Boros Winota Strixhaven Standard Deck Guide: Is Standard’s Most Underrated Card Tier 1?

Boros Winota Strixhaven Standard Deck Guide: Is Standard’s Most Underrated Card Tier 1?
Blade Historian Art by Cristi Balanescu

Hello everyone! It’s been a hot minute since I talked about my bae (Zendikar Rising in fact), but it’s time to bring her back into the limelight: Winota, Joiner of Forces. I’ve been singing her praises for a full year now, but Winota is easily one of the strongest cards in Standard, but has really gotten a raw deal. It seemed like everything was going against her, the non-creatures were medium, the big human payoffs were subpar, the mana didn’t work, and so on. Every set I would come back to the archetype and add improvements to see if it’s enough to make it work, but I would keep being disappointed.

This time around, I think it’s legitimately different. So the Zendikar Winota deck had all the issues I listed above, but what if the additions from Kaldheim and Strixhaven fixed all of those problems? With my own ideas and inspiration from ryuumei’s list, I’ve been cruising through High Mythic ladder with this version.

Boros WINota 

Creatures
1
Reidane, God of the Worthy
4
Selfless Savior
4
Usher of the Fallen
4
Professor of Symbology
1
Seasoned Hallowblade
4
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Skyclave Apparition
4
Blade Historian
4
Winota, Joiner of Forces
2
Kenrith, the Returned King
Spells
4
Shatterskull Smashing
Artifacts
2
Embercleave
Lands
4
Furycalm Snarl
5
Mountain
4
Needleverge Pathway
9
Plains
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
2
Reidane, God of the Worthy
4
Giant Killer
3
Glass Casket
2
Roiling Vortex
1
Inkling Summoning
1
Spirit Summoning
2
Ox of Agonas

So Kaldheim itself helped Winota a bit, but it’s really Strixhaven that’s finally pushing the archetype over the edge. First of all, the mana base is finally really good. Furycalm Snarl was a huge addition to the archetype as it can functionally always come into play untapped with 14 hits to make it possible (and if in the future that turns out to be too low, we can cut into the Shatterskull Smashing to increase it).

Selfless Savior was holding down the first as the only 1 drop, but Kaldheim gave us Usher of the Fallen as well to fill out the ranks. The next (surprising) addition is Professor of Symbology. Although this card seems weak, Winota can really live or die by the ability to curve out, and despite playing 9 3 drops, you can still sometimes not have one. Professor ensures that you can get a free 3 mana creature which had been way better than I initially anticipated and you can rummage if you really don’t need the extra card. Although not in Strixhaven, Reidane, God of the Worthy has been an excellent non-human both in the pre and post board games as an evasive threat with relevant text.

As the last piece of the puzzle, the human hits, Blade Historian checks all the boxes for what the deck needed. Back when Historic was still a new format, Naya Winota was far and away the best deck at the time (this was with pre-nerfed companions). The big payoff for Naya Winota was Angrath's Marauders as it gave your team double damage which would often be game winning. Although Blade Historian is much smaller than Marauders and doesn’t work in multiples, it feels extremely similar when you hit it. Getting any Winota value was always good, but getting a Blade Historian feels so back breaking regardless, and it’s a card you can very reasonably cast in a game.

Beyond the new additions, everything is more or less what you’d expect. You’re an aggro deck with insane mid game payoffs with Winota and Embercleave, good mana, and a solid sideboard for a variety of matchups. Week one tends to be dominated by aggro decks so the sideboard is a bit more geared towards that, but you can easily change the deck to fit your needs at the time. With that, let’s go over potential considerations that could go in this deck.

POTENTIAL INCLUSIONS

Venerable Warsinger Art by Jokubas Uogintas
Venerable Warsinger Art by Jokubas Uogintas

SNOW LANDS

So this is where Ryuumei’s and my list diverges the most. Although Faceless Haven is a very strong payoff, I like having a cleaner mana base more. Not playing 4 Furycalm Snarl seems criminal when one of Winota’s problems was having the correct mana, but in fairness to ryuumei, they don’t play Embercleave so their red requirement is significantly lessened. So I’ll put it like this, if you want to play the Snow package, cut Embercleave and any unnecessary Red cards and go to town.

Alseid of Life's Bounty

If you want another cheap non-human and a surrogate Selfless Savior, Alseid is your best bet. The issue I have with Alseid is that the 1 mana to activate the protection has always felt prohibitive as Winota always played the curve so well, but I can still seeing this make the cut.

Elite Spellbinder

I love PVDDR both in and out of his card form, but I opted to have my full set on Bonecrusher Giant instead. Spellbinder is great both on turn 3 and off of Winota which makes it an extremely appealing option overall. If you wanted to slot it into my iteration of Winota, I could see replacing the Reidane with one copy, but you also want to be careful with how many 3 drops the deck plays as you already have 9 and Professor gives you 2 more to work with. 

Venerable Warsinger

I spoke Warsinger’s praises in my initial version of Winota, but I believe there are currently better options. Warsinger barely gets usurped by Reidane in my version, but if the deck ever starts to go lower on the curve (more 1s and 2s), I could definitely see Warsinger see some play.

Phoenix of Ash

This is an easy one, if Rogues ever becomes the de facto deck to beat, throw some of these suckers main.

Showdown of the Skalds

I don’t think we’d look to play Showdown main as we already have a lot of top end with 12 cards that are 4 and up, but this is a very powerful card that can be considered for the sideboard for grindy matchups.

