The current economic crisis is being really hard on all our non-essentials, and Magic: the Gathering is an expensive game. Very expensive, in fact, when you decide to play a competitive format like Modern. Even if Wizard’s intention was creating a format that could be played by those who could not afford Legacy, the truth is tier 1 decks cost around 800 euros ($1,100) on average, and that’s a lot of money. Wizards is, I am sure, working on it and we’ll see reprints of the biggest offenders sooner or later. For the time being, though, it is difficult to start playing this wonderful format.

Or is it?

There are cheap decks that can be built for around 100€ ($135), and then there are versions of more expensive decks that can be built also for this approximate quantity. Which option is better depends on your priorities: I decided, when I built my first Modern deck, to start building a UR Delver of Secrets deck, and to wait until I could afford Snapcaster Mage. But I have friends who decided to start with Burn or Soul Sisters, and they had way better results at the beginning, which allowed them to get some store credit, which allowed them to build more expensive decks afterwards.

Anyhow, let’s have a look at some lists!

Burn

LANDS (20)
10 Mountain
Mana Confluence
City of Brass
Gemstone Mine

CREATURES (8)
Goblin Guide
Vexing Devil

SPELLS (32)
Bump in the Night
Boros Charm
Lava Spike
Lightning Bolt
Magma Jet
Rift Bolt
Shard Volley
Skullcrack

Stay with me for a while, and don’t dismiss Burn at first sight. It is a consistent deck, it doesn’t depend on any particular card, it works, it is fun to play, and it is cheap, especially if we don’t use the classic fetch/shock lands, which we don’t need to use. If the deck works, we can perfectly afford to lose some life using City of Brass and Mana Confluence, as the opponent will be too busy losing to take advantage of the situation.

On the other hand, it is one of those decks where mulligans hurt bad, and every game is a bit of a lottery. You can trust your top-decks, and the deck does not tend to let you down, but there is little you can do if it does. Also, there is some very specific sideboard against burn, and we lose chances every turn. Despite all that, the deck wins, and punishes durdly and slow decks like no other.

Living End

LANDS (24)
Blackcleave Cliffs
Copperline Gorge
Evolving Wilds
Forest
Mountain
Swamp

CREATURES (25)
Deadshot Minotaur
Fulminator Mage
Jungle Weaver
Shriekmaw
Street Wraith
Pale Recluse
Beast Within
Avalanche Riders
Monstruous Carabid

SPELLS (11)
Demonic Dread
Living End
Violent Outburst

Living End is a pretty straightforward combo deck which had a recent spike in popularity thanks to the banning of Deathrite Shaman. There is still a healthy amount of graveyard hate in Modern, but now graveyard-related strategies have a lot better pre-board situation, at least.

The combo goes as follows: we cycle big creatures, then we play a cascade spell (cascade spells allow you to reveal cards from the top of your deck until you find a spell that costs less than the one with cascade, then you play that spell), and that cascade spell can only hit Living End, which will be put in play without suspend, and bring back all the creatures we originally cycled, at the same time it puts all the creatures in the opponent’s side in their graveyard.

It is a fragile combo though. It is too easy for any deck with access to counterspells to counter Living End, and sometimes the deck just fails to work because we draw all our copies of Living End before we can cascade into one (believe me, it happens!). But it is a really fun deck to play, and it has had some very solid results. Also, the deck can be built for extremely cheap if we substitute Fulminator Mage for any other cheaper card.

Soul Sisters

LANDS (21)
21 Plains

CREATURES (27)
Ajani’s Pridemate
Kitchen Finks
Martyr of Sands
Ranger of Eos
Serra Ascendant
Soul Warden
Soul’s Attendant
Squadron Hawk

SPELLS (12)
Honor of the Pure
Path to Exile
Spectral Procession

This deck comes from a Standard list that appeared for a brief period of time during which Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant were both legal in the format. That didn’t last, but then Modern became a good soil for this idea to grow, bloom, and give fruit in the form of games won and burn decks humiliated.

