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The Best/Worst Leonin Lightscribe Decks


Say hello to Leonin Lightscribe!

Leonin Lightscribe

This Cat Cleric starts off with the stats of a Fresh Volunteers, but adds a Prowess-like ability that demands a second look. Leonin Lightscribe's particular brand of Magecraft will tie it inextricably to another White Strixhaven card, across formats, and probably for all time:

Clever Lumimancer

If Leonin Lightscribe is alone, its Magecraft is simply inferior to Prowess. You can only trigger it with instants and sorceries [trust me, this will come up in about 45 seconds]; but if you have two or more creatures, the sort of group Prowess thing will start generating an outsized return.

Clever Lumimancer is just worse than all its peers in the abstract. It doesn't have haste. It doesn't start off able to deal any damage [again, wait for it in about 30 seconds at this point]. Its "Prowess" (Magecraft) is, like Leonin Lightscribe's, limited to instants and sorceries only. But when it starts?

The game will end. Quickly.

The Best Leonin Lightscribe Deck! (so far)

I'm going to be fully vaccinated later this week. And - even accepting the fact that I haven't played in a physical Magic: The Gathering tournament in thirteen months at this point - it couldn't have come at a better time.

Not only does Boros Aggro in Modern look better than ever, it is presenting us with The Best Leonin Lightscribe Deck!

There have been lots of Monastery Swiftspear decks; some Soul-Scar Mage decks; with the Boros Charm decks largely in the other half of an imaginary divide. Here the two strategies meet, and greatly exceed the promise of any individual builds that came earlier.

Before we get to the good stuff, let's start with what's missing.

First off, this deck doesn't play Eidolon of the Great Revel - in main or sideboard - and that demands a hard stare. Some very wise Modern Burn player once described Eidolon of the Great Revel as the best card in Modern. It's largely been the card that made this type of deck viable in not only Modern but Legacy. For that matter it doesn't play Goblin Guide. Go ahead and bug eyes emoji.

Secondly, this deck lacks the ability to kind of sit back and get comfortable in sideboard games against creature decks. One of the things I long loved most about playing Boros Burn (and to a lesser degree, Mono-Red) was the removal overload paradigm...

Against Affinity you could clean up with Smash to Smithereens. Your deck was mostly Searing Blaze and Searing Blood. Clock while defending! If you ever drew Grim Lavamancer, that would break the one-card-drawn-per-turn symmetry. You'd already won... They just didn't know it yet.

Ditto for Humans.

Mono-Red had its style with Bonecrusher Giant, but the concept was largely the same. Smashes or Searings shortened the opponent's game while elongating your life total. You wouldn't have to worry about being the beatdown against a deck that could throw bodies in the way of your 1/2 or 2/2 attackers.

There is no real reason this deck couldn't build for that kind of a game plan; it just doesn't happen to do so yet. The simplest route might be to incorporate Seal of Fire (which is also a good lead-in card for Light Up the Stage). Seal of Fire could ape Grim Lavamancer alongside Lurrus of the Dream-Den, and still Prowess up Monastery Swiftspear and Soul-Scar Mage... If not Clever Lumimancer and Leonin Lightscribe.

But this is The Best Leonin Lightscribe deck!

Surely there is a good reason to play it, even as it gives up some of the fun flexibility of the Modern Burn deck.

There are actually two. As in turn two.

Consider this:

  1. Turn One: Arid Mesa; sacrifice Arid Mesa for Sacred Foundry. Clever Lumimancer.
  2. Turn Two: Mountain; Manamorphose, Manamorphose, Mutagenic Growth, Boros Charm... Attack!

Do you think a turn two - turn two - kill justifies the radical changes to the Boros shell? CVXW certainly did, and I think it's difficult to disagree. The deck can still knock blockers out of the way with Lightning Bolt, break mana rules with Lava Dart, and execute any sized creature after sideboarding.

Above and beyond the more popular Mono-Red builds in Modern, this deck can sidestep into the Lurrus of the Dream-Den angle and build a personal Howling Mine with Mishra's Bauble. That by itself might be enough to justify adding White... But I think the Strixhaven Magecraft duo cements this.

