Owen’s a Win – Burning Vengeance

After all of the positive feedback I received from my article about drafting BR in Innistrad I have been searching for a new draft strategy to write about. I briefly considered GW or UB, but they are so popular in draft already that I feel like the reader wouldn’t gain nearly as much from it. After I managed a 3-0 at worlds with a [card]Burning Vengeance[/card] deck in my very first attempt drafting it I knew I wanted to try it again. So after I got home I started to hit the 8-4s and go all-in on any [card]Burning Vengeance[/card] I would see. Not only is this deck a total blast to play but I’ve noticed on average [card]Burning Vengeance[/card] deck has a high probability of going 3-0, higher than most other archetypes, with the obvious drawback to this being that it can be hard to get. Now I’m not saying you should force it, because clearly you shouldn’t. I don’t want you to read this article and take [card]Desperate Ravings[/card] over [card]Bonds of Faith[/card] pack one pick one and just never see a [card]Burning Vengeance[/card] all draft and just lose. It’s the type of deck where, unless you get a Vengeance early in pack 1, you slowly pick up the pieces while still trying to draft a normal deck and if the deck materializes then you can just slam it and go from there. But if you aggressively take [card]Dream Twist[/card]s over playables and never see the right cards, you just don’t have a deck. As I write this I’m in a bit of a food coma from delicious thanksgiving leftovers, so I’m going to try a new way of ranking the cards you want.

The Turkey

This is the real meat of the deck, and without it you are going to be in a lot of trouble.

[draft]Burning Vengeance
Grasp of Phantoms
Desperate Ravings
Think Twice
Forbidden Alchemy
Harvest Pyre
Delver of Secrets
Rolling Temblor
Silent Departure
Armored Skaab
Dream Twist[/draft]

This should be simple, when it becomes clear that you are able to draft a Burning Vengeance deck then you take [card]Burning Vengeance[/card] over any card, including [card]Devil’s Play[/card]. You want it in all your opening hands and it’s going to be difficult to win a game without it. Like any pick order this is going to fluctuate, if you find yourself with way too many instants and not many win conditions [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] moves way up on the list, and if you are deep in pack 3 and you only have 1 [card]Burning Vengeance[/card] and tons of flashback stuff then [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card] becomes more important because it’s the most efficient way to dig deep to find the Vengeance. [card]Dream Twist[/card] is at the bottom here, not because it’s the worst, but because it’s the easiest to get with about 3 cards left in the pack. On this one again you need to use your judgment, if I have two Vengeances already I’m taking [card]Dream Twist[/card] over just about anything unless I suspect I can get it to lap. [card]Harvest Pyre[/card] gets better the more [card]Armored Skaab[/card], [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card], and [card]Dream Twist[/card] you pick up and [card]Grasp of Phantoms[/card] works pretty nice with [card]Curse of the Bloody Tome[/card] and [card]Dream Twist[/card] since you can put a creature on top of their deck and just mill it right away to make life a little easier.

Mashed Potatoes

There are very good, less important than the turkey, but you still probably want a lot of it.

Selhoff Occultist
Into the Maw of Hell
Deranged Assistant
Hanweir Watchkeep
Pitchburn Devils
Village Ironsmith
Ashmouth Hound
One-Eyed Scarecrow
Sensory Deprivation
Fortress Crab[/draft]

[card]Claustrophobia[/card] and [card]Into the Maw of Hell[/card] are pretty obvious, and though they are better than some/most of the cards in the Turkey section if you are drafting a dedicated flashback deck then I would rather have an [card]Armored Skaab[/card] than an [card]Into the Maw of Hell[/card]. I’m not going to take [card]Dream Twist[/card] over [card]Claustrophobia[/card] 3rd pick but if it’s mid pack 3 then you should know exactly what your deck needs and you can adjust accordingly. [card]Selhoff Occultist[/card] is a nice card and just barely missed the cut for the Turkey section, it’s just excellent at what it does; being a 2/3 helping to keep you alive, enabling chains of flashing back spells to kill guys to mill more flashback cards, and deep in games he frequently starts to target them with his ability since a large number of games come down to decking. [card]Hanweir Watchkeep[/card] and [card]Village Ironsmith[/card] are much better than they look in this style deck with the large amount of instants, the cost associated with flipping them is quite low, they both make for solid win conditions as well as protection against aggressive starts. I won’t usually take them over the more important cards for the deck but I would need a really compelling reason to cut them from my deck. [card]Pitchburn Devils[/card] is another interesting card that’s ranking can fluctuate.

In my experience with the deck you can either win with a rag tag collection of 6th pick creatures like [card]Night Revelers[/card] or [card]Ashmouth Hound[/card]s or you can win by milling them via [card]Curse of the Bloody Tome[/card]. It’s important to know which route to victory you want to take in the middle of the draft but overall it shouldn’t be difficult to figure out. Plus once you are in a dominating position in the game you would have to mess up pretty badly to deck yourself before you can close out the game. It really isn’t a problem as long as you are aware of the danger of decking yourself. Basically a rule of thumb for the [card]Dream Twist[/card]s is target yourself with the first one to get your chain going then target them with the flashbacked version to make decking them more realistic. [card]Sensory Deprivation[/card] works best in the mill version of the deck since you have to fight through all their creatures eventually anyways if you intend to win with damage. [card]Sensory Deprivation[/card] isn’t a card I love to have in my maindeck but is an excellent sideboard option against GW since it can neutralize most of their creatures and it’s cheap enough that it can protect you against blowout starts from werewolves.


