Building_on_a_Budget

Rogue-itis strikes Jay

Charge Of The Boros: Concerted Stubbornness

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The letter I! suffer from what I've commonly called “rogue-itis.” That is, when building decks I tend to gravitate to the deck ideas I've never seen before, or where I think I can break new ground. If there's a card that everyone else has dismissed as junk, I want to build a deck around it. If I've never seen anyone succeed with a Standard Blue Weenie deck, I'll try it out. Rogue-itis works the other way, too; if a deck is popular, I almost immediately lose interest in its key cards. I let others chase the chase rares (except rare multi-lands). Once my own deck is tuned and winning, I tend to want to move on to new, different, deck ideas.

I've spent some time contemplating the implications of my affliction and have come to very few conclusions. It's weird: I don't always root for the underdog in sporting events, I don't poo-poo current fashion trends, and I didn't name my son “Banana.” So far, I haven't seen that my rogue-itis plays itself out anywhere else in life other than Magic. To compensate, I suppose, I have pretty extreme rogue-itis when it comes to my favorite card game.

Why is this relevant today, midway through my last preconstructed deck evolution? Well, last week I ended the article believing in my heart that I would be making a Concerted Effort deck. There just weren't enough cards in Standard with double strike to truly make a double strike deck, but I was happy with the idea that I could sometimes give all of my creatures double strike via Concerted Effort. I rubbed my hands together, intending to add Courier Hawks, Order of the Stars, and the like during my next article.

A funny thing happened, though. Lots of people on the Message Boards had this same idea. infidel suggested it in the fourth post to my article last week, and the sentiment was echoed time and again. I started to feel as if people assumed that Concerted Effort was a foregone conclusion for my fledgling deck.

You can guess where this is going. The groundswell of love for Concerted Effort had me feeling it was too obvious a direction for my Boros Legion deck. As a result, I decided that I would not be adding Concerted Effort to my deck, even though I had never seen an Effort deck online. Keep in mind that usually I'm very responsive to reader feedback and want to make you all happy, but my own weirdness was standing in the way this time. The mere fact that everyone expected a Concerted Effort deck turned me off to the idea.

Rogue-itis is an odd affliction to get one's mind around.

A lot of other interesting suggestions popped up on the Boards, though, ideas with less universal support. Some suggested Godo, Bandit Warlord, sometimes with a Samurai theme and sometimes without. Others suggested an Aura theme via the Magemarks and cards like Galvanic Arc. Rabble Rouser, Loxodon Warhammer, Plow Through Reito, Boros Fury Shield, Flaming Fusillade, Sensei Golden-Tail, Captive Flame, Master Warcraft, Sunhome Enforcer, Flash Conscription, Into The Fray... the suggestions came from every direction on the Boards, and most lit my imagination afire. Thank you to the many people who piped up on directions to take my deck. I've listened to everyone, and you've given me a lot to contemplate.

Speaking of my deck, here is where I left off last week:

If I'm not turning this thing into a generic White/Red beatdown deck, and I'm not making a Concerted Effort deck, where am I headed?

Stars And Spikes

Wherever it is I'm headed, the deck clearly still needs a lot of work. I've been reluctant to really commit to a theme or central card (some readers rightly pointed out that I intended double strike as a starting point more than a key theme), which is slightly different from previous evolutions. Here, I've been feeling my way as I go and hoping I end up somewhere fun. All the more reason, then, to keep playing games with the deck to see what's what.

Game 11: Green/Red Tokens

I played two Thundersong Trumpeters, while my opponent played Fists of Ironwood on one Trumpeter, then Sosuke's Summons. Thankfully, I had the mana for Cleansing Beam to wipe out his tokens. On the next turn, he played Llanowar Elves and I played Bushi Tenderfoot followed by Flame-Kin Zealot. In desperation, he tried another Fists of Ironwood and Scatter the Seeds, but I had Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion and Skyknight Legionnaire for the win.

Game 12: Mono-Green Snakes

So close, and yet so far. I hammered my opponent with two Boros Recruits, a Thundersong Trumpeter, and a Bushi Tenderfoot. What? That doesn't sound like “hammering?” Well, two Rally the Righteous and an Otherworldly Journey on my Tenderfoot and my opponent was finding it hard to keep creatures on the table as well as life points. I managed to kill not only a bunch of Orochi Sustainers and Orochi Rangers, but also two Seshiro the Annointed and Sosuke, Son of Seshiro. At two life, though, my opponent played a second Sosuke, then Orochi Hatchery for two, then Coat of Arms. My offense dwindled to nothing, and in about three turns my opponent had a batch of 11/10 Snakes with which to decimate me.

