Magic The Gathering Tips – Competing On A Budget

Let me start off by saying that competing and winning on a budget is NOT easy. But it CAN be done. I remember one FNM where I went 5-1-1 and finished 3rd with… are you ready for this?
A $30 Goblin deck.
This was when everybody else was pretty much playing Delver and running up tabs of at least $300 for ONE deck. So third place with a $30 deck isn’t too shabby.
Okay, so how exactly do you go about putting together a competitive deck on a tight budget?
Before I get there, let me preface what I’m about to share with a disclaimer. The term “tight budget” means different things to different people. For one Construction Costs person, the term is anything under $100. For somebody else, $100 is like asking them to spend $10,000. They’re lucky to be able to put together 20 bucks.
Having said that, there is only so much you’re going to get out of $20 worth of cards, so please don’t expect miracles. They rarely happen. Of course there are other options which I will get to at the end of this article.
Let’s get down to the good stuff.
To put together a competitive deck that doesn’t cost too much, you first have to understand card evaluation. Contrary to popular belief, not every powerful card in Magic is a rare. Delver himself was a common. Ponder and Mana Leak, two cards that players were begging to be banned, are commons.
Okay, got it? Rarity does NOT equal power. Yes, there are rare cards that are powerful. But there are plenty of common and uncommon cards that are powerful too.
The trick is to be able to spot the common and uncommon cards, What Is A Qualified Electrician as well as the “cheap” rares, that are actually GOOD cards.
In the current standard, these cards are all commons and excellent cards to play.
Arbor Elf
Delver of Secrets
Doomed Traveler
Faithless Looting
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Uncommon cards, which you can pick up for 25 cents a piece, are just as numerous and even more powerful in some cases. In fact, you could build a budget deck with mostly common and uncommon cards and only need a handful of rare cards to fill it out.
If you’re playing a deck with 24 lands and 36 spells and 28 of those spells are anything other than rare cards, those 28 spells will cost you about $7. In many cases, even less. And, if you’re playing a mono colored deck (certainly doable) your lands will cost you a penny each. That’s about a quarter for 24 lands.
So you’re really looking at about 8 cards that are going to cost you some money. Well, there are top flight rares that go for as little as $7. If you needed 8 such cards, you’re looking at about $56 worth of rares. Add that to the $7 in common and uncommon cards and you’re looking at a deck that’s going to run you about $63.
Again, my Goblins deck cost me about 30 bucks. The only rares I had in it were my Goblin Chieftains which went for about $3 at the time. Yes, some great rares are dirt cheap.
The key to that deck was the synergy between the other Goblins and each other and the Chieftain. The deck was also very fast and had lots of cheap burn spells, all commons.
In fact, in the history of Magic, Goblins may be just about the cheapest deck you can put together and not only be competitive, but actually win with.
But like I said, “budget” is a relative term. If $20 for a deck is too much money for you, it’s unlikely you’re going to play this game competitively. But like I also said, there are other options.
One of the best ones is, instead of buying cards, get packs from time to time, keep the rares that other people are playing but that you have no use for, and trade them for the rares that you need in order to put together the deck that YOU want to play.
Yes, it takes some time. But in the long run, it’s going to be very cheap for you to do as you won’t have to shell out a load of money all at once. The downside, unfortunately, is that if it takes you too long to get the cards you need, they may not be standard legal (assuming that’s the format you want to play) by the time you’ve got your whole deck put together. But, it is an option.
The bigger point is, yes, you CAN build a deck on a budget that CAN do very well.
Even if you’re a scrub like me.
To YOUR Magic The Gathering Enjoyment,