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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Dec 18 2014 12:00pm
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Welcome to another Becoming A Modern Man!  I've been away for some time but I'm back with a look at a Jeskai Burn deck played by Shahar Shenhar at the World Championship.  However, first I have a bit of an aside that I want to deal with.

The State of Modern
A lot of things have changed in Modern since I last wrote an article which I thought would be worth addressing before I start my article.  Khans of Tarkir has had a much bigger impact on Modern than I had anticipated.  The biggest card to come out of the set for Modern is of course Treasure Cruise which has been a big game changer for the format. 

Treasure Cruise

A spell that can draw you three cards for as little as a single blue mana in a format that is very good at filling it's graveyard is extremely powerful.  Too powerful?  Perhaps - particularly when you consider Ancestral Vision is banned in Modern but we'll have to see how things play out.

Other big players from Khans of Tarkir include:
Dig Through TimeJeskai AscendancyMonastery Swiftspear
Dig Through Time is another powerful draw spell, usually preferred by the combo decks because of its instant speed and card selection capabilities.  Jeskai Ascendancy is a card that has had a lot of people worried - a very powerful combo card that is very difficult to interact with.  As of yet I haven't played with or against the deck nearly enough to assess how dangerous it really is but certainly in the abstract it is a scary prospect.  Finally, we have Monastery Swiftspear which has become Goblin Guide and Delver of Secrets new best friend in various aggro decks.

Overall, Khans has done a lot to shake up Modern, for better or worse.  I can see why people have concerns about things that have been introduced, particularly the very powerful Delve-based draw spells.  I am very interested to see how this will all pan out and whether we will see bannings in the near future.


So let's get back down to it shall we.  The deck I want to look at in this article is as follows:

Jeskai Burn
2014 World Championship Modern Deck by Shahar Shenhar
4 Goblin Guide
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Monastery Swiftspear
12 cards

Other Spells
4 Rift Bolt
4 Lava Spike
4 Treasure Cruise
4 Boros Charm
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Mutagenic Growth
2 Skullcrack
2 Searing Blaze
28 cards
4 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Arid Mesa
3 Wooded Foothills
2 Steam Vents
2 Bloodstained Mire
2 Sacred Foundry
20 cards

Monastery Swiftspear

There are a lot of decks I was interested in trying out in the current Modern, however, to ease myself back in I thought this Burn deck would be a good place to start.  Primarily this is a Mono-Red Burn deck, however, it is splashing white for Boros Charm and blue for the aforementioned Treasure Cruise.

I don't feel it's really necessary to go through the whole deck card by card as I've covered a Burn deck fairly recently when looking at the arrival of Eidolon of the Great Revel.  Also, the holy trinity of one-mana burn spells, Lightning Bolt, Lava Spike and Rift Bolt, don't really require much explanation.  However, I think it is worth spotlighting the new and unusual cards in the deck.

Monastery Swiftspear
Monastery Swiftspear
Monastery Swiftspear is a very powerful new one-drop that has been widely adopted by aggro decks in Modern.  Although it may look unassuming, the large amount of cheap spells in Modern means that Swiftspear hits very hard and very fast.  The Prowess ability can also help you protect your Swiftspear by using instant speed burn to power up its toughness.

Boros Charm
Boros Charm
We are splashing white in this deck for Boros Charm.  Charm is a very powerful spell with multiple uses but here you'll generally just be sending 4 damage to the dome.  Honestly, I don't think the white splash is essential in this deck but given that you are running extra fetches to power your Treasure Cruise I think Charm is a strong addition and 2-mana for 4 damage is very hard to argue with.

Mutagenic Growth
Mutagenic Growth
Mutagenic Growth is perhaps the most questionable inclusion in the list.  It certainly has its uses and is pretty awesome with Monastery Swiftspear, and Geist of Saint Traft out of the sideboard, but I'm not sure that really merits it being a four-of in this deck.  I have yet to be convinced by this card.

Treasure Cruise
Treasure Cruise
I feel like I've already said a lot about this card but obviously it is very powerful and easily splashed.  Burn decks are often looking for ways to restock their hands and Treasure Cruise is a great card to do just that.  Your graveyard tends to stack up quickly in this deck thanks to fetchlands and your various cheap burn spells which makes getting a discount on your Cruise very easy.  Well worth splashing blue for in my opinion.

Bloodstained MireWooded FoothillsArid MesaScalding Tarn
Often the advantage of playing a Burn deck is that you can just play Mountains and don't have to worry too much about your manabase.  Here things are a bit different.  We are running 12 Fetchlands that no only help us splash two colours with relative ease but also importantly help us get a discount on Treasure Cruise.


Geist of Saint Traft
Geist of Saint Traft
Geist is the real standout card in the deck's sideboard.  It's quite unusual to sideboard a card that crosses two splashed colours, primarily because you risk putting yourself in a position where you won't be able to cast it.  Is Geist worth it?  I guess that's debatable.  Personally I really like it.  Geist can be a really dominating force on the table particularly if your opponent isn't expecting it.  It also opens a new route to victory if your opponent drops a Leyline of Sanctity or something else that makes burning your path to victory less viable.

I'm a bit out of practice using the new client but it looks like replays are now working properly which I like.  Although there are advantage to live commentary I think I still prefer going over replays as it allows me take a bit of extra time and also means I can process the videos a lot faster.

I don't usually do video deck techs as I prefer the written word but hear I've quickly gone over the deck and some of the exciting cards in the list.  The list I am using differs very slightly from Shahar's due to the cards that were available to me but not in any truly significant ways.

