Standard Boros Aggro with Lifegain Destroys Top Meta Decks (Free Sideboard Guide)


Standard is currently being dominated by control and Izzet builds that out-tempo their opponents and aggro decks with a fast clock. If you’re looking for an alternative that matches up well against the meta, this Boros Aggro build is a good place to be.


It presents a fast enough clock to get under Izzet Control and decks focused on things like Hullbreaker Horror and Alrund’s Epiphany. Yet, a surprising amount of lifegain and a balanced removal suite helps it keep up with other aggressive builds. There are also a few surprise finishes that can take your opponents off guard for a quick win.


In this article, we’ll cover some of the key cards in the deck, how it matches up against top meta decks, and include some sideboard tips to improve your gameplay. Let’s dive in.


You can check out the full decklist here or at the end of this article.


Deck Tech

Although this looks like a straightforward aggro deck, it does require some skill to pilot—especially against Izzet. Knowing when to send in your key threats versus holding up removal is a delicate balance against aggro. Meanwhile, utilizing a huge package of hasty creatures requires timing your big swings to close out the game suddenly before your opponent can respond.


At its core, this deck is aggressive and wants to win by turn four or five. However, it can take a slower approach and still come out on top thanks to its resiliency.


It also packs two strong sideboard packages—one for control matchups and one for aggressive and midrange builds.


Let’s take a look at some of the key cards in the matchup.


Key Cards


Reckless Stormseeker

Haste is a great way to deal with the abundance of bounce effects in Standard right now. Reckless Stormseeker not only gives itself haste but also ensures other creatures you drop can swing on the turn they come in.


The pump effect is also important. It makes your fliers bigger and increases the amount of life you gain off Intrepid Adversary and Angelfire Ignition. If the game flips to night, Stormseeker also grants your creatures trample. This is highly relevant in the late game once you and your opponent run out of spells to cast.


Angelfire Ignition

Angelfire Ignition is a big part of what helps this deck dominate mirror matches and games against decks like Mono-Green and Mono-White. The amount of life you can gain off this card is incredible. Meanwhile, it often gives you a threat that’s too big for your opponent to deal with cleanly thanks to the +1/+1 counters, trample, and indestructible.


Flashback also means that you are guaranteed two copies each time you draw it. That's huge against other aggro decks.


Angelfire Ignition isn’t great against control decks that can simply bounce your creature after you cast it. However, it deserves a main deck slot due to the prevalence of aggro decks in the meta.


Relic Robber

Unlike Angelfire Ignition, Relic Robber is an all-star against control matchups. This hasty creature swings in as a surprise and leaves your opponent with a pesky token that deals damage to them every turn.


Against decks without blockers (like Izzet Control) an unchecked Relic Robber can be enough to close out the game. Even if they bounce or kill the creature, most players don’t want to waste a key spell removing the token(s). This, along with your other hasty threats, helps speed up your clock.


Cemetery Gatekeeper

This is a great option against decks of all kinds. In control matchups, targeting an instant from their graveyard spells serious trouble. At the very least, they’ll lose two life trying to remove Cemetery Gatekeeper. At best, you can consistently ping your opponent as they try to control the board.


Ideally, you want to drop a Cemetery Gatekeeper later in the game once your opponent has burnt through answers. This will hopefully let you swing a few times with Gatekeeper while threatening an already-low life total. In doing so, your opponent will have to think twice about casting card draw spells and instants that let them dig through their deck.


Against creature-based decks, the strategy is simple. Get a creature into a graveyard, drop Cemetery Gatekeeper, and watch their life drain away each time they try to drop a threat.


On top of this, Gatekeeper’s first strike ability is surprisingly relevant against matchups with Mono-White. This is less true against Mono-Green, but it can do a lot of damage against that deck as it tries to flood the board with creatures.


All of this makes Cemetery Gatekeeper a solid piece that’s viable in almost all matchups.


Elite Spellbinder

Paulo is a great card against control but is also surprisingly effective against aggro decks if you know what to target. This deck runs two in the mainboard with the other two copies in the sideboard because it does tend to be stronger against control.


That said, nabbing your opponent’s key spell before they can cast it is a huge advantage. Given the clock this deck presents with other aggressive threats, there’s a good chance they won’t get to cast it.


Spellbinder is also great against decks that seek to bounce it since replaying it triggers the exile ability again.


Finally, you get a sizeable flier that is great for pushing through damage on a clogged board.


Reidane, God of the Worthy

Reidane is in the deck for two reasons. First, it helps slow down Mono Green by making its snow lands enter the battlefield tapped. It also stops them from dropping Esika’s Chariot and Wrenn and Seven on curve.


Against control matchups, Reidane presents a must-answer threat because it stops your opponent from casting four-mana-and-higher cost spells. Things like Memory Deluge, Unexpected Windfall, Alrund’s Epiphany, and Blood on the Snow can’t resolve with a Reidane in play.


Occasionally, you can also cast the back side for the pseudo-ward ability for your board. If you can get it out ahead of several threats, it makes dealing with your board much more difficult.


Surprise Finishes

Although this deck can close out the majority of games fairly with lots of hasty damage, it does have a few tricks up its sleeve. These are great for games where the battlefield is in a stalemate or you just need one more turn to close things out.


Light Up the Night

Light Up the Night is a flexible option that gives you more removal and a way to win the game with direct damage against decks that control the board. You can use it in the early game to stay alive against aggro matchups by taking out key creatures. It can also clear the way for your attackers by nuking a big blocker.


