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Budget Magic: $27 (38 tix) Flaming Wizard Burn (Standard)


Dydh da, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! When a new set is released, one thing I usually try to do is build at least one extremely cheap deck. While our normal $100 budget works well for most people, some people just want the absolutely cheapest playable deck possible for things like Game Day and store championships. As such, we're playing one of the cheapest Budget Magic decks we've ever had this week, with the mashup of The Flame of Keld, Wizards, and burn spells that I'm calling Flaming Wizard Burn coming in at just $27 in paper! The idea of the deck is pretty simple: we play a million one-drops, including some Wizards; we back this up with the best burn in Standard (including Wizard's Lightning); and then we use The Flame of Keld to refill our hand and hopefully force through lethal damage. Can an amazingly cheap burn deck work in Dominaria Standard? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Flaming Wizard Burn (Standard)

The Deck

Flaming Wizard Burn, much as its name suggests, is a Burn deck. While there are some similarities to Mono-Red Aggro, apart from The Flame of Keld and the price, the biggest thing that makes Flaming Wizard Burn different is that it's significantly more spell heavy than the creature-based mono-red decks. While we still have a handful of one-drops as creatures, they are mostly there to get in some early damage (and also turn our Wizard's Lightning into Lightning Bolt), while we're much more likely to finish the game by throwing burn spells at our opponent's face than by beating down with creatures. 

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The namesake The Flame of Keld is the centerpiece of our deck. One of the biggest problems with super-cheap low-to-the-ground decks like Flaming Wizard Burn is that they tend to run out of action if the game goes long or if we draw too many lands. The Flame of Keld fixes this problem on both ends. The fact that it gives all of our damage +2 when it ultimates helps us make sure the game ends as quickly as possible, and the ability to draw two extra cards the turn after it comes into play keeps us flush on action.

Of course, this power comes with a significant downside: we have to discard our hand when The Flame of Keld enters the battlefield. Thankfully, this problem is easy to solve: we just make sure that our deck is as cheap as possible so we have a reasonable chance of playing all of our cards by Turn 3 or 4, so we aren't discarding any cards of value. The end result is somewhere between a red Divination and a two-mana, one-shot Furnace of Wrath that allows us to close out the game with one big turn when the Saga gets its third lore counter.

Creatures

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In general, Flaming Wizard Burn is pretty light on creatures, instead relying on burn spells to close out the game. However, we do have four different one-drops to get in some early damage and support our burn spells. Bomat Courier is strange in the deck, mostly because it's not red, so it doesn't get an increase in damage from The Flame of Keld. However, it sort of works like a backup The Flame of Keld by giving us another way to refill our hand after we empty it over the first couple of turns of the game by attacking, exiling the top card of our library, and eventually sacrificing Bomat Courier to get all of those cards into our hand. It can also do some sweet tricks with The Flame of Keld if we can time it so we sacrifice Bomat Courier after we cast The Flame of Keld and discard our hand. The combination of Bomat Courier and the cards we draw with The Flame of Keld itself means we can go from empty handed to drawing an entirely fresh seven in just one turn, and in a deck overloaded with cheap creatures and burn, seven new cards is typically enough to finish off the game.

As for Fanatical Firebrand, it's mostly just a filler one-drop that helps us empty our hand quickly with The Flame of Keld, although it's worth mentioning that if we can time the sacrifice for the turn when The Flame of Keld ultimates, it turns into a weird creature-based Lightning Bolt, since the one damage it offers is increased up to three. As such, we typically play Fanatical Firebrand early, beat down for as much damage as possible, and then try to wait until we get the third lore counter on The Flame of Keld to sacrifice Fanatical Firebrand for damage.

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Rounding out our creature package are a couple of Wizards. Ghitu Lavarunner is like the world's slowest Goblin Guide. It's just a normal 1/2 on Turn 1, but after a few turns of casting spells, it ends up being a 2/2 haste in the mid- and late game. Meanwhile, Soul-Scar Mage is great with a bunch of burn spells. The ability to put 1/1 counters on opposing creatures when we damage them with burn spells gives us a main-deck way to deal with something like Lyra Dawnbringer or indestructible threats like Hazoret the Fervent, while prowess makes it difficult for our opponent to block because they never know when we will cast a spell to pump Soul-Scar Mage. Finally, the fact that both of these creatures are Wizards is important to our deck as well. While we aren't really Wizard tribal, we do have one specific card that wants us to have a Wizard on the battlefield...

The Burn

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Wizard's Lightning is the best burn spell in our deck and the primary reason we've focused on having some Wizards in our deck. As long as we have a Ghitu Lavarunner or Soul-Scar Mage, it's a literal Lightning Bolt that's legal in Standard! However, the real power of Wizard's Lightning is that even if we don't have a Wizard on the battlefield, Wizard's Lightning is still fine. While Open Fire isn't really constructed playable, three damage for three mana is still good enough in a pinch. As such, one thing we learned while playing this deck is that you don't really need to be Wizard tribal to make Wizard's Lightning playable. Even with just eight Wizards, it's still extremely playable.

