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Budget Magic: $53 (51 tix) Standard Alchemist Burn


Pozdravljeni, Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. This week, we are heading to Standard to play a deck that might be the most competitive budget deck in all of Eldritch Moon Standard: Alchemist Burn! As I'm sure most of you know, burn isn't my favorite archetype in Magic (actually, far from it), but if one thing makes me enjoy playing burn, it's the ability to beat super-expensive Standard decks full of planeswalkers and Mythics for only $50! As such, to my surprise, I actually had a lot of fun playing Alchemist Burn this week. In a world where everyone is trying to generate incremental advantage with their graveyards or ramp into Emrakul, the Promised End, I really believe that Burn has a good shot at beating most of the best decks in Standard at the moment!

Let's get to the videos; then, we'll break down Alchemist Burn. A quick reminder: if you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Alchemist Burn: Deck Tech

Alchemist Burn vs. Colorless Eldrazi

Alchemist Burn vs. Four-Color Superfriends

Alchemist Burn vs. WB Control

Alchemist Burn vs. Sultai Delirium

Alchemist Burn vs. RB Vampires

The Deck

Alchemist Burn is actually very straightforward. Our goal is to play a some aggressive creatures in the early game, get in a few points of damage, and then close things out with our endless burn spells. 

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Falkenrath Gorger and Zurgo Bellstriker are our one-drops, and they have one purpose: to get in damage over the first two or three turns of the game. Ideally, we'd be able to turn either of these cards into four damage, although sometimes they're only two damage and sometimes they're as much as six damage, depending on the matchup and our opponent's draw. Falkenrath Gorger has one major drawback—it dies for free to Liliana, the Last Hope, and after this weekend's Pro Tour Eldritch Moon, I expect we'll be seeing a lot more of the new black planeswalker. However, assuming we stick a Falkenrath Gorger on Turn 1, we don't especially care if our opponent kills it on Turn 3 or 4 with Liliana, the Last Hope, since it would have done its job in the meantime. 

Meanwhile, Zurgo Bellstriker has some additional upside, in that he doesn't die to Liliana, the Last Hope and is better than most one-drops in the late game because we can dash him in to get some hasty damage and avoid sorcery-speed removal. The problem is that Zurgo Bellstriker is legendary, which makes playing four copies risky, since drawing two or three in our opening seven is pretty much a mulligan. Regardless, as I mentioned before, the main idea with both of these cards is to get in as much damage as possible as quickly as possible, and then we let our burn spells finish things off. 

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Abbot of Keral Keep and Bedlam Reveler give us some card advantage, which is a nice thing to have in mono-red, a color that usually gets the short end of the stick as far as card draw is concerned. Abbot of Keral Keep is fine on Turn 2 (especially in non-Liliana, the Last Hope matchups) and great on Turn 4 or 5, when we not only get a reasonable body thanks to prowess but also get to draw (and cast) an additional card. 

Bedlam Reveler is more high variance than I would like. Our deck has 20 spells, which means that Bedlam Reveler is most commonly a five-drop. When Bedlam Reveler is good (for example, we empty our hand over the first four turns, get three spells in the graveyard, and cast Bedlam Reveler on Turn 5 as a 3/4 with prowess that comes with an Ancestral Recall attached), it's the best card in our deck. On the other hand, it also leads to some clunky draws when we have multiples in our opening seven or get creature-heavy draws that make it hard to stock the graveyard with spells to reduce its cost.

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Thermo-Alchemist might be the best card in our entire deck and one of the most underrated cards in all of Eldritch Moon. First off, having three toughness means Thermo-Alchemist is a surprisingly good blocker. It stops Reflector Mage, Sylvan Advocate, Grim Flayer, Duskwatch Recruiter, Nissa, Vastwood Seer, and basically every Human in the format. However, the real power of Thermo-Alchemist is that it gives all of our burn spells +1 damage, because we get to tap and untap Thermo-Alchemist whenever we cast an instant or sorcery. 

The goal of a burn deck is to resolve X spells (usually somewhere around 6 or 7), and those X spells should—barring surprise life gain—be able to finish off the game. The benefit of Thermo-Alchemist is that it decreases X by one, and sometimes even by more than one, all while keeping our life total high by block our opponent's early-game threats. 

