Boros Artifact Burn
Pilot: strong sad
This week’s league had some great brews in the 5-0 list, including 5C Humans, Hardened Scales and Mono-Blue Artifacts. I chose to highlight this burn deck over the others because I think people who really enjoyed the playstyle of Boros Burn (which has fallen out of favor recently in return for the mono-red burn deck, which plays much differently) will really appreciate the return of this archetype and the enabling of Shrapnel Blast, which is one of the fastest, most efficient ways of counting to 20 life in the format.
The deck plays 28 one-drops (32 if you count Skewer the Critics, which is usually a one-cost spell). Anyone who has played a face-burn deck will recognize this as both a strength and a weakness – it is great to be able to play out all of your burn cards and creatures and maximize face damage, but you are susceptible to running out of gas rather quickly. Before Neon Dynasty, we fixed this to some extent with Light Up the Stage, which gave us access to the top two cards of our deck. Now, we have Experimental Synthesizer, which I will talk about in a moment. Let’s check out the list!
Counting to Twenty
Of course, the idea is to get the opponent’s life total to zero as quickly as possible – which, if I’ve done my math right, is on turn four. On turn one in game one, we’re looking for a Hotshot Mechanic (which is not in the deck to crew vehicles, but as a 2/1 one-drop that can be sacrificed to Shrapnel Blast, an Inventor's Apprentice or Toolcraft Exemplar and an enabler to play on turn two, a Reinforced Ronin or, maybe worst-case scenario, a Voldaren Epicure.
On turn two, we’re looking to either get in for damage with our turn one creature or a Voldaren Epicure from hand and Skewer The Critics for one, or start going wider with creatures that aren’t Reinforced Ronin, or spam two Ronins from hand and swinging for four plus our turn one creature. This decision, of course, will be based on the board state, the matchup and our hand.
Turn three is the first turn we are completely safe to play Experimental Synthesizer, which is one of my favorite cards from Neon Dynasty. Let’s get into playing this card a little bit before we move on.
This innocent one-drop common from Neon Dynasty did a lot to unlock this version of burn. It’s an artifact that can be sacrificed to Shrapnel Blast, and when you do so, it repeats it’s enter-the-battlefield trigger, which exiles the top card of your library and allows you to play it that turn. Playing it on turn one is just milling one card into exile, which we never do. Playing it on turn two is risky. If you don’t have a land in your hand, the only card the Synth could hit that you could actually play is a land. If you have a land in your hand, the only bad hits would be Boros Charm, Shrapnel Blast and Lightning Strike (unless you have no ways to activate Skewer The Critics’ Spectacle cost – then that is a bad hit too).
Turn three is where Experimental Synthesizer shines. If you play it before your land drop and have both colors of mana available, you will be able to play the card on the top of your library no matter what it is (again, unless you have no ways to activate Skewer The Critics’ Spectacle cost). The worst case scenario is drawing a Shrapnel Blast and only having the Synth to sacrifice to it, as the Synth activates again when it leaves the battlefield and you won’t be able to play any card off the second activation.
The printing of the Synth added some really interesting lines and decision points to Boros Burn, which I personally love and is a big part of the reason I wanted to highlight this deck this week.
Back to the Gameplan
As discussed, a turn three Experimental Synthesizer is great. But there are plenty times where we just want to win by turn four, and the Synth doesn’t inherently deal face damage. Turn three can be a great turn for a Play With Fire and Boros Charm on the opponent’s end step or dealing with a problematic blocker and getting in with Ronins (which are essentially Shocks on a clear board) and double Skewering or setting up a board of artifacts that don’t bounce to hand at the end of turn to sacrifice to double Shrapnel Blasts on turn four. Whatever we had for damage on board already, we can add a maximum of eight to on turn three without playing a single Shrapnel Blast.
On turn four we either win or start building up steam again with Experimental Synthesizer’s ETB or death trigger. Note that we can also sacrifice the Synth to itself for three mana to create a 2/2 with vigilance, which can definitely be correct when you’re in a grindier game. Of course, this is also a Lurrus of the Dream Den deck, so we have several ways of building back up after a sweeper (recurring our creatures) or against a board of blockers (recurring our Synth to look for burn spells).
Smash to Smithereens looks extremely good in the meta right now, allowing us to deal with Oni-Cult Anvils and Witch’s Ovens and getting in for three face damage in the process. The remainder of the sideboard will look familiar to anyone who played Boros Burn in Pioneer in the past, plus some meta tech in Deafening Silence and a full playset of Portable Hole
I’m really glad to see Boros Burn making a comeback (sorry, combo players) with a bit of a makeover. The addition of the artifacts matter elements and Experimental Synthesizer make for some interesting lines outside of turning creatures sideways and burning face. It’s also relatively inexpensive compared to many of the other decks that are winning leagues right now, though the mana base makes up more than half of the deck’s $230 price point. There is a way to build this in mono red on a budget, and we’ll share that here as soon as it’s available.