As I have stated before, I have won more packs with Forest than any other land type, between Standard and Pauper Stompy and Modern Infect and Bogles. As an introduction to Modern Boros Landfall, I want to explain why Monogreen Infect was so good.
Well, first of all, we have new and cheap fetchlands.
Many Modern games don’t seem close. It is my main gripe with the format. Many players play the metagame instead of the game. What I mean by this is that they find an optimal time to pilot a certain deck, and they crush the opponents that have the weak match-ups. Burn was favorable, and now Modern players sleeve up Proclamation of Rebirth and Martyr of Sands. I did the same thing with Daybreak Coronet. Timeless decks are those that transcend this process and neither crush opponents nor get crushed by opponents. Instead, games are often very close and down to a turn or a single card draw.
Monogreen Infect was bizarrely able to play the long game or win before turn 4. When it was paired against combo or Tron, it would play a creature on the first two turns and play two or three pump spells by turn 3. In other games, the Cathedral of War cards would act as pump spells, and the Vines of Vastwood and Groundswell would act instead as Counterspell effects, increasing the toughness beyond what Lightning Bolt or Anger of the Gods would destroy or blanking Path to Exile by granting hexproof. In addition, the Vines would counter Splinter Twin, which was relevant as well.
So the second reason I want to explore the Boros Landfall strategy is that many ideas seen in Monogreen Infect are transferable to Boros Aggro. Your lands are uncounterable pump effects for Steppe Lynx and Plated Geopede, and creatures like Figure of Destiny pump themselves without investing more cards. Even a Shard Volley can act as a pseudo-Mutagenic Growth if you sacrifice Flagstones of Trokair to pay its cost.
Boros Aggro allows you to play a turn 4 or before game when you have to or to nickel and dime opponents with your Landfall triggers in response to removal. In addition, you have so much reach with your Burn spells that you only require one good swing from a creature in many match-ups. What’s more is that you’re playing white, and white sideboard cards are at an all-time high right now. Let’s take a look at the deck:
Boros To Tears (Modern)
4 Arid Mesa
4 Bloodstained Mire
3 Flagstones to Trokair
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Figure of Destiny
4 Goblin Guide
4 Grim Lavamancer
4 Plated Geopede
4 Steppe Lynx
Other Spells (16)
4 Boros Charm
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Lightning Helix
4 Shard Volley
3 Aven Mindcensor
1 Blind Obedience
1 Fracturing Gust
1 Kataki, War’s Wage
1 Mark of Asylum
3 Molten Rain
1 Rest in Peace
1 Stony Silence
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
In the main 60, I have decided to start with, essentially, 15 4-ofs. The list probably has a Grim Lavamancer and a Shard Volley too many. Grim Lavamancer feels very strong on MTGO right now. I am tempted to run Treasure Cruise with the high number of instants and fetch-lands, but I just haven’t felt good about it in lists without chaining cantrips together (I tried it in Zoo, Affinity, and Eggs variants and didn’t like it). Instead, I will take advantage of the graveyard by destroying my opponents’ Delver of Secrets, Young Pyromancer, blockers, etc.
You may be tempted to run Ghost Quarter. I wouldn’t fault you. There are times when you get to play a Ghost Quarter, activate it to destroy Flagstones of Trokair and trigger one Landfall ability per Plated Geopede and Steppe Lynx. When you do, though, you will notice, as I did, that the deck runs too few basics to take advantage of it as often as we would like.
I find that many Aggro players are chronically playing too few lands. They are scared that they will flood out and lose games. This deck compensates for that in that each land drop is a Mutagenic Growth. We don’t mind drawing lands nearly as much as other aggressive decks do.
Flagstones of Trokair is not played nearly as much today as before the new legend rule, for good reason, but I still play it to work with Shard Volley. At worst, if I draw two, I can get two landfall activations out of the second.
Again, the rule here is that we want creatures to be powerful alone, and investments that we make into the creatures can not result in blowouts.
Figure of Destiny becomes a 4/4 fairly easily and with no investment beyond paying mana. The four toughness is required to beat Lightning Bolt, and activating his ultimate is not entirely unlikely in many games.
Goblin Guide is a staple of the archetype, though he gets sided out a lot. If not for the popularity of cards like Gut Shot and Forked Bolt, there may be an argument for playing Dryad Militant in his place. As it is, he gets in a lot of early damage that is not dependent on land drops or other spells.
Steppe Lynx and Plated Geopede are the deck’s namesake. They easily deal an early 4-8 damage to the opponent in the early game, and they can gather in multiples as you play fetchlands leading up to the big finale. They also go great with Boros Charm when you have to race your opponent.
Boros Charm is relevant in all three of its modes. 4 damage is a significant amount of reach to deliver straight to your opponent’s dome. Anger of the Gods, Supreme Verdict, and Day of Judgment are all essentially countered by granting your permanents indestructibility. Next, double strike deals loads of damage in combination with your landfall creatures. Finally, the first strike (given along with “double” strike) acts as removal of your opponents’ blockers before you go all-in. It’s a great card and difficult to play around.
Lightning Bolt would be a difficult omission in a deck with Shard Volley. It is critical in today’s game to remove blockers and threats, and it helps to reach a critical mass of burn spells in the deck.
Lightning Helix is one of very few pieces of hate against Burn, and it also helps us gain some tempo against Delver of Secrets based decks. So far, with the clock the deck provides, it seems to be enough.
Shard Volley clears the way, finishes the opponent off, and deals 5 damage in many situations.
This space is a bit awkward. This deck loves to have untapped lands, particularly fetchlands, so instant-speed blowouts like Wear, Smash to Smithereens, Path to Exile, and Combust are very appealing. At the same time, I really like the sorcery-speed and permanent-based hate with the aggressive clock that this deck provides.
Against Scapeshift, we side most heavily. 4 Goblin Guide, and some number of burn spells including Grim Lavamancer come out for 3 Aven Mindcensor, 1 Mark of Asylum[c/], 3 [c]Molten Rain and 1 Thalia, Guardien of Thraben. This matchup is still rough. I really hate Scapeshift, but mostly because I rarely play counterspells or Thoughtseize.
I hope you enjoyed this article and will try out this Modern Aggro list. It was a staple when Wild Nacatl was banned, and it can really cut through some matches today as well. I don’t want to act like I’m some kind of oracle or Sam Black-type metagame solver, but when I predicted Bogles were good, they made it all the way to the #3 deck in the metagame. Then I told you Zoo could actually be viable in Legacy, and the very next day it turned up on mtggoldfish, after months of absence. I missed with Notion Thief and Cruel Ultimatum, but I think I’m correct to say that this deck can make you some money. Either way, good luck, have fun.