Modern is for sure a fun format, but it can also be really expensive to get into. This is due to Wizards of the Coast’s apparent reprint policy when it comes to staple cards needed to play Modern, namely the fetch lands. Because these lands are so highly valued, at least half of the cost of most modern decks is just for the mana base. Take those cards out and the price of most Modern decks fall dramatically. Fetch lands are their own argument for another day though. Today is going to be about budget Modern decks. I have 3 decks to go over today that you can use as a starting point for getting into Modern if you are on a budget. Others in the community will say their deck is a budget deck, but it’s still in the $100-$400 (USD) range. That is certainly more reasonable than most of the other decks out there, but there are still players that struggle to afford something even that cheap. When I say budget, I mean less than $100 (USD). In fact, these decks can be had for $50 (USD) or less. So without further ado let’s dive right into these budget builds.
Of the 3 decks in this post, this one is possibly the easiest deck to assemble and pilot. It doesn’t really have an official name like Jund or Storm; everyone has a different name for their list so I’m going to just call it Zombie Treasure. All you need is a playset of Treasure Hunt, Zombie Infestation, and Reliquary Tower which should come to about $15 (USD) total. The rest of the deck can be just a mix of 48 Islands and Swamps which any player should have lying around. The strategy is simple, cast Treasure Hunt and since most of your deck is lands you will get a bunch of land cards and then you discard those land cards to Zombie Infestation making a bunch of 2/2 Zombie tokens. This does require a few turns to set up, but the payoff is worth it.
Reliquary Tower plays an important role while you dig through your deck. You can play it on turn 1 or 2, but even if your don’t have it, you can wait until you get it with a Treasure Hunt and play it at the end of a turn, if you still need it at that point. Ideally, Zombie Infestation should be your turn 2 play, but even if its not, that’s still okay. Hopefully, Treasure Hunt will find one that you can play on turn 3. You will most likely have to mulligan a few times to get what you need. The lowest you can go is probably to the point where you have Treasure Hunt and a land. If you can’t get Zombie Infestation or Reliquary Tower in your opening hand, that’s okay. Treasure Hunt is more important so as long as you have that, you’re good. Casting it will either find another Treasure Hunt or Zombie Infestation.
As far as upgrading this deck goes, you can swap out the basic lands for utility lands. Bojuka Bog is a good option against graveyard decks like Dredge. Boseiju, Who Shelters All can help against players that like to use counter spells. Hostile Desert can animate into a 3/4 Elemental using the discarded lands. Westvale Abbey can turn into Ormendahl, Profane Prince, a 9/7 Demon with flying, lifelink, indestructible, and haste, at the cost of 5 Zombie tokens that you will hopefully pop out. There are many utility lands out there that you can use and most of them are quite affordable. This is truly a budget Modern deck.
Mono Green Infect
The strategy here isn’t that much different than normal infect decks. The list is a little different, but the deck is still just as effective as its more expensive counterpart. Thanks to Modern Horizons, this deck now has a potential turn 2 kill. I bet that got your attention and I’ll get to that combo in a moment. Your infect creatures are Glistener Elf, Blight Mamba, and Ichorclaw Myr. The rest of the deck is just cheap green pump spells. For that turn 2 kill you need a play set of Scale Up and Might of Old Krosa in the deck. Groundswell will also work in place of Might of Old Krosa, but I would recommend a playset of both. You will want to be on the play for this. Turn 1: forest, followed by Glistener Elf. Between turns: pray that your opponent doesn’t have a blocker or a 1 mana removal spell. Turn 2: land 2, cast Scale Up followed by a main phase Might of Old Krosa or Groundswell with landfall active, then go to combat and attack for 10 infect.
As I said, the basic strategy is still the same as the deck’s more expensive counterpart. It’s just mono green so you don’t have to worry about mana fixing. You can run the exact same pump spells that are in the normal version and it will still cost just under $50 (USD). One additional card to add is Rancor, an aura that gives the enchanted creature +2/+2 and trample. It also returns to your hand if the enchanted creature dies so you’re able to give it to another creature.
For upgrades, well this deck doesn’t really need any. Just keep an eye out for better combat tricks in green as new sets are released. You could go more enchantment based I guess if you want to. You could also work towards the more expensive simic version of the deck with the fetch lands as this deck does give you a nice starting point to do so, if you want to go that route. Even then there isn’t much that changes between the two lists except for Blighted Agent, Spellskite, Noble Hierarch and some random blue spells in the flex slots.
The idea of this deck comes from a Pauper deck, but it is easy to convert into a Modern version. For the creatures, you will want Monastery Swiftspear, Delver of Secrets, Kiln Fiend, and possibly Nivix Cyclops, but that one is more optional. All of these creatures interact with spells in some way. Monastery Swiftspear has prowess which means it gets bigger for each noncreature spell you cast that turn. Kiln Fiend and Nivix Cyclops each get an impressive +3/+0 for each instant or sorcery spell cast that turn. While Delver of Secrets can turn into a 3/2 flying creature if the top card of your library is an instant or a sorcery spell.
As for the instant and sorcery spells to include, red is best suited for Lightning Bolt, Crash Through, Warlord’s Fury, Temur Battle Rage, and Manamorphose. Lightning Bolt is the main removal spell for red, plus you can always direct it at a planeswalker or your opponent. Crash Through and Warlord’s Fury each grant a relevant combat ability and replace themselves. Temur Battle Rage also grants similar abilities while Manamorphose can add to your spell count while fixing your mana.
For the blue spells, Serum Visions, Opt, Unsummon, Sleight of Hand, and Spell Pierce. Serum Visions, Opt, and Sleight of Hand all help with card draw while Unsummon can take care of anything that Lightning Bolt can’t and Spell Pierce helps protect your creatures from your opponent’s removal spells. Or you can use it to counter a spell that you don’t need, like a second Crash Through just to add to your spell count for buffing your creatures.
Any combination of these cards should work well. A play set of each of these cards, which is too much to make a deck out of, will come to the range of $30-$40 (USD). The creatures are the key and whatever you choose to run for the noncreature spells is up to you. You could also drop all of the blue stuff and have a mono red blitz with more cheap burn spells, ritual spells, and combat tricks. The mana base for the izzet version is two colors, but you do have a little bit of fixing with Manamorphose. You don’t need fetch lands for this deck to function, but one of the first things I would upgrade is the lands. Basic Islands and Mountains are fine starting off, but you will want some good dual lands eventually. From here you also have a nice foundation to get into Storm later. Lots of these cards can already be found in good portion of Modern decks so its a good idea just to have them in your collection anyway.
Some of the card prices may vary depending on where you shop, but if you are smart about it, you can stay well within the $50 (USD) price range. It also helps if you check at your local game store first, especially since there are no shipping and handling fees when buying in-person, at least there shouldn’t be. Get what you can there, and then whatever they don’t have you should be able to find online. Stay away from foils or promo versions of cards as those will be way more expensive than the normal versions. These were just 3 of the cheapest Modern legal decks that I was able to find that can keep up with most of the competitive stuff out there. If you want decks that are within this price range, I would suggest looking into Pauper. I don’t have a page dedicated to Pauper right now, but that could change. Pauper is similar to Vintage and Legacy since the card pool goes all the way back to Alpha, but only cards that have been printed at the common rarity are legal so you don’t have to worry about uber powerful cards like the power 9 or other cards that too high in price or are too hard to find because of the reserve list. Decks in Pauper cost about $40 so its a very budget friendly format. Anyway that wraps up this post on budget Modern decks. Let me know what decks you want to see next down in the comments, budget or not.