Red-Green Burn

Building On A Budget - Red-Green Burn

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As many of us have seen, the popularity of green has gone through the roof. I've seen reports that 90% of the decks in the field are playing with forests. That is absurd considering that just a few years ago green was the worst Magic color. How did this turnaround come about?

There are three parts to this equation, two of which I have already covered. The first is the Blue-Green decks. Threshold, Madness, whatever; there are a lot of variants, but they all involve the same colors and many of the same cards. The second is the rising popularity of elves. Why do we like elves? Well, we just do. If anyone has a problem with that, go talk to the Soultiller and it will knock some sense into you. Aside from the combo and control decks that use green, the last part of this equation has been Red-Green.

Historically, Red-Green was popular before either Blue-Green or Elves. Back in the day, Llanowar Elves and Shivan Dragon reined supreme. When you mentioned elves, people thought of Elvish Archers and Lightning Bolts. We've come a long way from arrows and lightning. Now we use...well, dogs and fire. Not more glorious, perhaps, but more effective!

Building on a Budget - Red-Green Burn

So how to dogs and fires make victory? First, it's crucial to swing for at least 6-8 points of creature damage. From there you have a reasonable shot at burning your opponent out, but try to swing for as much as possible--burn only gets you so far. Often it will be worth burning your opponent's creatures so you can swing for more.

Even though this seems like a kiddy deck to play, it is really all math--more so than Tog. Tog is all about control, but when you have control you'll win anyhow. With Red-Green you only have a certain window of opportunity. If you miss it, the game will probably go downhill for you. The difference between a great burn player and a mediocre one is that the great one will figure out how to squeak an extra one or two points of damage out of his or her cards.

An alternative to this deck is playing a more madness-oriented version with Sonic Seizure and Barbarian Bully. If you're going to play those two cards, however, make sure that every card in the deck is reasonable to discard (such as Arrogant Wurm, Anger, and Roar of the Wurm). It may not be as direct as this version, but it is a lot of fun!

Tips On Playing The Deck

  • Don't be afraid to pump your Rootwallas at the cost of a little tempo if you're going to get your opponent below 13 life, or if your opponent is already there. Once again, this is all situational, so do the math.

  • Don't go to the nugget with your burn until you have either more burn than you can cast in one turn or enough to finish off your opponent.

  • Don't get attached to your Mongrels. Again, do the math--if it's going to net you more damage by saving them, then do it. If not, just let the dog go.

  • Try to save Reckless Charge for non-hasted creatures. However, if it'll get you an unblocked 3 points of damage, use it and do more damage to the face.

  • Remember--you're piloting a burn deck. Burn them out!


There are a ton of sideboarding options with this deck and it should be catered to your particular metagame, but here are some popular options:

Ensnaring Bridge
The Bridge is a popular choice against Blue-Green decks--just cast everything you can and try to burn your opponent out.

Lava Dart
Darts are good against Lavamancers and Rootwallas, mostly.

Naturalize/Nantuko Vigilante
Really, any sort of enchantment or artifact removal spell is a must, as long as you have a couple in your sideboard if you need them.

Compost/Phantom Centaur/Caller of the Claw
All of these are good versus Monoblack Control, and Caller is good versus any deck packing Wrath.

Flaring Pain
Consider running Flaring Pain versus Moment's Peace if Wake is big in your playgroup.

Flash of Defiance
Flash is an inexpensive way to serve for the last couple points against Blue-Green.

Adding More Money To The Deck

The usual Red-Green deck today uses a combination of beats and burn, and my budget version is no different. It does, however, lack Grim Lavamancer, a staple of modern Red-Green decks. I felt that, at 7 tickets apiece, they were just too much to include. Instead, they're replaced by a few more burn spells. If you want to spend more money on the deck but still don't want to shell out for Lavamancers and saclands, I would add another two Blistering Firecats--they really pack a wallop! If you really want to go all out, add Call of the Herd. Just don't come crying to me after they repossess your car.

The truth is you can spend a hundred dollars on this deck and it will only be marginally better than before. Sure, Lavamancer and Call are great, but they only add a couple of win-percentage points. You're probably better off saving the hundred dollars and getting a little lucky.

That wraps things up for budget Red-Green. Until next time, may all of your dogs be blue.

Nate Heiss
Team CMU
nateheiss on Magic Online

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