This week in Magic: Another second place finish

loss of the ring

Ever since GP Boston-Worcester, I’ve had the competitive bug. This past weekend were the TCG Modern State Championships. So, I decided to take my burn deck and try my hand at this. To be honest, I went into the tournament not knowing too much besides the format of the tournament. I didn’t even know what I was playing for. I guess, in a way, this is a good thing. Concern yourself with winning first, then figure out what you get after.


On to the deck. For reference, here is what I played this past weekend.


Mono Red Burn:
4x Goblin Guide
4x Eidolon of the Great Revel
4x Hellspark Elemental
4x Lightning Bolt
4x Lava Spike
4x Shard Volley
4x Searing Blaze
4x Skull Crack
4x Rift Bolt
4x Flames of the Blood Hand
15x Mountain
1x Arix Mesa
4x Scaling Tarn


Side board:
3x Combust
3x Shattering Spree
3x Searing Blood
2x Relic of Progenitus
2x Anger of the Gods
2x Molten Rain


There was a pretty good showing for a Sunday tournament: 52 players. As you can see, I haven’t made any major changes to the deck as far as the core spells go. However, I was able to get my hands on some fetchlands. I was actually concerned about how it would affect my game. It definitely felt different playing with them. Obviously it made my Searing Blazes amazing, but it’s hard to explain exactly how going from a budget deck to playing with fetchlands made me feel.


I didn’t start the day well, I lost my first match to Tarmo-Twin. This time, the deck had the newly added Huntmaster. I felt the match was close, but he seemed to always have the edge. The Huntmaster adds a whole new dynamic to the deck and the match. You would never think much of it, but the act of gaining life (any amount) against a burn player hurts so much.


Starting the day with one loss meant that I had to win out. It was a six round tournament with a cut to Top 8. My next match didn’t start well either. I was up against Scapeshift. This is a match that tends to favor me, but two early Remands and a Cryptic Command kept enough at bay that he has able to combo off. Also, remember how I had mentioned playing with fetchlands was a different feeling. Well, what was a great matchup for me, became a decent matchup. Dealing myself, albeit, only a couple points of damage is enough for Scapeshift to combo off a little bit earlier on me.


I quickly got game two, but I was a little on tilt because of my round one loss. Even my opponent noticed how cautious I was playing. Game three was where things really changed for me – not only in the match, but for the day as well. I had to take a mulligan and went down to six cards. My opponent had decided to keep a seven-card hand. However, my opponent (who was on the play) drew a card on his first turn. This is always an awkward situation, but in a higher competitive tournament, i had to call the judge over, even though I knew it was an obvious mistake. My opponent wasn’t happy as well; his unhappiness with not with me, but with how he could have allowed himself to draw a card, especially during game three.


The judge came over and the situation was explained. I’m never sure what the rulings are going to be here, but I was hoping he would at least get to play the last game. I don’t remember what the official ruling was here, but I know my opponent had to take two cards, at random, from his hand and shuffle them back into his deck. I ended up winning this match, and I had a very good feeling as to why. My opponent, after the match, confirmed that feeling. The two cards that he had shuffled back into his deck were two forests. During our game, I saw how much he was digging into his deck, knowing he was looking for a forest. Luckily for me I was able to burn him out. A win is a win.


I ended up winning out leading into the sixth round. A bit of gambling on my part, and I was able to draw into the Top 8 in sixth place.


The Top 8 favored me if things played out the way I wanted them to. There were three decks I was unsure about, and my quarterfinal opponent was one of them. His first turn play meant I was playing the mirror. Funny thing is, I have never played the mirror before. The closest I have come to playing the mirror was at a GPT leading up to GP Boston-Worcester. That wasn’t Mono Red Burn, though. It was RWB Burn.


Our match went to game three and that was a tight game that I got thanks to 75% luck. My opponent kept a one land hand (something that a Burn player can afford to do thanks to so many one-drops in the deck). By turn two, his groan had made it obvious and I sat up straight, poised to win. However, I was sitting on two Searing Blazes that had yet to see a target. Thanks to some fetchlands, I had brought myself down to a respectable burn range for only two lands. My opponent wasn’t doing too well either. I just needed one more burn spell. I was starting to flood, though. While, they were not the greatest threat against burn, I still played my Hellspark Elementals. My only fear at the time was them getting bolted or something else. I hadn’t even considered them getting targeted by Searing Blood.


