Essential Magic Articles

Budget Building: Episode 1 - Burn

by Kevin Weber

I've always been a budget builder at heart.  Not merely because I don't want to invest a lot of money into the game, but because I jump from deck to deck every few weeks.  I'd guess you'd call me the "Tweak" of deckbuilding.  It's hard to spend more than $10 on a deck, only to scrap it less than a month later.

Currently in Standard, we've got some really efficient cheap burn: Rift Bolt (3 damage for 1 mana,) Incinerate (3 damage for 2 mana,) and with Morningtide we get Shard Volley (3 damage for 1 mana.)  Also, Red has a good way of filling up its hand: Wheel of Fate.  So, why not start out with a cheap red burn deck?

Some of the choices will be obvious - the three burn spells and the hand refiller.  But what are some other less obvious choices?


Basic 2 damage for 1 mana.

Blaze (1)/Disintegrate

Basic X damage for X+1 mana.  Blaze will be chosen preferred Disintegrate for budget reasons.

Fiery Temper/Ghostfire

3 damage for 3 mana.

Mudbutton Torchrunner/Emberwilde Augur

Nice burn... but conditional.  They rely an awful lot on what the opponent does, especially the Augur.  If they have any kill spells in their deck, they'd ordinarily be useless; if we put the Augur in, they'll just fry him before upkeep rolls around.

Sudden Shock

Inefficient, but with split second.  Probably not needed, since we're ignoring the opponent's creatures for the most part.

Surging Flame

Inefficient without the ripple.  What are the odds of missing the ripple?  Roughly 56/59 x 55/58 x 54/57 = 85%.  Which means that this spell will do an average of 2.3.  Still bad.

Giant's Ire/Lava Axe

Efficient player-only burn.  For short games, are usually better than Blaze.

Mogg Fanatic/Keldon Marauders

Yes, I know I said I was going to make a burn deck, not make Red Deck Wins.  Thing is, these two creatures *are* burn, and we don't particularly care whether the opponent kills them off.  Mogg Fanatic is, for all intents and purposes, burn for 1, with a one creature one turn fog effect.  Sure, it might be nice if he could attack turn 2, but we're not counting on it.  Keldon Marauders is 2 burn for 2, with another fog effect.  However, he can easily be worth five damage if played out on turn 2, because there aren't too many guys that will be able to be thrown in front of him on turn 3, and if he trades, all the better!

Needle Drop/Orcish Cannonade

These might be laughed at, simply for the low amount of damage they do for their cost.  The problem is, people don't take into account the cantrip mathetmatically.  In a burn deck, each card can basically be translated into damage.  If each card is worth an average of 1.5 damage, then a "Draw 2" spell is effectively worth 3 damage, because it will be snagging, on average, 3 damage worth of burn.  Our burn deck will probably have somewhere around 1.5-2.0 damage per card, which means that:

Needledrop reads: {R} - Deal 2.5 damage

Orcish Cannonade reads: {1}{R}{R} - Deal 3.5 damage to target player, and 3 damage to yourself


Oh, I know Browbeat doesn't get the love.  In fact, I can understand, because I often see people throw it into decks thinking "It'll either be Burn for 5! or Draw 3!"  Problem is, the opponent's going to pick which one of those two choices isn't the most useful - so I can definitely understand why a lot of good players get sick of seeing it in decklists where it doesn't belong.  Still, with the same math we used above, drawing three cards is likely going to be worth around 4.5-6 damage.  We know the "Burn for 5" will always be useful and worth including over any other card, so the question whether a card like the following would be useful:

Browbeat: Suspend 1 - {2}{R}.  Tap three mountains you control.  Deal 5 or 6 damage to target player.

Problem is, Browbeat is not a budget card, currently selling on sites like at $4.50.  I'm probably going to include it at first, but if I find a way to phase it out, I'll jump at it.

Last edited 3/17/2008 4:52:11 PM Page 1 of 8  Prev  Next  Go to page:

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