MTG Deck Tech: BOLT-16 (Modern)

Artwork from the 'Magic: The Gathering' card Lightning Bolt. Artwork from the 'Magic: The Gathering' card Lightning Bolt. WOTC / CHRISTOPHER MOELLER

When it comes to competitive Magic: The Gathering, burn decks don't often get the most respect.  We hope to change that with this very aggressive mono-red deck that -- thanks to (technically) running 16 Lightning Bolts -- is shockingly good.


We're calling this deck the BOLT-16 and it really does run 16 copies of Lightning Bolt.  How is this possible?  Thank Wizards of the Coast for creating a number of good Bolt variations over the years.

In the main deck, you'll find a playset each of the OG Lightning Bolt, Wizard's Lightning, Fiery Temper, and Lava SpikeRift Bolt was experimented with, but the one-turn Suspend delay just wasn't worth it.  With that much firepower, though, you can expect to be firing off three damage a pop on a regular basis for a measly one red mana each.  Lightning Bolt and Lava Spike are three-for-one's by default.  Wizard's Lightning is a three-for-one just as soon as you have a wizard of the board (the deck runs eight).  Fiery Temper is a three-for-one when discarded (Hello Bomat Courier, Faithless Looting, and The Flame of Keld).  The deck also runs a lower-than-average land count with only 18 Mountains, though with the vast number of one-drops and overall speed of the deck, keeping a one land hand is just as good as keeping a two-lander.  And you don't really want to be drawing many more lands after your second or third one anyhow.

As would be expected, dropping quick burn leads to quickly-emptied hand.  That's also where the Courier and Flame of Keld come into play.  Bomat Courier builds up a sort of backup hand that you can retrieve at practically any time.  The Flame of Keld gives you three cards in its second mode.  It also makes your bolts a five-for-one on its third and final mode.  Not only that, it gives the plus-two to ALL of your red sources, so that includes your Ghitu Lavarunner, Monastery Swiftspear, and Soul-Scar Mage as well!

For the sideboard, we decided to try something a little different.  While there are answers in there for certain threats such as Tron (Damping Sphere) and Dredge (Tormod's Crypt), as well as containing good all-around utility cards like Pithing Needle and Goblin Chainwhirler, the sideboard also allows BOLT-16 to morph into a Young Pyromancer build.  This allows players to throw their opponent off guard and take the deck wide for the times when throwing bolts at your opponent's face just won't cut it.

We (of course) began testing this deck in goldfishing and found it to be quite fun and very fast.  Once we decided to go against live competition via Cockatrice, we were quite happy with its performance.  In three matches, the deck went 3-0 with two matches going to the second game.  The lone undefeated match was against Death Shadow with a turn-four win each time.  The first 2-1 match win was a close one against Eight Whack as we focused too much on the player and not enough on taking out his many creatures in the first match.  The other 2-1 win was against Scapeshift.

So what do you think of our latest MTG Deck Tech?  Are you considering running it or something similar at an event at your LGS?  If so, let us know how you do!

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