Saturday 17 October 2015

The Burn Deck

Chain Lightning
The burn deck is at a glance a RDW list however it really isn't. It is a burn deck and is narrower and more direct than RDW. It probably is the easiest deck to play in the cube as you have one plan, one thing to do! It is also obvious when something it a race or just about total burn value. Adding and subtracting numbers that don't get much bigger than 20 is really all you need to be able to do to pilot this fairly well. RDW play involves much more choices and awareness of the game. This is the one deck where you can go turn one Firebolt you to the face and not be awful.

This list is white pretty much just because Boros Charm is a lot of damage for the mana. You can build this deck black, mainly for Bump in the Night but also for some potential draw or at a push some Kolghan's Command Value. You can also build it green for Atarka's Command should you wish or even several of these colours! Atarka's Command is just a hard to cast Skullcrack in this list for the most part as you have so few creatures you will be attacking with. This doesn't make it a bad splash however as lifegain is basically the only thing you care about at all. That is the strength of this deck, not caring much at all what your opponents are up to.

Bump in the Night
This list is a little greedy and should perhaps just be a mono red version. There are enough more viable cards for this list that it can be done. Tempo in terms of board position matters very little to you so you don't care that much about hitting your lands, you certainly don't want to flood. As such 15 lands is my preferred count however with Magmatic Insight and Molten Vortex in the mix red now has a lot more flexibility in how it builds its mana base. This list already has a Faithless Looting for a bit of hedging against floods however it is also useful to toss some of the more situational burn spells that are not looking so good. Ankh is far worse on the play and terrible against a lot of decks past various points in the mid game for example.

There are arguments to go entirely creatureless as they are more situational in terms of their potential damage output than burn and having none makes a lot of your opponents cards dead. The thing is you don't really care about their cards or what they do, they gunna be dead either way. If they use their turn to change kill your Goblin Guide and change its damage output from 6+ to 2 then you have still done 2 free damage and basically taken a Time Walk. The cheap good creatures are too good to forgo. Yes, you can draw them late but odds on you will still get one attack in as they will be forced into attacking you because of the burn clock they are on. The creatures without haste in the list do damage directly to the face by other means than attacking.

25 Spells

Shard VolleyLava Spike
Lightning Bolt
Chain Lightning
Rift Bolt

Shard Volley
Wild Slash
Grim Lavamancer
Goblin Guide

Monastery Swiftspear
Burst Lightning
Faithless Looting

Eidolon of the Great Revel
Ankh of Mishra
Searing Blaze
Skull Crack

Boros Charm
Lightning Helix
Pyrostatic Pillar

Zo-Zu, the Punisher
Ball Lightning
Sulphuric Vortex
Volcanic Fallout


15 Lands

Barbarian Ring
Arid Mesa
Battlefield Forge
Sacred Foundry
Clifftop Retreat
9x Mountains

Ankh of MishraThe thing I like most about this sort of deck is how you can apply statistical analysis to it. Because it is so linear you can do far more relevant number crunching. You could run it through one of Frank Karsten's simulators and get fairly decent information on it. The assessment of cards comes down to how much damage they do to the face and for how much mana. There are only a couple of cards you ever play that give you interesting choices!

Exquisite Firecraft should probably just replace Zo-Zu, if Ankh is bad on the draw.... Uncounterable is pretty nice in this deck and four is a nice big chunk. There are lots of ways to fine tune this deck, some give you better draws, some give you better uses for excess mana, some are better against creatures but all told the decks are very very similar. The deck isn't done very often, mostly because it isn't that fun or interactive while RDW is should you want to sling fire and lightning about the place. Also, to tune it at all or do exactly what you want you have to look outside of the main drafting cube. Ball Lightning is a bit narrow these days to be a maincube card, Pyrostatic Pillar the same. Then you have things like Lava Spike which is one of the best cards in the deck but has no place in any list bar this.

Volcanic FalloutVolcanic Fallout is a card you don't see in any RDW lists however in this deck it is well worth it. Against something like a white weenie deck you can lose race and will be inclined to aim some burn at early dorks to give you the time you need. The trouble with this however is that you can wind up without enough burn to actually close the game. Fallout does kill basically all your stuff but you don't have much of it and it isn't all that hard to plan around it a bit. It is two damage to face so never dead and reliably wreaks any aggressive weenie strategies.

This deck can win on turn 3 just through burn (4x one mana 3 damage spells, Fireblast and a 2 mana 4 damage spell with 3 lands)  however this is super unlikely, the deck is much more likely to win around turn five with a good draw and not having to aim burn at dorks or otherwise being disrupted. It is not the speed of the deck that makes it daunting, it is a terminator like relentless that makes the inevitability of RDW look quite limp. The deck is so redundant that you pretty much can say every card is 2 and a bit damage (including the lands, the non-land cards average more like 3 damage). I some how manage to have talked quite a lot about a deck which has really very little to say about it so I guess I should wrap it up here....

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