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60 card casual: Burns for days

Sixty card is my main jam, and to start out this adventures exploration of the format that dominates magic the gathering I think we should consider a simple concept, Mono Red Burn. Who needs dumb beasts or treacherous minions you are an planeswaker. Rain your personal judgment on all that would appose you. Fancy enchantment? Complex strategies? Infinite combos? Tools of the week and cowardly. Fire and lighting brought forth by your will, earthquakes and meteors, these are the tools of the truly powerful. You might be wondering if Mono red is so simple why talk about it? The devil is always in the details and while Red burn is simple in concept making it come together consistently can be a touch trickier then you may suspect.

Lightning Bolt in Legacy Deck

To start we need to grasp the most important thing to any mono red burn deck, efficiency. You need to hit the ground running right away so one mana is your core power curve. Instants are always better but never limit yourself with this, some of your best cards will be sorcery. Any Red burn deck worth its salt should run Lightning Bolt is your flag ship card. Nothing can match it for raw efficiency. For sorcery Chain lightning is a winner play it against another red deck and play some deadly hot potato with your foe. Then there is a personal favorite of mine Rift bolt its a touch slow and clunky but always amusing. One cost cards are going to be your core damage and you want to be able to throw down as many as you can to make sure things die as you will it.

Everything else in the deck falls into two other categories more then 1 mana and creatures. Creatures are easy as there are only four I care about. Those four creature are Vexing devil, guttersnipe, spark elemental and ball lightning. As much as I seem to look down on creatures for this deck I would like to say that a light sprinkling of monsters has helped even out my red deck a lot. It can give you more options and a touch of staying power. I would encourage so careful exploration into this subject just remember you are a burn deck not a creature deck if it does not directly support the rapid emulation of your enemies then cut it and find something else.

And here we go with the other cards. This is anything that costs more then 1 mana or does something maybe slightly different the direct brick to enemy face all day every day. Let me gush over some of my favorite cards and we will start with fireblast alternate casting costs are the best thing ever, sac two lazy mountains to hammer you opponent more yes please! Tap out and keep swinging for the bleachers well after it is polite to stop, even more yes please. browbeat I love reds logic, I have a gun let me shoot you once now or let me try reloading so I can maybe shoot you more later, genius. Card draw is so important because of how fast you will empty your hand so anything that lets you draw is brilliant. Skullscorch another win win card, red discard, what is life anymore? Or solid damage, just wonderful. What we have here is your mid game which has to be strong because to be honest you do not have a late game. You want cards that keep your enemy reeling as you rain blows on them as fast as you can. Also forcing your foe to choose how you hurt them amuses me greatly, I have been know to shout stop hitting yourself at times… I have no dignity.

Now the deceptive part and the thing that will have you tweaking this deck and scratching you head all day. The deadly razor’s edge you will be running alone with this beast. Precision is needed at all times and careful use to spells. Every game is a gamble like that, do I burn a combo creature or shoot someone in the face again. These choices can instantly make or brake you making mono red aggro a high pressure deck. Many the game has ended against my favor with me cursing literally one miss cast spell, one miss used mana. Your opening hand will often speak volumes to how your battle will go (one mana being your most important curve). So be ready and as you plunge to victory or death keep a careful eye on the board and your cards because you will only get one shot to win.

So there are some of my thoughts in a nut shell I guess this is the part were we have an over view. You are red have some blasted pride, charge into battle naked flame ax held high as you go to glory. Other colors may need tricks and combos to win but not red burn. Make sure you manage your mana curve you have to keep it low enough so you never stop spewing death at everything that moves. Any turn where you do no do damage could be the turn that kills you. And for for the love of what ever god you worship if you are mono red do not pretend to be anything else.

Burns for Days


  1. Nice job Eliot. Well written to the point that your introduction had me imagining a Red Mage standing above a group and judging them. A menacing laugh followed up with a pyrotechnics show of red fury.

    Although I am not a traveler of the red mage legacy circuit, I am assuming that your decklist is on the unique site of the hemisphere. I have never seen Breaking Point or Skullscorch before. Vexing Devil is awesome, and I miss my playset.

    Anyway, my only question(s)… I am assuming you play 60 card, 1v1, casual, semi-competitive? Or do you take this decklist to Legacy events? If so, how does it fare?

  2. Thankyou and yeah I am always surprised that no one runs skullscorch it works extremely well for me. Breaking point is a fantastic mid game card that has done wonders for me. Turn 4 breaking point + burn spell plus a fireblast or two turns out a lot of board control or damage real fast.

    This version of the deck has not seen any competitive play but the original did back in the day did. Sadly this deck is casual only however it works very well. Its win rate is a little wild though due to the nature of mono red, it has no back up plan after all. Molten Vorte is what I am on the fence about right now, I removed my guttersnipe to add it.

    1. Breaking Point is very interesting indeed, especially in multiplayer where it’s tough to take 6 damage since this means that you just sacrificed a third of your life total with most of the others benefitting from it. Ouch.

      Skullscorch though is just too unpredictable. Imagine your opponent is at 2 life with two cards in hand but has you dead on the board and you need to kill him or her right now. Any burn spell you draw seals the deal. Well, almost any burn spell as Skullscorch now basically reads “Target opponent discards two cards. You lose the game.” Usually, the spells that seal the deal are the ones that provide a damage output of 4 or more, and Skullscorch just does not deliver in every situation and may thus cost you a win. As you can see, I’m not a fan either… 😉

      In general, it’s never a good idea to let your opponents choose which spells you cast. And this is basically what these cards do. Some are still good (Vexing Devil, Browbeat) but others are better left out of your deck.

      Be that as it may, I like your perspective of all-in here. Or in Magic slang: Do or Die!

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