14, Feb, 24

MTG Best Budget Decks For Major Formats - February 2024

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Article at a Glance

If you want the best budget MTG decks for all the major formats, then we can help. After all, MTG is a pretty overwhelming game to learn, and Magic: the Gathering is also a very expensive game. With such a long and storied history, some older cards are nearly impossible to find without breaking the bank.

Decks in various formats will easily cost hundreds of dollars, making it difficult for some players to invest in the game, which is why finding the best budget MTG decks is so integral to everyone’s enjoyment. Here, we will provide one budget deck list for each significant paper MTG format that you can try! We’ll take a look at Standard, Pioneer, Modern, and Commander. Pauper, notably, is budget by nature.

One thing you’ll notice is that most of these MTG budget decks are going to be mono-colored. Lands are, by far, some of the most expensive cards in the entire game, and one of the easiest ways to reduce the price of a deck is by going with a simple mana base. Basic lands can be found for free for the most part, significantly reducing the potential cost of your MTG budget deck.

MTG Best Budget Modern Deck

8-Whack Banner

8-Whack is an incredibly old strategy that has seen play repeatedly throughout MTG’s lifetime. The deck has not been competitively viable for a while, especially since the release of Modern Horizons Two caused the format to flip on its head. Luckily, thanks to some new Standard-legal Common and Uncommon cards, Mono Red 8-Whack is affordable and powerful against most of the Modern metagame!

This deck revolves around two types of cards: the Kuldotha Rebirth and Goblin Bushwhacker effects. The combo is simple: create a ton of 1/1 tokens using Kuldotha Rebirth and Gleeful Demolition and convert them into massive damage using Bushwhacker effects! Alongside having oodles of Goblins, this deck works incredibly well with Memnite, which can either be an attacker or a token generator. 

As if this deck wasn’t compelling enough already, 8-Wack also utilizes aggressive spells such as Shrapnel Blast and Goblin Grenade. Thanks to these burn spells, 8-Wack is surprisingly resilient to removal, making it surprisingly effective within the Modern metagame. This is especially true following the release of The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth. 

Even with Orcish Bowmasters and The One Ring causing a ruckus, 8-Wack is still a very compelling strategy due to the board it creates. Easily able to overwhelm opponents in just a few turns, it can be incredibly hard to keep pace with this rather novel budget deck. 

Unfortunately, as you might expect, there are a number of bad matchups that 8-Wack can face. Rakdos Scam, for instance, is dominant in the meta for a reason and can crush 8-Wack thanks to cards like Fury. Alongside this, Living End is an incredibly punishing match-up that you really won’t want to face. 

While these poor matchups are obviously a problem for 8-Wack, the deck still has a foothold within the Modern meta. Thanks to this, it’s a great option if you’re looking to get into the format without breaking the bank. Considering most Modern decks cost around $1000 if not more, the fact that 8-Wack is only around $200 is a very compelling detail. 

Read More: The Top 10 Best Modern Decks in MTG

MTG Best Budget Pioneer Deck

Mono-Blue Spirits Banner

Mono Blue Sprits was, once upon a time, one of the best decks in the Pioneer format. Depending on your local metagame, Mono Blue Spirits can heavily overperform. Mono Green Devotion Combo is quite the popular archetype, and Mono Blue was its worst matchup by a mile. With recent changes, that may not remain the case, but your matchup against them should be decent at worst.

Your strategy is traditionally what Mono-Blue wants to do: create pressure in a way where you can react to your opponent’s game plan. Most of the Spirits in this deck have Flash, which allows you to dodge Sorcery speed removal and gives you plenty opportunity to protect your threats with counterspells. Ideally, you want to attach a Curious Obsession to one of your early creatures since it can accumulate a ton of advantage over a game and make fighting through your counterspells incredibly difficult.

The big reason why Mono Blue Spirits has fallen off in recent times is that it does not have a great matchup with two of the best decks in the format – Rakdos Midrange and Rakdos Sacrifice. They have all the tools needed to disrupt your gameplan: cheap instant-speed removal to remove your Curious Obsession creatures and Thoughtseize to figure out what cards that they need to play around in your hand. All of their cards also generate a ton of advantage, allowing them to grind effectively against one-for-one trades – something your deck loves to utilize.

