The age-old question of direct damage spells--
how much damage for how much mana? Lightning
Bolt has pretty much been confirmed by Wizards
of the Coast to be too high-- not so high that
it can't ever be reprinted, but high enough that
it'll spend more time out of Standard than in.
Shock is decent, but each additional point of
damage opens up a whole new category of
creatures the spell can kill. So you want burn
spells to deal a hefty amount of damage, but you
don't want to pay too much for them.
Personally, I'd like to see a one-mana sorcery
that deals 3 damage instead of just adding a
mana to Lightning Bolt. I'd also like to see
some burn spells concepted as something other
than fire or lightning dealing the damage--
maybe a telekinetic spiked fist, or a goblin's
skull full of centipedes, or a throwing axe
that's been magically enhanced to be better for
throwing? I'd also like an invitation to the Pro
Tour, but I doubt Wizards of the Coast is going
to give me any of those things...
This is the kind of card that people don't
usually talk about that much; it just does its
job efficiently and quietly, and doesn't get too
much of the limelight. Despite the fact that
Mark Rosewater is fond of saying that "Wizards
can't design for the eternal crowd," cards like
this are inevitably compared to their
predecessors, and this is one that unfortunately
doesn't quite reach the spectacular heights of
its ancestors (even name-wise, I find
Incinerate to be much more resonant).
Nonetheless, three damage for two mana is
efficient, and it fills an important role in
Standard and M13 limited.
Today's card of the day is Searing Spear which
is a two mana Red instant that deals three
damage to target creature or player. This is a
solid and playable card, not Lightning Bolt of
course, but one that will continue to be played
in decks in the current Standard formats.
For Limited this is effective and cheap
removal that is an automatic inclusion for decks
using Red mana in Sealed and at least worth
considering splashing the color to add if other
options aren't available. For Booster this is a
strong second or third choice and even first
pick with a weak rare.