Magic: The Gathering – Top 10 Burn Spells in Pauper

Magic The Gathering has cast many burning spells throughout its long history. A burn spell refers to any spell that can deal damage directly to the opponent, for any amount of damage. They have been printed in almost all rarities, perhaps most often in common rarity.



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This is great for Pauper’s common format, Magic: The Gathering. As long as a card was printed in common at any time, it is legal in the format (excluding acorn-stamped, illegal, and prohibited cards). This allows many dark burn spells from other formats to be targeted threats on Pauper.

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10 Thermo-Alchemist

Thermo-Alchemist is a burn card which is one of the reasons the Burn archetype is such a top-tier threat. It’s a 0/3 with defender, but can be tapped to deal one damage to each opponent. Every time you cast an instant or sorcery, it can untap and do it all over again.

When combined with other burning spells, Thermo-Alchemist can deal devastating amounts of burning damage, while also having good toughness to act as a blocker for low-potency threats. Thermo-Alchemist can enter the field early and start burning the opponent as early as turn 3.

9 Skewer the critics

Skewer the Critics may be a sorcery spell to make it more difficult to choose to use it on a creature instead of the opponent, but it’s still a fantastic burning spell. While it normally costs three mana, if the opponent took any damage, you can pay just one red mana for its show cost, which discounts it.

Skewer the Critics can deal three damage to any target. The damage source can come from anywhere to enable your show, which means when combined with a low mana burn spell, you can cast Skewer the Critics for its show cost to deal a huge burst of damage with just two spells.


8 lava peak

Lava Spike is a simple burn spell that only costs one red mana to cast. It can deal three damage to any player or planeswalker. For Pauper, it can only hit one player, as there are no (current) legal planeswalkers in the format.

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Lava Spike is great for starting to chip away at the opponent’s health, with its low cast cost allowing it to start burning early. It’s also an arcane spell, and while it’s unlikely to come up, it can be used to splice another spell together and use the effects of both cards at once.


7 crash in the night

Black is not the color most people associate with burn episodes (something that is generally reserved for red). However, Bump in the Night offers a fantastic and simple burn spell. For just one black mana, you can make the opponent lose a life.

Unlike many other burn spells on Pauper, Bump in the Night also has flashback. This allows you to cast it from the graveyard for five generic mana and one red mana. Rakdos (red/black) Burn is a deck that has gained traction, and Bump in the Night is one of the key players in it.

6 chain lightning

Chain Lighting is a one mana burning spell that can deal three damage to any target. You generally don’t want to pay more than one mana for a burn spell, especially one that’s a spell, which makes Chain Lightning the perfect mana cost.

It has the disadvantage that the opponent can pay two red mana to copy Chain Lightning and use it himself. They may not always do this, as he can copy the copy to use continuously to reduce his life. Not all decks play red or have the mana available, so it’s even better to use it against them since they won’t be able to copy it.

5 crack bolt

Rift Bolt is a card that you’re unlikely to cast because of its normal three-mana casting cost. Instead, for one red mana, you can suspend Rift Bolt for a turn to cast it when your next upkeep comes, without paying its mana cost, making it trivial to cast.

Rift Bolt can deal three damage to any target. The suspension cost is beneficial, since when your turn comes around, you can choose to deal the damage directly to the opponent or to a creature your opponent played.

4 scorching blaze

Casting Searing Blaze costs two red mana and hits both the creature and the creature’s controller. Normally, he only deals one to each. However, it also has a landfall ability that, if a land enters the battlefield, deals three damage to each.

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Most burning spells can only hit one or the other, allowing Searing Blaze to be used as direct damage and a removal spell on a lower toughness creature. It can also be done at instant speed, which can be especially useful when combined into a land like Evolving Wilds that can trigger landing on the opponent’s turn.


3 Fire explosion

Fireblast is a burning spell that normally costs six mana to cast. The value can be worth it, as it deals four damage to any target. However, you will often never pay the cost of Fireblast.

Instead, you can cast Fireblast without paying its mana cost if you sacrifice two Mountains. While losing lands might seem expensive, Fireblast is more often used as a finisher, rather than a way to reduce damage early in a game. Lands can also be tapped, so after you use up your mana you can use Fireblast’s alternate cost to close out a game.

two galvanic explosion

Galvanic Blast is a fantastic burn spell, though the decks it fits best in aren’t traditional burn decks. Galvanic Blast is a basic instant for one red mana, allowing you to deal two damage to any target. It is similar to another card, Shock, which has the same ability.

However, Galvanic Blast has metallurgy, and if you control three or more artifacts, it will deal four damage instead. It’s a staple of artifact and affinity decks, and a common remove and burn spell that can be used only with artifact lands to reach the metalworking threshold.

1 Ray

Perhaps the most iconic burn spell in Magic: The Gathering, Lightning Bolt is also the basic burn spell in its Pauper format. It’s an incredibly simple card. For one red mana, he can deal three damage to any target.

Lightning Bolt does enough damage that it can also be used as a removal spell, allowing it versatility that other burn spells may struggle to offer just as easily. You’ll never see a Burn deck that doesn’t run the maximum amount of Lightning Bolts, and it will likely be a staple in the format for as long as it exists.

Next: Reasons you should be playing Magic: The Gathering’s Pauper Format

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