Top 8 Modern Decks – Burn

You thought you wouldn’t have to read about Burn eh? Well, I’m sorry, but it’s definitely one of the most influential decks in Modern. While some may describe it as very boring and superlinear (I’m one of them), it still went through few changes over the years and I’m sure someone is interested in it.

Max Sjoblom
Worlds 2011

The first versions of Burn in Modern seemed horrible. I honestly haven’t ever played against any Burn decks that had Volcanic Hammer, Incinerate, and Flame Javelin in their main deck, but as far as tournament results go, this was the initial build.

The deck only appeared later—the format was so fast at first that it was hard to justify playing a deck without disruption that doesn’t close the game by turn 4. Worlds was its first appearance and I suspect that it preyed on Tribal Zoo’s painful mana base and huge popularity.

Jasper Johnson-Epstein
Grand Prix Toronto 2012 – 14th Place

It took 6 months, however, before Jasper Johnson-Epstein, fierce Burn pilot, decided that Volcanic Hammer, Incinerate, and Flame Javelin were awful and added a bunch of creatures instead. From now on, we had a real Burn list and it haunted our dreams forever.

At Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, only one copy of Burn made its way into the 18-points-or-better deck lists. The deck was definitely underplayed, since few people wanted to sleeve such a linear deck. Also, I think that it simply wasn’t very good until this card was printed:

The issue with the deck has always been that when you drew Goblin Guides and Lava Spikes it was great, but when you drew Hellspark Elemental and Keldon Marauders, your opponent’s removal spells suddenly became too much of a liability.

Greg Ocreenc
Grand Prix Kansas City Top 8

Greg, and eventually everyone, started trimming down on creatures, adding a 3rd color for the powerful Boros Charm and from time to time Lightning Helix.

For a while, until the printing of the two cards above, the deck preyed on BGx decks a lot, and it’s presence could be felt in everyone’s sideboards.

Monastery Swiftspear and Eidolon of the Great Revel, acting as basically Goblin Guides 5 through 8 and Pyrostatic Pillar on a body, catapulted Seth Manfield to a Pro Tour Top 8.

Lava Spike had never before seen this amount of play on the Pro Tour level. The deck was played by many teams and was considered the deck with the highest win percentage in Modern.

Bump in the Night lost its spot, giving the deck a new name: Naya Burn.

Just a few months later, this powerful card entered Modern, giving Naya Burn more incentive to up its creature count.

I apparently popularized the addition of Wild Nacatl after going 0-3 in one of my videos.

This is the latest version of Burn in Modern these days. I still can’t confirm whether Wild Nacatl is better than running extra spells as I haven’t played enough, yet, the general opinion seems to be that people like it.

Or, you can copy what Jasper Johnson-Epstein, avid red mage, has been doing recently.

Jasper Johnson-Epstein
Grand Prix Oklahoma City Top 8

General Tips

  • Don’t forget Boros Charm has other modes. I’m sure 90% of the time I sling 4 damage, but every now and then, double strike to your Monastery Swiftspear or giving indestructible to your board against a Pyroclasm is useful!
  • Spellskite is not that good against you. Sure it blocks, but most of your burn spells now can’t be redirected since they target players only. I’m not saying your opponents shouldn’t bring them in, just that you should probably calm down on the number of Destructive Revelry you bring in.

Sideboard Tips

  • Evaluating whether Searing Blaze is maindeckable or not is a big deal. When the card is good, it’s AMAZING, but when it’s bad, it’s atrocious. Jasper made a 2-2 split between main and side, which probably means he thinks it’s great against 50% of the field.
  • Don’t over sideboard. This is true for any extremely linear deck like this, it’s important to not have an absurd number of answers in hand and eventually lose because you are drawing a different part of your deck. If you bring in 3 Destructive Revelry, 2 Rending Volley, and 1 Path to Exile against Twin, there is a good chance they end up killing you with Snapcaster Mage, Grim Lavamancer, and Vendilion Clique with the extra time you’re giving them.


Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the last deck of the series next week!

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