Modern Spotlight: Burn

Burn is an archetype that has gained a number of very powerful spells recently, and looks to be getting at least one more in the new set. The deck can punish some of the top picks due to the nature of mana bases in the format and is widely considered one of the best aggro decks in modern.


Burn backs up a large number of efficient damage spells with some of the most aggressive creatures ever printed: Goblin Guide, Monastery Swiftspear, and Eidolon of the Great Revel. These creatures let you put your opponent on a very quick clock, and if they are able to stop them they still have to deal with the large number of 3+ damage spells your deck is full of. Having such a low mana curve also means that you are likely to be drawing real spells more often than not.


The right sideboard cards make the game almost unwinnable for you the burn player. Things like Dragon’s Claw, Leyline of Sanctity, and Kor Firewalker are extremely good at shutting burn down completely. High life gain cards are also very good against the deck, such as Obstinate Baloth, Timely Reinforcements, and Thragtusk. The latter examples are the reason why Skullcrack and cards with similar effects are so necessary for modern burn.

Red? Or more?

There are plenty of burn spells in modern to support playing only . However it is super easy to splash another color to give you additional options. The addition of nets you access to Lightning Helix, Boros Charm, and Deflecting Palm (in the sideboard). gives Bump in the Night as well as Rakdos Charm out of the sideboard. gives Destructive Revelry as a sideboard card, as well as the new Atarka’s Command.

Burn at SCG Baltimore

Jim Davis was able to take the following list to 18th place at the SCG Open in Baltimore. This list also splashes for Destructive Revelry, rather than just play Wear // Tear. The sideboard is included here.

Burn (40)
Goblin Guide
Grim Lavamancer
Monastery Swiftspear
Eidolon of the Great Revel
Boros Charm
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix
Searing Blaze
Shard Volley
Lava Spike
Rift Bolt
Lands (20)
Snow-Covered Mountain
Bloodstained Mire
Sacred Foundry
Scalding Tarn
Stomping Ground
Wooded Foothills

This maindeck comes in right around $510, though over $200 of that is the Scalding Tarn alone (switching those to Arid Mesa saves $100 total, or you could just play mountains). Depending on what your local meta looks like this deck may need more tuning, as it can have some very weak matchups that people may show up to at FNM with (though likely not at something larger, things like soul sisters or martyr proc).

Chris Wendelboe

Chris is a level 2 judge from Ashland, New Hampshire. He enjoys Scapeshift, modern, and putting on the best events possible.