Going Rogue: Five Color Boros and Four Color Tron

Well, when I wrote this article, many people predicted I'd be playing again. They were right. That said, with the full RAV block now released, and playing with as many colors as humanly possible always something I like to do, (see this for proof) here are the two decks I'm going to be playing my way back to a "hopefully" good sized online collection with. It also allows me to write this article like a split card.

Five color Boros

Fist, we'll start off with the easier deck. I'm sure many of you have noticed that there is quite a bit of burn available in the current Standard environment. Two new spells, Seal of Fire and Demonfire, come with Dissension.

I want to burn people, not Loxodons.
I actually built a version of this shortly before I quit that was straight Red/White. I always viewed the biggest drawback of a "pure" burn deck as being that it had to use its win conditions to control the board, so the addition of Wrath of God seemed very natural to me. The deck wasn't bad, but it could have been better. Now, with all of the mana fixing and whatnot available, the deck has returned as a five-color monstrosity.

Five color Boros or "The Roof is on Fire"Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
Burn (21)
3x Guerrilla Tactics
4x Lightning Helix
4x Flames of the Blood Hand
4x Char
4x Demonfire
2x Shining Shoal

Acceleration (8)
4x Sakura-Tribe Elder
4x Kodama's Reach

Draw (3)
3x Compulsive Research

Board Control (6)
3x Wrath of God
3x Crime//Punishment

Mana (22)
3x Stomping Ground
3x Temple Garden
2x Overgrown Tomb
4x Forest
3x Mountain
3x Plains
1x Island
1x Swamp
2x Mikokoro, Center of the Sea

This deck in many ways plays like more of a control deck than anything else. Use your sweepers and burn to control things while you build up cards and mana then finish your opponent off with a big Demonfire.

I'll start out by saying that 'Vore is just an absolutely horrific match for you. There's no way around it. It's just really, really, really bad. Other types of Wildfire decks are combated fairly well by Life from the Loam. To get a good 'Vore matchup you'd need to devote about seven sideboard slots to it, with four Sacred Grounds and three LftLs.

Greater Good is pretty much a race between them getting Good and Dragons online and you killing them, although this is one of those matchups where the Crime half of C&P really works as a bonus for you. Hide//Seek comes in, and, depending on their build, you can also bring in Boros Fury Shield or Giant Solifuge. Wrath is one of your worst cards in this matchup, followed by Guerrilla Tactics and Char.

Against Selesnya style decks (GhaziChord, etc.) bring in the Boros Fury Shieldss for your Guerrilla Tacticss. Hide//Seek can also come in to combat Jitte in place of the Shining Shoals and two Chars.

Heartbeat is fairly easy to sideboard for: take out the Punishments, Wraths, and two Tactics for the Hide//Seeks and Solifuges, then race them. Always Seek Maga first if you have the choice because while you can redirect the damage from Invoke, you can't do it to the life loss from Maga. Mostly this is a race, and you have the (slightly) faster horse.

Hah! I laugh at you, discard effects!
Against Orzhov style decks you can laugh really hard at Cry of Contrition tricks thanks to Guerrilla Tactics, and pulling some Chars and Demonfires for Hide//Seeks isn't a bad idea either.

Gruul/Boros/Zoo decks are one of your better matchups. You gain card advantage from Wrath and Punishment, and use the extra burn you'll draw from Mikokoro and Research to keep any straggler creatures that are trying to get Jitte going while still throwing lots of fire at thier face. Boros Fury Shield replaces Flames of the Blood Hand here. It does the same thing - burn to thier face, but it also keeps your life up to slow down their race. You can bring in Hide//Seeks for Tactics, but you're honestly better off just burning a creature and keeping Jitte inactive than you are brining in artifact removal.

Rakdos style decks take a pretty big hit from Tactics, and the board sweeping doesn't help them either. The fact that you will naturally be able to empty your hand fast eliminates their best forms of disruption, and topdecking mass removal just kills them.

Izzet based decks are almost a bye, especially if you get Mikokoro going. They don't put pressure on you, and except for your mana acceleration, almost all of your spells are instants. Demonfire makes them pay every time they tap out, and you've got enough acceleration that Wildfire won't normally cripple you. Bring in Solifuge, take out a Wrath and the Punishments.

I'm better than you think. Lots better.
I could go on about the 25 other decks in standard and how to play and sideboard against them, but basically, do it like this: Against creature decks, leave in the board sweepers and bring in Hide//Seeks or Boros Fury Shields as the situation dictates. Flames of the Blood Hand is your worst card against most creature based decks.

Against controllish builds, play during their endstep and use your massive mana to throw more spells than they can counter at them. Every time they tap out, Demonfire them.

