Welcome back to the final part in my Pauper Boros article series. Over the last couple weeks I’ve covered a general overview and history of the archetype in the format as well as different card options you have for the main deck aspect of the build. This week I’m going to go over sideboarding options and how this might play against different matchups.

Unlike in the past where I covered Elves with great depth, there’s much more than just two builds. For the sake of this article I’m going to be using a list that I’ve been running for a little while now and talk specifically about the Boros Monarch archetype.

Boros Monarch

Creatures (15)
Glint Hawk
Thraben Inspector
Kor Skyfisher
Palace Sentinels

Spells (26)
Galvanic Blast
Lightning Bolt
Alchemist's Vial
Prophetic Prism
Journey to Nowhere
Prismatic Strands
Cenn's Enlistment
Palace Sentinels
Battle Screech
Lands (22)
Ancient Den
Boros Garrison
Forgotten Cave
Great Furnace
Radiant Fountain
Secluded Steeppe
Wind-Scarred Crag

Sideboard (15)
Circle of Protection: Red
Lone Missionary
Standard Bearer
Kor Sanctifiers
Prismatic Strands
Gorilla Shaman
Relic of Progenitus

The first thing you might notice is the sideboard is quite varied. There’s a lot of different things happening to deal with various matchups. Other lists often look similar but they prefer different card choices instead for their own reasons one way or another.

To start, let’s hit the sweeper package. You’ll notice this list packs only two Electrickery in the sideboard, but also runs one in the main deck as well. With a plethora of Delver and Elves decks running wild all over the metagame lately (there were five of each across both the Card Kingdom Rags to Riches and Pauper Challenge top 8s this weekend, an incredible showing) these make short work of those decks and it’s good to have one ready just in case. It’s a metagame call, however, so if you see fewer of those decks at your local tournaments you might want to push them to the sideboard.

When you start seeing a metagame push in a more ground-based creature suite, however, you might look to consider other options. We’ve seen Krark-Clan Shaman make an appearance from time to time, gobbling up waves of small creatures at the price of a small artifact or two. More recently, lists have been testing Faithless Looting in the main deck. As a result, they have been playing Swirling Sandstorm in their sideboards to help clear boards. We even got to see this at play in the top 8 of Rags to Riches a little bit.

Sometimes you need a bit more to stop aggro decks cold, however. Those sweepers won’t do very much against a deck like Burn, for example; and Stompy is both unfazed by Electrickery and will have taken you out long before you can get a Swirling Sandstorm online. The answer lies in focusing on your life total instead of their board and allowing yourself to stabilize long enough to take them out. You do this using cards like Prismatic Strands, a fog effect I’ve discussed at length over the past few weeks, and Circle of Protections of specific colors to prevent damage. While Circle of Protection effects don’t see as much play as they may have once upon a time, they’re still a very viable option. Finally, you have the ability to make great use out of life gain effects. Playing Lone Missionary on its own will net you a solid bit of life, but things can get even more absurd when you start bouncing it back with Kor Skyfisher. And that’s to say nothing of your main deck life gain as well in the form of Wind-Scarred Crag and Radiant Fountain.

Next comes the standard artifact and enchantment hate. The most obvious option here is Gorilla Shaman. The card has a multitude of uses, and playing it against Affinity can absolutely cripple their gameplan in every way by blowing up every single one of their lands. But the Mox Monkey’s uses go far beyond that, blowing up lands in mirror matches and even opposing Prophetic Prisms should a game go long enough. Another standard option is usually Kor Sanctifiers. While it has only a one-time use off of its kicker, you can bounce it as well with its Skyfisher kin, allowing you to hit things the Shaman could only dream of hitting. In a similar vein, you also sometimes see Ancient Grudge and Leave No Trace to hit a wider swath of targets, though usually the staples are more than enough.

The last couple cards are a bit more narrow in their applications. Pyroblast acts as a sole counterspell option for the deck, allowing it to do things it shouldn’t normally be able to. Despite giving you the ability to counter things, it only allows you to hit blue targets. So what would you use it on? Delver decks get hit by a timely counterspell response and Tron can get its key combo cards like Ghostly Flicker or Mnemonic Wall countered with ease. Alternatively, you can use it to destroy problem creatures like the aforementioned Wall or a Ninja of the Deep Hours. Relic of Progenitus also helps take on those Tron decks, shutting down their Flicker loops while also enabling you to deal with other graveyard based decks such as Dimir Alchemy with a touch more ease.

Standard Bearer and to a lesser degree Coalition Honor Guard fill a spot that shuts down different decks. With the flagbearers on the battlefield, Hexproof decks can’t target their Bogles with any auras short of Cartouches, completely crippling their core strategy. At the same time, it makes decks like Stompy and Elves have a more difficult time pushing their plan forward as they can’t target their own creatures with pump abilities or spells, nor can they generate serious value from Quirion Ranger. In a pinch, these cards also act as a stellar lightning rod against Burn decks, sparing you a couple points of damage to hang into the game long enough to find your path to victory. And should you face decks that sweep up these and other creatures in your arsenal, Reaping the Graves can help get them back.

Here’s a small guide to how I sideboard using my list vs. different matchups in the current metagame. I’m not as experienced with this deck as with Elves, so there’s likely some room for improvement should you find a better alternative down the line as you play more.

Izzet Delver: -2 Prismatic Strands, -3 Palace Sentinels, +2 Electrickery, +3 Pyroblast
Mirror: -1 Cenn’s Enlistment, -2 Battle Screech, +1 Kor Sanctifiers, +1 Prismatic Strands, +1 Gorilla Shaman (switch with Electrickery if they still have Battle Screech game two)
Tron: -1 Alchemist’s Vial, -1 Electrickery, -1 Palace Sentinels, -2 Prismatic Strands, +1 Kor Sanctifiers, +3  Pyroblast, +1 Relic of Progenitus, consider COP: Red if you see Rolling Thunder
Burn: -1 Electrickery, -1 Cenn’s Enlistment, -1 Palace Sentinels, -1 Alchemist’s Vial, +1 COP: Red, +2 Lone Missionary, +1 Prismatic Strands
Elves: -1 Cenn’s Enlistment, -2 Battle Screech, -1 Palace Sentinels, -1 Alchemist’s Vial, +2 Electrickery, +1 Kor Sanctifiers,+2 Standard Bearer
Inside Out Combo: -1 Cenn’s Enlistment, -2 Battle Screech, -3 Palace Sentinels, +2 Standard Bearer, +1 Electrickery, +3 Pyroblast
Affinity: -1 Cenn’s Enlistment, -2 Palace Sentinels, -1 Electrickery, +2 Gorilla Shaman, +1 Kor Sanctifiers, +1 Lone Missionary
Stompy: -1 Electrickery, -3 Palace Sentinels, -1 Cenn’s Enlistment, +2 Lone Missionary, +1 Prismatic Strands, +2 Standard Bearer

I hope this guide and series helps you as you battle it out wherever you play Pauper in your spare time, be it at your LGS or online. No matter how you play, I can’t wait to hear how well you do with this bizarrely amazing deck. I’ll be bringing you another deck series soon enough. Let me know on Twitter what kinds of decks you’d like to see covered next!

Kendra has been playing Magic since Urza block and never looked back. Playing a variety of formats and being known for championing Pauper in particular, the Elf Queen can be found hanging out on Twitter as well as streaming on Twitch, always seeking to better the community at large.

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