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Legacy Building


Legacy can seem like a difficult format to get into, especially on a tight budget. With expensive and hard-to-find cards such as Force of Will in every deck, it can seem impossible to assemble a Legacy deck without breaking the bank. However, there are always options for budget players if you look hard enough. I've been doing some testing with a fun Legacy deck that's powerful enough to steal some games from the top contenders but that can be put together without spending a ton of money. And it doesn't require a single Force of Will!

Battle of Wits Zoo is . . . All right, it's an incredibly expensive deck. April fools! Here's a deck that might be a bit more palatable.

Okay, okay, that was the last one; I promise.

The truth is that if you want to get into Legacy on a very tight budget, you don't have a ton of options. However, there is at least one option, which I'll be talking about today: mono-red burn. This budget player's staple doesn't require any expensive dual lands, and most of the cards you'll need are commons and uncommons. Here's the list I've put together.

The Creatures

Hellspark Elemental
Goblin Guide is among the most aggressive creatures ever printed, often swinging for 2 before your opponent gets to take his first turn. The card advantage you might give your opponent is rarely significant since if things go remotely according to plan, he'll be dead before he has the chance to do much of anything.

Hellspark Elemental isn't as efficient as a lot of the other cards in the deck, but it does give you two chances. If your opponent doesn't have a way to block or kill your creature, it essentially gives you two copies of the spell with just the one card.

Spark Elemental does deal 3 damage for 1 mana, but its weakness to blockers and removal makes it significantly worse than the other Lightning Bolt variants. However, playing more than two copies of Shard Volley might make Fireblast less effective, so I included a pair of them.

The Burn

Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt, Lava Spike, and Rift Bolt are the core cards for this deck. Each of them deals 3 damage for only 1 mana, and with any seven spells that deal 3 damage, your opponent will be dead. The prevalence of fetch lands in the format will often make it even easier. Just 2 life from sacrificing Scalding Tarns and Verdant Catacombs is enough to cut your goal down to six spells.

Shard Volley is another three for one, but although sacrificing a land isn't much of a drawback for this deck—since it only requires 2 mana to operate—it can make it harder to assemble two Mountains for Fireblast.

For quite a long time, Incinerate has been a staple of burn decks, as there were just never quite enough good cards that dealt 3 damage for 1 mana. Thanks to Gatecrash, however, we have Skullcrack. It still hits your opponent for 3, but it tacks on the bonuses of stopping life-gain and preventing . . . prevention. Although Kitchen Finks isn't nearly as prevalent in Legacy as it is in Modern, you'll still see a Lightning Helix every once in a while, and Skullcrack can turn the Helix into a simple Searing Spear.

Flame Rift
Flame Rift deals 4 damage for just 2 mana. The fact that it hits you as well shouldn't be relevant much of the time—you should be faster than almost any other deck that's not killing you in a single turn.

Price of Progress is an amazing card in Legacy. Dual lands are a staple of the format, and most decks play quite a few of them to support three colors. Casting Price of Progress often feels like cheating, with your opponent taking 6 or 8 damage and you taking none at all.

Fireblast lets you finish off your opponent even when you have no mana left. This is a card that will kill your opponent even when he's sure he's safe. With just two lands in play, you can potentially take your opponent from 10 to 0 in a single turn with a pair of Lightning Bolt variants and a Fireblast.

Barbarian Ring can serve as a last-minute damage source if your opponent isn't quite dead yet. Taking 2 or 3 damage from the land isn't much of a downside, and since the only other drawback is that it can't be used to cast Fireblast, it seems like a pair of these would be fine.

The Sideboard

Smash to Smithereens
Smash to Smithereens is my favorite sideboard card ever. I played mono-red burn in the old seven-year Extended format, and I was always overjoyed to sideboard in this card. It's pretty much a straight upgrade to Incinerate in a burn deck, giving you the same 3 damage for 2 mana, but tacking on the ability to destroy one of your opponent's permanents. Although Skullcrack was a nice upgrade to Incinerate as well, this card is far more powerful against any deck that will have an artifact on the board much of the time.