There are a couple of options you can take when building this. For example, you can use painlands instead of duals with basically no loss, and it even helps out your matchup against 'Vore a little bit. Crime//Punishment can be switched out for Savage Twister. This is a metagame call. Twister is the better board-sweeper, but C&P gives you a maindeck answer to artifacts/enchantments and deals with a Firemane Angel in your opponents' graveyard. Actually, don't make this switch unless you can't get the C&Ps or you just get flooded about every third game with a rush of variable cost weenies. Punishment gets compared to Engineered Explosives, but it's so so so so so so so much better that I can't even begin to quantify it. You can run Sacred Grounds, Rain of Gores or Simic Sky Swallowers in the board in place of the Life from the Loams. In testing, LftL was by far the card I brought into the maindeck the least, although it is one of the only ways you'll have a chance against 'Vore decks. Swallower from the board is an absolute beating. Absolutely no one expects it, or can deal with it after taking out all of thier creature removal game one. Zur's Wierding is another card that probably deserves to be explored, as your opponent can't let you draw burn, but if they don't, they get burned anyway. It also helps that your probable life advantage when it comes down allows you greater control over their draws. Indrik Stomphowler and Kami of Ancient Law are your last two options to go in the board here, and might be necessary if the Dovescape decks get big.

Four Color Tron

This deck is basically an attempt to combine the greatest strengths of every legal set into one deck, and then give the whole shebang some synergy. The best two cards in Kamigawa Block, Gifts Ungiven and Sakura-Tribe Elder, are both present. The Urzatron, the most powerful effect in 9ED, is also included. From Ravnica block we pick up Life from the Loam and massive multicolor enabling, plus Remand and Spell Snare. And of course, the card that makes it all go: Research//Development.

I'm better than a stupid Judgment
Wish... Except when I'm not of course.
R&D is similar in many ways to the Wish cycle from Judgment, in that both cards allow you to play sideboard cards during your first match. Research does have some important differences though. For one thing, you can sideboard between matches. Unlike a Judgment-era wishboard, you don't really take a hit on accessibility when you pull dead cards from your deck for sideboard wish target cards. You can even pull some of the R&Ds if you're convinced you won't need access to your board in game 2. An example of this would be if you were playing against Heartbeat and knew that they weren't using the creature sideboard, you could pull your creature kill and R&D's to bring in the Voidslimes and the Black and artifact disruption. This also brings up the second big advantage R&D has over the old Wishes: selection. You can grab any type of card(s) you want with R&D and if your opponent tried to "get you" with a transformational board (like Heartbeat bringing in creatures), you can simply use Research to get back whatever cards you pulled in the first place.

Four Color Tron or "Not Quite White"Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
Creatures (6)
4x Sakura-Tribe Elder
1x Grave-Shell Scarab
1x Izzet Chronarch

Draw (8)
4x Gifts Ungiven
4x Research//Development

Counters (8)
4x Spell Snare
4x Remand

Removal (5)
3x Savage Twister
2x Putrefy

Recursion (3)
1x Life from the Loam
1x Recollect
1x Reclaim

Artifacts (6)
4x Sensei's Divining Top
2x Pithing Needle

Lands (16)
4x Breeding Pool
2x Yavimaya Coast
1x Overgrown Tomb
1x Watery Grave
1x Stomping Ground
1x Steam Vents
2x Urza's Mine
2x Urza's Power Plant
2x Urza's Tower

Basic Lands (8)
3x Forest
3x Island
1x Mountain
1x Swamp

I'll start off with the analysis of this deck by saying it is much more of an unfinished/unpolished creation than the first one. It's been tested, but hasn't really been honed to the extent that I can definitively say this is how it should be built. This is partly because this is the first true Gifts deck I've ever tried to build, so there are a lot of things I'm still working out about the archetype as a whole, and also because a deck like this offers so many different options, and the current Standard field is so diverse, that figuring out the optimal build for anything is a bit tough. So basically, this disclaimer is intended to encourage anyone interested in this deck to play with and experiment with it a bit.

I used to be an aggro lock, now I'm a
I'll start with the card people are wondering about the most, namely Nourishing Shoal. Originally this slot was occupied by Ethereal Haze and a Plains (which is also what got the deck its name). That went away because by the time you've got the lock set up, most aggro decks are trying to burn you out. There is no more Kamigawa Block WW or Black Hand that relies on the combat phase alone to win. Orzhov aggro decks have lots of "Drain Life" effects and Orzhova, GhaziChord can just double Yosei to tie up the necessary mana then beat you down with whatever other creatures they have out. Every other aggressive deck is using Red and copious amounts of burn spells, which all kind of tends to make the "Haze lock", more like a "Haze screen door". Ok, so Haze is out, but why replace it with the Shoal? Lots of reasons. #1) Arcane. Nourishing Shoal is Arcane, so you can use it with the Hana Kami engine over and over again every turn. #2) Free. Shoal can be cast for a fairly large amount for zero mana. Don't see the cards to pitch to it? Look closer. Scarab nets you five life, R&D gets you seven. #3) X. Yep, it's an X spell, which means that including it in a deck with the Urzatron lets you really utilize its full potential. #4) Instant. Most of the lifegain available to your colors with this deck is Sorcery speed, given that your card drawing is Instant speed, and so is (some) of your removal, along with all of your counters, the ability to use a big source of mana suction during your opponents' EOT step shouldn't be overlooked. #5) Owling Mine. Normally the u/r deck would eat something like this alive, but the ability to both gain life and reduce your hand size at the same time is something the Owl player absolutely DOES NOT want to see. Especially when it's done for zero mana, and all Remand does against it is allow you to reduce your hand size further.