Rip Apart

One of the most exciting removal spells in awhile didn’t even make the cut for this version of the deck. Although Rip Apart is great, Glass Casket does the job better even if it’s much more narrow. Rip Apart is great for the utility, but we mostly care about clearing out annoying blockers like Anax, Hardened in the Forge and Lovestruck Beast. That being said, if you’re really worried about The Great Henge and also want a versatile removal spell, this is easily your best bet.

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Usher of the Fallen Art by Anastasia Ovchinnikova
Usher of the Fallen Art by Anastasia Ovchinnikova

Since this is still the very beginning of the season, I’ll mostly go over decks I’ve been seeing the most of which happens to be a lot of the previously good decks. Use this as a baseline to figure out boarding for matchups not covered here. 

TEMUR ADVENTURES

INOUT
+4 Giant Killer-1 Reidane, God of the Worthy
+3 Glass Casket-4 Usher of the Fallen
-1 Seasoned Hallowblade
-1 Professor of Symbology

Temur is looking to go over you and you’re looking to go under them. Keep them off balance by forcing them into awkward turns/blocks then run them over with a strong Winota turn. Their Adventures cards are quite good against this deck, but they can only take them so far. In the postboard games, they’ll have more targeted removal but so will you. Don’t offer as many trades as you have 11 hard removal spells for most of their relevant threats and try to get a good Embercleave or Winota turn when there’s an opening.

ROGUES

INOUT
+3 Glass Casket-4 Usher of the Fallen
+2 Ox of Agonas-1 Embercleave

Rogues is going to be about who can activate their 4 mana payoff first. We have a lot of aggression so they can really struggle to keep up even with our medium hands and if they can’t deal with a Winota instantly, they pretty much can’t win. Post board we get some Glass Casket to help remove annoying Thieves' Guild Enforcer and Ox of Agonas as the classic Escape payoff. Keep the pressure on them and try not to let them resolve an Into the Story by constantly forcing interaction when they have the ability to cast it.

SULTAI ULTIMATUM

INOUT
+2 Reidane, God of the Worthy-4 Skyclave Apparition
+2 Roiling Vortex

This is going to be a race, pure and simple. You need to get under their sweepers and big payoff spells, but you have a nice curve and brutal cards like Reidane and Roiling Vortex to help out there. A lot of lists have Elder Gargaroth now as well and if you see it, you can bring in a few Giant Killers. This is more pertinent on the draw where racing before they get a Gargaroth is significantly more difficult.

MONO RED

INOUT
+4 Giant Killer-1 Reidane, God of the Worthy
+3 Glass Casket-4 Usher of the Fallen
-1 Seasoned Hallowblade
-1 Blade Historian

The boarding is very similar to Adventures as you want to transition into a more controlling role for the post board games. Monored has always been overly reliant on killing with Anax and Cleave and this list has a surplus of ways to deal with creatures. Don’t let your life total get too low and you’ll be able to grind them out with your better spells over the course of the game.

MONO WHITE 

INOUT
+2 Giant Killer-1 Reidane, God of the Worthy
+3 Glass Casket-4 Selfless Savior

This matchup plays out similarly to Monored, but instead of worrying about Embercleave it’s all the removal they have access to. That being said, the biggest worry is still them going under you as Winota’s cards are better pound for pound comparatively so if you can stymie their early aggression, you can find a random way to kill them.

TIPS AND TRICKS

  • Although it can often be tempting to activate Usher of the Fallen, it’s generally more important to get as many non-humans on board as possible for Winota
  • Professor of Symbology will generally get a lesson from the board, but don’t forget it can rummage as well (discard a card then draw a card)
  • Blade Historian only gives attacking creatures double strike, don’t accidentally block thinking it’ll still have double strike!
  • If you have one Winota trigger and see both Blade Historian and Kenrith, if you have a decent board at all it’s likely better to get Historian. If you have multiple triggers, I would get Kenrith first as you’re much more likely to find another Blade Historian and they don’t work in multiples
  • There’s marginal anti-synergy between Embercleave and Blade Historian, be mindful of that when calculating damage
  • Reidane is mostly used for the front side, but don’t forget the Valkmira half can be extremely potent against decks looking to hold up removal for Winota
  • Giant Killer out of the board will increase your human count for Winota significantly so you can board out some Humans if you need to bring in a lot of Giant Killer. They aren’t very impactful on attack, but the tap ability can be invaluable the turn after
  • It’s very niche, but the Seasoned Hallowblade can pitch Ox of Agonas if you have a lot of cards in the graveyard already to either empty your yard against Rogues or if you want to cast it for very cheap.

Thank you for reading! If you like my content and want to see more of it, you can check me out on Twitch! Have a great day!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is a streamer and high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and teaching!

4 Responses

  1. Dan Lynch says:

    When you post a decklist that has wish-able cards in the sideboard, you should keep them within the top 7 slots so the imported decklist will also work in Bo1 without any adjustments required.

  2. Zafarion says:

    I made a very different list because I don’t think only depending on Winota to win will work. When she was banned in the historic, the deck had strength because there were ways to tutor her. Even in previous standard, Neoform was used in competitive decks. As in current standard we cannot efficiently tutor her, I decided to bet on 3/1 creatures like Seasoned Hallowblade, Rimrock Knight (non-human) and Elite Spellbinder, because when Blade Historian enters, these creatures are awesome with double strike even if you doens’t draw Winota. In short: it is a Boros Aggro with some copies of Winota, but without completely depending on her to be decent.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      I think that’s a great take on the archetype as well. I found that the deck could still be very effective even if you never have Winota as the top end of Historian, Kenrith, and Cleave was all still great, but this list is still rather reliant on Winota to win the tougher games overall.

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