I've said it before. I'll say it again: Boros are never subtle. Their general is literally named Rockman.
Nostalgic fondness and questionable Photoshop skills notwithstanding, I appreciate that Wizards made a card for such an obscure character. General Ferrous Rokiric is considered a major historical figure in Ravnican history, commanding the Wojek League (Boros police force) centuries before Agrus Kos donned the badge. A few hundred years after the formation of the Guildpact, the magical contract protecting the plane, the city was still rattled from Guild competition. Despite the Guildpact meant to be an equalizer, it never fully stopped the Guilds from vying for dominance behind the scenes. The Wojek, exhausted from having to quell frequent rebellions, needed help.
General Ferrous Rokiric had ten mighty stone titans constructed, which cleaned up the streets in short order and saved the day (Odds // Ends). With civility restored (for now), the titans were posted on the borders of the city to serve as equal parts guardian and memorial. They'd be destroyed long before Bolas attempted to overthrow the plane, thus their absence during War of the Spark. But their memory and that of General Ferrous Rokiric was forever etched into history books, with old Rockman considered one of the greatest Boros heroes to have ever lived.
General Ferrous Rokiric by Matt Stewart
I feel like power metal should be playing in the background, here.
As a Commander, General Ferrous Rokiric offers a different take on card advantage. White and Red have struggled with card draw in recent years. Design effort to patch this has gifted Red numerous ways to play cards directly from the top of their library (Furious Rise, Act on Impulse, Showdown of the Skalds). White is also beginning to see card advantage in the form of symmetrical (Secret Rendezvous) and tax-based (Mangara the Diplomat, Esper Sentinel) draw. Despite this, Boros still has a long way to go when it comes to keeping up with the other colors.
With Boros card-draw playing catch-up, the color pair relies on generating as much value as possible to maintain pace. It's one of the reasons Sunforger is considered an auto-include in Boros decks (tutoring also helps). The power of General Ferrous Rokiric works on similar terms, replicating drawn cards through effect. In his case, it's the generation of 4/4 Golems as a reward for casting multicolored spells. The very nature of Commander, with higher life totals and triple the opponents, makes aggro challenging. Unfortunate, considering this is where White/Red specializes. However, when you take that combat-proficiency and combine it with a steady stream of 4/4's, the story changes. These golems are essentially free cards, showing up simply as a reward for playing spells. Something our deck would be doing anyway! With General Ferrous Rokiric on the battlefield, it actually doesn't take very long to assemble a genuinely threatening force.
As our army will essentially generate itself, we can focus on spells that make the most of token support and combat. Boros may lack for ramp and card advantage, but offers plenty of token and combat synergy. Keeping General Ferrous Rokiric alive long enough to build an army is pivotal, so his built-in Hexproof from Mono-color goes a long way toward shielding him from the likes of Swords to Plowshares, Beast Within, Chaos Warp, and other common forms of targeted removal. It's not full protection - board wipes and multicolored removal a la' Anguished Unmaking will still kill Rockman - but it's a good start and should keep him alive long enough for us to find him more protection (Darksteel Plate, etc). Shame that Legion's Initiative is a 'non-bo' with our Golems, as it'd be a great fit for this purpose, otherwise.
One final note before we jump in: While 4/4 tokens are an excellent reward for casting multicolored spells, Boros doesn't have the deepest pool of card to choose from. General Ferrous Rokiric can make an excellent role-player in the 99 of multicolored-decks (Ex. Niv-Mizzet Reborn), where multicolored cards are everywhere and in all shapes and sizes. As our general, his need for us to maximize the number of multicolored Boros spells makes things far more challenging. Fortunately, as time goes on and more White/Red cards get printed, General Ferrous Rokiric will only get better and better as a general.
Without further ado, time to battle with our robots! Charge!
