If you've been reading Make the Play Monday / Flores Rewards Friday for a while you know that I have been advocating essentially a three-strategy paradigm for Standard, at least for opening hand evaluations. Midrange decks with Thoughtseize (e.g. Monoblack Devotion and friends); UW Control and its ilk; and non-interactive Boros Burn decks. Despite the performance of Boros Burn decks some months back, especially at the Grand Prix level, a big chunk of the Pro Tour kind of forgot about how dominant the strategy had been.

One longtime performer, though -- already a Grand Prix Champion though separated from his usual team this time around -- finally made the break to the Pro Tour Top 8 in large part thanks to his powerful RW deck.

DECKID=1209376

Many of the cards you have seen before, and to be fair, the bulk of the RW decks in months past generally favored an eight-pack of 2/2 haste creatures. But Sperling went with a Young Pyromancer model.

Though you can go a number of different ways with your burn deck, Young Pyromancer is a very nice special case, here especially due to the presence of Stoke the Flames. It will probably take a few reps with Sperling's deck to see just how it works, but you can do things like Shock an opponent's face (or maybe take out an attacking Mutavault), make an Elemental Token, chump block his even more dangerous fat man, and use the token to Convoke Stoke the Flames...producing yet another 1/1 Elemental Token of course!

You might think of Young Pyromancer as primarily an offensive weapon (a one-mage army that builds more and more power as you advance your strategy), but another thing it does well is buy you space against decks with high quality "fair" spells. Burn is a cohesive strategy that if left alone can act like a combo deck; but its packets of damage -- even when efficient -- are generally one-shot spells. Burn decks have traditionally fallen behind 3/3 creatures for two mana on the floor, and of course giant monsters on four or more. But Young Pyromancer can help you race just by blunting the opponent's assault.

Interestingly, post-board, this RW Burn deck can start to play like a RW removal deck. You'll never forget the first time a Satyr Firedancer flips a Boros Charm onto a Fiendslayer Paladin.

Either way, RW Burn is a deck of Limited Resources. Though it can sometimes come off as unbeatable in a non-interactive way, the deck furiously, violently, draws just one card per turn...many of which are one-shot deals.

More than many decks -- more especially than the decks with cards like Divination to cushion their early games -- RW Burn asks its master to preserve the percentage points of narrow margin games: play your lands in one order or other...trade with a creature or aim at the opponent's face... With relatively few spells, you can't necessarily afford to squander any.

This week, we're going to look at some close calls with RW. Two specifically.


Scenario One:

In this one we're on the play and don't know what archetype our opponent is.

This is our opening seven:

Warleader's Helix
Chandra's Phoenix
Young Pyromancer
Young Pyromancer
Battlefield Forge
Mutavault


Mountain

We can't play a spell on the first turn, but what land should we play?


Scenario Two:

It's our turn three (we were on the play).

Our opponent looks to be a green devotion deck. He's got a Forest and a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx tapped for a Sylvan Caryatid.

Our board is:
Young Pyromancer
Mutavault
Mountain
(all untapped)

Our hand is:
Battlefield Forge
Sacred Foundry
Warleader's Helix
Chandra's Phoenix
Chandra's Phoenix
Young Pyromancer

How do you play your third turn?

Get consistent?

Get greedy?

YOU MAKE THE PLAY!

...er...plays.

As with every Make the Play Monday the goal is to figure out what our best option is. Looking at both of these hands, there are multiple options to both of them. The trick is to see if you can figure out the best option given the board position.

For each of this week's scenarios, put your answers in the comments below.

As always, come Flores Rewards Friday, I -- joined by a Celebrity Judge -- will go over our responses to these same questions. One lucky winner who sided with Yours Truly will get a $25 TCGplayer.com gift certificate on Friday, and one who agreed with our Celebrity Guest will also get a $25 TCGplayer gift certificate.

But wait!

There's more!

Because last week we were unable to find a panelist who anticipated Brian David-Marshall's thinking around Syncopate, we should have an extra $25! So this week:

Winner #1: Two questions (above)
Winner #2: Ditto, but must agree with the Celebrity Guest
Chicken Dinner #3: Guess! Who is this week's Celebrity Guest?

Get to it!

LOVE
MIKE