Boros is enjoying something of a renaissance in Commander, with plenty of fun and interesting deck building opportunities. Kristen sits down with three decks she’s enjoyed playing lately.
Boros has always been my one true love in Commander. Maybe it’s because the first booster pack I ever opened had an Expedition Sacred Foundry in. Maybe it’s because the first product I bought was From the Vault: Angels. Maybe it’s because I just really love the combat step, a love I developed playing my other favorite format, Limited.
Either way, it’s my go-to color pair, and let me tell you: there’s never been a better time to play it. Last week I spoke about how the format had moved toward a synergy-forward metagame, with Haymakers falling out of favor. What’s more, Boros has enjoyed some of the most interesting and mechanically unique Commanders of any color pair since 2019.
There’s a lot of options, and all let us utilize the new and improved white and red cards from post-2020 Commander design. Many even let us play on a budget without old staples, like Land Tax and Wheel of Fortune. That’s pretty sweet.
Today, I want to share four Boros decks I really enjoy playing. I’ll tell you a little about each one and share a list. I’ve had a lot of requests for an article like this, so if you’ve been waiting — enjoy.
All Roads Lead to Mahakam: Hofri Reanimator
I love Reanimator, and I love it when Boros can play at high power tables. Hofri can do both, in no small part due to everyone’s favorite goblin, Dockside Extortionist. Hofri is very much a combo deck, in that it has access to creature loops that either burn opponents out with Purphoros or Goblin Bombardment or Mill them out with Altar of Dementia.
That isn’t the only thing it can do, though — it’s very much an all roads lead to Rome kinda deck. Filling up the graveyard is the order of play, because then we can use Cavalier of Flame to burn out opponents with all of the lands we’ve put there by self mill, fetching or using Myriad Landscape and Lotus Field.
Creatures end up in the graveyard, too, so Hallowed Spiritkeeper can make us a token army, which either attacks with +1/+1, Trample and Haste, or just pings or mills to death with our other payoffs. Maybe both.
While all of these plays are impressive, they don’t truly win games unless Hofri is involved. Thanks to Hofri’s ability, any time we sacrifice a creature, we’ll exile it and get a token copy. In practice, this means getting at least double of everything. It’s more if you throw in Determined Iteration or reanimation effects.
Hofri gives the deck a lot of interplay, too. We benefit from having instant speed EtB and dies-triggers, meaning we can interact far more than the average Boros deck. Holding a Dire Fleet Daredevil or Dualcaster Mage with a sac outlet feels awesome, as does having Martyr’s Cause to fog incoming damage.
Due to Hofri’s wording, any opposing creatures we control and sacrifice will go to exile and give us a token copy, too. Mob Rule, Helm of Possession, Seize the Spotlight and Song-Mad Treachery give us the option to do so. My most recent play with Mob Rule was to steal an opponent’s Rionya after already having a rebounded Ephemerate resolve in my upkeep. This gave me three Rionya triggers at the beginning of combat, which I pointed at Dockside to let me pop off.
Hofri is probably my strongest Boros deck right now (partly because I got bored of Aurelia + Helm of the Host). With this list, it can be yours, too.
No Myr Uprising: Neyali, Suns’ Vanguard
Neyali is the sleeper Boros hit of the year so far, and if you didn’t pick up the Rebellion Rising precon, you’re missing out. Not only did it have Clever Concealment, Roar of Resistance and some of the best For Mirrodin! equipment, it also has one of the strongest Boros Commanders we’ve ever had.
Neyali rewards us with cards for attacking, and even though it’s impulse draw, there’s a saving grace. Not only do the cards remain available forever, but you can simply attack with a token even if Neyali isn’t in play in order to regain access to them.
Now, that makes hasty tokens important, and we were already committed to haste anyway because we need to be able to bounce back from a board wipe. First Day of Class, Eiganjo Uprising and Heroic Reinforcements join Daring Piracy, Roar of Resistance, Rite of the Raging Storm and Loyal Apprentice for hasty beats. We can also make tokens in an end step with Spawning Pit and Chivalric Alliance.
Given we’re able to make some annoying to block creatures, I’ve slid in the new battle, Invasion of Gobakhan. We need protection when we go wide, so that and Clever Concealment help a lot. Double Strike gives cards like Professional Face-breaker, Strixhaven Stadium and Umezawa’s Jitte extra potential, and also makes the mite tokens from White Sun’s Twilight and Mirrex kill people a lot faster.
Every little bit helps when you have Double Strike, but sometimes you just wanna go big; Mercadia’s Downfall kills people. Oh, and it can be used politically to make another player’s attack lethal too >:D
The most fun to resolve cards in the deck have to be Divine Visitation — because nothing kills people faster than chunky vigilant flyers that can deal at least eight damage each whenever we attack — and one of my new pet cards, Manaform Hellkite. I used this one in Sylvia and Khorvath, too, to make lots of hasty beaters when I played out my equipment, but it’s even better in Neyali.
If you’ve always dreamed of making Boros weenie work in Commander, Neyali is the deck for you. You never run out of cards!
I’m a Soul But I’m Still a Soldier: Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier
Now for something completely different. Agrus Kos is one of the weird Commanders from Jumpstart 2022.
Argus Kos asks you to do a very specific thing, and doesn’t really give you any clues about how to accomplish it. It’s decidedly lower in power than either of the decks before it, but can still pack a reasonable punch and has some hilarious lines of play.
Copying abilities that target Agrus means using cards in weird ways. Basilica Skullbomb jumps your team while refilling your hand, because drawing a card is part of the same ability. It’s the same for Sword of Hearth and Home — it both flickers your whole team but also gets you a land for each creature you flicker. Bonkers!
