As of late I really hate Modern. In general I think the format is fine, but at my Local Game Store (LGS) I have been getting paired against my worst match up (as Assault Loam) in Burn. Burn is something that I personally don’t have much respect for, although a great pilot can likely show that the deck can and does require some skill. I do not look at Burn as a very skill intensive deck, however. (To be clear, I can throw leaves on a fire and burn down the forest but that doesn’t require skill as any idiot can do that.)

Now that we have that view out of the way, onto why I am writing this article. When I find an LGS where Burn seems to be a major player I bring out the big guns and decide that mainboard Kor Firewalker is the way to go. At this point I think it is time to get into the brew, here is Pale Moon which is a deck that I have been playing around with for over three years now.

Pale Moon

Lands (23)
Arid Mesa
Clifftop Retreat
Marsh Flats
Sacred Foundry

Creatures (5)
Baneslayer Angel
Kor Firewalker
Stormbreath Dragon

Spells (32)
Ajani Vengeant
Anger of the Gods
Blood Moon
Chandra, Pyromaster
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix
Molten Rain
Myth Realized
Outpost Siege
Relic of Progenitus
Sideboard (15)
Anger of the Gods
Celestial Purge
Kor Firewalker
Leyline of Sanctity
Molten Rain
Outpost Siege
Rule of Law
Wear // Tear

This is my Burn/Zoo hate deck and when I get extra salty from being set aflame this is what I bring to Modern at my LGS. You may have noticed that this is much different than the R/W Sun and Moon deck. Personally, I am not a fan of dead top decks like Simian Spirit Guide or Chalice of the Void which are often redundant or dead later in the game, not to mention that it shuts down one of the greatest removal spells in Magic’s History namely Lightning Bolt. Here I will cut to the chase and get into the card choices.


Kor Firewalker is going to start out this list as the lifegain and protection from red means that we basically can’t lose to Burn game one. It can block and kill most every creature that Burn plays and while they are still casting spells we are gaining a life every time. It is also worth noting that thanks to Kor Firewalker most of our spells also gain us life when cast. Any effect that makes Lightning Helix a deal three and gain four life is generally a guaranteed win against Burn.

Baneslayer Angel is a late game punch in the face. It doesn’t die to most sources of damage, it punches hard in the air while gaining us life and the lifelink is another source of “card advantage” against Burn that basically nullifies two of their spells with each combat step.

Stormbreath Dragon is our way of dodging removal like Path to Exile thanks to the fact it has protection from white, Fatal Push since it is a five-mana creature and Lightning Bolt due to the fact it has four toughness. The other benefit of Stormbreath Dragon is that it is also a mana sink for when we have a Blood Moon down and our opponent is hopefully building up cards in hand since they are hopefully unable to cast spells, we can not only monstrous for the extra damage based on cards in hand but it also adds power and toughness to the dragon itself.

Myth Realized is our honorary creature. Much of our deck is spell based meaning we have a large handful of spells to grow it quickly and easily. This allows us to hit hard later in the game while also providing us with an additional mana sink over turns where we may want to build up and hold onto our removal and Burn to deliver the final blow. At the very least if our opponent wastes an Abrupt Decay on our Myth then we may be able to sneak a Blood Moon on the board and not have to worry about our opponent having an answer for it.

Image result for baneslayer angel


Lightning Bolt should surprise no one being one of the most popular removal spells in Modern, while against creatureless decks it does give us a way to close out a game quickly by providing some reach.  Lightning Helix, while still popular in Burn decks for the three damage, effectively provides us with additional removal and a way to essentially “counter” a Lightning Bolt from an opponent by gaining us three life.

Roast is an ideal way to answer creatures such as Gurmag Angler, Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Tarmogoyf. Rather than run Path to Exile which essentially nullifies our Blood Moons instead we have Roast that can generally answer everything that Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix won’t hit.

Condemn is a one mana destroy all attacking Death Shadows coming your way. Death’s Shadow aggro is a real player in the current Modern meta and Condemn is a great way to really punish them for trying to lose life and hitting them hard while losing life.

Anger of the Gods is our way to not only shut down shenanigans with the graveyard–I am looking at your Dredge and Company decks–but to also destroy our opponents board without affecting many of creatures since they mostly have protection from red or have four toughness or greater.

Image result for Condemn mtg


Ajani Vengeant is a great way to lock down any random basic lands our opponent is running to protect themselves from Blood Moon or it can at least be a Lightning Helix that also absorbs a Burn spell or attack to buy you time. In a longer game having access to a one sided Armageddon is pretty awesome to show your opponent who is in control.

Chandra, Pyromaster is a great way to answer all the x/1 Creatures that like to ignore the Blood Moon effect on a game by adding colored mana that doesn’t happen to be red. Plus her -0 loyalty ability provides us with card advantage and a way to dig through our deck to find additional removal, win conditions or lock pieces.


Leyline of Sanctity is the first piece that I want to discuss. Not only does it keep us even safer against Burn, but it protects us from discard which can also be an issue for us. Protecting our hand when we don’t have cantrips or many real forms of card advantage is very key and Leyline of Sanctity protects us from everything we want to be protected against.

Celestial Purge helps us answer problematic permanents like Liliana of the Veil, Death’s Shadow and all of the Creatures from Burn. Yes I just want Burn to die in the fire that they were born from, they aren’t a Phoenix and can Burn just like the rest of us.

A second copy of Outpost Siege in the board is an additional way to keep ahead of an opponent that may have their own card advantage or be heavier in discard forcing us to find a way to regain that lost value.

Initial Thoughts

I have actually run this deck on and off for many years now depending on the meta that I am in. The main board Relic of Progenitus gives us a lot of play against decks like Dredge, Storm and even Jund where we can use a Bolt on a Goyf and then pop Relic to actually ensure a kill. Relic also allows us to nullify any cards with Delve or Flashback.

Mainly this deck is my Burn killer for when I want to punish the people running a very linear strategy like Burn. The last few outings that I recently had in Modern involved six rounds fighting Burn three times and Skred once. I also played against Grixis Control and had a bye. Grixis Control while a decent match up for Assault Loam, doesn’t make up for how horrible the Burn match up is without heavily altering the deck list that can generally win in most every other match up.

Image result for Salt

I hope you all enjoyed this article and please remember if there is something that you would like to see in any format send your challenges to [email protected]. Jerry and I are looking for your challenges and requests.

Happy brewing to each and every one of you. If anyone has an idea for a brew that they would like to see, I will gladly take requests and challenges on twitter or in email at [email protected].

Aaron Gazzaniga works part time at a game store and in his off time has been an avid magic player/brewer since 2003. Having begun in Odyssey Standard Block and always favoring control and prison style decks, we come to this moment in time where Aaron finally gets to talk about and share his ideas. If you want to contact Aaron tweet @aarongazzaniga

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