Boros Cycling Bo1 Standard Deck Guide: The Easiest Way to Get Into Standard
Hello everyone! By nature, I’m a spike and all about being competitive, tuning lists, playing against the best and so on. With that, a lot of my content has been geared towards the more hyper competitive scene of Magic, and if you’re not there yet or aren’t interested in it, you can feel left out from my content. Fear not my lovely reader! No matter where you are in your Magic journey, I don’t want you to think that you don’t matter because you’re a more casual player or are just getting started.
With that in mind, I know a lot of people who seem interested in Arena, but are put off by the time or money requirement. I know better than most how difficult it can be to get started into competitive magic and I want to help. Today, I’m going to introduce you to a deck that can help you get started on your Magic journey and won’t at all break the bank. I’m talking about Boros Cycling. Let’s take a look at a list.
A competitive list with only a total of 9 Rares and 8 of them being lands is a perfect start for those looking to jump into competitive Magic. Here’s even better news though, you don’t even need any of the rares. If you’re missing the Wildcards or you’re just literally getting started, feel free to nix the Brightclimb Pathways as those are only for casting Memory Leak, which is not at all a necessity.
Although the Needleverge Pathway is very helpful as it is a Red and White dual land, you can manage without it if you are really in a bind. The only rare I would say is important for the deck is Lurrus as that will give you late game traction if you run out of plays, but if you find yourself without a single wildcard, the deck does still operate just fine without Lurrus as well. Let’s talk about the card choices in this deck.
Companion: Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Although Lurrus is in this deck and is very good in it, it’s more of an incidental inclusion. As I just said, the deck does operate just fine without Lurrus, but the ability to have a free card for literally no opportunity cost in this strategy is a huge boon to the decks power level. Considering how threatening all the permanents in the deck can be if left on the board too long, having a companion that threatens the ability to bring them back is something your opponent will have to constantly be cognizant of.
4 Flourishing Fox
The scariest Turn 1 play in Cycling, Flourishing Fox grows with every card you cycle and can grow at an obscenely fast pace. Considering your most common curve with Flourishing Fox is to play it turn 1, cycle 2 cards on turn 2, then cycle three cards on turn 3, you’ll be able to start attacking with a 6/6 on turn 3! If you manage to get this turn 1 against a creature deck, it’s very difficult for them to ever beat through this and don’t even get me started on multiples.
4 Drannith Healer
The weakest of all the permanents still pulls its weight in this deck. Gaining 1 life per card cycle can be surprisingly relevant in a really close race and the ability to cycle Healer for 1 when it isn’t good is a great bonus.
4 Drannith Stinger
Drannith Healer’s angry brother. Although they look like mirrors to each other, pinging the opponent for 1 is a significantly better effect than just gaining 1 per turn. There’s a few reasons for this. One, getting multiple Stingers down is a great win condition. Two, these get you closer to a lethal Zenith Flare.
4 Valiant Rescuer
Although this isn’t as flashy as Flourishing Fox, Valiant Rescuer is really the most threatening of all your permanents. The ability to get a 1/1 once per turn per card cycled can just accrue you so many tokens over the course of a few turns. It’s a shame that this doesn’t trigger with every card cycled, but that may legitimately have been overpowered, especially in Limited. Since this is the only permanent that has Cycling 2, you are usually better off just casting this rather than cycling it in most scenarios.
4 Go for Blood
A 1 mana cycler that you can sometimes use as a Fight effect. 99% of the time you’re cycling this, but this does become a good removal spell if you have a large Flourishing Fox.
4 Memory Leak
If you have Brightclimb Pathway, you can actually cast this which can be helpful against decks that may have counterspells to clear the way for your Zenith Flares. If you don’t, this is just another 1 mana cycler.
4 Footfall Crater
Like most of the other spells, you’ll be cycling this more often than not, but remember that there’s still a full card attached to it! This works best with a large Flourishing Fox, but keep yourself open to the possibility of being able to race by giving a freshly played creature Haste and Trample for the turn.
THE ONE MANA CYCLERS
1 Boon of the Wish-Giver
4 Frostveil Ambush
4 Startling Development
In this deck, these cards serve no function other than being 1 mana cyclers. If you want the chance to cast them, you can add some Riverglide Pathway to make it tenable, but I wouldn’t focus too heavily on that for Best of One. Out of all of these, Startling Development is the only card the deck would have a reasonable chance to cast, but it’s almost always too niche of a scenario to actually worry about that. However, if you want to spruce up the deck for Best of 3 and want to add counterspells to the sideboard, you can consider adding Riverglide Pathways.
