With the banning of Field of the Dead, the standard metagame has been shaken up significantly. Without a clear Top Tier deck, we have seen various versions of Oko, Thief of Crowns and Nissa, Who Shakes the World decks become more important in the metagame. The Sultai Food version of the deck did very well at Star City Games Classic Atlanta taking four of the top five spots at the tournament with Jeskai Fires placing 4th.

With all the Oko decks running amuck in standard, I have been looking for a deck that can deal with Oko and friends while still being competitive in the overall metagame. With rotation and the release of Throne of Eldraine, the overall metagame has become slower and aggro decks that performed well over the previous year have not found a home in the new standard because they lack the power level to compete with Questing Beast and other new creatures from Throne of Eldraine and of course Oko.

Over the past several weeks I have tried aggro strategies in Mono-Black, Mono Red, Rakdos, Azorius, Gruul, and a few others. None of them were able to consistently win, so I turned back to Boros last night to take another shot at developing an Aggro deck that could take down the best decks in standard.
Since the release of Guilds of Ravnica I have wanted to create a successful Boros Soldiers deck built around Tajic, Legion’s Edge and Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice. During previous seasons, I have tried the deck, but I was not able to get it to a power level that made it a competitive option in stand. Now that standard has changed, I see this version of the deck as a real option in standard.

The first thing to know about this deck is that it was tested on the Mythic tier on Arena. Mostly in best-of-one to see if it could compete against the growing number of Oko decks. Against Oko and company the results were good. Overall, the results were positive. When I switch over to the deck my Mythic rank was 80%. When I stopped playing, I was up to 93%. Here is the deck I used.

Boros Aggro, Scott Trepanier

Creatures (19)
Feather, the Redeemed
Boros Challenger
Skyknight Vanguard
Swiftblade Vindicator
Tajic, Legion’s Edge
Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice

Instant (8)
Raise the Alarm

Sorcery (4)
Solar Blaze

Artifact (3)
Glass of the Guildpact

Enchantment (4)
Prison Realm

Land (22)
Sacred Foundry
Temple of Triumph

Here’s how the deck works. The creatures are all red/white, so having a white and a red source of mana is essential for the deck to work. Ten of the nineteen creatures are two drops, six are three drops, and three copies of Aurelia round out the creature base. It is important to get out a creature on turn two, so that you can start pressuring your opponent on turn three.

When I have the choice, I like to play Skyknight Vanguard on turn two, so that I can begin generating creature advantage on turn three. Most decks do not have a way to deal with the evasive nature of this deck, so you should be able to create a 1/ 1 soldier token on most turns after you play Skyknight Vanguard. The token is created when Skyknight is declared as an attacker. One note about the token, if your opponent has planeswalkers on the field you get to choose the target that the token is attacking. I have had games where I have had two Skyknight’s on the battlefield and a half dozen or more soldier tokens. It is very difficult for most decks to block that many creatures.

The other two drops are Boros Challenger and Swiftblade Vindicator. Swiftblade is a 1/ 1 with double strike, vigilance, and trample while Challenger provides mentor with the ability to increase its own power and toughness for four mana. When I have Swiftblade I like to play it before Challenger, so that I can increase the potential for combat damage. Ten of the deck’s creatures have the mentor, so I can typically mentor Swiftblade the turn after it enters play. Once a Skyknight Vanguard and a Boros Challenger are on the battlefield, it is easy to accumulate damage in the game quickly.

The three drops are Feather, the Redeemed and Tajic, Legion’s Edge. Feather is a card that most of you should be familiar with from Core 2020 and War of the Spark standard. In this deck, Feather is not providing recurrent instants and sorceries that target one of your creatures. She is providing an evasive creature that is difficult to deal with early in the game. Tajic is a bomb in the deck. His ability to mentor makes any of your two drops bigger the turn he enters play. With most of the Oko decks not having an effective blocker until turn four, Tajic usually produces five or more points of combat damage the turn he enters the battlefield and continues to increase the power and toughness of your creatures turn after turn.

The final creature is Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice. She is the finisher in the deck. Typically getting her on the battlefield resulted in a win in a turn or two. What she does that is powerful for the deck is give +2/+0 to a creature when she comes into play. This means that one of your creatures with mentor can mentor a creature that has already reached its power level, or you can give this to Swiftblade Vindicator to ramp up the damage that she provides. Plus, the creature also gets vigilance, so it can become a blocker on the next turn, if it is needed. Then on your next turn Aurelia becomes a 4/5 attacker that will mentor one of your other creatures. Mentoring Feather can lead to eight damage in the air.

The creatures in the deck provide the aggro force that is needed to end games within the first seven or eight turns. What makes the deck work well are its supporting components. Arguably, the most important card in the deck is Solar Blaze. It causes creatures to do damage to themselves equal to there own power. Most of the creatures that see play have at least the same power as toughness, so Solar Blaze can a one-sided board wipe. This works for two reasons. First, most of the creatures in the deck have more toughness than power, so they do not die to Solar Blaze. The second thing that protects the deck is Tajic. His static ability prevents non-combat damage from being dealt to your creatures. This means that all the tokens generated by Skyknight Vanguard survive Solar Blaze. Then I can swing in for a bunch of damage on the turn that I played Solar Blaze. Games end quickly this way.

To deal with Oko and Nissa, Prison Realm is in the deck. There are only a few cards that are played that can do anything about Prison Realm, so most games they are exiled, and your opponent can not interact with Prison Realm. Teferi, Time Raveler is the card in the Bant Food deck that can interact with Prison Realm, so be careful about how you use it against this deck.

The deck plays four shocks to deal with Gilded Goose and other two toughness creatures early in the game. The final piece to the deck is Glass of the Guildpack. There are three Glass in the deck. Glass gives each multi-colored creature +1/+1. This is useful against decks that are playing Deafening Clarion. It helps get your creatures above three toughness, so they will not die to Clarion.

The sideboard for the deck is a work in progress. Right now, I have four copies of Disenchant to deal with Fires of Invention, Witch’s Oven, and other artifacts. Three copies of Deafening Clarion to use against aggro decks. Three copies of Devout Decree and two copies of Fry to play against blue/green decks. The final part of the sideboard is three copies of Response//Resurgence. Response deals five damage to an attacking or blocking creature. While Resurgence gives you a second combat faze on your turn. This can win games before your opponent has a chance to attack again.

Overall, I like the power of the deck. Having the ability to do a one-sided board wipe gives the deck resilience that most decks in the current format lack. I feel that once you are behind to Oko and Nissa it is difficult to remove wither from play and still have a chance to win. Solar Blaze takes out their protection and leaves you in a place where you can kill one or both planeswalkers if you need too. The key is drawing Solar Blaze and being able to play it. When you don’t draw it things can go sideways fast.

Until next time. Good luck finding your win condition!