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The Arsonist's Glee: Getting Into Burn On A Budget

Modern Aggro Budget Burn Competitive Mono-Red Primer


Burn, also known as RDW (Red Deck Wins) is an old strategy that is popular in most of Magic's formats, and Modern is no exception. A burn deck has one plan, and one plan only, to get it's opponent's life total to 0 as soon as possible. They achieve this end by using what are known as "burn" spells, in order to end the game, such as cards like Lightning Bolt.

Channel Fireball has what I think is the best advise when building burn.

Direct damage spells aren't the only way that burn wins games. Cheap creatures are often the most important burn spells in the deck, as you didnt care if they died once they were able to get a couple hits in. This repeatable source of damage was critical so that your targeted burn wasnt taxed so much.

Today, that remains true. Without powerful, early, aggressive creatures, a burn deck is really going to struggle. If you need to make sure that every single spell in your deck averages out to 3 damage, that means you have to both draw and resolve 7 spells to have any hope of winning. Each of these spells will have to target your opponent, or you need to draw an additional spell for each burn spell that takes down a creature.

The decklist that is up here is a powerful mono-red burn lists that is very competitive for the price tag on it, as most decks won't be able to stand up to this very easily.

One of the issues of playing a mono-red deck is that there is a popular card in modern right now that beats the entire deck by itself. This card is known as Leyline of Sanctity, and it is still a pain to deal with in the tier 1 versions of Burn.

The solution to beating this card, requires that we splash another color. That's why in addition to this build, I have included both Boros Burn and the tier 1 Naya Burn, which are more expensive and can be built towards from this list.

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Spark Elemental : A 3/1 with Trample and Haste for that disappears at the end of your turn. Spark Elemental is effectively a Lightning Bolt on a body. Since we hope to kill our opponent before they can play bigger thing then us, Elemental has a priority seat starting turn 1.

Hellspark Elemental : A more devious version of Spark Elemental , Hellspark is equivalent to playing something like Incinerate with it has a cmc of 2. However, unlike Incinerate we can bring this one back from the dead for another swing at our opponent.

Keldon Marauders: Assuming this card resolves, Keldon Marauders is guaranteed to deal at least 2 damage to our opponent, and on top of that we get a 3/3 beater that can swing for the one turn it's around, which gives us the possibility to get 5 damage off this card for 2 mana.

Lightning Bolt: Burn's pivotal card, Lightning Bolt goes along with our plan to get our opponent to 0 as soon as we can.

Rift Bolt: More often then not, Rift bolt is a Lightning Bolt that comes down the turn after we play it. You will typically not be hardcasting this card.

Shard Volley : Another Lightning Bolt that we get at the price of sacrificing a land.

Lava Spike: Lava Spike is essential a sorcery speed lightning bolt. The only downside to this card is that it can't target creatures (But also can't be redirected by Spellskite.)

Searing Blaze: This card is amazing in any creature based matchup, as is typically just a 2 for 1 that functions like another Incinerate . However, since our budget build doesn't have access to fetchlands, it is basically a sorcery in our deck since we really want to trigger landfall. It's also worth mentioning Searing Blaze is a reason to hold an extra land in our hand. Mono-Red Burn functions pretty well on two lands and almost never wants more than three lands. You should consider holding your third land, and definitely hold your fourth land just in case you peal a Searing Blaze.

Magma Jet: Although this card isn't a knock-off Lightning Bolt like most of our cards, Jet has a much greater impact then you'd think. Since we DO NOT want extra lands, Jet allows us to bypass our bad draws in order to make sure that our plays are always action. Since Jet allows you to keep making plays, that's why we play 4 of them.

Skullcrack: Lifegain is the worst nightmare for a burn deck, as they actually get around our strategy of burning them out, and can easily take us beyond our ability to beat them. Skullcrack allows us to make sure cards like Timely Reinforcements and Thragtusk do not end our gameplan.

Flames of the Blood Hand : run for the same reason as Skullcrack, flames usually deals a fifth of an opponent's life total to them, AND IT'S UNCOUNTERABLE! This makes decks like UW control esier decks to beat since cards like Kitchen Finks can't save them.

Mountain: Unlike the other versions of burn, our manabase is VERY cheap and doesn't deal any damage to us in the process!

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Flames of the Blood Hand : If you run into a deck like Soul Sisters, you can side in more copies of this card.

Searing Blood : Like Searing Blaze, Searing Blood is a 2 for 1 that can come in for creature based matchups as a way of dealing with your opponent's creatures and dealing with your opponent's life total at the same time.

Smash to Smithereens: This card is for decks like Affinity and Lantern Control mostly, as Smash allows us to to deal with our opponent's artifacts, while at the same time dealing with their life total.