Game 13: White Weenie

We both started out with Bushi Tenderfoots, which I followed up with Thundersong Trumpeter while my opponent played Vulshok Morningstar. Hey! That's a good idea! When he tried to equip his little guy, though, I used Lightning Helix to kill it. My two creatures hit him around for a while, but then Inner-Chamber Guard showed up. I kept it from attacking with the Trumpeter while equipping my Tenderfoot with Sunforger, then playing Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion. My opponent played Blinding Angel and decided not to block my 4/1 Tenderfoot, so I was able to knock him down to three life. I stopped the Angel with my Trumpeter, allowed the Guard to hit me down to twenty-one, then activated Sunforger to get Lightning Helix for the win.

Game 14: Green/Black Golgari

I had a slow start thanks to Boros Garrison, but managed a third-turn Skyknight Legionnaire to fly over his Sakura-Tribe Elder. He eventually got a Stinkweed Imp, so I played another Legionnaire to make him lose it. He dredged the next turn and in response to him playing Shambling Shell, I used Lightning Helix to kill his Imp. On the next turn I played Bushi Tenderfoot and Flame-Kin Zealot to hammer him down to eight life. He played Vigor Mortis on the Imp and dredged his Shell, giving him two blockers to my two remaining creatures. I had Otherworldly Journey to make his Imp disappear, then played my second Zealot to attack him down to two life. He dredged the Shell again, giving him two blockers once more. I drew Lightning Helix off the top of my library and that was game.

Game 15: Black/Green Spirits

This was a long and not particularly interesting game. I kept a hand with only a Mountain and Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion as land, and although I was able to play a first-turn Boros Recruit everything else in my hand required White mana. My opponent didn't put a lot of pressure on me thanks to two Traproot Kami, two Bile Urchins, and an Elder Pine of Jukai. I finally drew a Plains, used Lightning Helix to kill his Elder Pine, and on the next turn I played Greater Forgeling. My opponent used Death Denied to get back his Spirit, then Horobi's Whisper to kill my Forgeling. I played Boros Swiftblade to keep his force at bay, but I could only play one spell a turn thanks to my one Plains. After putting about twenty land on the table, my opponent had an army of small Spirits and Seizan, Perverter of Truth. I tried to play Rally the Righteous to kill Seizan with my Swiftblade, but he had another Horobi's Whisper to kill it in response. I died with a full seven cards in hand.

Okay, the mana requirements for this deck are starting to get annoying, as exemplified by that last game. It's not the thing about the deck that is most concerning me, though. Right now I'm not satisfied that I'm taking enough advantage of double strike, nor am I really able to make Bushi Tenderfoot scary for my opponent. It's time to make a few more adjustments, some of which may surprise you.

OUT: 1 Greater Forgeling

In the mythical Flowstone deck that I'll now have to build someday, Greater Forgeling may have had a place. The whole “become a 6/1” trick sounds pretty good for a double strike deck, too. The problem is how slow this sort of trick is. Greater Forgeling won't hit the table until the fifth turn, and starting on the sixth turn I would have to invest 3 ManaRed ManaRed ManaWhite Mana to activate my Forgeling and Sunhome. Is ten mana worth a 6/1 (read: fragile) double-striker? Firemane Angel is a much better deal for one more mana. Heck, for the same cost as Greater Forgeling, there is Hunted Dragon, Serra Angel, and Kumano, Master Yamabushi available in Standard. Which is all to say that unless I'm massively adding to Greater Forgeling's toughness to take full advantage of its ability, I don't think it makes sense in my deck.

OUT: 1 Terrarion

Terrarion is easy to leave in a deck because it is completely innocuous. It only takes one mana of investment, and it replaces itself when used. The problem with Terrarion, though, is that it is completely innocuous. It doesn't help me win the game. It doesn't affect the board at all. It's not a fast cantrip to cycle through my deck like Opt or even Festival of the Guildpact. As a result, it's a very easy card to drop in order to make room for better spells. My deck needs help with its mana, yes, but the answer isn't to add cards like Terrarion. The answer is to minimize cards that are tough to cast and use the proper land. If I need help from an artifact, I would rather use something that can always help smooth my mana like Boros Signet.

