I have written a few articles recently about budget decks because of the Manaleak Standard £100 budget competition. I have put together and played these decks, and I’ve enjoyed every one of them. Including this article I’ve built 3 decks for under £100, so you could say I had a budget of £300. But I haven’t spent anything like that on getting all these lists together, so how did I end up with all these great cards without spending loads of money?
I go about getting my cards very early when the set is released, pre-release in fact. I will trade away some good rares and mythics to get the cards I know I will play. These aren’t always the chase rares. They are much more likely to be cards that suit my play style rather than what’s happening in the meta.
I get lucky sometimes. I fancied Goblin Rabblemaster in M15 and I opened one or two. I picked up the others in the next few weeks, just as they started showing up in Top 8 lists. If I was to buy those cards now they would be £15 each but I did not trade anything like that value.
And fetchlands, for instance, I traded very hard early on in Kahns for the colours I wanted. Every fetchland I opened I traded for the colours I knew I would play more frequently.
A lot of advice I read online tells people to buy singles. Sure that makes sense but cracking packs is fun and I enjoy it. I should probably try to keep more prize packs to draft with but I love opening them so much. A lot of people do… but they don’t all want the same thing. Some players couldn’t think of anything worse than opening a Polluted Delta.
I’m not advocating ripping these people off, trade fairly folks, but there are different values here. You can throw a lot of dragons at a trade like this and everyone will walk away happy.
And I’m sure you have all been passed a money card at one point in a draft too.
I spent a little bit of time explaining why I think spending a large portion of your budget on your mana base is the right thing to do in my last article about the UB Heroic deck. The thing about your mana base is that it helps make most decks a budget deck.
If you pick up the fetchlands in the colours you like to play now then, when the meta shifts after Fate Reforged is released, it will be much easier to pick up the cards you need at a reasonable price. (Of course if you are the kind of person who changes their deck every week and wants to be playing a tier one list, well there’s no budget solution for that.)
Trade or buy your lands at a price you are happy with, and play the budget alternatives until you get them. But don’t expect the same results.
Once you have your mana base, most lists will seem reasonably priced to acquire, with the exception of planeswalkers and some mythics.
Another alternative is the old mono-coloured list. Mono-coloured lists are inherently budget. 40% of your deck is basic lands so it is always going to be cheaper than a bunch of rare dual lands. Red has been doing well since rotation and I have enjoyed playing it. So let’s have a look at another mono-coloured list shall we?
At the beginning of the format, the cheaper decks are quicker and easier to put together and it was a toss up for me between Red and Black. I was very keen on Black and I thought it was going to be the aggro strategy for those first two weeks but for one reason or another I didn’t end up playing it. Mainly I guess because I have to build two decks, one for me and one for my son. Normally there is not a great deal of overlap between the two lists, maybe a few lands here or a spell there, but when it came to a Mono Black list and Blue/Black Control list there were a few cards we both wanted to run.
4 Spiteful Returned
4 Herald of Torment
4 Tormented Hero
4 Bloodsoaked Champion
4 Pain Seer
4 Mogis’s Marauder
4 Gnarled Scarhide
2 Murderous Cut
4 Bile Blight
2 Boon of Erebos
A main deck price of just less than £42… Plenty of room in that budget to pick up a few of the more expensive cards if you wanted to upgrade.
2 Drown in Sorrow
2 Boon of Erebos
2 Agent of the Fates
4 Pharika’s Cure
2 Dark Betrayal
3 Grim Haruspex
Nothing in this sideboard cost more than 50p.
(As always, I will add my obligatory sideboard warning. If you aren’t seeing lots of Black creatures in your meta you probably don’t need the Dark Betrayal.)
Thoughtseize and Hero’s Downfall are great cards. Between them they can take care of anything, but they are at the expensive end of standard cards. The same thing can be said about Thoughtseize as I said about fetches last week. It’s played outside of Standard so the value of the card wont tank after rotation. It will drop but it won’t be worthless. Hero’s Downfall however is a three mana removal spell with heavy colour requirements so it doesn’t see much play in Modern.
But this is Standard, and FNM at that, so we don’t need to run both these cards. We can run Despise in place of Thoughtseize and there are a few kill spells we can run that will take care of creatures. I know a lot of experienced players will look at this deck and lament the fact that Doom Blade is not in Standard but that is the world we live in now. And Murderous Cut is sometimes a Doom Blade.
Killing a planeswalker on the board might be a bit more difficult for Black without the Downfall but it can be done in combat. This is where Mogis’s Marauder comes in. He makes the deck playable. He comes down and gives all your evasion in the form of Intimidate. It will cause your opponents a headache figuring out if you have it.
Black has two of the best low cost conditional sweepers. The twin threats of Bile Blight and Drown in Sorrow help keep the Red player from getting too greedy. (The latter normally coming out of your sideboard.)
A card I have been slightly less impressed with, but still does a decent job, is the Bloodsoaked Champion. The fact he has been underplayed is good because that means he’s a decent choice for a budget deck.
Tormented Hero seems like it might be a bit rubbish but two power for one mana is a good deal so shouldn’t be sniffed at. Like the Champion, he can’t block the turn he comes down but after that he’s good to chump if needed. Also his heroic ability has been better than I thought, with a only a few ways to trigger it with bestow and sometimes a Boon of Erebos, it seems like it wouldn’t happen as often as it does. One interesting play that came up was playing out and then targeting my own tapped hero with a Bile Blight to trigger heroic, killing my opponents hero and then swinging through with my Champion for exactly lethal.
This is a good deck. I went 4-1 at FNM with it, which is probably about its level, maybe a little high.
My benchmark for writing these budget articles has been picking decks that I think are capable of having a winning record at FNM.
Black was a scourge at the end of the last Standard and everyone was sick of it. Some even predicted that its reign would still continue into Kahns but we haven’t see that at all.