With the holiday season upon us, I thought I’d share something a bit different, especially considering that my other option this week was to recount the joys of mulliganing to five in game three of the (Golgari) mirror in the 4 of my local PPTQ. Those who know me will be aware that for all my competitive tournament attendance, I probably play almost as much casual magic, and today I’m going to talk about a new Commander deck I built and can’t stop playing!
In my last commander article (in July – yeah, it was a while ago) I covered my ‘creatures only’ The Mimeoplasm deck and explained why I like creatures so much and how that influences my approach to playing the game, which is the result of three main priorities:
- Don’t be too threatening
- Damage limitation
- Interaction in favour of simply ‘winning’
In this article I’m going to share a new deck i’ve been playing and why, after only a few games, I’m even more addicted to this one than my previous creation…
…oh yeah. Its also a Boros deck.
Five months ago, if you had told me to build a Commander deck without green or blue, I’d have almost assuredly refused to be parted from my beloved forests and islands – the two colours which provide the most mana and card advantage. In consideration of this, my natural assumption was that any red and white deck I might build was going to be in some way ‘inferior’ as it would likely be behind on both mana and cards than playing against any green or blue decks I faced in battle.
However, somewhat randomly, I ended up borrowing a red and white deck for a game at my local game store. The Commander was Archangel Avacyn, and though I didn’t really know what was going to happen when I used Sunbird’s Invocation, I ended up equipping an Inferno Titan with Grafted Exoskeleton to make quick work of multiple opponents! As I was playing the game, I decided that some of my initial impressions might not have been fully correct and that maybe there was more to the rest of the colour pie I had so far ignored. I asked for the decklist for some inspiration and committed to building my own version in time for my next commander session. Here’s what I ended up with.
Commander: Archangel Avacyn
Click here to view a copy of the deck on Tappedout.net (you may wish to have this open at the same time as the article to save scrolling).
Some notes about the deck’s components
Do you even combat?
This deck doesn’t have to play quick and aggressive in order to make its contribution to multiplayer madness. In fact, this is what I liked about exploring these two colours. Normally, white and red are associated with simple, aggressive tactics and a desire to end the game soon, often through combat; you only have to look at the many iterations of ‘white weenie’ and ‘red burn’ decks that have manifested themselves over the years. Playing so aggressively in a game of Commander is going bring unwanted attention from your opponents, often resulting in your eventual downfall. Such a playstyle also opposes my first priority, which is all about not being too threatening. Part of the challenge here is to not put cards in the deck that ‘need to attack’ to get their full value. The slight snag is that most red- or Boros-themed cards carry a lot of their power in their combat abilities, and I’ve seen quite a few Boros decks built with these cards that fall into the trap of building a board state which earns the ire of their opponents. While being in a threatening position on the battlefield can be advantageous, unless you’re sure you can finish your opponents it will often lead to your downfall, either through sweepers or removal, which are both far more common when playing against three or more players.
How to steal your opponent’s stuff without blue cards
During deckbuilding, there was the idea that cutting all of the red cards and playing a deck that is effectively mono-white would eliminate this problem – however I didn’t want to do this, as it made the deckbuilding challenge far too easy and significantly less interesting. I was determined to find some red cards that could contribute to a game plan, ensure that I wouldn’t paint a target on my back, and also promote interactive and fun games. I believe the following cards to be crucial finds in this endeavour
All of these cards give you the potential to do things that red and white have no business doing, and I believe the element of ‘theft’ that is part of red’s colour pie is where the real value is here. You’ll notice I’ve set up the white creature core to facilitate a recurring these three red creatures to maximise my interaction. Reiterate and Wild Ricochet can help balance the game out if opponents in ‘more powerful colours’ are firing off a cards like Time Stretch or Boundless Realms. In fact, I recount a recent game where I didn’t have much going on in the way of board presence, but one Mindclaw Shaman targeting an opponent’s Rise of the Dark Realms allowed to immediately create an imposing battlefield from nowhere.
Torpor Orb and Hushwing Gryff are still good against you!
Whilst I tried to avoid excluding red cards too much, most of the deck is built on white cards as I’ve chosen a suite of creatures that at their core promote value and recursion of that value. Often I’ll Fiend Hunter or Flickerwisp my own creatures to re-trigger their ‘enters the battlefield’ effects. The previous article talks at length as to why I really like to play creatures in Commander over pretty much any other type of card, and in consideration of this, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that there are about forty of them in the deck!
Inspiration from Ixalan and other colourless matters cards
I’ve also finished off the deck with a few choice artifacts, some of which turn into lands.
