Arctic_Ghost's picture
By: Arctic_Ghost, Arctic_Ghost
Jan 11 2022 12:12pm

Ah yes, good old faithful Burn. A combo deck in disguise. What is the combo you ask? The combo is you play 7 spells (ideally your opponent has not gained any life) that deal 3 or more damage to your opponent and take them from 20 to 0 as quickly as possible.

The interesting thing about Burn is that is isn’t actually an easy deck to play. You have to know how to sequence your spells correctly and do a lot of precise math. Searing Blaze is also a big way of beating aggro decks and you have to know when to and when not to make a land drop. Burn can actually be quite challenging to play and very rewarding to win with. Especially in Pauper because you don’t have a spell like Skullcrack.

The list we will be looking at today was piloted by the player Niedzwiedz to a 17th place finish in the Pauper challenge that took place on 12/17/2021. I won’t ramble on any further and waste any more time. Let’s get right into it!

Ghitu Lavarunner – Burn gains a lot of power from having a repeatable damage source, especially one that is cheap. This is the best you can ask for in the 1 drop slot since it regularly will have 2 power and they will most likely have haste if you draw them later.

Voldaren Epicure – This is an interesting one. It deals 1 damage when it comes in and every single point of damage will matter, keep that in mind. More importantly, something that Burn lacks is card draw. In other formats such as Modern, you have more powerful cards such as Boros Charm to make up for the lack of card draw because your top decks are better. In Pauper however, while you have plenty of powerful burn, you have to deal with a ton of anti Burn cards like Hydroblast and Weather the Storm. Being able to draw cards in this format as a Burn deck is pretty huge even if it is just a simple cycling of a land.

Just as a note, this list does not have Thermo-Alchemist. Alchemist is a big way of winning the game extremely quickly if it lives. I am not sure if Epicure is directly replacing it here, but I am unsure if cutting Alchemist entirely is a good thing in the long run. I like Alchemist over Lavarunner personally as there will be a point in the game where Lavarunner stops doing damage and against control matchups where there might not be a blocker in the way of Lavarunner, Alchemist has the potential to do more damage in the long run anyway. These are just my opinions.

Lightning Bolt, Lava Spike, Chain Lightning – Here are you main Bolt spells of the deck. Never play less than 4 in the main deck in my opinion. There might be matchups where you side out a few copies of Chain lightning or Lava Spike, but I would always start with 4.

Rift Bolt – Although it costs 3 mana, it costs only 1 to Suspend it. You gotta make due with what we have to work with.

Skewer the Critics – Although it costs 3 mana, you can easily cast it for its Spectacle costs regularly, giving you another Lightning Bolt type of spell.

Flame Rift and Fireblast – Here are your big finishers of the deck. With Fireblast, you have to be sure you can afford to cast it because you don’t have much mana to work with in this deck and you have to make sure it is going to resolve. Against blue decks, if you have a window where it can resolve, I would almost always cast it because 4 damage is a ton for this deck to deal. Flame Rift is easier to cast, but you have to be careful with your life total as it does also hit you.

Searing Blaze – A fantastic card against any creature based aggro deck. It is a removal spell and a Bolt all in 1 card. Make sure you don’t always play your lands out as you do need to trigger landfall for this spell to be at its best.

Reckless Impulse – Now we have a Light up the Stage in Pauper. As I said earlier, Burn lacks card draw (it also lacks a Skullcrack effect. Hint hint wizards) and this is perfect. I am fairly certain this deck will be a big card in Burn moving forward. I could however easily be wrong. I think this basically replaces Curse of the Pierced Heart and I am not sure that playing 0 Curses is correct, but I do think that Reckless Impulse is a better card.

The manabase is nothing special. Just 17 mountains and there you go. I have always seen Burn players play Forgotten Cave and I personally hate it. I hate that you can’t sack it to Fireblast and it comes into play tapped. I have lost games because it enters tapped. Now with the addition of Reckless Impulse, you don’t need it.

The Sideboard

Keldon Marauders – Against control decks such as Tron or the midrange decks, this is a great card to have. It has the potential to be 5 damage for 2 mana and at the very least can get in 2 points of damage and save you some life, allowing for more draw phases. I am not a big fan of it against aggro because I think it will rarely get in and a Bolt effect is just better. However I am no expert and could easily be wrong.

Martyr of Ashes – One of my favorite cards. Every deck can use a board wipe, this is a great one.

Molten Rain – Everyone loves Tron.

Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast – Here is a good way to help force through your big spells and win the game.

Smash to Smithereens – There are plenty of decks that use a lot of artifacts to their advantage. This is a great way to deal with them and deal 3 damage in the process. Against a Midrange deck where they play the indestructible lands but not many targets for Searing Blaze, this is an easy swap in my opinion. Keep in mind, Smash does not say it has to actually destroy the artifact to deal damage, it just needs to resolve. You can target a copy of Drossforge Bridge and it will deal the damage, it just won’t destroy the land.

Verdict and Conclusion

Ah good old Burn. It is simple and yet can be challenging to play. It can also be built in a few different ways, making it quite fun to toy around with. It is one of the oldest decks in Pauper and to this day, it is still a top contender that puts up plenty of results.

I really like this style of building burn with all the extra card draw added in. However, again I am not sure if cutting Thermo-Alchemist entirely is the correct move. I can see merit for it though because it does not have immediate impact and sometimes just eats removal. This is where Voldaren Epicure can shine because it can get in 2-3 damage and draw you a card, which means it can always be relevant. Time will tell for me on this one.

Do I think you should play this deck? Yes I do. Maybe not this list in particular (meta games can change week by week), but Burn in general will always be good in the format. Is it guaranteed to put up solid results consistently? That depends on what you consider a solid result. To me, I think Burn can top 16 or better challenges with proper play and some luck. I also think Burn can bring you quite a bit of 3-2s and better in leagues. Burn is also great at teaching you proper sequencing, proper math and can teach you how to play around answers your opponent may have.

Weather the Storm and Circle of Protection: Red are your worst nightmares. Circle can be faulted by Flaring Pain, but there is not answer to Weather the Storm except fighting through it. However, Burn still does well despite cards like Weather the Storm being in the format.

However, with all this being said, as always, do remember my words are not gospel. I will always encourage you to try a deck that I bring you despite my personal feelings. Remember that results will vary and always remember to practice!

Would you like to compete in a free Pauper tournament with some great prizes? Head on over to on Tuesday nights at 8pm EDT and play in our weekly Pauper Classic Tuesday's event! Join the chat #PCT to chat with us and feel free to find most of the competitors on Discord!

Thank you so much for reading. Best of luck to you in your next tournament and I’ll catch you all next time!