Arctic_Ghost's picture
By: Arctic_Ghost, Arctic_Ghost
Jun 22 2023 9:59am

In today’s Pauper meta, the Kuldotha Red archetype is one of the most played decks and has become the go to mono red deck for the most part. However, the does not stop people from picking up the old school version of the Burn archetype because not only is it still very good, but it can also be built in a way to have a good matchup against Kuldotha Red and other archetypes as well.

The list we will talk about today got 8th place in the Pauper challenge that took place on 5/28/2023 and was piloted by the player Mahers. Mahers is a Pauper Classic Tuesday’s regular and it makes me extremely happy to see them do well in a challenge with a sweet looking list. Let’s Rock!

Monastery Swiftspear – Swiftspear is basically the mascot of Burn. If you are playing Burn, you should have 4 of this creature in the main deck.

Thermo-Alchemist – The second mascot for the deck. While Alchemist can lead to extremely fast wins, it isn’t the most powerful creature and costs 2 mana. You really only need to see 1 early in the game.

Kessig Flamebreather – Long ago, Burn used to play Firebrand Archer because of its passive effect and it can attack for a fair amount of damage. These days however, it is easily outclassed. Flamebreather has the same passive effect, but can also block well and can kill 1 toughness creatures in combat. What Flamebreather does is help Burn buy time by blocking well and any MTG veteran knows that getting 1 or 2 extra draw steps can make all the difference in any game.

Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning – Here are 2 staples of the Burn archetype. You may see builds that have 3 Chain Lightning, but usually its 4 of each.

Lava Dart – This can kill 2 creatures and gives 2 triggers of Prowess for Swiftspear.

End the Festivities – I am very happy to see this card being in the main deck and I don’t think we see it often enough. Although it only deals 1 damage to the opponent, the fact that it is a board wipe is extremely powerful in today’s meta. One thing that can hold Burn back is needing to use a burn spell on a creature because it sets you back a lot. End the Festivities can help tremendously against a good amount of decks you will face.

Searing Blaze – Another staple of the archetype. However, unlike the version of Burn we see in Modern, we don’t have access to fetch lands here, so Searing Blaze isn’t the easiest to turn on and I like seeing 3 copies here.

Reckless Impulse and Wrenn’s Resolve – We may not have Skullcrack, but we do have card draw. I wouldn’t fault anyone for shaving a couple of copies for a bit more burn, but I personally like having 8 draw spells. One thing Burn players have an issue with is flood and/or running out of gas. Playing these 8 draw spells give Burn a way to rely a little less on luck and actually map out a game plan.

Experiment Synthesizer – More card draw and it can give you a creature to attack with. You don’t have any combos with this card, but its still powerful on its own.

Fireblast – This is your finisher and I love seeing only 1 copy because you only ever need 1. If you need to point this at a creature, chances are you are probably losing anyway so having only 1 copy is just fine.

The Manabase for burn is as basic as it gets. 17 mountains and 1 land that can dig a card deep. I love seeing The Autonomous Furnace over Forgotten Cave because with Cave, although it costs 1 mana to draw a card as opposed to 2, if you need it for mana you just lose the card draw. With Furnace, you get access to both mana and card draw. I think Furnace is just better.

The Sideboard

Gorilla Shaman and Shattering Blow – No one likes you Affinity.

Raze – You don’t need a lot of land to function with Burn and Raze being 1 mana compared to Molten Rain being 3 is pretty huge when you are trying to resolve as many spells as possible in 1 turn. Having access to land destruction can be quite helpful against a decent amount of archetypes other than Tron. I have seen players use Raze against Ponza and Familiars for example to destroy their lands with enchantments on them or their bounce lands. I can’t say whether or not this is a fool proof plan however.

Relic of Progenitus – Graveyard hate is always a good thing to have access to.

Verdict and Final Thoughts

Burn is an archetype that is here to say in some shape, way or form and that goes for just about every format in Magic’s history. Its simple, but rewards players who put the time and practice in to learn proper sequencing, do proper math and as we have seen in Pauper, good deck building.

Burn has one main issue throughout MTG history, which is that it relies on top decks a bit more than any other archetype. You make up for this by having tons of live draws because of how fast and just generally how the archetype works. In Pauper however, another issue it has is not having access to something like Skullcrack. This means that if your opponent can gain 6-12 life, the game becomes extremely hard to win.

I like this type of burn list a lot because it has so much card draw and burst damage potential. Instead of having extra burn like Flame Rift, you have Lava Dart to play a bit of a control game and combo with Swiftspear to still hit for 3. I also like the 8 draw spells because now it gives you a chance to see so much of your deck which also means lands are not necessarily a dead draw. It would still help if we had a dang Skullcrack in the format.

Do I think you should play this deck? My answer to that is Burn will always be good in Pauper. Will it win every tournament you play in? No it will not, but it will give you a damn good chance at doing it. Cards like Weather the Storm can still be extremely rough, but Burn still puts up results regardless so it isn’t hopeless. The list for today won’t work in every meta, but currently while decks like Faeries and Kuldotha Red are popular, it is a good way to attack the current meta game as of writing this article.

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!