Maybeboard


Naya Burn

Foil progress: (75/75) Completely foiled! I'm only missing potential sideboard cards now, like Ensnaring Bridge and possible maindeck cards like Shard Volley. album

Manabase

Most lists play anywhere from 18-20 lands. 18 isn't particularly common, but is seen in very low CMC lists. Most competitive lists are on either 19 or 20 and the average is probably 19.6. I'm looking into doing some analysis to determine an optimal number. You have to look at the mulligan rate to maximize keepable hands but also to optimize your ability to put enough lands in play by T3/T4 in order to win the game quickly. It's complicated, but I'm working on a python script to do it.

  • Basics: Mountain . Full stop. Every land in this deck must be able to pay for Lightning Bolt or fetch a land that pays for Lightning Bolt. It might be attractive to play a Plains or Forest to protect against Blood Moon , however, you're better off taking the risk of getting hosed by Blood Moon once in a while than taking the risk of having unplayable opening hands because you have a land that can't cast Lightning Bolt or lands that can't cast Eidolon/Blaze on turn 2. Playing 2-4 is pretty common.
  • Shocks: Blood Crypt , Sacred Foundry , Stomping Ground Due to the possibility of opposing land destruction, a minimum of 2 shocks per maindeck splash color is important. The downside is self-damage, but being able to fetch these and have them enter untapped is of paramount importance.
  • Fetches: These are important for color fixing and for turning on Grim Lavamancer as well as intant speed Searign Blaze. A straight RW list could get by on 8 fetches, but a 3 color list should play 10-12. All fetches should be able to grab a basic Mountain because being forced to fetch a shock could cost you the game occasionally.
  • Fast lands: Inspiring Vantage made RW considerably less painful. Nacatl Burn lists played Copperline Gorge to open up T1 Nacatl followed by T2 fetch for Sacred Foundry to make a 3/3 with minimal damage. RW and RWg lists can play 3-4 Vantages, but a Naya list likely only plays 1 with the single Vantage replacing what used to be a third Sacred Foundry. The downside of these is that they come into play tapped as land 4 or later, but you can generally handle that downside.
  • Check lands: Clifftop Retreat looks like an attractive land for RW lists, but it's deceptive. The downside is the opposite of that for Vantage, in that it comes into play tapped as your first land and that's not something you can handle. Burn needs to come out of the gates swinging and can't afford taking turn 1 off.

Creatures

  • Goblin Guide : This card has been a Burn staple throughout the history of the Modern format. Goblin Guide should always be your turn 1 if you're on the play and you hold a Guide. The "downside" of filling your opponent's hand with lands is not such a large downside. Approximately 1/3 of your opponent's deck is lands, which means that Goblin Guide gives you valuable information about their next draw about 2/3 of the time. I happen to like knowing that my opponent is holding Spell Pierce before I run Eidolon into it.
  • Monastery Swiftspear : Taylor Swift was adopted as a core Burn card shortly after it was released in KTK. It loses 1 point of power from Guide, which does mean that the estimated amount of damage it deals on average is less than Guide. However, Swiftspear can be very explosive via Prowess and could be a 3/4 or larger at times.
  • Eidolon of the Great Revel : It seems counter-intuitutive to play Eidolon in a deck loaded with 0 cards above 3CMC and it takes some practice to learn how to play with Eidolon. However, Eidolon is part of the reason that Burn became tier 1 a few years ago. A considerable amount of the format is CMC 3 or less, which means that an unchecked Eidolon can run away with the game. Even if it dies, it very likely deals 2 damage to your opponent in the process. You control Eidolon yourself, and therefore you can choose to pace yourself and make the seemingly symmetric effect asymmetrical. Eidolon doesn't have Haste, but its triggered ability means that it "impacts the board immediately".
  • Grim Lavamancer : Grim Lavamancer does not have Haste and does not impact the board immediately. Decks that play it tend to play 1-2 copies, but a lot of decks don't play it at all. Grim Lavamancer is actually better played later in the game, since you're not likely to be using the recurring Shock ability on T2. If your opponent is playing a creature heavy deck (say Elves, Affinity, and others), Grim Lavamancer is invaluable because it is recurring removal. If you don't need to target creatures with its ability, it provides an unblockable Shock that can only be turned off with removal where Guide/Swift can be turned off by an opposing blocker. Grim is fragile, but it will run away from the game if it sticks.
  • Wild Nacatl : Nacatl saw a lot of play from approximately 4 months after DTK was released until when Aether Revolt was released. It doesn't impact the board immediately and it doesn't have Haste, but it is a big body at 1 CMC. In a meta without a lot of removal, Nacatl can shine. Unfortunately, that meta stopped existing when Fatal Push was printed.

