The new standard season is upon us. It also happens to be holiday shopping time. The worst time to be a casual gamer. Your already tight gaming budget is squeezed even more.
Once you're done with the holiday shopping hopefully you've got forty dollars left in your pocket for fun money. If so then don't fret because you can still rock a fun deck and not bust your budget.
For fans of this blog, this very sporadically updated blog, you know my passion is budget Magic. Yes the best decks in any format cost a few hundred bucks. Look at mono-black. Just four Thoughtseize and four Hero's Downfall, two staples of any black deck, eat up nearly $150. Not exactly budget friendly for eight cards.
Yet there are replacements like Despise & Murderous Cut. Not as strong as the staples but they do cost just over $4, or 2.7% of what the staples cost, for playsets. That is pure budget Magic.
The first rule of budget is mono-color decks are best. The answer is simple: land. If you are playing mono-colored then you don't need anything more than basics. That's like $3 in cost for your mana base leaving you $37 for the rest of your deck.
The second rule is to find a theme or a card to build around. For my budget black deck I picked Waste Not. For one it is the card designed by the entire Magic Community during voting last year. Second, I like the mechanic of the card. It's a discard engine meaning it's fueled by discard. So I found my card and my theme in one spot, Mono-black discard!
The third rule is fitting the deck to the budget. With no huge commitment to land base and Waste Not being less than $10 for a play set, I've got $27 dollars to work with. That's like a salary cap for a pro sports team. Here is what I came up with:
Master of the Feast x4
Disciple of Phenax x2
Fate Unraveler x4
Gray Merchant of Asphodel x2
Bile Blight x3
Sign in Blood x4
Waste Not x4
Mind Rot x4
Rakshasa's Secret x2
Tormented Thoughts x2
Murderous Cut x3
Tormod's Crypt x2
Dark Betrayal x4
Viper's Kiss x3
Extinguish All Hope x2
Necropolis Fiend x2
Dead Drop x2
There is my mono-black discard deck. Not bad for less than a tank of gas (even when prices are low).
The largest problem discard runs into is your opponent running out of cards. You can't target an empty hand. That is where Sign in Blood & Master of the Feast come into play. They both are cards that help restock your opponent's hand so that you have more fuel for Waste Not. This turns a drawback for the Master into an advantage. It also can make Sign In Blood a very dangerous card come late game.
Fate Unraveler turns the screws even harder. You're putting cards into your opponents hand, might as well make them pay for it. Even having one of these guys out makes cards like Sign & Master into bigger threats.
This deck is a true mid-range deck. It sets the table in the first three turns and looks to crank up the pressure beginning on turn 4. Your first turn most of the time will be a land drop. If you have a Despise in hand then cast that but otherwise you're on drop & pass duty.
Turn two opens the deck up a little with hopefully a Waste Not but you can also use a Sign or Blight if the situation calls for it. The best play is always the turn two Waste Not. It brings your deck online.
Turn three brings most of the deck into play. You should be getting land drops for the first three turns. At this point you have to decide what the best action is. I like Mind Rot to start the discard but a Master of the Feast can really put pressure on early while keeping your opponent's hand stocked. My play would be to always choose discard first.
Once Waste Not gets going you should be drawing cards and dropping zombies. Tormented Thoughts on a Master turn 4 is crazy good. It usually drops your opponent's entire hand and you end up with a flood of cards & zombies. As you keep drawing you'll keep dropping more Waste Not and the quicksand gets thicker for your opponent.
Here is the price list for the deck from TCGplayer Mid:
That is "Trigger Happy", my Magic on a budget deck for the holiday season. You can still get Mom a copy of Lethal Weapon and play competitive magic. It's a holiday miracle.