Boros Initiative is a fast and aggressive creature-based deck. The entire deck revolves around getting aggressive and disruptive creatures into play as fast as possible. This means the deck is comprised of mostly fast mana and creatures. These creatures are divided into two categories, fast clock and disruptive. The fast clock piece is the namesake mechanic this deck is built around, initiative. Those creatures are [[Caves of Chaos Adventurer]] and [[Seasoned Dungeoneer]]. Playing one of these on turn one or two ends the game very quickly. The other part of the creature suite is aimed to disrupt the opponent from executing their game plan before the aggressive creatures can win. Those creatures are [[Archon of Emeria]] and [[Anointed Peacekeeper]]. Boros Initiative used to be mono white when [[White Plume Adventurer]] was legal, and arguably the best deck at that time, but since the banning the deck has added red for [[Caves of Chaos Adventurer]], [[Fable of the Mirror-Breaker]], and the recent printing of [[Forth Eorlingas!]] giving the deck another angle. The addition of red and all of the card changes to this deck has made a resurgence in popularity and makes it necessary to reevaluate the matchup.

How does Boros Initiative matchup against TES?

[[Archon of Emeria|]]
[[Fable of the Mirror-Breaker|]]
[[Seasoned Dungeoneer|]]

[[Caves of Chaos Adventurer]], [[Seasoned Dungeoneer]] – The main creatures where this deck gets its name from. The Initiative mechanic is so good that [[White Plume Adventurer]] is banned! Initiative generates card advantage, ends the game quickly, and can do several different powerful things depending on the situation, so it makes losing some card advantage in order to cast these creatures early worth it. [[Caves of Chaos Adventurer]] and [[Seasoned Dungeoneer]] on turn one or two can race most decks in Legacy, and especially when the second one gets played and they accelerate through the dungeon.

[[Archon of Emeria]], [[Anointed Peacekeeper]], [[Chalice of the Void]] – In some matchups just aggressive creatures isn’t enough, and there’s only eight initiative creatures, so Boros Initiative needs some disruption. [[Archon of Emeria]], [[Anointed Peacekeeper]], and [[Chalice of the Void]] all fit the bill at being great cards to have in play on turn one. They all pack a punch at being disruptive and the creatures still apply pressure. Not all of the decklists run [[Anointed Peacekeeper]], but it’s a card to keep in mind as a possibility. [[Archon of Emeria]] is impossible to combo through game one and requires some removal for it in post board games. It is by far the best disrupter against TES.

[[Null Rod]], [[Loran of the Third Path]] – Boros Initiative doesn’t play too many cards for the TES matchup in the sideboard, but [[Null Rod]] sure is a good one. With TES playing 14 artifacts, and in some versions even more, it can be difficult to win through a [[Null Rod]]. [[Loran of the Third Path]] may not even come in, but I have seen it played against me before, so I wanted to include it. It’s not the scariest form of disruption they have, but if it destroys a crucial [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] or takes us off of Metalcraft for [[Mox Opal]] then it could be devastating.

