Essential Magic Articles


Budget Building 6 - Burn Redux

by Kevin Weber

A quick note before I begin the article - I think I finally found the pricing system I want to use.  All the previous articles, I used the "Buy" price from singles sites, because that was about the only way to systematically get a price for each card.  However, I found a site that tracks cards and how much they sell for on eBay.  Not only does it list the average price, but it lists the number tracked as well as the standard deviation.

So, for instance, let's say I want to include Baru, Fist of Krosa in my deck.  I could look up on a singles site and see it going for $1.49.  But here's the thing - that's about the absolute *worst* price I could pay for it.  Chances are, I could look around, shop thrifty, and find it for far less.  Case in point, the average rate for a Baru on eBay is $0.72.

Standard Deviation makes things even better.  I won't bog you down with the math, but it lets me put a *range* on how much the card will cost.  In Baru's case, he probably costs $0.59 to $0.85.

The Idea

I want to revisit an old deck that I build just as Morningtide was coming out - the first Budget Building Article I wrote.  It was a mono-red burn deck, very similar to eventual tourney decks, but with a few oddballs: Wheel of Fate and Grapeshot, for instance.

Well, there are two Shadowmoor cards that promise to make a burn deck much better - the first obviously being Flame Javelin.  But there's a second that's less apparent, and it takes a little bit of discussing of "The Howling Mine Effect."

Howling Mine is a horribly overused card by beginners.  Generally, it's a bad card to include because your opponent gets to draw their card first.  You've spent a card that benefits both players, and it doesn't even benefit you first!  So unless your deck satisfies one of two criteria, Howling Mine usually is a bad card to include.

What are the two criteria?  First, if the cards your opponent draws are irrelevant, then it doesn't matter if they draw first.  That's why Howling Mine is played in Turbofog decks - because they try to make the opponents draws next to worthless.  Who cares if they draw 10 extra creatures if none of them can attack for damage?  It's also why they're sometimes used in Combo decks - because the extra cards won't win your opponent the game before you simply go off.

The second possible criteria is that you'll be able to use your card before the opponent.  But how is this possible?  Your opponent is drawing their card before you do!  But here's the key: most of the time, your opponent is going to be "using" their card by playing out a creature.  And unless that creature has haste, it'll have to sit through your next turn.  It doesn't actually help until a turn later.  So, for instance, if all your creatures had haste, Howling Mine could be good, because you'd be getting use from your card first.  Or, more to the point, if you're playing a burn deck, you'll be able to get your punches in first.

So, what's the second Shadowmoor card besides Flame Javelin that could be really good in a burn deck?  Spiteful Visions.  Not only does it act as a Howling Mine effect, but it burns the opponent in the process!  Even better, it works very well with Howling Mine itself.

Going bare bones, I'm considering the following cards:

Howling Mine
Spiteful Visions
Shock
Tarfire
Shard Volley
Rift Bolt
Needle Drop
Lash Out
Incinerate
Flame Javelin
Sulfurous Blast
Mogg Fanatic
Keldon Marauders

Let's start with the shoeins - Flame Javelin, Incinerate, Howling Mine, and Spiteful Visions, with Visions being a 3-of - as well as 21 land (I'm bumping this up a bit due to a slightly higher curve.)  This leaves 24 available slots.

Since I wrote the original article, I've come to appreciate Sulfurous Blast in the main deck.  It's not-quite-efficient burn all by itself, but it's great for resetting the board against aggressive decks - one of the bigger threats to straight burn.  I'm going to add it as a 3-of as well.

The next major decision: creatures or no creatures?  It all comes down to consistancy versus power.  Mogg Fanatic and Keldon Marauders are possibly worth more damage than equivalent burn spells, but not consistantly.  If they're in the start hand, they can deal quite a bit of damage (especially on the Play,) but as topdecks they're both suboptimal.  For no other reason than I played them the first article, I'm going to throw them out this time around (what fun would it be playing a deck that differed only by 8 slots or so?)

Last edited 7/17/2008 4:11:41 PM Page 1 of 7  Prev  Next  Go to page:

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