Old School 93/94 on a Budget ($40): U/R Burn

The community’s response to last month’s budget article was amazing.  Among the support were several requests for a budget Red deck (the only color left out of the article).  As I brewed, a $40 budget version of Mono Red, that I felt confident in, proved to be a challenge.  I couldn’t quite build Goblins or Sligh the way I wanted to with that much of a restraint on the budget.  On paper, it looked really underpowered without Chain Lightnings or Blood Moons.  If you have more room in your budget, DFB’s Goblins list is a great place to start.  Ultimately, I chose to build U/R Burn for my next deck tech because I expect it should have a similar feel to Goblins, Sligh, and/or Suicide Blue.  Additionally, U/R Burn itself is a top-tier deck.

Recently, this deck has posted some great results.  Brother Stebbo won the 2019 Winter Derby (source: All Tings Considered Episode 50: Winter Derby – Brother Stebbo & The Sentinel) and there is a whole lot of U/R/x battling through the Top 8 of the March NEOS Monthly.  Let’s see if we can recreate that success.


In the last article, I mentioned that I’m building these with the Atlantic rules in mind.  However, most of the discussion should be universal to the other subformats of Old School 93/94.  I’m also only using English-printings of cards because it’s easier to find prices and because I want to avoid confusing new players.

Obviously, if your only concern is cost, then you and a friend can have plenty of fun with two $6 decks of Revised commons from the bulk bin.  In fact, I urge you to do that.  It’s hilarious.  However, this series is aimed at those who are looking for a preconstructed deck (“precon”) that has (a) options to upgrade it, at your own pace, into a “tier” deck and/or (b) “leave[s] you with a stack of useful cards afterwards.”


For those of you who are new to the format, this community prefers deck images instead of deck lists.  Personally, it doesn’t bother me either way, but to avoid irking anyone:

Source: ManaStack.com

At night, I can still hear the chirps that Apprentice made.

Or maybe that’s tinnitus.

Anyways, for those of you who prefer lists to images:

Source: MTGGoldfish.com
Source: Deckbox.org
This is a hyperaggressive deck.  Eight of the deck’s twelve creatures are one-mana, 1/1 Flyers:  Flying Men and Goblin Balloon Brigade.  These creatures usually get you your money’s worth before your opponent realizes that they need to deal with them (“The Scryb Sprites Theory,” Bryan Manolakos, All Tings Considered Episode 13: Old School on a Budget – Dave Firth Bard, at 1:05:58).  Flying in Old School might as well read “unblockable” and, if they get three attacks in, they net the same amount of damage as a Lightning Bolt.
Image (4).jpg
It may surprise you that neither the creatures nor the Lightning Bolts are the most cost-efficient card in the deck.  Unstable Mutation provides +3/+3, +2/+2, and finally +1/+1, until it starts to hurt.  This adds up to an insane damage-per-mana ratio of six.  Sure, it’s a 2:1 if your opponent kills your creature, but when left alone, an unstable goblin deals ten total damage before it succumbs to its mutations.  Not bad for two mana and two cards!
Mind Bomb is pretty much the Old School 93/94 equivalent of Lava Spike, except the opponent has the opportunity to Liliana of the Veil themselves X times to prevent X damage.  Either way, you’re coming out ahead.  Modern players, rejoice!
Personally, I’m not a fan of Ironclaw Orcs.  Instead, as a two-drop, I included Psychic Venom, because Enchantments are difficult to deal with in this format.  Feel free to veto me.  An early or mid-game Psychic Venom, especially on a Library of Alexandria or Maze of Ith, can drive an opponent absolutely mad.  If your opponent taps the land twice, for a total of four damage, you’ve already net more damage-per-mana than Psionic Blast.  Late game, Manabarbs are used in similar fashion.  Your opponent will have to decide between answering your threats or putting themselves within reach of the finishing blow.
In an aggressive deck, it made sense to me to include Detonate over Shatter.  One reason is that, when used on zero-cost or one-cost artifacts, Detonate’s mana cost is the same as or less than Shatter, leaving you with more mana for Burn.  More importantly, Detonate itself is a source of Burn in a deck that, when built on a budget, can stall out.  However, because Detonate is a Sorcery, it can’t be used in response to a Mishra’s Factory or Chaos Orb activation.
Image (11).jpg
Brassclaw Orcs are a three-power, three-mana creature with a “drawback.”  You probably won’t be doing much blocking, anyways.  Unlike the Ironclaw Orcs, there is little competition for three-mana spells in this color combination and the Brassclaws  can trade with Mishra’s Factories.
Modern players should recognize this one, too!  Psionic Blast was a hotly contested card in the last article.  Several members of the community commented that it should have been included in the U/B Tempo deck.  I completely agree, but I couldn’t quite seem to fit it into the budget without losing the Serendib, and that deck was really pushing a “can’t Bolt this” theme in the creature suite.  However, because this deck is much lower to the ground, you’ll notice that there is no Serendib here.  As such, I was able to make room for one copy of the best Blue removal spell in the format.  It’s also works great as “reach” for that last bit of “face-damage.”
Image (13).jpg

Disintegrate is your real finisher (and your answer to Sedge Troll).

In my opinion, this deck is a great way to start your Old School collection.  For just $40, this deck features a playset of Lightning Bolts, a playset of Flying Men, a Psionic Blast, and several copies of sideboard All-Stars like Detonate and Disintegrate.

When you’re ready to add to your collection, there are several different ways that you can upgrade the deck.  If the Flying Men, Unstable Mutations, and Psionic Blast are what you enjoyed, consider Sunken City, Serendib Efreet, Lord of Atlantis, and some merfolk.  If you preferred the goblins, orcs, and Burn Spells, consider picking up Chain Lightning, Ring of Renewal, Goblin King, Blood Moon, Goblin Rock Sled, Goblin Grenade, Wheel of Fortune, Ankh of Mishra, and Ball Lightning.  Finally, if you liked both, you’ll want to upgrade into Volcanic Islands, Electric Eels, and any other cards found in the lists that were linked earlier in this article.


Thanks for reading!  When you have a spare moment, please comment or message us and let us know what you did and did not like about the article.  All criticism is taken into consideration and helps us continually improve our content.  Finally, if you’re intrigued by the concept of 93/94 on a budget, but didn’t feel the call by this particular deck, I highly recommend DFB’s list of budget-friendly Old School 93/94 staples and decklists and All Tings Considered Episode 13: Old School on a Budget – Dave Firth Bard.

One Comment on “Old School 93/94 on a Budget ($40): U/R Burn

  1. Pingback: Tournament Report: NEOS March Monthly Group 2 (1-4 with Erhnamgeddon) – Ready To Role

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