TWR: Thoughts on Ultimate Masters

Earlier in the year, Wizards of the Coast had said that Masters sets were not performing as expected, the community had made it clear that some of the reprints were not desirable while many cards that are super expensive were not making their way to these sets. Masters 25 which released earlier this year was said to be their best offering to date, and they went ahead and increased the price saying using that justification. The set ended up being a bit of a flop. There were some cool cards reprinted while most of it was chaff. The company said this was because Masters sets are meant to be drafted, but honestly the focus of these sets were supposed to give Modern players reprints and new weapons to use. It was also a beneficial set for Commander players who want reprints of cards deemed too expensive.

A while back, Guilds of Ravnica released and with it a “Mythic Edition” that was not well received by the community. It was sold only through Hasbro Direct and was rather expensive. In it, you got “super art” reprints of Planeswalkers, and then some boosters of the new set. Apparently it was sold out very quickly and people had issues with the website or didn’t get to order at all. Wizards took it upon themselves to then send some “Ultimate Box Toppers” to those who were negatively impacted by the purchase. Thought this is a good PR move, this does kind of feel like a slap in the face to those of us who said “fuck that” to buying one of these boxes. We thought it was overpriced, and we were not then subsequently rewarded for trying to buy said product. Whatever the case, those Ultimate Box Toppers are going to be available to the public, so at least that’s something. The caveat here is that you have to buy a box of their new product, Ultimate Masters, in which you’ll get one of these super art reprints. Here’s what we know so far:

Ultimate Masters releases December 7th, and will be the last Masters product “for a while.” Each booster box will contain 24-packs, with each pack containing a premium foil.

  • MSRP is $335.76 / box ($13.99/pack).
  • Boxes are only available at Local Gaming Stores, but each comes with an “Ultimate Box Topper” buy-a-box promo, which is a near borderless foil promo.
  • There are 40 box toppers in total.
  • UMA packs will be available at big box stores for $34.99 for 3 packs.
  • UMA is printed in EN and JP languages, but available worldwide.
  • Spoilers are on November 19th and 20th, with the full set reveal on Nov 21.

MSRP for this set is ridiculous once again. We thought the Mythic Edition of GRN was bad, but this is almost $100 more, and you only get one super art card instead of a set. Seems like a bad value. Rumor has it that local game stores are actually selling these boxes for somewhere in the ballpark of $240, so that’s at least a bit better. The other good news is that though you won’t get a super art card if you don’t buy a box, they are not buy-a-box promos in that regular versions of those cards are in packs. There are a ton of good reprints that have been revealed so far, and I’m sure there will be more for us to look forward to once we get the spoilers later this month. The super art cards are absolutely gorgeous though. Take a look:

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I want nearly every card displayed here, so I’m more hyped for this set than I was for M25 or Iconic Masters. I’m just hoping that the reprints mean a drop in price for some of these cards so that I can get extra copies. Packs are a bit expensive so I probably won’t buy many, opting for singles instead. I still think these should have been included as chase cards in packs, basically a new masterpiece set, but I’m okay with normal art as long as I get some good cards. Where Wizards is going from here is anyone’s guess. It appears there won’t be Masters sets next year, and we only know about two more sets on Ravnica. I’m hoping for a second Battlebond set, and would prefer a new plane to explore next year rather than another return to an old one. I guess we’ll see.

What do you think about this set? What about price increases? Let me know in the comments.

The War Report: Grand Prix Las Vegas

Grand Prix Las Vegas ran from June 14th to the 17th this year, and though these sorts of events have been happening for years, I never saw myself going to one. I’ve known about Pro Tours and the competitive scene but I was always a kitchen table player so I always assumed these events were mainly for the pros or those aspiring to get into that scene. When it comes to the Grand Prix at least, there is more to do for the average Magic player than I would have first expected. It’s true, there is still a main event that the pros are participating in, but outside of that there are tons of events going on for everyone else, so my roommate and I decided that we should go a couple of months back. Part of this decision was made easier when a member of our pod moved out to Vegas, so we figured we could get the gang back together while simultaneously participating in one of the biggest Magic events of the year. This year is also the 25th anniversary of the game, so it was an extra special convention.

