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Budget Magic: Boros Warriors (Standard)

Witéjta, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Last week, we got our first round of bannings in Zendikar Rising Standard, with Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath leaving the format. While a powerful ramp deck still exists thanks to Omnath, Locus of Creation and Lotus Cobra, without Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath to gain extra life, could an aggressive tribal deck be the answer for beating Standard's best deck on a budget? Today, for Budget Magic, we take the Warrior tribe out for a spin and find out! The goal of the deck is to combine a bunch of Warriors, Warrior payoffs like Kargan Warleader and Kargan Intimidator, and aggressive equipment like Maul of the Skyclaves to (hopefully) curve out and smash our opponents to death before they can do crazy ramp things and take over the game. How good are Warriors in Standard? Is being aggressive a way to fight Omnath now that Uro is gone? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Boros Warriors

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The Deck

Boros Warriors is a tribal-aggro deck with an equipment sub-theme since several good Warriors care about equipment. The goal of the deck is to curve out with Warriors, use equipment to buff them and make them evasive, and hopefully kill our opponent quickly before they can take over the game with bigger, more powerful late-game cards!

The Payoffs

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Why play Warriors over random red and white creatures? So we can take advantage of a couple of powerful Warrior payoffs. Kargan Warleader is the most straightforward, giving us a three-mana lord to grow all of our other Warriors. While three mana is generally a bit more than you want to pay for a lord (especially one without some extra upside), the fact that Kargan Warleader is a 3/3 does help, making it a relatively on-curve creature on its own. Meanwhile, Kargan Intimidator is a solid two-drop on its own and even better in a deck full of Warriors since its ability to make a creature into a Coward (which, of course, can't block Warriors) means we can keep our opponent's best creature from blocking every turn for just a single mana, helping us force through as much damage as possible quickly. Later in the game, if we run out of cards, Kargan Intimidator can work as a decent mana sink, pumping itself into a 4/2 or giving a Warrior trample until end of turn.

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Our third payoff doesn't care about Warriors specifically but happens to both be a Warrior and work oddly well in our deck: Winota, Joiner of Forces. While I'm sure you already know what the four-drop does—putting Humans into play when non-Humans attack—it's important to point out that we are very much not a Winota, Joiner of Forces deck. We aren't really playing anything specifically to support Winota's ability. Instead, it just so happens that the good Warriors in Standard are a mixture of Human Warriors (Kargan Warleader, Kargan Intimidator, and Seasoned Hallowblade) and non-Human Warriors (Legion Angel, Akiri, Fearless Voyager, Fireblade Charger, and Kor Blademaster). As a result, we don't really need to build around Winota at all—our Warriors just naturally trigger her ability, helping us flood the board with threats and close out the game. Combine this with Winota, Joiner of Forces being a 4/4 for four and a Warrior, and the end result is an easy inclusion in our deck.

Human Warriors

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Outside of Kargan Warleader and Kargan Warleader, which we already talked about, we have a couple of other Human Warriors that can come into play with Winota, Joiner of Forces' ability. Seasoned Hallowblade is our best Warrior in removal-heavy matchups since we can discard extra cards to make it indestructible and fizzle our opponent's removal. This ability also makes it one of our best Warriors to equip since the odds that we will get blown out by a removal spell and have to spend a bunch of mana to re-equip will be much lower. Meanwhile, Haktos the Unscarred is just a one-of since it's legendary, but it can be an extremely fast and hard-to-interact-with clock, depending on how its random protection plays out.

Non-Human Warriors

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Legion Angel is a really interesting card, essentially being a big Squadron Hawk that eats up sideboard slots (that also happens to be a Warrior). Against grindy control and midrange decks, Legion Angel is one of our best cards since it essentially draws us a card as it enters the battlefield and offers a reasonably fast, evasive clock. On the other hand, it can be a bit slow against aggro. The big question with Legion Angel is just how many to play in the main deck. Playing one with three in the sideboard is the best way to maximize Legion Angel's enters-the-battlefield ability, but with just a single copy in the deck, the odds of drawing the first Legion Angel to get the value train running are low. We're playing a 2/2 split, which does make Legion Angel's enters-the-battlefield trigger slightly less impactful but increases our odds of drawing a copy.

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Outside of Legion Angel, the rest of our non-Human Warriors have an equipment sub-theme. Fireblade Charger gives us something to do on Turn 1 and gets even better once it is equipped in the late game. Kor Blademaster is one of the most explosive Warriors in our deck, giving any Warrior we equip double strike, which allows us to hit for absurd amounts of damage with the help of Maul of the Skyclaves. Something as simple as Kor Blademaster on Turn 2 into Maul of the Skyclaves on Turn 3 allows us to immediately hit our opponent for six in the air! Meanwhile, Akiri, Fearless Voyager offers some card advantage and additional protection for our equipped creatures.