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Rounding out our burn are Shock and Lightning Strike. Both of these cards are pretty self-explanatory—we can use them to deal with blockers in the early game and then throw them at our opponent's face in the late game. One thing to note: don't be afraid to aggressively throw burn spells at the opponent starting on Turn 1 or Turn 2. Remember, our game plan is to empty our hand as quickly as possible to minimize the drawback of discarding our hand to The Flame of Keld, so unlike most decks (where holding onto removal is the best plan), getting stuck with damage in hand when we cast The Flame of Keld is really, really bad in Flaming Wizard Burn, so use your burn more aggressively than you would in a typical deck.

The other big upside of all our burn spells is The Flame of Keld. Let's say we empty our hand, cast The Flame of Keld, draw into some more burn spells, and cast them when we ultimate The Flame of Keld for even more damage. With the help of The Flame of Keld, Shock ends up being four damage for one mana, which is pretty great, and Wizard's Lightning and Lightning Strike deal a massive five damage for one or two mana. When you combine this with our early-game creature damage, it doesn't take too many five-damage burn spells to finish the game.

Other Stuff

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Rounding our deck are Trial of Zeal and Cartouche of Zeal, which probably look a bit strange but have some sneaky upside in our deck. On level one, Cartouche of Zeal gives us a way to get in even more damage with our creatures by pumping one and making an opposing creature unable to block for a turn, while Trial of Zeal is an overcosted enchantment-based Lightning Bolt. However, the real trick is that we can cast Trial of Zeal in the early game, play The Flame of Keld, draw into Cartouche of Zeal to pick up the Trial, and time our recasting for when The Flame of Keld gets the third lore counter, giving us another five-damage burn spell to close out the game.

The Sideboard

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The sideboard of Flaming Wizard Burn is very simple. We have Abrade to bring in against Vehicle decks and decks built around God-Pharaoh's Gift. Meanwhile, Fight with Fire is our answer to Lyra Dawnbringer. While our deck will never get the 10 mana needed to kick it, being able to kill Baneslayer Angel is super important because it just beats us all by itself otherwise. Kari Zev's Expertise is great against decks with big creatures (like Mono-Green Stompy), getting rid of a blocker and potentially allowing us to smash our opponent for lethal damage with their own creatures. Meanwhile, Vance's Blasting Cannons helps against control, essentially drawing us an additional card every turn to help fight through heavy removal and discard.

Wrap-Up

All in all, we finished our video matches 3-2, which is pretty solid. However, we did run into Raff Flash a second time and lost the rematch (in a super-close game), dropping our overall record to 3-3 (although going 3-3 with $27 is pretty exciting). The deck is extremely explosive and can win a lot of quick games, thanks to the combination of aggressive creatures and endless burn. The Flame of Keld is great. The biggest problem was that we didn't draw it as often as we would have liked because it's pretty much the best card in our deck on Turn 3 or 4 just about every game. Wizard's Lightning was also an all-star—even with just eight Wizards in the deck, it was a Lightning Bolt more often than not.

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As for changes to make to the budget build of the deck, the Cartouche / Trial of Zeal package was a bit disappointing. While Cartouche of Zeal can be good at helping force through damage, Trial of Zeal ended up getting stuck in our hand when we cast The Flame of Keld more often than not, giving us no value at all. Three mana is just a lot for the deck. Replacing the expensive "Zeal" package with cheaper options would go a long way toward making The Flame of Keld (and thereby the deck) even better. The biggest challenge is that we already have the best burn options in Standard, so finding good replacements is tough. Earthshaker Khenra is one possibility, since if we end up discarding it to The Flame of Keld, we can always aftermath it if the game goes long. Otherwise, with Vehicles on the rise, it might be right to simply move the Abrades into the main deck.

In sum, Flaming Wizards Burn is competitive enough to win a lot of games, but it probably isn't the most competitive budget option for Dominaria Standard. On the other hand, there's a very realistic chance that it's the most competitive $30 deck in Dominaria Standard, which makes it a great option if you are looking to play the new Standard format for as cheap as possible. The other big upside to Flaming Wizard Burn is that it's very upgradable—you can throw in some Hazoret the Fervent and switch a couple of the creatures, and you'll be well on your way to playing Mono-Red Aggro, which is perhaps the best deck in Standard. If you love throwing burn spells at your opponent's face (or just want the cheapest possible semi-competitive deck in Dominaria Standard), Flaming Wizard Burn just might be the deck for you!

Ultra-Budget Flaming Wizard Burn

The version we played for the videos is already one of the cheapest decks we've ever played on Budget Magic, so no ultra-budget list this week!

Non-Budget Flaming Wizard Burn

It's hard to recommend directly upgrading Flaming Wizard Burn because we already have a tier version of Mono-Red. If you're going to spend a bunch of money on the deck, it makes the most sense to head toward the tier build. However, Wizard's Lightning is great, and it might be worth moving some more Wizards into Mono-Red Aggro to be able to take advantage of the card's power, so a hybrid Wizards Burn / Mono-Red Aggro deck is probably possible (and potentially very good!).

Conclusion

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 SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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