OUT: 1 Boros Guildmage

Here is where the surprises begin. In Empire Maker, my Selesnya Conclave deck, I used a full four Selesnya Guildmages. In Moldermort, my Golgari deck, I used four Golgari Guildmages. I love the Guildmages. They're especially good tools for budget deckbuilders who don't have access to rare multi-lands. Since I've been complaining about the mana in this deck, it looks sort of bizarre to drop Boros Guildmage.

The problem is that neither of Boros Guildmage's abilities particularly suit the direction of my deck. First strike is great, but it doesn't help Boros Swiftblade, Nightguard Patrol, or Boros Recruit. Haste is great, but I'm currently not very preoccupied with an all-out aggro deck. I'm not saying that the Guildmage's abilities are irrelevant to what I'm trying to do, only that they're not optimal. Without its abilities, Boros Guildmage is just an easy-to-cast Grizzly Bears, and I'm absolutely certain that my deck needs more than that.

OUT: 2 Rally the Righteous

Surprise! I'll say right now that Rally the Righteous may come back into the deck at some point. Its bump to my creatures' power is terrific with double strike and I like it as a combat trick. I'm still concerned about the deck's mana, though, and Rally the Righteous is not only tough to cast but fairly expensive as combat tricks go. Yes, I like untapping my Thundersong Trumpeters for a second use, and it's this ability that may bring Rally back into the deck. Right now, though, I would rather have something easy to cast that is more than a one-shot support of double strike, and something that helps flip Bushi Tenderfoot. Something like...

IN: 4 Vulshok Morningstar

Vulshok Morningstar is like the base model of equipment. It doesn't do anything fancy, but it helps both a creature's power and toughness while being completely reasonable in mana requirements. For this reason, I see the Morningstar show up in a lot of budget decklists that don't have access to cards like Umezawa's Jitte. The Jitte would clearly be better to use here than Vulshok Morningstar (and really scary with double strike), but adding to my, for example, Boros Swiftblade's stats is never a bad thing.

Cxwf on the Boards said, “Bushi Tenderfoot is cool and all, but you can't add him first and add the flipping enablers in the next evolution. You have to add them together, or he's useless. Like the Baron said, he's going to be a vanilla 1/1 98% of the time.” I agree, actually, although I don't think you can underestimate the value of a creature that almost never gets blocked. Still, I can do better by my poor Tenderfoots. Hopefully by the end of today it will have earned its place.

I suppose one question to address is why I would choose Vulshok Morningstar over Manriki-Gusari. After all, Jitte is part of Standard for another nine months, and the Fork of Doom is certainly popular in the Casual Decks room of Magic Online. In this case, I like the extra point of power to a potential double-striker. There are certainly situations in which I'll wish Manriki-Gusari is in my deck, but right now I'm going to see if I can survive on the Vulshok Morningstar's muscle alone.

IN: 1 Skyknight Legionnaire

I may not eventually want Skyknight Legionnaire in my deck. Adding it feels a bit schizophrenic, since I've said that I don't want a basic Boros aggro deck and I don't want to put more strain on my deck's mana. Still, I just love Skyknight Legionnaire. I like the art, I like the cost for a 2/2 flying guy with haste, and I am almost never sorry to draw it. Right now I'm seeing it as the third best gold card in my deck behind Lightning Helix and Boros Swiftblade. I think that almost any deck I make at this point can probably use the Legionnaire, although I admit it's harder to stay away from aggro using a full four of these critters.

Actually, if you look back at my additions to the deck so far - Lightning Helix, Boros Swiftblade, Bushi Tenderfoot, Skyknight Legionnaire, Sunhome, Vulshok Morningstar, and Otherworldly Journey - I'm not sure that I've convinced anyone that this isn't a generic beatdown deck. In my mind, the deck is shaping into something different than aggro (and different from a Concerted Effort deck... again, my apologies), or at least that's been the intention behind the changes. My guess is that very soon I'll start to add and remove cards that run against generic beatdown's grain. In the meantime, here is the deck:

On to more games!

Game 16: Mono-Blue Control

I had a first-turn Bushi Tenderfoot and a second-turn Vulshok Morningstar. My opponent played Peer Through Depths for Mana Leak, but I already had enough threats on the table to win. I hit him with my 3/3 Tenderfoot twice, then Genju of the Spires showed up. My opponent was light on land, so he had to tap out to activate the Spires. I used Lightning Helix to kill it, and on the next turn Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion gave me the win.

