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Boros Burn in Milwaukee

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As I mulligained to four in the deciding game of my first round in last Sunday's Legacy Open, Louis Kaplan walked by and asked if my deck ever doesn't shit on me. When I had played against Louis on Saturday I couldn't find a Mountain or Sacred Foundry to save my life, so I didn't have much of an argument for him. I definitely couldn't change his mind if he saw my opponent Cabal Therapy away three copies of Brainstorm from my hand on turn one of the following round. Regardless of some run-bads, I did manage a 7-3 finish in the Standard portion. More importantly, I was one of the players with a 7-3 record who actually made top 64. In a 600+ player tournament, that's far from a guarantee.

I made a few updates since I last published a list, registering this 75:

Boros Burn

I've done a lot of toying with the manabase while playing with this deck and Red Devotion, and I'm finally settled on this configuration. Off-color scrylands hurt the deck's tempo too much and 22 and 23-land versions usually felt a bit light. For this tournament I played nine Mountains with matching art and one oddball to see how often the 24th land was problematic. I was only flooded twice over the course of the tournament, and I won one such game. Interestingly, I drew the "marked" Mountain in the game that I won despite being flooded and didn't draw it in the game that I lost due to being flooded. Conversely, I lost three games due to not drawing enough untapped lands. All three were in matches that I lost. Obviously ten rounds of Magic isn't an overwhelming statistic, but the 24-land version has been testing better overall.

The other notable change is the maindecking of Boros Charm over Skullcrack. While they're both for the same matchups, Skullcrack is more for corner-cases and Boros Charm just does more in the matchups where neither card is ideal. Of course, Boros Charm has been in the maindeck of literally everyone else's list for as long as they've played the deck, but I believe it's worth reporting that I tried the alternative and went back.

My tournament went like this:
Round 1: 2-1 vs. Jund Monsters
Round 2: 1-2 vs. Naya Cards
Round 3: 2-0 vs. Grixis Hidden Strings
Round 4: 2-0 vs. Selesnya Aggro
Round 5: 2-1 vs. Owen Turtenwald on Black Devotion
Round 6: 2-1 vs. Black Devotion (game three was on camera)
Round 7: 0-2 vs. Gruul Midrange
Round 8: 0-2 vs. Blue Devotion
Round 9: 2-1 vs. Uw Devotion
Round 10: 2-0 vs. Jund Monsters

The most satisfying part of this tournament experience was finally winning all of my matches against Black Devotion in a live event. It was a bit odd completing dodging the control decks, but I wouldn't expect to play against them more than once or twice in a given Open or PTQ.

The Naya deck that I lost to in round two was pretty odd. It wasn't hexproof and I didn't see any Brave the Elements, but it could have very well been Brad Nelson's list on iffy draws. One of the games that I lost was to mulligaining and the other was to keeping a hand with two Warleader's Helix and missing enough land drops for a turn six Ghor-Clan Rampager to gain Unflinching Courage and kill me to death.

I had more control over my loss to the Gruul deck I played in round seven. Basically, things boiled down to me letting a Stormbreath Dragon get +4/+4 via a Rampager followed by Blooding me to death. I was on 12 and thought that Warleader's Helixing a Courser of Kruphix to get in some damage would matter more double Lightning Strike-ing the Dragon. Looking back, that play was really greedy. Interestingly, the Courser would still be lethal with the Rampager and the Blood in this scenario if I didn't block with my Young Pyromancer tokens, but I hope that I'd be able to figure that one out. My loss in game two of this match was considerably more embarrassing. The long and short of it is that Fanatic of Xenagos has trample and I made a terrible block.

The loss in round eight was the one I mentioned earlier against Louis. In game one my manabase of Boros Guildgate, Temple of Triumph and Mutavault couldn't support the Chained to the Rocks in my hand. In game two I kept this opener:

Louis played Cloudfin Raptor on turn one and I played Young Pyromancer on turn two. When his second turn consisted of playing Island and passing, I concluded that he was pretty likely to have a Rapid Hybridization. I attacked anyway with the Pyromancer and he had it. He also had Dispel when I Lightning Striked the Frog. I had considered double Rapid before making the attack, and in all honesty I probably should've just sat back. From that point I never drew another land and was therefor only ever able to cast one spell per turn. A second might have gotten me back into this game despite my mistake, but the absence of one might have actually caused me to lose even if I didn't put my Pyromancer in jeopardy.

The long and short of the above is that I feel like I was playing a list that gave me a very good chance at success against the field I played against. Young Pyromancer was an all-star all day. I easily made 20+ tokens on the day and was easily able to overwhelm creature decks, which I believe is substantially more difficult with the Blood Crypt version of Burn.

Going forward I would continue to play this 75 until Journey into Nyx launches. That said, there's only about a month until that happens. The biggest things I'll be looking for are reasons to play Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx or the Blue/Red Scryland. Namely, I'll be looking at double-colored creatures and burn spells. I could see Turn // Burn and Ral Zarek being playable over Chained to the Rocks and Warleader's Helix, but it would likely take at least one more good reason to be blue. At any rate, we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

During my match on camera Patrick Sullivan went over the list of reasons not to play Young Pryomancer- namely cards that are problematic for tokens. The biggest counterpoint to this is that you'll really wish you had him when you have to point burn spells at creatures in order to survive and race. I played ten rounds against decks that Young Pyromancer was gas against this weekend. In particular, he makes the Monsters matchups dramatically better. If you're looking to beat them, then I couldn't recommend my list strongly enough. If you pick it up, I hope that it treats you well.

Thanks for reading.
-Ryan Overturf

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