It felt sooooo good to go back to my roots. A deck that I know the ins-and-outs and to know the right answer to most situations. And, of course, to finish rounds in under ten minutes. I'm happy for Standard to be in a place where I feel that Boss Sligh is well positioned in.
I wanted to play a deck that punishes the slower decks from the Pro Tour. Lots of decks were incorporating Dig Through Time, Temples, and Tri-lands; and Boss Sligh aims to end the game before the value of those cards is reached. I also wanted to play a deck that could cast both Searing Blood and Eidolon of the Great Revel after sideboard. The Jeskai Aggro decks are very soft to Searing Blood against the 2/2 creatures like Seeker of the Way and Goblin Rabblemaster. I didn't know how big Jeskai Ascendancy would be, but it seemed like a deck with a lot of burn spells and Eidolon of the Great Revel would be a nightmare for them to face.
- 4 Akroan Crusader
- 1 Arena Athlete
- 4 Firedrinker Satyr
- 4 Foundry Street Denizen
- 3 Frenzied Goblin
- 4 Monastery Swiftspear
- 18 Mountain
No Goblin Rabblemaster? Isn't that my favorite card?
Goblin Rabblemaster has a huge target on its head right now. People don't want to lose to that card as much as they didn't want to lose to Pack Rat last season. Lightning Strikes and blockers for the chump-attacking 1/1 goblin are everywhere, and people tend to leave up removal on the third turn when a Rabblemaster is expected.
Boss Sligh is nothing but a bunch of little creatures that you don't really care about. Goblin Rabblemaster stands out as the go-to creature for your opponent to use their removal on. Keeping all your creatures roughly the same strength (or weakness in this case) makes their one-for-one removal like Hero's Downfall look foolish.
Frenzied Goblin is a card that previously didn't make the list. The biggest problem was that it was forced to attack the turn you cast Goblin Rabblemaster unless you cast the Rabblemaster post-combat. This reduced the potency of both cards. With the loss of Legion Loyalist and Madcap Skills, the deck really needs a way to get through, and Frenzied Goblin had to get the nod over Goblin Rabblemaster.
Hordeling Outburst is a spell for Monastery Swiftblade and plays better with Hall of Triumph. It's a really good way to keep the creature count high as well as the spell count high at the same time. In combination with Stoke the Flames, making three creatures with one spell makes the powerful burn spell essentially free.
Here's a brief description of how you play against the popular decks in the format and how I tend to sideboard against them.
VS Jeskai Aggro
Their mana isn't great. They're capable of some nice curves headlined by a turn 3 Mantis Rider but to piece it all together they have to play a bunch of lands that enter the battlefield tapped and have to tap their painlands for colored mana early. This often puts them in a position to dying to an alpha attack or a Stoke the Flames. Some builds go up to Steam Augury and Dig Through Time which are too slow to cast.
VS Abzan Midrange
Siege Rhino is the best card in the format against Boss Sligh, and it really comes down to if they draw two or more of them. Stoke their Courser of Kruphix as soon as possible, and put them to tough decisions by attacking into their Sylvan Caryatids early and often. Many of them rely on Abzan Charm for removal so keep that in mind when pumping your creatures with Dragon Mantle and such.
VS Abzan Aggro
- 4 Fleecemane Lion
- 2 Heir of the Wilds
- 4 Rakshasa Deathdealer
- 4 Siege Rhino
- 4 Herald of Torment
- 3 Anafenza, the Foremost
This is probably a bit of a worse matchup than the midrange version, as their clock is faster and they generally have enough time to cast all of their spells against you. The good news is that they play a decent number of two-toughness creatures (Heir of the Wilds, Rakshasa Deathdealer), making Searing Blood a reasonable option against them.
VS U/B Control
Boss Sligh has always been good against slow control decks, and this is exactly the kind of deck you want to face. Without Jace, Architect of Thought or a freeroll lifegain spell like Sphinx's Revelation, they're hard pressed to be able to both stop an early assault of creatures and get out of burn range. Disdainful Stroke is a funny card to play against since it hits nothing in Boss Sligh. Be wary of Bile Blight and Drown in Sorrow after sideboard and play out your threats without overcommitting.
Jeskai Ascendancy is on the brink of being broken in Standard, and once the correct list is found, I'm sure it will be as big of a player in Standard as it is in Modern. When that day comes, I want to be ready with four copies of Eidolon of the Great Revel in my 75. If they're reliant on more mana accelerants or something like Midnight Guard, the burn spells become much better. In the dark, if game 1 ends quickly, this is how I would sideboard.
VS Mardu Control
This is the deck developed by Team Revolution for the Pro Tour. Mardu Midrange was the previous flavor, but I expect this version to pick up in popularity. This is exactly the kind of deck you want to face: one that wants to solve and control the other decks in the format and lets you go right underneath them. Be careful not to run into 1/1 first striking warriors from Mardu Charm. If they're attacking your hand with Despise and Thoughtseize, you can also sideboard out a Mountain on the draw.
VS Green Devotion
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Genesis Hydra
- 2 Hornet Queen
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 4 Voyaging Satyr
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 4 Doomwake Giant
- 4 Eidolon of Blossoms
- 4 Polukranos, World Eater
- 1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
The best thing about these matchups is how their gameplan against creatures is to block as opposed to killing them. They can draw the wrong half of their deck by either having too many mana accelerants or too many haymakers that they don't have time to cast. You want to pick whichever side of the spectrum you want to attack, which usually involves either attacking all of their mana accelerants or none of them. Typically I like to jam all of my creatures and run over theirs on the play and try to contain their creatures on the draw.
Out (on the play):
In (on the play):
Out (on the draw):
In (on the draw):
I also played in Mississippi States on Saturday, the day before Louisiana States on Sunday. I made it to the top 8 with a U/W Heroic deck similar to what I wrote about a few weeks ago. You can check out that decklist here. Overall I liked the deck, but I didn't like how it played into Jeskai Aggro's gameplay of two-drop burn spells in Magma Jet and Lightning Strike to contain my creatures before they could get going. Also Jeskai Charm is aggravating to play against because Ajani's Presence couldn't stop it.
Afterwards I was inspired by Todd Anderson's Pro Tour deck that featured Heliod's Pilgrim in an artifact shell to get some card advantage going and to virtually have more copies of his linchpin card: Ensoul Artifact. Lately I've been playing an updated U/W Heroic deck that uses the same technology to have more copies of Ordeal of Thassa and to slim down on the more situational auras, effectively having a toolbox package.
This deck is a blast to play and imagine that I'll be running U/W Heroic at Game Day since Ari Lax just won the Pro Tour with Abzan Midrange. This deck plays a lot better against Siege Rhino and company. That said I think both decks are great choices for your gameday or your next Open Series event.
Which list do you prefer? How did you do at your States? Will you be playing the same deck in your Game Day? If you're on a budget but still want something competitive that ends rounds in a hurry, you can't go wrong with Boss Sligh!