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Feather the Redeemed War of the Spark Art by Wayne Reynolds

Explorer Boros Feather Deck Guide: The Definitive Creature Deck Killer

This guide contains everything you need to know to be an excellent Explorer Boros Feather player in Magic: The Gathering.

This guide contains everything you need to know to be an excellent Explorer Boros Feather player in Magic: The Gathering.

Hello everyone! I don’t know about you, but I’ve been absolutely in love with Explorer since it’s release. It’s an extremely fresh take on an eternal format and it really does feel like Historic without a lot of the super busted cards. As you may note though, I said a lot, not all. While Explorer functions as a weaker Historic (and as of right now, a weaker Pioneer), that’s not to say it is even close to a weak format. All the decks feel extremely powerful, but one deck stood head and shoulders above the rest: Winota, Joiner of Forces.

Winota was such a powerful deck as it can functionally win the game on turn 3 with just a decent draw, not even the nut draw! Furthermore, the deck can be quite grindy and resilient as well making it an extremely difficult deck to tackle. That isn’t to say the deck is unbeatable or it has no bad matchups, but considering everyone knew it was the best deck going into the format and it still was running rampant regardless, safe to say beating it is significantly easier said than done.

I searched high and low through what people were playing and funny enough I didn’t find my answer in Explorer, but in Pioneer. Someone mentioned that they were recently doing well with Boros Feather and it immediately clicked. We do lose out on some nice options like Monastery Swiftspear and Favored Hoplite, but 4 damage spells are the perfect solution to beating Winota and other creature decks.

boros feather
0% global win rate
1.35% metagame share
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I immediately drafted up a list, faced Winota, and as I theorized, absolutely demolished it as it couldn’t stop the deluge of removal coupled with aggression. But I know what you’re thinking, Winota was banned, so what now? Well, Feather was great at beating up on Winota which was the best of the creature decks, so what happens when we face weaker ones? Despite my build initially being tuned to beat Winota, the deck will still be exemplary against the other creature strategies and since interaction is likely to drop now that you don’t need to play a pile of removal, this deck may even be even better positioned than it was previously. With that, let’s take a look at how I would approach Feather now.

(E) Boros Feather
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $237.6
Explorer
best of 3
0 mythic
28 rare
19 uncommon
13 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (17)
4
Gods Willing
$1.00
4
Defiant Strike
$1.00
4
Reckless Rage
$5.96
4
Play with Fire
$9.96
Sorceries (6)
4
Ancestral Anger
$1.00
60 Cards
$186.48
Sideboard
4
Adanto Vanguard
$1.40
3
Fight as One
$1.05
4
Abrade
$1.00
15 Cards
$5.81

As a note, I would play this 60 in Bo1 as well, although it’s probably better in Bo3. I feel that your game 1 plan is already as proactive as possible so there is no need to change anything.

Like the Standard version before it, Boros Feather is a deck that has a lot going on, but coalesces into a single game plan of beating the opponent down. To accomplish that, we have to put the focus on our creatures.

For starters, Soul-Scar Mage is the premier 1 drop of the deck as it has the most going for it. You can attack normally, it can shrink creatures, and it has Prowess to be a scary threat. This is in contrast with Clever Lumimancer which does grow bigger with each spell, but does need spells to get going. With the ability to shrink creatures not being super relevant, it seems weird that Mage is the 4 of while Lumimancer is only a 2 of, but not all of our spells are proactive and many we want to sandbag for the perfect moment which makes Lumimancer much trickier. You don’t want to play a 1 drop that sits there and does nothing and drawing it in the late game can also be brutal if you don’t have spells in conjunction with it, hence the split.

Moving up the curve we have substantially better options. Dreadhorde Arcanist is a hell of a magic card and it does so much work here as it can rebuy all your spells (with the exception of the 1 of Invigorated Rampage which it can still get back if you buff its power) for free which is obviously insane. Whether to procure extra cards, kill a threat, or get through blockers, Arcanist can do it all with the small ask of attacking first. For our other two drop, we’re using the new Illuminator Virtuoso over the classic Tenth District Legionnaire! While Legionnaire was quite good, the threat of Virtuoso is hard to ignore. Rather than having Haste, getting Double strike can lead to so many quick kills as a few pumps and a few connive triggers can easily deal massive amounts of damage. Furthermore, while both those creatures help filter your draws, Virtuoso gets to loot rather than Scry which is an appreciable difference when trying to chain cards together for the win. Although I’ve been a big fan of Virtuoso, I could still see Legionnaire seeing play over it if you like the consistency of it or even playing Legionnaire over Lumimancer, but I’ll leave that deliberation up to you.

Finally, as the deck name implies, we have Feather, the Redeemed crowning our top end. Although very specific, Feather is absolutely insane as it more or less ensures we never run out of plays. With each card that targets a creature rebuying itself at the end of the turn, you’ll be able to cast the same spells over and over again putting you massively ahead or establishing locks that the opponent can’t hope to get out of. So what spells are we looking to rebuy?

