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By: SpikeBoyM, Alex Ullman
Nov 15 2007 9:28am
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PDC is an all player run format on Magic Online. It consists of competitive games using exclusively commons cards. Games can be found in the "/join pdc" room and events can be found on the Magic Online official message boards. For more information please visit magic.jwc4.com or paupermagic.com

As of the writing of this article I have yet to get my digital hands on Lorwyn and because of this I will focus on Classic PDC. While I feel Classic will be impacted by Lorwyn, the large card pool means that the impact will be reduced compared to that of Standard (I mean a whole new block...who knew?).

Let me travel back just about a month. I was qualified for the Worlds event for Euro PDC; the season culminating championship. I had no idea what to run and none of the decks I had been testing were performing to my liking. Instead, I took a Rakdos Aggro-Control deck to the even, extremely confident in not only the deck, but my chances of doing well. About a month before Worlds I had tested the deck extensively with good results. It had sweepers and the best removal spell available in Terminate. The addition of Lightning Bolt was gravy and I was set. This is what I ran:

2 Barren Moor
4 Duress
2 Forgotten Cave
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Mesmeric Fiend
4 Phyrexian Rager
1 Recover
4 Shadow Guildmage
8 Snow-Covered Mountain
8 Snow-Covered Swamp
4 Stone Rain
4 Terminate
3 Gathan Raiders
4 Gobhobbler Rats
1 Grim Harvest
3 Rakdos Carnarium

4 Dross Golem
2 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
4 Shivan Zombie
2 Skullsnatcher
3 Swirling Sandstorm

Shadow Guildmage

pic=Eyeblight's Ending

My downfall came in round three when I was at 1-1, facing off against a preventative deck in game three. This deck had extremely fragile win conditions that I could easily exploit. It sought to stall the game with fog effects and then win on the back of fragile win conditions. The critical mistake came when I needed to Terminate one of my own creatures enchanted with Pillory of the Sleepless. Instead, I misclicked and hit one of my opponent's Veteran Armorers. I then attempted to Lightning Bolt my creature some turns later only to be met with Embolden. I lost the game to that Pillory with my opponent on three life. Round four I was up against a difficult matchup and lost to put me at 1-3. If I had been paying attention, I would have won my round three match and had a much more favorable round four matchup, and probably would have made the elimination rounds.

Regardless, I feel this deck is powerful and rewards good play. It is capable of extremely disruptive early draws and runs a good late game engine. I am not totally sold on the one Recover and one Grim Harvest yet, but it plays better than the two Grim Harvest build. As new toys, I am not sure Lorwyn really gives this deck anything special, but Lash Out might want to be considered if creatures become a dominant force again. The same goes for Eyeblight's Ending, but Classic already has access to Rend Flesh

Currently, the deck seeks to disrupt early and beat late with bears. And ideal start is turn one Duress, turn two Mesmeric Fiend, turn three Stone Rain. Few control style decks can recover from a start like that. On the other side of the coin, a turn one Shadow Guildmage is important in fighting many of the creature based decks. The matchup against MUC is quite nice, as your disruption and Grim Harvest engine can help win the long game battle with recurred Fiends. Against Cloak, you better hope they put pants on Guardian of the Guildpact and you're holding a Terminate, and you need to respect the Swirling Sandstorm out of the sideboard. When playing Burn Range, the goal is to go one for one and stabilize. Often, the game comes down to a topdeck war with you at lower life. If you can survive for a few turns at low life, Rakdos has a decent shot at putting the game away. This deck is quite effective, but requires careful decision making and should not just be picked up on a whim.

This Rakdos deck is fairly middle of the road. It does an okay job at beating down and an okay job at controlling the speed of the game. When going up against aggressive decks that feature large creatures (decks with toughness greater than two), this deck might have issues early, especially if they can handle Gathan Raiders late.
But this article is not mean to talk about Rakdos decks. Instead, I want to talk about the Red White decks, those commonly called Boros.

