Red Deck Wins or “The Burn Deck” seems to be well positioned in the current Modern metagame. The deck functions by basically trying to get in a few points of early damage with cheap creatures and then finishes them off with a flurry of cheap burn spells.
Shahar Shenhar was a big advocate of the deck and he recently put up a 9th-place finish at GP Omaha with the deck. With the recent banning of Treasure Cruise the U/R Delver deck was crippled, but the burn deck doesn’t actually rely as heavily on Treasure Cruise to win the game. You can simply just replace the Treasure Cruises and play more burn spells instead. Shahar even ended up shaving a Treasure Cruise from his main deck as there were multiple instances where the second Treasure Cruise was just sitting in his hand.
With the bans to Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, and Birthing Pod, I fully expect the metagame to basically shift over to what it was like prior to Khans of Tarkir. The only major change is that players will move from Jund to Junk, as Siege Rhino is miles better than any other 4-drop the G/Bx decks can play.
This means that you can expect a whole lot of Junk, Splinter Twin, and Affinity at the top tables of tournaments. There are few decks that can actually race the burn deck and it is one of the better game-1 decks in the format. Much like Affinity, people are going to need to actually prepare their sideboard specifically to beat you if they want to have a chance. These hate cards will likely be far less prevalent now that the U/R Delver deck is going to see drastically reduced play in Modern. A lot of times in old Modern, the burn deck would get incidentally hated out by players packing hate against U/R Delver (Timely Reinforcements, Kor Firewalker, etc).
One of the most popular decks in new Modern will be Junk. The banning of Birthing Pod will leave many people to naturally revert to Junk as the Siege Rhino deck of choice. Thoughtseize, Dark Confidant, and Liliana of the Veil were not very strong in the old Modern as they matched up very poorly against U/R Delver. But it should see a huge resurgence as the banning of Treasure Cruise will make U/R Delver a far less popular deck. As a Burn player, there’s nothing better than having your opponent drop a turn-2 Dark Confidant and do some of the work for you!
Playing a deck that matches up favorably against one of the best decks in the format is an excellent start when choosing what deck to play.
Here is a simple but effective version of what the burn deck could look like post-bannings:
Red Deck Wins
The sideboard for this deck is geared to attack some of the more popular expected decks in Modern, which are Affinity, Splinter Twin, Tron, Scapeshift, and Junk. Here is a quick sideboard guide for these matchups:
On the play, it’s possible you want Molten Rain to try and slow them down while still attacking their life total but I would not board them in on the draw. This is one of your better matchups and swapping Helixes for Boros Charms seems reasonable as it is a better racing tool. It also allows you to have more ways to deal with an opposing Scavenging Ooze. If they are playing with Anafenzas along with Siege Rhino then I would also bringing in a Combust or two and cut the Shard Volleys.
This is one of the most difficult matchups and you basically need to draw multiple Searing Blazes and Smash to Smithereens to win. You want to bring in as many ways to deal with their Cranial Platings and Arcbound Ravagers so swapping out the non-interactive burn for interactive spells is the way to go.
If you absolutely want to crush Affinity, then Shattering Spree or Stomping Ground + Ancient Grudge could be added to the deck. Their only way to gain life is typically Vault Skirge so the Flames and Skullcrack are mediocre here.
I am not a huge fan of Wear // Tear in the matchup as I found myself holding it in hand a lot of the time and wishing it was just a burn spell that could go to the face. U/R Twin has no life gain effects so, once again, swapping out the Skullcracks and Flames of the Bloodhand for burn that can kill their Pestermites is where you want to be. Most versions of Splinter Twin do not play too many Spellskites but if they do, then I can see bringing in the Wear // Tears as it can get both Spellskite and Splinter Twin.
I’m not exactly sure how good Smash to Smithereens is in the matchup. Many of their 1-mana artifacts can just be cycled if they leave up mana. They seem better on the play to get opposing Expedition Maps on your turn 2. Searing Blaze does almost nothing so Smash to Smithereens is the best option left out of the sideboard. This should be a fairly good matchup as the burn deck basically goldfishes on turn 4 and Tron does not have too many ways to disrupt your strategy. Turn 3 Wurmcoil Engine is problematic but then you get to complain about them being incredibly lucky.
Once again, Searing Blaze does almost nothing in this matchup. They will likely be boarding in Obstinate Baloths so just be mindful of that when sequencing your burn spells.
As a control player at heart, it feels strange for me to encourage people to play a mono-red burn strategy but I feel it is one of the scariest decks to play against in Modern. Every single card in their hand can represent at least 3 points of damage and there are just not enough decks that can provide enough pressure to outrace the burn deck. There is a very good shot that Red Deck Wins will be a tier 1 deck post-bannings. If playing Red Deck Wins and going to the face is something that you’ve been considering, now is as good a time as any to try it out.
Check out Sam Pardee’s version facing off against Jacob Wilson, playing RUG Twin: