Not flammable? Is that a challenge?
“Hello there, my friend who loves short games with fast-paced action and a lot of Burn, baby, burn!!”. No, it is not déjà vu from my last article, but rather a befitting start for this new one, because we are going to go even more in-depth into the Burn Archetype, understand key concepts and why it is such a great option to use in a tournament line-up or even build an entire Burn line-up.
As you already know, my name is Constantin “CastMin” Dumitru, caster for many community tournaments and peak Top 20 player on the EU server, known for popularizing Burn lists like Pirate Aggro utilizing Double Up in the Rising Tides season and Funsmith Burn.
This article is going to be divided into two consistent sections, each with its own divisions:
1. Easy to play, hard to master
2. Setting tournaments on fire
Easy to play, hard to master
The decks falling into this archetype have been with us pretty much since the beginning of the game, in Open Beta (for example, Spider Burn and classic Draven-Jinx or Championless Burn) and their main selling points have been:
1. The ability to pick them up very easily, since their learning curve is quite low.
2. A big amount of games that can be played during a short period of time, compared to other decks.
3. The over-the-top damage (reach) that can be pushed in addition to the unit damage, which sets it apart from traditional board-based Aggro (for example, Lulu-Demacia Piles).
A few key terms necessary to understand the archetype are:
Burn – any skill, spell or keyword that can deal direct damage to your opponent’s Nexus, ignoring blockers altogether;
Examples of Burn Skills
Examples of Burn Spells
Examples of Burn Keywords
Open Attack – queuing all the units already on the back row in an attacking position, without developing any further, in order to not allow your opponent counterplay potential like developing additional blockers or removing any of your attackers;
Swarm – the process of building a wider board than your opponent’s, in order to make it harder for them to defend against all your attackers;
Simplifying the boardstate – demanding/accepting trades that will happen in a future turn anyways in order to not allow your opponent to protect these units further and get a valuable trade in the future;
Hopium – the belief of always drawing Burn at the last second in order to finish your opponent ; also known as “If they have it, they have it!”
The general gameplay is quite simple, as you are looking for:
~ The lowest curve that you can get in the mulligan in order to push early unit damage;
~ Swarming the board early and maintaining the board wider. You are setting up multiple small threats that can give your opponent a tough time eliminating them one by one;
~ Simplifying the board state when your opponent is giving you a chance so you are eliminating more options that you need to play around from your opponent’s side.
~ Finishing the game with Spell Burn.
Tips & Common Mistakes
~ Never play only by slamming units on curve.
This might seem surprising, but you do need to figure out what specific unit needs to be developed in your scenario. An example can be deciding between Inventive Chemist and Legion Saboteur on turn one, depending if it is a defensive or offensive turn. Naturally, the first will be developed on defense and the second, on offense.
The general rules here were:
1. I don’t want to take unnecessary damage.
2. I want to simplify the board-state.
3. I don’t want to lose a unit that can push more damage in the future and it is harder to deal with.
~ Swarm vs Unit on curve
The point I am trying to explain with this choice is quite simple: you have limited time, therefore playing on curve and allowing your opponent to deal with your units one by one is giving you less time to finish the game. Swarm away whenever you are given the option, unless you are playing against board wipes effects; develop healthier attackers in that scenario.
~ Don’t allow counterplay in a winning position.
A common mistake I have seen people do is having lethal on the board, their opponent needs to answer (otherwise they are dead) and they are randomly deciding to queue a Noxian Fervor, just to be countered by a Vile Feast, Withering Wail etc.
Recognize your winning positions and start demanding answers out of your opponent.
~ Is your back against the wall? Saving your lethal for later doesn’t make cards from your opponent’s hand magically disappear
“So, you told me to be patient one second ago and now you are telling me to go off. What is the trick?”
To be more specific, I said to not allow counterplay in winning positions. When your opponent is virtually ahead on cards, on mana and on board and you are one Fervor away from lethal, you cannot allow yourself to play around their unit removal. If anything, by delaying the opportunity to finish the game right there and then you are allowing them to draw into more options.