It really wasn’t a spontaneous decision to attend; we casually discussed it a while ago and though I thought it was a great idea it was unclear if we’d have the extra money to go. A few weeks ago he went ahead and secured a room at a hotel near the convention center, and let me know it was done so I scrambled to get my finances in order so that I would be able to make it. With the support of my lovely woman I was able to make the trip and I’m glad that I did. Though the convention started on Thursday, we decided that we could afford to take that Friday off in order to get a head start on the weekend. With Sunday being Father’s Day we needed to get back home as early as possible so we also headed to Vegas super early on Friday as well. I was in the car and on my way by 6:30 that morning and arrived shortly before 11 am. Our friend had work until 5 pm and check in at the hotel wasn’t until 3, but we managed to check in early and took advantage of the time to have a meal and enjoy the AC before heading over to the convention center.

As soon as we headed inside the main hall, we were greeted by an overwhelming amount of people and visuals. The place was packed when we arrived, and we spent a good couple of hours just walking around looking at everything on offer. Rows upon rows of tables were filled with people playing various forms of Magic. Vendors lined the rows and every card you could ever want was on sale — in multiple languages no less.

One of the coolest things on display was this humongous Serra Angel statue. Situated nearby were extremely over-sized cards showcasing all of the first printings of each artwork for the card. It was a shame that there wasn’t anything else like this on display, but you could get your own oversized cards from the “prize wall” nearby. There was also an “official” merch presumably run by Wizards of the Coast, and that’s where I got this beauty:

Before I left there were a few things on my bucketlist. I wanted a t-shirt commemorating the event, I wanted to do my first ever live draft and I wanted pick up some cards on my wishlist. There were a few shirts on sale at the shop, but this was the only one that mentioned anything about GP Vegas. The other shirts on sale were each of the individual mana colors, with some sort of slogan using the mana symbol as one of the letters. For example, the word “Nope” written across the front of the shirt with the O being the blue mana symbol. Funny yes, because blue is the counterspell color, but not really my thing. I liked the black one best, with the word “Doom” written across the front with one of the O’s being the black mana symbol. I still preferred the GP shirt, with the simple rendition of a black lotus on the front and the 25th anniversary logo and Grand Prix locations on the back.

I ended up participating in less events than I would have expected. The first few hours in the convention center were overwhelming… we had just driven for four and a half hours and were a bit jet lagged, and there was no real rhyme or reason for the event. It took some time to figure out where to go to sign up for events and whatnot, but once we did we decided to play some commander. There were sealed events, a beta draft qualifier and “on-demand” drafts. You could also play 4-player commander on demand, so that’s what we did. Each of these queues required payment and sign up and then you’re given a buzzer. You wait around til the buzzer goes off and then meet at a “gathering point” where a judge will verify names and then seat you. We had to wait about 30 minutes before we got a 4-player game, and it was over in about ten minutes or less. The guy who won literally pulled a turn 3 win con out of his ass and that was that. We went ahead and played a for fun game and I won that one at least. After this point it was time to meet up with our friend who was finally off of work, and we set off to do a Dominaria draft.

Later in the evening the on-demand drafts turned into “turbo drafts,” which are essentially the same thing but instead of playing three rounds you only play one. This was my first ever live draft, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I opened poorly, and though I made what I thought was a decent deck I got stomped pretty quickly. Unlike the pre-release events I’ve done at my LGS where you get packs of cards as reward for playing (and winning), at the convention you were rewarded with “Prize Tix” in various amounts. These were used on the aforementioned prize wall. I earned 20 tix for participating in the round of EDH, though the winner got an additional 40. For the draft format, you get 100 tix for winning and 10 for losing. Some people were cool and did a 60/50 split, but the guy I played against gave me the 10 and walked away. Dick. The second day I did one more paid event, a Battlebond draft with our friend while my roommate did his beta draft qualifier. That one didn’t go so well either, and unless the judge forgot to give them to us, I didn’t get any tix from that one. At the end of the day, I ended up with a total of 40 tix, and the prize wall was always so damn packed that I didn’t bother spending them. They’re an additional little souvenir from the weekend. The “Cake Tix” was for the 25th anniversary cake they were giving away but I didn’t have any of that either.

