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Playing Pauper: Burn

Burn, baby, burn. It's time for another episode of Playing Pauper, and this one is hot. When you want to stop opponents whose game plans involve long complex strings of cards and sequences, you choose burn. When you need to finish your league before dinner gets cold, you choose burn. When you want to dispense with formalities, offer your opponent no, "Good luck have fun," and end the game before you've even begun, you choose burn.

Check out the matches, then read the discussion below. If you enjoy Playing Pauper, subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube channel! It helps us draw more people to the channel, and it helps you to never miss any of our great video content.

Burn Intro

Burn vs Izzet Drake

Burn vs Izzet Blitz

Burn vs Burn

Burn vs Temur Delver

Burn vs Stompy

The Deck

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These are the only permanents in a deck mostly full of instants and sorceries. Thermo-Alchemist and Curse of the Pierced Heart ping for one a turn, with Thermo-Alchemist dealing extra damage with untaps and the enchantment being hard to remove. Keldon Marauders is either five damage or two damage and a roadblock to your opponent's attacks.

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These one mana spells for three damage all go to the dome and form the basis of a deck that counts to 20 as quickly as possible.

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Searing Blaze kills a creature and hits the face at the same time, Needle Drop lets you cycle through your deck, Fireblast is a free four damage that you don't usually want to draw in multiples, and Incinerate is just another three damage effect.

The Sideboard

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Electrickery and Martyr of Ashes are the anti-aggro package. They act as mini-board wipes against the creature swarms that will outrace you if you spend individual burn spells on them.

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Pyroblast and Molten Rain are anti-control cards that come in versus decks like Dimir Teachings, Izzet Drake, and Tron.

Smash to Smithereens is the anti-affinity card that can kill a 4/4 Myr Enforcer, while giving a free three damage on top of that. 

The Matchups

So few decks run main deck life gain that almost all games are winnable. As long as your hand is a reasonable mix of lands and spells, your opponent will always be on a quick clock and never too far away from dying.

The types of things that interact at all with Burn are life gain (Bogles playing Armadillo Cloak or Tron playing Fangren Marauder), counterspells that can slow down the burn, and fast decks that can win even quicker than burn can.

Beating Burn

If you want to beat Burn, it's as simple as killing Thermo-Alchemist on sight and finding a path to victory that is as fast and aggressive as possible.

Most of the skill in beating burn comes in deck construction and card choices. If you make your deck fast enough or put in life gain or countermagic, you can set yourself up to win. If you don't, you're going to have a difficult time.


Burn is a fast deck that could potentially compete with Izzet Drake decks for as long as they remain in the format. Don't wait for me to sell you on this deck though. I think most players that enjoy playing burn don't have to be convinced. The first time you cast a Lava Spike and your opponent sighs audibly, you know whether you were born to be a dream-crusher and licensed member of the fun police.


Viewer submissions are open! I'll still be playing known decks occasionally, but I'll mostly be playing:

  • Decks submitted by viewers
  • Decks created from viewer challenges (e.g. build a deck around Horned Kavu)
  • Decks created by Jake (especially ones comprised of cards from new sets such as Kaladesh)

Email me at or Tweet to me @JakeStilesMTG with your decklist or challenge, and I'll give you a shout-out if I use your submission!

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