The Deck Ranking
Based on a defunct Avacyn primer
Quick Game Likeness - should fit snugly within a mid power meta, has done turn 7 tablekills on good draws Newbie Feasibility - "Hey kid, point these instants at creatures you own and turn the bird sideways at people" Commander Dependency - without Feather, the list becomes a bunch of underwhelming sub-limited garbage only rescuable by a Zada variant "Scare" Rating - most of your mid-game plays are small and unassuming, but there is a flurry of them Multiplayer Mode - an interesting tradeoff - in 1v1 you can voltron easier, but in multiplayer you milk your spells more effectively Expensiveness - Heal tribal, the core of the deck is dirt cheap; expensive utility/support pieces result in moderate performance improvement
Game Play Attributes
Acceleration - ridiculous mana build-up via rocks, land ramp, various engine options to milk extra value from both, and Phyrexian Altar Library Searching - a bunch of conditional options, with nearly all being multi-use in some form or other Board Control - a few staple removal spells, plus a bit of potentially reusable ETB control Spell Control - a smattering of protection instants designed to repeatedly keep your key creatures alive Card Advantage - very sturdy scry/draw dig when the deck "comes online", recycles crappy instants like a boss even when flailing Linearity - recycling card advantage instants will be a constant, but you can win in many different ways Combo Potential - Paradox Engine + Isochron Scepter + rocks usually happens after a hefty Zada top-up
The Deck's Strengths
A cast spam deck in Boros! With actual card advantage! What's not to love?Various synergy pieces (ETB, voltron, heroic, cast payoff) with the spell package lead to surprisingly varied games.A weird, almost draw-go control play experience - hold up interaction mana, devote spare resources to card advantage.Ridiculous Zada, Hedron Grinder possibilities - protect your entire board with the white shield spells, plus the standard draw out the wazoo thing.Repeatedly shredding super cheap instants makes for kooky Paradox Engine/Phyrexian Altar abuse scenarios.Monastery Mentor is, arguably, the best cast spam swarmer in the entire game. A true army in a can for this deck, a great payoff for being in white.A fun way to make the most of the stack as you try to fiddle with the various triggers/copies to milk maximum value.The wall of protection instants necessary to keep the deck afloat doubles up value by granting your game plan relative immunity.Occasionally assembles a Paradox Engine + Isochron Scepter infinite that wins the game on the spot.I've won through an Ajani Steadfast emblem with a wall of 1/1s, and not even a wipe could stop me!
The Deck's Weaknesses
Boros cuteness aside, lacks blue - you'd get a healthy dollop of extra cast spam payoff to work with.Very commander dependent, there's a reason Heal was only present in eight pre-Feather EDH decks on EDHREC.Relies on key non-creature pieces for game-ending explosiveness, and the deck can only offer a modicum of protection for them.Probably won't manage to hang with the big dogs, even if you ram in the hatebears.The protection suite is necessary for ensuring the deck's functioning, but stuff like Ephemeral Shields isn't the highest impact when you're uncontested.Even if doubling up protection spells for combat defences, your board state is often quite meagre if you don't get a 1/1 swarm.The 1/1 swarm won't help a lot if trample comes around. Refer to Monastery Mentor and Phalanx Leader for X/X swarm assembly instead.Will probably taper off in performance a bit if you try to focus on one of the synergy elements due to lack of card pool depth.The potential Feather-reusable control options (which I don't run) are quite variable in their returns, ranging from do-nothing to borderline oppressive.Sometimes induces mild salinity by milking Heal over and over again, while the protection serves its purpose and makes it hard to disrupt.