Storytime! I have been playing Magic for a long time; going on thirteen years. One of the places that fostered my love of the game was my summer camp. One counselor there played a Red-White Meekstone deck that won with Serra Angels. His deck was a true pain to beat since it just had answers for everything. As he always described, the perfect blend of offense and defense. That was twelve years ago. This past summer I return to camp for the alumni weekend and run into him. We talk games, Magic, and of course, he still runs Red and White. Some things never change.

There are two distinct paths that can be taken with PDC Boros. The first is the control route- using Red burn and White defensive creatures to establish a dominating board position and slowly win the game. The second is more closely associated with the Ravnica Guild and takes a very aggressive stance, seeking to win the game with good burn and better creatures.

Both styles have very different styles of play and different mindsets needed to pilot them effectively. That being said, they do have some things in common:

  1. They control the board with burn. This is done because burn can not only keep the path clear, but can also go to the dome in the late game.

  2. They win through good creatures. This does not simply mean efficient creatures, but rather creatures that are some of the best available at their mana cost for the given deck.

  3. They win through damage


    First, we are going to look at the Red-White Mid-Range deck I was preparing for the Euro Worlds where I ended up running Rakdos. This deck had a great match up against Burn Range able to win before sideboarding at a very good clip and dominating games two and three. Against Cloak, it was slightly favored. Mid-Range would win by simply-out attritioning the Cloak player, gaining small advantages before burning them out in the long run. This was doable because the deck runs creatures that are capable of blocking and taking down Cloak's signature creatures wearing the deck's namesake. Although it usually looks like a bad trade, most of the time it would work in the Boros deck's favor. I present Confessor.dec:

    2 Boros Garrison
    4 Daunting Defender
    4 Firebolt
    3 Forgotten Cave
    4 Goblin Legionnaire
    2 Kaervek's Torch
    4 Lightning Bolt
    4 Mystic Zealot
    4 Pyrite Spellbomb
    4 Renewed Faith
    3 Secluded Steppe
    6 Snow-Covered Mountain
    6 Snow-Covered Plains
    2 Wayfarer's Bauble
    4 Gathan Raiders
    4 Terramorphic Expanse

    2 Obsidian Acolyte
    4 Orim's Thunder
    3 Swirling Sandstorm
    3 Aven Riftwatcher
    3 Empty the Warrens

    Daunting Defender

The deck concept and name are a few years old. During TDR's heyday, Red-White decks featuring Confessor, cycling cards, and Swirling Sandstorm were prevalent as a way to deal with the massive damage and creature swarms. This deck borrows some of the structure of that deck, most notably the Mystic Zealots and the Onslaught cycling lands. These lands are great, allowing you to rip through your deck at rapid pace and find the cards you need. Similar to this are the Renewed Faiths, which are simply fantastic in the aggro match up as they negate up to three attacks and also give you the option of drawing a card. The odd burn card here is Pyrite Spellbomb, but it does so many things right. It can tag team with other cards in the deck to take down Guardian of the Guildpact and also can serve as a deterrent to aggro, forcing them to hold fragile creatures.

The shining star of the main deck is Daunting Defender. Most aggro decks can not deal with this creature, let alone two of them. Against the abundant Red removal, the Defenders are extremely intimidating in that they are close to unkillable in combat and require a huge burn investment to take down.

The sideboard is where it is thanks to Rich. To help shore up the MUC matchup he suggested running Empty the Warrens as a way to generate a huge mob, regardless of counterspells. This was a great strategy as by the time MUC had come online against Confessor.dec, the Blue mage was usually at low life. Testing proved that with Empty, the post board matchup is slightly favorable, but not overwhelmingly so.

This deck is mana hungry- it wants to hit four and five on a regular basis. The Wayfarer's Baubles are present to that end. I like them more than Boros Signets because they represent permanent acceleration and help to thin the deck. With all the card drawing available, thinning the deck creates a greater threat density which is vital to the success that I have had with Confessor.

This deck was only able to succeed because Classic at the time was based around toughness based removal. Between burn and Last Gasp, toughness mattered. The Defenders and the Zealots meant that such removal would have an increasingly difficult time handling my threats. This gave me an edge that was vital to the deck's success in testing. If the format shifts back to simple “destroy” effects, Confessor will lose much of it's power.

