Boros Burn Historic Deck Guide

Wizards-Lighting-Dominaria-MtG-Art

Today I have something sweet for you my wizards: Historic Boros Burn! This deck got a sweet new tool in Showdown of the Skalds, but honestly? The ban of Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath might still just be the biggest gain for a deck like this that just tries to attack the life total and not really much else. Go and check it out:

Decklist

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Creature (19)
4
Burning-Tree Emissary
3
Ghitu Lavarunner
4
Runaway Steam-Kin
4
Soul-Scar Mage
4
Viashino Pyromancer
Sorcery (8)
4
Light Up the Stage
2
Shatterskull Smashing/Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass
2
Skewer the Critics
Instant (8)
4
Lightning Strike
4
Wizard's Lightning
Enchantment (6)
2
Experimental Frenzy
4
Showdown of the Skalds
Land (19)
2
Clifftop Retreat
4
Inspiring Vantage
5
Mountain
4
Needleverge Pathway/Pillarverge Pathway
4
Sacred Foundry
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Abrade
4
Baffling End
1
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
2
Goblin Chainwhirler
4
Rampaging Ferocidon
2
Rest in Peace

Game Plan

Burn is always a deck with the most straightforward game plan: Attack the life total as much as possible and only use burn spells on other things if that results in you dealing more damage overall.

Straightforward doesn’t mean easy, however. This kind of strategy will heavily punish you even if you miss a single point of damage, so always plan out your turns ahead and take your time. Sometimes, removing a blocker can give you more damage because your Ghitu Lavarunner gets to attack 2 more times. Sometimes, you have to go face with your spells because your opponent is already on 10 and the only way you win is by topdecking additional burn spells. Sometimes Showdown of the Skalds will make you a storm player, chaining tons of spells and sometimes you have to burn your opponent out perfectly because you don’t draw it.

This version of Burn has a surprising amount of grinding power attached to it and splashing white gives you access to powerful sideboard cards. 

Most games will be close unless you draw the stones, but it’s incredibly rewarding if you get there!

Tips and Tricks

Mono Red Aggro Feature Image

Only play Light Up the Stage when you really need the cards. I see tons of people claiming that burn is brainless, while constantly using that card the wrong way. Imagine this: You have 3 burn spells in your hand and it’s turn 2. There’s a great chance that you hit Showdown of the Skalds or Experimental Frenzy off it and you won’t be able to cast them, because you can never have 4 lands on turn 3. Congratz, you just wasted one of the strongest cards in your deck!

Sure, sometimes you really need to hit some lands and just because of that you will play it. But you get what I’m saying here. Be very mindful of this card and use it, when you know that you can get value out of it. Otherwise there is not much reason to put it into your deck. And yes, sometimes that means doing nothing on your turn.

If you have Experimental Frenzy out and you have an instant on top but no mana, set a stop on your upkeep. You can fire it off before drawing that card!

When you put counters on Runaway Steam-Kin with Showdown of the Skalds, remember that it can’t get counters by itself when it already has 3 counters! This is instrumental, because both triggers go on the stack at the same time and you could be missing a lot of mana this way. To play around that, always have full control when you go into these sequences, or stack the triggers so that the one of Steam-Kin resolves first.

Whether you are the aggressor or the… Degressor (?) will depend on whether you have Showdown or Frenzy in hand. Sometimes you can just kill all of their stuff because you can easily out grind your opponent, sometimes every drip of damage counts. Evaluate accordingly!

Card Choices

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Main Deck

Ghitu Lavarunner: Important one-drop, so you can curve out. It enables Wizard’s Lightning, which is probably one of the strongest spells in Historic if it wasn’t for the wizards clause. Lavarunner is also great because in the late game it can be a glorified Shock, which is better than most one-drops.

Runaway Steam-Kin: A bit fragile, but instrumental for this game plan. This card will make you feel like the most powerful wizard on the battlefield, as these chaining turns with Frenzy or Showdown generates so much mana, it makes you feel like a green player! Turns out, bonus mana is always good no matter what color, especially if this 2-drop can hit for 4!

Viashino Pyromancer: This card is some sort of guaranteed face damage while also impacting the board, which is important for multiple reasons: Enable Wizard’s Lightning, force your opponent to leave blockers back and enable Light up The Stage even through blockers. Whenever this deals 4 or more damage, you get your money back. Hint: If your opponent has early blockers that hinder Pyromancer from hitting at least once, board it out!

Soul-Scar Mage: For a deck with that many non creatures, Soul-Scar Mage is an absolute all star for only 1 mana. Enables Wizard’s Lightning, can easily hit for more than 5 damage and even shrinks opponent’s creatures – it’s the best 1-drop that you can play.