Other Commander Options
Depala, Pilot Exemplar - The first instance of a Boros legend explicitly granting card advantage out of the command zone. Unfortunately, dwarves did not test particularly well as white's potential characteristic race and fell to the wayside after Kaladesh block, so wanting to get value out of the ability has you picking for scraps in two sets' worth of cards. At least new vehicles show up every now and then.Firesong and Sunspeaker - The first Boros legend incentivising you to look into spells rather than creatures. You cram your deck full of Hour of Devastation style effects, repeatedly mow the board, and use the resulting wicked life total to fuel Aetherflux Reservoir or Treasonous Ogre. Still struggles with Boros value related matters though.Aurelia, the Warleader - Nothing says Boros smash like an extra combat out of the command zone. The most popular Boros commander serves as a handy way to double up on the destruction power of your forces, and works super well with all sorts of on-combat triggers (think Hero of Bladehold for a double trouble package of the two most desirable ones) that Boros is so fond of.Iroas, God of Victory - The coward's way out of Boros, Iroas ensures your aggro swarm retains more relevance as the game goes on. Turns out having a wide board with menace is pretty good for pressuring people, and the fact nothing dies lets you turn various jank like Tilonalli's Summoner sideways and milk value with impunity. That, or you can just Starstorm everything after attacks.
Zada, Hedron Grinder - The go-to option for targeted cantrip abuse. Go wide via means such as Siege-Gang Commander, set Zada down, rip a cheap cantrip, repeat, have trouble differentiating your hand from your deck. It's not uncommon for General Tazri to be a five colour surrogate for getting Zada online outside the constraints of mono red.Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest - The most conceptually similar option to Feather, is often found running various cheap evasive/pumping scries/cantrips. Feather is a tempting include in this deck's 99, as getting repeatable Shadow Rift action sounds pretty good. Naturally gravitates towards voltron due to the sheer efficiency of the commander's combat pump.Talrand, Sky Summoner - Having a kickass Young Pyromancer variant out of the command zone is pretty good for getting cast payoffs. Mix up some cheap cantrips with more potent draw and whatever permission you feel like, leading to a rock solid shell of a deck. As a trade-off, you're stuck in blue and blue only.Niv-Mizzet, Parun - The best Niv is a fierce value engine off cheap casts, so you can take the overall ideals of Talrand but go even lower to the ground and add a touch of red support. Now each 1/2 drop instant in your hand is the equivalent of Defiant Strike/Shelter in Feather, while probably doing something else relevant! I'm pretty sure you can ram it full enough of stuff where not getting the spell back won't really hurt you. Let's be honest, you'll probably be looking for a Curiosity effect with all the dig
Marchesa, the Black Rose - A ridiculous Grixis powerhouse that can set up a value engine that pops off in each other player's turn. Combine a sac outlet with some +1/+1 counter shenanigans and you can get all sorts of ETB/death payoffs going like nobody's business. There's also a cute modular variant that makes active use of artifact creatures.Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker - A crappier version of the above. True, you can usually get more creatures in circulation as you don't have to worry about +1/+1 counter stuff, but you're restricted to tiny dudes. That, and if someone pops Shirei then your plan goes to hell, whereas Marchesa can typically hide in the 'yard and shrug it off. Oh yeah, and it's mono black too. Nevertheless, Shirei has some devotees.Ephara, God of the Polis - Ephara's clause incentivises you to pop out flash creatures and/or mana sink tokens each turn. There's no harm in a bit of Sacred Mesa or Whitemane Lion action to keep the card draw going. You could argue that this makes her the most similar to Feather of this bunch, as you can sink a bit of mana in each opponent's turn for an extra card if the right pieces come alone. Being a Theros god is pretty handy for survival purposes too.Patron of the Orochi - Nearly a Seedborn Muse out of the command zone, you get to untap all your forests and green creatures in everybody else's turns. A game plan with tons of mana sink activated abilities is a natural complement to the ability. If this seems up your street, check out my primer on him. For now enough alternate options, time to get back to Feather!
