Mastering Modern on a Budget: Commons and Uncommons Only Deck Lists, by Mark Pinder

£20 PTQs & Dinosaurs by Magic by Mark Pinder

Mastering Modern on a Budget: Commons & Uncommons Only Deck Lists!

We have recently seen an increase in popularity with the Modern Format, traditionally Modern was really only played during PTQ season but you can now see FNM’s and other store events taking place. We have also seen Wizards offer greater support to the format by the introduction of Modern Masters boosters to put a greater number of key cards into the availability pool. We also have Mutavault appear in M14 and other key staples rumoured  appearing in Theros like Thoughtseize.

So being a Tournament Organizer I like to give my players a diverse choice of events and vary the formats that we play. We struggled to get enough players to enter a Modern event, there were two keys areas that stopped players from coming down, the first was the fear that those with proper Modern decks would just crush anyone trying to take part with a Standard deck and the thought that they needed £400 to get the four Tarmogoyf’s every deck needs.

modern masters booster boxThe other major bonus of Modern is that it is a non rotating format, sure there is a Banned list but overall once you buy a deck it is going to be an investment that will usually only grow in value as you can keep on playing with the cards and occasionally bring in new cards from freshly released sets.

This got me thinking of how can we make Modern appeal to those on a limited budget, in Grimsby we have players who would struggle to buy an Event deck for Standard @ £20 let alone a Modern deck.

Now I am no expert on the format but I am a keen brewer of decks and like to push the boundaries for deck construction. There was a time when I played Magic with a tight budget and had to be very careful about what I bought and why, this has allowed me to create decks that are competitive for Fnm without spending a fortune.

Many modern decks are old Standard decks or Standard decks with additional cards so for many the leap into Modern is not that severe, also with a more varied metagame a deck may not be as redundant as you think and your rogue deck may be quite a force, we have seen in Grimsby a Modern event won by a Standard player. This is one of the good things about Modern, when your deck rotates out of Standard in October it may be given new life in Modern with maybe a few of your more older cards seeing play as well.

So how could I generate some interest, I thought about when we ran a recent pauper event and we could build some pretty strong decks even with just commons. So I decided to set about building some Modern decks but with only commons and uncommon’s.

So what decks could we have:

Mono Green Poison

A really fast deck that has the potential to kill on turn two from Glistener Elf Turn one followed by any pump spell on top of three/four Mutagenic Growths.

4 Glistener Elf
4 Blight Mamba
4 Ichorclaw Myr
2 Necropede
2 Viridian Corrupter
4 Giant Growth
4 Might of Old Krosa
4 Mutagenic Growth
4 Primal Bellow
4 Rancor
4 Predator’s Strike

20 Forest


Goblins are a fantasy staple and always popular, plenty of options for other cards to make it into the deck.

4 Foundry Street Denizen
4 Goblin Arsonist
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Tattermunge Maniac
4 Ember Hauler
4 Mogg War Marshal
4 Boggart Ram-Gang
4 Goblin Grenade
4 Quest for the Goblin Lord
4 Tarfire

20 Mountain

White/Green Aura’s

Plenty of hexproof creatures for this deck and the same array of enchantments pretty much as its big brother really only losing Daybreak Coronet. I have won games without the Coronet.

4 Gladecover Scout
4 Slippery Bogle
4 Silhana Ledgewalker
2 Mwonvuli Beast Tracker
4 Abundant Growth
4 Ethereal Armor
4 Hyena Umbra
4 Rancor
4 Spider Umbra
2 Utopia Sprawl
4 Unflinching Courage

4 Selesnya Guildagte
8 Forest
8 Plains


The recent additions from Scars of Mirrodin make for a good block of core creatures and you get to add Cranial Plating too.

4 Memnite
4 Ornithopter
4 Arcbound Worker
4 Signal Pest
4 Epochrasite
4 Vault Skirge
4 Porcelain Legionnaire
4 Dispatch
4 Galvanic Blast
4 Cranial Plating

6 Mountain
7 Plains
7 Swamp

Soul Sisters

This deck was a house in Standard a few years ago and whilst it may miss the Ranger of Eos and Elspeth, the former is not too expensive to get hold of.

4 Soul Warden
4 Soul’s Attendant
4 Ajani’s Pridemate
4 Knight of Meadowgrain
4 Kor Firewalker
4 Suture Priest
4 Descendant of Kiyomaro
4 Brave the Elements
4 Oblivion Ring
2 Timely Reinforcements
4 Kabira Crossroads

18 Plains


I’ve gone mono black but there are plenty of uncommon mana fixing to allow for the red splash to encompass more Innistrad vampires.

4 Pulse Tracker
4 Vampire Lacerator
4 Viscera Seer
4 Blood Artist
4 Bloodthrone Vampire
4 Gatekeeper of Malakir
4 Vampire Hexmage
4 Vampire Nighthawk
4 Doom Blade
4 Sign in Blood

20 Swamp

Black White Tokens

4 Cloudgoat Ranger
4 Brave the Elements
4 Intangible Virtue
4 Raise the Alarm
4 Lingering Souls
4 Rootborn Defenses
4 Timely Reinforcements
4 Cenn’s Enlistment
4 Spectral Procession

4 Arcane Sanctum
4 Orzhov Guildgate
16 Plains


The shaman deck is a fun deck that utilises the multiple triggers from Wolf-skull Shaman to generate a lot of  pressure from multiple wolves. Card advantage to come from  Gilt Leaf Seer ,  Masked Admirers  and  Eternal Witness .

4 Gruul Shaman 

4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Wolf-Skull Shaman
4 Eternal Witness

4 Gilt-Leaf Seer
4 Masked Admirers
4 Burst Lightning
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Shock
2 Thornbite Staff

10 Forest
4 Gruul Guildgate
10 Mountain

Please note these decks can also make a solid base to work from, there is nothing to stop you from improving on the decks with newer cards to get them to a higher standard but should still be able to win a few matches locally to enjoy a fresh and varied format.

Thank you for reading,

Mark Pinder

Mastering Modern on a Budget: Commons and Uncommons Only Deck Lists, by Mark Pinder
We have recently seen an increase in popularity with the Modern Format, traditionally Modern was really only played during PTQ season but you can now see FNM’s and other store events taking place.

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