Deck Lists

The EPIC Storm
Main Deck
  • 4 [[Burning Wish]]
  • 4 [[Beseech the Mirror]]
  • 4 [[Brainstorm]]
  • 4 [[Ponder]]
  • 3 [[Galvanic Relay]]
  • 1 [[Gaea’s Will]]
  • 1 [[Song of Creation]]
  • 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
  • 4 [[Veil of Summer]]
  • 2 [[Thoughtseize]]
  • 2 [[Cabal Ritual]]
  • 4 [[Dark Ritual]]
  • 4 [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]
  • 4 [[Lotus Petal]]
  • 3 [[Mox Opal]]
  • 3 [[Chrome Mox]]
  • 3 [[Bloodstained Mire]]
  • 4 [[Misty Rainforest]]
  • 2 [[Underground Sea]]
  • 1 [[Volcanic Island]]
  • 1 [[Taiga]]
  • 1 [[Bayou]]
  • 2 [[Abrupt Decay]]
  • 1 [[Galvanic Relay]]
  • 2 [[Carpet of Flowers]]
  • 2 [[Thoughtseize]]
  • 1 [[Consign // Oblivion]]
  • 1 [[Grapeshot]]
  • 1 [[Empty the Warrens]]
  • 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
  • 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
  • 2 [[Boseiju, Who Endures]]
  • 1 [[Peer into the Abyss]]
Boros Initiative
Main Deck
  • 4 [[Archon of Emeria]]
  • 4 [[Simian Spirit Guide]]
  • 4 [[Caves of Chaos Adventurer]]
  • 4 [[Seasoned Dungeoneer]]
  • 4 [[Solitude]]
  • 4 [[Forth Eorlingas!]]
  • 4 [[Chalice of the Void]]
  • 4 [[Chrome Mox]]
  • 4 [[Lotus Petal]]
  • 4 [[Fable of the Mirror-Breaker]]
  • 2 [[Touch the Spirit Realm]]
  • 4 [[Ancient Tomb]]
  • 4 [[City of Traitors]]
  • 4 [[Cavern of Souls]]
  • 1 [[Mountain]]
  • 2 [[Plains]]
  • 2 [[Plateau]]
  • 1 [[Karakas]]
  • 4 [[Swords to Plowshares]]
  • 2 [[Containment Priest]]
  • 2 [[Null Rod]]
  • 1 [[Loran of the Third Path]]
  • 2 [[Magus of the Moon]]
  • 3 [[Leyline of the Void]]
  • 2 [[Blood Moon]]
  • 1 [[Fury]]

Ways to Win This Matchup

[[Cabal Ritual|]]
[[Burning Wish|]]
[[Beseech the Mirror|]]
Our Game Plan

This matchup is mostly a race. The deck has the mechanic initiative in its name because that is their game plan. With eight copies of initiative creatures the deck has a high chance of having one and casting it on turn one or two. That is a fast clock and is only amplified by casting the second one to accelerate through the dungeon. This becomes a pure race on whether that wins first, or we can combo. Another thing we are racing are the lock pieces, [[Archon of Emeria]], [[Anointed Peacekeeper]], and [[Chalice of the Void]]. Now, we can’t really race winning before these can be cast as most of the time, they’re able to be cast on the first turn. Being able to answer one or winning through a [[Chalice of the Void]] or [[Anointed Peacekeeper]] is doable, the problem is when several are on the field. This means the key turns, or the matchup are usually 2-3. The pressure to win on turn one isn’t much because they can’t win on the first turn, and we can beat one of any of their disruption. What we do in turns 2-3 and our ability to combo or find removal is key to winning this matchup.




-4 [[Veil of Summer]], -3 [[Galvanic Relay]], +2 [[Thoughtseize]], +2 [[Abrupt Decay]], +2 [[Boseiju, Who Endures]], +1 [[Cosign / Oblivion]]

We know we have to be quick in this matchup and we need answers. This makes for an easy swap of replacing our slower winning paths, like [[Galvanic Relay]] and an almost blank card in [[Veil of Summer]] for all of our answer cards. We want our deck full of answers because in the post board games the opponent isn’t keeping a hand that doesn’t have disruption on turn one or two. We either have to keep a hand with a turn one win or a hand with access to removal. Having them all in our deck increases those odds.


Game Play

We began the first game, and I was on the draw. My opponent had an explosive turn one with a land, [[Lotus Petal]], [[Chrome Mox]], and cast [[Fable of the Mirror-Breaker]]. On my first turn, I drew a [[Ponder]] and immediately cast it. It had a [[Cabal Ritual]] to cast the [[Beseech the Mirror]] and a [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], so I kept them on top and drew one.

Matchup Battles Boros Initiative - Image 1

My opponent spent their second turn playing a [[Chalice of the Void]] for one and just attacked. I still couldn’t combo on my second turn, so I just played a [[Bayou]] and passed the turn. My opponent then played a second [[Fable of the Mirror-Breaker]] and attacked again. On my third turn, I drew the last card from the [[Ponder]] that I cast on turn one and was ready to combo.

