May. 28th, 2018

Hand Burn in Modern

Jank Tank
Hand Burn in Modern

What's up guys, Brian here, and today we're going to be looking at an awesome combo brew that I like to call Handburn. This deck's strategy is all about making your opponent discard tons of cards, making them take damage, getting value through things like Waste Not and Liliana's Caress. Instead of focusing on making your opponent's hand empty, we're instead going to try and make our opponent draw and discard as many times as possible, continuing our combo and playing tons of cards in a single turn. Let's dive on in!

The Strategy

There are a ton of discard-focused decks out there. Things like 8-rack are nothing new in the modern format. But that is different than what we're going to be doing. We want our opponent to discard cards in huge quantities, and that means we're going to have to give our opponent (and ourselves) a little bit of draw along the way. First, let's look into how we're planning to capitalize on our strategy.

Instead of focusing on making your opponent's hand empty, we're instead going to try and make our opponent draw and discard as many times as possible...

We're running 4 copies of Waste Not, and 4 copies of Liliana's Caress. Both of these enchantments can come down for two, and both are great engines for this deck. Waste Not actually has a bit more value in this deck, but Liliana's Caress is often our finisher. With Waste Not, we can combo into tons and tons of options. Best of all, Waste Not acts as an auto-counter to whatever our opponent is playing. If they are playing a creature heavy aggro deck, we're going to be making tons and tons of zombies. If they're playing control, we're going to have a huge amount of card advantage, which can lead to even more combo pieces. If they discard lands, we can drop more copies of Waste Not, Liliana's Caress, maybe even a Master of the Feast. Having more than one on the field can really cause things to get a bit ridiculous.

Liliana's Caress acts as a huge aggressive threat. In an enchantment. With just one of these cards out, Blightning becomes 3-mana deal 7 discard 2 cards. That's huge. Burning Inquiry is 6 damage. Combine that with a swing with one of our 5/5s and we almost have our opponent dead.

Combining these two discard engines together is what really makes the combo start to roll. You can draw cards with Waste Not, get extra mana, deal tons of damage, and draw into even more combo pieces. Best of all between these two enchantments, the fact that they are only two mana means that if we get Reclamation Sage'd, it's not the end of the world, we probably will have another in waiting, and with 8 in the deck and potentially only needing 1 to win, odds are in our favor.

You can draw cards with Wast Not, get extra mana, deal tons of damage, and draw into even more combo pieces

Our main MVP for discard is Burning Inquiry. It's not just good in Hollow One. One mana to make your opponent discard 3 is incredible. Who cares if they draw 3 in return, you get to mess up their perfect hand by adding randomness. It also gets rid of any strategy they might have to play around Waste Not, since fate is going to decide which benefit you get from their discard. Blightning also is a great gas for our discard fire, a huge bomb in the mid to late game. It doesn't refill our opponents hand, but sometimes that's exactly what we want. Making your opponent take 7 and goin from 2 cards in-hand to 0 is game-over a lot of the time.

Support Cards

Since we're a combo deck, we need things to support our combo pieces. First up, we have Dream Salvage. This is our conditional card draw that can make us draw between 1 and 9 cards. It is the pipeline that will draw us even more gas for the fire. If you have one of our engine enchantments out, a Burning Inquiry in hand, and you have this in your hand after the dust settles, buckle in for an extended combo.

We're also running a playset of Simian Spirit guide, since no red combo deck is complete without it. Running 4 of these can turn an ok turn 3 play into an unstoppable turn two play. I've won several games against aggro simply by dropping waste not, exile for mana, into burning inquiry, on turn two! It also is awesome to draw into. Waste Not will often have us covered for black mana, but red is a little bit trickier. Simian Spirit guide comes to the rescue, making sure that our discard machine can run smoothly.

The Jank

We're running a playset of Howling Mine. Why, you might ask. Well, it might not seem so great, but it really is. Howling Mine has the plus side of drawing you cards. It also has the downside of your opponent drawing cards, and the VERY big downside of your opponent drawing cards first. In most decks, that sucks. But hear me out. We want our opponent to always have 2 or 3 dead cards in hand. It allows Blightning to be open for full damage, allows Thoughtseize to hit a few targets. We also need to make sure we're drawing into our combo pieces. And, lastly, we're going to be getting tons of mana in groups of two courtesy of Waste Not. Howling Mine capitalizes on all 3 of these. It also has the meta-advantage of being a removal magnet. Whenever I drop Howling Mine against someone, they seem to choose to remove it rather than any of my other enchantments.

We're running a playset of Howling Mine. Why, you might ask. Well, it might not seem so great, but it really is.

We're also running 3 Master of the Feast. A 5/5 Flyer for 3 is a huge evasive body. It often acts as a little bit of beatdown that gets us over the edge. Sure, it has the downside of drawing our opponent a card, but it happens during OUR upkeep. With all our discard, that hand won't be full by our endstep.

Other Pieces

Filling out the rest of our deck are obvious staples you'd want in any Red Black deck. 4 Lightning Bolt for removal and reach. 3 Thoughtseize because we want 1-mana choose-able discard. Blood Crypt and Bloodstained Mire since we need good color fixing.

In the sideboard we're running Anger of the Gods in case decks like Elves or Affinity get out of control. Blood Moon to break some decks' mana outright. Collective Defiance is awesome in crontrol matchups, because it turns into 3-mana 16 damage sometimes. Leyline of Punishment makes sure that healing gets turned off, since decent healing can really mess up our deck. Liliana Vess is another great control option, as we're often just one card away from sealing the game, and she can help with that. Past in Flames is also great against control, and mill, since most of our flashback targets are going to be 1-mana combo pieces. And lastly Tormod's Crypt to shut off Graveyard strategies.


This deck beats Hollow One, obviously. Dropping a Waste Not or a Liliana's Caress messes with their strategy hard. Same thing with Dredge. I had a game where Dredge drew the nuts, and yet with the discard heavy strategy they run, they couldn't out value Waste Not. Against things like Grixis Control, the matchup is interesting. It's swingy either way depending on draw. Sometimes you can discard enough counters that it doesn't matter what they do for the rest of the game, your cheap discard is going to make them hurt. Other times, each of your enchantments gets countered and you just have nothing to work with.

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