Game 17: Red/Green Magnivore

I played Bushi Tenderfoot, which quickly died to Guerilla Tactics. I then played Thundersong Trumpeter, which died to Pyroclasm. Thankfully, Boros Recruit survived long enough to grab a Vulshok Morningstar and start swinging. My opponent did nothing, so I played and equipped a second Morningstar. Sowing Salt killed my Boros Garrison, but I suspected that he had no way to handle my 5/5 first-striker. A third Morningstar hit the table. I'm not sure how a little Goblin can wield three Morningstars simultaneously, but my 7/7 Recruit of Death quickly won me the game. My opponent's late Magnivore was just a speedbump.

Game 18: Green/Black Shirei

Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker
Once again, Bushi Tenderfoot came out on the first turn, again followed by Thundersong Trumpeter. My opponent played Sakura-Tribe Elder and Kodama's Reach. He didn't sacrifice his Elder, even after I kept it from blocking via my Trumpeter. I made my Tenderfoot 3/3 with a Vulshok Morningstar and kept attacking. At some point my opponent played Waking Nightmare, so I used Otherworldly Journey on my Tenderfoot in response. Hana Kami arrived after I drew and played Boros Swiftblade. My Swiftblade grabbed the Morningstar, and then another Swiftblade and a Skyknight Legionnaire followed. My opponent played Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker, repeatedly getting land with his Elder and recycled Kodama's Reach with Hana Kami. He never drew Swallowing Plague, though, so I ran him over and won.

Game 19: Green/White Selesnya

I've played against and with the Selesnya Conclave enough to know that the deck doesn't function if it can't keep creatures on the table. Thus when I had the option on the second turn of playing my Boros Swiftblade or holding back for a Lightning Helix, I chose the Helix. Sure enough, my opponent tried to enchant his Selesnya Guildmage with Fists of Ironwood, and in response I killed it. After that, he was on the defensive thanks to my Swiftblade swinging a Vulshok Morningstar. He played Doubling Season, but never really had a chance to use it as my 3/4 double-striker and two Thundersong Trumpeters turned his Selesnya Evangels and Tolsimir Wolfblood into minor obstacles. I won, easily.

Game 20: White Weenie

He played Lantern Kami and I played Bushi Tenderfoot. He played Skyhunter Prowler and I played Vulshok Morningstar. He would hit me for two while I would hit him for three. That's not a bad trade, except that I had four gold cards in hand (Lightning Helix, Boros Swiftblade, Skyknight Legionnaire, Thundersong Trumpeter) with only Plains on the table. To rub salt in my mana wound, I drew Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion, which is effectively another gold card. My opponent played two Ghostly Prisons and a Conclave Equenaut to slow me down. I'm not sure how the game would have gone had I drawn a Mountain, but I never did and died with him at eight life.

Turning Gold Into Armor

The mana requirements for the deck are getting in the way less often than I had expected, but they still drive me nuts. It's time to look closely at my gold cards to see which are expendable.

OUT: 3 Thundersong Trumpeter

As I've said, this deck more than any other has been stuffed full of multicolor gold cards. This is bad news for a budget deck that can't afford land like Sacred Foundry and Battlefield Forge. One of my goals, then, is to minimize the number of gold cards in my deck.

Lightning Helix is too good not to use and establishes the threshold for quality I want out of a gold card. Boros Swiftblade is in the same boat, and is clearly a card I'm committed to keeping. Skyknight Legionnaire makes me smile, but I'm wondering if it meets this same quality standard, since it's not advancing any of my core themes per se. Right now the Legionnaire is sitting on the bubble. Every other gold card in the deck, by my way of thinking, is nice to have but expandable.

Now let's talk Thundersong Trumpeter specifically. Expecting it to come down on the second turn is asking a lot of my deck, so its ability is one I should want throughout the duration of the game. Well, the “can't block” ability is one I actually don't want to promote since I'm hoping to flip Bushi Tenderfoot. The “can't attack” is more useful, but if all I care about is this ability then I would be better served by Faith's Fetters, Devouring Light, or Ghostly Prison. I also think that Master Warcraft does everything I want Thundersong Trumpeter to do, but better. The only difference between the Trumpeter and these other options is that Thundersong Trumpeter can grab a Morningstar and start swinging it around, which is important for a deck hoping to win through combat damage.

