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January 28, 2013

30

Gatecrash: Boros Battalion Review (Part 2 of 2)

by Dredd77

It’s our opening tilt for Gatecrash, and we’re excited to begin tearing into the set’s precons. Joining me at the table is the lovely Jimi, and she’s selected a deck close to her own heart. Can Boros Battalion impose order onto the chaotic battlefield, or will it fall prey to Orzhov Oppression?

Game One

Jimi’s on the play for our Gatecrash opener, and begins with a Plains. I do as well, then use mine to bring out a Boros Elite. Back to Jimi, she fields a Basilica Screecher after adding a Swamp, while I counter with a Daring Skyjek.

Now turn 3, Jimi plays a land and passes, while I recruit a Warmind Infantry to the cause. Back to Jimi, she again develops the manabase, but has little else to do. With three creatures up, I send them all into the red zone, triggering battalion. My Boros Elite becomes a 3/3, the Infantry a 4/3, and the Skyjek gains flying. Jimi trades her Screecher for my Skyjek, going down to 13 life from the other two hammering home. I then replace the loss with a Canyon Minotaur and end the turn.

A turn-5 Angelic Edict exiles my Infantry, but with no defenses up Jimi’s an easy target for another 4-point swing. I then play a Bomber Corps to go back up to the critical three creature level, and follow with a Boros Keyrune for good measure. Next turn, Jimi summons a Treasury Thrull which explodes when my answering Foundry Champion touches down and throws fire its way. That clears a path for my beaters which take full advantage, rumbling in with battalion on. The Bomber Corps sends its point of damage across the table, and when the dust settles Jimi’s clinging on at 1 life. Unsurprisingly, she concedes after the next draw.

Game Two

Again we trade opening land drops, and again I open my account with a Boros Elite. This time, however, Jimi’s found her High Priest of Penance, and deploys him immediately. I attack past it with the Elite, then follow with Bomber Corps. For Jimi’s part, she follows with a Silvercoat Lion, while I drop a Boros Keyrune. Thus far, it’s more or less detente.

Arrows of Justice

Arrows of Justice

Now turn 4, Jimi turns her Lion sideways for 2, then summons a Tormented Soul. I activate my Keyrune, then attack with all three creatures, pinging her Tormented Soul with the Corps. Jimi chumps the Keyrune with her High Priest, then uses its death trigger to take my Boros Elite with it. She then adds some perimeter security with a Blood Reckoning, while I look to rebuild with a Fortress Cyclops.

Now turn 6, Jimi adds a creature of her own, a Kingpin’s Pet. I pick it off with a Mugging, then attack in for 6 with the Cyclops to drop Jimi to 9 (losing a life from the Reckoning in the process). I then add another Boros Keyrune followed by Wojek Halberdiers and pass. Jimi summons a second Silvercoat Lion, then enchants it with a Dying Wish and braces for impact. I open my turn with a Warclamp Mastiff, upping my creature count for the Foundry Champion that follows. Jimi is rocked by the Lava Axe the Champion sends her way, then sees my army pour through the red zone. With battalion active, my Bomber Corps pings Jimi for 1. Jimi chumps the Cyclops with her Lion, triggering its Wish, while blocking my Halberdiers with the other one. When the fog of war lifts, Jimi’s at 4 life, but it will take a miracle to avoid falling to my army next turn. She doesn’t draw it, and scoops.

Game Three

This time, Jimi finds a one-drop right off the bat, leading with a Tormented Soul. Next turn she scores first blood with it, adding along a Basilica Screecher while I kick things off with a Bomber Corps.

Now turn 3, Jimi attacks for 2 and passes, setting off a back-and-forth over the next few turns as we swap damage. Although Jimi clearly is getting the better of me, inflicting two for my every one, things take a dive for her on turn 5 when I then summon a Firemane Avenger.

Jimi looks to strengthen her position with a turn-6 Basilica Guards, triggering extort off the Screecher to syphon a point of life from me. Although the Screecher is grounded, the unbloackable Soul walks right past to put me down to 11. Back to me, I ambush Jimi with battalion after playing a Skyknight Legionnaire and swinging with the team. The Avenger’s battalion trigger is a free Lightning Helix, and I blast the Screecher with it. Compounding the problem for Jimi is my Bomber Corps, which pings away her Tormented Soul. It’s a backbreaking turn of play, and the attack itself leaves her at 13 life.

