Guilds of Ravnica review: Boros

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Strictly Average MTG as we prepare for the release of Guilds of Ravnica! As I mentioned last week I will begin to take a look at each guild individually, and while I won’t look at every card in the set I will try to highlight some cards that interest me when considering decks to build. Keep in mind I am mostly a Modern player, but I have played in two Standard metas where we had Ravnica sets (the original, and the return five years ago).

Today let’s take a look at Boros.

The Boros Legion

The standing army of Ravnica, the Boros Legion boasts a large number within their ranks (though the Golgari Swarm are the largest guild in Ravnica). They fight with a righteous nature enforcing the laws created by the Azorius Senate (yeah baby!). Without them chaos may just wash over the entire plane so their importance should not be understated.

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Being a guild based on the mana colors of white and red, this is a guild for those who want to attack with creatures every turn. While there hasn’t been much synergy from a game mechanics point of view in previous iterations of Boros cards, this time around we do have a fitting mechanic: Mentor.

Here is an example of a card with the Mentor mechanic. Sunhome Stalwart is a really good soldier with both First Strike, the Mentor ability, and a 2/2 for two mana. When he attacks he can provide another attacking creature a +1/+1 counter if it’s smaller than him (so it would have to be a 1/1 or 0/1 for example). This is a card you would want to pair with either a card you cast on turn one (assuming you cast this on turn two), or a card that can make a token.

Legion Warboss is a perfect example of a card you would want to play after Sunhome Stalwart. When you go to the beginning of combat, but before you declare attackers, the Stalwart sees the 1/1 Goblin made by the Warboss, and will boost it’s power and toughness when both are declared as attackers. Keep in mind the counters from the Mentor mechanic are permanent and not just until the end of turn. You’ll need to find larger creatures to continue using this mechanic.

Tajic, Legion’s Edge is a perfect example of a creature with Mentor that has more power to keep the mechanic going. Having Haste allows it to go into combat right away, and providing a +1/+1 counter to a previously played creature that is also attacking. He can also get First Strike as long as you have open mana, and in an archetype that is all about the red zone you want First Strike on as many creatures as possible.

Where this mechanic, and the guild really shines though, is through it’s leader: Aurelia.

Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice may not look like much at first glance, but where she shines is her ability that happens before Mentor triggers when you stack it properly. While she does not have Haste herself she can give another creature with Mentor, say a previously played Legion Warboss, +2/+0 and Trample (because the Warboss is red) until end of turn. The Warboss will trigger it’s Mentor ability (say on a previously played Stalwart) giving that a +1/+1 counter.

This Mentor ability can snowball if the creatures are played in the right sequence. Let’s say we have played Aurelia on the fourth turn, and already have a Warboss on the field, along with a Stalwart, and two Goblin tokens. That provides us:

  • a 2/5 flyer
  • a 2/2 (Warboss)
  • a 3/3 (Stalwart)
  • a 2/2 Goblin token
  • a 1/1 Goblin token

On the next turn Aurelia gives the +2/+0 and Vigilance (because Stalwart is a white creature) to Sunhome Stalwart . His Mentor ability will trigger to give Aurelia a +1/+1 counter. Aurelia can then use her Mentor ability to put a +1/+1 counter on a 1/1 Goblin token created by the Warboss. Legion Warboss can then put his +1/+1 counter from Mentor onto another 1/1 Goblin token.

This seems quite powerful. However what else can we do in this guild?

The split cards are back in this set, and while we can’t Fuse them anymore these cards do provide a choice. In this case Integrity allows us to temporarily increase a creature’s power and toughness to make sure your Mentor ability triggers off of it, and then receives the Mentor the next turn (just like in my example above) if you have more than one creature with Mentor on the field. Later in the game if you need to remove a blocker, or finish your opponent, Intervention acts as a Lightning Helix (Helix being the most famous card ever printed for this guild).

One problem that aggro decks have is that sometimes they can not survive the attack back by the opponent. Some players may be able to take an attack unblocked if they know they can win on their turn. Deafening Clarion can help here by giving your army Lifelink until end of turn, and with several Mentor triggers happening you could be gaining an arbitrarily large amount of life. In the instance that your opponent blocks you can also reset the board by doing 3 damage to every creature, and using this in your second main phase can cause your opponent to lose their army after combat is over if those creatures took any damage during combat.

The Boros Legion looks pretty strong coming out of the (Guild)gate, and there might be a really good deck with these cards in just this set alone. Do I see any of them making the break into Modern? Probably not; however the more Soldiers that are printed the more a Soldier stompy deck can truly be viable for FNM play.

However there is one card that caught my eye: Demotion.

One mana removal spells have always been strong, and while this still allows the creature to attack I can see this being added to a creature like The Scarab God, or even a mana producing creature like Elvish Archdruid. Imagine sticking this onto an already tapped Steel Overseer against the Hardened Scales Affinity deck? Sure the opponent may sacrifice the artifact you target to their Arcbound Ravager, but Demotion is an Enchantment, and it would grow your Tarmogoyf if the enchantment lands in the graveyard.

Overall this guild looks solid, and if you’re on a budget, or just want to play an aggro deck at your FNM, you can’t go wrong with this guild.

That’s all I have for today. Tomorrow we’re going to look at the cards from House Dimir. In the meantime are there any cards I missed? Are you also sad that Assemble the Legion was not reprinted? Leave a comment, and make sure to follow me on both Facebook as well as Twitter.

Until tomorrow…

TAP MORE MANA!!!

Scott Campbell, better known as MTGPackFoils, has been playing Magic since he was 17 (which was in 1993). He’s known for loving decks such as Azorius Control, Jund, and others (especially in Modern). He is a husband, father, and a former nightclub DJ.

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