It is a good deck, in my opinion, even though it is rather non-interactive (which is something that can apply to many of the decks here, to be honest). The life gain gives it an edge against aggro decks, and it tends to have good top-decks as everything synergizes with everything.

There is a rather interesting variant using Norin the Wary, which ensures constant Enter The Battlefield triggers. Also, having red allows for some other tools, like Lightning Bolt and Boros Charm.

Mono U Tron

LANDS (23)
Academy Ruins
Island
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
Tectonic Edge
Urza’s Mine
Urza’s Power Plant
Urza’s Tower

CREATURES (10)
Platinum Angel
Solemn Simulacrum
Myr Battlesphere
Sundering Titan
Treasure Mage
Wurmcoil Engine

SPELLS (27)
Condescend
Cyclonic Rift
Expedition Map
Mindslaver
Oblivion Stone
Remand
Repeal
Spell Burst
Talisman of Dominance
Thirst for Knowledge

I have not tried this one personally yet, but I have played against it and I can confirm it is very, very effective. It’s a mix of control and ramp, and a very good one at that: the opponent will find themselves facing huge creatures and difficult board states in no time.

There is a combo inside this deck too: Mindslaver + Academy Ruins means our opponent will never control his own turns again, which means we have won. It has the usual weaknesses of ramp decks: early game is not fantastic, and the engine has to be set up. Blue allows for some control and tempo which make it easier for the deck to get into the mid- and late-game though, as well as some card draw/selection, so we can trust the deck to deliver the cards we need.

Stompy

LANDS (22)
22 Forest

CREATURES (24)
Experiment One
Dryad Militant
Scavenging Ooze
Kalonian Tusker
Skylasher
Strangleroot Geist
Leatherback Baloth
Thrun, the Last Troll

SPELLS (14)
Rancor
Giant Growth
Vines of Vastwood
Beast Within

This is right up my alley. Aggro, creatures, tricks. This deck has not yet proven itself to be a big contender in the Modern metagame, but I consider this to be a solid list. Graveyard hate is built-in thanks to Dryad Militant and Scavenging Ooze, the creatures are abundant and big, and green is also a great color for sideboarding, having access to artifact and enchantment hate.

Stompy, however, is a new deck and as such it could very well fizzle and just not work well enough. I am stoked, but it could pay to be cautious.

WB Tokens

LANDS (22)
10 Plains
Swamp
Isolated chapel
Godless shrine

CREATURES (5)
Doomed Traveller
Tidehollow Sculler

SPELLS (33)
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Inquisition of Kozilek
Intangible Virtue
Zealous Persecution
Lingering Souls
Midnight Haunting
Path to Exile
Raise the Alarm
Spectral Procession

First things first: this list was made before the Modern Event Deck was released. If you like this deck and can find the Modern Event Deck for a good price, by all means start there. It is a good value.

WB tokens is as full of tools as the night full of terrors. Black and white is a very good color combination and makes dealing with anything a breeze. Also, this deck plays so many creatures the opponent has to be prepared against this or just lose: spot removal just won’t work.

Keep in mind though, there is a good amount of sideboard available for the kind of board states WB tokens creates, and it is extremely devastating.

GU Infect

LANDS (20)
Breeding Pool
Gemstone Mine
Forest
Hinterland Harbor
Inkmoth Nexus
Pendelhaven

CREATURES (14)
Blighted Agent
Glistener Elf
Ichorclaw Myr
Plague Myr

SPELLS (26)
Apostle’s Blessing
Groundswell
Might of Old Krosa
Mutagenic Growth
Rancor
Distortion Strike
Vines of Vastwood

Infect takes a shortcut on the aggro approach, makes pump spells twice as effective, and makes the whole metagame understand how important it is to have early removal against this. It has never been a tier 1 deck, but still it has won tournaments and is a constant threat against any unprepared opponent. This is the sort of deck that keep players on their toes, and that’s a good thing.

