you have to worry about. They’re going to be the one lopping off chunks of your life total while you’ve been trying to kill the control player. Stay calm and cool. You’re a Boros pro by this point in time. We’ve got a sort of tempo advantage, sort of life gain, sort of removal built into our Commander. We can steal creatures and gain life off of them after we fling them. That gets us our life back at a reduced mana cost compared to what the creature cost to cast. It gets rid of the problematic creatures as well. For this reason, we don’t have to worry about the traditional big creature, aggro/Voltron deck until it’s time to kill them. Threatening their best creature or Commander and flinging it is usually gives us enough time and life gain to set ourselves up to finish anyone off, late-game.
Upgrades and Budget
When I lend this deck out to friends, they always give me suggestions. Maybe a certain card underperformed. Maybe some new card is slightly different, or better than something I run, etc. I always slough off their suggestions and leave it, as is. I’m certainly not saying the deck is perfect, by any means. What I’m saying is that the deck is exactly where I want it to be. The power, speed and amount of interaction please me every time I sit down with Brion. The deck’s replay ability, linearity (or lack of linear strategy, if you’re the control deck in the pod) and ability to go ham, given the nut-draw, are all exactly what I think casual Commander should feel like and be promoted as.
The couple things I would suggest, basics instead of Arid Mesa and Plateau. Additionally, you could drop the Moat and add some other control-type card. If we weren’t running Moat, that might give us license to drop the Avacyn as she’s got a fairly hefty price tag for an eight-drop creature. These four cuts could reduce the cost of the deck, if building from scratch, by hundreds of dollars. Dollars that could serve in building the next deck we look at together.
This is my version of Boros. It gives me the interaction and efficiency that the technical Magic player in me craves. It gives me the aggro that is necessary in any meta. It gives me the graveyard interaction that I love about Commander, where you’d least expect it. And it does it all while being casual, fun and different than other Boros attack first, ask questions later, decks.
Thanks for joining me today! I’d love to hear what you think about the list. Comb it over and let me know if I’m wrong about leaving it as is. Are there blatant includes that I’m missing? If you’d like to learn more about the deck or playtest a couple hands, it’s right here. Additionally, you can hit me up on Twitter with questions. If you’d like to hear about other decks and deck philosophies like this, you can tune into Commander Cookout Podcast wherever better podcasts are found. You can check out Commander Cookout on YouTube and of course, get everything else Commander Cookout related right here on Face to Face Games.