Whenever someone on the internet starts a conversation about what the best color pair is in Commander, you get a lot of diverse opinions with a myriad of reasons and arguments. “Izzet is basically a Batman and Superman team up,” they’ll say. “Yeah but Azorius is like Captain America and Thor in a helicopter!” another will post. “Ok but Golgari is like if The Hulk and Dracula were best buds and just opened up a small antique shop in rural Pennsylvania!” I’m pretty sure I’ve already seen on Reddit.
The same reasoning and raging online nerd debate doesn’t exist when the topic is flipped to what the worst color pairs are in commander. Instead, the sad and easy answer people seem to come back to is the dud brothers, the warm milk mixed with stale cereal, the 1995 Minnestoa Timberwolves of EDH, Boros.
So what is it that makes Boros such a weak colour pair in our format? Is it the keywords? The colour pie? The inevitable connection to Canada? (It’s ok guys, I’m Canadian) What is it? The answer of course is a combination of all of the above except the Canada thing – we’re good at Magic. Boros is made up of the two weakest stand-alone colours in EDH and while White is an excellent support colour, it struggles with the things you want to do in Commander and the same goes for Red. Neither can draw cards very easily and both have trouble ramping up. It’s sort of like when Danny Glover and Joe Pesci were in that fishing movie. You know both of these guys are good (and one of them is like, all time good) but together they just made some forgettable garbage that even your dad who loves fishing is disappointed in. In addition to what I will now call the Pesci-Glover effect, Boros’ abilities always seem to be based around combat, which when playing in a format that loves big, wacky cards that control and combo off, can seem less effective and not nearly as fun. This isn’t to say that Boros can’t put together a mean deck or one that isn’t fun, it’s just to say that if you want to do anything besides combat, you may be in for a less than decent time.
Of course all that could change if we just had a legendary creature who didn’t deal exclusively with combat. This is the main reason people didn’t seem excited about Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas when she was spoiled. Sure, double strike and vigilance are powerful abilities and the new experience counter mechanic means she would make a solid voltron general, but we really wanted a commander that was completely different and would elevate Boros alongside the other guilds. The worst part of Kalemne’s reveal for me personally was that red-white’s non-legendary creature pool could easily have been treated as a road map of other great ideas to put on a commander. Seeing this, it’s tough to figure out why someone thought two more voltron, damage-based commanders were the way to go.
So let’s use the road map and take a look at some non-legendary creatures that prove Boros could be more than just combat-orietnted, face smashing, nonsense.
You’re not going to get away from damage-based effects as long as you include red in your colours. Combat damage, however is something we can avoid. Boros Reckoner has a really neat ability that you can build a sort of “deal damage to my own creatures” deck around. If you made the commander version of the Reckoncer have or gain indestructible or maybe it deals damage to each player I think we’re looking at a very interesting and cool new commander.
One of the most frustrating things to happen in recent sets was the printing of Soulfire Grand Master without the word Legendary in its card type. I know this techincally is a Jeskai card, but it is Boros through and through. Buyback, lifelink, damage spells, come on! How can you give us busted stuff like Mizzix and Narset and then pullback on the commander powere level for a card so perfectly designed to add new spice to potentially Boros coommanders!?
Oh no, I’m not done with this one – Soulfire GM is so good as a potential Boros commander that you could split the card in two and still have two different and great generals. Take the lifelink on spells for a more lifegain, control-oriented deck and give me the buyback ability for finally using those red burn spells that I otherwise get no use out of in EDH. This is the card so nice they should have made it twice!
Speaking of ways to make burn spells viable in EDH, slap a “Legendary” on Hostility and you have yourself a card that begs to be built around. Big hastey creatures born from red burns, maybe toss in an anthem effect from the white side of the new card, play with some red sac outlets and you’re having a doesnt-have-to-be-combat-based laugh!
Ok, so this card isn’t Red, White or any combination of both, so maybe I have no business mentioning it, right? Wrong. The question here is, what in the world is this card doing in blue? I know blue likes artifacts but convoke is a definite white (and green) ability, and artifacts are right at home with either red or white. Seriously, blue, bugger off with Chief Engineer, you get all the good cards as it is. Plus, blue is so filled with good artifact cards that no one even uses this for ANYTHING. This card is basically lost at sea surrounded by way more powerful blue cards that are actually being used. Red and White NEED this card and they need it as a legendary creature because Jor-Kadeen should not be the only artifact commander Boros gets.
The list (in my own head) goes on too! What if Anya, Merciless Angel wasn’t the flop many said she ended up being and instead had a Sunforger-like ability that let you search for cheap instants and sorceries? Or perhaps Kalemne had an experience counter mechanic that let her tutor for equipment or auras or deal that number of damage on upkeep or perhaps via an activated or triggered ability? Basically just anything that didn’t say, suit these guys up and attack. I love suiting up and attacking sometimes, too but these colours need and deserve more.
So normally I’d post a decklist here outlining a way to build around one of the featured commanders from earlier in the article but instead since I have featured no actual legendary creatures, I’ll instead give you a list of great Red and White EDH cards that you may or may not want to throw into future EDH decks. I’ll keep each card on the list under $5 and that way if Wizards ever decides to make a decent Boros general, we can refer back to this in order to find some great cards to use.
Assemble the Legion – One of the craziest token producers in all of Magic. If it lives a few turns, it’s absolutely deadly, and not just because you’ll be hanging around with a bunch of
Boros Charm – Surviving board wipes can be a game win – so can instant speed double strike on your beefed up commander.
Sunforger – need your Swords to Plowshares? Sure! How about your Boros Charm? NO PROBLEM HERE IT IS MY NAME IS SUNFORGER AND I AM THE BEST.
Aurelia’s Fury – I bet you thought you had blockers!
Brightflame – Token decks fear this card, good against them at any stage of the game.
Deflecting Palm – Whether it’s against an infinite Splinter Twin/Kiki-Jiki combo or just a gigantic trampling monster, Deflecting palm can sometimes read. RW: Kill the guy who’s attacking you. Plus the art is all “TALK TO THE HAND”
Double Cleave – Not just something you’d see in an alien ballgown. Instant speed Double Strike can kill, so play safe.
Duergar Hedge-Mage – Hey look its an ETB Artifact and Enchantment-busting creature in Boros!
Fight to the Death – This one is quite situational but at the right time, this card can hose a lot of your oppnents’ creatures or just one of em. Either way its often a multiple-for-one.
Orim’s Thunder – Recently included in the 2015 Commander set, you often get to kill an artifact or enchantment AND a creature! Value!
Powerstone Minefield – This makes combat a bit of a nightmare for your opponents. It allows your smaller creatures to trade up and can turn off swarm strategies and the aformention Twin/Kiki combos!
Shattering Blow – Sometimes you gotta exile that artifact.
Waves of Aggression – A little more specific but when you control how many combat phases and when they happen, that’s a real good thing.
Master Warcraft – Opponents board of creatures looking a little too good? Let’s fix that by controlling who attacks and blocks this turn. A bit of a mini-mindslaver if you think about it?
Wear // Tear – It’s played in legacy for a reason guys.
That’s the article for this week! Keep reading and check me out on The Commander’s Brew Podcast for a new budget EDH deck every week!