Other Spells

  • Lightning Bolt : You aren't playing Burn if you don't play 4. We're Lightning Bolt tribal.
  • Lava Spike : This is a player only, sorcery speed version of Lightning Bolt. It can't serve as removal in a pinch, but it also can't have its target changed to a Spellskite. Play 4.
  • Rift Bolt : This card is almost always Suspended for R, and is therefore functionally a 1 CMC spell. It's slow because you have to wait a turn, but it's still strong. Importantly, the Prowess trigger from Swiftspear will happen on the turn that Rift Bolt comes off of Suspend and that can lead to broken turns and 4/5 and 5/6 Swiftspears. Play 4.
  • Shard Volley : Shard Volley isn't played as often as it used to be back in the RB and mono-R Burn days. It lowers your average CMC by virtue of being a 1 CMC spell, but it requires you to sacrifice a Mountain on cast. It's strong as a finisher, but not something you'd ever want to cast early. It typically sees play as a "fun-of", but there are some builds that go all out on 1 CMC spells and they play 4. It's generally a flex card, and those come down to meta calls and personal preference.
  • Bump in the Night : This is basically another copy of Lava Spike. Mardu, Rakdos, and Jund Burn will play 4 of these. It has Flashback, but the cost is expensive and it's only someting you'd do at the end of a game when you're in topdeck mode.
  • Boros Charm : It's 2 CMC but it deals 4. The indestructible mode is occasionally relevant and can be used to save creatures from dying. For instance, if your Storm opponent is trying to kill Eidolon, it's worth it to use the Indestructible mode to keep it alive. In general, if you expect to get more than 4 damage out of Indestructible than you would from just casting Boros Charm for 4, it's worth using the Indestructible mode. The double strike mode exists, but the only time it would be worth it is if you have a 5/6 Swiftspear but you do it at the risk of Path to Exile getting rid of it all. I don't recall ever using the double strike mode in Burn. If you're in white, you should play 4.
  • Lightning Helix : Take Lightning Bolt and Healing Salve and staple them together and you get Lightning Helix. In straight RW builds and in RWg builds, this is generally a 4-of. If you're on Naya, you might play fewer than 4 in order to lessen your color requirements. The other copies would probably be in the sideboard, though.
  • Skullcrack : One of the way that opponents will attack a Burn deck is by gaining life. Skullcrack is premium lifegain hate. Incidentally, it also shuts off damage prevention and can cause an opposing Kor Firewalker to die if it is being used as a blocker. It also stops Burrenton Forge-Tender's damage prevention. It disrupts Deflecting Palm, though, so keep that in mind if you side in Palms. If you don't play Atarka's Command, you should probably play 4.
  • Searing Blaze : Searing Blaze is very strong as a removal spell for early Birds/Heirarchs and other small creatures. People play anywhere from 2-4 depending on how relevant they think Blaze will be for them, with the other copies in the sideboard. Important note: you need 2 targets to cast it (a player and a creature that player controls), but you only need one legal target for Blaze to resolve. Some opponents will knowingly or unknowingly kill their own creature and say that Blaze "fizzles", but it does not fizzle and they will still take 3 damage.
  • Atarka's Command : This card was adopted into Burn a few months after DTK came out and was joined by Wild Nacatl a few months later. Atarka's Command provides a pseudo Skullcrack at the same CMC but without the damage prevention clause. Additionally, it has a creature pump mode that provides explosiveness and a rarely used ramp mode that can lead to broken plays (Swiftspear + AC 3 damage ramp + bolt effect on T2). It does this at the cost of a maindeck green requirement, which can lead to a lot of self damage. You should probably play 4 if you choose to play it.

