Ikoria has only been out for a couple of weeks, but already it has had a big impact on competitive Magic. Whether it is Companions busting combo decks or Mutate creatures terrorising the landscape, it is hard to understate the power level of this latest set. What’s more we have barely scratched the surface of what Ikoria can do, and I expect in the coming weeks and months competitive well continue to change as more and more players unlock the power of this set.
Now, whenever a new set like Ikoria is released there is always one thing I do before anything else. No, its not look at the new commanders and see which one I want to build around next (although there are quite a few that have caught my eye). Its not work out which new standard deck I want to brew or arrange for a draft night with my friends. No, the first thing I do is ask a simple question.
What can I add to my beloved Burn deck?
Regular readers of my articles will know that Burn is my go-to deck for most formats, with my Modern deck been particularly close to my heart. In fact, I will usually shock most of my friends if I rock up to an event with something other than an aggressive red deck. That doesn’t mean I don’t like playing other decks, far from it. But I will often gravitate back to Burn, and it will be my favoured deck whenever a large event like a MagicFest comes around.
As a result, I am always on the look out for any new addition to sure up the deck and make if more competitive. So, I looked through the may group pages and chatrooms of other Burn aficionados, to see what new toys (if any) Ikoria had gifted us. At first it looked like there was no new tech for the deck, and it appeared we would have to wait for another set before we were able to add any new cards. But then, someone pointed out a card many of us had overlooked. A creature that could do some serious work in an aggressive modern deck. And that creature, was named Lurrus.
Lurrus of the Dream Den is one of the new companion legendary creatures that can be cast from outside of the game (aka your sideboard) provided you follow the deck building stipulation stated on the card. For Lurrus, this entails having no permanents in our starting deck above CMC 2, which as you can imagine is rather easy in a format like modern. This basically gives you an addition card in your opening hand that can’t be disrupted by hand attack, which is pretty powerful on the face of it.
Now, a three mana 3/2 with lifelink might not seem too overpowered, but it’s the addition abilities of these companions that push their power level up considerable. For Lurrus, during each of our turns we can cast a permanent spell with CMC two or less from our graveyard. This allows us to recycle our early game threats like Goblin Guide and keep the pressure on into the mid-game if our hand ends up a little land heavy. This doesn’t even affect the consistency of our deck as Lurrus will happily sit in our sideboard until needed, which means we don’t have to cut any of our favourite Burn spells.
So, what does a Burn deck with Lurrus look like. Well, I would go with something like this:
4 Goblin Guide
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Helix
4 Boros Charm
4 Rift Bolt
4 Skewer the Critics
4 Arid Mesa
4 Inspiring Vantage
3 Wooded Foothills
3 Sacred Foundry
4 Sunbaked Canyon
2 Kor Firewalker
2 Path to Exile
2 Searing Blaze
2 Tormad's Crypt
2 Smash to Smithereens
1 Lurrus of the Dream Den
Now, the eagle eyed among you will have noted that the above deck is short a playset in the mainboard. This isn’t a mistake on my part, but rather it is a slot in the deck that is under some debate about what to fill it with. Option one (which most players are using) is a playset of Mishra’s Bauble. This might at first seem like a strange choice, since it doesn’t do anything to directly attack our opponent’s life total.
But with Lurrus on the battlefield it allows you to repeatedly look at the top of your opponent’s library (free information) draw a card (card advantage) and trigger prowess on your Swiftspears, all for zero mana. All things considered, not a bad use of a slot in our deck. But there is another card I believe could work out even better in the mainboard. A card I have dabbled with in Burn before, that is made even better with the addition of Lurrus.
Vexing Devil is a card I’ve always wanted to see do well, but has often been subpar in its performance. At first glance it looks quite powerful, been a 4/3 for only a single red mana that forces your opponent to choose to deal with it or take four damage to send it straight to the graveyard. The issue is that most of the time these ‘punisher’ style effects aren’t as effective as they first seem.
Since you are giving your opponent the choice, they will often just choose the best result for them. For example, they can easily just let it resolve and then just get rid of it with a Fatal Push or a Lightning Bolt of their own. Or if they have a way of circumventing the damage, they might be fine with taking four to make you sacrifice your creature.
But with Lurrus on the battlefield, you can force your opponent to make that decision every turn. By that time in the game your opponent is likely to have used most (if not all) of their available removal, making the idea of a 4/3 sticking around a little more of an issue. So, they take four damage and make you sacrifice it, only for it to come back the next turn and force that decision upon them again. This can quickly add up and force your opponent into a real rock and a hard place kind of situation.
Whatever your choice, there are a few things to consider when using Lurrus in your games. Firstly, NEVER board in Lurrus. This nightmare kitty is very happy in your sideboard and wants to stay there. Secondly, don’t play out Lurrus until you have either exhausted your opponent’s removal or you have the mana to immediately cast something from your graveyard. It might be tempting to get Lurrus out on turn three, but you want to make sure you at least get one go at using its ability. Lastly, expect your opponent to bring in graveyard hate in game two and three, so consider swapping out the Bauble/Devil for some direct damage like Skullcrack to catch them off guard.
And that’s Lurrus Burn for Modern. What do you think of this version of Modern Burn? Is it the kind of deck you would want to play? What would you put in the deck in slots 57-60? Why not let us know in the comments below. While you’re there you could like and subscribe to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics.
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