With all that said, it runs a Torch end game, which is always a Good Thing.

This deck is that blend of offense and defensive. The creatures keep blocking until the board is dominated, and then they started eating out chunks of life. The Faith's allow the deck to stay at a comfortable life total while simultaneously digging for a new threat.

My favorite Red-White deck, however, is not defensive at all. Rather, it fills the role of “best creatures” with those that have good power to cost ratios, and that can beat with the best of them. Starting out as a Boros Skies deck, the advent of Coldsnap gave the deck access to Skred.

Skred was initially underrated by many, but it is as close to Swords to Plowshares PDC will get, ever.

Tom and I then set out to gather up many of the best Red and White creatures available. This was where PDC learned to love Skyknight Legionnaire andGoblin Legionnaire even more. These remain the backbone of the aggressive Red-White decks because they are so good. We also began running land destruction main. This was a new concept for aggressive decks. Before Boros, most aggro decks used Red either as a secondary color (as in RG aggro) or as their only color; in these decks, there simply was no reason for LD. In Boros, Red is much more prominent and therefore running LD is not a gambit- you will have the mana in order to play the spell on the critical turn. It also helped that at this time, the Ravnica bounce lands were just becoming heavily played. Initially, the deck ran a mix of Stone Rains and Molten Rains, but as the other cards in the deck became better, Stone Rain was migrated out and only the Molten twin remains.

Similarly, Kami of Ancient Law is a good beater and served double duty, handling many of Orzhov's nasty enchantments during that deck's height of popularity. The can currently serve a similar function against Armadillo Cloak and newcomer Oblivion Ring. Blade of the Sixth Pride is the latest addition to the White portion of the deck because of its high power. It rarely survives long, however, mostly because people view it as a larger threat than it actually is.

This is the deck that is always on my short list of playables for any given event, SnowRos:

3 Boros Garrison
2 Fireblast
4 Firebolt
2 Forgotten Cave
4 Goblin Legionnaire
4 Incinerate
4 Kami of Ancient Law
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Molten Rain
1 Secluded Steppe
4 Skyknight Legionnaire
8 Snow-Covered Mountain
8 Snow-Covered Plains
4 Blade of the Sixth Pride
4 Gathan Raiders

4 Disenchant
4 Aven Riftwatcher
3 Martyr of Ashes
4 Skred

Goblin Legionnaire

SnowRos' mana base is probably the best mana base I've developed for this reason: it used to have Terramorphic Expanses and now it does not. I knew that this deck did not want to start at one and could therefore run Expanse, but too often I would still find myself in situations where I did not want the poor man's fetch land. Instead, when Gathan Raiders made the deck, I found myself wanting the ability to chuck a land late or hard cast the 5/5 basher. With Expanse, this was a rarity; currently with the three Garrison build, this is much more likely.

The deck plays like many other Red decks: lay good beaters; attack; burn; win. Lightning Bolt gives this deck much needed speed, allowing for extremely fast aggressive draws. A typical game will start with a Blade, a Skyknight, destroy a land, two creatures, more burn, extend the hand. Molten Rain is great in this deck because not only does it stall the development of an opponent, it also Shocks them. Fireblast has also become my aggressive Red deck finisher of choice as it can just be a house, especially with Raiders as sometimes you will just nine them to the dome.

Parting thought: I often find players will blend these two Red-White strategies into one deck and simply label it “Boros Aggro-Control” or “Boros Mid-Range.” These two decks, while sharing cards and certain other elements are fundamentally different. They have different game plans and are almost mutually exclusive- Mystic Zealot would look awfully stupid in SnowRos. If you are building a Red-White deck, know which path it will take, and hen plan accordingly. The deck does not have to be the perfect blend of offense and defense.

Keep slingin' commons-



Two points by SpikeBoyM at Thu, 11/15/2007 - 10:32
SpikeBoyM's picture

Two important points.  First, PDC veteran lathspel finished second a tthe most recent TPDC Classic with a deck based on similar concepts as Confessor.  This article was written about a week ago, so I do not want people to think that I was not giving credit where credit was due.  Second, I totally blanked on Pyroblast as SB against MUC.  Silly me.


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