Red/colorless

  • Anger of the Gods : Same cost as Fallout, but 1 more damage and it has an exile clause. You could get rid of Kitchen Finks with this.
  • Blood Moon : I wouldn't recommend playing it in any Burn list with splash colors, but it's ok in mono-R. However, mono-R lists are probably budget lists and you're likely better off picking up the cards to splash a color instead.
  • Dragon's Claw : If you're not in white, this does a solid Kor Firewalker impression.
  • Ensnaring Bridge : Bridge is played against creature aggro decks like Fish and Elves as well as decks like Eldrazi Tron that have large creatures. It's generally only seen as a 2-of.
  • Exquisite Firecraft : Barring graveyard hate, this is always going to be uncounterable. It's possible to toss some in the maindeck in a control heavy meta, and it's certainly a playabe sideboard card in a control meta.
  • Flames of the Blood Hand : This one doesn't see much play anymore since Skullcrack and Atarka's Command were printed, but if you're not in green, this is where you'd look for extra lifegain hate.
  • Grafdigger's Cage : Shuts off flashback and Collected Company/Chord of Calling.
  • Leyline of Punishment : Very strong lifegain hoser, but rarely played outside of extreme lifegain environments (think crazy levels of Soul Sisters).
  • Molten Rain : Damage dealing land destruction is strong against decks that have utility lands like Inkmoth Nexus as well as in situations like Jund where you might be able to lock your opponent out of a color. 3CMC is risky, though.
  • Pyroclasm : Simple 2 damage board wipe that's ok against small creature aggro.
  • Rampaging Ferocidon : This is a new card that can play the role of Leyline of Punishment at 3 CMC with a body. It's worth playing in sideboard in certain metas (Soul Sisters, go wide).
  • Shattering Spree : One of the few ways that Burn can get rid of Chalice of the Void. It can blow up Chalice on 2. A twice replicated Spree can blow up Chalice on 1 and Chalice on 2 together, since the replicated copies aren't cast and don't trigger Chalice. Decks that pay it generally play a few in addition to 3-4 DRevs.
  • Smash to Smithereens : This is a very strong artifact hate card for mono-R or for decks that are seeking extra targeted artifact removal.
  • Searing Blood : If you're looking for extra searing effects beyond 4 Searing Blaze or aren't playing fetches and need something to replace Searing Blaze, this is strong. Keep in mind that this requires only a creature target, so an opponent can make Blood "fizzle".
  • Torpor Orb : Shuts off ETB effects, but it's not seen often.
  • Volcanic Fallout : It only deals 2 damage and it costs 3, but it deals 2 to the player and it can't be countered. I think that board wipes are kind of awkward in Burn, but this one is my favorite. It's worth playing if you expect a lot of small creature aggro.

White

  • Deflecting Palm : Bring this in when you believe you can count on it being Lightning Helix or better as far as damage. The problem with this card is that it can force you to wait for your opponent to do something before it does anything and that means you're giving them time to stabilize. It can also be a blow out sometimes. I think 2 is the most you want.
  • Kor Firewalker : Premium Burn hate. It's hard to lose the mirror once you stick Kor Firewalker, but it's also a very narrow card and the slot could potentially be better spent on something else. If you want them, 2-3 is fine.
  • Path to Exile : Bring this in against any deck that requires you to control creatures or that plays large creatures that you can't deal with otherwise. Most decks play 2-3 copies.
  • Stony Silence : This is a strong artifact hate card against Affinity and Lantern Control. It shuts down some of Affinity's mana production, Ravager, Cranial Plating, Overseer. It's worth playing in a heavy artifact meta.
  • Wear / Tear : If you aren't in green, this is the second best artifact+enchantment destruction card. You'd likely play 4 if that's the case.