One problem with stray artifacts is that they usually get picked off, sometimes for no reason other than one of the opponents you happen to be playing against has drawn a card that destroys an artifact and they want to cast it. These artifacts generate value almost straight away and promote the deck’s ability to keep pace with the type of resource generation provided by green and blue. Ok, Conquerer’s Galleon is a bit of fun, and just something I’m trying to transform, but its not an objectively bad card… right?
The other artifacts are a bit more powerful and are in danger of voiding my ‘damage limitation’ priority, but they are geared towards generating a ton of value – hopefully that happens before they are Shattered.
There are also a lot of non-basic lands in the deck for ‘utility’ purposes. These are mostly also colourless, which can adversely affect the casting of red and white spells – but on the flipside they help me reliably activate Eldrazi Displacer’s ability. I realised that while I have a lot of creatures and ways to recur them, Buried Ruin and Inventor’s Fair will do some work in supporting the artifacts I have in the deck.
Better than the 8 mana version, at least I think so…
Finally, I stole my friend’s Commander of choice! One thing I noted was that this angel generated an insane amount of value any time the opponent wanted to attack you and you had the mana up to cast her. It suddenly made their potential attack a lot less appealing, and they just attacked someone else. Alternatively, transforming her provides a mini board-wipe and she does dish out a reasonable chunk of combat damage. Most of the time, you actually feel like you have an extra card in hand as you can threaten to do any of these things at a moment’s notice.
Wishboard and additional randomness
In an attempt to create more mayhem and variance in games, I’ve been entertaining the idea of running a Burning Wish and/or Golden Wish and putting some complete nonsense in my ‘Wishboard’. Have a look at this possible wishboard.
- Confusion in the Ranks
- Reverse the Sands
- Possibility Storm
- Approach of the Second Sun
- Warp World
- Grand Melee
- Star of Extinction
- Disrupt Decorum
- Thieves’ Auction
- Knowledge Pool
- Grip of Chaos
- Goblin Game
In my opinion, it’s cards like those above which really advocate the use of red. Some opponent’s would consider such weapons of war only valuable in the spirit of ‘ruining the game’ and would probably not allow me to run my wishboard if they saw that it might give me access to such a large amount of nonsense.
The reason I would want to play a wishboard over simply including the cards in the deck is to be efficient. I don’t want to draw these cards too often, and it’d be quite inconvenient when I’m desperately searching for a fourth land drop or need to do something ‘useful’ in the game to draw one of these more situational cards.
Ultimately, I decided not to use the wishboard, partly for the reason detailed above, but also because I need to draw the wish cards themselves in order to unlock their true potential. However, I have instead come up with what I’m considering a decent alternative.
I have since cut the Twist Allegiance, Mob Rule, and Conqueror’s Galleon from the deck leaving the deck 96 cards strong. I then get each opponent to randomly pick a card from a pile of face down cards, which includes the above list, and a few more:
- Resolute Archangel
- Settle the Wreckage
- Coalition Honor Guard
- Stonehorn Dignitary
- Master Warchief
- Conqueror’s Galleon (couldn’t resist)
- Grab the Reins
- Blazing Shoal (especially for Inkmoth Nexus)
- Mob Rule
- Twist Allegiance
The three randomly selected cards are added to the deck before the game. At the end of the game, I put them back so that three other cards have a chance to randomly be selected for the next game! I’m not quite sure what to call it, but ‘Maybeboard’ or (in the case of mine) ‘Memeboard’ have been suggested already.
If you have any further suggestions for the list of chaos, then please feel free to get in touch!
I hope this article has helped perhaps inspire some budding Boros mages with some new ideas, particularly if they’ve been struggling in games by being too aggressive and threatening. Feel free, of course, to perhaps have a Maybeboard. It’s well known that one of the first-world problems in the deckbuilding part of this format is cutting a list of cards you want to play into a deck of 99 cards +1 so maybe you can use my suggestion to try out some cards you weren’t sure if you should include in the final version of your deck.
There’s one more PPTQ I can attend before the season’s end, otherwise it’ll have to be the last chance qualifier for me! Competitive Magic does tend to quieten down over the festive period, so I’m not sure what else is in the works for me. Let me take this opportunity to wish all my readership a good holiday season and new year!
You can find me on Facebook, Twitter (@Chris54154), at most PPTQs in the North of England, RPTQs and GPs in Europe, and some other large competitive events like Mega Modern and Legacy Masters throughout the year in the UK.
As always, thanks for reading, good luck, and have fun in your next event!