In the deck attributes section, I made the claim that Feather's a very budget-friendly commander. I then proceeded to thrust a thousand plus dollar list at you. I am fully aware of the cognitive dissonance of these two, but ultimately most of the expensive cards serve as various utility pieces or win accelerators. The core that makes Feather tick is the various cheap as hell instants, plus cheap cast payoff. You'll be ok if you can't get the more expensive options, and I'll go over everything that's even slightly cuttable now.
The first point of trimming is the vanity mana base. I pulled the trigger on fetches and Mana Crypt during more affordable times, and feel fine proxying them in anything I build as I own one of each. Take 'em out, take Mox Diamond and Plateau out while you're at it. That's two thirds of the deck's cost gone, with negligible performance loss. Sure, it'd be cool to have perfect dual access for colour purposes and Duergar Hedge-Mage reliability, but you'll live Keep everything Reflecting Pool tier and cheaper, untapped lands help the deck work. Sunbaked Canyon is cash money because of artificial scarcity, and it's not like we'll use its Canopy nature as the deck likes its mana and draws effortlessly. Mana Confluence is a bit debatable, but should stick with you in future EDH adventures, which makes it a sensible purchase if you get around to it. Slot in some basics, maybe the Karoo or Temple. There are some other expensive rocks lurking in here. Chrome Mox and Mox Amber are both pretty cool, but you'll be perfectly ok if you just put in two-drop tap rocks instead. Coldsteel Heart, Star Compass, Marble Diamond and Fire Diamond (sorted on priority) should have you covered for however many slots you may want to swap. You could also consider Myr, if need be.
Taking out further expensive utility options will result in some level of performance hit to the deck, but its core engine will still be in place so it should be ultimately okay. Maybe a bit slower, maybe a bit less consistent, but still functional. A lot of the money cards synergise with each other, and can be taken out as package deals.
Paradox Engine is extremely strong in the shell and starts the countdown from the second it lands on the table, but it also tends to die on sight against experienced opponents. Plus, every now and then you actually scry it to the bottom when given the chance to, as you just don't have the rock infrastructure in place to support it! If you take it out, Isochron Scepter loses its combo applications, but may still be worth keeping around for its sturdy utility.Sword of Feast and Famine is a great mana boost, but comes with a massive price tag. Stoneforge Mystic grants you access to it, along with a few other choice equipments, and loses a bit of sheen with one of its best payoffs gone. Both are pretty solid in the format, but not quite ubiquitous staples.The Recruiter friends are even narrower, only getting you small creatures, but help the deck find whatever nefarious weenie it may need at a particular time. Monastery Mentor is wicked good in the shell, but a rare sighting outside it. If these guys go, Phyrexian Altar becomes harder to get online, so you can consider offing it as well.
By now we're left with ubiquitous format all-stars in Smothering Tithe, Path to Exile and Enlightened Tutor. I'd recommend picking the first two up, they'll be fantastic here and will live anywhere Wx you may venture to going forward. The Tutor actually loses quite a bit of sheen if you take out the artifact power lifters, so you can save a bit of moolah on it in that case. However, it is a similarly universal include in the EDH realm.
So what would one do with all these opened slots? An angle that works pretty okay for game closing is voltron, and you can add some more support for it to try to compensate for the various avenues to victory the expensive options may have offered. There's O-Naginata, a very cool bit of equipment that costs a pittance and kicks Feather up to six power realms. Leering Emblem gives Feather double super prowess, and should make turning her into a two/three turn clock quite easy. You can slot in some additional voltron support instants in Titan's Strength, Invigorated Rampage or Brute Force. They're not currently in the shell as most of them only pump Feather without offering any additional value, and unlike protection pump isn't important enough to merit value-less spells in the current build. You could explore the other Feather synergy directions. You could, and probably should, put in Sphinx-Bone Wand. Heck, I should probably be running that in here. The world's your oyster, and you shouldn't end up with a clunker of a deck.