Our first matchup is against Splinter Twin.  I haven't heard a lot of talk about Twin since Khans became legal so I am not entirely sure how well it is positioned against the Modern field these days.  However, it is still a very powerful deck and once that has gained significantly from the addition of Dig Through Time.  This matchup was very close.  Really we are just racing to beat them before they can combo off but they do have disruption that can take you off your game.  Exarch is very difficult to kill but Combust out of the sideboard can help in that regard.

Our second match is against RG Tron.  Tron is a deck that really hasn't changed much for a long time but it remains very powerful and potent.  Generally we should be fast enough to beat Tron but it is still very capable of blistering starts and early Karns.  Wurmcoil Engine is probably our biggest fear in their deck because that kind of lifegain is just too much to handle.  Skullcrack does a great job of negating that though as you can see in the games.

Our third matchup is against GW Hexproof.  Hexproof is an interesting deck and one that can be very difficult to combat if they put a good hand together.  Daybreak Coronet is the real card to look out for as it will allow them to gain an absurd amount of life while also hitting you very hard.  However, if they don't really get things together properly, as in this match, you can usually out race them fairly handily.

Our fourth match is against the dreaded Jeskai Ascendancy deck.  Our opponent was playing a rather interesting take on the deck integrating a more token-based strategy with Young Pyromancer.  The speed of our deck feels like our main advantage here, also Eidolon of the Great Revel really shines here as a way of preventing them going off.

Overall I've been reasonably impressed with this deck.  Treasure Cruise is definitely a very solid addition to the traditional burn decks as being able to draw three cards is just so powerful in this type of deck.  In terms of how the deck shapes up against the rest of the field, I don't think it would be my deck of choice.  I just feel like there are far more powerful things that you can be doing and this deck doesn't kill quite fast enough to make it a preferred option.

Before I go I also wanted to speak about another exciting development for Modern:

Modern Masters 2015
At the World Championship, we got the exciting announcement that there is going to be a Modern Masters 2015 released on 22nd May 2015 in paper and online on 29th May 2015.

We don't have a ton of information about the set just yet but we do know that it will include cards from sets between Mirrodin and New Phyrexia.  In terms of what that adds that we didn't get first time round, Wizards have also been able to draw from Zendikar Block, Scars of Mirrodin Block, M10 and M11.  So far it has been confirmed that Emrakul, the Aeons Torn will be in the set and also we have got new art for Etched Champion.   So it looks like Metalcraft is likely to be a thing in Modern Masters 2015.

In terms of the chase cards that we can hope to see reprinted.  Let's take a look at a few:
Mox OpalKarn LiberatedBatterskullSpellskiteElesh Norn, Grand CenobiteInkmoth NexusCelestial ColonnadeGoblin Guide
I'm a little disappointed that they haven't included more new sets in the remit of the new Modern Masters set but there are still some potential reprints to get excited about.  There is also the opportunity to reprint some cards that missed out on the original Modern Masters treatment, such as Remand and Bitterblossom as two potential examples off the top of my head.  Certainly there is a lot to speculate on in terms of how prices may change as the set comes closer to release and think prices on Mox Opals has already begun to drop.

There has been some discussion about whether they are going to include the Zendikar fetchlands in Modern Masters 2015.  I have to say I don't think that is very likely to happen given that Khans of Tarkir has been released so recently.  Fetchlands are in very high demand in general but I think the reprinting of the Onslaught Fetchlands in Khans has reduced that demand considerably.  As such I think Wizards are more likely to wait for a time when reprinting the Zendikar Fetchlands would be a more novel selling point.

Exciting times and I like that Modern Masters has become more than a one-time thing, though the success of the original made that very likely.  Also, anything that pushes down the prices of Modern staples makes me happy.

That's everything for this article.  I hope you enjoyed the article as much as I enjoyed getting back down to playing some Magic and writing again.  I feel like I am always promising more content each time I write an article but I have to say that I am much happier with the state of MTGO now than I was over the past few months.  Hopefully I will get round to trying out some of the new exciting stuff that has been brought to Modern by Khans.

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)


I sure hope batterskull gets by ScionOfJustice at Thu, 12/18/2014 - 17:32
ScionOfJustice's picture

I sure hope batterskull gets a reprint. Who wants to pay $40 for an equipment?

I've always seen burn decks by Joe Fiorini at Thu, 12/18/2014 - 20:23
Joe Fiorini's picture

I've always seen burn decks online run four skullcrack main and sometimes a couple flames of the bloodhand. I'm surprised that shenhar only ran a 2/2 md/sb split with skullcrack, but I assume he was thinking that at worlds there wouldn't be as much life gain.

I know that I've played against burn a lot with tron, and I lost many a game even playing a wurmcoil engine ON THE PLAY. Turn one goblin guide plus they ALWAYS have the skullcrack against me. I side in two thragtusk, as you're much more likely to get the five life off that card. Most burn opponents arent holding up skullcrack and mana to play it. They are expecting to use it the turn after you hit over six mana.

I find the lifegain from kitchen finks to be the best remedy.

Nice work on the article. I've enjoyed your writing for a while, and have missed the modern content. It's my favorite format, until I can afford legacy or vintage at least.

Thanks for the comments by olaw at Sat, 12/20/2014 - 05:14
olaw's picture

Thanks for the comments guys.

I agree that I would be happy to see Batterskull reprinted. It's a card I would really like but I don't like the price tag.

Skullcrack is a card that I'm not always super excited by but given that life gain is such a beating for a Burn strategy it is nice. I could certainly see upping the numbers to 4, probably what I would do while cutting the Mutagenic Growths. Thragtusk is nice sideboard tech for Tron against Burn, not something I would be necessarily expecting. Kitchen Finks is also great against burn, particularly as it can trade with any two of their creatures pretty much while also gaining you that extra life.