Budget Decks to Get into Modern
- Hans Davidson
Modern can be pricey, and it’s not easy to figure out the right way to find an entry point into the format. While there’s plenty of resources about the topic on the Internet, I wanted to write this article to give a perspective about the topic of getting into Modern on a budget as another resource for those of you that find yourself in this position. I hope that you’ll find it helpful as you begin your Modern journey!
Oh, and here’s the twist: Make sure your computer is also ready for the ride.
Before I share the lists, I want to bring up why I’m exclusively focusing on digital Magic and the methodology of how I’m going to go about deciding which budget decks made my list. With regard to the first point, I mentioned in last week’s article that the liquidity and accessibility of cards on Magic Online are hard to match in paper, and I can’t stress that enough when you’re considering getting into Modern on a budget. I’ve said this multiple times during my time writing for Cardmarket Insight, but due to Wizards’ lack of interest in making meaningful reprints for Modern, Modern players are faced with paper prices for decks that run easily into the price range of a mid-level gaming computer. While that’s okay for some, the status quo keeps many players from playing one of Magic’s premier formats in paper. However, by going digital and playing on Magic Online, the prices become more in line with what one would expect to pay for a format billed more or less as “Standard Plus.” With the average deck clocking in at above 400 tickets (the currency on Magic Online that translates to 1 US dollar per ticket), I’ve chosen decks that are either a few tickets above 200 or cheaper.
Onto the methodology: How did I decide which decks, other than the budget I’ve set, should make today’s article? One of the biggest pet peeves about “budget lists” in Modern is how people suggest decks that have few to no cards that are viable in other decks. I find that recommending beginners of the format to invest in a deck with cards that see little to no crossover usage is cruel and a waste of money. The decks I’ve chosen have had their time in tier one, share cards with a plethora of played decks, or play cards that are integral pieces in similar decks. While this isn’t necessarily that big of a deal on Magic Online, if you end up deciding to pick up the deck in paper, I think it’s important that cards can transfer over to other decks and can be turned into other archetypes without too much cost or effort.
Honorable Mention: Goblins - 34 Tickets
Clocking in at around 37 tickets, Goblins would have easily made the list if it weren’t for its fatal flaw: The cards in the deck are largely limited in application in other decks. While Lightning Bolt and Goblin Guide are the two exceptions, cards such as Legion Loyalist and Goblin Grenade are prime examples of cards too narrow to see play anywhere else. In spite of these failings, the deck is 34 tickets. It’d be remiss to not at least mention a fun, cheap aggro deck, and it’s inexpensive enough that the lack of crossover cards may be something people wouldn’t mind overlooking.
|18Lands||32Creatures||10Instants and Sorceries|
|18Mountain||4Burning-Tree Emissary||2Devastating Summons|
|4Fanatical Firebrand||4Goblin Grenade|
|4Foundry Street Denizen||4Lightning Bolt|
|2Abrade||3Dragon's Claw||2Forked Bolt|
|3Relic of Progenitus||1Roast||4Smash to Smithereens|
1. Ramunap Red – 109 Tickets
Wait, that Ramunap Red? Yes, that Ramunap Red, except that it’s been retooled to incorporate some of Modern’s best red aggro cards. While those who have recently played Standard are sure to recognize the trio of Bomat Courier, Rampaging Ferocidon, and Ramunap Ruins, Goblin Rabblemaster, Eidolon of the Great Revel, and Goblin Guide join the party to give this aggressive creature deck a huge boost in power level. Not surprisingly, in a deck consisting largely of cards that are still in Standard or have recently been reprinted (as well as sixteen basic mountains), the MTGO price for the deck is a little above 100 tickets. Its paper counterpart isn’t too far off from that either (a little under 200 euros). The cards of course can be transferred to mono-red Burn and eventually Boros Burn, and having these cards will always give you access to an aggressive, red strategy in Modern. Ramunap Red is one of the decks that you should absolutely consider buying into if you’re on a budget and wanting to dip your toes into Modern.
|19Lands||24Creatures||17Instants and Sorceries|
|15Mountain||3Bomat Courier||1Burst Lightning|
|4Ramunap Ruins||1Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh // Chandra, Roaring Flame||4Incinerate|
|2Dire Fleet Daredevil||4Lightning Bolt|
|4Eidolon of the Great Revel||4Searing Blood|
|4Goblin Guide||4Rift Bolt|
|2Dragon's Claw||2Molten Rain||3Relic of Progenitus|
|3Skullcrack||2Smash to Smithereens|
2. Titanshift – 201 Tickets
Titanshift ebbs and flows in popularity, but the deck has had its share of the limelight in tier one. While some have bemoaned the deck’s linear gameplay, Titanshift is competitive and its linearity allows new players of the format to play a deck that isn’t overly complex. Buying into Titanshift means that Titan Breach (a similar deck that utilizes Through the Breach and Simian Spirit Guide for a faster Scapeshift kill) is only a few cards away. The deck also can be retooled into Bring to Light Titanshift (a Temur-based Scapeshift deck that plays on a control-combo axis). The mana base lends itself to being easily ported to Green-Red Ponza, a.k.a. “Land Destruction & Blood Moon, the Deck.” At right around 200 tickets, that’s not a bad deal for the different directions the deck can take you.
|2Cinder Glade||2Obstinate Baloth||4Lightning Bolt|
|2Forest||4Primeval Titan||2Summoner's Pact|
|7Mountain||4Sakura-Tribe Elder||2Anger of the Gods|
|4Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle||4Scapeshift|
|3Windswept Heath||4Search for Tomorrow|
|4Wooded Foothills||3Khalni Heart Expedition|
|1Anger of the Gods||2Beast Within||1Chameleon Colossus|
|2Dismember||1Feed the Clan||2Nature's Claim|
|2Pulse of Murasa||2Reclamation Sage||2Tireless Tracker|
3. Mono-White Death & Taxes – 180 Tickets
Here’s the final list for today: Nothing in this world can be said to be certain other than death, taxes, and Mono-White Death & Taxes as a budget-friendly Modern deck. For a deck that has performed at the Grand Prix level, Mono-White Death & Taxes is a surprisingly affordable deck for those looking to buy into the format on the cheap. Aether Vial on its own is a mainstay in various strategies (and the biggest bottleneck in cost for the respective decks), and there are so many variations of Death & Taxes that buying into it opens you up to a wide range of similar decks. With the fairly recent arrival of Red-White Taxes, Death & Taxes now has options in Green-White, Red-White, and Blue-White. This doesn’t even include a black and colorless splash that would turn it into Eldrazi & Taxes.
|23Lands||27Creatures||10Instants and Artifacts|
|4Eldrazi Temple||3Blade Splicer||2Dismember|
|4Ghost Quarter||3Eldrazi Displacer||4Path to Exile|
|3Shefet Dunes||2Mirran Crusader|
|3Thalia, Guardian of Thraben|
|2Wall of Omens|
|2Blessed Alliance||2Eidolon of Rhetoric||2Gideon, Ally of Zendikar|
|2Leonin Relic-Warder||2Pithing Needle||3Rest in Peace|
|2Settle the Wreckage|
That’s it for this week! Let me know in the comments below if you have other decks to add to this list or if you think you have a better way of getting into Modern on a budget!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.