A turn-7 Kingpin’s Pet allows Jimi to extort off the Guards for another point, but it’s all she’s got. I again send in my trio of beaters, killng her Pet with my Angel’s Helix. Jimi’s cut in half to 7, and once more finds herself unable to do much about it. After the next draw, she quietly puts her hand on the table and begins collecting her cards.

Thoughts & Analysis

Holy smokes! This was a decisive win for our Boros friends, and Jimi’s Orzhov were left in a bloody heap. It’s worth noting that I won the pregame friendly as well, though Jimi’s deck did much better in that engagement- I won at 3 life. It’s worth noting that one of Jimi’s more effective spells against this deck- Blood Reckoning- still was nowhere near fast enough to race. Although extort is a fine mechanic, it too was not able to help her keep pace. Boros Battalion is simply able to bring a ton of pressure to bear, and once it gets rolling with battalion its momentun can be difficult to stop.

Boros Guildgate

Boros Guildgate

This is doubly so in the case of its evasive offerings. Ground-based mass attacks were bad enough, but Jimi didn’t stand a chance in game three against my Firemane Angel and pair of Skyknight Legionnaires. This gives the deck an extra level of lethality, and a hedge against its biggest weakness- the need to attack to be effective. Many of the deck’s creatures aren’t all that impressive until they are activated, giving the deck something of the “feast and famine” dynamic we see so much of in the game (where a card in its natural state is underpowered, but becomes superpowered under the right conditions). Boros Battalion is squarely one of those decks.

To be sure, Orzhov Oppression flattered the Boros, but there are decks that would give the Boros a run for their money. Any deck that could vie for control of the red zone would certainly be able to hold its own, preventing the Boros from profitably attacking. A decent removal suite too could keep the blistering power of the Boros in check by keeping them below that critical threshold of three viable attackers. One wonders if the guild would have quite the easy walk of it against the Gruul, for instance. Thanks to the number of creatures with flying, the Boros can still manage to threaten even in those sorts of confrontations.

Additionally, the deck’s removal suite is fairly poor. Arrows of Justice compares quite poorly to Searing Spear, as the relevance of that added point of damage pales beside the flexibility of direct burn- not least because you don’t lose an attack in the process. It’s clear that this was a balancing act, as the deck’s creature complement is very strong. It’s also one of the first things you’ll want to look at when tinkering with the deck.

Overall this is a very strong construction. It was difficult to assess the impact of the plumped-up manabase in so small a sample, but it’s looking like something of a trade-off. It’s nice to be able to hit my bombs more reliably, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be in Jimi’s shoes on this one, taking a beating and needing an answer, only to draw a land.

Hits: Strong creature component capable of bringing tremendous pressure to bear; battalion is a fun mechanic that rewards you for what you’d already want to be doing in a Red/White deck

Misses: Removal suite is suboptimal; deck can falter if it meets its match in the red zone, as its creatures are somewhat less efficient when not optimised through the guild’s signature mechanic

OVERALL SCORE: 4.40/5.00

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30 Comments Post a comment
  1. Morten Dall
    Jan 28 2013

    Wow. It is a really neat mechanic. Nothing like a deck, which rewards you for applying the best tactic. Batallion is awesome. I must say that I’m a bit worried about Orzhov though. Extort seemed a little… Flat compared to batallion. I am definetly looking forward to see what you make of it when it’s Orzhov’s turn.

    Reply
  2. Jan 28 2013

    Don’t forget that you could always just add a couple other cards fix the fragility of the deck’s creatures (Frontline Medic and Legion Loyalist come to mind) then there are cardsthat give you a full cheap battalion( like Odric, Master tactition and Honourbound geist). this leaves loads of customisability for the deck. not only this but there are plenty of combat tricks in gatecrash for the boros, get round the lack of removal by using cards like Smite and furious resistance.

    TL:DR there are a lot of options to this deck and even just a slightly modified version of this decklist is going to be tough to beat.

    Reply
  3. Eric Bouchard
    Jan 28 2013

    Haha very interesting! Can’t wait !

