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Budget Magic: $90 Bloody Burn (Modern)


Yā, yō, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Normally, when people ask me for the best budget deck in Modern, I point them toward one of two decks: 8 Whack (or now, 12 Whack) Goblins or Burn. Well, today, we're revisiting Modern budget burn for the first time in a while, with a build that's heavily influenced by Innistrad: Crimson Vow: Bloody Burn. While the deck does play a lot of normal Modern burn spells, the most interesting aspect of the deck is that it's built around generating Blood tokens with cards like Voldaren Epicure, Sanguine Statuette, and Vampire's Kiss. These artifact tokens do two important things for the deck: first, they give us a budget-friendly way to shore up one of Burn's biggest weaknesses—flooding out. Non-budget Burn decks often do this with Horizons lands, which can sac to draw a card, but they are way too expensive for a budget deck. Having a bunch of Blood tokens laying around allows us to discard extra lands to find the last couple of burn spells we need to close out the game. Second, the fact that Blood tokens are artifacts lets us play a few extremely powerful burn spells that are normally off-limits to burn decks because they require artifacts on the battlefield to work, like Galvanic Blast, Shrapnel Blast, and Unlicensed Disintegration. Are Blood tokens the future of budget burn in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Bloody Burn

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The Deck

First off, shout-out to Ezra B., who sent me a Modern burn decklist with Blood tokens. While I built the deck we played today from the ground up, Ezra's deck got me thinking about the possibilities of Bloody Burn in Modern. As far as the deck, it's Burn. Our goal is to get our opponent's life total down to zero by throwing burn spells at our opponent's face. But the twist is we're making Blood tokens and using them to filter through our deck and power up our burn.

The Boring Stuff

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First off, we have a bunch of boring old burn spells that show up in most Modern Burn decks. Lightning Bolt, Lava Spike, Skewer the Critics, and Rift Bolt are Burn staples, offering three damage for one mana. Bump in the Night doesn't see as much play, but that's not because it's bad—it's actually a (slightly) upgraded Lava Spike (thanks to flashback, but the upgrade is slight because it's rare a burn deck gets to six mana). The problem is that most Burn decks in Modern are Boros or Naya, leaving Bump in the Night on the sidelines as a black card. But since we're a black deck, we get to take advantage of it.

Blood Tokens

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Now for the unique part of the deck: Blood-token makers, of which we have three: Voldaren Epicure, Sanguine Statuette, and Vampire's Kiss. While none of these cards is especially efficient (discounting the Blood tokens they make), they all do something that is beneficial in a Burn deck that's trying to get the opponent's life total down to zero as quickly as possible. Voldaren Epicure offers a damage, and while one damage might not sound like a lot, it all adds up. Sanguine Statuette can turn into a 3/3 haste, making it a weird Lightning Bolt on a stick, assuming we can make it past our opponent's blockers. Vampire's Kiss is literally a burn spell, offering two damage (and two life) for two mana, which isn't exciting, but still, every little bit of damage helps. 

Most importantly, all of these cards make Blood tokens. As I mentioned in the intro, Blood tokens are helpful in two ways. First, they give our budget deck something similar to the Horizon Canopy lands that non-budget burn decks play, as a way to filter away extra lands and find enough action to close out the game. Secondly, because we should have a few Blood tokens hanging out on the battlefield, which happen to be artifacts, we get a handful of super-powered burn spells that most Burn decks can't play!

The Artifact Burn

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Since our Bloody Burn deck should usually have several artifacts on the battlefield, we get to round out our burn package with Galvanic Blast, Shrapnel Blast, and Unlicensed Disintegration, all of which are very above the curve, even in Modern. Galvanic Blast is one of the most efficient burn spells ever printed, assuming you can turn on metalcraft, offering a massive four damage for one mana. Shrapnel Blast offers an absurd five damage for two mana if we can sac an artifact. Unlicensed Disintegration is our upgraded version of Searing Blaze, killing anything while also hitting our opponent for three damage, as long as we control an artifact. Add in the boring top-tier burn spells that we talked about a minute ago, and Bloody Burn can generate ridiculous amounts of damage!

The Companion

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While we do have Lurrus of the Dream-Den as our companion, it's mostly because it's a freeroll. The only main-deck cards we can cast from our graveyard are Voldaren Epicure and Sanguine Statuette, which means that more often than not, Lurrus is just a random 3/2 lifelinker. Still, a random 3/2 lifelinker is better than the 15th card in our sideboard, and every once in a while, we might be able to use it to get some value from our graveyard (the odds go up after sideboarding, when we can bring in Pyrite Spellbomb and Roiling Vortex).