Nobilis of War by Christopher Moeller
General Ferrous Rokiric | Commander | Matthew Lotti
- Commander (1)
- 1 General Ferrous Rokiric
- Creatures (17)
- 1 Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran
- 1 Alibou, Ancient Witness
- 1 Aurelia, the Warleader
- 1 Balefire Liege
- 1 Bell Borca, Spectral Sergeant
- 1 Blade Historian
- 1 Duergar Hedge-Mage
- 1 Esper Sentinel
- 1 Feather, the Redeemed
- 1 Figure of Destiny
- 1 Flame-Kin Zealot
- 1 Golden Guardian // Gold-Forge Garrison
- 1 Iroas, God of Victory
- 1 Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer
- 1 Losheel, Clockwork Scholar
- 1 Nobilis of War
- 1 Tajic, Legion's Edge
- Planeswalkers (1)
- 1 Nahiri, the Harbinger
- Instants (12)
- 1 Aurelia's Fury
- 1 Boros Charm
- 1 Deflecting Palm
- 1 Double Cleave
- 1 Fight to the Death
- 1 Justice Strike
- 1 Lorehold Command
- 1 Master Warcraft
- 1 Rally the Righteous
- 1 Response // Resurgence
- 1 Teferi's Protection
- 1 Wear // Tear
- Sorceries (7)
- 1 Blasphemous Act
- 1 Deafening Clarion
- 1 Rip Apart
- 1 Search for Glory
- 1 Solar Blaze
- 1 Thrilling Discovery
- 1 Waves of Aggression
- Enchantments (10)
- 1 Anointed Procession
- 1 Assemble the Legion
- 1 Cathars' Crusade
- 1 Furious Rise
- 1 Glory of Warfare
- 1 On Thin Ice
- 1 Outlaws' Merriment
- 1 Rise of the Hobgoblins
- 1 Showdown of the Skalds
- 1 Smothering Tithe
- Artifacts (14)
- 1 Arcane Signet
- 1 Archaeomancer's Map
- 1 Boros Signet
- 1 Coldsteel Heart
- 1 Conqueror's Galleon // Conqueror's Foothold
- 1 Darksteel Plate
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Extraplanar Lens
- 1 Idol of Oblivion
- 1 Mind Stone
- 1 Sunforger
- 1 Talisman of Conviction
- 1 Tome of the Guildpact
- 1 Treasure Map // Treasure Cove
Win intend to win via golem swarm, so we've two main objectives: keep our Commander alive, and support his ever-growing army. As long as we can keep casting spells, the generation of said army will take care of itself, so we'll want to keep cards flowing as much as possible. Because we need a critical mass of multicolored, only mono-color spells that provide a high degree of power and/or utility will be considered. If we're sacrificing a free golem, the tradeoff has to at least support the creation of future golems down the line.
Golem Crafters: Our first variety of creature embodies the spirit of Boros: Attack! These creatures will both generate golems and make them more dangerous. Blade Historian, Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran, Iroas, God of Victory, Flame-kin Zealot, Balefire Liege, Aurelia, the Warleader, and Nobilis of War all fall under this umbrella. As our Golems are not only White/Red, but also artifacts, we can take full advantage of payoffs such as Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer and Alibou, Ancient Witness.
The next category of trooper supports our gameplan via utility and/or card advantage. Feather, the Redeemed is especially potent with the combat tricks we run, as it'll continue to recycle cards turn after turn. Feather's especially happy to pick up a Sunforger to snag those tasty tricks, as well. Another fun application is to send a single point of damage from Aurelia's Fury at the angel, in addition to whatever other targets you're after, as it'll trigger her "buy-back" clause and return the burn spell to your hand. Burn, tap down, and golems. Over and over. Great combo meal! This trick will also work with Lorehold Command if you target Feather, the Redeemed with the 3-damage option.
Card advantage is also generated by Bell Borca, Spectral Sergeant, Losheel, Clockwork Scholar, Esper Sentinel, and Conqueror's Galleon // Conqueror's Foothold, which has a conveniently golem-sized Crew cost. Golden Guardian also trades with one of Rockman's 4/4 Golems to ramp us (the flipped land adds two mana) and create a second golem factory. These tokens will be colorless, so they won't get buffed by Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran or Balefire Liege, but it's a small sacrifice for such a powerful ability on a dang land!
Rounding out our utility-squad, Figure of Destiny makes a fantastic mana sink that ascends into a mighty threat, Duergar Hedge-Mage often create a 3-for-1's, and Tajic, Legion's Edge protects our team from damage-based mass removal (of which we run quite a bit). We made sure to include Search for Glory to tutor up Tajic if we're ready to drop a board-wipe, ourselves. He'll take the hit and leave our team unscathed from the likes of Solar Blaze and co.
Raw Firepower: Keeping in fashion with our creature-theme, our suite of spells seeks to enable vicious combat phases and destroy threats while building an army. Mastery of combat is earned via Response // Resurgence (also a removal spell!), Rally the Righteous, Master Warcraft, Fight to the Death, Glory of Warfare, Double Cleave, and the fantastically-reusable Waves of Aggression. Aurelia's Fury also fits in here, acting to removal blockers and shut down opposing spells in additional to removal potential. Speaking of which...
Removal comes in its usual flavors: spot and mass. Rip Apart, Justice Strike, Wear // Tear, and On Thin Ice compose our targeted-removal collection. On Thin Ice might seem an odd choice, but with the multitude of Legendary creatures (and Showdown of the Skalds) our deck runs, the aforementioned Search for Glory turns it into removal that can be tutored-for. Regarding mass-removal, we run Solar Blaze and Deafening Clarion, the latter of which leaves our Golems alive and gifted with Lifelink for the turn. For larger threats, Blasphemous Act is brought in, too.
