/ Standard

Standard Boros Weenie: A New Take on an Old Favorite

Playing Standard on Magic Online lately has been a lot like the Wild West: everyone is playing everything and there's no way to know even after the first couple of cards are played what exactly your opponent has in mind. Is this slow-starting deck actually control or the Izzet Drakes deck? Is your BG opponent going to lean on Plaguecrafter or Wildgrowth Walker (which lead to very different play styles)? Until the meta shakes out (which may not really happen until Pro Tour Atlanta in two weeks), there are opportunities out there to score some points with a straightforward game plan that uses a couple of win conditions attached to an old favorite. I saw this prototype for the first time when leafing through some of the early 5-0 lists on MTGO, and after a couple of modifications have had a decent amount of success with it. Bonus: it's cheap, BOTH on MTGO and Arena (cheap on Arena meaning zero mythics in the main deck and lots of commons/uncommons).

Boros Weenie

4 Dauntless Bodyguard
4 Hunted Witness
4 Legion's Landing
4 Healer's Hawk
4 Skymarcher Aspirant
4 Adanto Vanguard
4 Benalish Marshal
2 Experimental Frenzy
4 Heroic Reinforcements
2 Conclave Tribunal
4 Venerated Loxodon
12 Plains
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Clifftop Retreat

3 Baffling End
2 Banefire
2 Justice Strike
1 Lyra Dawnbringer
2 Make a Stand
2 Tocatli Honor Guard
3 Shield Mare

The deck plays a whopping TWENTY one-drops, so the goal is often to have 4-5 creatures on the board by turn 4. The ORDER that you want the creatures on the board depends on the matchup, but the two generally-ideal first turn plays are Healer's Hawk and Legion's Landing. The Hawk is a great way to get ahead on your life total early, and the Landing puts two permanents on the board, one of which often gets you to your fourth land on turn 3 and creates an endless supply of 1/1 lifelinkers in the late game. The rest of the creatures really depend on what's going on. Dauntless Bodyguard and Hunted Witness take advantage of the lack of full-on board wipes presently in standard. No, a white weenie deck is never going to want to see a Deafening Clarion or a Ritual of Soot on the other side of the board, but the Bodyguard and the Witness turn those into only partial board wipes, since Dauntless Bodyguard can be sacrificed to keep your most-valuable creature around and Hunted Witness replaces itself with a lifelinker. Finally, Skymarcher Aspirant is more valuable in the later stages of the game when it because a two-power flyer that you can send into the breach every turn.

Adanto Vanguard is the sole two-drop, and it's the only reason why we'd want to not play multiple creatures on turn 2. Being able to attack for 3 each turn is strong, and because of the high number of lifelinkers in the deck we often use the activated ability without much pain. I wouldn't call Benalish Marshal a "finisher" per se, but it helps to get the crew past getting wiped by Goblin Chainwhirler even though the little bugger isn't as prevalent as he used to be.

The two finishers are the reason you splash red through your dual lands. One is a traditional White Weenie finisher, and the other is a bit...unusual. Heroic Reinforcements is the traditional Overrun type of finisher that does everything a go-wide strategy wants to do: it puts two more bodies on the board, gives everything haste, and pumps the crew. You can win a decent number of games by just playing your curve out and sticking your Reinforcements for the win. Experimental Frenzy is the fun way to win. An historic weakness of the White Weenie template is that you run out of cards in your hand and are reduced to hoping that you draw into a finisher as a topdeck. Since everything in your deck is relatively cheap, Experimental Frenzy can often net you 3+ cards a turn as you play a land and 2-3 creatures every single turn. Very few decks have the horsepower to keep up with that sort of card advantage.

experimental-frenzy

We're also playing two convoke cards in the deck, both of which can be ready to go on turn 3. Go-wide strategies don't play a lot of removal in the main deck, but Conclave Tribunal has the advantage of removing any nonland permanent in a meta where most maindeck enchantment removal is limited to Assassin's Trophy and Knight of Autumn. Venerated Loxodon is the maindeck card I'm most unsure about. Yes, it's great to convoke a 4/4 on turn 3 and also pump your dorks. But there are also a lot of cases where the elephant sits in your hand because you don't want to take a turn off to run your bigger creature into removal or an Essence Scatter. Sometimes you'd rather just stay on the beat-down. Everyone still seems to be on this card, but I wouldn't be that surprised if doubling down on the go-wide strategy is the better play.

The sideboard is also eclectic, simply due to the nature of Standard being a pretty open format at this moment. Baffling End is great cheap removal against smaller creatures and Resplendent Angel. Tocatli Honor Guard is the red pill of Golgari and explore strategies (if you can keep it on the board). Justice Strike is efficient removal against a lot of powerful cards in the format. Make A Stand is as close as we're getting to Heroic Intervention in the current Standard. Shield Mare is very good against mono-red decks, and one Lyra Dawnbringer because Lyra don't need no reason, unbeliever. Banefire is great against control matchups, because you'll get a lot of damage in early but then need a way to finish, and an uncounterable Fireball is a great way to do it. If graveyard strategies get too strong, you can substitute Silent Gravestone or Remorseful Cleric, and if your LGS is dominated by aggro strategies you have access to Settle the Wreckage.

settle

After playing a couple of leagues with Boros Weenie, I was really happy with how the tools of the current cardpool fix the inherent issues of go-wide strategies. The deck has just enough card draw and just enough finishing power to feel like you're in the game against any deck. In fact, the most difficult decision I often had was the keep-or-mull decision each game. With only 20 lands in the deck, you have to understand that there are some one-land starting hands that you're going to need to keep if you have the right cards to go with it. It also means you're going to have some volatile post-mull decisions to make... I've lost a game with this deck where I had to mull to 3 because I saw 22 cards total in four possible starting hands with zero lands. There's also no basic Mountain in the deck because the mana fixing is so good, but it's possible that you'd want one basic Mountain in the deck if you're in a meta that has a lot of Assassin's Trophy and Settle the Wreckage so you can get the red source you need to cast your finisher. I was also surprised how often I'd be willing to attack into a suspected Settle the Wreckage if I had the right cards in hand. I wasn't that afraid to lose 2-3 creatures in some instances if I knew I was going to get lands for all of those creatures, and then follow up with an Experimental Frenzy to use all those lands to refill the board.

The list can definitely be refined, and there are some options that I've experimented with that might suit your circumstances. For instance, Rustwing Falcon might be preferable to Healer's Hawk in some number if you're worried about pingers removing your bird. If Venerated Loxodon isn't where this deck wants to be, you can replace them with combinations of Leonin Vanguard and Ajani's Pridemate which makes a more all-in go-wide deck that takes advantage of the lifegain available to make big, must-answer threats. I'm not sure I'd ever want to go up to more than six combined 4-drop finishers, but the ratio of Experimental Frenzy and Heroic Reinforcements might bounce around, again to suit your local meta or style of play.

I've had a great time playing this deck. It's still not widespread, so you can have a bit of the element of surprise on your side as you might be playing an aggro deck, but not the deck that people will be expecting. It forces your opponent to make impactful early plays and know when to use counters and removal on the right things to avoid the game getting out of hand. And, most importantly: it's fun. I've had a great time playing it, not only because of the wins, but because it lets you do fun things in a Magic game with what seem at first glance to be throwaway commons. To paraphrase Shakespeare, though they be but little, they can be fierce.

Darin Keener

Darin Keener

Darin has been a Magic: The Gathering streamer (https://Twitch.tv/FDTerritory) for 18 months and has participated in multiple Streamer Showdowns through WotC. He specializes in Tier V jank and fun.

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