Budget Deck Wins!

In a competitive world where Jace, The Mind sculptor, Sac lands, Swords and Stone forge Mystics seem to be king; the price minded player might feel like they are left behind unable to keep pace with the best and most costly of decks. Most of what I have read in the way of budget builds are untested deck lists that may or may not work. And, lets be real, most of the time they do not work anywhere near as well as they look on paper. Other budget minded writers have written about specific cards rather than attempt a full on deck and sideboard which leaves most to struggle alone trying to piece together something around the suggested card. Finding the right mix can take a lot of trial, error, time and play testing.
Many of these approaches seem to suggest there are no good budget cards or decks to be played at a competitive level. This isn’t true. Through some research and a fair amount of math, five decks that are commonly placing in large tournaments happen to be what could be defined as budget decks. These 4 decks all remain close to or less then the price of a single Jace the Mind Sculptor (about $110 at his highest). In preparation for National Qualifiers, you might want to consider the following…for the sake of your wallet at very least.
The first budget deck is the most costly of my list. Blue and Black Infect control deck recently turned heads by placing 3rd during the Star City Games Open event in LA. The majority of the decks cost is tied up in its lands. You are already hitting a price that’s around $103.84 dollars before taxes with 4 Inkmoth Nexus, 4 Creeping Tar Pit, 4 Darkslick Shores and 4 Drowned Catacombs. Add in Jace, Beleren Phyrexian Crusader and Skithiryx, The Blight Dragon the deck total cost comes in around $183.86 dollars. This is just so slightly over the Cost of a Jace, the Mind Sculptor but when compared to decks like Caw-blade that can soar past heights of $900 plus, this deck seems like a good candidate for being a powerful budget list. I have personal tested this list and converted it to mono black to decrease its cost to about $60. It has been testing well though without blue you can’t really stop the powerful ramp decks like Eldrazi Green and Valakut.
The second most costly of my list of budget decks is a personal favorite of mine: Red/Black Goblins. The deck has not placed in any large-scale tournaments yet. Though playing it myself, I feel like it is more then able. I piloted the deck to a Second Place finish at the last local Midwest Masters trial and have been doing no worse then 4-1 in local FNMs with it. With its most costly cards being 4 Goblin Guides at around $7, you might do a little cheer or maybe a happy dance with the knowledge that his other goblin buddies all fall under $3 in cost. With the only other rare creatures being 4 Spikeshot Elders and 4 Goblin Chieftains both sitting at $1.99 a piece, you might assume its total cost could not possibly break $100. However with 4 Lavaclaw Reaches at around $1.99, 4 Blackcleave Cliffs sitting around $2.99, and 4 Dragonskull Summits at $1.99, the deck can very quickly nickel and dime you. Throw in 4 Dark Tutelage at .99 a piece; the list comes out to be at $109.63 before taxes. If your looking for something cheap and esay to put together that beats up on Caw-blade, this is the deck for you.
The third almost costly and second cheapest deck is one I have to admit I know next to nothing about. However it’s placed fairly recently at a Star City Games invitational qualifier taking 8th for the day: green/white/black allies. The decks rares are so cheap you can likely obtain them at your local shop’s .25 cent bin. Bala Ged Thief is listed at .49 cents a piece. Harabaz Druids will only cost you .99 cents and Talus Paladin will run you the same price of .99 cents. However in spite of its cheap creature base, the deck did contain 2 Sword of Body and Mind at $14.99 each. This combined with a total of 8 sac lands the decks cost comes in at around $107.92 dollars. However the small amount of play testing I have done with this deck seems to show that it can function just fine with only 4 sac lands and the rest filled with what dual lands I could get my hands on. Thankfully this means the deck can loose even more of its already cheap price tag and remain just as effective.
The cheapest (though no where near the weakest) deck on this list is also one of the faster decks currently in standard with turn 3 and 4 win possibility. Mono red goblins like their black/red cousin stand strong with the only high dollar card being Goblin Guides. What makes this deck cheaper then the others is its land base that is comprised of four to eight commons and a lot of basic mountains. With the addition of Tuktuk, the Explorer in its sideboard the deck does not even break $60 in value. The whole deck can be bought from your local card shop for about $58.13 before taxes. With multiple respectable finishes in multiple Star City events, you might just want to sleeve up this cheap goblin wonder.
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About Jonathan F Logan

How I started my addiction to the fine game of Magic the gathering begins with my best friend’s 21st birthday. He anther friend of ours and myself decided after 6 hours of drinking it would be a good idea to walk up to that local store buy us some precons from Kamigawa and spend the night playing and debating over the rules with one anther before passing out. We have been addicted to the game ever since. During the Lorwyn block I primarily played the limited formats like sealed deck draft and Two headed Giant. During the Shard of Alara block I spent a great deal of time away from the game because of going to College full time as well as working full time. With the finish of school I have had a great deal more free time to play this game we all love so much. I have had some notable finish in the top 8 of a few PTQ’s as well as taking second place in a GP trial and Midwest Masters trial in the last month. I will be sharing what I have learned during these tournaments as well as some casual things on the side. My Focus lies mostly in the constructed Standard format.