Finally, while our main objective is to amass golems, we include a few more "army-in-a-can" style cards. The likes of Outlaws' Merriment, Rise of the Hobgoblins, and Assemble the Legion all have the potential to generate large quantities of creatures on their own, to say nothing of the golem each will make when cast. Remember all those combat-centric creatures and spells we talked about above? Cleric, Warrior, Rogue, Soldier, and Goblin tokens are more than happy to take advantage of them, as well.
Archaic Reinforcements: Spell-wise, we've covered combat-mastery, removal, and additional token generation. Now we'll discuss supporting elements to back them all up. Namely, defensive measures to protect our commander and his team, and more sources of card advantage to keep our resources stocked.
With much of our gameplan reliant on a happy and healthy General Ferrous Rokiric, keeping creatures alive is key. For this, we bring in Darksteel Plate for the Rockman, himself, as well as Boros Charm, Teferi's Protection, and Lorehold Command for the entire team. Lorehold Command also provides card draw, segueing us to the likes of Thrilling Discovery, Showdown of the Skalds, Idol of Oblivion, Treasure Map // Treasure Cove, Furious Rise, and Tome of the Guildpact. Anointed Procession's presence may not draw cards on its own, but doubling-up our golems each time we cast a multicolored spell more than makes up for it.
Lastly, Nahiri, the Harbinger is a versatile character that fits many of the criteria discussed above. Obviously, she's multicolored, but beyond that, provides card selection via rummaging, flexible removal, a strong tutor if we reach her ultimate (a wall of golems will assist), and is open for tutoring via Search for Glory.
Mana Support and Rocks: The quantity of ramp available to us isn't high, but what does exist is potent. Smothering Tithe won't make golems, but it will make a bunch of other shiny objects. Archaeomancer's Map and Extraplanar Lens both provide ways to generate multiple sources of mana, and as noted in my previous Mavinda-Blink Commander article we run snow-covered lands to lessen the odds of our opponents' benefitting from Extraplanar Lens. These snow lands are necessary for the On Thin Ice, help gain us a bit of life off of Search for Glory, and even though it might be painful to do so, can even be tutored for via Search for Glory if you're seriously hurting on land.
Mana rocks aren't left off the table, either. On-color Boros Signet and Talisman of Conviction are natural inclusions, as is the snowy Coldsteel Heart, the always-on-color Arcane Signet, and the reliable Mind Stone and Expedition Map. Nothing fancy, but they get the job done.
Boros Guildgate by Titus Lunter
Regarding the new undeniable staple that is Esper Sentinel, the current price tag is understandable, but unfortunate. I hope WotC gives this card enough additional printings to lower the price. It's Modern Horizon's 2 paper release day as I write this, and card prices tend to go down after release, so hopefully Esper Sentinel will get a bit less expensive in the near future. I don't expect the value to stay down for long, so if you're able to pick up a few copies for "cheap" (whatever that winds up being), I recommend it. This is a chase-card for years to come.
Regarding replacements, offensive brutes like Bronze Guardian, Gisella, Blade of Goldnight, Arcbound Shikari, and Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder all benefit your team of golems. Archangel Avacyn's transformed half leaves your golems alive after her mini-wrath settles. And because you're likely to have a multitude of golem at your side, Akiri, Line Slinger and Tajic, Blade of the Legion should have plenty of friends to dive into battle with.
Supporting Spells: Teferi's Protection = $30.00
Fortunately, most of our non-creature spells fall under $20. Teferi's Protection is an incredible shield, but can easily be substituted for Unbreakable Formation, Flawless Maneuver, or the synergistic Rootborn Defenses.
As usual, the mana-centric components run up the highest bill. Cards like Extraplanar Lens and Smothering Tithe are tough to approach in terms of substitution. They're very powerful. Unexciting as they may be, simple mana rocks like Commander Sphere, Fellwar Stone, and Hedron Archive are fine substitutions. Ramp is ramp. I'd also recommend some of White's 'catch-up' style creatures like Keeper of the Accord and Knight of the White Orchid. They may not make golems, but mana development must come first!
Aurelia's Fury by Tyler Jacobson
I hope you've enjoyed our NES-inspired take on General Ferrous Rokiric and his band of Robot Masters. Building gigantic armies is fun, but it's difficult to assemble enough cards that can build the army, enhance it, protect it, and recover if things go to hell. Rockman is happy to take the army-building side of that equation off your hands. All you need to do is keep casting spells, which is what Magic's all about anyhow!
Thanks for reading, and may a golem army forever stand ready at your side!