The Standard Metagame begins to consolidate: the Top 8 of the World Championship brought one of the most diverse scenarios of recent events where, despite some staples and archetypes remaining at the top after Wilds of Eldraine, there is plenty of room for innovation and to consolidate new cards and potential competitors in the format.
On the other hand, the Best of One format consolidates the Aggro strategies, while Midranges and some combos adapt to seek space in ranked matches. Mono Red Aggro is the deck to beat, while Cascade, Enchantments, Soldiers, and Golgari Midrange are frequent contenders.
An archetype that has appeared in Leagues in Magic Online, and has proven to be a solid alternative for the Best of One environment in Magic Arena is the Boros Convoke, and in this article, we will dissect its list and how to play it!
What is Boros Convoke?
Based on the Pioneer version that caused a stir in the first weeks of March of the Machine season, Boros Convoke is an Aggro go-wide strategy, which focuses on populating the board with cheap tokens and creatures while expanding their power.
Despite carrying the Convoke name, the only card with this mechanic in the deck is Knight-Errant of Eos, whose role in the list is essential to maintain your gas while searching for the main card that enables the archetype in Standard today, Imodane's Recruiter.
Just like Reckless Bushwhacker, Imodane's Recruiter is the creature that rewards Boros Convoke's explosive early turns. Filling the board with multiple 1/1s is easy to ignore, but the possibility of losing in a single turn due to a huge power increase and Haste is a risk the opponents must respect.
To complement the plan and ensure that our tokens are a threat without the other cards, and also capitalize on the number of turns the opponents pass with blockers untapped, we have Wedding Announcement and Virtue of Loyalty, both cards that increase the number of creatures in play, while also permanently increasing their power.
What makes Boros Convoke an attractive option for Standard, especially in Best of One, is its potential to hold other aggressive decks and recover better than them as the game progresses, while it also establishes pressure very early against slower strategies.
This is the list I have been running over the last few days. The numbers seem accurate for the most part, with 23 lands since we need to reach five mana to cast Virtue of Loyalty, 26 creatures so that Knight-Errant of Eos never fails, and one less copy of Wedding Announcement, as a starting hand with too many three mana cards is a bad start for Boros Convoke.
As in the Pioneer version, here we seek to capitalize on Gleeful Demolition to fill our board quickly in a single turn. Three tokens means three more mana for Knight-Captain of Eos, or six extra damage with Imodane's Recruiter or Virtue of Loyalty, as well as granting three blockers on the turns we need to hold the game.
To take advantage of this card, we have twelve creatures that generate artifacts and/or are artifacts: Voldaren Epicure guarantees a little more reach in the late-game, while Yotian Frontliner increases the pressure and guarantees some less unfavorable trades, in addition to being reusable from the graveyard.
Charming Scoundrel is one of the best creatures released in Wilds of Eldraine, and one of the factors that makes this strategy viable in the format. Its strong point is its flexibility, in addition to creating an artifact for Gleeful Demolition, it also allows you to increase the clock on the second turn, accelerate the mana to cast Virtue of Loyalty, or to filter your hand.
We also have other methods of generating tokens with multiple permanents in play: Resolute Reinforcements is another Pioneer staple that we can use here, and works as two extra mana for Knight-Errant of Eos.
Wedding Announcement and Virtue of Loyalty are both payoffs to complement our go-wide plan. However, both cards are also efficient ways to put more creatures into play to prepare a setup in the next turns.
Knight-Errant of Eos is our source of card advantage, and our main means of finding Imodane's Recruiter. Playing it early can lead to some wins as early as the fourth turn, or even the third in versions with more white one-drops.
Imodane's Recruiter is our "free-win button", but it can also complement our game plan well due to its Adventure ability, which puts two more 2/2 Knights on the battlefield.
In games against Aggro, Regal Bunnicorn is an excellent threat to create a "wall" against the opponent's attacking creatures while, thanks to Gleeful Demolition and other of our cards that put multiple permanents into play, it also works as a clock, capable of winning games on its own.