Pretty good, I will run it sometimes but by no means is it necessary.

[draft]Curse of the Bloody Tome
Skirsdag Cultist
Moon Heron
Night Revelers
Tormented Pariah
Runic Repetition
Ghoulcaller’s Bell
Frightful Delusion[/draft]

This is less a pick order and more showcasing the cards that you will sometimes want. Clearly if you aren’t actively trying to mill them out you don’t want any [card]Curse of the Bloody Tome[/card], though clearly it can be a very powerful card since it’s a win condition that is very hard to interact with. [card]Moon Heron[/card], [card]Night Revelers[/card], and [card]Tormented Pariah[/card] could honestly be anything. These are just creatures that close out the game once you have dismantled your opponents board and drawn so many extra cards. I like [card]Night Revelers[/card] just a little bit more than the others though it is a worse card than [card]Moon Heron[/card] just because I’ve found him to be pretty hard to kill and when you play a deck that operates on so few threats being resilient to removal is important. [card]Runic Repetition[/card] is an odd little card, I’d say on average it isn’t very good and should be avoided but there are rare cases when you want it, and when you want it you really REALLY want it. I played it in a Vengeance deck where my primary win condition was creatures and I also happened to pick up a [card]Devil’s Play[/card] so it wasn’t difficult to set up spots where I would mill myself with an [card]Armored Skaab[/card], flashback the [card]Devil’s Play[/card], have [card]Runic Repetition[/card] and that’s all she wrote. The obvious problem is that it can be a little costly, requiring 3 mana, and that’s only to get the ball rolling and whatever you return. That said many of the games with this deck go long so it’s not that costly. [card]Frightful Delusion[/card] is a card that I only really like to play when I have a large number of [card]Think Twice[/card] or [card]Delver of Secrets[/card], those two cards really mitigate the drawbacks of the card and make It much more tolerable.

Canned Yams

Terrible, you should never have these. In no particular order:

[draft]Blazing Torch
Makeshift Mauler
Stitched Drake
Skaab Goliath
Nightbird’s Clutches[/draft]

Ok, so never is too strong of a word, especially for [card]Makeshift Mauler[/card] and [card]Stitched Drake[/card], which are amazing cards when you can get them to work. But if you have a good version of the deck you probably won’t be running either of them, and if you have a good number of creatures and self-mill then I doubt you also have multiple [card]Burning Vengeance[/card] and a large number of flashback cards so you have some kind of monguise deck in the middle of two good archetypes. I would basically never play [card]Nightbird’s Clutches[/card], it’s as bad as any card could be if you draw it, and its flashback is expensive and doesn’t help you chain flashback cards in any way. This deck works well because [card]Dream Twist[/card], [card]Desperate Ravings[/card], and [card]Think Twice[/card] act as removal while also producing an very tangible advantage, you can go from no action to more cards than you know what to do with. [card]Nightbird’s Clutches[/card] costs more and does less, so just trust me and stay away.


The meal is already pretty awesome without it, but if you can get this it’s going to make what you have much better.

[draft]Devil’s Play
Charmbreaker Devils
Murder of Crows
Brimstone Volley
Manor Gargoyle
Snapcaster Mage
Civilized Scholar
Laboratory Maniac
Undead Alchemist[/draft]

These are cards you always want and are obviously lucky to get. The only ones I feel really need explanation are [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] and [card]Undead Alchemist[/card].

[card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] is a really cool card and its main flaw is that most of the spells you draft with the intention of playing already have flashback. So when it isn’t doing something that you wouldn’t already do it’s just an [card]Ambush Viper[/card] with a drawback. Yeah it’s nice that you can rebuy [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card] on the cheap and without black mana but to really abuse him you want [card]Harvest Pyre[/card], [card]Brimstone Volley[/card], and [card]Dissipate[/card]. He goes from a mediocre 2/1 that most decks will not want to one of the best cards in your deck, with all the self-milling you already want to have [card]Harvest Pyre[/card] and [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] quickly get out of hand. Plus he works pretty nice with [card]Silent Departure[/card].

[card]Undead Alchemist[/card] is cool because it works favorably with stuff like [card]Dream Twist[/card]. I mean you can obviously use Alchemist with [card]Silent Departure[/card] or [card]Grasp of Phantoms[/card] to push him through and get some zombies, or you can just plop him down and start throwing [card]Dream Twist[/card]s at them and each creature you mill is going to produce a 2/2 zombie.

Lastly there is the hate. These are the cards that you should to counterdraft as long as it isn’t at the expense of a card you would want to play in your deck. Counterdrafting is usually not a very smart idea but when you aren’t taking a card from your deck you should look to take a card that is going to be very strong against your deck.

[draft]Urgent Exorcism
Silverchase Fox
Purify the Grave

These are obviously bad for you because they are the only ways in the format to kill the [card]Burning Vengeance[/card]. [card]Lumberknot[/card] may not look like it fits but it can really put control decks is a bad spot if it isn’t immediately dealt with by a [card]Rolling Temblor[/card].

I hope you have as much drafting this deck as I do, and maybe writing this article means I won’t be getting the [card]Dream Twist[/card]s 12th pick anymore but hey, why not let someone else have some fun. I always appreciate the feedback and if at all possible maybe mention what you’d like me to write about next.

Owen Turtenwald
OwenTweetenwald on twitter
qazwsxedcrfvtgbyhnuj on magic online


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