The two parts of the weekend that were my favorite were playing EDH with our original pod back in the hotel room, and the games of EDH we got going at the end of Saturday. I guess you could say I love EDH. Oh, and I met Josh Lee Kwai from The Command Zone podcast. He’s Internet famous, so that’s pretty cool. At one point I finally decided what cards I would like to get my hands on, limiting myself to spending $100 or less, but wanting to get some value. These were my spoils from the weekend:

The top row were purchased for said $100 or less. The bottom row were promo cards for participating in events. Teferi and Land Tax have a home in one deck that I’m building, while Atraxa has been on my mind as a commander I would like to build for a while now. Doubling season I’ve talked about quite a bit lately, and having been recently reprinted it’s dropped from $75 to $36, which is a steal at this point (and I doubt it will drop much more before slowly creeping back up to that high point). It will be included into whatever I do with Atraxa, be it Superfriends or +1/+1 counter shenanigans. The promo lands are more of a souvenir than anything, but that promo Death Baron is a sweet alternate art and will slot right into my Scarab God zombie tribal deck.

Overall it was a great weekend and a neat experience. I don’t know that I would do it again though, because I’ve discovered that I truly do not like drafting, so if I do anything like this in the future I’ll be focusing on EDH alone. Still, if you love the game like I do, I’d recommend checking out a big convention like this at least once for the experience!

TWR: Thoughts on MTG Arena

A few months ago I was invited to the Magic: The Gathering Arena alpha test. There was an NDA and all at the time, but I found it a pleasant enough experience, with what little I tried. At that time, they launched with only the cards from Ixalan, and because at the time I had already played with and bought a bunch of packs of Ixalan in real life, I wasn’t too excited to play. Fast forward a few months and the NDA is dropped. They’ve finished the Ixalan block along with adding the Amonkhet block. Recently they added Dominaria, and I assume they will add the Kaladesh block before it rotates out to give the full standard experience. Or maybe they won’t. I have other thoughts as well.

I’ve played most of the digital versions of Magic in existence. The yearly Duels of the Planeswalkers series was interesting, but such a restrictive package. Magic Duels that was out a couple of years ago seemed like Wizards of the Coast’s answer to Hearthstone, but they didn’t get too far in before they stopped supporting it. Magic Online seems to be the only place where people get a near table top experience and it’s the only version I haven’t used. I’ve seen it in action though, and though it looks a bit archaic it still seems to be the best version of the game available in digital form. I think that with Arena, Wizards of the Coast are trying to revitalize their aging OG platform by bringing the graphics and gameplay up a notch.

I would be sharing screenshots but there is no built in screen shot button, and I was too lazy to use a work around. At the end of the day, Arena looks great and plays smoothly. The animations are well done, the sound effects are immersive and the cards look great. At this time it doesn’t support ultra wide 2k resolutions so my monitor has a lot of wasted real estate, but I’m sure that sort of support will be added in the future (along with a screen shot button). This is one of the first digital versions of Magic that I’ve played that actually feels intuitive. Some cards in this game require you to search your library or draw a set amount of cards and then put cards on the top or bottom of your library, etc. The interface with which these actions are completed is fast and makes sense. I feel like new players and old veterans who haven’t played in years will be able to pick up and go.

Now for the bad stuff. You’re given a few packs to get started with, and this means you’ll have random chances to either get something worthwhile or get a bunch of crap. The preconstructed decks work okay, but none seem competitive enough — particularly when playing against someone who has been playing for quite some time and is dropping Teferi’s on the board. Packs can sometimes come with a “wildcard” which will allow you to essentially craft a card of your choosing of the wildcard’s rarity. That’s a nice way to pick up a  Teferi of your own, but it isn’t necessarily going to win you the game. Getting packs takes forever. You’ll have to complete 2 quests a day to get a pack. At that rate, getting a decent deck together means grinding out with a bunch of draft chaff doing the daily quests for gold, and hey if you manage to get 5 wins you’ll get a pack, but if you just keep on losing, well you get the idea. There’s a missed opportunity here to be more like Magic Online, where there is a marketplace for singles and you can just create a deck and buy it outright. I’m a firm believer that it’s not the cards but the pilot who chooses their own destiny, but at the same time I’d much prefer to be able to throw down some cash to make a decent deck and be done with it. When I play the game in real life, I build decks using a combination of existing cards and singles purchased online. I want that same sort of experience. I’ll take the rewards slowly as they come, but I’d like to build a decent deck outright.