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As for our equipment, our most important card is Maul of the Skyclaves, which is a four-of (while our other equipment are just one-ofs). Maul of the Skyclaves has to be one of the most underrated cards from Zendikar Rising. Its ability to equip itself for free when it enters the battlefield makes it like a weird sorcery-speed pump spell with a ton of upside. Playing it on Turn 3 and equipping it to something like Seasoned Hallowblade, Kor Blademaster, or Kargan Intimidator gives us an extremely fast, evasive clock, and if something goes wrong and our creature dies, we always have the option of putting it onto something else later in the game. Meanwhile, Shadowspear offers some lifegain and additional evasion thanks to trample. Finally, Embercleave needs no introduction: it's been one of the better cards in Standard for a year now. The combination of double strike and flash makes Embercleave a great way to finish the game, especially if we can get it on one of our bigger creatures like Legion Angel or Winota.

The Mana

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Along with letting us cast our spells, our lands are also where we get all of our main-deck interactive spells, thanks to Zendikar Rising's modal double-faced cards. Spikefield Hazard, Kabira Takedown, and Sejiri Shelter can all be lands if we are pinched on mana, but they also work as removal and protection if we have all of the lands we need. Spikefield Hazard is surprisingly strong in our current format, killing both Lotus Cobra and Edgewall Innkeeper, which are among the most played and important early-game threats in the format. Kabira Takedown doesn't do anything early in the game, but later, it can turn into Terminate if we can build a big board of Warriors. Finally, Sejiri Shelter gives us another way to protect our most important threats from our opponent's targeted removal.

The Sideboard

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Playing the Deck

The main thing to keep in mind while playing Boros Warriors is that we need to be the aggro deck in most matchups. With Omnath and Adventures being two of the most played decks in the format, we're not going to win the late game in most matchups. Instead, we need to focus on forcing through damage early and often and (hopefully) punishing our opponents for playing somewhat clunky four- and five-color mana bases. While we can potentially switch roles and play for the long game if we run into another aggro deck thanks to the value Winota, Joiner of Forces and Akiri, Fearless Voyager offer, in general, we want to be attacking aggressively and trying to close out the game before our opponent starts resolving Genesis Ultimatums and Ugin, the Spirit Dragons. 


All in all, we finished 4-1 with Boros Warriors, which is a very solid record for a budget deck—and doubly so considering we managed to go 2-1 against the three Omnath, Locus of Creation decks we faced (we also took down UB Control and Temur Adventures). While the sample size is small, the Omnath matchup didn't feel that bad. As we saw in our last match, a good Omnath, Locus of Creation draw can be unbeatable, but having a fast, evasive clock seemed like a good way to punish Omnath players who stumble a bit on their mana, which does happen with four- and five-color decks.

As far as changes to make to the deck, I'm pretty happy with where it landed. I think there is an argument for playing Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients in the main deck, but this would require cutting some of our other four-drops. Is Nahiri better than Winota, Joiner of Forces or Legion Angel? I'm honestly not sure, but it's probably worth testing, at least. We also don't have any artifact hate in the main deck or sideboard, which might be a problem against Temur Adventures. The problem is that apart from Lucky Clover in the Temur Adventure deck, there really aren't many artifacts seeing play at the moment. If Adventure Omnath (or equipment decks) continue to gain in popularity, then Embereth Shieldbreaker would probably be worth some sideboard slots.

So, should you play Boros Warriors in Zendikar Rising Standard? If you like being aggressive, tribal decks, or equipment decks, I think the answer is yes. The deck felt pretty competitive, even against Omnath! While I don't want to read too much into the handful of matches we played, it doesn't seem impossible that Warriors could develop into a legitimate tribal-aggro deck in Standard—if not immediately, then at some point in the future. The combination of being fast and evasive can be very punishing, especially against players durdling around with multi-color ramp decks, while our equipment offers the ability to jank our opponents out of the game with one surprise attack. 

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Getting Boros Warriors down under $50 in paper is pretty easy: we cut Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients from the sideboard (replacing it with Embereth Shieldbreaker), downgrade the mana base with more basics and Wind-Scarred Crags over Needleverge Pathway, and drop the one Embercleave for Crystal Slipper

As far as Magic Arena goes, it's hard to get Boros Warriors too cheap, mostly because some of our best Warriors (Winota, Joiner of Forces and Kargan Intimidator) along with all of our best equipment (Maul of the Skyclaves, Embercleave, and Shadowspear) are all rares or mythics. If you're looking to cut back on the number of wildcards you need to build the deck, then dropping Legion Angel and Haktos the Unscarred is probably the easiest option, with Goma Fada Vanguard probably being the best replacement. 

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As for the non-budget build of Boros Warriors, we don't get any massive changes. We get a few more MDFCs, with [[Emeria's Call] and Shatterskull Smashing joining the fray, mostly because the opportunity cost of playing them is quite low since as lands, they can come into play untapped if we need our mana right away. We also get one more copy of Embercleave in our equipment package, while our sideboard gets Skyclave Apparition as an answer to not just Lucky Clover by also anything else that costs four or fewer mana. The good news is that even with these changes, the deck still only costs $126 in paper—Boros Warriors is one of those decks that just happens to be cheap, even when fully powered!


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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