    Reply
  4. Lee
    Jan 28 2013

    May have been a one sided match up but boros certainly looks like a powerhouse. I suspect if boros gets put under pressure itself then it may be pretty weak (although boros may be better off 99% of the time simply bashing away to win any damage race)!

    Reply
  5. Boros is very strong if you can keep enough battalion creatures in play and attacking. At the pre-release event, my friends battalion deck went down when his opponent had a bunch of removal. Or creatures big enough to block and take the attacking army down to 2 creatures.

    I think boros will be strong in limited but very susceptible to sweepers like Merciless Eviction unless they can pick up a Boros Charm.

    Reply
  6. Matt
    Jan 28 2013

    Not only decisive victories, but swift ones too. Boros pulls a Samuel L Jackson and says to the Orzhov, “I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Boros when I lay my vengeance upon you!” Then, in true Jackson fashion, utters an explitive which I will not utter here and kills them dead. Yeah… this deck is pretty cool.

    Reply
  7. Zack
    Jan 28 2013

    If left unchecked, the new Boros mechanic looks like it can end a game within a few turns. Imagine the possibilities if you were to splash a card like Rancor (to give your Battalion creatures Trample) – that’s a lot of damage over a short period!

    Reply
  8. Jan 28 2013

    Boros rares are insane. Both solid beaters that deal a lot of noncombat damage. I think only Gruul comes close.

    Reply
  9. Dave O
    Jan 28 2013

    If the intro deck is this solid, what will the event deck for this guild look like? I’d be curious whether this intro deck plus $5 to spend on the right adds could compete with the event decks? There are some uncommons and rares that can be picked up on a budget, kind of like middling with a bigger allowance. Please continue the middling article series if you can, for both the deckbuild philosophy and the budgeting. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jan 31 2013

      Depends what rares

      Reply
  10. Dave O
    Jan 28 2013

    (sheepishly) I meant meddling. A series on middling would be something entirely different!
    sorry about that. Dave O

    Reply
  11. Jan 28 2013

    Boros certainly hit hard and fast. orzhov is amazing in multiplayer…but really needs some good options to help control the board in the early stages of one on one.

    Reply
  12. Chris X
    Jan 28 2013

    Boros did well at the pre-release so makes sense it did well as a pre-con! Not a huge fan of the foil rare though, could be better imo

    Reply
  13. Venalb
    Jan 28 2013

    Wow, I thought the Boros Deck would do well but 4 straight wins? That’s amazing! Battalion is so strong.

    Reply
  14. Jan 29 2013

    Ouch. That almost hurt to read. I think I’m not alone in being worried about how the Orzhov deck is going to do…

    Reply
    • Icehawk
      Jan 29 2013

      I think it’ll do fine. My guild is Boros, but I do think it’ll do fine.

      Reply
  15. diennea
    Jan 29 2013

    Orzhov deck lacks the removal needed to play on the defensive (as most of the intro decks). On the other side, Boros doesn’t need anything besides lot of cheap creatures to trigger battalion.
    At the pre-release I played at, Boros and Orzhov were evenly matched in the top 8 (4 deck each).

    Reply
  16. Varo
    Jan 30 2013

    These matches were awfully similar to the ones i had against the boros at the prerelease party. The battalion attacks are too strong to withstand the first turns of the match, and 6~8 points of damage are usually too though to recover from. All in all, balanced deck with good rares, i approve it!

    Reply
  17. Jon S
    Jan 30 2013

    I agree with the assessment that Boros gets beat if you can’t get control of the red zone. Having both a boros deck and a dimir deck inmy prerelease i ran boros a couple of times and it wasn’t as nice as what the intro deck did to poor Jimi. Good review!

    Reply
  18. peteradactyl
    Jan 31 2013

    This is definitely the deck I’m most excited about in this series

    Reply
  19. Feb 1 2013

    It makes me sad to see one of my favorite guilds crushed, but it wasn’t undeserved. I’m predicting the Orzhov intro pack ends up on your list of the worst intro packs from this block. Could be wrong though, we’ll have to wait until analysis and battle report time!

    Reply
  20. Matt
    Feb 2 2013

    I think you’re going to find that the aggro based guilds are going to be a lot more powerful in the intro decks. Control and mid-range decks seem a bit more fickle to me and require a more finely tuned deck that the intro packs just don’t provide.