Posted on April 4, 2011, in Articles and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I am currently building the mono red goblin deck off this advice. With prices that low, i cant pass that up! Im running Vampires right now, and i love the deck, but its my only competitive deck, and im looking for something new with out Jace. Ive seen mono red goblins before and they are extremely scary. They just come out of the gate swinging and they dont stop till ur dead. And TukTuk is just genius… ive been wondering why no one bothers to run him, hes very good and underrated. Keep posting more articles plz, like what you have to say!

  2. Great article, enjoying the new site, would’ve like to have seen the RB goblins list and a link to the GWB allies.

  3. I can see this working well, but with the new release of a 4 mana negator being broken vs mono red, the black makes me like this though

  4. I was thinking about entering competitive but after seeing a top-end competitive deck with 4 Tezzerets and 4 Jaces etc etc I was quickly put off. I currently have a budget vampire deck which can easily be put together with two of the three vampire pre-cons. Hasn’t done me much harm so far and is surprisingly the only deck I feel truly comfortable with.

    • There is nothing wrong with budget decks. I mean look at the U/B Infect Event deck. They are pretty solid and while, yes they get a boost from cards like Tezz and Inkmouth aren’t too much of a hurt on the wallet. But I feel ya, my mono white knights is loosing out to these $300 decks and its starting to get less fun.

      For vampires I would deff suggest Sargomancer is deff a pretty good bet.

    • Believe it or not, there’s a place in every format for the budget decks, whether it be an RDW or Vamps in Standard or an Affinity or Goblins deck in Legacy. You don’t need the big-money cards to win, and wasn’t that Gerry Thompson at the most recent Star City Games Open playing an Infect deck!
      If you are serious about getting competitive, it sounds like you’re already partway there- finding an archetype you like and getting intimate with it. There was a splash-Red Vamps deck that got on the radar just a short time back in Japan, I believe, so they are out there.

  5. Sadly, most of my decks are “budget decks.” I haven’t really had huge amounts of luck with booster packs, and I’ve never spent more than $2 on any given card. Even so, I’ve managed to build some decent decks.

    It seems like the emphasis on artifacts in the Scars of Mirrodin block has allowed for greater flexibility in what types of decks you can build. The use of artifacts & colorless mana make it where you can change the entire feel of a deck just by swapping out the colored components.

  6. Hey! Love your site, it’s really awesome. This section was really helpful because you know I’m a poor college student who can barely afford this new habit! I need to go card shopping now!

  7. So first off as fare as links and deck list i had some attached to the article. Some technical issues on my end prevented them from showing up properly so i was forced to cut the, Ive since resolved these issues. The black/red goblin list i omited due to its the focus of my next write. Ill feature a full list side board ect in it.

    The focus here was to point out that you do not need to spend 300-900 dollars to play at a Pro Tour/5k Open level. There are many consistantly winning decks that you can put togather for $110 for less. I just feel like with Caw blade getting so much show and love website wide the knowladge to these decks is low. Untell now i hope.

    • Last tid bit i didnt mention. i say $110 or less and typicly if your fearfull of that cost $110 dollars in the secondary trade market is next to nothing to aquire. I resently traded for anther copy of my black/red goblin list for a friend and managed to get the whole list for the price of 2 dual lands. One was the 2011 Blue/black land and the other was the White/blue dude land.

  8. Any advice columns for decks that don’t use Jace TMS are always worth a read.

  9. Some constructive criticism: This was an interesting read, as it lead you to different deck ideas rather than decklists. I found the formatting a bit dreadful, though.

    I like that you hit Teneb Allies – that’s a great deck, and it does really well with it’s discard and pump.

  10. Fantastic article. I would love to know more about these decks. Also, if you could post full decklists I think it would help new players get a better understanding of what all goes into these things. Maybe even a link to the decklists.

    Or you could do a more in depth breakdown of each deck as a post in itself. Dissect it or something.

    Thanks!

  11. Money does not make a deck. A pauper deck can beat a deck with multiple rares.

  12. It’s interesting to see how these otherwise budget decks can be quickly priced up by the cost of the fix-lands and artifact Mythics. They need to print some cheap and effective mana fixing!

  13. To make a fairly effective deck for FNM, I bought two of the event decks “Into the Breach” and mashed them together the way I felt the decks should be made. At under $40 I was able to get some decent results and I didn’t feel like I was forced into indentured servitude. Having played since Revised (but with a HUGE hiatus), it is frustrating to see that the current play is often dictated by how much money you spend on your deck. I am a working professional, but still refuse to submit to the concept that I must spend hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to play my favorite hobby. The problem is, losing too much to expensive “good” decks, can be frustrating and increases the desire to want to have a similarly expensive deck to compete. Hopefully, I’ll be able to break into a group once I move that will enjoy the fun casual environment more than what I have encountered recently.

    • Im sorry to hear that you feel this way. I will be working hard to bring some Budget decks to light here. I hope that as i bring them forwards you the budget minded player can reap some of the rewards.

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