Budget Magic: $22 (0 Rare) Burn | Dominaria United Standard

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Hey there, Budget Magic lovers, it’s that time once again! Last week, we got a sneak peek at Dominaria United Standard and played some best-of-one with Izzet Balmor Spellslinger during early-access day. But today, we get our first look at best-of-three Standard with a deck I’m super hyped about: a burn deck that costs just $22 in paper and has literally zero rares or mythics, making it about as cheap as a deck can possibly be, both in paper and on Magic Arena. The idea is simple: get in early damage with cheap creatures, use things like Thermo-Alchemist and Kessig Flamebreather to add damage to our burn spells, and then finish our opponent with a Lightning Strike or two to the face. Can a deck that’s essentially free compete in Dominaria United Standard? Let’s get to the video and find out; then, we’ll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: $22 Mono-Red Burn

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The Deck

Our deck, like pretty much every other Burn deck to ever exist, is looking to get our opponent’s life total to zero as quickly as possible with a combination of aggro creatures and burn spells. The game plan is to chip in for as much damage as possible with one- and two-mana creatures and get our opponent’s life total low enough that burn spells like Play with Fire, Lightning Strike, and Call In a Professional can finish the job.

The Burn

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We’ve got three burn spells in our deck. Each has the flexibility of hitting our opponent’s creatures when necessary but also going to our opponent’s face. In the early game, we use cards like Play with Fire and Lightning Strike to control our opponent’s board. Later, once we get our opponent’s life total low enough, we can throw them at our opponent’s face to close out the game. Call In a Professional is especially important because it gives us a way to beat lifegain. While it isn’t especially efficient, it’s basically a Standard-legal version of Skullcrack for one more mana. Without it, cards like Fleetfoot Dancer or even Sheoldred, the Apocalypse would be close to unbeatable for our deck. 

More Damage

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Backing up our burn spells are two creatures that essentially add one additional damage to all of our burn: Thermo-Alchemist and Kessig Flamebreather. While neither creature is great at attacking, they are both super powerful once we start slinging our burn spells. Plus, with the help of card draw like Reckless Impulse and Electric Revelation, we can have some sweet storm-style turns where we sling a bunch of spells and deal a ton of damage by surprise.

Card Draw

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Speaking of card draw, since we’re playing with zero rares or mythics, we need to be a bit creative with our card draw since we don’t have access to planeswalkers like Jaya or Chandra. Thankfully, Reckless Impulse and Electric Revelation are good ways to keep churning through our deck and are especially synergistic with Kessig Flamebreather and Thermo-Alchemist since they essentially end up dealing damage when we cast them!

The Creatures

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The rest of our creatures all share something in common: they cost just one mana. While they won’t have much power in the late game, that’s fine. The goal of our creatures is to get in damage early in the game so that we can get our opponent’s life total low enough to finish them off with burn. Kumano Faces Kakkazan is great. Even though it takes a few turns to become a creature, it’s sort of a burn spell when it enters the battlefield, and pumping a creature the following turn is solid. Phoenix Chick is good at getting in some hasty, evasive damage, and if it dies, we sometimes can get it back even bigger later in the game. Reinforced Ronin might exemplify what our deck is trying to do better than any other creature can. It gets in for two damage a turn early; then, later, once it is outclassed, we can channel it away to look for a burn spell to finish the game. Finally, Voldaren Epicure is just a one-of (I really wanted one more one-drop, and it was the best I could find). It’s not super exciting as a 1/1, but the combination of offering one direct damage when it enters the battlefield and the Blood token, which we can use to filter away extra lands, makes it flexible enough to play. 

The Sideboard

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The sideboard is mostly customizable removal. Strangle helps against aggro decks. Rending Flame deals with bigger creatures like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. Smash to Dust does a bit of everything. Voltaic Visionary is our best attempt at having a card-advantage engine to bring in against control decks, but it’s pretty fragile as a creature. Sadly, more resilient options like Chandra, Dressed to Kill and Jaya, Fiery Negotiator are a bit expensive for our ultra-budget plan.

Wrap-Up

Record-wise, we finished 3-3 with $22 Burn, which is actually pretty impressive considering the deck’s cheapness. The upside of the deck is that it’s fast and consistent, outside of occasionally flooding out. The downside is that the deck isn’t especially resilient. Something like The Meathook Massacre can more or less take us out of the game. The good news is that it’s pretty easy to make the deck more resilient by adding cards like Chandra, Dressed to Kill, Jaya, Fiery Negotiator, and Bloodthirsty Adversary. The bad news is that pretty much all of the cards that would make the deck more resilient are rares or mythics, so they would add a bunch to the budget. Still, the deck is solid enough as it is, and these rare and mythic upgrades offer a pretty clear path to improving the deck.

As far as changes to make to the budget build, I’m not sure there really are any. The worst cards in the deck are likely Voldaren Epicure and Electric Revelation, so feel free to play something else in those slots. But I’m not sure there is anything clearly better (that isn’t a rare or mythic).

So, should you play $22 (0 Rare) Burn in Dominaria United Standard? If you’re looking to compete essentially for free, I think the answer is yes. While the lack of resilience probably keeps this build of burn from being top tier, it is good enough to win a decent amount of games for an absurdly low price. Then, you can slowly upgrade toward the optimal build, which very well could be a legit deck in Dominaria United Standard.

Upgrades

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Even fully upgraded, Burn is pretty cheap, coming in at 15 rares / mythics and $137 in paper. While the deck doesn’t get a ton of changes, it does get a few huge ones that solve most of the issues we had with the $22 build.

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Upgrade #1 is Chandra, Dressed to Kill, which is an easy four-of in the main deck if budget isn’t a concern. Remember the issue with lack of resilience we were talking about a minute ago? A three-mana planeswalker that draws us an extra card each turn is the perfect way to solve it. If our opponent can wrath our board, Chandra, Dressed to Kill will survive and allow us to rebuild. Plus, if we don’t need extra cards, Chandra offers damage and mana, which is never a bad thing, and the ultimate is more or less unbeatable if we get to it.

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Upgrade #2 is Bloodthirsty Adversary. The Vampire is fine on Turn 2, coming down and hitting our opponent with haste, but it’s also great in the late game, when we can use its pseudo-kicker ability to flashback a burn spell or some card draw from the graveyard. This flexibility is huge. Most of our creatures are good in the early game but bad in the late game. Bloodthirsty Adversary is both, which is a rare and powerful quality.

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Upgrade #3 is Jaya, Fiery Negotiator, which is currently in the sideboard because four mana is a lot for our deck, but it might be good enough for the main deck. As far as what Jaya adds to our deck, it’s very similar to Chandra, Dressed to Kill: a powerful card-advantage engine that doesn’t die to The Meathook Massacre and friends. Against control or removal-heavy midrange, we can trim some of our less impactful cards and overload on planeswalkers to fight through our opponent’s removal, which should more or less fix the resiliency issue by giving the deck the ability not only to pick up fast aggro wins just like the $22 build in the video can but also play a longer game when necessary.

Conclusion

Anyway, that’s all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com