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Budget Magic: 15-Rare Burn (Historic)

Howdy, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we're heading to Historic (which I've really been enjoying lately, for some reason) for the first time in a while, to burn our opponents out! Burn decks in Historic have gotten some really powerful new toys lately, including Dragon's Rage Channeler, Static Discharge, Electrostatic Blast, and Frenzied Geistblaster. Is it time for a 15-rare (zero-mythic) build of Burn to compete in the format? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: 15-Rare Burn

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The Deck

Fifteen-Rare Burn, like pretty much every burn deck throughout Magic's history, has one goal: sling a bunch of burn spells at its opponent's face and hopefully get their life total down to zero as quickly as possible. While most of our deck is burn spells, we do have a few creatures to help support our game plan.

The Creatures

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We kick things off with three one-drops. Both Ghitu Lavarunner and Soul-Scar Mage are just really solid Turn 1 plays in a deck overloaded with spells, with Ghitu Lavarunner turning into a 2/2 with haste as early as Turn 2 and Soul-Scar Mage getting large thanks to prowess as we sling burn spells. The real all-star here though is Dragon's Rage Channeler. While turning into a 3/3 flier is nice, the true power of DRC is its ability to surveil every time we cast a non-creature spell. One of the easiest ways to lose with a burn deck is to draw too many lands and not enough burn spells. Dragon's Rage Channeler goes a long way toward solving this problem once it's on the battlefield, by allowing us to surveil away extra lands in search of more burn spells and creatures to close out the game.

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Speaking of flood-out protection, our last creature is a new Alchemy addition in Frenzied Geistblaster. While the card has a lot of random text, it's essentially a 2/2 for prowess for two (already a fine creature in a deck with 30 spells) that allows us to discard a card when it enters the battlefield (an extra land, perhaps) to tutor a random instant or sorcery from our library into our hand. Outside of four copies of Light Up the Stage, every instant and sorcery in our deck is a burn spell, which means Frenzied Geistblaster should almost always find us a burn spell with its enters-the-battlefield trigger, making it a great way to turn an extra land into some damage.

The Burn

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Two damage for one mana isn't a super-exciting rate (although it's not really that bad in Historic since we don't have cards like Lava Spike and Lightning Bolt), although both Pillar of Flame and Play with Fire do have some upsides, with Pillar of Flame potentially being able to exile a recursive threat like Skyclave Shade, Cauldron Familiar, or basically anything in a Lurrus of the Dream-Den deck, while Play with Fire gives us a Shock that can also scry an extra land out of the way if we throw it at our opponent's face.

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I mentioned a moment ago that we don't have Lightning Bolt in Historic. While this is true, we do get Lightning Bolts with extra steps, like Skewer the Critics and Wizard's Lightning. While we do need to jump through a hoop to get their cost down to just one mana (making our opponent lose life for Skewer the Critics and controlling a Wizard for Wizard's Lightning, which we have 12 of in all), the upside of often getting three damage for a single mana is huge.

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Static Discharge is a weird one. The first copy is pretty bad, being a sorcery-speed Lightning Strike (and real Lightning Strike didn't make the cut in our deck). But since each additional copy we cast gets +1 damage, the second one is basically a Boros Charm, the third is a two-mana Lava Axe, and the fourth, should we draw it, offers an epic six damage for just two mana, which makes it worth running over something like literal Lightning Strike, which starts off slightly better but lacks any additional upside.

Card Advantage

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As we talked about before, one of the easiest ways to lose with a Burn deck is by flooding out and drawing too many lands. While one way we can avoid this is with card filtering, like Dragon's Rage Channeler and Frenzied Geistblaster, another option is to just brute-force draw extra cards to churn through our deck. For this, we have Light Up the Stage, which is basically a one-mana draw two with a bit of a timing restriction, and another new Alchemy addition in Electrostatic Blast, which is super powerful, giving us a two-mana Shock that also turns into a temporary Anticipate when we cast our next instant or sorcery spell. Together, these cards allow us to chain together a bunch of spells (and damage) in the same turn to help close out the game.

