Dont Bore Us - Spicing up Boros Archetypes in Cube
Boros is often typecast for the role as an all-out fast and wide attacker in cubes. In this installment of Cube for Squares we first take a look at the traditional Boros part of the passionate fighter in some of its already thoroughly examined variants. Afterwards we ask if there’s room for the old action hero to widen its repertoire and try out characters more often played by other guilds.
For many cube builders choosing an archetype for Boros is as easy as yelling: Attack! Attack! Attack! Both Red and White are known for their good selection of low-cost creatures making an aggressive Boros strategy the obvious choice. But at least in some playgroups the Red Heat/White Hot playstyle is seen as a little bland.
Being the Boros player, you cast cheap creatures the first few turns and attack aggressively until the opponent has built up some defenses – at which point you finish with cheap burn spells. That’s it, game over – and you have either won, or your opponent has stopped you and you can sit back and wait for the inevitable defeat from spells and creatures that are too strong for your deck to deal with. The Boros deck can also be focused on generating tokens to swarm the opponent, but either way the deck’s strategy plays out more or less the same.
There are several problems with having the good old aggro approach to Boros in your cube. Some playgroups just don’t have any players who want to do the aggro kill race draft after draft, and some aggro players would rather try to force mono-white or mono-red, both of which may be able to support an aggro deck on their own. We will return to how to handle those challenges towards the end of this article, but first let’s take a closer look at how you go about creating some of the traditional Boros archetypes within your cube’s limited environment.
We Are Legion for We Are Many – And Really Cheap to Cast
The Boros guild or the Boros legion, as they were called in the original Ravnica: City of Guilds, is all about organized war and coordinated attacks. But, in reality, when playing a Boros archetype, a player never waits to line up a huge army on the battlefield before attacking.
Rather, you want to give the Boros player the ability to attack with a power one creature on turn one, a power two creature on turn two, and then look to increase the number of attackers by a minimum of one per turn. Creatures should be cheap and plentiful and either vanilla (having no special abilities) with maximum power at their converted mana cost or with special abilities like haste. Other good abilities to look out for are those that can pump the creature itself, its comrades, or give creatures some sort of evasion later on.
After denting the opponent’s life total fast during the attacks of the first few turns, you need to give the Boros player a way to finish the game with direct damage. Once the other player has set up defenses, it becomes impossible to get through with more combat damage from the weenie army. And when attacks with larger creatures come the other way or some combo or control strategy is beginning to unfold, the jig is up for the Boros player, and the cheap hard-hitters of the early game become worthless both as cards to draw and as permanents on the battlefield.
One card you should put in your cube to send the Boros player off to a good start is the ever popular Figure of Destiny. This little adventurer scales so well that it can even help win games, which drag on for longer than what is comfortable for an all-out aggro strategy. Goblin Legionnaire is also among the cards that can help dealing the final points of direct damage to end the game after it has lost its usefulness as an attacker.
Other fine Boros soldiers can give a nice portion of damage early on – and some of them have later upsides too. The inclusion of Savannah Lions and its cousins such as Elite Vanguard will depend on the size of your cube, while Boros Elite, Zurgo Bellstriker, Isamaru, Hound of Konda, Soldier of the Pantheon, Skymarcher Aspirant and of course Goblin Guide will be valuable conscripts for The Boros Legion. Vexing Devil can also be an interesting choice since it acts either as a super low-priced creature or as a cheap direct damage spell.
Even if you are building your first cube right now, you probably have an idea about which cards to include as finishers for Boros. Obviously, all the classic red low-cost direct damage spells like Lightning Bolt, Incinerate and Chain Lightning are good picks along with Boros’ own Lightning Helix. Other ways for the Boros player to push an opponent the last stretch down to zero lives can be found in Fireblast – which gives another four damage utilizing lands which the aggro player will not need during the endgame. Honorable mentions should also be given to Aurelias Fury for opening the defenses for one last attack and to Brion Stoutarm for tossing hapless creatures past all blockers as their last service to the legion.
