Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / Adventures in Budget Building: Cheap Guy Ale

Adventures in Budget Building: Cheap Guy Ale

While I would love to switch between the best, most expensive Standard decks based on metagame shifts or build a  $2000 top-end Modern deck, as a graduate student I do not have the monetary resources to splurge on Magic. This is the first in what I hope to be a series of articles that follow my modest goal of making a decent deck over time, despite my limited budget. 

I have played Magic on and off over the years, mostly playing casually with friends. In the Fall of 2013 I moved to Texas, away from family and friends, and needed a hobby. I had been watching Magic tournaments online and decided to get back in the game, so I purchased the pieces for a Red Deck Wins. I never ended up going to an FNM as I became too busy to play due to the time commitments of graduate school. I finally made it to my first FNM in the early summer, having updated my RDW with new cards. I played well in a small metagame and enjoyed my time. Later in the summer, my fiancé moved in with me, and Friday Night Magic was replaced with Friday Date Night. I don't mind this switch one bit, but I still have the itch to play Magic. Since I am no longer able to play on Friday nights, and good standard decks are fairly costly due to the multicolor nature of Khans of Tarkir, I have decided to slowly creep in to modern, and want to share that journey with you.

First, here is the list I hope to build:

The deck I've chosen to build over time is a variant of Dead Guy Ale, a black/white midrange deck that is quite customizable. I've decided on this archetype because I love the color pairing and I happened to have some key cards that were leftovers of either my last standard deck or an earlier attempt to get into modern:

Inquisition of Kozilek [MD1] Path to Exile [MD1] Lingering Souls [MD1] Blade Splicer [NPH]

When the Modern Event Deck came out earlier this year, I picked up playsets of a few cards that could have made a decent BW Tokens deck. Many of these cards were at an all time low, with Inquisition of Kozilek being the most expensive card which I got around $5 a pop.

I had also picked up a playset of Isolated Chapel and Caves of Koilos as budget lands for this deck. Sometimes things work out in mysterious ways. I had thrown together a budget deck to try to get into modern, but the only time I went to play at my local store, not enough people showed up to start the tournament. I decided to go back to Standard, purchasing cards for Mono-Black Aggro which was doing well in Theros Block Constructed at the time. Those purchases led to another key pick-up for my current build:

Thoughtseize was important for black aggro to deal with sweepers, and having already splurged on a playset, it will now fit in nicely with my BW midrange deck. The plan of this deck is simple: Destroy their hand with Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Tidehollow Sculler while using value cards like Pack Rat, Blade Splicer, and Lingering Souls to attack. Spot removal should be able to clear the way for my attackers while also limiting their threats.

Over the summer I had picked up some good rares and mythics while winning packs here and there at FNMs. I decided to take these cards into my local game store and see what I could trade them for. I ended up with a playset of Pack Rats, Godless Shrines, and two Restoration Angel, key pieces to my long-term goal.

So here is what I still need to make the deck I want:

4 Marsh Flats: This fetch land is currently falling in price. If the Zendikar fetches are reprinted in the third set of Khans, it should be within my budget range sooner rather than later. Still, these may be some of the last pieces of the puzzle

4 Mutavault: Mutavault fell drastically as rotation neared, and I hope that it will continue to fall. If I'm lucky I might be able to snag a deal at a local game store hoping to get rid of them, but who knows. These, along with fetches, will be my biggest purchases.

1 Restoration Angel: I probably should have just gotten the third one right away, the interaction with Blade Splicer is just too sweet to pass up. 

2 Phyrexian Arena: Is it as good as Dark Confidant? No. But Dark Confidant costs too much, both monetarily and in life total if it draws me a Restoration Angel. Phyrexian Arena is a good budget replacement that makes my deck more unique than the general version of Dead Guy Ale that a pro would use.

2 Slaughter Pact: I hate the idea of tapping out for Lingering Souls and then losing to Splinter Twin on turn 4, this card helps eliminate that. I also saw this card for $3 at a local store so hopefully the owner doesn't read this before I can go snag them up.

3 Bloodstained Mire: I need everyone to keep opening packs of Khans of Tarkir so this guy keeps falling in price, you can do it!

Full art lands: I want my basic lands to match and look cool, as so many Magic players do. I will be on the lookout for these.


You may wonder about the one-of Smother in the decklist, so I'll explain. First, it kills Tarmogoyf, Dark Confidant, and a number of the smaller creatures featured in Modern. I am including it, though, because it is my all-time favorite card. Why? Because when I started playing during Onslaught block as an 11 or 12 year old, this was the first card I worked to get a playset of. I play Magic to have fun, like I did when I was a kid. Every time I draw Smother, I remember the pure joy I had as a kid opening a pack, or playing against my best friends. The one Smother that I will have in my deck is one of those four that I pulled from a pack or traded for over a decade ago.

That is all I have for now. I may add a few more budget cards and go play locally next week, hopefully not getting crushed too badly. If I do I will post the list and how I did. If not, I will post update articles whenever I find the money to splurge on some of the cards I need. I have a few rares in my binder that may be worth enough in trade-in value to get a few more of the key pieces to the deck. Be sure to leave comments about other good budget replacements, a decent budget sideboard, or long-term budget decks of your own!


More on MTGGoldfish ...

Image for On Leaks opinion
On Leaks

Thanks to Commander Legends, leaks are once again a hot topic in the Magic community. But the conversation surrounding the leaks might be more problematic than the leaks themselves.

Oct 25 | by SaffronOlive
Image for Flinging Nukes With Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded | $125| Commander Abridged Gameplay | Mono Red Stompy commander abridged gameplay
Flinging Nukes With Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded | $125| Commander Abridged Gameplay | Mono Red Stompy

Tomer shows you how to get MAD and fling huge chonkers for quick victory while on a budget using Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded!

Oct 24 | by Tomer Abramovici
Image for Single Scoop: Face Control (Historic, Magic Arena) single scoop
Single Scoop: Face Control (Historic, Magic Arena)

Burning-Tree Emissary is free but is it good enough to help the ex-best aggro deck reclaim its throne?

Oct 24 | by TheAsianAvenger
Image for The Fish Tank: Sweet and Spicy User Decks (October 18-24, 2020) fish tank
The Fish Tank: Sweet and Spicy User Decks (October 18-24, 2020)

What interesting decks did viewers submit this week? Let's see!

Oct 24 | by SaffronOlive

Layout Footer

Never miss important MTG news again!

All emails include an unsubscribe link. You may opt-out at any time. See our privacy policy.

Follow Us

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Twitch
  • Instagram
  • Tumblr
  • RSS
  • Email
  • Discord
  • YouTube

Price Preference

Default Price Switcher