Some things I can see happening with the platform: I could see the above store option working well. The problem there is that it still won’t compete with Magic Online, because there’s still not the whole 25 years worth of cards available in Arena. One option I do see them having the ability to promote is Brawl — the new EDH variant that works with Standard-only cards. The problem there though is that like standard it is a rotating format, so how do they justify removing part of the cards from the program as they add new sets? What do people get for credit for the cards they already purchased? Unless they do go ahead and program this game to be the new version of Magic Online I think that I won’t be putting money into it. It’s an okay time waster, but I just don’t care about Standard enough to want to play this that often. I’d rather go to a store and play EDH with strangers face to face. If Brawl is added that might at least give me a reason to both play Brawl at all, and to play Arena as my go-to for Brawling.

TWR: Deck Status Report

It’s been quite a while since I’ve talked about my collection of EDH decks as a whole. Something one should consider when they start to amass a collection of cards is using various utilities to sort and catalog them all. There are a number of different websites dedicated to doing so, but my favorite to use is MTGGoldfish. Not only does the site produce various articles and podcast/video content, but they also display average prices for cards and allow you to catalog your collection. You can create decks from scratch or import from text files, and each deck’s page provides plenty of information. The visual view is particularly useful because it shows your mana curve and the spread of colors across each deck, something that has helped me to adjust curves on the fly. I’ve talked about all of this before in this column, but I wanted to do a check in on my existing decks, because the list has changed quite a bit in the last few months. You can see the full list of decks here on the right, but I’ll give further details in this post. Decks are sorted by creation date, so newest are first, and several of these decks are still works in progress, but as any Magic player will tell you, an EDH deck is never “done.” Let’s get to the break down.

Quick Stats:

Total Decks: 25
Completed Decks: 13
Works in Progress: 12
Color Pairings:

  • Grixis – 3
  • Mardu – 3
  • Esper – 2
  • Dimir – 2
  • Mono Black – 1
  • Mono Green – 1
  • Mono Red – 1
  • Azorius – 1
  • Orzhov – 1
  • Boros – 1
  • Selesnya – 1
  • Simic – 1
  • Izzet – 1
  • Jeskai – 1
  • Jund – 1
  • Naya – 1
  • Abzan – 1
  • Dune-Brood – 1
  • WUBRG – 1

My collection has changed quite a bit recently and I wanted to make note of these changes. I have eliminated some project decks that I had worked on a little in the past as new ideas came along that sounded better. Pirates are gone along with other brews. Molimo was changed over to Yisan. Daxos became Zur. Sram was upgraded into Shu Yun. Reaper King was retired and Jodah is taking his place. I broke up Temmet. The decks that I do have are right at tight depending on their strategies, and they fit well in different budget tiers. The decks that I’m working on are mostly high tier generals and I’m trying to build them with high end cards. Zur and Jodah are currently holding the most value, but many decks that I built more budget versions of have seen upgrades to make them the best they can be in that tier. I want most situations to be covered; If someone wants to play with Tier 1 generals I have that… if they want to play with $50 budget decks I have one of those too. I’ve featured many of these decks in posts here on the blog, and in nearly all cases the builds I presented have changed slightly or drastically. As such I’ll try to describe recent additions and of course link to the deck list so you can see the full current versions.

Stax and Taxes, Maybe Some Death
Color Pairing: Azorius
Commander: Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Strategy: Control, Stax/Tax

My newest brew, I intend to build this one soon. Temmet was my only Azorius commander in the past, and as I said I’ve broken that deck up because it just wasn’t competitive. I feel like the color pair has control covered, and I’ve not built a control deck to this point so I’m blending a mixture of Stax and Taxes. My finisher is a little shaky, play testing needs to happen. I have a small percentage of the cards on hand, so this one will be a future investment.

