Budget Pioneer – $100 Boros Heroic – Deck Guide

With the announcement of the return of the Pro Tour, and with it the news that Pioneer is coming to the forefront of Magic’s competitive scene, many players are buzzing with excitement at the chance for glory that we used to know and love. Pioneer has changed a lot during its metamorphic phase, cocooned up in its pandemic blanket just as many of us were. Now that things are starting to clear up though and life is beginning to return to some sense of normalcy, it’s time for the Pioneer format to unfurl its wings and show off its true beauty to an entirely new audience. With many people jumping on board in the last couple of weeks and many more expected to join up still, we can expect a reasonable amount of people to be starting from scratch in the format. This article will cover one of my favorite decks to burst into the format with, as well as one of the cheapest paths from budget to tiered available. Today, we’re looking at Boros Heroic.

As always with these articles, a few guidelines:

  • You should not expect excellence out of this list. My decks and articles are meant to give you a jumping off point, not a finish line. As such, the goal here is to learn the ins and outs of the format while playing an established or otherwise highly playable archetype.
  • Each Pioneer list will average out to around $100 at the time of posting. Budget decks are meant to be affordable to the people who need them, not to be compared to some benchmark set by the prices of the top tier decks of the format. 
  • The decks I feature will be tested and worthwhile. I have no intention of handing you a pile of worthless cards. Usually the idea is that the deck is cohesive enough to see legitimate play, or get you on your way to owning the staples you need to play other decks once you’re ready to move on to bigger and better things. I do not feature decks that I went 0-5 with unless there’s a reason to do so.




Budget Pioneer Boros Heroic by Darren Magnotti


Header - The Deck

Boros Heroic is a classic creature-pump strategy that looks to overwhelm an opponent early by buffing up cheap threats in the first couple of turns and smacking down hard before they have the chance to set up a board state of their own. It is then capable of pivoting into a grindy aggro deck by way of Dreadhorde Arcanist and Feather recurring spells and ensuring that the deck never truly runs out of gas as it makes that final push to seal the deal.

With plenty of ways to protect and replace its creatures, the deck has an easy time working around the traditional answers to this sort of strategy as a single removal spell isn’t nearly enough to throw a wrench into the plan. All that said, the deck is rather linear in its design, with not very much room for innovation within the archetype and needs to be in a good position naturally within a metagame to really shine and succeed.


Header - The Threats

Monastery Swiftspear (Timeshifted)Favored HopliteTenth District Legionnaire

The main goal of Heroic is to establish its board state before the opponent and go under them with intense aggression starting on turn one. To facilitate that, the deck loads up on efficient one and two-mana creatures that grow as we target them with our pump spells. Monastery Swiftspear and Soul-Scar Mage provide a temporary buff via their prowess ability, but the real star of the show in the one drop slot is Favored Hoplite, who acts as pseudo card advantage in the face of damage-based removal. Combining that with his ability to stay large with counters turns him into a must answer threat very quickly. Tenth District Legionnaire acts as a weird fusion of Swiftspear and Hoplite, both attacking in with haste the turn she comes down and staying huge after a pump spell. The deck only realistically needs one or two of these threats to land to take over a game, and the mix of prowess and heroic triggers makes deciding who receives the benefits of a pump spell simple. 


Header - The Recursion

Dreadhorde Arcanist (Timeshifted)Feather, the Redeemed (Timeshifted)

Assuming a competent opponent, the deck is unlikely to win solely via its initial onslaught in the first three turns or so. Players like to put Fatal Push into their decks, and sometimes the draws just don’t line up properly in the face of an early blocker.

That’s where part two of Heroic’s plan comes in. Dreadhorde Arcanist offers the second chance at any spell cast prior, while Feather is capable of generating tremendous card advantage by way of cantripping pump spells like Defiant Strike and returning them to hand at the end of turn to keep drawing cards on repeat as long as she sticks around. The combination of these two creatures provide a nearly unending stream of fresh cards to keep the aggression coming throughout the whole game. 


Header - The Spells

Reckless RageAncestral AngerGods Willing

The spells that Heroic chooses to take advantage of look pretty horrid at first glance. The majority of them are commons that have certainly seen their fair share of garbage bins after being picked up as 10th picks in draft, and the notion of using them in a competitive deck just makes my budgeting heart smile.

As far as interaction, Gods Willing and Reckless Rage are about as much as the deck can afford. Gods Willing provides a minuscule amount of digging while trading one-for-one with an opposing removal spell, with the added utility of being able to force one large attacker through a monocolored defense. Reckless Rage is a rather innovative piece of tech that interacts favorably with all of the creatures that grow out of the two damage range when it targets them, effectively making it into an instant speed flame slash.

From there, the majority of the spells offer similar if not the same effects as one another: giving a creature additional power along with some form of deck manipulation. These are the ideal spells to try and recur with Feather as they offer tremendous advantage when recycled on repeat. Similarly to how burn decks traditionally function, the fact that most of these spells function along the same axis offers a tremendous amount of consistency to the plan.


Header - The Lands

Traditionally, budget multicolor aggro decks tend to suffer in Pioneer due to a mix of the imbalanced land distribution caused by several unfinished cycles, as well as the limited card pool making it such that there just aren’t a lot of dual lands that come into play untapped that we can choose from. Heroic is in the unique position to benefit from being allied colored (and thus having access to cheap pain lands), being mostly draft commons (allowing room in the budget for some more expensive lands such as Inspiring Vantage) and completely capable of playing off of basic lands due to the consistent nature of the build. While this isn’t a typical circumstance, I felt that it was worth pointing out that Heroic has access to one of the most efficient budget mana bases available.


Header - How Does It Play?

Boros Heroic is an extremely efficient linear aggro deck. While it doesn’t have a ton of range in the things that it’s capable of, what it can do it does very well. Most games feel fairly similar in terms of piloting, but the deck still rewards tight play and careful consideration of the board state.

One of the most valuable skills the deck can teach is proper threat evaluation, or how quickly a thing on the board is capable of delivering a kill, which is a necessary tool to have access to while piloting most aggro or control-style decks. The deck was able to deliver a winning record, which in the hands of someone who has little experience behind the wheel of this strategy is quite the feat. The consistency combined with the short upgrade path makes this deck an excellent choice for someone looking to burst into a local scene and make their presence known from the first night.


Header - Upgrades


Non-Budget Pioneer Boros Heroic by Hamuda


Something that I’m going to try to do more often is offer an upgrade path, or a method by which someone can take this particular list and over time build it into the full, tiered version.

For Heroic in particular, that upgrade path is extremely short. Sacred Foundry and Rest in Peace for the sideboard are the main pickups and biggest money cards. From there, the mana base is fleshed out just a bit more with some of the utility lands that have been printed recently such as Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire and Den of the Bugbear.

This particular list comes from the current champion of Heroic in the MTGO scene, Hamuda, who has taken the deck to several excellent finishes in the past couple of months, proving that even against the general community opinion, sticking with your deck is beneficial. Taking the time to commit to and learn the ins and outs of a solid deck will typically trump deck selection for anyone willing to put in the time.

That’s all for this one! Look forward to even more Pioneer content in the future as the format begins to take off. Many a Pro Tour hopeful have moved in recently, and I couldn’t be happier to see so many fresh eyes on the format. Pioneer has been my favorite way to play since its inception, so you can be sure that I’ll be one of its biggest cheerleaders for years to come. Until next time, stay safe, play smart and thanks for reading.


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