Commander Focus: Boros Shenanigans

Last year it seemed like Wizards had a consistent agenda of pushing “Boros reanimation” but we seem to have cycled away from that. There were a number of cards that involved either artifacts or spirits and graveyards and lead to certain recursive play patterns.

Using your graveyard as a resource is a long tradition in magic. The Mill archetype took a long time to emerge with support, but even back in the day (and I mean, like, back in the 1990’s) players had figured out that if you skipped your first turn (i.e. didn’t play a land or cast any spells) you’d draw a card, be over the limit, and you could discard a big fatty into your yard. The next turn you could Reanimate or the turn after Animate Dead. Losing a whole turn is a high price to pay, but imagine on turn 2 your opponent brings out an Archon of Cruelty.

White’s weenies and reds aggression make a good pair, but it’s a bit boring. It’s also super vulnerable to board clear, and struggles to close the deal in commander. One-off commanders like Winota, Joiner of Forces aside, Boros often struggles in Commander, but I’ve been sort of excitedly waiting to make a deck around Boros strange reanimation abilities. I’d expected more of them, I think it’s even in my 2022 predictions, so oh well to that, but here we are.

There are three Boros commanders that fit this theme of reanimation shenanigans.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

By far the strongest of these is Osgir, the Reconstructor. Built-in ability to sacrifice artifacts to recur is really useful. Many decks that want to recur things struggle to find a way to consistently kill things. Osgir’s ability has a useful side-effect that it allows sacrificing artifacts, so that will include both creature and non-creature artifacts from time to time. Most sac outlets can only sacrifice creatures, the most common are probably Ashnod’s Altar, Phyrexian Altar, and Viscera Seer but others show up as well.

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Osgir’s second ability, to exile cards from the graveyard and create two token copies of them, is really pretty strong. Turning 1 Sol Ring into two is neat. But turning one Cloud Key into two gets really strong.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Hofri Ghostforge has a strange ability. He essentially clones nontoken creatures you control that die and then exiles the original, the token copy that is created is a Spirit.

He’s also a Spirit lord, giving Spirits +1/+1, trample, and haste.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Quintorius, Field Historian is probably the least strong of the three, his triggered ability creates a 3/2 red and white Spirit creature token whenever a card leaves your graveyard. This will have hilarious consequences if you happen to get hit with a Timetwister (hopefully a proxy). It could also be combined with Wheel of Fortune, Lion’s Eye Diamond, and Underworld Breach as a win condition (you’d need a trigger when a creature enters the battlefield, like Impact Tremors).

The interactions between these three are pretty fun. If you sacrifice a creature, (say it’s an artifact creature, so use Osgir’s ability), it will die, then be exiled (due to Hofri’s trigger), this will create a 3/2 Spirit creature token (due to Quintorius’ trigger) and a copy of the original creature that is also a Spirit. Then you can sacrifice the token copy. Then the original will return to your graveyard. Then you can exile it again, this time creating two copies, using Osigir’s ability.

If that artifact creature has an ETB and a death trigger, the ETB will trigger on first entering, then when its copy gets created, then two more time when you get two token copies. If it has a death trigger you’ll get 2 triggers and 2 more when you later sacrifice the token copies. You’ll also get 6 instances of creatures that are presumably artifacts entering the battlefield. That’s a lot of potential triggers.

Creature ETB triggers:

Artifact ETB triggers:

Unfortunately, the other two creatures that fit this bill are black, to take full advantage would take a Mardu commander.

Nonetheless, with creatures entering and leaving player constantly, some of them being artifacts, and the decks ability to ramp up aggressively by cloning mana rocks and creatures that fetch basic lands out of your deck, you should be able to threaten your opponent’s life totals pretty aggressively. Since you want your creatures to die, you also ought to have chump blockers galore for if your opponents get desperate.

Playing the deck ought to be fairly straightforward, hope for a turn 2 mana rock, look for a turn 3 Hofri, then look to set up a draw engine so you keep getting resources, then try to get a trigger or two into play so each turn you are hitting your opponents for enough damage that you can kill them over the course of a couple of turns.

I’ve deliberately omitted the sort of infinite combos that this deck could potentially run. You can run any of the 3 reanimators as the commander, though I’d say the power and usefulness order is definitely Osgir, Hofri, and Quintorius as a distant third.

Here’s Machine Spirit, and here’s to hoping that Wizards goes ahead and prints a few more wacky Boros graveyard cards to make more interesting decks around.

 

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