Feeling the Burn – Burn in a Post-Modern Horizons 2 World

Written by SSquirrel76

Hello again everyone. It’s been awhile since my Modern Horizons 2 (MH2 the rest of this article) review and it was time to write something else about Modern, and I was having some issues with inspiration. Between a new job and my family, there hasn’t been much of a Magic focus for me besides trying to acquire MH2 cards that don’t cost unreasonable amounts. Stupid Ragavan. So I was thinking it was time to discuss the deck that I’ve played in various forms in formats all the way back to when I first started in ’95’. Burn.

Yes, I can practically feel your collective eyerolls. “Burn players are dumb”, “That’s a newb deck”, etc etc. Burn is like any other deck out there, it has it’s intricacies (usually knowing how best to time your spells to circumvent interaction) and it has its moments where it is the right call for a given metagame. During the period leading up to MH2’s release, we were seeing Prowess decks everywhere and Burn was one of the natural predators of that deck. We still didn’t see as many people playing Burn tho even with that being the case, probably because those players were already playing Prowess themselves, plus the usual biases the deck has against it.

4 or 5 years ago Burn was running 10-12 fetch lands and we didn’t have the other Canopy lands (Sunbaked Canyon and Fiery Islet) or the fastland (Inspiring Vantage) to help round things out. Burn was typically a full on Naya build, sometimes (usually incorrectly) including Wild Nacatl, but also making use of Atarka’s Command and Destructive Revelry. A couple copies of Copperline Gorge, all those fetches, and a copy of Stomping Ground made sure our green spells were online. Inspiring Vantage was a big part of the push to get rid of green from the deck, and the printing of the Canopy lands in the first Modern Horizons set cemented that. The stock list has been pure Boros for quite awhile, although you still see occasional Naya builds pop up w/5-0 records in leagues.

Today I want to discuss the burn build that Patrick Sullivan, at this point the patron saint of Burn players everywhere, posted on Twitter on 7/18/21. I think this is the build that I am currently most enamored by, however there are a few potential maybe-board card choices I will discuss as well.

We are down to 5 red fetches (use whatever is cheapest if you are just building the deck new) and this build also has a copy of Fiery Islet to give a 5th Canopy land. 2 Sacred Foundry, 4 Sunbaked Canyon, and 4 Inspiring Vantage ensure that we can have double white on Turn 2, often without having to drop our life totals like we used to. It used to be you would fetch and probably spend 6 life to drop a Kor Firewalker in sideboarded games, only to have your opponent smile and show a Path to Exile. You just did a lot of your opponents work for them with that double fetch. Now it’s much less often we see that kind of life total damage, which helps us stay alive longer, even when we are flooding a bit. Canopies also let us minimize the damage flooding creates, hopefully finding us that last piece of action we require to destroy our opponents.

Burn is obviously easily able to be a Lurrus deck, as we have nothing over 2 mana in the deck, outside of 8 spells that are typically only costing us R, no matter what it says in the upper right corner of the card. This is an extremely clean build of Burn with lots of 4 ofs. Goblin Guide, Monastery Swiftspear (Modern pillar of deck design), and Eidolon of the Great Revel complete our creature compliment. Next we have as many “Deal 3” options as possible. Lightning Bolt, Lava Spike, Rift Bolt, Skewer the Critics, Searing Blaze, and Lightning Helix, which also helps us hang on longer with its built in lifegain. We also have some 4 damage options in the list, a playset of Boros Charm and a 1 of Flame Rift. Flame Rift was still a staple in Legacy Burn prior to the printing of Skewer the Critics, and games where you have double Eidolon effects and hit your opponent for 4 but take 8 yourself are some of the sweeter victories to be had. I really like the one of here, and if the list wasn’t so smooth I’d consider another, but I have a love of that card.

The sideboard isn’t too crazy, and everything here has its place. 2 Tormod’s Crypt to destroy graveyard decks, 2 Pyrite Spellbombs to take out Kor Firewalkers, Sanctifier en-Vec, or Etched Champion if he makes a return. Patrick is running 2 Prismatic Ending for their flexibility rather than 2 copies of Path to Exile because, as he says in his comment thread, not a lot of Wurmcoil Engines out there right now. This card also lets him run a playset of Smash to Smithereens for artifact hate instead of hedging with Wear//Tear, which keeps the deck focused on dishing damage to your opponents face at every turn. A playset of Kor Firewalker helps you stay afloat in a sea of Swiftspear and Ragavan decks, and as mentioned above it isn’t nearly as harsh on your life total to run the card now. Lurrus takes up the Companion slot of course, bc he is practically free here and recurring your creatures or a Crypt or Spellbomb can be a really big game in sideboarded games.

There are some other cards we could see sliding into the sideboard depending how the metagame continues to evolve as MH2 becomes more a part of the fabric of Modern and we see people shift along with what is doing the best. Path to Exile could become a better call than Prismatic Ending, which is obviously bad against things like Murktide Regent. Kozilek’s Return has had sideboard space before as the kill spell of choice for pro-red creatures and if those somehow went wider than just 1 or 2, it could be a thing again. Wear//Tear would also probably get a couple copies back in the list over Smash to Smithereens if Prismatic Ending’s flexibility was removed too, to hep cover enchantments. This will always be a concern as long as we have Urza’s Saga in the format. If the format shifts and we find counterspells to be everywhere we could easily end up back on Exquisite Firecraft. Unholy Heat is also a great answer for green creatures and walkers, but it feels like Patrick kind of knows certain cards will be hard to handle and trying to force the deck to be able to answer them may damage its consistency. Just keep smashing and make them have it is always an answer.

I’ve seen people experimenting with Dragon’s Rage Channeler (DRC) in a more Burn focused list, as opposed to the Ragavan or Prowess models she has shown up in more. I’m not sure about that card in Burn itself yet, as it feels like we would need to change more of the deck to make Delirium more consistent, and if we do that then we’re much closer to a Prowess build than Burn. It’s definitely a powerful card and worth experimenting with or just watching to see what some of the pros and streamers do with the deck in the future. If Patrick Sullivan and Sandydogmtg start both running DRC/Darcy in the deck, then that sounds like a pretty solid endorsement for Burn fans everywhere.

I hope this was an informative look at what many view as one of the more basic decks in Modern. Burn is generally pretty safe from bans and has a reasonably high floor, but it’s ceiling can be quite low in the wrong meta. Those who have Mountains in our blood tho, it’s our go to deck and always will be.

See you next month!

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