While I was browsing through the cards I’ve cracked open, drafted, or won in MTG Arena, I was surprised that I could actually build this deck circulating briefly in the internet called Punisher Burn. People said it was a dark horse that can take down FNMs consistently well. Seth from MTG Goldfish wrote about this deck and made it all the way to a 5-0 finish with the deck, against the best decks in standard like Mono Red and Jeskai Control.
Though we haven’ seen this deck pop up commonly in the top tables or recent GPs or PPTQs, piloting the deck in MTG Arena was very satisfying. Thought I don’t exactly have all the rare cards that Seth has in his list, I tweaked it a bit and found some room for the slightest improvements which I felt worked really well. I use the list below from Bronze Tier 3 all the way to Gold Tier 4 in constructed in a matter of a few hours.
The revisions I made to Seth’s mainboard was reducing Sword-Point Diplomacy (SPD) from a full playset to a single copy. The reason Seth shared in his video why SPD was a good card because it was often a draw 2-deal 3, draw 1-deal 6, or draw 3-deal 0.
In my opinion giving our opponent choices, even if these choices are just between bad and worse options, still puts the opponent at the driver seat for your succeeding plays. This is also true for Risk Factor but at least Risk Factor guarantees you 4 damage if the opponent is high on life or 3 cards if the opponent is low on life. SPD slighly makes the math a bit more complicated so I swapped it with Flame of Keld. Across 50+ Best-of-One (Bo1) games, we usually have 1 or 2 cards left in hand right before our opponent’s end step. Drawing Flame of Keld in these instances is pure gas. We don’t mind throwing away excess lands and we usually can cast our remaining burn spells on the turn we draw Flame of Keld.
The best thing here is that Verse 2 positions us for an explosive next turn especially if we have a Electrostatic Field on the battlefield. Apart from Sovereign’s Bite, all our sources of damage are Red will trigger Verse 3.
Our Viashino Pyromancer will not hit for 4 upon entering. Our Electrostatic Field will deal 3 for each spell you cast. I have been in games where I’m so far behind and an active Keld ’emblem’ has dealt 14+ damage to win from behind.
The other 1-off I decided to play which has not disappointed me yet whenever I draw it is Expansion // Explosion. We won’t be able to cast the Explosion half but the Expansion has caught my opponent by surprise in a lot of games.
Copying their Chemister’s Insight or Chart a Course has been a splendid experience from our end. I once copied a Deafening Clarion from the Jeskai player which ended up killing all his drakes and Niv-Mizzet. If only MTG Arena had a chat box, I’m sure my opponent might have cursed me in 7 different languages. I like it most when it copies a Risk Factor for 5 mana which closes out the game shortly after they both resolve.
My sideboard strategy is very similar to Seth but I decided to add Jaya Ballard to the mix.
I think a one-off Jaya suits the deck’s late game by giving us ways to recycle the excess lands we draw, as well as replay all the spells from our graveyard if the opponent manages to gain some life in between. The 5-mana cost is quite steep for a 22 land mana base but I think the deck should net you enough lands by the time you can cast Jaya.
The match-ups against the gauntlet decks of standard has been very positive so far. I don’t think there is a deck that outright destroys this deck’s capability to win. Here’s my own ranking on the deck’s match-ups.
Very Favorable (>85% chance to win)
- Izzet Drakes
- Mono Red Aggro
Favorable (>70% chance to win)
- Jeskai Control
- Izzet Control
- BG Midrange (this match-up is all about killing Wildgrowth Walker on sight, which is fairly consistent)
- Big Red (Sideboarding is tricky because the Cannonades might miss if they decide to go bigger)
Competitive (+/- 50% chance to win)
- White Weenie / Boros Aggro (this match-up is all about drawing Cannonades or Soot)
- Mono Blue – the losses we get are from timely Dive Downs or Spell Pierces which they side plenty in post-board.
Unfavorable (<30% chance to win)
- Abzan Explore – a fringe deck that seems to pack all the explore cards a 60-card shell can fit.
- RG Dinosaurs – because we do not have Lava Coils in the main like Seth’s list, their Thrashing Brontodon, Deathgorge Scavenger and turn 4 Regisaur Alphas are damn hard to kill.
- RW Angels – we are unfavorable in game 1, and only competitive at best post board. Lyra, Shalai, Aurelia are very difficult targets to kill so we need to draw our Fight with Fire timely. This drags the game and exhausts our resources which should otherwise be use to burn face.
That’s it for now! I hope you guys are still enjoying the holidays. There are very few tournaments running in the days between Christmas and the new year, but in case you do find a shop near you and have the cards to build this deck, I assure you that you’ll have a lots of fun burning things up like firecrackers!