Wizard's Lightning: In this deck this feels like Lightning Bolt, which is one of the best cards printed in Magic’s history. 

Light Up the Stage: This card will make sure that you continue drawing gas and also lands for a very cheap price. Card advantage is important if you’re basically trading down in cards (whenever you trade a spell for life total, that’s negative card advantage) and this is just essential. It also works well with Runaway Steam-Kin.

Showdown of the Skalds: 4 mana draw 4 is a huge win – but you also get to put a bunch of counters, which works insanely well with Steam-Kin – So well even, that it will end most games on the spot if you get there. Experimental Frenzy is the better late game card, but you can’t just play it on turn 4 consistently because it’s not easy to dump your whole hand until then. Showdown is always good, and it’s the main reason to play Boros. 

Burning-Tree Emissary: Look, this card was banned for a reason. At this point, every red (or green) aggressive deck not playing this card is probably a punt. Sometimes cards don’t need the sickest strategies to get included into a deck – sometimes they are just so good, that you don’t need a specific reason. It **does** work well with Steam-Kin, though!

Experimental Frenzy: Frenzy is still the best late game card for this strategy, but it’s tough to play a lot of copies: It already requires you to have a lot of lands out (or you will not cast a lot of spells per turn anyway) and you need your hand to be empty already. This makes Showdown the better overall inclusion, but don’t play without Frenzy. This card is just too good for that.

Skewer the Critics: One of your worse burn spells, but you need a critical amount of them or your deck won’t work. If you don’t like that this can cost 3 mana sometimes, play Shock instead. I’ve been able to enable this often enough, but don’t play too many copies or they just rot in your hand.

Lightning Strike: Just an overall good burn spell. Flexible and strong: The perfect burn!

Shatterskull Smashing: Most red decks can afford playing a few copies of removal that would usually take land slots and this is no exception.

Sideboard

2 Goblin Chainwhirler: This card is good in some creature matchups as it attacks and blocks well, while also eating some x-1’s for breakfast. Since we don’t play a single Plains, playing a RRR card is not really a problem.

4 Baffling End: Doesn’t look like much, but it’s actually quite important to have access to that spell. There are a lot of graveyard shenanigans in Historic, so exiling is quite important, but the most important reason is Auras. That matchup is a nightmare when you’re just playing one color, as Kor Spiritdancer easily grows out of your burn spell range and it can be an unpleasant experience to play against it. Sure, Alseid of Life’s Bounty can still protect it, but that’s much better than having no spells that can ever beat it. Baffling End is incredibly well positioned right now!

2 Rest in Peace: If you resolve this card against the right decks, you will just win with Showdown and Frenzy. I’m not kidding! This card can buy a lot of time against graveyard strategies and there’s a good chance that you want to have 3 in the right metagame. Be aware that it makes your Lavarunner a bit worse, though.

2 Abrade: Just additional removal spell for the creature matchups. It doesn’t really have to be abrade, but the ability to hit artifacts is nice and it’s just a good, flexible card overall.

4 Rampaging Ferocidon: I was unsure about this card at first, as Uro is already gone, but it has been incredible. Goblins is still a thing (it makes racing with Krenko, Mob Boss basically impossible), but it has been quite effective against Sacrifice as well, which will be one of the top decks of the format going forward. The fact that the Cauldron Familiar + Witch’s Oven loop suddenly deals them 1 damage is just huge, and it also always demands 2 blockers. The Don can easily win games on its own, so play it and try it out!

1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance: Sometimes you just want to go even grindier, and this card is one of the best cards here. I am unsure about the number as Chandra is incredible, but I found it hard to cut cards from the main post board: If you play too many 4’s, your deck will just be too clunky. Still, you want additional grinding tools, and this is perfect.

Matchups and Sideboard Guide

Rampaging Ferocidon (XLN) Art

Sacrifice (Positive)

InOut
+4 Baffling End-4 Viashino Pyromancer
+2 Rest in Peace-4 Wizard’s Lightning
+4 Rampaging Ferocidon-3 Ghitu Lavarunner
+1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance-2 Skewer the Critics
+2 Abrade

This deck interacts a lot with you, so you want to take the cards out that can be clunky if they do that: Wizard’s Lightning is bad when they kill your wizards, and Lavarunner and Pyromancer get blanked easily so we don’t really want them. It’s okay to take some burn spells out, as you’re taking other cards that attack the board instead, and that’s what you want to do: Control the board, win with Frenzy, Showdown and Chandra. Ferocidon will be crucial in breaking apart the loops and if you just kill all of their synergy pieces, their deck doesn’t really do a lot.