It is a bit weak against removal, and edict effects tend to kill it dead (the deck usually runs fewer than 15 creatures), but it still is a very good option that will deliver swift kills.

Melira Pod

LANDS (24)
Evolving Wilds
Forest
Overgrown Tomb
Plains
Swamp
Temple Garden

CREATURES (32)
Birds of Paradise
Eternal Witness
Farhaven Elf
Fauna Shaman
Gravedigger
Harmonic Sliver
Kitchen Finks
Melira, Sylvok Outcast
Murderous Redcap
Qasali Pridemage
Ranger of Eos
Safehold Elite
Shriekmaw
Sylvan Caryatid
Varolz, the Scar-Striped
Viscera Seer

SPELLS (4)
Birthing Pod

This is more of an experiment than an actual deck. You see, Melira Pod is arguably the best modern deck in existence, and there are people who fall in love with it the second they look at the Modern format, only to be let down by the price tag attached to it. It made sense to try and make a budget version, and the core of the deck is not especially expensive.

The good thing about Pod is its toolbox approach. This also makes getting the pieces for the deck easier, as they are a lot of times one-ofs. The bad part is it requires three colours, which, in Modern, means fetchlands. And you’re going to need play-sets of those. Also, Chord of calling is really expensive, as is Noble Hierarch.

So, take this as a starting point. And pray Birthing Pod doesn’t get banned.

Hexproof Auras

LANDS (21)
Forest
Plains
Razorverge Thicket
Sunpetal Grove
Temple Garden

CREATURES (12)
Gladecover Scout
Slippery Bogle
Kor Spiritdancer

SPELLS (27)
Ethereal Armor
Hyena Umbra
Keen Sense
Path to Exile
Rancor
Spirit Mantle
Unflinching Courage

This is essentially the full deck minus Daybreak Coronet and with a cheaper land base. It is a beautiful deck and the definition of both Voltron and Timmy. This is, of course, my opinion: some people use this deck to explain why the Modern format is essentially flawed.

Hexproof Auras puts a lot of pressure on the opponent. It builds a huge, untargettable beast, attaching auras to a hexproof creature. Spot removal is useless, dealing X damage tends to be insufficient, and blocking is futile – hence the success of the deck. Edicts and counter-magic can still hurt us, of course, but your opponent has to have it in his hand.

I needn’t convince you, though. There is a type of player for this type of deck. If you’re that type, you already know it.

PyroDelver

LANDS (20)
10 Island
Mountain
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls

CREATURES (14)
Delver of Secrets
Grim Lavamancer
Spellstutter Sprite
Young Pyromancer

SPELLS (26)
Electrolyze
Gitaxian Probe
Lightning Bolt
Mana Leak
Pillar of Flame
Remand
Serum Visions
Spell Pierce
Vapor Snag

UR Delver, or PyroDelver as I sometimes call it (Young Pyromancer is just as central as Delver of Secrets in this deck), is a great, great deck that has to be practiced and studied but which rewards the pilot with options against every deck in the meta. It does not deliver as many free kills as some other decks in this list (even though a couple of flipped delvers in the first couple of turns can mean a quick death for the opponent if they don’t have adequate removal), but it is consistent thanks to its card draw and selection, and is a very difficult deck to deal with while we are ahead in the game. It has some good recoveries too, thanks to Young Pyromancer.

The bad part is I had to cut some pretty important cards to make it a budget deck, and I’m not sure about this new list. Spellstutter Sprite is great, but its slot is normally occupied by Snapcaster Mage, which is really important to the deck; Blood Moon is a central card here which improves the chances against some important decks; and fetchlands are pretty much a must too, as they improve the deck’s consistency.

Well, there you go. 10 Modern lists you can try out that won’t break the bank. Do you have a favorite? Do you play a different budget deck in Modern with any success? Let me know if the comments!

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