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Spike It Like It's Hot


There are fewer things that cause opponents to slump in their chair more quickly than a turn one Lava Spike. Burn is a deck perceived as being simple to play, non-interactive, and largely homogenous. It’s easy to lump all burn decks together and ignore the subtle differences between decks that choose to play Skullcracks versus Lightning Helix, how many copies of Searing Blaze and Searing Blood, and so on. Especially in recent years, Modern burn has picked up a lot of new and exciting pieces, from Eidolon of the Great Revel to Monastery Swiftspear to Atarka's Command. This week, Pascal Maynard brings an interesting take on Burn that shifts the splash color from Green to Black in order to prominently feature some new technology from Aether Revolt:

Lava Spike
The principle behind burn has always been straightforward. You want all of the most efficient ways to trade cards for your opponent’s life total, with Lightning Bolt being the premier version of this effect. You’ve got a couple of creatures in Goblin Guide, Monastery Swiftspear, and Eidolon of the Great Revel that can end games before they really get started. Outside of that, you’re looking for as many cards as possible that let you spend 1 mana to deal about three points of damage.

Bump in the Night has long been a questionable choice in the burn deck. Some Black builds existed splashed for the likes of Dark Confidant, Bump in the Night, and Rain of Gore, along with Rakdos Charm out of the sideboard. The problem with this splash was that all you got was one three-damage burn spell. That just wasn’t as helpful as what you got off of the Green and White splashes, namely Path to Exile and Destructive Revelry.

That might change with Aether Revolt. The card this deck picks up from Aether Revolt is Gonti's Machinations. This card doesn’t reward you immediately like Lava Spike and company, but it is effectively another super-efficient burn spell. If you play this on the first turn, your next two fetchlands or shocklands on the following two turns immediately turn this into three damage and three life. That’s a great effect in matchups where you’re just racing. Of course, that ignores the problem of drawing Gonti's Machinations on turn three or four, where the game is likely to end before you can generate two energy.

The big question is whether the addition of another mana-efficient burn spell is worth slightly more misfires in games that go long. It’ll certainly take some time and experimentation to determine if this is a direction burn decks want to shift in, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if we saw builds like this featuring the likes of Dark Confidant if the format ever slows down and we see a resurgence of Ancestral Vision control decks.

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