Reito Lantern is probably the other card that many of you are wondering about. This is for long games against other control decks. It doesn't do anything big at first, but in addition to providing your sole source of Graveyard hate, it also allows you to do things in a long game like: Gift for Recollect, Reclaim, X, X. Then put the Recollect and Reclaim back into your library for use the next time you Gifts, or to be drawn after they're randomized by one of your twelve shuffle effects. Reito Lantern, along with Research, means that over a long game, you're drawing off of a better deck than your opponent. This isn't very telling in a 7 turn brawl, but in a 27 turn war, can make quite a bit of difference.

Yay! I get to eat something besides
Wurm Tokens!
After that, things start to get slightly more obvious. Exile into Darkness kills pretty much everything aggro except Solifuge and Husk decks. Demonfire is an upgraded Blaze and Simic Sky Swallower is the hardest-to-kill-without-a-Silklash Spider finisher in the game. Runs over dragons, then ignores their death effects. Void, Cap, and Cranial all deal with Combo and control decks, while Voidslime is simply a very solid card to bring in in an awful lot of matchups. Hana Kami, Wear Away, and Soulless Revival provide the Arcane recursion engine and artifact/enchantment hate as well.

First up, the best deck in Standard: Heartbeat Combo. Game one you want to find your Needles as soon as possible and stop their transmuting antics, your Spell Snares do a nice job of slowing down their mana and stop both Muddle and Remand. Your first Research should be for Nightmare Void, Cranial Extraction, Jester's Cap, and Wear Away. Your second Research should grab the Voidslimes. Game one can be tight given that you have a lot of dead cards against them. Games two and three, however, improve significantly for you as you take out the Scarab, Twisters, and Putrefys for two Voidslimes and your disruption package. This is a situation where being able to Research your creature kill back into the deck can make things exceptionally hard for them since the transformational sideboard no longer really works, and the counter sideboard doesn't have as many counters as you do. You'll lose games here, but win matches.

Next we have the Gruul. They've got early creatures that keep getting bigger and burn to finish the job. You've got chump blockers, board sweepers, counterspells, and lifegain. Advantage: You. Ribbons of Night is an exceptionally brutal spell against most aggro decks, combining lifegain, removal, and card drawing, so you might want to think about including some if your area is heavy in creature based aggro decks, but it's honestly not that needed.

The U/R mana denial decks ('Vore, Owling Mine, Wildfire) have an awful lot of trouble with Spell Snare, Sakura-Tribe Elder, and Life from the Loam. You pack all three. Owling Mine is the worst of these three matchups, but can be beaten with enough early counters and acceleration. If the 'Vore deck has a strong opening and you're not able to protect your early mana, they can steamroll you before you manage to get going again.

Aggressive discard decks (Rats, Rakdos, Orzhov, Hand in Hand, etc.) can be very difficult matchups. Hellhole Rats in particular is a difficult card to fend off, as it combines a Haste body, discard, and direct damage in one four mana package. Paladin En-Vec is another big problem card, since the only removal spell you have which kills him is Exile, and Simic Sky Swallower is your only creature that can kill him. Basically, you've got to counter what you can until you can stabilize with a boardsweeper. Development isn't great in this game as most of these decks have enough first strikers or pro-red creatures that they can simply give you the 3/1's then ignore them. Rix Maadi and Orzhova can be trouble, but Pithing Needle provides a nice answer.

Yeah, I'm savage, but I've also got a
softer side after I picked up a mattress
store last week.
In general, against aggro decks, your goal is to counter some early threats and keep the damage you take to a minimum until you can sweep the board with Savage Twister. After that, Scarab can keep the ground locked down while you Research and Gifts your way to an absolute ton of mana and cards and either Demonfire or Triple S for the win.

Control decks require a slightly different strategy: mainly, counter as much of their card drawing as possible while building up as much mana as possible, then simply have a couple of "big turns" which they can't match. The fact that you have Instant speed card drawing while most other control decks are stuck at Sorcery speed is a huge advantage.

In general, never be afraid to Gift for lands and Life from the Loam. When in doubt, counter, and always chump block.

I'd like to take a moment here to point out some of the different ways to build the Researched Gifts deck that I mentioned earlier. You can use White instead of Black with Proclamation of Rebirth, Firemane Angel, and Condemn replacing Soulless Revival, Grave-Shell Scarab, and Putrefy. Overrules replace the Void, Shoal and Extraction, while Kami of False Hope goes in for Exile into Darkness. In Black, Ribbons of Night and Seize the Soul are excellent options to supplement your removal suite against aggro. You can also go five color by ditching the Urzatron, or cutting it down to a singleton copy and adding a Temple Garden, Hallowed Fountain, and Plains, or you can pull the Tron in favor of bounce duals. Muddle the Mixture is a useful spell and tutor in this deck, able to find things such as Savage Twister, Wear Away, Research//Development, and Life from the Loam.

In closing, I'd like to say that the first deck presented here is easier to play and build, but the second one, if tweaked correctly, is probably slightly more powerful. Here's hoping everyone enjoys Ravnica Block, I know I plan to.


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