Against control decks that are light on counterspells, Light Up the Night can easily deal the last five to seven points of damage to close things out. You can keep applying pressure with threats and chip away at your opponent’s life total until they are within striking distance.


Fortunately, the most popular control decks in the meta right now aren’t running many (if any) counterspells. This often means a free win if you’re able to find Light Up the Night with five or six lands on the battlefield.


Alchemist’s Gambit

In certain matchups, this deck is just one turn away from dealing lethal damage. Alchemist’s Gambit is a sneaky way to take that extra turn and finish off your opponent. Of course, you need to be wary of interaction that could change the way your board looks on that extra turn.


That being said, many times an opponent with tap out if they know you can’t deal lethal damage on your turn. Swinging out then dropping Alchemist’s Gambit to finish on the next turn is a neat trick to finish close games.


Meta Matchups & Sideboard Guide

Before we wrap up, let’s break down a few of the matchups you’ll see in the current Standard meta and how this deck shapes up. We’ll also look at a general sideboard strategy for each of these matchups to increase your chances of winning in games two and three.


Mono-White Aggro

Generally, this deck is able to outsize Mono-White or outpace it with lifegain. One of the keys is finding ways to get through a wide board (either in the air or with trample) and protecting your life total during the first three turns.


Otherwise, save your removal for key threats like Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, and creatures like Brutal Cathar and Skyclave Apparition that steal yours.


Key cards in this matchup are Angelfire Ignition, Reidane, and Volatile Arsonist at the top of the curve.


Sideboard:

In:

2 Burning Hands

2 Rip Apart

1 Burn Down the House

1 Doomskar

1 Demon Bolt


Out:

2 Relic Robber

1 Goldspan Dragon

2 Alchemist’s Gambit

1 Reckless Stormseeker

1 Zariel, Archduke of Avernus


Mono-Green Aggro

Mono-Green can be a tough matchup if your opponent is able to curve out into an Esika’s Chariot. If you can compete on the board early, racing tends to work in your favor.


Like against Mono-White, Angelfire Ignition and Reidane are important pieces here. Cemetery Gatekeeper, Fateful Absence, and Goldspan Dragon are also your friends.


Try to hold up removal to respond to a Blizzard Brawl or Inscription of Abundance. Killing one of their key creatures and saving one of yours in one move is often enough to swing the game in your favor.


Meanwhile, rely on your evasive threats and lifegain to stabilize your life total against their larger creatures.


Sideboard:

In:

2 Demon Bolt

3 Burning Hands

2 Rip Apart

1 Burn Down the House

1 Elite Spellbinder


Out:

2 Relic Robber

2 Volatile Arsonist

1 Reckless Stormseeker

1 Alchemist’s Gambit

1 Brutal Cathar

2 Usher of the Fallen


Izzet Control / Izzet Dragons / Grixis Control / Esper Control

This deck thrives against Izzet and the other three-color control matchups. It simply offers too many threats that need to be answered. Eventually, your opponent will run out of bounce and kill spells.


Key pieces in this matchup are Reckless Stormseeker, Relic Robber, Goldspan Dragon, and Zariel. The latter’s ability to put tokens with death triggers onto the board and give creatures haste can’t be understated.


Meanwhile, sneaky finishers like Alchemist’s Gambit and Light Up the Night can help you win in a pinch.


In this matchup, focus on chipping away with as much damage as possible. You need to close out the game before your opponent can stabilize with a Lier (and untapped mana) or Hullbreaker Horror. Resolving either of these is typically enough to win them the game.


Sideboard:

In:

2 Paladin Class

2 Demon Bolt

1 Relic Robber

2 Elite Spellbinder


Out:

2 Skyclave Apparition

2 Abrade

3 Angelfire Ignition


Orzhov Clerics

This is probably one of the most difficult matchups for the deck. Orzhov Clerics can gain a lot of life while putting out big blockers that stop us from getting damage through. The deck also has a strong removal suite that’s hard to play around.


That said, a few key removal spells can be enough to help clear the way for our attackers. Try to prioritize threats like Cemetery Gatekeeper and Goldspan Dragon. An on-curve Elite Spellbinder or Reidane followed by Angelfire Ignition can also give us a large flying threat or blocker.


Sideboard:

In:

2 Demon Bolt

2 Elite Spellbinder

1 Burn Down the House


Out:

1 Volatile Arsonist

2 Relic Robber

1 Brutal Cathar

1 Alchemist’s Gambit


Mono-Black Aggro

Mono-Black Aggro can also cause some problems thanks to its removal and resiliency. However, your opponent will often have to choose between deploying their own threats or killing yours. If you can apply enough early pressure, you can force them to make ill-timed plays.


The deck is also susceptible to crippling bad draws and can struggle with its early game outside of a few cheap blockers if dealt the wrong hand.


You do need to be careful of board wipes in the form of Blood on the Snow and The Meathook Massacre. Either one can be devastating and give your opponent enough time to stabilize. Try to hold a hasty threat like Reckless Stormseeker or Goldspan Dragon in hand to recover from a wipe.


Generally, you want to avoid Relic Robber in this matchup since it can give your opponent extra sacrifice fodder. The tokens it creates also get wiped by Blood on the Snow and Meathook.


Sideboard:

In:

2 Paladin Class

2 Burning Hands

2 Elite Spellbinder


Out:

2 Relic Robber

2 Abrade

2 Skyclave Apparition




 

What do you think of this anti-meta deck? What cards would you include to improve its matchups? Let us know in the comments below!


 

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