Another thing brought up in the deck attributes is that the list is very commander dependent. There's no debating that - without Feather around, all the value instants just happen once and go away forever. Turns out Heal isn't an EDH staple for a reason. As such, it becomes imperative to run various interaction options to ensure Feather's survival through whatever the opponents may try to throw her way. There are five broad classes of interaction effects that Boros has access to - flickering of the end-of-turn or immediate varieties, protection, indestructibility and regeneration. Let's see how these match up against each other when compared in a number of common EDH adversities, plus a few bonus utility categories:
The clear winner is end-of-turn flicker due to its ability to dodge all of the outlined interaction scenarios. After that, things become a bit more situational. Indestructibility beats all damage/destruction, succumbing to -X/-X (Toxic Deluge, Tragic Slip), exile (Merciless Eviction, Duplicant) and bounce (Cyclonic Rift). However, damage/destruction are pretty common in the format - most non-white spot removal and tons of popular wraths utilise it. Regeneration is like a strictly crappier indestructibility due to a no regeneration clause present on a number of older removal options. Insta-flicker does literally nothing against wipes, but shields against everything targeted. Protection blanks everything targeted that has a colour, but most representatives of the category are soft to the occasional Duplicant. To compensate, it offers shielding against damage wipes, which we can actually use ourselves to good effect while choosing our own wraths. A few of the options (Apostle's Blessing, Faith's Shield) come with slightly more diverse abilities, shielding non-creature permanents from harm in dire straits. This is not a bad mode to have - somehow, there's always a piece of spot removal that makes an appearance the split second Paradox Engine hits the board. Protection also comes with kooky evasion opportunities, while flickers offer ETB re-use potential.
The choice of interaction ultimately comes down to the shell. You're probably running the end-of-turn flickers no matter what. If you're after a more ETB build, it makes sense to pursue the insta-flickers en masse. However, outside those decks, the insta-flickers are quite overcosted for what they offer. Both protection (Gods Willing) and indestructibility (Sheltering Light) have one-drops that also scry on top of doing whatever they do. That's pretty cool - you still get to milk some value out of them if you don't need them for survivability purposes. There's also a two-drop protection cantrip (Shelter). By contrast, insta-flicker offers two one-drops (and a two-drop) that do nothing else, plus a three-drop cantrip. As such, I have only adopted Ephemerate and have devoted my other slots to protection and indestructibility options.
Deck Strategy in Shellnut
The deck's primary aim is to get out Feather and start ramming cheap card advantage/filtering instants over and over again, sculpting a grip and a game plan.Said game plan can be quite varied. There are various paths to victory in the deck. You can Guttersnipe/Aria/Lazor people out. You can drown people in dudes. You can clonk people for 21 with Feather. All this is aided by ridiculous mana mediated by Paradox Engine, and to a lesser extent Phyrexian Altar. Piece something together from whatever shows up.Scry is good. Scry allows you to ship undesirable draws to the bottom and make your cantrips give you productive stuff you actually want. If you have the mana to support them, make active use of your scry options to milk card quality. A good general scry-dig priority list in a game state vacuum would be locating a cantrip or two, then some solid cast payoff, wrapping up with any game-ending haymakers when you have the real estate to support them.If in doubt, even the slightest bit of it, hold up interaction mana to the point of letting it go to waste in the end step before your untap. Keeping Feather alive is a priority, and can lead to some interesting mind games with your opponents with regards to what you choose to let them know about. Experienced foes will usually just leave you alone.Even if you get caught with your pants down in some exchange, it's not the end of the world. The opposition probably had to actually use cards, probably in multiples, to make it happen. There's only so much spot removal they run. You should be able to bounce pack in a bit.You're not particularly removal heavy. You have a few staple instants, a solitary creature wipe, and a bit of ETB destruction that you can recycle via flicker. You can assist in