The Modern Brewer’s Bible Part 2: Building On A Budget

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Posted on April 13, 2017, 3:07 a.m. by Sargeras

Previous Article: The Modern Brewer's Bible Part 1: Getting Into The Format & Overview


Welcome to the second part of the Modern Brewers Bible, which is building on a budget. This section is devoted to building modern decks for players who either do not have funds to spend on expensive decks such as Jund, or simply choose not to do so. This section will also go over deckbuilding tips, brewing on a budget, format staples and replacements, and things to avoid.


For those of you who fall under the budget players, you might be wondering what can I build thats competitive? The first answer to your question is what you consider to be budget, as people have very different definitions of what budget actually means. For example, someone who is just entering the format might want to spend roughly $100 on their first deck, which isnt necessarily wrong, it just means you have fewer examples to look at. This is opposed to someone who plays on a budget, but has enough cash to be calling decks around $300-$400 budget due to the depicted price tag of modern.

Some examples of players who want to spend little cash on the format might look into decks such as Mono-Red Burn, Mono-Green Stompy, Soul Sisters, Mono-Black Midrange, 8-Rack, etc.

Meanwhile someone who has a higher budget might look into a deck like UW Control, Merfolk, Ad Nauseam, Mono-Blue Tron etc.

In case you havent noticed, many of these budget decks use one-two colors, and this is mainly because in order to have a dependable 3 & up color manabase, you basically have to play fetchlands and shocklands, which are not cheap. This does not mean that they are not possible; it just makes them more inconsistent. I will eventually post some decklists for these decks as well as some primers in a later section of this guide.


Now I know that there are plenty of people who want to build their won creations and not just netdeck someone elses list. Thats why I included this section just for you! Brewing on a budget can actually be quite a bit of fun, as you can figure out interesting interactions that can end up being quite competitive. When brewing on a budget, it is very important to remind yourself of a few things. The first of which should be looking at cards you enjoy playing or want to play, because that first step will guide you to your next step, which is choosing your colors.

Color choice is huge when building on a budget, because as mentioned above, wanting to play a wedge such as Jeskai on a budget can be very grueling and inconsistent. However, 2 color manabases are very easy to make, as there are plenty of strong budget duallands and fastlands available to players. One important thing to know about budget brewing is trying to find a plan for the rest of your deck to upgrade, as there are many decks that have a competitive side, but have nowhere to go from their current budget status. This can be a trap for new players entering the format, as they buy into decks that arent viable in a competitive metagame.


This section in particular is very important for new players to see, as well as understanding why it is so pertinent. In many format in Magic, there are cards known as Format Staples, these cards are used across many decks in the format, and often have entire archetypes built around them. Modern is no exception to this, as cards like Kitchen Finks, Abrupt Decay, Liliana of the Veil, Lightning Bolt, Dark Confidant, Leyline of Sanctity, Path to Exile, and Thoughtseize all fit in this bubble, and there are many, many more of them. Looking at these cards, it is easy to see why they are called Format Staples, which is because they are all very good cards, in fact they are so good, that there are no true replacements for them in the modern card pool.

This will not come as a surprise to anyone who has played the format for a decent amount of time, as they are expensive cards for a reason. This often becomes a roadblock to many players who want to build modern archetypes, and do not have the funds to support these cards.

I think the best example of this is the legendary Tarmogoyf.

Tarmogoyf is a format staple in both Modern and Legacy for a few reasons. The first of these is efficiency, in basically any deck that runs the goyf, it can be a 4/5 as quickly as turn 2. That kind of fighting power and relatively unmatched on its own. The second reason is its mana cost, at it is exceptionally easy to cast, and works very well with decks that splash for other colors. Some decks are even based around growing the goyf to as high as a 6/7 beater, and use it to destroy other decks.

The only creature that comes close to matching and the power and efficiency of tarmogoyf is Tasigur, the Golden Fang, which is often a turn 2 4/5 in Grixis Control, but note that it isnt always like that and Tasigur requires a specific deck to match it, goyf does not.

Many budget players have asked me if there are ways to replace Tarmogoyf. In my opinion, there isnt a real replacement, because there plenty of budget beaters, such as Loxodon Smiter and Leatherback Baloth, but once we say that a turn 3 card is a turn 2 card replacement, we are talking about good creatures, not replacements for format staples. This problem usually comes up when people want to do things like build a budget version of deck like Jund that are basically made up of format staples.

However, just because you cant afford a format staple, doesnt mean you cant play competitive decks, it just means you have to change its plan. For example, Ive run into Jund players who chose not to buy Tarmogoyf or Liliana of the Veil, and instead decided to use Tireless Tracker and Grim Flayer instead, and make the deck more aggressive then the usual jund decks.

This follows my best advice I can give to players who are building towards an archetype. If you cant afford a certain card(s) in your deck, you should focus on what you can use to change the decks plan in order to work with your budget. Examples of this are the jund example above, as well as Little Kid Abzan, a deck thats mostly GW Aggro that splashes black for Thoughtseize and Siege Rhino.


In addition to the things stated above, here are a few more tips on things you should avoid while building on a budget.

  1. Curve: Modern is a turn 4 format, which means that the majority of decks in the format are trying to either kill you or lock you out of the game around turn 4. This means that you need to have plays those first few turns if you want to compete with tiered decks.

  2. Proactive versus Reactive: Every card in your deck should have a purpose, whether its something proactive like a Lightning Bolt to an opponents face, or a Mana Leak that is to be held up until your opponent starts casting spells. If a card serves no purpose, there is likely something better you could be playing.

  3. Avoid The Glass Cannon: While it might seem tempting to go all in one strategy, you will likely have more success if you focus on multiple win-cons in your deck. Having more then one win-con also makes you less weak to discard and removal.

Next Article: The Modern Brewer's Bible Part 3: Modern's Nature and Sideboarding

SlimJim83 says... #2

Great post. I only have one nitpick, and that's Scavenging Ooze. In the right shell it can stand up to 'Goyfs really well. Other than that it's an excellent post.

April 14, 2017 7:30 p.m.

Sargeras says... #3


I'm unsure if you understand what I mean with Tarmogoyf. While Scavenging Ooze is a great creature, it is by itself a 2/2, and yes it can grow to be bigger then a goyf, especially with support. However, just because it CAN grow bigger, does not make it equal in power to Tarmogoyf. This is especially true when facing combo/control decks that are not so reliant on creatures, which are what grow the goyf.

April 14, 2017 8:53 p.m.

SlimJim83 says... #4

Sargeras I hear you. That's why I mentioned in certain shells Scooze is good. It has to be with Dryad Militant and/or Rest in Peace to really work well vs 'Goyfs. I guess it's not really worth mentioning as a budget replacement unless one is willing to commit to that shell.

Great series, btw. I'm looking forward to the next installment. Happy Easter!

April 14, 2017 9:25 p.m.

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