The Mana

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The mana of Bloody Burn is pretty typical budget stuff, although I did want to mention Drossforge Bridge, which gives us a sneaky way to add another artifact to the battlefield to power up Galvanic Blast and Unlicensed Disintegration or to sacrifice to Shrapnel Blast. While it is annoying that it comes into play tapped, it's synergistic enough to be worthwhile, especially in a budget deck where we'd likely have to play some tapped duals anyway.

Playing the Deck

Most of the time, playing burn is fairly straightforward: you count up to 20 while throwing burn spells at the opponent's face. The trickiest part of the deck is trying to figure out how to manage our scarce resources, and adding Blood tokens to the deck makes this even more important. When do we need to throw a Lightning Bolt at a creature rather than at our opponent's face? Is it worth sacrificing a Blood token to rummage, even if it leaves us an artifact short of metalcraft if we draw Galvanic Blast? These little questions and how we choose to answer them end up having a big impact on whether we win or lose the game. Sadly, there isn't one right answer since it mostly depends on the situation and the matchup, although in general, the default mode for playing Bloody Burn should be pointing as much damage at the opponent's face as possible.

Wrap-Up

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Record-wise, we ended up 3-2 with Bloody Burn, which is solid for a $85 deck in a format filled with $1,000 and $1,500 decks. As for our two losses, we got crushed by Amulet Titan, with our opponent slamming huge Primeval Titans (sometimes multiples) on Turn 3, which is tough to beat. Meanwhile, against Hammer Time, we might have punted by being impatient and trying to develop our board, rather than leaving up removal to kill whatever creature our opponent might try to equip with Colossus Hammer. But our opponent also played pretty well, choosing to flash in Colossus Hammer with Sigarda's Aid on their attacking creatures, which made us think they didn't have a Hammer and made us feel safe tapping down. This ended with us getting severely punished after they flashed in Hammer on our end step.

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As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, I'm pretty happy with where it ended up. I really wanted to find a way to squeeze more copies of Unlicensed Disintegration or some Pyrite Spellbombs (to power up Lurrus) into the main deck, but I couldn't figure out what to cut. Both cards seem strong if you can find some room, but I'm not sure it's worth cutting more-efficient burn spells to fit them in. Another possibility is that we can cut back slightly on Blood tokens. We really want to get three on the battlefield (for Galvanic Blast), but after that, additional copies start to lose some value (although they aren't dead since we can always sacrifice them to rummage). In general, we didn't struggle to get to three artifacts, so it might be that we could go down a copy or two of something like Voldaren Epicure and still achieve our goal while gaining a bit more room in the main deck.

So, should you play Bloody Burn in Modern? As a budget deck, I think the answer is yes. While I think the plan of generating Blood tokens loses a bit of its luster in non-budget decks since you'll have Horizons lands for flood protection and things like Eidolon of the Great Revel for extra damage, in a budget burn deck, the combination of being able to play things like Shrapnel Blast and Galvanic Blast along with rummaging away extra lands is huge. The deck might look a bit strange on paper, but it played really well and was able to fight through some of the most expensive and powerful decks in the format!

Ultra- / Non-Budget Bloody Burn

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As far as ultra-budget Bloody Burn, the only somewhat expensive part of the deck is the mana base, with Blightstep Pathway costing $24 a playset and Dragonskull Summit checking in at over $4 a copy. The problem is that there aren't really any cheaper options that still (mostly) come into play untapped, and since we're already playing a tapped dual land in Drossforge Bridge, we just can't really afford more tapped lands—curving out is too important. You could also drop Lurrus of the Dream-Den to save $7—it's definitely not essential, it's just a free-roll. Otherwise, pretty much all of the cards in the deck are already super cheap.

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What about a non-budget build of Bloody Burn? Honestly, I don't think it's worth it. As I mentioned before, I really like the Blood token plan in budget Burn because it gives us access to filtering and extra damage, which are often missing in budget Burn decks. On the other hand, if budget isn't a concern, you can play Horizon lands for filtering and Eidolon of the Great Revel for extra damage, which means that playing things like Vampire's Kiss and Voldaren Epicure to make blood tokens isn't really necessary. If you do want to upgrade the deck, I'd start with the mana (fetch lands and shock lands would be optimal, while cards like Blackcleave Cliffs would also represent an improvement over Dragonskull Summit) and Eidolon of the Great Revel, which is solid in a vacuum and would have been especially helpful in our losses by taxing most of the Hammer Time deck and the millions of Amulet of Vigors our Amulet Titan opponent played. For reference, here's a build of tier Boros Burn that recently 5-0'ed a league on Magic Online:

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