Throughout this article I’ll be referring to the deck I played at the RPTQ. You can find the entire list as well as my overall tournament report and a frank talk about mentality here.

Looking back at the RPTQ and playing Burn, there’s not much I’d change to the deck Mike Flores and I played. Playing only two colors instead of splashing for green was definitely a metagame call made when Mike designed the deck. When the vast majority of your opponents are looking to end games within the first four turns of the game, playing green in your Burn deck can be a heavy disadvantage since most games fetching for both Stomping Ground and Sacred Foundry leaves you at 14 life.

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Wild Nacatl still leaves me unimpressed. In addition to starting at a low life total just by playing this creature, it still just isn’t as powerful as other options. Playing another creature leaves you more vulnerable to your opponent’s removal spells and it’s vital to be consistent in putting through damage every turn. That being said, let’s look at the sideboard guide Mike and I discussed for the RPTQ.

After making the choice to play Red/White, we started off looking at our Naya Burn deck from over the summer as a base.

Naya Burn Sideboard:

4x Destructive Revelry

2x Path to Exile

3x Deflecting Palm

2x Lightning Helix

2x Searing Blood

2x Skullcrack

Without access to green, Skullcrack filled the role of Atarka’s Command. As a meta-call we replaced Grim Lavamancer with two Lightning Helix. We did have the option to play Smash to Smithereens since it filled a similar slot as Destructive Revelry, but decided against it. Going into the RPTQ, Dredge was looking to be one of the most popular decks and also one of our toughest matchups, so Relic of Progenitus took 4 slots just for the matchup. There were other options to be considered, such as Rest in Peace, but at 1-mana Relic of Progenitus is cheaper and can more easily trigger Monastery Swiftspear’s prowess.

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Infect was also one of the pressing decks we kept in mind when building the sideboard, and Sudden Shock was a clean answer to every threat they presented. What’s great about Sudden Shock is that it’s a versatile sideboard card, while being the best card to draw against Infect post-board. We were able to board it in other matches such as Affinity, the Burn Mirror, and U/R Prowess. Deflecting Palm and Path to Exile are sideboard staples for any Burn deck. Path and Palm play an important role in the “all-in” matchups, where you’re opponent is looking to end the game with a large buffed-up or double-striking creature, so they were fairly easy inclusions in our sideboard.

R/W Burn Sideboard:

2x Path to Exile

3x Deflecting Palm

3x Sudden Shock

3x Kor Firewalker

4x Relic of Progenitus

The last change we made to the sideboard after I had played my RPTQ was opting to pass on one copy of Kor Firewalker for Wear//Tear, just to have some an extra card against Affinity or any artifact prison deck.

The Sideboard Guide

Infect

Out:

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In:

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The important mindset to keep for this matchup is that Infect only has 12 creatures in their deck. It’s sometimes more important to bolt a turn 1 Glistener Elf than go face, it may end up giving you a lot more time in the matchup if they have a plethora of pump spells with no creature to target. It’s also important on the play to start off with Rift Bolt if blessed with one in your opening hand. This keeps them off of casting Glistener Elf turn 1 – keep ‘em honest. Boros Charm and Skullcrack are your worst cards here, since neither can target their creatures.

Burn

Out:

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In:

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I’m positive in the statement saying this is a good matchup. “Don’t get cocky,” Flores said. “They still can go wide and kill you with an Atarka’s Command.” R/W is at an advantage here, since we start out at a massive 18-19 life while our opponent starts at 14-15. This allows you to have some reach, and 4 copies of Lightning Helix and access to Kor Firewalker out of the board are also a big help. Just be mindful of their own Skullcrack and going wide with Atarka’s Command, and you should be fine.

You can be flexible in what you sideboard out in this matchup. Boros Charm is your weakest 2-mana burn spell, so it’s fine to board out all four. However, depending on the play or draw you can also board out Goblin Guide or Monastery Swiftspear since if they open up on the play with a fast Wild Nacatl or Goblin Guide draw, your 1-mana 1/2 haste starts to look really miserable.

Dredge

Out:

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In:

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I actually haven’t gotten to play against Dredge very much. The matchup seems pretty 50-50 and I like having four copies of Lightning Helix to provide some reach here. The main sideboard card to be wary of after boarding is Gnaw to the Bone and Collective Brutality, so keep Skullcrack prepared for those two spells.

Affinity

Out:

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In:

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This was one of the decks I lost to at the RPTQ. This matchup tends to be very draw-dependent and can go either way. It’s important to keep in mind when you need to point a burn spell at one of their creatures, versus trying to race them by pointing it at their face. For the most part, dedicating your mindset to pointing your burn spells at their face is what to do. Vault Skirge is definitely the most pressing threat they can have, since one attack with it paired with a Cranial Plating can undo multiple burn spells.

Jund/Abzan

Out:

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In:

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There’s not much sideboarding to be done against these decks. Path to Exile is the key to removing large creatures like Tarmogoyf and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, so it’ safe to board out a Lightning Helix and Searing Blaze. If you don’t see any Dark Confidant, however, Searing Blaze becomes very underwhelming, and if you feel it has no targets post-board, you may look to Relic of Progenitus or Deflecting Palm as an option to have instead of a dead card. Your creatures are also worse on the draw, since their deck is chocked full of removal and cards like Kitchen Finks and Anger of the Gods.

Tron

Out:

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In:  

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Tron is relatively a solid matchup since you can put in a lot of damage with your haste creatures early on in the game. With Tom Ross’ win with G/W Tron, there are a plethora of sideboard options Tron has to dealing with Burn, such as Blessed Alliance and Thragtusk. Most recently, Joe Loesset played a G/B variant of the deck with four Collective Brutality main! Cutting all your copies of Searing Blaze is a no-brainer, with your second worst burn spell being Lightning Helix. Path to Exile and Deflecting Palm are your only answers to Wurmcoil Engine, which if it gets in an attack can be lights out.

Bant Eldrazi

Out:

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In:

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This is another deck I have less experience playing against, but I feel the matchup is favored for Eldrazi. Thought-Knot Seer on turn three can be incredibly hard to deal with. Not only do they get to take your best burn spell, but they also put a 4/4 roadblock into play.

Closing Thoughts

R/W Burn is a joy to play. The deck is not only fast and consistent, but has game against all the major decks of the format. With the introduction of Inspiring Vantage, the case for R/W over Naya has many overpowering merits which make playing Stomping Ground and Sacred Foundry much worse. If you’re a fan of pointing Lightning Bolt at your opponent’s face, then definitely consider this deck for your next Modern event.

2016 has been a fantastic year, especially for Magic. Qualifying for my first RPTQ and working on a deck with Mike Flores was truly rewarding, and I’m grateful I had him to work on the deck and discuss sideboarding leading up to the event. Modern (and deckbuilding in general) are not my forte, but thanks to my Jedi master I was able to go into the event feeling confident. If I had to play in a Modern event tomorrow, I wouldn’t change a thing in the 75. As my second semester of Junior year in film school looms on the horizon, I’m slowly starting to realize how little time I’ll have in the spring to grind Magic events. No matter how busy I am, I know I’ll find myself at the local weekend PPTQs, fighting for my spot in the next RPTQ.

Happy Holidays!

Cheers

The new Ajani that is coming in Aether Revolt has a lot of players excited, but Austin Mansell believes it’ll fall short. Read why here.

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