Welcome back to the Epic Experiment. I’m glad to be back with yet another visit.
I have recently spent a great deal of thought on mana bases and how to keep things affordable with the ever growing demands of the modern EDH deck. Let’s have a look and explore some options for helping to keep our budgets under control. There are plenty of expensive options out there if you want to run an optimal mana base, but the truth is many players can’t just splurge for the Fetch/OG Dual land mana. Most players need to find more budget friendly options so having an in depth understanding of what are our options is important.
Let us begin with the level 0 of multi-colour mana bases and that is the wide plethora of common or uncommon tapped lands that all take inspiration from Guildgates. These range from life-gain lands, snow covered duals from Kaldheim, just some plain old tapped lands, Campuses from Strixhaven and Artifact dual lands from Modern Horizons 2. These lands are all viable options for someone playing on a budget and can even be decent additions to a deck depending on what payoffs you are running elsewhere.
The drawback to all of these lands is that will virtually always come into play tapped and that can be a real cost. So, even casual players like myself play these sorts of lands with great trepidation because I KNOW there will be a point in the game where I need an untapped land and all I got was a life gain land. So, players beware.
Another very viable option are the Scrylands. These were originally printed in our original visit to Theros and while it may be hard to believe but at the time some of the lands in this cycle eclipsed $10! Today, they have been reprinted frequently enough such that they hover around $1/ land making them very reasonable budget options. I am a big fan of these lands because I find that little bonus of a Scrty 1 super valuable and can really help smooth out a rocky opening hand, or set up an optimal draw later in the game.
Again, the same problem as with the Tapped lands is that these also enter play tapped. The cost rises as the power level of your meta increases, meaning that typically these get cut in favor of lands that are untapped, but they make a solid basis for a budget deck.
Originally given to us in Shadows Over Innistrad, this land cycle has largely been panned for being not particularly good. However, these can be useful options for a budget deck.
First off, the 5 allied lands from Shadows Over Innistrad all hover around $1 making them very budget friendly. The 5 Enemy coloured pairs found in Strixhaven are worth slightly more because they might see some measure of play in Standard, but even at $3 they are pretty reasonable. The benefit here is that they do have the option of being played untapped. The most likely scenario is that these get played on Turn 1 when you may have another basic or two in hand, but really, the fact that this comes in untapped, even T1, is a big boost because it means you have just one more land that is untapped and doesn’t force you to wait.
Also, should you draw a big ol’ pile of cards you could play this untapped if you draw multiple lands, which is a nice thought. They are a little tricky to use effectively and the tension between having them play untapped vs tapped is certainly a concern, but the fact the option exists is a nice thought.
As we continue to explore budget options we get to the bi-cycle lands from Amonkhet. Truth be told, this cycle is pretty decent because on top of being dual lands, they are also templated with the land type so that you can fetch them with the correct Fetchland. The fact that Sheltered Thicket is a Mountain and a Forest is terrific and allows it to be accessed quite readily, helping to smooth out your mana.
The extra cherry on top here is the cycling cost that can allow you cash in the land and draw another card. What’s not to love? Once again, this cycle comes into play tapped, which is a drawback, but the fact remains these lands are increasingly versatile… and run you somewhere around $3 making them excellent budget options.
Another excellent budget option are the Tango lands from Battle for Zendikar. They earned their name for being able to be untapped if you already have 2 basics on the battlefield… because of course it takes two to Tango! These are great budget options hovering between $1 and $2 a card and provide some real solid benefits.
Firstly, these DO have the capacity to be untapped, which is very valuable. With this land cycle, late game plays are much likely to be online because chances are a late top deck will allow you to have the untapped land you need to make your big play. They are also templated with the land types so that they are lands that are legal targets for fetches giving you yet more options.
Another viable option for budget players are the creature lands. It is interesting that these all originate from the plain of Zendikar but come from different visits to the plane. The 5 original allied lands found in Worldwake have all seen some measure of competitive play (except Stirring Wildwood) and some have even been quite expensive. These originators were probably a little too good and cards like Celestial Colonnade were widely played and were very expensive.
The 5 enemy coloured creature lands from Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch, on the other hand, have all been relegated to support roles or outright discarded because many of them aren’t good enough. The truth is that all of these lands can be very useful to provide a surprise blocker, can carry swords or equipment, and can survive board wipes and leave you with a credible threat. They also now have seen their prices sink to under $5 for even the most expensive and many hover around $1 making them good budget options that provide versatility.