The Boros mana base is a bit awkward for Aggro in the current Standard. We only have one dual cycle that comes into play untapped from the first turn, while the others, despite having uses, don't help to carrying out more explosive plays, while we cannot give up on our color consistency.
Therefore, a 4-4-3 split between Battlefield Forge, Sundown Pass and Restless Bivouac, with a copy of Mirrex to complement the untapped lands, seems the appropriate choice. Along with them, we have two copies of Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance, as it interacts with our game plan, and a copy of Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire as a one-off removal.
Alternative Card Choices
In a Metagame where Mono Red Aggro is the best deck, Lunarch Veteran guarantees a few more turns to build our game plan. Additionally, as a white one-drop, it allows for a sequence with Voldaren Epicure and Gleeful Demolition for Knight-Errant of Eos on the second turn, and a total of 18 damage on the third turn with Imodane's Recruiter.
Despite not having any cards with Toxic, Boros Convoke can take a good advantage of Skrelv's Hive. The enchantment is a recurring source of tokens, and the creatures it creates are artifacts and can be sacrificed to Gleeful Demolition.
However, it is a slow card for aggressive matchups, and a terrible two-drop against Mono Red and Soldiers.
I tested Stoke the Flames on the first version I played, and its results were less than impressive. Although it grants greater reach outside of combat, it is not found by Knight-Errant of Eos, and its scope doesn't deal with some of the main threats we need to destroy, such as Sheoldred, the Apocalypse.
Playing with Boros Convoke
While its game plan is objective and similar to what we see in Pioneer, Boros Convoke is a deck with a broader decision tree in Standard: we are less explosive, and our plans to dominate the match other than through our main plan, with Imodane's Recruiter, means having to cast a five-mana card, or wait a few turns until Wedding Announcement transforms.
Therefore, we need to evaluate which player has the most proactive stance in the game, in addition to which proposal our starting hand brings. For example, hands with Knight-Captain of Eos require faster and more explosive plays to extract value from it before the opponent can deal with our tokens, or get too far ahead in the game. A 4/4 cast for free forces unfavorable trades for Aggro, and becomes the main target for removals against Midranges.
On the other hand, hands with Wedding Announcement and Virtue of Loyalty require a medium-term strategy, where we can advance the board by, and even make some trades during combat with the opponent's creatures, since that these spells guarantee a more impactful late-game.
Another relevant point is understanding when to block. Our list is based on mana efficiency and putting numerous bodies on the battlefield to make them grow. At many times, taking initial damage guarantees better opportunities to stabilize as our creatures grow, since the cost of dealing with a 2/2 or 3/3 is much more punishing for Aggro decks.
This same logic applies to Midrange: Sometimes, taking three damage from a creature and coming back attacking for two is a relevant trade-off because Imodane's Recruiter can guarantee a very explosive return. On the other hand, creatures that deal a high amount of damage, like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, should be blocked to avoid wasting essential turns, where we want to cast multiple spells in one turn or play Virtue of Loyalty.
Boros Convoke and the Standard Metagame
For Best of One, Boros Convoke looks like a solid option for ranked play. It combines explosive plays with an efficient late-game strategy. Despite requiring concessions to function efficiently due to Gleeful Demolition, it manages to fill its gaps with ease and has a high potential for customization in some of its slots, even with the possible removal of the artifact package if, in the future, we have more efficient creatures.
However, in Best of Three, it seems to be a level below Azorius Soldiers while facing, for the most part, the same bad matchups. It deals worse with sweepers, trades poorly against Esper Legends and other archetypes that put a decent number of creatures into play, while it lacks the means of gaining evasion that we see in Soldiers, in addition to having a much weaker sideboard without access to counterspells.
I recommend Boros Convoke for players who like go-wide strategies with some plays that guarantee a free win. It is an excellent starting point for the new Standard for those who play Aggro, and also provides an efficient shell for the Explorer version.
However, its Best of Three efficiency leaves something to be desired, given that its strategy is more efficient when opponents aren't prepared to face it with cheap sweepers.
Thanks for reading!