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Thirty Casual Modern Decks under $20 for Magic: the Gathering (Tribal Edition)


Last year, we started a series where we post a bunch of casually focused decks that cost $20 or less, and it has proven to be quite popular. Well, today, we're expanding the series from Standard to Modern! While the $20 budget means that these decks likely won't be winning tournaments any time soon, especially considering that tournament decks in Modern often costs hundreds or even more than $1,000, they should be a ton of fun to play on the kitchen table with friends, and thanks to their cheap price tags, they should be easy to put together. Since Modern contains so many cards and so many possible decks, we decided to focus on one specific type of deck for our first Modern 30 under $20: tribal decks! Tribal decks (decks primarily built around one specific creature type) are a staple of kitchen-table casual fun, and some of them can even be upgraded into tournament-playable archetypes. Anyway, without further ado, here are 30 casual Modern tribal decks that all cost $20(ish) or less!

Mono-Colored Decks

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  • Kithkin are an aggressive white tribe. The deck's main goal is to dump our hand of Kithkin as quickly as possible, pump them with Wizened Cenn and Radiant Destiny, and smash our opponent to death with combat damage before they draw a sweeper to ruin our fun.

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  • The main advantage of Cats is that they are very good at going wide. Cards like White Sun's Zenith and Leonin Warleader put multiple Cats onto the battlefield with just a single card, and they also have one of the most powerful lords in Modern, with King of the Pride giving all of our Cats +2/+1, which should allow us to make our creatures bigger than our opponent's creatures and win by attacking.

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  • Soldiers are a very synergistic tribe, with plenty of lords and pseudo-lords to help us grow our creatures as well as Preeminent Captain, which can allow us to put expensive Soldiers like Captain of the Watch into play for free when it deals combat damage. Meanwhile, Mentor of the Meek offers some on-tribe card draw, while Fairgrounds Warden gives us Soldier-based removal.

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  • Illusions are a weird tribe. They have a lot of creatures with higher power and toughness than you'd expect for their mana cost but with the drawback that many of our creatures die if our opponent can target them with any spell or ability. Lord of the Unreal helps to fix this problem by not only pumping our team but also giving our Illusions hexproof, so that our opponent can't target our creatures with their spells or abilities, allowing us to beat down with undercosted threats like Phantasmal Dragon, Illusory Angel, and Phantasmal Bear. If things go haywire, we can refill our board with the help of Meloku the Clouded Mirror by picking up our lands—just be careful not to pick up too many, or else it will become difficult to play other spells.

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  • Wizards are a combo-y tribe. While we can win by beating down with creatures, our main goal is to generate value with enters-the-battlefield triggers and then eventually kill our opponent by milling their entire deck in one big combo turn. The main combo is to use Naru Meha, Master Wizard to keep copying Illusionist's Stratagem, which allows us to blink Naru Meha, Master Wizard and another creature (while also drawing us a card). If that other creature is Overwhelmed Apprentice, we can mill our opponent's entire deck, while Exclusion Mage can bounce all of our opponent's creatures!

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  • Rogues are all about being evasive. Stinkdrinker Bandit is one of the most powerful Rogues in existence, pumping any of our unblocked Rogues +2/+1 when they attack. Meanwhile, Oona's Blackguard also likes evasive Rogues since when we hit our opponent for combat damage, we make our opponent discard a card, quickly emptying their hand. As a result, cheap but hard-to-block Rogues like Prickly Boggart, Vampire Cutthroat, and Inkfathom Infiltrator go way up in value in Rogue tribal, even though they are underpowered in most decks.

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  • Rats aren't a very aggressive tribe, but they make up for their lack of power by being very annoying for opponents to play against, thanks to a ton of tribe members that make opponents discard cards. This makes the goals of Rat tribal to empty the opponent's hand and keep the board in check with the help of cards like Crypt Rats and Piper of the Swarm, which will allow the tribe to win in the late game with its small rodents.

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  • Goblins are a very aggressive tribe but one that has a ton of card advantage, thanks to Goblin Ringleader and Goblin Matron. Thanks to these Goblin tutors, we can play a bunch of powerful (and somewhat expensive) Goblins as one-ofs but still find them regularly, which not only adds power to our deck but also helps us keep the cost down below $20. Apart from our card draw and tutoring, the main goal is to play cheap Goblins and get in a bunch of combat damage quickly so that Goblin Grenade—one of the most powerful burn spells in Magic—can finish the game once our opponent gets low on life.

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  • Elemental Shamans are a rare double-tribal deck. The plan is to quickly flood the board with creatures, with the help of Burning-Tree Emissary, and then use Rage Forger (and also Incandescent Soulstoke) to pump our team and get in big chunks of direct damage as we attack with our creatures.

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  • Myr are another combo tribe, which is good because Myr are mostly small and bad at attacking. The deck's main goal is to get two copies of Myr Galvanizer on the battlefield (with the help of Myr Turbine to find them) along with some mana-producing Myr. With two Myr Galvanizers, we can tap all of our creatures for mana, use one Myr Galvanizer to untap them, and then, after tapping all of our Myr for mana again, untap everything, including the first Myr Galvanizer with the second (untapped) Myr Galvanizer. This also allows us to make an infinite number of Myr Propagators and cast huge threats like Myr Battlesphere. Once we make about a million tiny Myr, we can finish our opponent off with one attack.

Two-Color Decks

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  • Apart from being a disruptive flying tribe with two very strong lords in Drogskol Captain and Empyrean Eagle, Spirits get a fun aura sub-theme thanks to Tallowisp, which allows us to tutor for an aura whenever we cast a Spirit. This allows us to grab Staggering Insight to draw some cards and gain some life, Starlit Mantle to protect our creatures, and Pacifism as removal. While the deck doesn't have much real removal, keep in mind that once we have Nebelgast Herald on the battlefield, we can flash in Spirits (either naturally or with the help of Rattlechains giving all of our Spirits flash) to tap down potential attackers.