Here's the thing, though: I don't actually care that much about the attacking and blocking of my opponent's creatures, at least no more than any other deck cares about it. If my deck is working correctly, I should be able to blow through most blockers (or, as I've discovered with Bushi Tenderfoot's effect on the game, blow by them). Opposing attackers may end up being a problem, but I prefer Faith's Fetters as an option if so. Right now I want to keep my creature count up and pick something that is both easier to cast than Thundersong Trumpeter and also something that helps out my other creatures.

OUT: 1 Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran

Agrus Kos, meanwhile, helps out my other creatures but does so Way. Too. Slowly. He's not going to give a boost to my creatures until the sixth turn at the earliest, and at that point most of my creatures are probably dead. Then there's the fact that Agrus Kos himself is only a 3/3, making him vulnerable to about every single removal spell that's popular outside of Shock. Don't get me wrong: I like Agrus Kos, and I much prefer a gold card of five mana to one of two. In my experience, though, he just hasn't enhanced my creatures reliably enough. There's also the issue that Agrus Kos begs to have more gold cards included in a deck, whereas I want to get away with less.

IN: 4 Veteran Armorer

In comes Veteran Armorer. The Armorer isn't as versatile as Thundersong Trumpeter, but it's easier to cast and should help out my whole team. Bushi Tenderfoot and Boros Swiftblade get a little tougher with an Armorer nearby, and now Skyknight Legionnaire survives most one-on-one combat with opposing fliers. Life gets a lot better with two Armorers on the table, a situation where my whole army is difficult to kill outside of Wrath of God. Add Vulshok Morningstar to the mix and suddenly I have a sort of “build your own creature” deck in which I start with something small and start adding permanent bonuses and equipment to make them combat monsters. If there is a theme it feels like I'm pursuing with my deck, build-a-critter feels like it.

Yes? You say Concerted Effort sounds like it fits such a deck? Sit down, please.

OUT: 2 Flame-Kin Zealot

I believe I called Flame-Kin Zealot a “house” last week. I haven't reversed my opinion since then, but I have softened it. I do love Overrun effects, and I've always enjoyed casting the Zealot with this deck. The problem, again, is that mana cost. If my deck focused on throwaway creatures a la Promise of Bunrei, Belfry Spirit, and Twilight Drover, I'm pretty sure that Flame-Kin Zealot would be my feature card. Right now, I'm realizing that I want my creature-pump effects to either be permanent (Veteran Armorer) or reusable (Vulshok Morningstar). Otherworldly Journey doesn't help me get a second pop out of my Zealot, and in at least three games I've either been unable to cast a Zealot in hand or unable to find quite the right time to cast it for maximum effect. I still think I'll use him in future decks, but I'm sitting him on the sidelines for now.

Kabuto Moth
IN: 2 Kabuto Moth

Folks who played around with Bushi Tenderfoot when Kamigawa cards debuted are sure to have used Kabuto Moth. The Moth's ability obviously makes my creatures difficult to kill, especially with all of the other bonuses I'm likely to be adding to them. Note that I'm not necessarily going to surprise my opponent into flipping Bushi Tenderfoot with this card or the others in the deck. Instead, I'm putting my opponent into a difficult spot: Block my 4/6 Tenderfoot this turn and make it worse when Kenzo shows up, or keep letting me beat your head untouched. To me, I'm happy if Kenzo the Heardhearted never shows up as long as my Tenderfoot has given my opponent nightmares. I know that other deckbuilders have (and want me to do likewise) obsessed about how to flip the Tenderfoot, but I see him more as “often unblockable.”

Of course with Kabuto Moth I want Rally the Righteous back in my deck. Then again, I suppose that culling the gold cards down to the bare essentials makes Radiance less effective. As a result, I've got my eye on To Arms! as a possible future addition.


Okay, I'm getting close to a deck that I will have fun playing. Right now I'll keep feeling my way by playing the deck and deciding my next moves.

