In Theros-era Standard, we used to have a top-tier deck based around the following cards:
In Core Set 2020 Standard, we can make a very similar deck:
If history is any indication, this will be a recipe for success.
And don’t just take my word for it.
My room temperature take of the day: Between Gods Willing, Temple of Triumph and the London Mulligan, Feather is going to be the most improved existing deck after M20 releases.
— Wyatt Darby (@WyattDMTG) June 25, 2019
Before Core Set 2020, Boros Feather was a fringe Standard deck that got a modicum of tournament success: the deck made Top 8 of Grand Prix Kansas, Day 2 at the Arena MCQW, and Top 8 of Grand Prix Taipei. I greatly enjoyed playing it on the MTG Arena ladder myself. I found that Boros Feather matched up well against decks like Gruul Midrange and Mono-Red, but had a more difficult time against decks like Esper Hero or White Weenie. In large part, these poor matchups were because Sheltering Light was not a reliable piece of protection.
Boros Feather with Core Set 2020
What does Gods Willing offer?
Before Core Set 2020, I could build a huge Tenth District Legionnaire and hold up Sheltering Light, but it would still get tucked by Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, chumpblocked by 1/1 tokens, or exiled by Conclave Tribunal. If I had Gods Willing instead, then my creature would have stayed on the battlefield or would have been able to sneak past blockers. Even against Teferi, Time Raveler, Gods Willing can still keep a creature around for an extra turn. Suppose you control Feather with one white mana up and your opponent casts Teferi, Time Raveler. You can’t respond to Teferi’s bounce effect because of his passive, but if you give Feather protection from white or blue while the planeswalker is still on the stack, then Teferi can’t bounce him and Feather will be around to attack on the next turn. That’s something Sheltering Light was never able to accomplish.
In all fairness, there is one downside compared to Sheltering Light: Gods Willing doesn’t protect against Kaya’s Wrath specifically. But it’s so much better against the rest of the field that I view it as a substantial upgrade.
What does Temple of Triumph offer?
Before Core Set 2020, Boros Feather usually had to resort to a pair of Boros Guildgates to make the mana work. You weren’t happy to run them, but it was a necessary sacrifice because Feather, the Redeemed was demanding on the mana base. Temple of Triumph is Boros Guildgate with huge upside.
Scry lands reduce the likelihood of both mana screw and mana flood, and they allow you to keep a broader range of opening hands. Especially given that Boros Feather is trying to assemble the “combo” of a creature and a spell to target it, the free card selection is huge. And because Boros Feather doesn’t have any one-drop creatures, the downside to playing a tapped land on turn 1 is small. Maybe 3 copies is optimal, but I’m starting with 4, especially since my list is trying a singleton Tomik.
Here is how I would build the deck right now:
7 Plains (331) 3 Mountain (343) 4 Sacred Foundry 4 Clifftop Retreat 4 Temple of Triumph 4 Tenth District Legionnaire 4 Dreadhorde Arcanist 4 Adanto Vanguard 1 Tomik, Distinguished Advokist 4 Feather, the Redeemed 2 Legion Warboss 1 Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice 2 Gideon Blackblade 4 Gods Willing 4 Defiant Strike 4 Reckless Rage 3 Shock 1 Gird for Battle Sideboard 3 Tocatli Honor Guard 2 Prison Realm 2 Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants 2 Lava Coil 2 Demystify 2 Lyra Dawnbringer 2 Legion Warboss
The sideboard is in flux while the new Standard metagame is taking shape. Other reasonable options to consider for the sideboard include Healing Grace, Sheltering Light, Dire Fleet Daredevil, Deafening Clarion, Tibalt, and Shivan Fire.
A few tips:
- Against planeswalker decks (such as Esper Control or Simic Nexus), sideboard out Shock and Reckless Rage.
- Against creature decks (such as Mono-Red or White Weenie), sideboard out Legion Warboss, Gideon, and Adanto Vanguard.
- Against everything, you can safely cut the singleton Gird for Battle while sideboarding.
- While sideboarding, switch things up based on play/draw. For example, add threats on the play and add reactive spells on the draw.
- Mulligan aggressively. Especially with the London mulligan rule–which should benefit this deck–be ready to send back any hand with fewer than 2 lands, more than 4 lands, no creature, or no noncreature spell.
- If you control Feather and hold Defiant Strike, set a stop in your opponent’s second main phase so you’ll get it back.
Why no splash?
In my opinion, the increase in card quality is not worth the damage to your mana base.
To go over the splash options:
- A blue splash for Dive Down seems unnecessary now that we have Gods Willing.
- A black splash for Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord doesn’t seem powerful enough to me.
- A green splash for Collision // Colossus, Domri’s Ambush, Gruul Spellbreaker, and/or the new Season of Growth is the most appealing option.
- A number of these green cards could take the spots of the 1-ofs and 2-ofs and a single Reckless Rage in my Boros build. But how do you build the mana base? If you replace all the basics with Temple Garden, Stomping Ground, and Sunpetal Grove, then Clifftop Retreat will enter tapped more often, you’ll shock yourself far more often, and Assassin’s Trophy will wreck you.
Moreover, 10 green sources still wouldn’t be enough for such a splash. You can cut 2 Temple of Triumph for two more green lands, but this would reduce the probability to have WWR on turn 3 (in games where you have at least 3 lands by turn 3, after mulligans, on the play) from 97% to 95%, and also comes at the cost of some free scry action. It’s a whole bunch of small disadvantages that, taken together, convinced me stick to two colors.
I expect that with the release of Core Set 2020, Boros Feather will become a real contender in Standard. If you enjoy combat math and synergy-driven aggro decks, give this deck a try!