The Pathways that appear in Zendikar Rising and Kaldheim are perhaps some of the best budget friendly dual lands we have seen in quite a while. While they are currently quite expensive, but I would expect that upon rotation these all see a very tangible drop in price.
The best attribute with these lands is that they always come into play untapped. That is a HUGE upgrade on many of the other lands we have seen in this article. However, the tension at play is that they can only be used to produce one colour or the other once they have been played because you have to select which side of the card you wish to play. I appreciate the tension that is created by a player having to make a choice about which side to play because decisions are ultimately at the core of our game. The more decisions we make, the more I like the game. So, I can’t wait for these to see their price recede as they approach rotation because I see these as being a very real and bright option going forward.
Well, that is going to wrap our look at budget dual lands. Hopefully we’ve given casual players a slightly different perspective into why play some of these land cycles. With new cycles being printed with every new expansion these options are going to continue to grow and help budget players keep their decks viable and their wallets a tad more full. If you enjoyed my thoughts or have something you would like to see explored in more detail, please check out our decks and much more each week on our podcast on iTunes, Google Podcast, Spotify, Amazon, and anywhere else you find better podcasts. Just look for the name The Epic Experiment Podcast! We’d love to have you join us!
With all the new cards spoiled from Shadows over Innistrad I have been excited to go back and dig up a bunch of my cards from the original Innistrad block and I found a couple of old decks that were still largely intact. There are a number of cards that I forgotten about and digging them up inspired me to build a deck using many of these cards.
The two biggest incentives are to play Mayor of Avabruck, a werewolf from our first visit to Innistrad who is just a beating. Part Human lord. Part Werewolf lord. All value. I dug out my playset of the Mayor and was super excited to dust them off. The second one is a card that I would argue starts to push the bounds of a budget deck. Legion Loyalist has seen his price climb higher and higher in recent weeks to the point where he is north of $10. For a 1/1 with Haste for 1 mana that seems steep, but I guess he’s slightly more budget than Tarmogoyf. Either way, finding these cards had me assemble a Naya Blitz deck very similar to one played in Standard back a couple of years ago. Despite the fact that recycling an old deck is not always a great idea this might be a list that could port to Modern and be fairly explosive.
Here’s my list:
On the whole, the deck is fairly inexpensive with the exception of Legion Loyalist thanks to the recent spike. The spells are also cheap to play and readily available without much difficulty. The only real difficulty is the mana base which, as we all know, is always expensive. The Wooded Foothills are currently *$25/card and the Shocklands all currently run about *$10/ card making for over *$200 in mana alone. That doesn’t even include a 4 of Windswept Heath, not because I don’t want to run them but because I don’t actually own a copy. So, let’s be generous and say that this deck costs less than *$300 ( more like $250) but could scale significantly if you wanted to run it. In a format where there are decks that can cost far more without even breaking a sweat this could be a budget entry point into Modern that is easier for some players to digest.
Some fancy upgrades you could make to the deck including putting in Tarmogoyf as the best 2 drop creature Green has to offer. Scavenging Ooze could be another choice, but it gets a little mana intensive and would be better as a sideboard card to try and gain back some life against particular matchups. Atarka’s Command would be an ideal upgrade and another very flexible card in these colours. Wild Nacatl would be a powerful addition as well. I could go on for days listing other powerful Modern staples, but I think you see the point…if you wanted to up the price tag there are lots of options to do so.
The game plan is simple. Hit the board early and often with fast creatures that pack a mean punch. Loyalist and the Swiftspear come in with Haste and Flinthoof Boar might join them meaning you could after your opponent’s life total early and often. The real question is if you can chain Burning-Tree Emissaries together into a Mayor of Avabruck or more Boars to really spread your board out wide and put the pressure on before your opponent is set. Burning-Tree Shaman is the only creature at the 3 spot, but might be a good choice in this list because it is a 3/4 for 3 mana meaning it survives a Lightning Bolt. I might opt to increase the number of the Shaman and shave something off as I go. Gore-Clan Rampager does double duty as a 4/4 beater but also as a pump spell should you need to extend your reach and smash your opponent harder. Lastly the Regent might just be good insurance if you need to get a little further into the game.
