Your Budget Needs You, Take 2

Krosan Tusker
Magic is a fun hobby that enables you to participate at your own level of comfort. You can play online, in tournaments, at the card store, or around the kitchen table. You can invest a lot of money or very little. You can build decks solely off the leftovers after Draft night at the local Friday Night Magic. You can have dozens of decks built at one time, each in its own little box. You can play multiplayer or duel. Whatever your level of interest, the game accommodates it.

That’s why the occasional budget article is fun to write. I enjoy building decks with a low budget, to enable them to fit into the pockets of players who don’t have a lot of money to drop on the hobby. Today, I have three budget decks for your consideration. One has two uncommons, four rares, and the rest commons. Another has a bunch of older cards, all of them cheap. A third is built around a block mechanic update for today’s card pool.

In a previous article, I had five decks that each came in at $10 or less. To make things a little different, today, I’m increasing my budget slightly, to give me $12.50 in budget per deck. Like before, basic lands are not included in the listed price of the deck. You can pick them from CoolStuffInc for very cheap.

One note on prices is needed. Often, the prices on cards can be very fluid, and they may move from the time this article is written to its publication. The prices can even change from the day of publication to the next day. Be aware that the total price of these decks may fluctuate a bit from when you want to pick them up going back to when the article was written and published.

Are you ready for the cheap decks?

Zur's Weirding
For near mint cards, not including basic lands, this decks clocks in at $11.64.

Zur’s Weirding is a card that has a lot of potential. Countless decks have been built around it in many different ways. It’s been combined with every color and different cards and different styles. Today, I am combining it with Abundance, which I was surprised to discover was a $1 rare at CSI—that seems underpriced considering how good Abundance is. What is key about it in this deck is that when this enchantment is out, whenever you would draw card, if you want, instead you can choose land or nonland. Reveal until you find what you named, and it goes into your hand. You never draw a card. Zur’s Weirding states that when someone draws a card, anyone may pay life to force it to the graveyard. Therefore, with Abundance, you will never draw a card, and no one can use the Weirding against you.

Once I had my combo, the first place I looked was for good life-gain that fit the deck. If I have enough life, I can lock you from drawing anything pertinent for quite some time. I thought that Tablet of the Guilds from Return to Ravnica was a nice choice since you can gain life without using mana when you play any blue or green card. In this deck, gaining 2 life cuts off one draw from your foe, and that’s powerful stuff. Sylvan Bounty can gain 8 life for me or fetch a land in the early game to fix the mana. Both options are really useful here, so I tossed it in. Since I was starting with land search, I finished with Krosan Tusker. It acts as card-drawing, land-searching, or late-game beating.

Temporal Spring
On that note, I wanted some win conditions, and I decided on unblockable creatures. Covert Operative is a nice way to slip in 3 damage a turn, and Tidal Kraken will serve for double that amount. Each will knife through whatever defenses have been erected to carve your foe’s life total.

Temporal Spring is downright amazing in this deck. You bounce a permanent to the top of your opponent’s library, and you then just pay 2 life from the Weirding to send it away. It acts like a cheap Desert Twister.

I rounded out the deck with Hover Barrier for defense and Cancel for some hope of countermagic in this deck’s hour of need. The result is a cheap combo deck that has the power to win.

There are a lot of interesting choices if you want to add some cash to the deck. Wall of Blossoms seems like a great addition. Good card searching, such as Fact or Fiction, is another. Finally, a land base other than basics could be afforded.

Mist of Stagnation
This deck clocks in well under budget at just $9.51. You have plenty of space if you want to try out cards such as Fact or Fiction instead of the Alchemies, Murder or Shriekmaw instead of the Expunges, and so forth. In fact, all of the cards in this deck are common except for the four rare Mist of Stagnation and the two uncommon Hover Barriers.

Mist of Stagnation is just downright nasty in an old-school, this-is-what-tempo-is-really-like sort of way. It reminds me of cards like Rising Waters, Winter Orb, and Armageddon. This is old-school tempo, the likes of which we never see anymore. You can pick them up for cheap and lock down a lot of people. No untapping at all, and people can untap one permanent for each card in his or her graveyard. The obvious adjunct is graveyard removal, and we have eight ways of erasing cards en masse from someone’s yard. Both Bojuka Bog and Nihil Spellbomb join the team.

Once I have that core, I want cards in the deck that fill my graveyard so I can untap everything under a Mist. The best place to start is with Looters. Both Merfolk Looter and Looter il-Kor add some card filtering to my deck. Instead of my card-drawing spell being something like Deep Analysis or Think Twice or Tidings, I’ll just use Forbidden Alchemy to dig and fill my graveyard with goodies.

Just like the previous deck, I want win conditions. With the Looter in my deck as a shadow beater, I add Dauthi Marauder to serve the same purpose. I also used Hover Barrier to shore up this deck’s defenses. Cancel makes another appearance.

Expunge is a fine removal spell because you can cycle it away if you are playing against a deck against which it can’t be used. If you are facing a creatureless deck or mono-black deck or whatever, just cycle it to keep going, and move on. Use and abuse the Mist!

Looter il-Kor
This deck clocks in at $12.73 near mint, so I cheated a bit. If you paid less than near mint prices, it would fall under budget. Since both of my other decks are under budget, I don’t mind going over a tad here. By the way, Invisible Stalker costs a buck and a half per copy, or else he would be in here as well.

I included the good prowl cards along with some good Rogues to blast away. Looter il-Kor puts in an appearance here as a 2-mana shadow rogue. Other cheap rogues include Harbor Bandit (which can become unblockable), Thada Adel (with islandwalk), and the Blackguard (who also pumps Rogues sorta).

With these Rogues, plus the prowl ones, we have a great chance of breaking the prowl cards early. Imagine that you drop a Looter on turn two and swing on turn three. With 3 mana available, you can prowl out a 3/1 flying Latchkey Faerie and draw a card, prowl out a 5/3 Earwig Squad, who will Jester’s Cap someone, prowl a Morsel Theft to hit your foe for 3 life, gain that life, and draw a card, or drop a Bandit. That’s a lot of power for the early game.

Don’t forget your money card: Notorious Throng. Yes, it has a 6-mana prowl cost, but when you use it, not only do you make a bunch of 1/1 Faerie Rogues, but you also net an extra turn. It’s worth the price of admission.

Stinkdrinker Bandit
Also remember that Stinkdrinker Bandit and Oona’s Blackguard improve the offensive capability of your team, so make sure to note the +1/+1 counters and bonuses to unblocked Rogues you get with them.

With all of these Rogues and prowl spells, I had just a four set of cards left. I had Doom Blade as the last spell in the deck, but I decided to upgrade to Recoil. Sure, if it’s a creature, the player can replay it, but I love the tempo earned from it, and I adore the flexibility of Recoil to bounce something else, and forcing a discard is always nice.

Today, we looked at three different decks on the cheap. If you were to buy all of the cards from all three decks, you would spend $33.88 for the lot. Of course, many of the cards in here you probably already own or can find replacements for. If you don’t have extra Cancels, any counter will suffice. You can slide in Go for the Throat or Doom Blade for Expunge, and any defensive blocker such as Fog Bank can replace Hover Barrier. Fact or Fiction does a nice Forbidden Alchemy impression. Cultivate or Kodama’s Reach will sub in for Krosan Tusker. With you owning many of these cards—or obvious substitutes—already, the few cards that you have to pick up will make these decks very easy on the pocketbook. Enjoy some Magic without spending wages from three or seven hours of work on just one deck.

See you next week,
Abe Sargent