Sacrifice is usually great at beating creatures, but we attack from a lot of angles that don’t always require us to have a board, so we actually kind of dodge their game plan!

Gruul Aggro (Slightly Bad)

InOut
+4 Baffling End-4 Viashino Pyromancer
+2 Goblin Chainwhirler-2 Showdown of the Skalds
+1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance-1 Clifftop Retreat

We are grindier, but they are faster. We can easily outvalue opponents starting on turn 4, but against Gruul you are already dead at that point. It’s tough to burn the bigger creatures out – If you manage to stabilize, you should win though. Sometimes an unanswered Runaway Steam-Kin can go the distance, but if they just run at you with the turn 3 or 4 Embercleave, that won’t matter much. Chanwhirler is great at blocking their whole board, Chandra’s removal ability actually hits all of their creatures and Baffling End gets rid of the most part of their creatures, regardless of their size (looking at you, Gruul Spellbreaker with your damn 4 toughness!

Since we cut some Showdowns (as they are too slow) we can also cut a land. It’s not the most important thing to get to 4 mana quickly now.

If people are still playing Ahn-Crop Crasher, then Shock might be the way to go instead of Skewer the Critics, by the way. It’s also a way to kill a Llanowar elf on turn 1. 

Rakdos Arcanist (Even)

InOut
+4 Baffling End-4 Viashino Pyromancer
+2 Rest in Peace-3 Ghitu Lavarunner
+1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance-4 Wizard’s Lightning
+4 Rampaging Ferocidon

Arcanist is good at gumming up the board, so the smaller attacking creatures won’t do much. Especially Viashino looks laughable in the face of Young Pyromancer. Funnily enough, the matchup is exceptionally good when we draw Rest in Peace and incredibly hard if Dreadhorde Arcanist survives. This matchup is kind of flippy, so I just wrote Even, but I think that there are more scenarios in which we win.

Angel Variants (Bad)

InOut
+4 Baffling End-4 Viashino Pyromancer
+4 Rampaging Ferocidon-3 Ghitu Lavarunner
+2 Goblin Chainwhirler -4 Wizard’s Lightning
+1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance

People haven’t quite figured out what colors these decks want (Selesnya or Orzhov), but the core game plan will stay the same. It’s a lifegain deck, so it’s going to be a bad matchup for sure. Post-board it can actually get closer as Ferocidon is a powerful addition, but game 1 will always be tough to beat so it’s naturally going to be bad for us. Try to keep the board clean, although this can prove quite tough, I know.

Auras (Bad)

InOut
+4 Baffling End-4 Viashino Pyromancer
+2 Goblin Chainwhirler-2 Skewer the Critics
+4 Rampaging Ferocidon-3 Ghitu Lavarunner
-1 Wizard’s Lightning

Kor Spiritdancer just dunks on your burn spells, so you try and prevent that: Chainwhirler gets rid of the protective elements, whereas Ferocidon will stop them from perma-lifelinking you. Baffling End goes a long way and if you can survive the early flurry of card draw engines, you can win some games. Still, Spiritdancer is amazing and you will have troubles.

Speaking of which, this is another matchup where Shock might be better than Skewer the Critics, just to go: turn 1 kill Selfless Savior or Alseid, turn 2 kill Spiritdancer.

Mono-Red Burn (Slightly Good – Good)

InOut
+2 Abrade-4 Viashino Pyromancer
+1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance-1 Skewer the Critics
+2 Goblin Chainwhirler

We are favored because Showdown is a house. It’s actually a skyscraper!

Jokes aside, while we are favored, it’s still going to be a close matchup as the decks are similar. Remember: You are the control deck, which is why we take cards out that are only good when you’re hitting. I don’t like taking Lavarunners out as I found the early traction to be quite important, but Pyromancer is obviously not good in these kinds of scenarios.

Azorius Control (Even)

InOut
+1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance-1 Skewer the Critics

This is vastly a skill matchup and the better player will usually win here. Not kidding, a good U/W control player can be tough to beat – but U/W control is exceptionally tough to play correctly as well. Try to bait their counterspells out to resolve your main cards: Frenzy, Showdown, Chandra. Most other cards don’t matter as much. Always keep up the pressure even if that means running into Wrath of God, as you might make it too easy for them to resolve Teferi, Hero of Dominaria.

End Step

I hope this helped you guys out and Burn has always been one of my favorites. Uro getting banned is one of the key factors why this strategy could make a major comeback into the metagame! I hope you all enjoyed this guide, and as always, if you have any questions: Down in the comments you go! I’ll try to help as much as possible.

Have a great one and stay safe wizards!


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