Since Echoes of the New World was released, the scramble to improve current decks was apparent, especially the banning of Laevateinn and Horn. As of this writing, the usual suspects are proving their dominance, such as Fox, Alhama’at, and even Lumia Hook has made a resurgence. However, I’m here to ask what about the red guy? …No, not that one. …Not that one either. …Okay, now you’re just toying with me.
Burn! I’m talking about Burn! If you’ve been playing Force of Will for a while, you might remember the dominance of the Fire attribute before Curse of the Frozen Casket was released. Between Lancelots, Flame Sprites, and the many other swift red creatures that went unchecked during the Alice Cluster, Fire was a very powerful attribute that overran the opponent before they could properly accomplish their game plan. It was even worse when you included Grimm Cluster cards like Cthugha and Thunder. Then Red Rush died off with the introduction of Lapis Cluster. Maybe it Charlotte’s Water Transformation Magic that did it in, maybe Turbo Fiethsing just simply outpaced it, or maybe the power creep was finally catching up to handle the strength that Fire held. Whatever the reason, almost one year later, I realize one thing. I kind of miss it.
Aggro as a concept didn’t fully go away, the last three months of Pricia dominating the scene is evidence of that, but I want to do something different with my style of aggro. I don’t just want to rely on getting out a big creature to dominate the field like Skyscraper Giant or Izanagi. Instead, I want to hurl bolts of fire and lightning at my opponent’s face until we count to 40 and call it a done deal. Luckily for us, there is a plethora of cheap burn to allow us to perform this very thing along with tools to keep the opponent from escaping their fate through silly things like ‘Life Gain’.
Before I get too in depth, I want to preface that these concepts and deck lists are hardly what I would call ‘Tournament Winning’. These are just fun spins on the typical aggro formula that can get some surprise wins if the opponent isn’t expecting it.
As stated earlier, there’s a lot of cheap burn spells available now, each with their pros and cons. All are certainly worth running, but when to hold onto each is certainly a factor to consider. Possibly the best burn spell is good ol’ Lightning Strike: cheap, respectable damage, and best of all: quick cast-able. There are very few moments where you would not want to have this spell in your hand.
Memory to Memoria is almost as good if it weren’t for the lack of quickcast. However, while it lacks quickcast, it makes up for it with the flexibility to do multiple spells in your early game. Removing a pesky turn 1 resonator, then generating a fire will to do something like energizing into a Lancelot is a very effective play. If the opponent isn’t playing resonators, then that’s fine too, 500 to the face is just as acceptable.
New to the Burn package is Crimson Sanction which goes from mediocre to brutal by turn 5. 700 to the face for a single fire will is definitely good value for her burn, but having to wait until turn 5 to do such damage is disappointing, to say the least. Getting out Nyarlathotep, the Realized Truth early makes this wait not nearly as bad. This wait can work to one’s advantage as you put out Barrier of Flame, making your burn hurt that much harder. If 700 for one was already intense, imagine doing 900 for 1100 for one, on top of the other damage you’re already doing. Feels good.
Lancelot has ever been the staple resonator for aggro and while he’s certainly not as relatively powerful as he used to be, he can still strike fear and a lot of damage to opponents. Beyond that, what’s to say about Lance that hasn’t already been said? He’s a scary two drop that’s hard to remove immediately so early on, he could be considered a 600 damage burn spell that keeps on giving, over and over again. Though as the game drags on, his usefulness starts to wane against bigger blockers.
Which is why Red Riding Hood, Rainbow to the Heavens has become the essential 1-drop for aggro decks. She may not have swiftness and flying from the get go, but the 400/400 stats for a fire is respectable, and it doesn’t take long for her to get those useful keywords. It’s not too uncommon to wait until turn 3 and drop multiple Red Riding Hoods to swarm the unsuspecting opponent.
Finally, we have Sylvia, who I would be remiss to not mention, even though she’s not mono red like the rest of our package. Like Lancelot, she’s a 600/600 swiftness resonator, but her ability to prevent a blocker from the opposing side is invaluable. This Minion may lack the damaging umph that Lancelot can possibly do on his own, but in a deck like Burn, it’s sometimes more valuable to get any sort of damage through.
First up is one of my favorite styles of doing burn and that’s through Ancient Magic. In the recent months, Ancient Magic has really established itself as a powerful and unique mechanic for its respective rulers. Mars sadly never really saw much New Frontiers play for how straightforward his game plan ultimately is and how easily it was countered by anti-aggro cards at his initial printing. I personally say, he is a stronger place if you play your hand correctly.
The reason I choose Mars over Sol is something [I’ve gone over in the past], to summarize: It’s Namblot. Acting as a style of burn himself, Namblot can clear the way of weaker resonators, or discourage them from blocking at all if you have the Fire Stones open. Even in the mirror, a defending Lancelot isn’t so scary when he’s already got 400 damage on him.
The main advantage of Ancient Magic Burn is the flexibility one gets with the Mana counters and the fire spells that go with it. Ancient Heartfelt Fire is a nice piece of removal when your opponent thinks their mana dork is safe, but if they’re running low amounts of resonators, the ‘Produce 3 Mana Counters’ mode is just as useful.