solving some emergencies and try to keep yourself alive through dire straits, but will be far from fun police.Mana makes the deck go round. You look at the 99's innards, you see the 1 cmc instant tribal and overall nonexistent curve, and find out in action soon enough this is capable of guzzling any amount of mana you can throw at it. Each of those one-drop instants can be cast in every player's turn, and the cantrips will quickly bring new friends to the party. All while holding up the vital interaction mana. Get your rocks out and look for other mana opportunities.Being rock-heavy is quite painful on the surface. However, repeatable cantrips tend to get you consistent land drops, and there are a few avenues in the deck (Kor Cartographer/Depression Automaton + flicker, Sword of Lotus Flip) to get land mana. Getting your rocks shot out from under you is annoying, but not typically game-ending.Given the various cast triggers the list has on offer, it's good to pay attention to the stack and try to maximise your value. You can respond to various individual triggers, spells, copies, what have you, and try to get maximum benefit from everything. Quite a fun thing sometimes, particularly with Aetherflux Reservoir. At the same time, the bigger the unresolved stack the harder you can get blown out by something like Cyclonic Rift...Sunforger is mainly used as a toolbox addition here. Don't spam it every single time you can, even sitting idly on Feather helps out with her clock. Rip it when you explicitly need something. The deck does not run spells that are worth sinking five mana into every turn.The game-ending artifacts are good to keep around. A few of the protection spells (Apostle's Blessing, Faith's Shield) come with emergency clauses to act as shields for them too. You won't get them back then, but they will prevent an instance of spot removal on them. This should hopefully suffice, given sufficient game-ending girth.
Ebline - Continued feedback throughout the deck's development, and surviving me keeping the mana-centric equipment Greendawg - Enduring various configurations of the deck in testing, magicking up a cool banner, and alerting me of Aurelia's Fury spiking.Carthage - Providing a number of spot-on card suggestions, some of which I'm still processing in my roundabout way.Dominicus - Reinforcing me in my choice to run copious amounts of dirt cheap protection, and hopefully coming around to the various swarm synergies.darrenhabib - Getting me to write up the primer swiftly to slide under his multi-primer emporium, and offering solid formatting assistance.Everybody not mentioned who provided their opinions/feedback at any point of the time-space continuum, or even made it down here. You rock!
Quote from Carthage »gamble - one of the best tutors in boros
Quote from Carthage »Minor change: Fellwar stone over star compass, doesn't come into play tapped
Quote from Sheriff-K »As for Reckless Rage, what targets are you expecting that 4 damage wouldn't be enough? (Almost every Tier 1-2 Commander, as well as a bunch of utility creatures/dorks, even LabMan, die to 4 damage.)
Do you think Braid of Fire is too cute? I guess most of the cantrips are White, but it does let us get free value from Red instants in our upkeep.
Any reason you're not running Balduvian Rage? Seems like a versatile way to "Voltron" someone out.. And unless I'm mistaken, it IS a 1-Mana Cantrip, no?
Is summoning sickness enough reason to avoid having every pinger, when you're basically on the pinger plan?
Thoughts on using Past in Flames to get back cards that unfortunately had to be thrown away? Or do we have enough redundancy that you don't see it being necessary for it's cost?
And with all of the token generators and ways to tutor them up, do you really think you don't have enough synergy for cards like Indomitable Creativity and Divergent Transformations?
PS. Am I dumb for wanting to include Boros Garrison?
PSS. Runaway Steam-Kin seems like it could be good.. As does Primal Amulet.
PSSS. Am I right in thinking that Smothering Tithe is better than Spawning Breath, and that we probably don't need either?
Quote from Rumpy5897 »Ahh, the most inexplicable Feather-related spike. Note it says attacking, so I can't juggle it in other people's turns.
Quote from Rumpy5897 »
Occasionally I'd find myself wishing for a particular instant. No card advantage, no perfect response to removal attempts, no kill potential. It wasn't super common, but that is a gap that Sunforger could potentially help fill - not something you'd feel obliged to ram every turn, but rather an emergency superman that delivers whatever you're in dire need of. This means I could probably ease off the Magnetic Theft