The spells are pretty easy. Boros Charm is just very versatile with every mode having some sort of application in this deck. Do you need to burn out your opponent? You got it. Save your creature by giving it Indestructible? Okey-Dokey. Double down on the damage with Double-Strike? Yes Please! Lightning Bolt is also another no brainer if you’re playing Red. Giant Growth could be a very powerful option to help push through additional damage. Mutagenic Growth might be a better option, but since I don’t have any of those Giant Growth will need to do for the present. Mad Cap Skills is the only card I am unsure of and is very much a holdover from when I played this in Standard. It is a pretty powerful way to push through damage by granting your creature a form of pseudo evasion. The problem is that you can find your creature burned out or Pathed easily enough that you set yourself up for a 2 for 1. It might be the first card I side out every game but as it stands right now I have it in the deck. The sideboard is very much a work in progress, but the cards I have listed here are a starting point and can be built on depending on your local metagame.
The obvious weakness of the list is that Anger of the Gods and Pyroclasm absolutely wreck it. Nothing like having your whole deck go up in flames. You have a few things that can live through the Red board wipes, but the truth is that those just wreck your deck. I’m not sure if it is fast enough for Burn or for Affinity, but it might have a chance against some of the more Mid-rangey decks. Regardless, the deck is a bit of a glass cannon and you need to get out to fast start and get them dead fast because once you run out of gas you are in big trouble.
It isn’t a pretty deck and lacks some of the subtly that other decks in the format afford, but as far as a Budget entry point into Modern this looks like it might fit the bill. The cards aren’t overly expensive and should be accessible as they have seen fairly recent printings meaning most players can assemble the deck. With some practice and refining of the sideboard this could become a fairly reasonable deck to sit down and sling spells with. Who said you can’t go back home again?
Thanks for taking the time to stop in and have a read. Please be sure to stop in next time for another Casual Encounter.
@bgray8791 on Twitter
Hello again fellow looters! It’s me Roy, back for another article this week. Now before we delve into our topic, I have to explain something. If you have been reading my past articles, you know that I promised that my next article would be a data-centric analysis of the new format One Fate Reforged Pack and Two Khans of Tarkir Packs. (Also that I would have an article once a week.) Well, as it turns out, watching 300+ games of magic is a ferociously difficult task for a full time college student who also works. I know that I just need to bolster myself with some coffee and sit down one day and maybe then I will have the prowess to just knock it out. Until then, I have some other ideas for articles including the topic for this week which is all about Modern on a budget. So before you raid my house, just know that I will try to dash out the article ASAP. Until then, let’s talk Modern! Also, Outlast! (See what I did there?)
Moving on, Modern is a format that has been around for a while, however, it has grown a lot in recent months. My local game store’s (LGS) Modern event now has just as many players as the standard events, On top of this, Star City and even Wizards have started embracing modern events more openly. The most recent Pro Tour was even modern which makes the format fresh in the magic community’s mind. Well, everyone else is doing this new thing the kids call “Modern” now, why shouldn’t I? I am hip right? Well, the problem lies in the cost of most modern decks. Some decks in this format can run as much as 500 to 800 dollars for a finished deck. That can be a lot especially because most of us either: love standard and spend the money on that format, spend all our money on drafting, or just don’t have any money. Have no fear! I can solve every problem for you except for the last one. I can even solve that one too if you change the word none to some! How will I do that? Well, with a budget deck of course!
Now, I scoured the internet and found five decks that I feel are good budget modern decks that still remain relatively competitive. I even included a stock list with each archetype I post and this should be easily traded for. (Some of the cards may even be on this website! )
Disclaimer! The deck will not be perfect. There will always be some card that can make the deck inches better. That is not the goal with budget deck building. The goal here is to make the best deck with a limited budget that can go toe to toe with some of the real decks in the format without feeling like you are using a wet noodle in a sword fight. Also this is going to have a focus on having a bit of fun. These are decks you may not take to a Pro-Tour Qualifier (PTQ), however, they may do alright in your local store.
Without further ado, here is the top five decent/fun Budget Modern Decks!
There is always some red deck that keeps all the other decks on the format on their toes. These decks tend to be really good because they can pick up wins just by having their opponent stumble for even one turn. This is due to this deck being very fast, however, there comes a point in every game where, if you haven’t won yet, you most likely won’t. Now, even the most competitive version of this deck is less than 100 which is much better than most Modern decks, but we can do better than that!
Now, as you can see this deck is designed to throw damage at your opponent and hope you can finish him off with Shrine or a top deck burn spell. You can even sideboard some Skullcrack’s in order to prevent decks with sources of life gain. Either way, this deck should be fun enough to play and win you enough games to warrant spending the 25 dollars or less the deck will cost.