Green

  • Destructive Revelry : Pairing 2 damage with the ability to blow up enchantments and artifacts is very strong. Leyline of Enchantment is a problem for Burn, and this is among the best answers for it. Most decks play 4.
  • Atarka's Command : If you're playing RWg and need extra lifegain hate, Atarka's Command is the one you want.

Black

  • Crackling Doom : It's an interesting card in Mardu, but you don't see it often.
  • Rain of Gore : Serves as extra lifegain hate in black, but it does not turn off lifelink because life gained from lifelink is caused by damage and not caused by a spell or ability.
  • Rakdos Charm : This used to be Twin hate, but isn't used that much these days. It serves as graveyard hate, artifact hate, and "go wide" hate.
  • Self-Inflicted Wound : Interesting removal spell in black. It gets rid of a Slippery Bogle that has a boatload of enchantments on it. It also gets rid of Tarmogoyf.

Matchups

  • Abzan: They'll attack your hand with discard and then try to win with Lingering Souls, Goyfs, Rhinos, and others. Out of the side, they'll bring things Feed the Clan , Timely Reinforcements , Blessed Alliance , Thragtusk , Kitchen Finks , and Collective Brutality . Bring Path and Palm and possibly land destruction.
  • Affinity: They can dump their hand on to the board quickly and then beat you with a big flying creature. Vault Skirge with Cranial Plating will gain a lot of life if you can't kill it. Be careful tapping out because this will keep them from going all in on Arcbound Ravager counters and a flying creature. Pay attention to the possibility of them paying BB to move Plating at instant speed. They can take an infect route with Inkmoth Nexus as well. You need to play a control game against Affinity, killing creatures as you need to in order to chip away at their board in a way that buys you time. Post board, look at Palm, Path, DRev, Spree, and Searing effects. Consider siding out Spikes and Eidolons. Plan on seeing things like Spell Pierce , Spellskite , and Etched Champion out of the side from them.
  • Burn: The mirror is fun to play. Generally, the player who sticks creatures will win. Because of that, Searing Blaze is very powerful here. Post board, look at Paths, Palms, and Firewalkers. I always side out Eidolons here, and I side out of green by dropping Atarka's Command.
  • Counters Company: They're going to play small creatures and dig for their combo win of Vizier of Remedies and Devoted Druid or Finks. Druid is an infinite mana combo and they'll use that mana to beaf up a Walking Ballista and ping you to death. Finks is a traditional life gain combo that puts the game out of reach unless you can get them to mill to death. Control the creatures by killing Vizier and Druid on sight. Post board, look at Paths, Grafdigger's Cage , and Searing effects. They rarely play Leyline of Sanctity , so it might surprise you. They may bring Burrenton Forge-Tender .
  • Death and Taxes: They play tax effects ike Thalia and Leonin Arbiter and cheat them in with Aether Vial. They'll bring Kor Firewalker and Burrenton Forge-Tender out of the side and may side out Vials. Bring Paths, Searing effects, and board wipes if you play them.
  • Dredge: They want to use Faithless Looting and Cathartic Reunion to exploit Dredge. Post board, look at Path and graveyard hate. Expect to see Collective Brutality , Gnaw to the Bone , and Golgari Brownscale .
  • Eldrazi Tron: They are a big mana deck that casts big creatures with not very many lands. They play maindeck Chalice of the Void , which can just shut down our deck. A fast hand from ETron will just beat you, but a slow hand gives you an opening to race them. Post board, look at Paths, Palms, Bridges, DRev, and Sprees. At most, they might bring an extra Basilisk Collar against us, because Chalice does such a good job.
  • Gifts Storm: They want to get a cost reducer in play, cast rituals and cantrips, use Gifts Ungiven for some package that's not good for you regardless of what you pick, flashback Past in Flames , and end with Grapeshot . Good thing we play a maindeck hate card in Eidolon of the Great Revel . They play maindeck Remand , but that's the only counter to worry about and it may get sided out. You want to control their cost reducer while chipping away at them otherwise. They'll bring Dispel and Lightning Bolt (for Eidolons) post board, as well as Empty the Warrens . Post board, bring graveyard hate. This should be a good matchup for us.