The turn two kill described above is obviously an outlier draw (you had to draw two copies of Manamorphose and 50% of your Boros Charms by the second turn) but it is in the range of actual possibilities. When you add in Leonin Lightscribe, there are any number of fast kills that make everybody else look good by turn three.

Turn three used to be cause for fireworks. But in a deck that can kill on turn two? It seems almost pedestrian. How mighty must a Red Deck be to boast those kinds of chops?

Mishra's Bauble might not be particularly synergistic with the Strixhaven Magecraft twinsies here, but it remains great with the classic Prowess 1-drops.

What I think I like about this deck more than anything else is how it falls into the context of Modern... Especially a Modern informed by other Strixhaven archetypes.

It's no secret that, even though Modern is my favorite format, I don't like playing it in metagame phases when Dredge is popular. I've just skipped weekends and road trips to big tournaments on those kinds of weeks.

It's not that Dredge was historically so unbeatable, it's that I hated playing the matchup and I felt like there was no strategic way to attack the Dredge opponents without sacrificing everything that made playing the Red Deck fun and worthwhile in every other corner of the metagame.

In a sense Dredge gets worse because of this card:

Thrilling Discovery


Thrilling Discovery is some kind of a turncoat, isn't it? Not only is it fully in Boros colors, but it gains life when the horrible Dredge person casts it, and all it does is help them destroy the home team. They did not need help.

Structurally in Dredge, Thrilling Discovery doubles a villain's access to Cathartic Reunion types; which, in turn, make their core strategy that much more consistent.

So why is this a time for optimism?

The new Boros deck is just so fast! You can potentially kill a Dredge opponent before it can work up too much mischief. Maybe more importantly, this Boros can be a go-wide deck with Leonin Lightscribe despite its theoretical ability to go very, very tall with Clever Lumimancer on turn two.

You can deploy multiple creatures and then Lava Dart your way through The Red Zone into the opponent's soft underbelly. Dredge's primary way to defend itself (other than free Lightning Helix after free Lightning Helix as it sets up) is actually just to flip over a bunch of Narcomoebas and hide behind them. Killing those with Lava Darts - and especially flashback Lava Darts - both gets attackers through some wimpy 1/1 defenders and buffs them to help shorten the clock.

Nevertheless, probably not the matchup you suddenly want... But still, more hopeful to think about than ever.

The Secret-Worst Leonin Lightscribe Deck Ever

So, what are we looking at here?

First and foremost? A champion! This deck took down its satellite, in the capable hands of ed bracamontes.

But beyond that? This is an Adventures deck. Not only does it have tons and tons of self-contained card advantage, its sheer card quality is stunning. Lovestruck Beast and Bonecrusher Giant are simply two of the best fair cards in Standard. How did we forget about Felidar Retreat for all these months? Which is not even the best White enchantment in this deck.

The problem?

There are twenty-five creatures in the main - nearly half its cards - that aren't Leonin Lighscribes. The thinner pool of non-creature spells are...

There not only aren't a lot of them, but more than half are enchantments, a card type that doesn't trigger Magecraft!

This must be the worst Leonin Lightscribe deck ever!

Nah, it's only the secret-worst ;)

Want to get in on the secret?

Lovestruck Beast is a sorcery

Bonecrusher Giant is an instant; so are Giant Killer and Shepherd of the Flock!

This deck isn't a balls to the wall "Prowess" linear-aggro deck... Like many Adventures decks, it's a hybrid. It has some aggro elements (and can pile damage onto a manascrewed opponent), but it's also very good at hiding behind Lovestruck Beast or drawing cards from a turtle position.

It has the best 1-drop in Standard, followed by a heck of a creature engine. It is technically capable of going wide on the battlefield. The problem is that - as good as Bonecrusher Giant and Giant Killer are - you can still get stuck in a standoff.

Welcome Leonin Lightscribe!

It simply doesn't take very long to win when your lowly Edgewall Innkeeper is attacking for five. This gets even easier with Felidar Retreat, which can make additional bodies for Leonin Lighscribe to buff.

So, is this technically the worst Lightscribe deck? Well... I guess. But only by comparison! That Modern deck is a real killer.



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