Matchup Battles Boros Initiative - Image 2

I began by casting [[Chrome Mox]] and exiling [[Brainstorm]]. Using the [[Chrome Mox]] and the [[Bayou]] I cast [[Cabal Ritual]]. I then sacrificed the [[Bloodstained Mire]] for a [[Taiga]] and used it along with the three black mana for [[Beseech the Mirror]] and sacrificed the [[Chrome Mox]] to get and cast [[Song of Creation]]. I only had a [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to cast, so I needed it to draw into something else to keep the chain going.

Matchup Battles Boros Initiative - Image 3

I drew a [[Brainstorm]] and a [[Chrome Mox]]. From there it was pretty easy to win the game.


I sideboarded like I recommend, and we were off to the second game on the draw. The opponent comes out pretty fast with a turn-one [[Archon of Emeria]], turn-two [[Seasoned Dungeoneer]], and then turn-three [[Fable of the Mirror-Breaker]]. All I have been able to do is cast two copies of [[Brainstorm]], but all that led to was setting up some mana and preparing to remove the [[Archon of Emeria]] before comboing off. I couldn’t find anything explosive off either [[Brainstorm]].

Matchup Battles Boros Initiative - Image 4

I finally drew the [[Beseech the Mirror]], but I just didn’t have enough mana to combo and remove the [[Archon of Emeria]] and I was dead on my opponent’s next turn.


For the third game, I had a slower, but disruptive hand and just setup using a [[Brainstorm]]. My opponent also kept a slower hand and had nothing on turn one. My opponent did cast a [[Archon of Emeria]] on turn two, and I had a [[Thoughtseize]] on turn three. They had lots of threats in hand and a [[Null Rod]]. I easily took the [[Null Rod]] and had to pass the turn back. The [[Archon of Emeria]] making my lands enter tapped really slowed me down, but the cards I was drawing for turn were shaping out nicely to be able to combo soon. My plan was to develop my mana and cards in hand to win after bouncing the [[Archon of Emeria]] with the [[Consign / Oblivion]] on an end step.

Matchup Battles Boros Initiative - Image 5

On their turn, they played the [[Caves of Chaos Adventurer]] to put some pressure on me and attacked and ended their turn. I drew a [[Chrome Mox]] for my turn. That’s exactly what I would need to combo, so I planned on bouncing the [[Archon of Emeria]] on their end step and winning on my next turn. I just needed them to not draw another disruptive card. They played their [[Forth Eorlingas!]] and attacked with everyone putting me down to four life. On their end step they drew from Monarch and I bounced their [[Archon of Emeria]].

Matchup Battles Boros Initiative - Image 6

I drew a [[Galvanic Relay]] which was perfect for me to exile with [[Chrome Mox]], and I was off to the races. Being at four life, this is where I was grateful to have [[Song of Creation]] and not [[Ad Nauseam]] in the deck. I played out the [[Chrome Mox]] and [[Cabal Ritual]] for [[Beseech the Mirror]] for [[Song of Creation]].

Matchup Battles Boros Initiative - Image 7

I played the [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and drew two more free cards I could cast. From there, it was pretty easy to win.

Matchup Battles Boros Initiative - Image 8

Matchup Battles Boros Initiative - Image 9


Overall, is fairly even. One of combo’s weaknesses is a fast clock with some disruption. Now typically we see that in [[Delver of Secrets]] and counterspells, but [[Caves of Chaos Adventurer]] and [[Archon of Emeria]] or [[Chalice of the Void]] can feel rather similar. We’ve seen different forms of Initiative decks over the past year since the initiative mechanic has been released and the verdict is in, it’s a powerful mechanic. It’s been a new interesting angle to Legacy that had and is having great results. I always enjoy seeing new decks be good in Legacy and especially aggro decks, so I hope to continue seeing it around for a while and the results suggest it will be. This means every deck in Legacy should have a game plan against Boros Initiative to see success in the format. I hope you enjoyed this article, can take some of the lessons learned, and apply them to your own playtesting.