Monk My Day
Color Pairing: Jeskai
Commander: Shu Yun, The Silent Tempest
Strategy: Voltron

I pulled a Jhoira out of my box of Dominaria. My friend had already built a deck for her but didn’t get her on pre-release day, so I traded her to him. After seeing his deck in action I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to my Sram deck, and decided that I needed to make a Jeskai deck so that I could run both of them in a single deck with a sort-of unified purpose. Shu Yun is a great voltron commander, while Sram and Jhoira can be extreme card draw engines. An article on this deck is coming soon.

Budget Knight Tribal
Color Pairing: Orzhov
Commander: Aryel, Knight of Windgrace
Strategy: Tribal Synergy, Go Wide

I’m a sucker for a new tribe. Not that Knights are a new tribe, but they had a ton of support in Dominaria and sprinkles throughout Magic’s history. I like building little tribal decks that don’t really do all that much, and mid-tier decks are usually fun to pilot. This one is under construction but I have about 60% of the cards needed.

Boros Goodstuff
Color Pairing: Boros
Commander: Firesong and Sunspeaker

Strategy: Goodstuff

This will be my first Boros deck, once completed. It’s not going to be high tier, and it’s not going to cost much to build but it sounds like fun.

Jodah and Friends
Color Pairing: WUBRG
Commander: Jodah, Archmage Eternal

Strategy: Cheating Timmys

R.I.P. Reaper King. I tried to make you work for so long but you’re just so commander-focused and vulnerable. Welcome my new 5-color deck, piloted by Jodah! This deck was just completed but I have not playtested it. I think it’s going to be a ton of fun slamming Jodah on the board and then casting big fuck you Eldrazi and spells for only 5 mana. Keeping Jodah alive is going to be the challenge, but I think I might be able to pull off some fun stuff with this deck.

Master Thief
Color Pairing: Mono Black
Commander: Gonti, Lord of Luxury

Strategy: Theft

Another work in progress, I’ve wanted to build a mono-black deck for a long time to use cards like Cabal Coffers and Urborg. As such I’ve build a deck with some of the best black cards ever made and plan to steal everyone else’s stuff while I’m at it.

Yisan the Wandering Brad
Color Pairing: Mono Green
Commander: Yisan, the Wandering Bard

Strategy: Cheat/Combo

Yisan is my new mono-green deck, replacing Ghalta, and Molimo before him. I actually built Molimo for like $100 and he was one of the first few EDH decks I created from scratch. He was never very competitive but taught me a lot about ramp. Ghalta was a replacement commander that kept Molimo in the 99 but then I realized it still probably wouldn’t be very competitive. Yisan is a tier 1.5 or 2 general that can do some crazy stuff and I look forward to playing with it. I have a good chunk of this deck together as well.

Inalla is Triggered!
Color Pairing: Grixis
Commander: Inalla, Archmage Ritualist

Strategy: ETB Triggers

I just recently wrote about Inalla, she’s not built yet but sounds like a blast. She got some additions via Dominaria, along with pulling Wizards from all eras with ETB goodies attached to them. I should have her completed soon.

Free Hugs
Color Pairing: Selesnya
Commander: Selvala, Explorer Returned
Strategy: Group Hug/Combo

I’ve also written an article about Selvala recently, so I won’t go into much detail. Still under construction, a whole different way of doing things from my norm, and looks like a blast.

Prossh Food Chain
Color Pairing: Jund
Commander: Prossh, Skyraider of Kher

Strategy: Combo

When Masters 25 released I was all about building a Prossh deck, and the Food Chain combo is a killer one. I recently bought a copy of the card, and can’t wait to finish off the deck. It’s a full on combo theme, in a color pairing I haven’t played yet. I look forward to testing it out.

Zur Enchantments Matter
Color Pairing: Esper
Commander: Zur the Enchanter

Strategy: Control/Combo/Voltron

This is my tier 1 deck, and I’ve been focusing on making it as such. Since the first time I wrote about it, I’ve added some high value cards to the deck and it’s my current favorite.

Mardu Bears
Color Pairing: Mardu
Commander: Alesha who Smiles at Death
Strategy: Recursion/Hatebears

Alesha has become the leader of both the Orzhov Cleric and Boros Soldier decks I was building. I figured having all three colors was advantageous and exploiting Alesha’s abilities worked for the majority of creatures from both decks. I honed it down to a hatebears deck, and I think it should be a pretty strong one. I have about 70% of this one so it should be done soon.