4 Zenith Flare
The crown jewel of this strategy. Since functionally all the cards in this deck have Cycling and we’ll be using them often, Zenith Flare can grow to massive sizes with the ability to even win off of one! Keep cycling to work towards getting a Zenith Flare off.
Not only is the cost of this deck extremely low, the deck is easy enough to pick up quickly and start winning with immediately. Although the deck is easy, that doesn’t mean I can’t give you helpful tips on how you’re supposed to play this deck. Let’s talk about it.
- Try to play your creatures first before Cycling Cards
Every turn your predominant choice is going to be between two options: deploy a threat or cycle a bunch of cards. Although working towards a fast Zenith Flare is very appealing, all of your creatures can be very scary if left unchecked so deploying them before you start cycling a lot of cards can be a valuable strategy. Think of it this way, if your opponent is forced to interact with your creatures lest they give you a massive advantage, you’re going to get them in the graveyard anyway. May as well put your opponent to the test to see if they can even beat the permanent half of your deck before even considering the Zenith Flare. Are there exceptions to this? Of course. If the only permanent in your hand is Drannith Healer, you can consider trying to cycle into a more powerful permanent.
However, if you are facing a deck that looks like it is trying to race you, Drannith Healer can be a valuable play against them. The bigger exception to this rule is if you’re facing a deck that looks like it’s only trying to kill all of your creatures, something like Mono Black Ugin. In that case, you are likely better off just trying to cycle into a bigger Zenith Flare instead of letting your opponent use the removal that is otherwise dead in their hand.
- Play your Zenith Flares as late as possible
Zenith Flare is going to be the primary way you win most of your games, and holding it as long as possible will give you the most value out of it. Although the ideal scenario is to hold it until you can one shot the opponent, that doesn’t mean you always get to. There will be scenarios you have to hit an opponent’s creature to stall for a few turns, or hit the opponent to get them closer in range for another Zenith Flare to follow up. This can be difficult to determine when you are supposed to do this, but a good rule of thumb is to fire off a Zenith Flare when one player is about to lose, whether that is you or them.
- Cycle your uncastable cards first
This is probably straight-forward, but make a conscious effort to cycle the cards you aren’t able to cast before you cycle anything else. In an order of priority, you should also cycle the Blue Cards first, then the Memory Leak (unless you have the Pathway, then hold onto these longer), then the Go for Blood and Footfall Crater, and lastly the creatures. We do this to give ourselves as many options as possible with how you want to navigate future turns. The worst feeling is when you accidentally cycle a way a card you could’ve cast and you’re left without a play!
- Get your Lurrus of the Dream-Den when you run out of things to do
Lurrus of the Dream-Den is really good in this deck, but getting it onto the battlefield is a very costly operation. First you need to spend 3 mana to put it into your hand, then you need another 3 mana to cast it. However, even with the 6 mana spent on Lurrus of the Dream-Den, it doesn’t really do anything until you cast a spell from your graveyard, which can be another one to two mana. Since Lurrus of the Dream-Den is so pricey, this is generally the last thing you want to do, but it is very nice that the deck has the option to play it. However, as I said before, if you’re stuck on the Wildcards, you really don’t need Lurrus of the Dream-Den, but it is an upgrade to the deck for only a single Rare. The exception to this is if you have 3 mana open and only 1 cycling card in your hand, instead of trying to cycle into more cycling cards, I would probably just get Lurrus back and have it as a potential play for all of your upcoming turns.
- If facing a Counterspell deck, try to wait until they tap low or are low on resources
Since Zenith Flare is your primary win con, this can be really awkward if you’re facing a deck that plays Counterspells like Rogues. In this scenario, you have to change your game plan slightly. Against counterspell decks, you are going to want to try casting as many of your creatures as possible to bait the opponent into countering those rather than your Zenith Flares. If your opponent isn’t taking the bait and constantly holds up mana for a counterspell, a great way to circumvent that is to wait until you have 2 Zenith Flare and 8 mana. If you can cast multiple lethal Zenith Flare in one turn, it’s generally unlikely that your opponent will be able to stop them all. Be patient, and cast them as late as possible.
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