Our spells are divided into 3 categories: creature interaction, protection, and buffs. For our interaction we have the aforementioned Reckless Rage which is amazing against pretty much any sized and Play with Fire which is just the humble Shock killing off small creatures or adding up face damage with a little bit of value attached. Game one our only protection spell is Gods Willing, but it’s absolutely the best at saving a creature or forcing through damage, and in the post board games we also get Fight as One which can save and buff multiple creatures! Finally for the creature buffs, we have a bunch of great ones. Defiant Strike and Ancestral Anger both buff our creatures as well as cantrip making them our best ones, Homestead Courage is 2 buffs in one which is powerful, and the lone Invigorated Rampage is excellent at pushing through the final points of damage.

Overall, the deck is really good at pushing damage, keeping it’s threats on board, and clearing out anything scary coming from the opponent.


MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARD GUIDE

Fight as One Art by Bryan Sola
Fight as One Art by Bryan Sola

Rakdos Midrange

INOUT
+4 Adanto Vanguard-2 Clever Lumimancer
+3 Fight As One-1 Invigorated Rampage
+4 Showdown of the Skalds-2 Homestead Courage
-2 Play with Fire
-4 Reckless Rage

Not every iteration of Rakdos is a horrible for us, but they have a lot of removal which can make it difficult to keep a creature on board for any period of time. There’s no real secret to this matchup beyond hoping you have more creatures/protection then they have removal and that you can turn that into a win once you stick a creature or two.

Rakdos Sacrifice

INOUT
+4 Abrade-1 Clever Lumimancer
+4 Showdown of the Skalds-1 Invigorated Rampage
-2 Homestead Courage
-4 Play with Fire

This is going to be a grindfest as they don’t have an abundance of removal, but they have a lot of ways to gum up the ground, enough removal to be annoying, and Mayhem Devil which can be a huge pain. Since they can’t close the games out quickly, Showdown of the Skalds comes in as a way to outpace their interaction and grow your creatures out of trading range.

Furthermore, I bring in some Fight as One to help combat their additional removal and a couple of Redcap Melee to have additional answers to Mayhem Devil. Try to keep a Feather on board as the easiest way to win is to fly right over them.

Greasefang Combo

INOUT
+4 Abrade-4 Play with Fire

Simple enough boarding for a relatively simple matchup. You need to kill them before they can get their Greasefang to get back a big Vehicle. To do that, we maximize on all the removal spells that can kill Greasefang and look to beat them before they can force it through.

Mono Blue Spirits

INOUT
+4 Showdown of the Skalds-1 Clever Lumimancer
-1 Invigorated Rampage
-2 Homestead Courage

This matchup, as pretty much any creature matchup, is typically quite good for us as we have an abundance of removal and a fast clock. Play aggressively to get underneath their counterspells and as long as you can keep them from getting ahead with Curious Obsession, this matchup should be pretty simple.

A good trick to know if that if they Lofty Denial you with only only Flier and you have more than 1 mana, you can kill their Flier in response and then pay the cost. You can leave Fliers on board to trick them into trying this line as well, but don’t get crazy trying to cheese them.

Azorius Control

INOUT
+4 Adanto Vanguard-1 Invigorated Rampage
+3 Fight As One-2 Homestead Courage
+4 Showdown of the Skalds-4 Play with Fire
-4 Reckless Rage

More so than most other matchups, this is going to be pretty draw dependent. If you can keep sticky creatures on board, it’s going to be very hard for them to win, and if you can’t, you don’t have much of a chance.

I would say, like other interaction heavy decks, this is likely a hard matchup, but the one saving grace is that their removal is clunkier than most other decks so getting underneath them isn’t that crazy. Stay aggressive without getting blown out by a board wipe and prioritize your protection and grindy spells over all else.

Izzet Phoenix

INOUT
+4 Adanto Vanguard-2 Clever Lumimancer
+3 Fight As One-1 Invigorated Rampage
+4 Showdown of the Skalds-2 Homestead Courage
-4 Play with Fire
-2 Defiant Strike

Like other grindy matchups, we need to max out on ways to protect ourselves to get through. Although Phoenix does have a good amount of cheap removal, it’s not an infinite supply and it’s also small, damaged base so you can outscale it and Feather dodges most of it. Play your creatures conservatively and/or when you can protect them as you don’t want to let them use their removal at opportune times, but by the same token, you don’t want to do nothing and let them cantrip for free. Depending on your draw, you’ll have to vacillate between game plans pretty rapidly so constantly be thinking about your position.


TIPS AND TRICKS

Gods-Willing-M20-Art-Mark-Winters
Gods Willing Art by Mark Winters
  • Remember that Feather, the Redeemed will recur any spell cast targeting your creatures at the beginning of the next end step. So if you are holding up mana on your opponents turn, put a stop on their Main Phase as if they try to end their turn, you can cast some spells in response. If you wait until their end step, you won’t get the spells back immediately, but the trade-off is they can still be in their Main Phase if you do this. It’s a play you’ll need a lot with Reckless Rage or Gods Willing so keep it in mind.
  • It’s very unintuitive, but if you need to trigger Prowess/Magecraft multiple times and don’t want to lose your Play with Fire or Abrade, consider targeting your own creatures when you have Feather, the Redeemed out to get those triggers.
  • If you are going for the win, consider using Play with Fire or Gods Willing on your upkeep to get the Scry prior to the draw. It’s an easy line to miss as Arena likes skipping past your upkeep.

Are there any Explorer decks you’re particularly excited to try? Let me know in our Discord community!

Thank you for reading!

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DoggertQBones
DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a 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 coaching! Join our community on
Twitch and Discord.

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