Impregnable Fortress
Color Pairing: Abzan
Commander: Doran the Siege Tower

Strategy: Pillowfort/Exploit

This was the deck that resulted from challenging myself to create something with a budget of $50. It’s janky and it works given time, but will never be competitive. It did see some additions from Ixalan and Dominaria, but nothing overly noteworthy. It’s basically done and I have no intention on doing anything with it, unless eventually I make it into a better Doran deck.

Simic Merfolk
Color Pairing: Simic
Commander: Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca

Strategy: Tribal Synergy/Combo

Dominaria brought a couple of decent cards to this deck but overall its been done for a while. It does what it’s supposed to do, and unless a new kickass merfolk comes along this one will remain as it is.

Kess, Spellslinger
Color Pairing: Grixis
Commander: Kess, Dissident Mage

Strategy: Spellslinger

Another tier 1 deck I have in the works. It’s been a long time coming, and I think it’s where it wants to be I just have to buy the last few pieces. Spellslinging is in my future.

Gobbs
Color Pairing: Mono Red
Commander: Krenko, Mob Boss

Strategy: Go Wide

Krenko is a blast to play, despite mono-red being sort of boring. I’ve added Squee and the Goblin Chainwhirler from Dominaria, otherwise it’s remained the same since I built it. This one is pretty much done too unless a new Goblin comes along.

Saskia Puts The Ball in Your Lightning
Color Pairing: Dune-Brood
Commander: Saskia the Unyielding
Strategy: Aggro

Saskia is an aggro-style deck utilizing ball lightnings. It does what it’s meant to, and I haven’t adjusted it at all since I’ve built it. It’s middling, but fine.

Taigam – Dimir Trickery
Color Pairing: Dimir
Commander: Taigam, Sidisi’s Hand

Strategy: Recursion/Cheating Timmys

Another deck that has been a long time coming, I look forward to seeing what can happen with this deck. It doesn’t look like it will be consistent, but it sure looks like fun stealing everyone’s stuff and cheating big baddies in from the graveyard.

Rawr
Color Pairing: Naya
Commander: Gishath, Sun’s Avatar
Strategy: Go Wide/Cheat

Gishath and friends hasn’t changed since I created it either. One addition from Dominaria and that was it. It will likely stay that way, but it’s a fun deck to play nonetheless.

My Love it is a Black Rose
Color Pairing: Grixis
Commander: Marchesa the Black Rose

Strategy: Recursion

Marchesa was a fine build that has worked as well as expected. I balanced it fairly well and it’s always competitive. I don’t see it changing much in the future.

Aggro Vampires
Color Pairing: Mardu
Commander: Edgar Markov

Strategy: Tribal Synergy/Aggro/Go Wide

Like most of my tribal decks, this one is done for now, unless another great vampire arises. Dominaria brought a couple that I used, but I don’t think we’ll see more for a while.

I Heard You Need More Locusts in Your Locust
Color Pairing: Izzet
Commander: The Locust God

Strategy: Combo

Another deck that I pretty much nailed from the get-go. I’ve not really changed much since I built it, and it’s still able to pull off some fast wins under the best circumstances.

Oloro – Lifegain FTW
Color Pairing: Esper
Commander: Oloro, Ageless Ascetic

Strategy: Lifegain

This deck has been under construction for far too long. I usually finish off decks quickly but this one required a heavy investment and I ended up choosing to go other directions. It’s on my list to finish quickly, because I think it’s got a unique way of going about things.

Kaalia ADD
Color Pairing: Mardu
Commander: Kaalia of the Vast

Strategy: Tribal Synergy/Cheat

Kaalia just recently got upgrades on all fronts. Dominaira brought a badass Demon, a badass Angel, and I recently decided to add some Dragons to the mix as well. I think I might finally have it at its most competitive at this point, but playtesting is required.

Scarab God Zombies
Color Pairing: Dimir
Commander: The Scarab God

Strategy: Tribal Synergy/Recursion/Go Wide

Another deck that’s done for now, unless we get some new zombies.