    Reply
  21. alza6991
    Feb 2 2013

    Wow this deck killed it at the prerelease! Simic, Orzhov and Dimir all seemed to fall in its presence, as they are all too slow to stop the rush of the Red and White Armies (yes, intentional).

    Other intro packs that came to mind that might be able to stop it are:
    RTR Azorious Advance (because of the detain mechanic)
    M13 Mob Rule (sacrificial weenies, as there wasn’t much trample in Boros, unfortunately lots of flying)
    M12 Entangling Webs (tons of reach, nice tricks, and haste for counterattacks)

    Reply
  22. outhouseinferno
    Feb 6 2013

    Wow, the deck does seem pretty strong, but still doesn’t seem as frightening as prerelease decks which had the threat of a Scorchwalker 5-damage blast, haha.

    It’s also sort of funny that Angelic Edict is in Orzhov and not Boros, the flavor is so obvious in that one.

    Reply
  23. mcc1701
    Feb 6 2013

    I find this similar to the B/W Dark Sacrifice deck, and that one R/W one from Avacyn Restored. Both RW decks are built well with a lot of non-combat damage to compliment them. Both BW decks on the other hand are good but have a LOT to be improved. I have both and you pretty much gut half the deck. On the other hand, the rest of the deck is very solid. I could see it doing better next time, as we saw some VERY bad draws this time.

    Reply
  24. tedhu1million
    Feb 8 2013

    Wow, I can’t believe Orzhov just got dominated like that. They’re my favorite guild.
    I think that the Orzhov theme deck’s plan isn’t well executed, usually you’d stall for some combo piece or bomb, but the Orzhov deck just stalls for… Extort. Extort is a great mechanic, but if all you’re playing are weenies, then extort can’t help beat bombs like firemane angel. Boros, on the other hand, have a solid game plan and their weenies do things, provided they need a group of attackers to do things, but they get there in the end.

    Reply
  25. Feb 9 2013

    Boros vs gruul would be an interesting match up!

    Reply
  26. outhouseinferno
    Feb 10 2013

    This deck going 4-0 against the Orzhov really surprised me. At the prerelease the Orzhov usually beat Boros because the lifegain putting itself out of reach against a quick creature rush. Then again, there were usually better defenders in the Gatecrash packs than some Silvercoat Lions and bats.

    Tormented Soul really was in the wrong deck haha, even if its flavor fits Orzhov better.

    Boros had the best strategy in that it can function with any random low-cost dudes so this precon can’t help but do well too.

    Reply
  27. Limbonic_art
    Feb 11 2013

    I’m surprised at how one-sided this game was, poor Orzhov. Battalion is more deadly than it seems on the right deck, especially on already solid creatures like the 2/3 3 mana red creature and the RW 3/2 Hallbardier. Battalion seems vulnerable, but once it gets going there’s little stopping it. In sealed, boros seemed to dominate most of the time.
    As for the deck it seems fun, however battalion itself does not really explore that much new grounds that battle cry or other aggressive attack trigger mechanics have explored before, so a little criticism on that. Boros still seems like one of the most fun guilds of ravnica, and battalion is much superior than radience. The lightnig helix angel seems like a true bomb with enough attacking creatures.

    Reply
  28. Limbonic_art
    Feb 14 2013

    I also want to give a little bit of my feedback on Battallion(created as assault) as a mechanic itself. It is similar to Battle cry that it wants many creatures attacking, but battle cry encourages your whole team, while batallion requires 3 or more creatures, but may be more if there are more battallion triggers wanted and/or possiblity of attacking favourably with more creatures. Battallion is similar to metalcraft in that the trigger is the same, but the actual effect on a card is not. It seems that it could have been a very straightforward mechanic and easy to come up with, but it hadn’t really found its home. Compared to radience it wins that battle for sure, it is flavourful and truly advances what the guild is about, even if it is simple. I would have simply preferred to have a single batallion effect instead of it being an ability word. When I first saw Firemane Avenger I thought that the boros mechanic was lightning helix for a second, but then I thought to myself “meh, wizards wouldn’t print this on commons” and I was right. Pherhaps that was the right move, but dealing damage and gaining life seems very boros to me, hopefully the next time ravnica is visited boros will recieve a lifelink-like mechanic.

    Reply

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