Lurrus Burn Historic Deck Guide: Your Opponent’s Will Be Seeing Red
Hello everyone! Today I’m writing about a deck that’s near and dear to my heart as it’s the first Historic deck I ever played! Albeit, this was back when Companions were still broken, but I still think Lurrus Burn has some real legs!
Although Burn is traditionally viewed as purely an aggro deck, and an easy one at that, a lot of people write it off as one dimensional or bad when they try it for the first time. To me, Burn is a deck where proper sequencing is more important compared to most other archetypes and it will really test your limits of threat evaluation.
After the Companion change, I figured there wouldn’t be a point to play Lurrus and normal Burn felt a bit lackluster. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Thien Nguyen take his iteration of Lurrus Burn to the Zendikar Rising Championship. Let’s take a look at his list.
This list looked super clean, to be expected of a player as good at Thien. Per usual, I always have to give a deck a full 3 matches before I make any changes to it. How did I do? A solid 2-1. I destroyed Gruul and Monoblack Aggro pretty handily and died to Jeskai Control when I drew way too many lands in both games. Ever have your 2 lander turn into an 8 lander? Not a good time. With that, I knew the deck was extremely well built, but just needed a tiny update. Let’s see where I landed.
As I said, super tiny changes. One card difference in the main and a slightly different board. I really like leveraging the plethora of 1 mana spells like Thien did overall as it pairs the best with Lurrus. However, the first iteration of Lurrus Burn played Burning Tree Emissary alongside Viashino Pyromancer, max Lightning Strike, and 3 The Flame of Keld. I’m not sure if that would be better than trying to max out the 1 drops, but having all your spells being as cheap as possible is where I’d lean. However, like all my guides, don’t be afraid to experiment and use this as a launching point, not a rigid guideline.
WHY SHOULD YOU PLAY LURRUS BURN?
There’s a few reasons to play Lurrus Burn, but two stand out to me. One, a lot of people love playing Burn, and if you’re one of those people then I don’t need to convince you. The second, more surprisingly, is that it is pretty much 50/50 against most archetypes. I’ve heard a lot of people not enjoying Historic as the matchups can be extremely polarizing, but Burn doesn’t really have that issue for the most part. If you enjoy playing a competitive deck that gives you a lot of choices and has a chance to beat functionally anything, this is a great choice for you.
Companion: Lurrus of the Dream-Den
At first I really didn’t see the point of Lurrus as I felt I could never bring it to my hand. However, that was more a function of how fast I was winning a lot of my games rather than Lurrus being bad. Lurrus is an extremely powerful play if you have the time and mana to invest in it, and single handedly won my match against Monoblack Aggro when my opponent was unable to remove it. The real question is the deck restriction that includes Lurrus better than being able to play permanents 3 CMC and up? Right now, I think so. Goblins has been on a major downswing so Rampaging Ferocidon feels a lot less important. Furthermore, with Sultai starting to really go up on Aether Gust because of Gruul’s prominence, more expensive Red spells have felt really bad recently. With that in mind, I think going as low to the ground as possible is where we want to be, a game plan Lurrus loves to enable.
4 Bomat Courier
Bomat Courier may be one of the most important inclusions to Burn in a long time. Since all of your spells are so cheap, it is very easy to empty out your hand in a few turns and cracking this to draw a few cards later is unbelievably valuable. At worst, you can play this, attack, and sacrifice for a psuedo cycle when you are already hellbent.
4 Ghitu Lavarunner
A 1 drop Wizard which turns into a better Goblin Guide with some spells in the graveyard.
2 Grim Lavamancer
Generally Grim Lavamancer is excellent in Burn, but since we’re playing Lurrus, exiling cards from the yard is really not that great as exiling permanents hurts Lurrus and exiling spells hurts Lavarunner. That being said, a repeatable Shock effect for one mana when you have a decent sized graveyard is obscenely powerful and not to be underestimated, even if there are downsides to using it.
4 Soul-Scar Mage
Another amazing inclusion that has recently blessed red mages, Soul-Scar Mage literally does it all. It has Prowess, the Wizard creature type, and turns all your Burn spells into Wither spells. The only extremely small downside about Soul-Scar Mage is that it has anti-synergy with The Flame of Keld where the buff from it doesn’t work if you’re pointing Burn spells at creatures. However, as long as you’re playing with that in mind, that interaction should very rarely be relevant.
Thermo-Alchemist is a pet card of mine that is absolutely killer in this deck. A lot of people tend to go for Viashino Pyromancer in this slot, reasonably so, but they don’t understand the power of Thermo. Although Thermo doesn’t deal any damage when it enters the battlefield, it can deal so much damage so quickly and blocks reasonably well to boot. With the downtick of Fatal Push, it’s really Alchemist’s time to shine.
4 Light Up the Stage
In a Burn deck that plays a huge amount of 1 drops, this will almost always be 1 mana draw 2 cards, which is obviously great.
4 Skewer the Critics
More often than not just a Sorcery speed Lightning Bolt. At worst, 3 mana for a Burn spell isn’t too terrible.
2 Spikefield Hazard
Hazard is really good in a deck like Burn as it’s a land in a pinch or a mediocre Burn spell otherwise! Burn can live or die by it’s land drops, but with mana sinks like Ramunap Ruins and Lurrus, being mana screwed is more likely to kill you then flood.
