Legacy Burn is Great Right Now


Is Wrenn and Six everywhere in your meta? Are people grinding you out with Astrolabe? There's a simple solution and CabalTherapy breaks it down in this article. The short answer is - Just Play Burn!

Just Play Burn

No, I'm not joking. If you're looking for a good Legacy deck, you should play Burn. That's basically what this article is about – why you should play Burn right now. Burn has never been a bad choice in Legacy, bot for newer players and veterans. Modern Horizons, however, has given us Wrenn and Six and a colorful meta that uses Arcum's Astrolabe. Most of the current non-combo decks are pretty slow and, traditionally, Burn has good matchups against slower control decks.

Delver decks adapt to this by cutting some of their more tempo-oriented spells for value-oriented spells and a controlling play style that might work against slower decks, but these cuts generally leave them weak to decks like Burn.

Burn is one of the oldest decks and is one of the simplest strategies in Magic. It follows the core principle of the game: win the game by bringing the opponent's life total to zero, as fast as possible. There's nothing particularly fancy going in this strategy and, as such, Burn has always had a reputation as a beginner's deck, something not to be taken seriously for more experienced competitors.

This isn't because the deck isn't good enough though. People think it's for new players because it's easy to buy into for new players. But it's important to remember that Burn wants to stay monocolored. Yes, this makes the deck cheaper and it being cheap makes it a good deck for newer players. The rest of the deck is also very, very cheap compared to cards like Force of Will, Lion's Eye Diamond, or City of Traitors. In addition, the play style is quite repetitive for players once they get a feel for the deck and a lot of games end quickly.

It's pool of newer players makes the deck seem worse than it is though, as they tend to make mistakes and these results have led to the deck being stigmatized as a "noob deck."

Play Burn, but Play it Well

Okay, so I'm saying you should play Burn, but it's important to learn to play it well, like any other deck in the format. There is no auto-pilot deck in Legacy even when some decks appear to be relatively easy to master. Burn demands a wider understanding of the meta game and knowledge of the possible play patterns of any deck. Do they play taxing counter spells? How fast can they kill me? What cards do they bring in against me? You have to ask and answer these questions (and more) to play Burn effectively and if you're not, you'll lose a lot of winnable matches.

The reason for this is that the answers to these questions let you decide on lines of play that aren't obvious at first sight and it takes a while to master any deck, Burn being no exception. Just rewatch a classic game between two SCG heavyweights. Sullivan maneuvers Burn optimally, takes a calculated risk, and eventually puts himself in a winning spot.

One important lesson for burn is understanding that sequencing your spells properly can decide games. Imagine having two lands to work with and Lava Spike and Rift Bolt in hand. If you suspend the Rift Bolt first, then they can Daze your Lava Spike, whereas by playing the Lava Spike first, you avoid this issue. This is an obvious situation, for those used to playing against Daze, but often the sequencing will require more specific knowledge.

Playing Burn is more than just counting to 20. You have a lot to consider and you need to be able to evaluate the information you're given extremely well to find the route that leads to your opponent on zero life.

What Actually Goes in the Deck

Quite a lot has passed since I was a "Burn player." It was 2012 and this was the deck. Back then, we didn't have Eidolon of the Great Revel to fight combo decks and cards like Hellspark Elemental and Keldon Marauders were heavy hitters. But even more than the deck itself, Legacy as a format has seen some big shifts. Burn's core hasn't changed much though and it still works exceptionally well.

Legacy Burn Main Deck / Robert / 18.09.2019

This is a baseline, but you could potentially cut some Skewer the Critics or even a Rift Bolt to play more Light up the Stage or Grim Lavamancer. The sideboard is as flexible as it used to be and will probably consist of some mix of Ensnaring Bridge, Pyroblast, Exquisite Firecraft, Smash to Smithereens, and additional Pyrostatic Pillar, along with some more specific hate like Faerie Macabre, Leyline of the Void, Searing Blaze, and Grafdigger's Cage. I should also note that I strongly believe that this deck has not been fully tuned and there are cards that could potentially be very worthwhile in the deck. Cards like Vexing Devil are still waiting for their time to shine.

If you still have doubts on the deck, give it a try yourself! I promise you that Burn has more to offer than just throwing some cheap spells at the opponent, hoping that it is ultimately enough. In times of Eldrazi, Depths, Karn's Bomberman, and Wrenn and Six's Wasteland loops, Burn is no longer the annoying deck of yore but a strong competitor in a field that is dominated by grindy decks.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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erickk(01.12.2019 17:14)

@CabalTherapy: what is your opinion about the position of Burn after the recent banning of Wrenn and Six?

CabalTherapy(02.12.2019 21:23)

Meta looks quite slow. BUG is a good MU and UR isn't bad either. PoP should be the MVP against those 4-5c piles. I'd play at least 3 Ensnaring Brige in the SB.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Burn seeing some solid finishes.

CabalTherapy(23.09.2019 22:59)

@Athlete: Browbeat is bad because it lets your opponent decide whether to take the damage or not. Exquisite Firecraft or Sulfuric Vortex are better cc3 spells.

Seigren(22.09.2019 18:18)

While Horizon lands afe great in modern burn, in legacy they have one huge drawback: they aren't mountains, which means that they can't help cast fireblast.
It is already hard to have two fireblasts in hand, but when the first one is hardly castable, the games just are impossible to win

Athlete(21.09.2019 20:43)

What do you think about Browbeat in this deck?

CabalTherapy(21.09.2019 11:55)

@copdav: That's true. I am not sure how I like them against Delver and other fast decks because I remember having some issues with Barbarian Ring back in its days. But they should be a neat alternative.

Mantidactyle(21.09.2019 00:10)

If you're talking about Burn as a Budget option, don't run 2 Scalding Tarn in it, run Prismatic Vista :-P

For a fully competitive Scalding Tarn are nice to make your opponent wonder if you're on UR Delver early game 1 though.

copdav(20.09.2019 14:40)

Hi!! You forgot to mention the new horizon lands. They are great tools to avoid mana flood!!