To be honest, this is a piece of advice generally available, no matter what deck you are playing.
Go for it! If they have it, they have it.
~ You need a lot of Hopium!
I included this term more as a joke, as you may have noticed, but there is nothing truer than playing to your outs. Many people concede games just because they are finding themselves in a rough spot, instead of figuring out their outs and playing towards those.
Your deck is usually running finisher, so keep playing towards that Decimate, Double Up or whatever you need in order to close the game. I cannot count on my hands how many times I hoped for that double Pokey Stick into Decimate and I have been awarded for it.
Setting tournaments on fire
It is time to address the elephant in the room and understand why so many Burn decks have emerged and are performing on the biggest stages. A few things took place in order to reach this situation:
~ Targon/Healing is almost nowhere to be found
Targon was seldomly keeping in check so many aggressive decks due to their ability to heal for enormous amounts with Starshaping, The Fangs and Solari Sunforger, stalling for time until their invokes could end the game. But the region being nerfed above and beyond in previous patches paid dividends for all types of aggressive decks and strategies to emerge.
The only Targon deck that can still pose a threat, Zoe-Nami, is in fact the deck that you should be able to race.
Blighted Ravine, Withering Wail, Withering Mist, Grasp of the Undying and Ixtali Sentinel are the few options that can still keep Control decks in the game, but your opponent needs to:
1. Run them in their deck / line-up.
2. Draw them.
3. Find time to not die and play them.
4. Have no counterplay from your side.
~ Non-Burn decks require more setup
Burn is simply playing the game at a different pace, starting the pressure from turn one, asking for answers at all points in the game and needing only one of those answers to miss in order to go out of Control.
~ Quality Burn units
New additions like Ziggs, Stone Stackers and Tenor of Terror are befriending the other oldies in the business, like Crackshot Corsair, Legion Saboteur etc. very fast. They are units with increased survivability, thus providing over-the-top damage for more turns than their predecessors and lowering the efficiency of the removal already existing in the game. Just imagine Aggro decks are now able to demand 2-for-1 removal and a lot of mana commitment from their opponents, while keeping their mana investment relatively low.
~ Bandle City Mayor is a value tool in Burn decks. INSANE!!
You are already playing a deck with a low curve, you are already swarming the board consistently and now your development is more threatening with each turn while having this little fuzzy guy on the board.
Now you can chain Loping Telescopes that you can find through Mayor, effectively replacing unit for unit at that point, without actually committing your real cards.
Mayor can find the answer or threat you need. You can actually find out all these by checking my previous Poppy Ziggs article, right here: https://masteringruneterra.com/2021/10/ziggs-poppy-deck-guide/ .
~ In Noxian Fervor we trust!
The difference between a good and a great Burn player is how they are using their Fervors. I know this is mostly available for Ziggs Poppy Burn now, but you need to understand that Fervor can effectively shut down most removal attempts just because your units are healthy enough in order to provide a target for it and they are low enough on HP in order to be killed by Fervor, thus not only dealing the damage, but also making sure removal that heals (Grasp of the Undying and Withering Mist in particular) or conditional Burn (looking at you, Double Up ) is rendered useless.
There you have it. Burn has never been in a better state throughout the history of the game until now. Most importantly, this means that already great Burn players or adaptable ones have been given new toys to play with, which is a scary prospect for someone that is not familiar playing into these decks or for someone who’s specialty decks are now being countered by Burn.
This piece of information is even more crucial as we are approaching the Seasonal Open Rounds, as you can expect to see many of the decks included in this archetype to see play there due to the low effort players need to invest to pilot them decently. We might even see crazy mirrors or rounds ending in just a few minutes.
Whatever the future may hold, I hope you enjoyed this article.
Don’t forget to check out my Twitter ( https://twitter.com/CastMinTV ), as I will keep you up to date there about my future articles and future interviews with top competitors that are playing these decks at the highest level and can give you even more insight.