It’s a Monored deck, you gotta play Shock.
3 Lightning Strike
I’m actually not the biggest fan of Lightning Strike and generally want to limit the amount of 2 mana Burn in a deck, but it still does the job.
4 Wizard’s Lightning
Now this is a Burn spell! With 10 Wizards, this will more often than not be your best Burn spell.
1 The Flame of Keld
Bomat Courier is insanely good in this deck, and Flame operates in a similar function. Once you can get down to no cards in hand, you can get really good value out of this card and it’s the perfect 1 of as drawing 2 in the same hand feels really bad. You’d also be surprised what spots you can get out of with the 3rd mode of the Flame of Keld. Not with this deck, but I won a match against UW Control when they had double Timely Reinforcements and triple Absorb just because of the third mode off of The Flame of Keld so take that as you will.
20 Lands + 2 Spikefield Hazard
Since we want to play Lurrus, we need white or black lands to cast it. White is the clear winner with the Fast Land and Pathway where Rakdos has neither of those.
2 Soul-Guide Lantern
It’s not like Lantern is an amazing effect for this deck, but with Lurrus, this can be a repeatable graveyard hate card that some decks will have an extremely hard time beating.
2 Redcap Melee
Thien played Chandra’s Defeat, but I think Redcap Melee is generally better with the rise of Gruul. The only advantage Chandra’s Defeat has is that it kills a Chandra, Torch of Defiance after it pluses, or a Muxus when there’s a lord out. However, I think the flexibility to hit anything rather than only Red creatures is worth it.
For when you need more removal or a way to kill artifacts.
3 Baffling End
One of the biggest disadvantages of Burn naturally is creatures that outscale your burn spells, especially if they’re low cost such as Lovestruck Beast. Baffling End shores up that weakness as it lets you kill anything 3 CMC or less indiscriminate of their toughness. 3 may be overkill, but this is the best sideboard card you can ask for against a deck like Auras as well.
4 Roiling Vortex
I was very surprised that Thien didn’t want anything to help deal with Uro, as that’s generally lights out for Burn if they Escape it and you can’t prevent the life gain. If Skullcrack was legal, I’d happily play that instead, but Roiling Vortex is still quite reasonable with it’s constant ping. It’s awkward as I think you need to play 4 since any deck that plays Uro will also play 4, and you will generally not win if you don’t have a way to prevent life gain.
MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING
|+4 Roiling Vortex||-2 Ghitu Lavarunner|
As I said before, this matchup will live or die on if they can bombard you with Uro or if they blow you out with a sweeper. In that vein, this matchup is way better than most people give it credit for, but obviously it’s not amazing. I would put it around 50/50 if you focus on accruing as much card advantage as possible, play around sweepers, and they don’t get a fast Uro on the board.
|+3 Abrade||-4 Ghitu Lavarunner|
|+3 Baffling End||-2 Shock|
You’re really going to act like a Control deck in this matchup as you only care about the Cat loop and Mayhem Devil. If you can stop your opponent from killing you with a Mayhem Devil, the cat loop itself is rather manageable and you can outpace their drain with Thermo Alchemist and the like. You could board in Soul-Guide Lantern or Roiling Vortex as well, but I think those are generally too narrow. If you are facing the Food version, Baffling End becomes less relevant and Roiling Vortex may be better as they also play Gilded Goose.
|+2 Redcap Melee||-2 Ghitu Lavarunner|
You don’t need or want too much creature removal in the matchup as this will mostly be a race between you burning them out and them casting a relevant Muxus. It’s easy to keep everything but a Muxus off the board so keep killing their Lords while you beat them to death.
|+2 Redcap Melee||-4 Ghitu Lavarunner|
|+3 Abrade||-4 Skewer the Critics|
|+3 Baffling End|
Like Sacrifice, you’re going to play the Control role in this matchup. The matchup is really going to hinge upon how your hand lines up against the opponent’s as if they have multiple Burning Trees or a lot of Collected Company, this can be really hard. However, if you land a Soul-Scar Mage and have a bunch of Burn spells into a way to draw cards, this matchup can be easy. With that, I would classify this as another 50/50 matchup.
- If you have multiple Bomat Couriers out and want to crack them, hold Full Control and after your sacrifice one, sacrifice the other before the first Courier’s trigger resolves. You’ll get all the card without having to discard your hand twice!
- It can be difficult to know what cards to exile to Ghitu Lavarunner, but the easy guide is whether or not you think Lurrus will be an important part of winning that game. If so, exile spells, if not, exile creatures.
- Don’t be afraid to block with your Thermo-Alchemist, for some reason, a lot of people don’t like doing so.
- Try to use your Light Up the Stage as late as possible since you want the highest possible chance to use both cards. In that vein, you can keep 1 land hands with Light Up the Stage if, and only if, your hand is great if you draw a second land.
- Spikefield Hazard exiles the creatures it hits, so you can use this to tag Kroxa or Uro on their first cast to exile them permanently.
- You have 4 different one drops and you want to lead on a different one depending on the situation. Lead on Bomat Courier when you want to accrue more cards. Lead on Soul-Scar Mage when you’re trying to maximize damage. Lead on Grim Lavamancer when you need the ability to be live ASAP. Ghitu Lavarunner is the only one that I wouldn’t play out over any of the others as this can get Haste a turn or two down the line.
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