The first time I played the Hellspark, it got killed via a Searing Blood dealing 3 to me. My opponent drew a card and passed. I followed that up by unearthing my Hellspark. That was met with another Searing Blood dealing 3 more to me. At this point, my life total was now at 5. I was sweating. I was going to lose this game. It was going to be heartbreaking. At the same time, I was excited to see such a great comeback from another burn player.


On his turn he cast a Skull Crack and passed the turn with mana open. I was clueless. This was either the worst slow-roll or he didn’t have anything. I just needed a burn spell, forget creature, I just wanted something I could point at him and deal him damage. I flipped the top card and revealed a Skull Crack of my own. My opponent extended the hand and replied, “Well at least one burn deck will move on.”


The other decks I knew about were a Junk deck, a Jund deck, two Twin decks, and still another deck I didn’t know about. The semi-finals came and things were really favoring me because both Twin deck were eliminated – one of them being my opponent from round one that I had lost to.


My semi-final opponent was against Adam Snook, a well known player in the local tournament scene and was playing Junk. We knew what each other was playing and he was not looking forward to it. I got game one as expected, but I tried not to let myself get ahead of things. Game two was a humbling point as I flooded out and he smashed me with hand removal, Goyfs and a Treetop Village. While I appreciate the humbling moment, I was still able to crush game three and move onto the finals.


How I derped the finals

Here is what you’ve all been waiting for. My finals opponent had beaten Affinity in his matchup, meaning I was facing him and his Jund Deck. If you ask me, everything was coming up Simeon at this point.


Our game one did not start out how I wanted it to. He won the dice roll and won the match. I got a little flooded, but there are just some things you can’t help. This was one of them. Our second game went how I thought it would, I was on the play and I just burned my opponent out.


I kept a seven-card hand, and my opponent had to take a mulligan. He kept six. He opened with an Inquisition, and took one of my many burn spells. I opened with a fetchland into Lava Spike. His turn two had him shocking himself to 15 life to play a Tarmogoyf. He played a fetchland, fetched for a land, swung with his Gofy bringing me to 16, and passed the turn. I had, in my hand, a Lava Spike, two Shard Volleys, and a Molten Rain. I played my third land.


Now, any smart person would have played their Molten Rain and set their opponent back a land. In a deck that plays three colors, this can be a big game changer, but I am not a smart person. I, instead, elect to Lava Spike him bringing him to 11 life. I paid for not blowing up his land. He played Liliana of the Veil on his next turn and ticked her up. I chose to discard the Molten Rain I failed to play. He swung with Goyf and brought me down to 10. That was a six point hit thanks to grabbing an Eidolon from an early discard spell.


I drew a land on my next turn and now only had two Shard Volleys in hand. I had to pass the turn. My opponent drew and activated Liliana again, then swung with Goyf bringing me down to 4 life. I had responded to Liliana by using both of my Shard Volleys. This brought him to 2 life and I had two lands left.


Looking back, I realized how bad of a situation I was in. At the time though, I had put a lot of faith in my deck. but I failed to realize how many of my burn spells I didn’t want to draw – Searing Blaze, Searing Blood, Flames of the Blood Hand. I gathered my lands up and my opponent said to me, “You should windmill slam it.” Referring to the top card of my deck. Everyone who had stuck around (even Josh ‘cause he didn’t have a choice) began to lean into the table. I reached for the top card of my deck. I braced myself. I was looking for a Bolt, another Volley, a Spike, or even a Skull Crack. It was at that moment I could hear the trumpets in the background as they played the infamous “Womp Womp.” I had flipped over a Mountain.


About the author

Simeon is now the Community Manager for Battleground Games & Hobbies. If you have any questions or inquiries, then you can reach him at He is also an avid gamer who loves to play board games and video games. He graduated college with a degree in Political Science, and now serves the public by writing about games. You can check that out here. Don’t forget to “like” him on Facebook as well. It’ll update you on all of his newest content. Best of all, you can follow Simeon on Twitter (@SimeonCortezano) for some real time hilarity. Thanks for reading!


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