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Much Abrew: Black Burn (Modern)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. A couple of weeks ago on Against the Odds, we ran into this strange black deck playing Vampire Cutthroat, Alms of the Vein, and Bump in the Night, which I dubbed Black Burn. A few days later, the deck managed to 5-0 a league and ended up as an Instant Deck Tech. By the time the week was over, Black Burn blew all of the other deck techs out of the water, which means this week, we are heading to Modern to play the infamous Black Burn!

The idea of the deck is pretty simple: it's like Boros or Naya Burn, except instead of being red-based, our primary color is black (just barely touching into red for Lightning Bolt and Blood Moon in the sideboard), but it plays a lot of cards that look strange in Modern. Is it really possible that a non-red burn deck can work in the format? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll have some thoughts about the deck.

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Black Burn (Instant Deck Tech)

Black Burn vs. UR Storm (Match 1)

Black Burn vs. GW Elves (Match 2)

Black Burn vs. Living End (Match 3)

Black Burn vs. Four-Color Control (Match 4)

Black Burn vs. Eldrazi and Taxes (Match 5)

Black Burn (Wrap-Up)


  • All in all, we finished with a 3-2 record, which is fine but slightly disappointing because we were a single red source away from beating Eldrazi and Taxes, which would have given us an even more impressive 4-1. 
  • The deck itself worked surprisingly well. While it looks odd on paper, it actually has quite a few powerful standalone cards.
  • Generally speaking, the creature base is solid. Dark Confidant is a Modern staple, Geralf's Messenger is amazingly underplayed and represents a ton of damage on a reasonable body, and Phyrexian Obliterator is one of the most unbeatable threats in the format—as long as it doesn't die to Fatal Push or Path to Exile
  • This brings us to Vampire Cutthroat. I'm willing to admit that, no matter how strange it looks, it might be the best one-drop for the deck. It's almost always unblockable, and the lifegain is nice. On the other hand, I'm really struggling to come to grips with the idea that running Vampire Cutthroat is better than Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek
  • The spell package is also fairly solid. Bump in the Night is the black Lava Spike, and burn decks love Lava Spike—and, unlike Naya or Boros Burn, we do occasionally get to six mana and flash it back. Collective Brutality seems to get better every time I play with it, and it's especially good in this deck, where we can use it to drain our opponent and kill our own Geralf's Messenger to make our opponent lose even more life when it returns to the battlefield. Fatal Push might be the best removal spell in Modern, and Sign in Blood, while not really exciting, is fine as a two-of, especially since we can turn it on our opponent to get in the last couple points of damage. 
  • The one burn spell I really disliked was Alms of the Vein—it's just so overcosted for Modern when we cast it for three mana, and since our only discard outlet is Collective Brutality, casting it at full price isn't uncommon. That said, the downside of playing a Black Burn deck is that our efficient burn options are limited (unlike red, which has a million burn spells), so Alms of the Vein is probably the best option, even though it doesn't feel great. 
  • The other part of the deck I didn't especially like was the sideboard. While Relic of Progenitus is solid, four Disfigures feels like too many, especially since one of the things our deck really struggled with was big creatures (that we can't Lightning Bolt or Fatal Push). If I play the deck again, I'll probably play one Disfigure and replace the rest with some combination of Go for the Throat and Dismember
  • The other challenge for the deck is go-wide strategies. While we were able to one-for-one Elves to death (thanks to drawing a ton of cards from Dark Confidant), I can't imagine we beat Lingering Souls very often. Since we are already splashing red, it would be pretty easy to fit Anger of the Gods or Pyroclasm in the sideboard for these situations. 
  • So, should you play Black Burn? If you want to play a Black Burn deck, I think this build is a fine example. While I would touch up the sideboard a bit, the deck is actually functional and fairly competitive. From a more tournament-centric perspective, the bigger question is whether playing Black Burn is better than playing some sort of Rakdos Aggro deck, which would allow the deck to cut some of the more lacking burn spells (like Alms of the Vein and Vampire Cutthroat) for more (and better) threats like Goblin Guide, Goblin Rabblemaster, or Monastery Swiftspear. It seems possible that Rakdos Aggro would be just as good (and maybe better) because it can play all of the good cards from this deck but cut some of the worst cards. The problem with suggesting this path as an upgrade is that once we start cutting Alms of the Vein, we aren't really playing Black Burn anymore. I guess the bottom line is that Black Burn is functional and even pretty powerful, but it's worth exploring a similar Rakdos Aggro deck as well.


Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck by liking, commenting on, and subscribing to Instant Deck Tech videos! 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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