  • Grixis Death's Shadow: You want to get creature damage in quickly and then sandbag your burn spells so that you can try to kill them in one shot once they get Death's Shadows online. They will be trying to strip your hand with discard effects. Be aware of Stubborn Denial and the fact that they may be dropping a 4/5 or 5/5 for B via delve. They'll bring Collective Brutality out of the side, which is brutal. They might bring Temur Battle Rage , extra Stubborn Denial and maybe Dispel and Countersquall , and possibly Liliana of the Veil. Bring in Palms and Paths from your sideboard.
  • Gx Tron: These Tron variants are generally good matchups for Burn because we're faster and can just end the game before they're really online. Be aggressive. They'll bring Thragtusk and Nature's Claim (which they will happily fire at Expedition Map to gain life) from the side. GW lists may bring Blessed Alliance or Timely Reinforcements . GB will bring Collective Brutality . Bring lifegain hate and consider Path and Palm as well as land destruction, but be mindful of "oversideboarding" here.
  • Jeskai: They're going to tempo you until they can just beat you with Celestial Colonnade or Geist of Saint Traft . Be mindful of Lightning Helix . Post board, look at Exquisite Firecrafts. They'll possibly bring Timely Reinforcements , extra counters, and Blessed Alliance .
  • Lantern Control: Come out of the gates swinging with creatures and prioritize them over burn spells in the early game because they'll drop Ensnaring Bridge eventually and that will cut off creatures. Eidolon is very strong. Expect discard spells and Spellskites from them and Leyline of Sanctity in the sideboard.
  • Merfolk: Their plan is to go wide with small Merfolk, get some lords in play, and end the game quickly. Aether Vial lets them get creatures in play at instant speed, so be mindful of how many counters Vial has and what that means they could drop. They can also attack your lands with Sea's Claim and/or Spreading Seas . They'll bring things like Dispel , Tidebinder Mage , Kira, Great Glass-Spinner (or its replacement in Ixalan). Ensnaring Bridge is strong, Path is important for Master of Waves , Destructive Revelry can get rid of Vial and Seas.
  • Titan Shift: Pace yourself with self damage, because every fetch+shock is one less Valakut trigger they need. On the flip side, every Lightning Helix is an extra trigger they need. Expect things like Obstinate Baloth , Thragtusk , and Pulse of Murasa out of the side from them. For your side, bring Deflecting Palm to serve as extra Helices. Path to Exile is worth it to remove Primeval Titan to keep it from attacking.
  • UW Control: Come out of the gates with creatures. Eidolon can do a lot of work if they can't deal with it. Read the Patrick Sullivan "Burn vs. Counters" article. Once they're at low life, I like to draw a few cards before I go for the win so that I can handle a counter from them and still win. Post board, look at Exquisite Firecrafts as finishers and Paths for Gideons. You'll see things like Runed Halo , Blessed Alliance , Dispel , and Timely Reinforcements out of the side from them.

Other Primers

The following articles on The Meadery are lost, but can be found via The Wayback Machine:

Other Primers

I have been working on a Python script that attempts to treat Burn as a statistics problem. It is not yet sophisticated enough to play a game outright, but it does attempt to treat creatures in a realistic way given some probability that the creature is "invalidated" by removal/other creatures as a function of turn number. Early results for that model suggest that T1 Goblin Guide on the play is worth nearly 4 damage on average. While the magnitude of that result might be surprising, it shouldn't be surprising that T1 Goblin Guide is the best T1 play in the deck.

Updates

December 2017: Swapping out green for straight RW.

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