Game 21: Red/Green Aggro

My opponent busted out with Frostling and Zodiac Monkey, putting me on the defensive. My Veteran Armorer died to Yamabushi's Flame, then my Kabuto Moth died to a second Flame. I killed his Monkey with Cleansing Beam when he tried to enchant it with Moldervine Cloak. My Skyknight Legionnaire brought another Flame from my opponent, but I saved it with Otherworldly Journey. A Cloaked 4/4 Frostling hit me down to seven life, then I killed it by blocking with Bushi Tenderfoot and using Lightning Helix (he sacrificed the Frostling so I wouldn't gain life). After that he hit me with Flames of the Blood Hand. I now had three life, but I also had advantage on the table. My 3/3 Legionnaire was joined by a 2/2 Legionnaire and another Tenderfoot, while I held my second Cleansing Beam in case he drew a creature with haste. I played Boros Swiftblade, killed his Viridian Shaman with my Beam, and attacked him down to four life. My next attack would have won me the game, but my opponent drew Volcanic Hammer to kill me.

Game 22: Mono-Red Wildfire

His deck was pretty cool, using sorceries, Magnivore, Ryusei, the Falling Star, Viashino Sandstalker, and Wildfire. Anyway, I kept a hand with two Plains, playing Bushi Tenderfoot and Vulshok Morningstar on the first two turns. My Tenderfoot died to Volcanic Hammer, and on the next turn my opponent played a 1/1 Magnivore. I played Veteran Armorer and equipped it with my Morningstar. I then proceeded to play two more Morningstars, making my Veteran a whopping 8/8. Magnivore blocked my Armorer, then my opponent played Ryusei. When he blocked with his Dragon, I made my Armorer disappear with Otherworldly Journey. Wildfire killed it on my opponent's turn and ate all of my lands except a single Plains. Luckily I drew two more lands off the top of my deck, allowing me to play Boros Recruit and make it 7/7. A Viashino Sandstalker hit me twice, but my Recruit easily won me the game.

Game 23: Red/Green/Blue Zuberas

I'm not sure what was up with his deck, because he was definitely on the defensive for the entire game. I played Boros Swiftblade, Skyknight Legionnaire, and Veteran Armorer, killing three of his potential blockers (Dripping-Tongue Zubera, Akki Drillmaster, and Ember-Fist Zubera) with three Lightning Helixes. Kabuto Moth showed up to completely befoul combat math, then a Vulshok Morningstar made it worse for my opponent. It didn't take long for me to win after that.

Game 24: White/Green Selesnya

My opponent started with Llanowar Elves and I countered with Bushi Tenderfoot and Boros Swiftblade. Seedborn Muse showed up on the other side of the table, which was going to make his Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree a problem. I played Vulshok Morningstar, equipped my Swiftblade, and attacked. The Morningstar died to Seed Spark, though, and then his Muse killed my attacker. It all went downhill from there. I managed to do five points of damage and clear out a lot of tokens with Cleansing Beam, but when Congregation at Dawn put Yosei, the Morning Star, Selesnya Guildmage, and Loxodon Hierarch onto the top of my opponent's library I knew the game was hopeless. Sure enough, I died about three turns later.

Game 25: Mono-Black Aggro

Wow, does Hand of Cruelty slow me down. I had a Bushi Tenderfoot equipped with Vulshok Morningstar, a Boros Recruit, and a Veteran Armorer equipped with a second Morningstar, all thwarted by his Hand and Stinkweed Imp. Meanwhile, he played two Phyrexian Arenas, drawing cards like mad. My deck was kind to me, giving me Cleansing Beam to clear his creatures and knock him down to twelve life the turn after he played a third Arena. He went down to nine life and up to nine cards in hand, then tried Consume Spirit on my Armorer. I played Otherworldly Journey to keep him from gaining life, then won on my next attack thanks to Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion.

Of Moths And Enforcers

I seem to be pretty long-winded today, so let's dive right into the last round of changes for today.

OUT: 2 Nightguard Patrol

Other than the one toughness, I've got nothing bad to say about Nightguard Patrol. It's great in a Concerted Effort deck, has a splashable mana cost, and is a good way to slow things down as a non-tapping, first-striking, perma-blocker. I've decided not to go the Concerted Effort route, though, which means that there are simply other cards I want to use more, even cards for 2 ManaWhite Mana mana. Cards exactly like...

IN: 2 Kabuto Moth

My games slowed down dramatically once Kabuto Moth hit the table. I really like how well the Moth establishes the game as a game of combat math, where every attack and block has potentially-huge consequences. You may not see a mere +1/+2 bonus that way, but I do. More importantly, I can see my opponent's hesitation once Kabuto Moth becomes active so I know they see it too. The only downside is that it's incredibly fragile for a turn, and I find myself holding my breath until it can start pumping my creatures. Hopefully four of them in my deck will help ensure that I have one to help out Bushi Tenderfoot, Boros Swiftblade, and company.

