The New Face of Burn
Several weeks ago, I wrote about Modern Burn. It’s a deck I’ve played for a while, with only minor changes made at times. It was based off of a list made shortly after Innistrad was released. That list was rather weaker, as it featured Spark Elemental, whom I believe is horrendous. Dark Ascension did nothing to help the situation. But then, lo and behold, we were given Vexing Devil with the release of Avacyn Restored! That guy’s a boss. Spark Elemental was out, and replaced by one of the best cards in the new deck. Times were good. So, of course, I waited in rapt attention for new toys. Alas, it was not to be. M13 passed without giving me a single cool card. I had hopes for Ash Zealot, but the card just turned out to be too low impact. So, two sets in a row passed without my deck getting better. That was mildly depressing. Then came the light that is Gatecrash spoilers. Most cards released every set aren’t Modern playable. Most can’t even make it into Standard. Still, a set only needs one gem to redefine a format. While it might not change the entire face of Modern, I think the card that definitely changes Burn is Boros Charm. That card is beyond insane. Before I talk about how to use it, let’s examine what’s so great.
First, what makes it good is the context. We’re talking about Modern, which has the beautiful Fetch/Shock land mana bases. This mana, if we’re willing to pay some life, is basically perfect. A mono red deck can easily afford to play cards in other colors without fear. So, we’ve confirmed that we’ll definitely be able to cast the card. Is it worth casting?
YES. The first mode by itself is an absolutely ridiculous card. Just to put it in perspective: Legacy Burn decks often play Flame Rift. Flame Rift is simply the only 2 mana, 4 damage burn spell available. By exchanging the colorless mana for a White, we get a one sided Flame Rift. Jeez, that’s an intense upgrade on a card that sees Legacy play. So I think the answer should be unanimous that Boros Charm is worth playing. And that’s only talking about the first mode! The other two aren’t as good, but are still relevant. Combat tricks are always good, and having your 3 Goblin Guides survive a sweeper that your opponent tapped out for is pretty sweet. 90% of the time Boros Charm will be cast for the first mode, but the fact that there are other options is always nice.
Let’s look at the last Burn list I played:
Modern Burn – Ian Ulman
Well, this is easy, you say. We already have White in our mana, you say. Just swap out the worst bolt spell for Boros Charm, and we’re good, you say! Well, I say nay, good sir. Thou art thinking too small. We can always do more to improve our decks. I’d like to look for a moment, at an older Modern deck that was just called Boros:
Modern – Magic Online PTQ #3290352
This deck is different from Burn in several ways, but the biggest way is its incredible reliance on its creatures. Here, even the burn spells are chosen to clear the way for your guys to get through, as opposed to going to the face once your creatures have become obsolete. I still agree more with the second plan. There are too many Lingering Souls lingering in the format to rely on creatures. Your opponent could easily gum up the board, and then you’re done. Still, there are things to be learned from this deck. By making White more of your mana, you gain access to both Steppe Lynx and Lightning Helix, both of which are very good card. As it happens, we need more White to always get off our Boros Charms any way, so it could be a perfect time to bring in the helix and the kitty.
Let’s weigh the pros and cons of making white more of our mana Pros: We get reliable Boros Charms, Steppe Lynx (a total boss), and Lightning Helix, which breaks mirrors and races like no other. Cons: The mana base becomes more painful and…more vulnerable to Wasteland? I dunno. I think the case is closed.
Now, we’ll figure out how to make these changes. Obviously, we’ll drop the worst cards first for our new friends. Who are the worst cards? I’d say, starting with Most Terrible: Hellspark Elemental, Shard Volley, and Keldon Marauders. Keldons and Hellsparks were only in the list because we needed card that dealt more than 3 damage. Steppe Lynx and Boros Charm also do that, but with way more style. Shard Volley and Lightning Helix both deal 3 damage. One gains you 3 life, and the other…has you sac a land. Yeah. Moving on.
Finally, we have the issue of lands. Obviously, we now have much more White than Black. Blackcleave Cliffs seem rather out of place. Unfortunately, there’s no WR equivalent, so the Blackcleaves will become Marsh Flats. Wait! If we only have one Sacred Foundry, how will Marsh Flats work? As soon as we search the Foundry out, the rest of our Marsh Flats will be dead. I solve this with a simple answer: add more Foundries. With Steppe Lynx, we want to be dropping lands (preferably Fetch lands) every turn. The easiest way to ensure that is to add more lands. If we’re cutting the next worst card, I think it has to be Volcanic Fallout. While very good, it’s the one oddball. Our curve will now top out at 2, and the average damage per card should go up. Also: I chose to simply add Sacred Foundries and no Plains after much deliberation. I considered it, but I still don’t think I can justify any Plains in this deck. Keeping one land hands happens all the time, and I’ll cry for days if I get triple Goblin Guide and the only land produces only white. If you can’t search out a Sacred Foundry with a Marsh Flats, then you already have 3 of them, so what are you complaining about? Also, the Marsh Flats can go get the Blood Crypt, so our consistency is really just better than when those were Blackcleave Cliffs.
So, we now have rather different deck:
Boros Burn, by Ian Ulman
Note: The Sudden Shocks in the sideboard are new. I added them a while back to better combat Infect. I still think the board is relevant, and fine as is. I might consider Rest in Peace, but I still like not losing ay tempo on Leyline.
I think this deck hits a lot harder than its predecessor. The creatures are more efficient, and the burn hits the enemies in the face a lot harder. We’ll have to see how it does against the rest of the field.