Reality Hemorrhage: This card's main target is for decks that can play Kor Firewalker, a card that is well known for beating mono-red burn and need an answer when it is played. Since This card is devoid, it can deal with the walker, but it can also be thrown at the face of an opponent.

Tormod's Crypt: A deck like Dredge can put tons of power onto the board from their graveyard, with Crypt, you can get rid of their graveyard for the awesome price of FREE.

Leyline of Punishment : This card is one of the most important sideboard pieces for this deck, as decks like Soul Sisters can get away from us if we don't have one. The other advantage to this card is that if played in turn 0, it is usually a guarantee that we can play our game despite whatever our opponent is doing.

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These are some additional options I've seen played in Mono red burn decks before, some of the are budget, some are not.

Goblin Guide: The best turn 1 play a burn deck could ever make, goblin Guide usually is 4-6 damage on a 1-cmc stick. The downside to Guide of course is that he gives your opponent card advantage, however, they still have to draw the lands revealed by Goblin guides, and burn should be able to kill them before that becomes pertinent.

Monastery Swiftspear: A creature that mostly sees play in the Boros and Naya burn lists, Swiftspear is close enough to Goblin Guide that it also a worthy turn 1 play. the up[side to this card is that the more you burn your opponent, the bigger it becomes that turn, making it go right with our gameplan.

Vexing Devil: Usually seen in more budget versions of burn, Vexing Devil is an amazing turn 1 play usually, becuase if the opponent has something like falal push, they'll let it live, if they don't they'll take 4 to the face. Either way you are gaining some sort of advantage on your opponent.

Eidolon of the Great Revel: another card that sees play in tier 1 burn, Eidolan turns off decks like Storm that want to win the game by casting a lot of spells. Eidolan also usually gets in at least 2 damage to an opponent, since almost every card in the format triggers it.

Grim Lavamancer: This card is usually seen alongside fetchlands in order to make the most out of it's ability, Grim Lavamancer is more of a mana sink that allows the player to deal damage when the opponent has creatures to block and we are top-decking.

Molten Rain : Decks like Tron and Sacapeshift have a knack for playing non-basics, Molten Rain allows you to slow down your opponent's deck while dealing damage to them, similar to the 2 for 1s we play in our deck.

Dragon's Claw: Our version of Kor Firewalker, Dragon's claw works very well in mono-red burn because it gives us a hand in the mirror matchup.

Blood Moon: The tier 1 burn lists don't play this card because so much of their manabase is shocks and fetches. Blood moon can give you free wins against other decks since we only play mountains.

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Boros Burn is the next step up from Mono-Red burn, as it has some of the best cards that are used in the Naya burn list, as well as still being a decent budget deck by itself.

By adding white into the mix, you get access to some of the best burn spells modern has to offer, which are Boros Charm and Lightning Helix. These cards make the deck more competitive and be even more threatening then it already is. you also have access to Path to Exile the best removal spell in the format, as well as our once hated enemy Kor Firewalker.

It should be noted that Deflecting Palm is one of the most underrated cards burn has, because against a creature such as Death's Shadow this card can actually win you the game by itself.

The manabase for this can be less expensive then one would think, because since most of the deck is still red, you can keep your mountains, you really just need to add dual lands like Battlefield Forge, Sacred Foundry, and Inspiring Vantage. You don't have to buy Arid Mesas just yet.

However, the big advantage that we get from being boros is that we get access to Wear which allows us to get past Leyline of Sanctity and play a more competitive deck then we already are while still being budget.

Boros burn is played far less then Naya simply because it is mostly a budget version to eventually upgrade to the naya version.

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The tier 1 version of modern burn that is as relentless as it should be. Naya burn runs very similarly to Boros burn in that the deck gains answers to the majority of the format, except it becomes even more explosive.

Adding green to the mix allows you to play two of burn's biggest hitters, which are Atarka's Command, and Wild Nacatl. Nacatl is almost always a 3/3 by turn 2, and can compete with almsot any creature modern can throw in the early game. Meanwhile, Atarka's Command is like Skullcrack, excpet it can pump creatures to finish a game as well!

The other main reason to play green is to add Destructive Revelry, which works like Wear except it does damage instead, similar to the 2 for 1's played in the mono-red burn deck.

There are plenty of examples of this deck online, just look up Naya Burn, if you want to learn more.

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If you enjoyed this list, make sure to give it an upvote! If you do have question or comment, feel free to make one, I do appreciate feedback on my lists as long as it is constructive.

If you want more budget fun or lists in general, amke sure to check out my profile @ Sargeras!

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Date added 1 year
Last updated 1 year

This deck is Modern legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 1.76
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Revision 2 See all

1 year ago)

+2 Reality Hemorrhage side
-2 Rending Volley side
-2 Aggressive Mining side
+2 Tormod's Crypt side