OUT: 2 Cleansing Beam

Cleansing Beam has remained in the deck too long simply because there were other needs I wanted to address first. The truth is that Cleansing Beam is rarely as good as Shock and can, in a deck with gold creatures, often backfire. If Selesnya decks were running rampant, I might be able to see the need for Cleansing Beam so I'm happy that it exists in Standard. Right now, though, it does much too little for way too much mana. Without it in the deck I maintain a rather large vulnerability to Hand of Cruelty, but I'm going to assume that a) Hand of Cruelty isn't an incredibly popular card in the Casual Decks room since I've faced it one game out of twenty-five, and b) this is something I can handle in my sideboard. Right now I'm just as happy to keep increasing my creature count and ignoring the need for Red burn.

OUT: 2 Otherworldly Journey

I believe a quote from TheOtherJohnny on the Boards was, “I'll just [convince] Jay to stop being a WOG-fearing wuss and get rid of Otherworldy Journey for another post.” Cheza said the same thing a bit more diplomatically: “Don't be afraid of Wrath of God and the like. The Otherworldly Journey won't save you. The better thing would be an additional creature. You can "save" it in your hand...so if your opponent plays a Wrath, it's almost the same effect as with the Journey.”

Sunhome Enforcer
I'm not sure I agree with the logic that another creature has the same effect as Otherworldly Journey, since the Journey can also “fizzle” Auras and is a better tool against cards like Wildfire. Still, I'm willing to concede that my fear of Wrath of God may be a bit exaggerated. We all have our hot buttons as deckbuilders. There are some situations that you must guard against psychologically because if you don't it will drive you crazy. I have several such buttons. For example, I almost never skimp on land nor overload my decks with things I might not be able to cast because I think manascrew is the least fun way to lose in Magic. Clearly another one of my issues is that when using a swarm of creatures, I like to have a plan against Wrath effects.

That said, I've found Otherworldly Journey to be decidedly mediocre in my deck. I'm not using comes-into-play or leaves-play effects. I'm not using board-clearing effects of my own. My deck isn't a foot-to-the-floor beatdown deck that can't afford to hold threats back. All in all, I'm happy to wander a bit out of my comfort zone, making myself vulnerable to Wrath in order to include cards that are likely to shine in my deck.

IN: 4 Sunhome Enforcer

A quick Gatherer search on cards that have some sort of damage trigger reveals the juicy Sunhome Enforcer. Yes, it's unfortunately a gold card. The good news is that, like Agrus Kos, it's a slow gold card so I should be able to cast it when I want to most of the time. More importantly, it's a card that looks great swinging a Vulshok Morningstar and/or aided by Kabuto Moth. Add Sunhome to the mix and I'm pretty sure that Sunhome Enforcer is worth the potential mana headaches I might be giving myself and may trump Skyknight Legionnaire as my third favorite gold card in the deck. Still, mana headaches are back on the list of things I'm going to worry about with this deck and, as I just said, mana issues are one of my hot buttons.

Here's where I stand:

The decklist still holds a ton of questions for me and feels an iteration or two from reaching stability. Here are some of my thoughts right now:

  • Skyknight Legionnaire isn't helping my strategy other than being a good attacker. If my deck is trying to build super creature from humble roots, I feel like I can do better here.
  • The same goes for Boros Recruit. This slot is just screaming for something with more “oomph.”
  • What can Sunforger grab now? Just Lightning Helix. I love Sunforger, but it may be time to go. Loxodon Warhammer and Kusari-Gama are looking juicy, or possibly it's time for some Red burn, or maybe I can go back to untap spells like Rally the Righteous or To Arms!.
  • The deck is looking a lot more White these days. I want to settle on the spells first, but clearly the land mix is going to change.

So, pipe up on the Message Boards. If I were to, let's say, drop Skyknight Legionnaire, Boros Recruit, and Sunforger, what eight cards would you suggest I add? I'm not asking for you to make major revisions to the deck I have now, but I am asking your opinion about what you would add if able to add the last eight non-land cards.

This is where I'll pick up in two weeks, during my last BOAB article. Why two weeks? Because next week is the Interlude Of The Year. I hope you'll enjoy it.

Think hard and have fun,

-jms

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