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Much Abrew: Dagger Burn (Pioneer, Magic Online)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Today, we're exploring the jankier side of Pioneer with one of the weirdest Panharmonicon decks: Dagger Burn. Normally, when I think of Burn, cards like Lava Spike and Lightning Bolt come to mind. But our deck is going a very different direction, looking to burn the opponent out of the game by giving them tokens with Dowsing Dagger and Clackbridge Troll, with the help of Rampaging Ferocidon and Trespasser's Curse. Panharmonicon puts the deck into overdrive, doubling up both the number of tokens we give our opponent and the damage from Rampaging Ferocidon and Trespasser's Curse. Can Dagger Burn work in Pioneer? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Dagger Burn

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  • First off, you probably noticed we played version two of Dagger Burn. While the deck is fairly similar to the Instant Deck Tech build, there were a few changes. First, we went up a land. After playing some games with the deck, 23 didn't feel like enough, especially since we really need to hit four and five mana on time for Panharmonicon and Clackbridge Troll. Second, we dropped Awaken the Erstwhile. While on paper, it seems like another way to give the opponent tokens, in practice, by the turn we cast it, most opponents are either empty-handed or close to empty-handed, and the opponents that have cards in hand are often control decks with counterspells to stop Awaken the Erstwhile anyway. Combine this with the fact that Awaken the Erstwhile doesn't work with Panharmonicon, and it was a fairly easy cut. Finally, Treasure Map is a bit slow for Pioneer, and since we already have four copies of Sign in Blood, it isn't especially necessary. In place of these cards, we get four Thoughtseize (which is too good not to play in most black decks) and a third Panharmonicon (having one is actually very important for the Dagger Burn plan).
  • Despite our upgrades, our record was pretty medium, as we went 2-3 in our Dagger Burn league. On the other hand, when it comes to decks like Dagger Burn, we should probably grade on a curve. The plan is pretty janky, so finishing with a 2-3 record (and coming pretty close to a 3-2 winning record) actually felt like an accomplishment. 
  • The good news about Dagger Burn is that when everything comes together, the deck can be extremely explosive. For example, a common curve of Trespasser's Curse into Panharmonicon into Clackbridge Troll ends up giving our opponent six tokens, which drain twice with Trespasser's Curse thanks to Panharmonicon and adds up to 12 direct damage. Toss in an extra copy of Trespasser's Curse or a Rampaging Ferocidon, and we get a massive 24 direct damage, which should be enough to win the game on the spot!
  • The bad news about Dagger Burn is that the deck is inconsistent and plays a lot of cards that are somewhere between mediocre and bad if we don't have the rest of our combo pieces. Dowsing Dagger is basically a dead card until we have a Trespasser's Curse and / or Rampaging Ferocidon. And even with a way to deal damage when we give our opponent tokens, without a Panharmonicon, it ends up dealing two for two mana (while also giving our opponent two chump blockers), which isn't great. The same is true about cards like Trespasser's Curse. Without Dowsing Dagger or Clackbridge Troll, it just doesn't do a whole lot. 
  • In this end, this basically makes Dagger Burn a weird three-piece combo deck. While we do have redundancy in many of our combo pieces (Trespasser's Curse and Rampaging Ferocidon, plus Clackbridge Troll and Dowsing Dagger), this is partly outweighed by the fact that we either need Panharmonicon or multiple copies of our other combo pieces for our plan to really be effective. When everything comes together, Dagger Burn does really funny, explosive, and usually game-winning things, but the bad games with the deck are really clunky and bad.
  • Rampaging Ferocidon is really awkward in our deck. It's necessary since just four Trespasser's Curses isn't enough to support the Dagger Burn plan, but shutting off the life gain of Gifted Aetherborn, Clackbridge Troll, and Trespasser's Curse is a pretty big downside.
  • Sadly, I'm not sure there is a good way to make Dagger Burn more consistent. Apart from Gifted Aetherborn, the rest of the deck is all combo pieces, card draw, and removal to help us stay alive long enough to cast our combo pieces. This leaves us without a lot of room to make changes. And even if we had more room, there really aren't other ways to give opponents tokens (or to punish them for having creatures come into play under their control) in the Pioneer format. This leaves us with a deck that is really unique and fun and probably a solid semi-competitive option for an FNM but unlikely to really be a true competitor, thanks to the lack of consistency.
  • So, should you play Dagger Burn? It really depends on your goal. It's one of the more unique decks in Pioneer, and when its plan comes together, it's both hilarious and effective. Plus, it is good enough to win games and even matches now and then. So if you're just looking to have a wacky good time at FNM, Dagger Burn is a fine option. On the other hand, if your goal is to win your local FNM or another tournament, Dagger Burn is unlikely to get the job done. Between the awesome games, you'll have some really clunky, bad games where you draw a bunch of Dowsing Daggers and no Trespasser's Curse, or a bunch of Rampaging Ferocidons and no Dowsing Daggers. Basically, you should play Dagger Burn because you want to have fun and do something splashy and different, not because you are planning to win a tournament.


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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