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Incendiary Flow and Fiery Temper offer three (or four, with a Thermo-Alchemist on the battlefield) damage for somewhere between one and three mana. While we do occasionally use these spells to kill a creature in a pinch, ideally we'll start throwing Incendiary Flow and Fiery Temper at our opponent's face as early as Turn 2. One thing to note: we really aren't built to madness Fiery Temper, so most of the time it's just three damage for three mana, although keep in mind that it is possible to madness it with the help of the discard from Bedlam Reveler, Collective Defiance, or Geier Reach Sanitarium. Meanwhile, Exquisite Firecraft gives us four damage (five with Thermo-Alchemist) for only three mana, which is a great rate for Standard burn spells. Plus, it is almost always uncounterable, thanks to the other spells in our deck giving us spell mastery. 

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Collective Defiance is the other big addition to Alchemist Burn from Eldritch Moon. Normally, we cast it for four mana, kill our opponent's best creature with the four damage mode, and deal three damage to our opponent's face. We also can sometimes us it to improve our hand. Our deck really doesn't need more than five lands, so if we draw lands six, seven, and eight, we can simply hold onto them and eventually use the first mode on Collective Defiance to turn them into relevant spells. 

As for Fiery Impulse, it's simply a way to kill our opponent's creatures in the early game. The big debate here is whether Fiery Impulse or Galvanic Bombardment is the right choice for the deck, and personally I favor the consistency of Fiery Impulse. We don't really draw that many cards, so the odds of drawing multiple copies of Galvanic Bombardment isn't that high, but we do play a lot of spells, so we will almost always have spell mastery. Furthermore, three toughness is a big number in Standard, thanks to Spell Queller, Reflector Mage, Sylvan Advocate, and the like. As a result, I would rather have Fiery Impulse—a card that can almost always kill a three-toughness creature—than Galvanic Bombardment (a spell that can occasionally kill a four-toughness creature). 

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I don't usually talk about the mana base, but I did want to mention Geier Reach Sanitarium, which is a very powerful card in our deck. Apart from letting us madness Fiery Temper, the big benefit of Geier Reach Sanitarium is that it allows us to turn extra lands into damage. Remember what I said earlier about the goal of a burn deck being to resolve six(ish) spells? Well, Geier Reach Sanitarium makes this goal must more achievable, since we don't have to worry nearly as much about flooding out (one of the most common ways to lose with a burn deck is simply drawing too many lands and not enough spells). 

The Sideboard

Against Control

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Molten Vortex is very strong against decks that are able to kill all of our creatures, since we can play it on Turn 1 and deal a ton of damage over the course of a bunch of turns by discarding extra lands. Meanwhile, Goldnight Castigator is a bomb in any matchup where we aren't racing our opponent. It offers an almost guaranteed four damage, since it has haste, and it dodges a lot of the most popular removal, like Grasp of Darkness and Languish

For Midrange Creatures

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Rending Volley and Tears of Valakut are answers to Spell Queller, Archangel Avacyn, and quite a few other threats, while Lightning Axe comes in to deal with things like Thought-Knot Seer, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, and Reality Smasher

For Aggro

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Seismic Rupture is pretty much a bad budget substitute for Kozilek's Return in our deck, since it doesn't take care of fliers, but it's still fairly solid against decks like Wr Humans, which will likely remain popular online because it is relatively inexpensive. On the other hand, Weaver of Lightning is an amazing sideboard card. It blocks everything (including fliers, thanks to reach) and pings to death a lot of Spirits, some creatures from Bant Company and Zombies, and most of the Wr Humans deck. 

Non-Budget / Ultra-Budget Alchemist Burn

Alchemist Burn is one of those weird budget decks where there really isn't a non-budget or ultra-budget build of the deck. As I was building the deck, I didn't really feel like I had to cut anything based on the budget (in fact, we came in at nearly $50 less than our $100 limit). Other cards I considered included Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh and Kozilek's Return, and while I think both of those cards could have a home in the sideboard, I'm not sure how necessary they really are to the deck's success. 

On the other hand, it's also really difficult to cut much from the deck's budget. All of the burn spells are super necessary, mostly because there are no good replacement options in Standard. If there were other, cheaper options available, then cutting something like Collective Defiance would save some money (especially on Magic Online, where a playset is 21 tix at the moment, although this price will likely drop as people keep opening Eldritch Moon), but we are already playing every good burn spell in all of Standard, so cutting anything means severely weakening the deck. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today! All in all, we went 5-0 in the deck and even won a match where I was half asleep and played incredibly poorly (against Sultai Delirium). For me, a deck where you can punt horribly and still win easily is a good one, and I think Alchemist Burn fits the bill. Not only would I expect this deck to do very well at the FNM level, but I really believe it matches up extremely well against the top tier of the format, so if you are looking for a budget option to play at a Grand Prix or SCG Open, Alchemist Burn is likely the deck for you!

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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