Mono Blue Spirits has now generally been traded for the Azorius variant, but this deck is still serviceable. Mono Blue Spirits builds all tend to float around the price range of $150-$200. The list above goes for about $200. Alternatively, this Mono Blue deck list went 6-2 at a less recent NRG event, and was worth about $115 at the time. For reference, the average price for a top tier Pioneer option seems to be around $450-$500 currently.

Notably, there are cheaper budget options for the Pioneer format, but Mono Blue Spirits is the cheapest archetype that offers a competitive performance. There are incredibly budget Mono Red Burn strategies out there, but these heavily cut on the archetype’s efficiency to make ends meet financially. This decklist, for example, is an example of a cheap Mono Red deck that should be able to perform ok at your locals. This is worth about $40 and can be upgraded to a more competitive deck over time. Just note that, currently, Mono Red is not considered a super competitive strategy in the Pioneer format.

Bonus: Boros Prowess

Boros Prowess Banner

Boros Prowess is a competitive newcomer to the format that is relatively budget-friendly. Boros Prowess originally won the Magic Online Pioneer Showcase Challenge with over 400 players, showcasing the deck’s competitive viability. The goal of the deck is to utilize the one-mana Prowess Creatures that typically see play in red aggressive decks in Pioneer and combine them with a package set to maximize Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival. The above list is one from a recent Pioneer Challenge.

Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival is an incredibly powerful card when built around. Cards like Wrenn’s Resolve, Reckless Impulse, and Showdown of the Skalds help provide the deck with a constant flow of Prowess triggers as well as a constant source of fuel for Pia Nalaar. What helps make this deck so successful is that it’s capable of having aggressive starts that put your opponent on the backfoot but can also play into the late game with lots of card advantage and value generated from Pia Nalaar.

Most of the cost of the deck is in the manabase. The entire list above goes for about $200, with most of that going towards the manabase and sideboard. While it’s reasonable to cut the four copies of Sacred Foundry to help keep the cost down further, this will make Chained to the Rocks a lot less consistent, so be careful. Even still, this is a great option as a deck that is both on the cheaper side and still competitive in the Pioneer format.

Read More: The Best Pioneer Decks in MTG!

MTG Best Budget Standard Deck

Mono Red Banner

Within Standard, the Mono-Red Aggro deck is an absolute classic. It’s incredibly rare for the metagame not to have a variant of this deck running around, typically causing havoc on a budget. Thankful, the current state of Standard is no exception, with Mono-Red being one of the best decks, especially in best-of-one matchups.

Relying on a smorgasbord of cheap creatures and removal with no other home mono-red can be yours for under $100. Within the deck, usually, the most expensive card is Invasion of Tarkir. Alongside Shivan Devastator these cards sell for around $6 each, and provide some devastating utility.

Thankfully, to keep things on a budget, copies of each expensive card are played. To further mitigate costs Standard’s new rotation, or lack thereof, allows you to use your cards for longer. With this in mind, you may be enticed to spice up your deck with a few more cards and dollars, which is easily doable. 
By throwing copies of Bloodthirsty Adversary into the mix, this deck’s cost can bloat by $50. While this is certainly a lot, this option is nonetheless worth keeping in mind as it rewards more reliable results. No matter which level of budget deck you wish to build, however, Mono-Red is a real force to be reckoned with.

Read More: The Best Standard Decks in MTG!

Bonus: Bant Toxic

Bant Toxic

With variants of this starting at around $200 bant Toxic is unfortunately a fair bit more expensive than Mono Red. If you’re looking for a more competitive best for Best-of-Three matchups, however, this deck is arguably your best bet. Boasting a compelling and unique game plan on a budget, it’s no wonder that Bant Toxic is so popular right now.

At its core, this Bant deck unsurprisingly revolves around the Toxic mechanic from Phyrexia: All Will Be One. Only requiring ten poison counters to win, this deck threatens an incredibly aggressive strategy that life gain can’t avoid. For further strategic variety, Venerated Rotpriest threatens wins without even attacking.

Within the deck, the majority of cards, such as Venerated Rotpriest are rather inexpensive. Similar in price to Skrelv, Defector Mite and March of Swirling Mist these cards all cost around $5.50 – $7. Thankfully, while a playset of each of these is advised, the rest of the deck is practically Draft chaff!

