For me the real joy of Magic is not so much playing, it is the chance to sit down and to be a little creative and make a new deck. Sometimes it is fun to go and draw obscure cards and build around them, other times it is enjoyable to limit the pool to only commons, but sometimes I want to dabble in making a Standard legal deck. Standard is extremely popular and the number of impressive deck lists across the internet is truly amazing, so to try and do something that is uniquely your own is difficult. Also, I like to ensure that my decks are reasonably priced so that I don’t overspend on my deck, but this further complicates the process of putting together a deck. Today I’m going to go through a budget Standard deck that exploits the Heroic mechanic from Theros and can offer a lot of fun and can be surprisingly challenging to play.
I have seen a number of Boros Burn decks that play virtually no creatures apart from Young Pyromancer and Chandra’s Phoenix. However, my take on a budget brew goes the opposite direction. I want a load of creatures and then I want cheap Heroic enablers to pump my creatures and punish my opponents as quickly as possible.
In evaluating the cards available to me two things were needed: a) creatures needed to be inexpensive and carry the Heroic trigger b) enablers needed to be inexpensive and versatile. The first point was quite straightforward to put together starting with Favored Hoplite, Phalanx Leader, Wingsteed Rider, Akroan Crusader and Fabled Hero. The enablers were trickier because I had the choice of using Enchantments and Auras or going with Instants and combat tricks. In the end, I opted to go the route of combat tricks and instants rather than the enchantments due to the versatility because they could be cast on either my turn pre combat, as a combat trick to tip combat in my favor, or on my opponents turn to protect my creatures. Enchantments are slower, and while often allow a more powerful punch, the lack of flexibility could be a point of vulnerability. The deck can cast every card in the deck for four mana or less, also ensuring that you rarely find yourself jammed for mana and at a loss for something to do. Let’s take a look at what I’ve put together.
Here is the Standard decklist:
The game plan seems simple enough: Cast your dudes, pump them with your combat tricks, and smash your opponent until they quit, or you’re dead. However, it is not quite so simple in order to maximize the explosiveness of this relatively innocuous deck. Sometimes you have tricky decisions in order to maximize damage, but still hold back enough so as to not 2 for 1 yourself by committing overly to the board. In other situations, you may be tempted to go for the throat but need to hold back to avoid getting caught by a removal spell or a sweeper. The target of your spells to maximize the benefits of the Heroic triggers is also a point to be considered and something that takes practice to get. However, once these have been weighed, considerable damage can be done in short order. Here’s a plan to curve out into some massive damage.
Turn 3- Mountain, cast Coordinated Assault on Favored Hoplite and Akroan Crusader. Heroic trigger on Soldier Token gives it +1/+1 making it 2/3 and then the +1/+0 and first strike from Coordinated Assault, and another Soldier Token from Crusader. Attack for 7. Second main phase cast Firefist Striker,
Turn 4- Plains, Cast Dauntless Onslaught on Crusader and Hoplite. Heroic Triggers. So now Hoplite is 3/4 and then get’s +2/+2 from Dauntless Onslaught so is hitting as a 5/6. Cusader is now 3/3 for the turn, and another soldier token. Swing with the team, trigger Battalion on Firefist Striker and punch through for a whopping 13. Game over.
Yes, this is against a gold fish with no answers…but this is TURN 4 and you’ve crunched them for 25! That’s not something to mess with. Oh, and you haven’t even got to the creatures that get silly like the Boros Reckoner, Tajic, or Fabled Hero.
You’ve seen how things like Dauntless Onslaught and Coordinated Assault can be used to produce cheap Heroic triggers that yield startling amount of damage, but what about some of the other pieces to the deck? Battelwise Valor is another option for a Heroic trigger and a sizeable +2/+2 boost. The nice piece with this common is the scry ability on the card to help ensure you continue to draw into what you need and not flood out. Gods Willing can play double duty as an offensive trick to allow your most powerful creature to punch through for a bunch, or as a defensive trick to protect a creature in danger of dying. It also triggers Heroic for a very reasonable cost and comes with Scry. It’s a real All star. Boros Charm is a no brainer in this sort of deck. It can provide you with the reach to burn out an opponent if they can stem the bleeding from an early barrage, it can grant a creature double strike to crunch them for a huge amount of damage, or it can be used to protect your creatures by giving them indestructibility. The other additions of a pair of Spear of Heliod and the Assemble the Legion are very complementary and can further push through damage and overwhelm an opponent if you get to that stage of the game
The creatures in the deck are mostly Heroic creatures. Favored Hoplite and Akroan Crusader are crucial 1 drops. The Crusader is a mini Assemble the Legion and can quickly get out of control and flood the board with soldier tokens. The Hoplite very quickly becomes a menace and is quite resilient in combat damage because the moment Heroic is targeted, all damage to it is prevented. At the 2 spot Firefist Striker is terrific to help ensure your creatures can punch through for damage. By the time you are attacking with this guy the board can very easily be flooding out with soldiers and inexpensive creatures so the battalion ability is very relevant. Phalanx Leader is the ultimate in Heroic triggers for the whole team and is an auto-include in this deck. At 3 we have Wingsteed Rider just in case the ground game stalls and you need over the top. Fabled Hero is a brutally unfair card because of the Double-strike and with the Heroic trigger can very easily get out of control for a ton of damage. Boros Reckoner is a 1 of and is just a terrific creature, so no need to spend much time explaining this selection. Tajic is the only 4 drop that is very resilient, and in a deck that can very easily be swarming all over the board can easily see the Battalion ability be triggered…which is gross.
The mana base for this deck is as simple as I can make it, with 16 basic lands (10 plains, 6 mountains). 4 Temples of Triumph allow for the Scry ability, which is extremely useful to continue to draw into the gas you need to keep the pressure on, and since they are on colour are an easy fit. The Boros Guildgates are the only piece that I would change if I would be looking to upgrade the mana base in favour of Sacred Foundry. However, in the interest of keeping this as budget as possible, Boros Guildgate is perfectly acceptable.
For me, the best part of this deck, apart from the ridiculous amount of damage it can inflict in short order, is the price tag. This runs for a very reasonable $50, which in an age where Standard legal decks can cost far more, is a bargain. So, for a modest investment you too can sit down and sling cards in Standard and still have money for the bus home, or a coffee. Good deal! Is this deck going to redefine Standard? No. Will it be a fun deck to run and let you have some fun games? Absolutely.
As always, if you have any suggestions to help spruce up this deck and make it a little more enjoyable, I’m always open to suggestions. Nothing would make me happier than looking at some fun ideas to tweak this deck, even if only in a sideboard (which is currently, sadly lacking). I’d love the feedback and look forward to hearing from you because my next Casual Encounter is coming up and I want to be ready.
Take care and be good.