One of the main benefits to playing Mars is that you can play burn as normal, but once you get the opponent to under 2000 life, they have to worry about the possibility of Invitation of Disaster. Most players shrug this off, as they are so many counterspells, but should an opponent ever overextend their stones, it can mean the end of the game.
Another more experimental card choice is Conjure Time Bomb. When this card was first printed, it was met with eye rolls considering that Mikage was a dominant force at the time, and Valentina 3.0 was just revealed beforehand so the idea that the little 100/100 would survive to explode and wipe a board was laughable. However, neither ruler isn’t seen as much and other rulers have to worry about picking off the token, so it could be seen as a cheaper World Flame Summoning that does more damage.
Alas, Mars is hardly not without fault. At the cost of doing extensive damage very quickly, Mars lacks in card draw. There are ways around this, such as Guinevere and Ring of Fate and those draws can get the last gas you need to win the game, but to play well with Mars, you need to recognize when it’s good to go all in and when it’s wiser to hold back and let your resonators do the damage, before letting your hand burn out to victory.
Charlotte or Flute
If you don’t want to worry about card draw, then perhaps one of the two card drawing queens would better suit your aggressive nature. Charlotte Aggro was a powerful deck when Lapis Cluster first began, and the power of getting a large number of cards for 2 will after exhausting your hand was very efficient. Add in ways to give Charlotte Imperishable and you had a constantly recurring source card draw. …Had, anyway.
With Laevateinn banned, Charlotte aggro is still strong with how many aggressive creatures and burn spells there are available. You could keep a hand of 1 cost burn spells, empty out, then flip and reload for the finisher. It’s certainly appealing.
Flute is also an interesting choice because she can provide the card draw once you hit your necessary stone needs. Got 4 stones? You’re good to go. Just keep getting that extra draw with Flute. Even better, she does this with no real restriction to attribute. Not to say there isn’t merit in running Water with Flute. Losing a number of resonators to help clear a power, only to flip Flute and get them all back to your hand can be a triumph on its own.
To go further, the Fire-Water combination gives access to resonators like Lars, Swordsman of the Dusk and who doesn’t want another Lancelot damage level resonator? Another resonator one might consider is Prokaryotic Being, which with all the chants the deck is filled with, this might be its time to really shine. Swift 1000/1000 for 3 sounds pretty nice is all I’m saying.
Flute and Charlotte’s main weakness, however, is their lack of meaningful burst damage. They’re stronger for the long game due of their ability to draw plenty of cards, but in the short game, they might struggle to against faster decks such as Pricia. Makes that opening hand a little more important once you know what you’re up against.
Yggdrasil, Malefic Verdant Tree
The last ruler we’re going to look over is Yggdrasil, Malefic Verdant Tree. What makes Yggdrasil 2.0 appealing as a burn ruler is a number of beneficial factors. It can start with effectively 2000 more life than its competition. It synergizes with Alisaris’ package, such as the Keepers of Time. It can run cards that WANT to be put in the Removed from Game area from your deck. Best of all, it can run a cheap but effective two card combo to turn a losing game into a sudden victory. Let’s elaborate on these points.
The Keepers of Times, Skuld, Uthr, and Verdandi, are cards that want at least 10 cards in your Removed from Game area for them to received powerful buffs. With Alisaris, this was the ultimate goal of the deck, but with Yggdrasil 2.0, it’s an inevitability; something to add on top of the bolts of lightning flung at the opponent. Furthermore, Vell-Savarian Apparition becomes a useful circumstance of taking damage, landing on your field if he gets removed from the deck
What really pushes Yggdrasil 2.0 is an easy-to-perform combo of Torching the Timeline and True Successor of Certo, Volga. As Yggdrasil 2.0, you can take loads of damage, which translate into putting a ton of cards in your Removed from Game area. From there, you simply play Volga and then cast Torching the Timeline on him. If it resolves: instant victory. If it doesn’t: it wasn’t that big a commitment, so you’re fine.
To add icing on the cake, whether the previous rulers mentioned would have to run something like Certo, the Blazing Volcano to prevent the opponent from gaining life, Yggdrasil 2.0 has such an effect automatically built into it. How ironic it is that the tree is the best at burning things.
Burn after rotation
Alas, despite how fun it is to burn things to the ground, it’s no secret that rotation is upon us very quickly, and spoiler season has just started. Nevertheless, it’s kind of surprised how much burn and aggressive resonators will be kept around. Lightning Strike, Memory to Memoria, Crimson Sanction, Red Riding Hood, Sylvia, Lars. All staying around.
Ruler wise, Yggdrasil probably won’t be the dominant burn ruler as it loses the Keepers and both pieces to the Volga Combo. However, Mars, Charlotte, and Flute have the potential to become much stronger as more things get printed. This is due to the rotation of numerous bothersome counterspells, such as Seal of Wind and Light, Wall of Winds, and Keen Sense. They will still have to worry about Millenia Bond and Severing Winds, but that’s a significant less worry pool.
Lumia Aggro might finally get a chance to shine, with the addition of Crimson Ray and Nyarlathotep, the Crimson Radiance. Time will tell if they print more fire slinging spells for us to play with, but I eagerly hope so.