Faerie Macabre gives you some graveyard hate that doesn't require mana, which is key for this deck. Although it does take the slot of a valuable burn spell, you'll often be setting your opponent back far enough by discarding it that you can more than make up for the lost damage.

Pyroblast is mostly here to deal with Chill, a devastating card against burn decks. With this deck relying so heavily on everything costing 1 or 2 mana, taking on an extra 2 mana to all your spells is the equivalent of a giant ball and chain. Pyroblast can counter Chill for only 1 mana—or, if you somehow miss the opportunity, you can still destroy it for 3.

Pyrostatic Pillar will deal a lot of damage to you, but it absolutely destroys many different combo decks. The Eggs combo will kill its user before it kills you, and any deck planning on ramping up with rituals or winning with a storm spell will find the Pillar nearly impossible to work around.

Play Primer

Rift Bolt
Since this is a deck I have some experience with, I'll be giving you some tips to play the deck at peak efficiency in lieu of the usual playtesting.

Burn is often touted as the easiest deck ever to play. In fact, the fact that burn requires no skill is so widely known that most people play the deck very badly. Although the deck isn't among the more skill-testing decks in the format, players will make an enormous number of mistakes playing it because they assume it doesn't matter. This is false, and it will make you lose more games than you have to.

The most important thing to know when playing burn is sequencing. The order in which you cast your spells is often crucial, and it can make the difference between winning and losing. Fortunately, you can keep a list in your head that will help you make the correct decisions most of the time. Just don't rely on it so heavily that you forget to take into account things such as whether your opponent might have a Path to Exile for your Hellspark Elemental.

+3 – Goblin Guide: If this will deal 2 damage to your opponent, cast it. Now. As soon as your opponent slams down a Knight of the Reliquary, that isn't going to happen anymore.

+2 – Spark Elemental, Hellspark Elemental: A big enough Tarmogoyf or Knight of the Reliquary can shut these guys down quite effectively, so you'll want to cast them before that becomes an issue.

+1 – Rift Bolt: You'll have to wait a turn for this one, so suspend it before using the mana for any of your other burn spells. You never know when your opponent might pay some life or you might top-deck a Fireblast, so don't be forced to give your opponent another turn while you wait for that time counter to come off.

0 – Lightning Bolt, Lava Spike, Flame Rift: These just do damage, so cast them pretty much whenever.

−X – Skullcrack, Shard Volley: These fluctuate depending on both your opponent's deck and your game state. Against most decks, Skullcrack will be a 0, but if your opponent is playing the Griselbrand/Children of Korlis combo, you'll want to wait until the opportune moment. Even a play set of Lightning Helix can bump it down to −1. Shard Volley is a −1 if you have three Mountains, but if you only have two lands, it's going to be a −3.

−2 – Price of Progress: Price of Progress is one you'll generally want to hold onto as long as possible since your opponent will most likely be playing more nonbasic lands, allowing you to deal more damage to him. Against blue decks, you'll often want to take the opportunity if your opponent taps out, however, since resolving this spell can often be key to winning, whereas your other spells are fairly interchangeable.

−4 – Barbarian Ring: The Ring isn't actually a great source of damage, so you'll usually only be activating it if you have nothing better to do.

−5 – Fireblast: This should be the very last spell you cast. If your opponent is not going to die to that 4 damage, just don't cast it.

If you're looking for an inexpensive way to get into Legacy, give this deck a try. I found it surprisingly fun to play—despite the rumored lack of decision-making in the deck's construction. Playing burn is almost like drag racing. Sure, there aren't going to be a lot of exciting twists and turns, but just seeing who gets there first can be pretty entertaining.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can find me on the forums under Twinblaze, on Twitter under @MTGCannon, or simply leave a comment below.

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