For those who are new to Modern, you may not be familiar with this deck. The premise is simple, get the set of Urza lands (Urza’s Mine, Urza’s Tower, and Urza’s Power Plant) into play and play big stuff and expensive spells. Now, there are many ways you can play this deck. You can play: Artifact, Mono-Blue, Mono-Red, Red/Green, and I am sure many other ways. However, for the sake of cost, I feel like Mono Blue Tron may have a cheap list for us. Now, when I say cheap, I mean for Modern’s budget. This deck unfortunately has some cards that are harder to forego that may cost a pretty penny. We will see what we can do.
This deck is all about quickly assembling the pieces of your land combo and start dropping big spells. Spine of Ish Sah, Wurmcoil Engine, and all your other spells become very easy to cast. Treasure Mage can help you find the creatures. Now this version took some hits to be extremely budget, however, if you like this deck you can slowly add in some of the more expensive powerful artifacts and combos. The most popular is Mindslaver and Academy Ruins. The reason that it is not in this deck is due to cost, however, I still left in a fun Spine of Ish Sah and Phyrexia’s Core interaction that is budget enough for us.
Now this is a deck most people will tell you to play when you ask for budget modern decks, or at least they did when I asked. This deck is a mono white life gain deck that has some fun combos hidden in it. It gets its name from Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant which both have you gain a life when a creature enters the battlefield. Couple that interaction with four Chalice of Life and four Ajani’s Pridemate, you have yourselves an interesting budget deck. Here is a fairly budget list I came across.
This deck is actually the easiest to play out of the decks mentioned so far. It requires very little to understand how to get this deck going. This deck is very susceptible to removal, although, I bet you could make certain changes to improve its odds in the long run. It would also be a smart idea to eventually include some form of white removal in your deck to stop from being walked all over. That is down the road after you decide if you enjoy modern enough.
Think of Affinity as a sort of artifact with a blue base aggro. This deck has been very successful and always remains a strong deck in the format. It even undergoes changes that allow for more variance. I have personally seen white affinity variants do very well in tournaments from time to time. For the sake of this exercise, we will be using a very stock mono-blue list I found with a lot of the expensive cards chopped out.
The main idea with this deck is to flood the board with as many artifacts as you can. Master of Etherium can get the job done nicely. Cranial Plating is another nice and clean way to win along with a Ghostfire Blade as a new budget alternative (Credit to Nighthawk 101). Signal pest can even turn an army of Ornithopters into a few 1/2 fliers. Another fun interaction is Ensoul Artifact with a Darksteel Citadel. Who doesn’t like indestructible beaters? Maybe your opponent…. Either way, this deck will be a very good budget deck to take to an FNM or local Modern tournament and get a fairly good placement and hopefully cash out.
Last but not least…..
Why did this deck make number one? Well, that may have something to do with it being the deck that I actually build to get into Modern, but that just means I know it all the better! Now, mixing this deck with blue is seen as a more effective deck overall. It gives you access to an unblockable infect creature as well as some other ways to give your current creatures evasion. This comes at the cost of duel lands which as we know can be expensive. I have taken the list I am going to give you to multiple modern events. Now, Infect has gotten more popular in recent years. Tom Ross and many other professionals have adopted the deck and this means it is under more player’s radar.
So here is the budget list I use whenever I want to play in a modern tournament.
This deck has gone through many evolutions. When I first started playing this deck, Modern was just a fever dream of a few of my friends and I didn’t know what a real infect deck looked like. I had this idea of a deck with a possible upside of killing on turn two which sounded awesome. Slowly the tech got more improvements and this is the current form. Now, even just being mono green it could obviously be better. A play set of Blinkmoth Nexus would improve this deck. Might of Old Krosa may even be better than Giant Growth but, as I said earlier, this deck is the spirit of budget modern decks.
So I hope you all enjoyed my list! If you guys decide to play any of these decks, feel free to leave a comment or let me know via social media how it went. If you think there is a better budget option or I missed something, let me know! I treat my articles as a way to share information with you. Hopefully you chose to share some information back. Before, I let you go for this week, I have one more thing for you. An honorable mention!
Yes that’s right, it’s time to randomly plug a Modern deck I enjoy playing but is really bad! Wait, did I mention it was a budget ?!?!?!? WELL WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?!?!
So many people may be looking at this and wondering how to play this weird deck? Well, I will tell you. First, you mulligan until you get a hand with a Treasure Hunt. Does it matter which other cards you have in your hand? Not with this deck! Next, any hand disruption kills you right away. Then, once you have a land and a Reliquary Tower or two lands and turn three then we can begin. Treasure Hunt until you hit a Zombie Infestation. Play it, pitch your hand of now 30 to 40 cards, and then enjoy.
By Roy Anderson
@Sockymans on Twitter