Burn Baby Burn – By John McMullin

One of my favorite things about playing Magic, is coming up with neat strategies or combos or synergies, and building a deck around them. Even more fun than coming up with a strategy, is pulling it off in-game, and experiencing the joys that success can bring.

But deck planning, building, and execution are really just titles for a list of important and detailed steps that take a player from having a pile of random cards, to actually having something playable and able to inspire pride in the deck builder. Today, I’d like to get into detail about these steps and show a little bit about how I plan and build the decks I enjoy playing most.

Lets start with Deck Planning!

The very first thing that you need to build a deck is NOT cards. Nope. It’s inspiration. It is vital that you first get excited about a combo or synergy, or even just a particular card from the format you’re aiming to play. Once you have that, you’re only limited by your imagination.

Since we’re about to say goodbye to M14, lets go out with a bang! M14 brought us a lot of great new and old cards, and made us rethink decks like Slivers by changing a little about how they work. While that’s all well and good, what I really liked from M14, was this card right here:


Young Pyromancer


What an amazing card! With Young Pyromancer, you can build an army as a reward for damaging your opponent, or their permanents. The minute I saw this card, I was sold on the ability. Return to Ravnica gave us some great cards too, and I found the best companion for YP, was this fella right here:




Now, every time I cast an Instant or Sorcery, I get to punish my opponents for 2 life, while also building an army of Elemental tokens. Life is getting pretty good right about now. Can we make it even more disgusting? The Theros block says ‘sure can!’, by giving us these dudes:



Now we are getting somewhere! Purphoros will punish my opponents further every time I cast a creature spell. But, coupled with Young Pyromancer, I get to punish opponents when I cast Instants and sorceries too! The Fanatic is also a great late-game card, as it can represent the remaining life you need to take from your opponent, and it has great synergies with Purphoros too.

What we have now, is a basis for the deck. To give it some flavor and muscle, we need to come up with some Sorceries and Instants to fuel our Guttersnipe/Young Pyromancer. After all, there’s little point playing those cards if you can’t get any benefit from them.

Onward then to building! Lets take a look at the burn spells and other tools available to us:



All of these can reach players, planeswalkers, or creatures. Great! Some diversity is going to be required for a burn-based deck to have any chance of winning. Some other considerations might include the following:



Here, we start to see some somewhat more limited spells. Mortars only hits creatures, and Skullcrack only hits players. However, due to their low cost and other effects, they can help round out a burn deck, while allowing your more diverse spells the opportunity to be used as they’re needed. Fated Conflagaration is really neat too, as it deals massive damage while providing you some Scry goodness, too!

We are just about ready now, to actually play this deck. We’ll need to throw in some sideboard cards and other considerations. Red on it’s own is powerful, but it can be sidelined by good use of counter or protection spells. As a burn player, we have to consider these things too, when tuning the deck. When you’re building your own decks, be sure to play test them, and do not be afraid to make changes when something doesn’t work for you. Take note, and try different tweaks to see what works best for you and your play group.

Burn Baby, Burn:


4 x Young Pyromancer

4 x Guttersnipe

4 x Fanatic of Mogis

4 x Purphoros, God of the Forge


4 x Wild Guess

2 x Mizzium Mortars


4 x Shock

4 x Magma Jet

4 x Lightning Strike

2 x Fated Conflagaration

4 x Skullcrack


16 x Mountain

4 x Mutavault


2 x Mizzium Mortars

2 x Fated Conflagaration

4 x Pithing Needle

3 x Hammer of Purphoros

4 x Frostburn Weird

What we end up with, is a pretty straight-forward deck, designed to burn and crush your opponents as quickly as possible. While the curve tops out at 4, the majority of spells exist in the 2-3 mana range, allowing you to cast multiple bombs every turn. The Sideboard here has a few red spells in it, mostly to tailor matches around decks that hate red, which is where the Pithing Needle and Hammer come into play. Frostburn Weird gives us additional ways to win on 1-drop, and by not running it in the main deck, allows us to focus on casting spells to win.

Overall, the deck looks solid. To find out if it needs any tweaks, we’ll have to play it at an FNM or other event, or with your friends around the kitchen table! Have any ideas to improve it? Let us know in the comments!

This article has been submitted by John McMullin

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