So there you have it. It’s a lot of projects under one roof, but it keeps me busy!

The War Report: Boros Goodstuff

It’s Dominaria Week, and that means a ton of new brews will be popping up online revolving around the new legendaries. I have several brews that I want to share, along with possibly an update across the board for other decks that got upgrades via the new set. With that said, I have a bunch of MTG related posts that you’ll see coming down the pipeline for the next week or so, and that probably means less gaming posts but posting something is better than posting nothing, right?

Having pre-ordered a box of Dominaria, I received the exclusive buy-a-box promo card, Firesong and Sunspeaker. I spoke about this card recently, but took the time over the weekend to find a build that feels pretty damn good for it, while remaining budget. The Boros color combination is joked about for being the weakest pairing in Magic, and this card doesn’t single-handedly fix that but the deck looks solid on paper. Will have to test it a bit to see how well it performs, but it appears serviceable. Here’s the commander in case you are unfamiliar:

Firesong and Sunspeaker are fairly straight forward. A 4/6 for 6 mana, that causes your red instants and sorceries to gain lifelink, and your white lifegain spells get an added burn component. Sounds simple enough, but it can get somewhat complicated. Let’s take a look some examples:

Anger of the Gods is a red sorcery that deals 3 damage to each creature. Because your red spells get lifelink with F&S on the battlefield, this means you gain 3 life for each creature the spell hits, included F&S (who will live through the damage). Ritual of Rejuvenation causes you to gain 4 life. If F&S is on the battlefield, you’ll then be able to deal 3 damage to target creature or player (you get to draw a card as well). This is the kind of card I’d never play, but a 3 mana gain 4 life deal 3 damage and draw a card spell sounds pretty nice! Things get more complicated when you play a multi-colored spell, like Lightning Helix. The spell itself deals 3 damage to target creature or player, and you gain life. This is both a red and a white spell, so the 3 damage you deal will also cause you to gain 3 life. Gaining 3 life will then allow you to cause 3 damage, but you’ll basically end up with multiple triggers off of a single card.

Cast Lightning Helix >> deal 3 damage >> trigger F&S for red gain 3 life >> deal 3 more damage >> gain 3 life >> trigger F&S for white deal 3 damage. So for two mana you’ll gain 6 life and deal 9 damage. 

This deck wants to be a spellslinging deck despite being in colors that aren’t that great for it. As such, I’ve included quite a bit of “good stuff” — that is to say that it’s some of the better cards in the colors but not necessarily all on theme. The main goals are to build around dealing damage and gaining life, and there’s a number of win-cons that can be used in the process. Let’s just jump into some of the notable additions so you can see where I was going with the build.

Creatures:

So we’re stealing some of Oloro’s tricks here, but theoretically you should be able to keep a fairly high life total throughout a game, and use that life total to win with cards like Felidar Sovereign. You can gain infinite life with the Famished Paladin/Resplendant Mentor combo, you can flatten someone with a super large Serra Avatar, and you can get some big mana to help with your X burn spells using Neheb. Balefire liege is a lord for white and red creatures but also has F&S’s passives on it as well. I’ve also included Young Pyromancer, Crested Sunmare, Flamewright and Blaze Commando for some token generation to help protect us (or potentially win with go-wide strategies). I’m sure it’s starting to come together for you by now, but let’s look at the supporting spells (besides the ones I showed you earlier).

Spells:

So I’ve tried to keep with the theme of the commander with our bevy of support. You’ll be destroying things and gaining life, or gaining life and doing more damage, or getting tokens off of triggers, etc. If you can get to 50+ life, you can win with Test of Endurance or use 50 life to blow someone up with the Aetherflux Reservoir. All of the big X spells or board wipes do damage or cause you to gain life, which in turn will do that some more. Blasphemous Act and Star of Extinction are particularly good, because they do large amounts of damage to targets, meaning you gain that same amount of life per target. Hit ten creatures with Star of Extinction, and you’re gaining 200 life. That’s just crazy.

Overall I don’t think this deck is going to be very competitive, but I think it will be fun to pilot. It’s under $150 total investment so not bad, but you’ll have a tough time getting the commander if you didn’t buy a box. Currently holding close to $20 value and that could potentially go up.