Unfortunately, while this deck’s spells can be yours for around $110, the land bumps up the value dramatically. At almost $30 a piece, the inclusion of Otawara, Soaring City is sadly a necessary evil. The same is true for Mirrex, which synergizes heavily with the deck at almost $10 per card.

Ultimately, while the land base is rather expensive, Bant Toxic still doesn’t break the bank. The only potential trouble with investing in this deck is the lack of continued support. Unfortunately for fans of the archetype, Toxic likely isn’t going to get any new cards in Standard. While this may leave the deck lacking in the long run, for now, it’s an interesting and competitive option.

MTG Best Budget Commander Deck

Obscura Operation

There are a lot of ways to build a budget deck in Commander. This isn’t the most budget method out there, but many budget decks do require players to hunt down various cards that can be pretty difficult to track down. As a result, instead of scouring the internet for the best cheapest Commander deck out there, I will share a strong budget deck that I stumbled on. In order to build this particular budget Commander deck, all you need to do is find a Streets of New Capenna preconstructed deck and one additional card.

With minimal packaging, the Obscura Operation preconstructed deck can be purchased from TCGplayer for just $35. According to mtggoldfish, the overall value of all the cards in this deck amounts to $67, an incredible deal!

This deck offers a powerful Esper go-wide strategy focusing on the Connive mechanic. This mechanic cares about looting but rewards the player for discarding nonland cards to the Connive ability. If you do so, the creature that is Conniving will receive +1/+1 counters equal to the number of nonland cards you discard.

Unfortunately, even though this deck can create a powerful board, the preconstructed Commander does not do the best job of synergizing with the deck’s capabilities. That reward, instead, goes to a Mythic Rare Standard staple from the Streets of New Capenna main set: Raffine, Scheming Seer.

Raffine is the perfect Commander for this aggressive Connive deck. You have a lot of small bodies that cannot be blocked, which scales incredibly well with Raffine’s attack trigger. The deck still cares a lot about Connive, which means your deck’s intended Commander becomes a powerhouse in the 99. Overall, Raffine speeds up the clock your deck presents while allowing you to Connive an insane amount of cards in a short time. This card is worth only $2, bringing up your total for this budget Commander option to $37. If you’re interested in reducing the price as much as possible and can find someone willing to buy your copy of Smuggler’s Share that comes in the deck, you could reduce your deficit to about $25. It’s incredible how much more powerful this deck becomes just by swapping Commanders.

Countless Commander Choices 

While Raffine, Scheming Seer does make for an excellent Commander, they are just one of the myriad options. To date, Wizards has released over X preconstructed Commander decks to choose from. Sure, not all of these are the best of the best, but they are at least options! 

Whatever theme you want to play, by this point, chances are that Wizards has made a deck for you. Thanks to this, it’s only a matter of picking the right deck, after all, if it’s not powerful, you can always upgrade it. While this does inherently demand spending a bit of extra cash, not every Commander card is $50. 

Should you spend your money wisely, you’re absolutely able to build a compelling Commander deck on a budget. Take Hidetsugu and Kairi, for instance. This Legendary team-up pair might not be many players’ first choice, but they’re still incredibly powerful. Capable of threatening turn-three kills, this cheap Commander option isn’t to be dismissed! 

Read More: Underrated $2 Lord of the Rings Card Could Make Waves in EDH!

An Entire Budget Format

Pauper Banner

If you want to play MTG on a budget while maintaining a high power level in gameplay, Pauper is your best bet. Because this format only allows cards printed at a common rarity to be legal, one can build incredibly powerful decks while not spending too much on them.

For reference, the most expensive Pauper deck in the current metagame according to mtggoldfish.com is Dimir Control. That clocks in at about $90 and is considered among the top decks in the metagame. In Pioneer, buying one of the best decks can cost north of $500. In Modern, more than $1000.

Players should expect to spend $60 on the average top-tier Pauper deck, which is a bit more expensive than some of the other options presented, but you get to do the best thing that the format is capable of for that money. You won’t be competing against a thousand-dollar deck with a fifty-dollar one.

The only issue here is that older cards may be tough to find. In exchange for cards being cheap, some supply issues can be seen since everyone else playing Pauper will also want access to those cards without money being a big issue. This is the best option to play Magic on a Budget at a high level.

Read More: It’s Time to Unban Some Cards in Commander

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