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Thirty Casual Decks Under $20 for Magic: the Gathering Ikoria


We've been publishing a bunch of cheap, casual deck lists after the past few set releases. Today, we have our latest installment of the Thirty under $20 series, with a bunch of cheap, fun decks featuring cards from Magic's newest set: Ikoria! The set is stuffed full of massive monsters and mechanics like mutate to make the monsters even bigger by mutating them together, along with companion, which allows you to essentially start the game with an extra card in hand, assuming you meet a certain deckbuilding restriction.

Like in the past, with today's decks, we tried to minimize the number of rares that show up in decks, to make them easier to acquire. For the Ikoria-only decks specifically, none of the decks has more than one of each rare since those are the numbers you're likely to open if you crack a couple of boxes. These decks are appropriate for fun, casual play and for new players. If you're looking for higher-powered decks (more appropriate for FNM), we play budget decks every week on the Budget Magic series, with a typical budget of $100. If you want to go all-out, you can check out fully powered decks used in tournaments and by pro players.

Standard

First, we have Standard decks, which take advantage of all of the cards currently legal in Standard. Ikoria is the third set released since rotation, which means these decks are built around cards from Guilds of Ravnica, Ravnica Allegiance, War of the Spark, Core Set 2020, Throne of Eldraine, and Theros: Beyond Death, along with—of course—Ikoria itself. The primary goal of these decks is to keep the price tag down under $20, which means (mostly) avoiding mythic cards altogether and minimizing the numbers of rare cards whenever possible. 

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  • Trample Tribal is all about being aggressive with efficient trample creatures, which allow us to make massive trampling tokens with Quartzwood Crasher and possibly even burn the opponent out with Ram Through!

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  • Green-Blue Flash wants to play exclusively on the opponent's turn. Draw your card for the turn, leave up all your mana, and pass. If the opponent does something powerful, you can counter it with Frilled Mystic, Voracious Greatshark, Neutralize, or the other counterspells in the deck. If the opponent doesn't, you can use your mana to flash in a threat like Nightpack Ambusher or Brineborn Cutthroat at the end of the opponent's turn!

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  • Load up the board with enchantments, which generate card advantage thanks to Setessan Champion and Nessian Wanderer. After there are a bunch of enchantments on the battlefield, blow them all up to make a bunch of 3/3 Centaurs with Rampage of the Clan, hopefully providing enough threats to untap, attack, and win!

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  • Play a bunch of creatures with vigilance, pump them with Keensight Mentor and Ajani, the Greathearted, and go on the offensive. Huatli's Raptor can proliferate the +1/+1 counters that Ajani offers to make our creatures even bigger while also working with the deck's vigilance theme.

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  • Red-White Cycling is a combo deck, looking cycle through the deck, triggering cards like Drannith Stinger and Valiant Rescuer along the way, before eventually ending the game with a massive Zenith Flare to the opponent's face!

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  • White-Black Humans is an aggro deck. The plan is to play Humans, pump them with Sanctuary Lockdown, and hopefully kill the opponent with attacks before they manage to draw into a wrath or too much removal.

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  • Blue-White Yorion Blink is overloaded with creatures with that trigger when the enter the battlefield like Fblthp, the Lost and Elite Guardmage to draw cards, Loxodon Lifechanter to keep our life total high and Riddlemaster Sphinx to bounce our opponent's threats. After we make a big board of creatures we can play our companion Yorion, Sky Nomad to reuse all of our enters the battlefield creatures by exiling them and returning them to the battlefield at the end of the turn to draw even more cards, gain more life and bounce more creatures! While it is expensive, Scholar of the Ages combos with Yorion, Sky Nomad and either Flicker of Fate or Justicar's Portal, allowing us to keep getting our "blink" spell back from the graveyard, use it to blink Yorion, Sky Nomad and then use Yorion to exile and return the rest of our creatures, giving us an overwhelming amount of enters the battlefield value.

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  • Blue-White Flying Aggro is looking to attack in the air; even one of our creatures has flying, making it difficult for our opponent to stop our offense. Empyrean Eagle and Rally the Wings allow us to buff all of our other creatures to get in for massive chunks of damage!

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  • Blue-Black Flash, similar to the Green-Blue Flash deck we looked at early, wants to always play its cards during the opponents turn, giving us the option to counter one of our opponent's spells (with Neutralize, Quench or Voracious Greatshark), kill one of there creatures (with Murder or Dirge Bat) or just play a big creature of our own at instant speed. Slitherwisp is one of the key cards to the deck, helping make sure we always have a handful of cards while also slowly draining away our opponent's life total, while Cunning Nightbonder makes sure that our opponent can't counter our creatures!

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  • Rather than attacking the opponent's life total, Blue-Black Mill is looking to attack their library using cards like Sweet Oblivion, Merfolk Secretkeeper and Drowned Secrets to slowly empty it of cards until our opponent eventually loses the game by drawing a card with an empty library. 

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  • Mono-Red Obosh Burn is an odd deck, built around cheap, one-mana creatures and powerful burn spells like Slaying Fire, Skewer the Critics and Shock. The idea is that we can built up a board of creatures, hold some burn spells in hand and then play our companion Obosh, the Preypiercer to double all of damage and kill our opponent with one massive attack with burn like Slaying Fire and Skewer the Critics hitting for six or even eight damage to finish the job.

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  • Red-Black Menace Tribal is an aggro deck. It's filled with hard-to-block menace creatures and Labyrinth Raptor to pump the rest of our creatures into even bigger threats. If our opponent has creatures that get in our way we can use the combo of Pestilent Spirit and Cosmotronic Wave to kill them all for just four mana!

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Ikoria-Only

Next, we have some decks made only with Ikoria cards. If you're brand new to Magic, Ikoria is the newest Magic set, and it's built around a theme of massive Godzilla-style monsters and making those monsters even more powerful with the mutate mechanic! While limiting the decks to just one set makes them less powerful than Standard decks, the upside is simple: you should (on average) get the cards you need to build all of these decks by cracking a couple of boxes of Ikoria. They are also perfect for Magic Arena, especially if you are just starting out and don't have many cards in your collection, since they don't require many rare (or any mythic) wildcards to build and you'll mostly be rewarded with packs from Ikoria, so many of these cards will naturally show up in your collection over the next month or two (if they aren't there already). While these decks won't compete at the FNM level, they will be great starting points if you're looking for a way to stretch the amount of fun you get from your booster boxes or casual free-to-play Magic Arena! One last thing before the decks: unlike the Standard decks, each rare only shows up as a one-of in the Ikoria decks, no matter how good it might be in the deck. This is not only to keep the price down but because if you crack two boxes, you'll get about one of each rare, on average. If you happen to open multiple copies of one of the rares in the decks, don't be afraid to upgrade by sticking it in over one of the less powerful cards!

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Past Thirty under $20s

While this edition of Thirty under $20 was focused on Ikoria since it is Magic's latest set, all of the decks from our past two Thirty under $20s are still legal in Standard! If you're looking for even more fun, cheap decks to play, make sure to check them out!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. A quick reminder on the way out the door: all of the decks we talked about today are designed to be for casual play, like having fun with a friend on your kitchen table, and aren't really designed for competitive play. If you're looking for more powerful (but still budget-friendly) decks that are perfect for Friday Night Magic, make sure to check out our Budget Magic series. If you are looking for competitive tournament-worthy decks, you can find them on the metagame page. Hopefully, these super-cheap decklists for Ikoria Standard will be helpful and fun! If you have any questions, make sure to let me know in the comments. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, feelings, and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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