The order of play is to curve out with a low curve of utility creatures and then use Agrus to help you turn those smaller recruits into full-grown soldiers. There’s a light soldier theme, capitalizing on the fact that Ballyrush Banneret discounts Agrus Kos for starters.
We’re taking Grand Abolisher and Myrel, Shield of Argive, because getting interrupted while we’re getting up to utter nonsense is frowned upon. Ranger-Captain fetches Skrelv, one of the best cards in the deck, but also Esper Sentinel and Mother/Giver of Runes if we want them.
The splashiest plays are no doubt when we can take advantage of the new Backup cards; Guardian Scalelord, Boon-Bringer Valkyrie and Mirror-Style Master give us serious value, the likes of which is only otherwise obtained by playing Jaxis the Troublemaker or Thundering Raiju.
Because Agrus can be mana intensive, we also want to take permanent buffs where we can get them. Archangel Elspeth does exactly that, while Birgi can help us with mana to activate Agrus in the same turn we play the enablers.
Fraying Line, Jeska, Thrice Reborn and Key to the City overperform, and pulling off Scavenged Brawler’s graveyard ability is pure magic. Pay close mind to what Teleportation Circle can flicker, and consider Dungeons, because they’re not only good value, but a number of rooms let you target Agrus to put +1/+1 counters on him (and vis-a-vis the team) with only the two mana to copy the ability.
I’m still below 10 games with this one, but there are further shenanigans I’m considering. Surestrike Trident can let my whole team deal damage, which has some intriguing applications. I’m gonna test the deck further and see how many tokens I can make on average before committing.
First World Problems: Aurelia the Warleader
Affectionately named for its inclusion of all manner of minor inconveniences that teach opponents to play more removal, the final of the four decks is a fresh take on Aurelia the Warleader.
Aurelia continues to be a viable combo Commander, and she combos with an increasing number of cards. Just the other week, I used Dire Fleet Daredevil to cast an opponent’s Surge to Victory, exiling my own Ephemerate in order to take infinite combats. It was pretty sweet, especially considering I didn’t plan to combo with her in the deck I played.
Sometimes infinite combos aren’t what you fancy doing, though, and in that case, it’s usually better to have some card advantage or mana advantage in the Command Zone — or at least a cheap Commander.
Aurelia is admittedly none of those things, but can she still work in a non-combo build? I think so, but it takes a different approach to deckbuilding.
For this build, we’re not so concerned with expensive angels or trying to make a reanimator style deck. Instead? We’re on a multi-stage plan.
Step one is curving out with hatebears, value creatures and flyers. We’re slowing down the opposing players while building up our forces.
Step the third is to swing out with a way to do serious damage. We have Blade Historian and True Conviction for Double Strike, Iroas for Menace, Akroma’s Will to jump over the top and, of course, Aurelia herself to grant us extra combats.
Given we will meet resistance, Brought Back, Serra Paragon and Storm of Souls are among the ways we dodge wraths and redeploy hatebears. Storm of Souls is great in our build, because we don’t really care about the power of our creatures; a team of flyers with an extra combat can get it done, and hopefully we hit one of our other ways to buff them. In a pinch, we flicker the team with Legion’s Initiative anyway.
The spice of this build comes in the form of payoffs for running basically all white creatures (our only exception being Urabrask). This unlocks Crackdown as part of our stax-lite approach to gumming down the board, and Brave the Elements as an additional way to grant unblockable to the team.
Overall this build aims to overwhelm opponents by making it hard for them to attack or block, hard for them to get off the ground into the midgame, and then capitalize on the tempo advantage before they wiggle out. We run a bunch of protection and recursion in order to stick to our game plan.
Don’t sleep on Scrollshift, which pulls triple duty by flickering our Restoration of Eiganjo, Bitter Reunion and Archaeomancer’s Map, protects Crackdown and Blind Obedience and Linvala from removal, and grants us one extra combat from Aurelia. Likewise, Mandate of Peace fills not only the role of Fog + Silence, but can stop opponents messing with our first combat, while allowing us to take a second one if we’ve already attacked with Aurelia.
I’m still tinkering with the deck, as you can see in the maybeboard. I’d like to try Githzerai Monk, Cathars’ Crusade and Citadel Siege. The former two didn’t make the first draft due to Hushbringer, but we can totally run them without cutting it if we want.
Whether you’re into graveyards, tokens, doing weird stuff or playing classic Commanders and classic strategies, today’s article has you covered. Four great Boros decks, all with a different gameplay experience. Let’s face it, unique gameplay is what matters in Commander, and it’s why we keep some decks built and deconstruct others.
I’ve recently tried Duke Ulder Ravengard, too. And while it was fun, the deck suffered from needing to attack three opponents every turn to get maximum value. It’s the same reason I wasn’t sold on Commander Liara Portyr, a card that has still found its way into the 99 of both Neyali and Aurelia.
Likewise, I deconstructed Sylvia and Khorvath: Dragonsword because the double strike gameplay on cheap evasive dragons ended up having too much crossover with Neyali and another build I’ll share with you in the near future.
Boros is in a great place, and I urge you to give it another look. It’s not the same as it was five or even three years ago. Any questions about the decks? Hit me up on Twitter.
Special thanks too to artist Beniamino Bradi, who gave us permission to use his fantastic Aurelia art we’ve got for the cover of this article. He’s also a big fan of Boros. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a stellar piece.
Kristen is Card Kingdom’s Head Writer, and member of the Commander Advisory Group. Formerly a competitive Pokémon TCG grinder, she has been playing Magic since Shadows Over Innistrad, which in her opinion, was a great set to start with. When she’s not taking names with Equipment and Aggro strategies in Commander, she loves to play any form of Limited.