Modern is quickly becoming a pricey format to buy into if you don’t already have access to the staples. If you’re looking to get into the format without breaking the bank, we have five decks to share this week that will suit players of different play styles.
Before we get started, I want to acknowledge that everyone’s budget is different, and what qualifies as a “budget deck” will vary from person to person. In choosing decks for today’s article, I tried to strike a balance between cost and competitiveness. These aren’t the cheapest decks you can build in Modern, but they’re decks that don’t have to sacrifice powerful cards to keep costs down.
Without further ado, here’s the list!
Burn comes up in a lot of budget discussions, and for good reason. Coming in around the $500-$600 range, Burn is powerful and easy to pick up, and it doesn’t change much from set to set. A large chunk of the total price is going to be the lands, but the good news is that they’re mostly fetch and shock lands, which will easily transfer to other decks.
Burn is rarely completely gone from the Modern metagame, due to its power and linear nature. Burn excels in slower metagames, or when cards like Thoughtseize are popular. Small creature decks are historically easy match-ups for Burn, since Lightning Bolt and similar cards can act as either removal spells or win conditions. Where Burn usually struggles is when fast combo decks are popular, or when main deck lifegain cards (such as Shadowspear) are good.
Infect has fallen out of favor for a while thanks to the high removal density of Modern, but a copy of Sultai Infect just made the Top 8 of MTG Las Vegas. The Sultai version is slightly more expensive than the one above, but that will give you a nice upgrade path if you enjoy the deck.
Infect is a Golgari deck at its core, and the most important piece is Phyrexian Crusader. The most common removal spells in Modern are Unholy Heat, Lightning Bolt, Solitude and Prismatic Ending, all of which Phyrexian Crusader is immune to. Again, a lot of the high value cards in this deck are transferable Modern staples, such as fetch lands and Thoughtseize. Infect has the capability to produce explosive turn two kills, but it can also nickel and dime opponents to death while holding up protection. Golgari Infect will run you $600-$700 most of the time — which, for Modern prices, is on the lower end of things.
Dredge is a longtime Modern staple that has taken a few different forms over the years. It’s often the default graveyard strategy in Modern, given its consistency. Midrange and control players everywhere have nightmares of Stinkweed Imp showing up with all of its removal-resistant friends. And that bodes well for the current state of Dredge, given how heavy on removal spells many Modern decks are right now.
Clocking in around $500-$600 dollars — a sizable chunk of which is due to the sideboard Gemstone Caverns — Dredge is an excellent budget option for those looking to buy into Modern, or those just looking for a change of pace.
Storm has been around since Modern’s inception. Once one of the pillars of the format, Storm got hit with a handful of bans in the early years, bringing it back down to earth. Worry not, though — Storm is still completely playable in its current state.
Not only is Storm among the purest of combo decks in Modern, it’s also one of the more resilient ones. Remand and Past in Flames give Storm a lot of game against opposing disruption, which is the traditional enemy of combo decks. While it’ll take some reps to understand where and when you can go off, the how is relatively easy: make a bunch of mana with rituals, cast cantrips to run up the storm count, mix in a Past in Flames, and then put a lethal number of Grapeshot copies on the stack. Wish is a new addition that gives Storm an incredibly customizable tutor suite for whatever the metagame calls for.
I mentioned Belcher in my Modern tier list last week as one of the up-and-coming decks in the format. This deck is all gas, no breaks, full-on combo. Thanks to the MDFC cards from Zendikar Rising, you can flip your whole deck with Goblin Charbelcher, because all your lands are spells on the front side. Because Belcher intends to win within one turn cycle of casting Goblin Charbelcher, Pact of Negation is effectively a free counter spell when it comes to defending the powerful artifact. Blood Moon is a solid backup plan that will buy a lot of time against most popular Modern decks, which allows time to set up a clean win.
While Belcher comes in under the $500 mark, the one downside is that many of the cards don’t transfer to other decks. The good news is that the most expensive cards are Fury and Force of Vigor, which have plenty of homes in Modern.
If you’re looking to break into Modern, hopefully this list has given you an easy entry point. I’ll be back next week with more Modern content, but in the meantime, I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday!
Michael Rapp is a Modern specialist who favors Thoughtseize decks. Magic sates his desire for competition and constant improvement.