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  • White-Black Vampires is one of the most tribal of our tribal decks—almost every card in the deck somehow benefits (or benefits from) having other Vampires on the battlefield, right down to Urge to Feed, which is both a removal spell and a way to pump our team. The deck's plan is to get in some early damage, play lords like Legion Lieutenant and Cordial Vampire, and then use Sanctum Seeker or Malakir Bloodwitch to finish the opponent off with direct damage.

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  • Fungi / Thallids are a strange tribe. Rather than being aggressive, we're more than happy to have our creatures sit out on the battlefield to generate spore counters, which we can eventually turn into more creatures, card draw, and pump spells. While it's not a deck that will win quickly, it can generate an overwhelming advantage if the game goes long. Karn's Bastion helps to speed up the spore counter progression while Mycoloth is our best finisher, coming into play to devour a bunch of underpowered Saproling tokens to not only become a massive creature but to make even more Saprolings turn by turn.

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  • Blue-Red Wizards is the most spell-heavy tribe on our list today. Rather than flooding the board with a bunch of creatures, it's looking to stick a few creatures that benefit from us casting spells (like Adeliz, the Cinder Wind and Murmuring Mystic) and then back up these creatures with cheap card draw like Crash Through and Opt along with cheap burn spells, including Wizard's Lightning and Shock, which allow the tribe to very quickly push through an insane amount of damage with its best draws.

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  • Pirates are all about attacking, with cards like Dire Fleet Neckbreaker giving our creatures a huge boost of power when they go on the offense. This means we have a lot of cheap Pirates in the deck, but Ruin Raider helps to make sure that we don't run out of action by drawing us an extra card each turn (as long as we keep attacking). Thanks to being in red and black, we also get to play one of the best two-mana removal spells in Magic in Terminate and one of the most powerful discard spells in the format, with Blightning not only making our opponent discard two cards but also giving us three points of damage to close out the game, if we can get our opponent's life total low enough.

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  • Gorgons are built around the deathtouch mechanic, allowing us to use honorary Gorgon Vraska, Swarm's Eminence as a pseudo-lord to pump our creatures. The other important card in the deck is Hythonia the Cruel. If we can get up to eight mana (with the help of Rampant Growth), the mythic Gorgon can monstrous to wrath away all non-Gorgon creatures, which leaves our battlefield untouched while likely killing all of our opponent's creatures, clearing the way for us to win with one or two big attacks.

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  • Werewolves are one of the most unique tribes in Magic. On their front sides, most are underpowered, but if we can flip them into their Werewolf form, they become very powerful. Thankfully, Moonmist allows us to flip our entire team into Werewolves at once, while our lord Immerwolf not only pump our creatures but makes sure they stay in their more beneficial Werewolf state.

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  • Dinosaurs are mostly about playing massive creatures, and because our tribe members are so expensive, we spend a few turns of the game ramping with Thunderherd Migration and Drover of the Mighty, allowing us to get to powerful Dinosaurs like Regisaur Alpha, Thundering Spineback, and Polyraptor fairly early in the game. Once we start casting our Dinosaurs, we should have the biggest creatures on the battlefield, allowing us to go on the Jurassic beatdown to win the game.

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  • While it's probably a stretch to consider "multicolor" a tribe, in practice, Knight of New Alara is a lord—and a really powerful one. It just happens to care about our creatures being multi-colored, rather than about their creature types. Cards like Wilt-Leaf Liege and Tolsimir Wolfblood give us extra ways to pump our green-white creatures, potentially turning cheap threats like Bronzehide Lion, Dryad Militant, and Watchwolf into massive attackers!

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  • Red-Blue Eldrazi is built around the devoid mechanic, which means that even though we need colored mana to cast most of our spells, all of our creatures are technically colorless, which allows Tide Drifter and Ruination Guide to pump all of our creatures, allows Nettle Drone to untap whenever we cast an Eldrazi, and turns Herald of Kozilek into a strong ramp card that lets us cast expensive finishers like Deepfathom Skulker and Drowner of Hope.

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  • Green-Red Elementals is similar to the Mono-Red Elementals deck we looked at earlier, although going into green gives us some fun new options, including Creeping Trailblazer to pump our team; Thicket Crasher for trample; and Verdant Force as the biggest, baddest Elemental at the top end of our curve.

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  • Giants are a very powerful but very slow tribe. To help make up for the fact that many of the best Giants cost a lot of mana, we have cards like Beanstalk Giant and Stinkdrinker Daredevil to ramp us into our powerful, expensive tribe members. Sunrise Sovereign and Thundercloud Shaman are the two most important cards in our deck, with Thundercloud Shaman being a one-sided board wipe if we can get a bunch of Giants on the battlefield, while Sunrise Sovereign not only pumps our team but also gives our Giants trample, allowing us to smash our opponent with huge attacks even through blockers.

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  • Snakes come in a bit over our budget, mostly because Seshiro the Anointed is $6 all by itself because of Commander. If you want to keep the deck at $20, you can not play Seshiro and instead play another Wasteland Viper, but I wanted to make sure we had at least one Seshiro the Anointed in the deck since it is one of the sweetest Snakes in Magic. Don't undervalue Sosuke's Summons. In a deck full of Snakes, it will keep coming back from our graveyard every turn, giving us a steady source of Snake tokens to eventually overwhelm our opponent.

Past Thirty under $20s

While our focus today was on Modern, if you're looking for some super cheap, fun Standard decks, we've covered those in the recent past. You'll find the Thirty under $20 articles for our current Standard format below!

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 Modern metagame page. Hopefully, these super-cheap decklists for Modern 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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