I’d put off this deck a little because it seemed like low hanging fruit. A little bit too easy to do. Nevertheless, there is a reason that some fruit is low hanging and sometimes it just needs picking. So let’s reach out and grab that great big, red, shiny, burning apple.
Whenever I go to a Legacy tournament I always bring a spare deck or two with me. Sometimes its because I’m unsure on what I want to play, but often in my local store its because there’s likely going to be a new player there without a deck, and there’s nothing more sad than a magic player without a deck.
Understandably, when I’m lending out a deck to a new player I don’t want to lend them something super complicated like Doomsday or Past in Flames Storm, and similarly I’m probably playing something more complicated so my change of pace will want to be something a bit more simple.
Can you count to twenty?
If so, then burn may well be for you.
Now, I appreciate that there is a finesse to playing burn. You do need to sequence your plays properly, and I have seen some horrendous misplays with burn such as double Fireblasting for non-lethal leaving the burn player on no lands with none in hand.
However, the majority of the time it won’t matter if you do get your sequencing off a little bit, playing a Lava Spike when it should be a Lightning Bolt or similar. Most of the time if it will matter it’ll normally be obvious enough to the pilot what the correct play should be.
When I was putting together this list I decided to start by looking at some high placing decklists from Star City Games Opens to see what sort of lists have been successful. I found this one from SCG Atlanta on the 14th September and this one from the 24th August at SCG Washington.
Both of them have a similar core, as you’d expect. 4 Lightning Bolts, 4 Chain Lightning, 4 Price of Progress, 4 Lava Spike, 4 Fireblast, 4 Rift Bolts, 4 Goblin Guides, 4 Eidolon of the Great Revel and some Grim Lavamancers. This gives us the majority of our cards to start with, leaving us only with a few flex slots to play with, and a few budgetary cuts. Not too many though today.
Unfortunately, the first cut has to come from the creature base. Goblin Guide has been shooting up in price recently, whilst Khans of Tarkir has thrown us a new little bone for this deck in Monastery Swiftspear. This new creature leads us to a different approach to how we cast our spells, extending a little more in our first main phase to power up prowess.
I believe that in the long haul the Swiftspear might well be run alongside the little green guide, just due to it’s sheer power output being able to attack for even more than Goblin Guide in a lot of cases with very little in the way of drawback. And at a tenth of the price, Monastery Swiftspear is certainly better for the wallet.
Chain Lightning is the next biggie that we’ve got to look at. Unfortunately, this very efficient, not quite as good as Lightning Bolt but pretty darned close card is trending up pricewise at the moment, with the fact that it was only available in Legends and a Premium Deck reprinting means that its in pretty short supply these days. This card is a little more awkward to replace as all of our next-best analogs are already in the deck. That means that instead of the “next best” we’re actually looking at the “next next next best” spell, which is actually significantly worse. However, needs must here, and Shard Volley does help fill a hole, as well as giving us a little fuel for Grim Lavamancer or powering up threshold for Barbarian Ring. It certainly isn’t optimal, but as the next best option for such a small cost it gets the spot.
One of the bigger differences we can see between the two lists is in their choice of creature control spell. Wright’s fetchland heavy list favours Searing Blaze due to its interaction with landfall, meaning that it can take out slightly bigger creatures than the Searing Blood favoured by Burchett. However, in Burchett’s list Searing Blood is definitely the better card as fewer fetchlands mean that landfall will be triggered less, and certainly less often at instant speed making it a pseudo sorcery. In the version I’m making here there is very little to choose between the cards price wise, so we’ll go for the more expensive and more consistent Searing Blood.
Having mentioned the lack of fetchlands, I suppose we should probably look at the manabase in a little more detail.
Right, now that’s covered, let’s move on.
What do you mean you want a little bit more than that?
Oh, OK. Barbarian Ring has largely fallen out of favour recently due to the revival of Grim Lavamancer and the dissynergy between the two cards. However, when running on such a tight budget as this we need to try to squeeze as much value as possible out of our card slots and our budget and Barbarian Ring offers us a way to do that without impacting hugely on either constraint.
If you do have red fetchlands, then they would definitely help in the deck by powering up both Barbarian Ring and Grim Lavamancer, as well as providing a small amount of thinning to increase the amount of gas you’re likely to draw into. The deck will run smoothly enough without them though that they are an optional extra for now.
The last few flex slots in the deck are to provide a little maindeck game against certain strategies. Sulfuric Vortex is really strong against a lot of control decks as once you’re ahead they can find it difficult to deal with that kind of clock without access to cards like Abrupt Decay.
Skullcrack can often gain extra points of damage than the three it says on the card when you cast it in response to an incident of lifegain, be it a Deathrite Shaman activation or an attack from a great big lifelinker (like a Batterskull or Griselbrand). This can mean it deals five, six, seven, even up to ten points of damage, or more, for just two mana. That’s a pretty good investment.
The final card in the main deck is Flame Rift, a spell that has started to fall out of fashion a little bit recently, especially since the introduction of Eidolon of the Great Revel. It is still a pretty efficient burn spell, putting your opponent down 4 life for two mana, albeit with the drawback that it does the same to you too.
Finally, we come to the sideboard. Smash to Smithereens allows us to beat decks like Affinity without diluting the damage output of the deck. It also works well against cards like Batterskull which can be a serious problem to beat, but also tends to be in decks with a higher than normal number of artifacts.
Red Elemental Blast comes in as a concession to combo decks. It’s one of the few ways that we can beat decks like Storm, High Tide and Show and Tell rather than just straight outracing them which isn’t always possible, as well as doing work in the combo matchup, allowing you to help stick your important persistent threats like Sulfuric Vortex.
For graveyard control we have Tormod’s Crypt. As a manaless way to interact with the graveyard it is probably the best way for the deck to keep the pressure on and use all of its mana to burn out the opponent rather than wasting both cards and mana on stunting the opponent’s plan. The other cards can be brought in as and when needed to shore up specific matchups and take out cards that are less optimal.
4 Monastery Swiftspear
3 Grim Lavamancer
3 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Rift Bolt
4 Shard Volley
4 Lava Spike
3 Searing Blood
4 Price of Progress
1 Flame Rift
2 Sulfuric Vortex
2 Barbarian Ring
4 Smash to Smithereens
4 Red Elemental Blast
3 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Sulfuric Vortex
1 Searing Blood
This is a fairly reliable deck that should have reasonable games against most metagames. It is able to put a lot of pressure on a lot of different types of decks and is definitely one that I’d recommend to get started in legacy. As I mentioned earlier, its a deck that I regularly lend out at Game On‘s monthly Legacy WNMs and pretty much always comes back to me with a positive record. Normally having beaten me on the way.
As always, this deck comes in at under £100, clocking in at £98.82 when I wrote the article. Please note that, as always, I have put this deck together ahead of publishing so prices may change between now and then, and even between the publication date and you reading it. I think it gives a very solid starting point for a burn deck and won’t take a huge amount of work to really grow it to tier one.
Thanks, as always, for reading. If you have any ideas for future lists, please let me know either in the comments here or by emailing Manaleak.