The Mana

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There's one last way we can avoid the traditional flood-out problem of Burn: playing lands that deal damage! While our deck technically has 18 total lands, only 10 of those lands are just Mountains, with the rest being weird burn spells. Spikefield Hazard is quickly becoming one of my favorite cards across formats, including Historic. In 15-Rare Burn, it offers a bit of damage; another spell to trigger prowess on Soul-Scar Mage and Frenzied Geistblaster; and a way to pick off popular Historic threats like Cauldron Familiar, Brazen Borrower, and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, among others. Meanwhile, if the worst happens and we do flood out, Ramunap Ruins allows us to cash in some of our extra lands for damage. 

The Sideboard

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In general, our sideboard is pretty straightforward. We have Soul-Guide Lantern for graveyard hate, Brittle Blast and Burning Hands to answer bigger creatures that our main-deck burn spells struggle with, and Roiling Vortex and Tibalt, Rakish Instigator as lifegain hate. These last two cards are especially important because lifegain decks are always super popular on Magic Arena for some reason, and we'd have very little chance to beat the Righteous Valkyries and Sorin, Imperious Bloodlords of the format without them.


All in all, we went 4-2 with 15-Rare Burn in Historic, and the deck felt really solid in general. Both of our losses came to dedicated lifegain decks (Angels and the most lifegain-heavy Vampire deck I've ever seen, with cards like Gifted Aetherborn and Nighthawk Scavenger), which makes sense. Even with our sideboard lifegain hate, beating dedicated lifegain decks is really, really hard with Burn. We have a chance if we have a Tibalt or Roiling Vortex early in the game, but it becomes much harder to win if our opponent can gain even a little bit of life. Our average draw step is worth somewhere around two damage, which means it's likely to take us three additional turns to win the game if our opponent can gain 5 life, which gives our opponent a ton of time to build a big board and beat us down before we can get their life total to zero.

As far as changes to make to the budget build of 15-Rare Burn now that we've played some games with it, I'm not sure there are any. The main deck felt great, and while the sideboard can be adjusted based on the meta, if I were going to record with 15-Rare Burn today, I'd run back the exact same build we played in the video.

So, should you play 15-Rare Burn in Historic? I think the answer is yes. Historic is a really difficult format for budget decks. Many tier decks have more rare wildcards in just their mana base than we have in our entire deck! Fifteen-Rare Burn felt like one of the rare Historic budget decks that is actually competitive enough to compete with the top tier of the meta and grind up the ladder on Arena. If you like dealing lots of damage and slinging spells and don't mind spending a few wildcards on Alchemy cards, 15-Rare Burn seems like a really solid budget option for the format!

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Fifteen-Rare Burn is a really tricky deck to build in ultra-budget format. Technically, it's possible to build a Historic burn deck with literally zero rares or mythics, although I'm not sure how strong the build would be. While we get to keep almost all of our burn spells, we do lose some of our best flood-out protection, and our one-drops become weaker, with Fanatical Firebrand replacing Soul-Scar Mage. While I expect that the ultra-budget build can still win some games when things go well, it will likely be a bit less consistent over the long run. That said, it does seem like a good enough starting point (especially for unranked play) if you're looking to save up some wildcards to finish the deck.

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Finally, for our non-budget build, we splash into white to play Boros Burn. The biggest reason to add white to the deck is to improve the sideboard. In fact, the nonland cards in our main deck are mostly unchanged, other than Lightning Helix joining our burn package over Pillar of Flame. On the other hand, our sideboard gets a big overhaul, with Rip Apart giving us a way to deal with artifacts, enchantments, and small creatures; Rest in Peace upgrading our graveyard hate; Declaration in Stone exiling anything; and Hushbringer helping against enters-the-battlefield triggers. All in all, this is a meaningful upgrade to the deck, although it does come at a cost because splashing into a second color requires eight rare dual lands in the mana base, although I do think it's the best version of the deck if price and wildcards aren't concerns.


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive, or at

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