You'll Never Walk Alone When Tokens Swarm the Board
The Red and White army can also amass in the form of tokens in such numbers that they will dribble around all defenders and score lethal damage early on. Both White and Red has a rich selection of token generators, and many of the useful spells for this strategy may also have synergies when drafted for other color pairs. Selesnya (White/Green) is good for a token archetype, Orzhov (Black/White) may want cheap creatures to sacrifice, and Izzet (Blue/Red) can benefit from the cheap token spells in a spells matter strategy.
For the opening play this archetype should have a good selection of cheap token generators to let the Boros player attack again and again without much care for whether some tokens are blocked and killed. Scalable token spells keep up the pressure after the first few turns, and other spells may support or strengthen the token generation.
If the opponent somehow survives the onslaught, sacrificing the tokens for damage or to generate mana for the final kill may be one way to go. Alternately the cube can contain cards to make the tokens harder to block and thus achieve victory through even more attacks.
There are a lot of cheap token generating spells in both colors of the guild, and most of them are worth including in all but the smallest of cubes. Hordeling Outburst, Dragon Fodder, Krenko’s Command and Empty the Warrens are all spells that generate Goblins, and so does certain Goblin creatures such as Mogg War Marshall and Krenko, Mob Boss. Having your tokens mainly from one tribe furthermore make them synergize with Goblin Chieftain and similar lords. But other red token generators like Young Pyromancer and Tilonalli’s Summoner, which produce elemental tokens, may also find their way into your cube and work well in a Boros token archetype.
White spells to include could be Spectral Procession, Gather the Townsfolk, Queen’s Commission and Secure the Wastes, and in combined Boros colors, you will find Goblin Trenches among others. To widen and deepen the attack, the Boros drafting player can be given access to, for example, Anointed Procession and Intangible Virtue.
For a splashy finish, the deck may sacrifice a bunch of tokens to Ashnod’s Altar to feed a huge red direct damage spell with X in the casting cost.
ComBoros – Cats, Comets and Breakfast Cereals
Aggro is the obvious way to go when drafting and playing a Boros deck in cube. Even if you don’t design your cube to have aggro as the intended archetype for the Red/White guild, players may choose to draft the color-combination as such using cards you added with other archetypes in mind. But no matter what role Boros plays in your cube, my final suggestion in this article is that you consider using the guild to hide some “Easter eggs”. Try out some unusual cards that liven up the draft and have players take chances that may or may not deliver big payoffs. (Not unlike the Masters 25 draft where good stuff decks are sprinkled with the possibilities of two-card combos, some of which are more viable than others).
With “Easter eggs” you give your playgroup something to reach for and try to achieve in Boros beyond merely flattening their opponent with enough small soldiers turned sideways. Boros, often being the most straightforward color-pair in a cube, is a refreshing place to house Magical Christmas Land scenarios in the form of two- and even three-card combos. And once in a blue moon, they will deliver on their promises and give your playgroup legendary game experiences to reminiscence over and retell for years in the future.
Your first step could be to take the infinite combos away from Izzet and kindly donate them to Boros, since Izzet already has a lot going for it. The Blue/Red guild will do fine without Pestermite and Deciever Exarch, so why not let Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Splinter Twin exclusively work with White’s Felidar Guardian and Village Bell-Ringer instead? When going Boros with this combo, the individual parts are also not quite as useless when the entire combo is not drafted, as the blue cards will often be.
Boros Reckoner and Spitemare are also both good for a number of shenanigans and ultimately for combo-kills. For maximum fun include them in your cube alongside Blasphemous Act or, if you really want something to tell your grandchildren, try Star of Extinction. Don’t worry, they will look funnily at you no matter what kind of stories you tell them, so the stories may as well be about the Magic games you played when you were young.
And while we are at the “olden” days let me round off this article by suggesting that you include an old favorite of mine, which won’t come together very often in any cube because it requires three cards: The good old Fruity Pebbles combo, which lets Boros deal infinite damage by combining the powers of Enduring Renewal and Goblin Bombardment with the humble Ornithopter or Shield Sphere.
That’s all the Boros we had time for today, but how about your cube? What role does Boros play in your limited environment? What does your playgroup expect when drafting Boros, and do you have a witty criticism of my take on the guild? I look forward to reading your thoughts on the matter below.
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