Boros, or Lorehold I suppose now, has historically had some issues in Commander, especially in finding an identity that doesn’t solely revolve around combat. The last few years have had Wizards making forays into other aspects of the pair’s identity, but when you’re looking to make a splashy new angle for red-white lovers to explore, what better way than to slap it onto a big Elder Dragon? Velomachus Lorehold (I just love his name, I won’t lie) still uses the combat phase, but in a way that melds that aspect with a spellslinger playstyle that immediately appealed to me. So, let’s grab some notebooks and see what kind of ancient lore Velomachus has in store for us for Spellslinger Boros EDH.
If you’re interested in perhaps enrolling in a different school, I also tried out a Pesty Witherbloom deck with Blex, Vexing Pest, which you can check out here.
The namesake of the Lorehold College of Archaeomancy and Old Magic Spells is, like the rest, a big ole Elder Dragon. There’s some poetry in making a Commander deck around an Elder Dragon that likes learning about old lore – it feels a bit like it’s all coming full circle. He’s even a big expensive seven-drop like the Elder Dragon’s of yore, though he’s a touch smaller as a 5/5. Flying, vigilance and haste, combined with a potent attack trigger, all more than make up for that slight loss of size. Digging for a spell every attack is a pretty killer ability, and I personally like that it’s tied to his power, which sets a natural limit on what you can cast with him.
Velomachus Lorehold Spellslinger by Lee Livingston
Now, one of the first places that works well with Velomachus is spells that add extra combat phases, especially since a large swathe of them are, conveniently, mana value five or less and therefore castable with Velomachus without any extra help. It’s pretty feasible to pack a deck with these effects, protection and ramp and build a red-white version of a Narset, Enlightened Master deck.
Narset just does that better though, and there are even other better Commanders for an endless combat deck. We do use one, but the deck leans more into big damage effects and other effects to control the board and throw spells around over and over. With our big boy digging seven deep every time, it’s hard to whiff, and while I haven’t run the numbers, I know we have plenty of hits – the vast majority able to be cast without any extra help.
Now, just because this deck isn’t solely focused around attacking doesn’t mean it isn’t down for some classic big burn spells, directed at creatures, faces, planeswalkers or all the above. Without the option to go for my favorite X spells, finding the prime targets in the mana range we can use was the priority.
Volcanic Offering knocks out a few permanents all at once and can be a fun political tool too, and you all know how I love having that option in any deck list. Beacon of Destruction is a solid, flexible five mana for five damage, and shuffling back in for another shot is a nice little bit of gravy added on. Chandra’s Ignition kicks that up to a five for, well, everyone, as long as Velomachus is still around. Even Warleader’s Helix or Lightning Helix can be fantastic chip damage or all you need to clear the way for your Dragon to have a thorough archaeological investigation of the crater where the other players’ faces were.
Damage isn’t the only way to clear a path, though. With your commander costing so much and being focused on repeated swings, I opted for board wipes that all could leave him untouched, putting the Highlander back in Elder Dragon Highlander.
Slash the Ranks has been a favorite of mine lately, thanks to leaving commanders alone while also hitting planeswalkers. It can sometimes be a bit of a pain leaving other commanders around too, but yours is just such a key part of the game plan that keeping him in play is worth it.
I’m excited to give Promise of Loyalty a shot, even if it does give them a choice of what to keep and might not prevent blocking as effectively as you’d like. Tragic Arrogance, on the other hand, can be an utter thrashing, and by and large it doesn’t affect you. You can’t quite plan around it as much as when you hold it in hand, but you can always opt to cast something else. Most of the time, you’re only going to be needing to pick your best mana rock to keep around and everything else is an easy pick.
With so much of the deck’s strategy really boiling down to “Stick Velomachus, attack, attack more” and him being such an expensive boy, I packed the deck with spells to help keep him around.
Lorehold Command and Boros Charm offer flexibility alongside protection, shifting gears depending on the board state if you ever need to pick them out of a pile of seven. Shelter is a small, cheap effect that cantrips, joined by Sejiri Shelter and a few more. I even hit up Teferi’s Protection, Akroma’s Will and a few more as well. Now, it might be better to trim a couple of these in favor of some Equipment or the like, but I really just wanted to maximize slinging spells with this deck, so that’s what I did.
With Velomachus being a hefty seven mana on his own and his trigger skewing the deck toward five-cost spells much more heavily than other decks, I wanted to pack a good jag of ramp into the list.
Lorehold isn’t exactly the premier ramp color, so a lot of it comes from artifacts, ranging from Sol Ring to Thran Dynamo, hitting the “traditional” rocks non-green decks have leaned on for years. Storm-Kiln Artist can offer a nice rebate with all the spells getting cast, either helping chain them together or storing up a nice pile of Treasure to set up for some blowout turns. Rousing Refrain has a nice rhythmic cycle to it, and suspending it on turn two could lead to some massive early turns. I’ve also always just been a sucker for that cycle of cards that re-suspended themselves, so this callback hits a few notes that I like here. Jeska’s Will offers a similar bump of mana, though if it’s a hit off Velomachus, the mana is very hit or miss but the extra cards are nothing to turn your nose up at.
Seeing as this deck’s in red-white, card draw and selection is a bit tight, so eking out card advantage to keep up with those Simic/Quandrix players wherever we can is paramount.
Your commander netting us a free spell from the deck pretty much every turn does go a long way, but how about tossing in a Radiant Scrollwielder to give all those damaging spells lifelink and get some extra casts out of them?
Meanwhile, Nahiri, the Harbinger is a solid way to churn through the deck, offers up some flexible removal and can even tutor for some of the powerful creatures or artifacts that made the cut. Arch of Orazca and War Room are solid includes as well. The Arch in particular is mana-hungry, but between the ramp and Velomachus casting spells for free, the list can do with a couple mana sinks.
Another angle of advantage that can accrue is in a small flicker package using Ephemerate (or Cloudshift to a lesser extent) with Returned Pastcaller. With Ephemerate and the stone bird, the first cast of the flicker can pick up any instant or sorcery, while the second one picks the Ephemerate back up after it’s done rebounding. Nahiri can even ult to find half of it, and Velomachus churns through the deck in search of the other half pretty quickly. It’s not flashy by any means, but it’s honest work.
Add that all together with a few creatures that care about spells, maybe an enchantment or two, and you have an expedition geared up to brave whatever old desert or jungle your ruins of choice are hiding away in. You can probably even avoid being cursed in the process if you play your cards right.
If you’re looking to enroll in a college that’s really looking to get into history and reimagine it, this is a great Spellslinger Boros EDH list to start with, and you can pick up anything you’re missing from ChannelFireball. Dust off some old relics, read some ancient texts and get back to the Elder Dragon roots with a fun new twist on Red-White, and let me know how it goes!