MTG Arena Budget Standard Decks for Beginners – June 2021

MTG Arena Budget Standard Decks - June 2021
Clever Lumimancer Art by Lie Setiawan

If you’re new to MTG Arena, building a cheap budget competitive deck can be challenging, especially if you’re looking to spend as little real-world gold as you can! Magic’s myriad different cards can be overwhelming, and Wildcards are a precious resource that you can’t always afford to waste on the wrong decks, no matter how enticing! Placing small bets on crafting and gradually opening cards until you find an expensive deck you’re sure you’ll love is the best way to go, at least while your resources are so limited. We are also nearing Standard rotation in September 2021, so players should be more vigilant when building fully fledged competitive decks.

In this guide, you’ll find our exclusive curated list of some fantastic budget Standard decks from various archetypes, with a brief explanation of the deck, an upgrade guide, and sample decklists for each one. We also have a budget sideboard guide at the end, if you want to hone your best-of-three game and see what basic sideboard construction entails! Visit our Standard deck page if you’d like to see what some of the finished products look like. You can also go straight to the Budget deck section itself for the complete list, and for more ideas, be sure to visit our Standard Artisan section (a format where you are only allowed commons and uncommons).

If you need any help, you can always join the MTG Arena Zone Discord server, leave a question in the comments, or follow the site’s Twitter to catch up on any updates!

Budget Deck Aims

Here’s a set of parameters we build our budget Standard decks around, to ensure they’re at their most useful to you:

  • The base deck will aim to have as few rares as possible, but if one or two different cards are exceptionally important to the archetype and there’s no easy replacement, then you might see them. For each deck, we provide pathways or a link to upgrade into more competitive versions. Upgrades depend on your collection and Wildcard availability, so we’ll provide different options to tailor to your specific needs!
  • Each deck is geared towards best-of-one, and players can now have up to seven cards in their sideboard. This makes the new Learn mechanic and Lesson cards quite powerful – include them where you can! For best-of-three, do check out our budget sideboard guide at the end to help you build a sideboard.
  • The Rare Dual Lands generally speaking will be pivotal in most Standard decks both now and moving forward. The one exception may be the Strixhaven Snarls as right now they still don’t see any play, but they may after the full Standard rotation. The Zendikar Rising Pathways are a safe craft right now as they see huge amounts of play, but I would hold off on the Snarls for now.
  • Here are the sets in Standard right now, which all these cards come from:
    • Arena Base Set (legal in BO1 only)
    • Throne of Eldraine
    • Theros: Beyond Death
    • Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths
    • Core Set 2021
    • Zendikar Rising
    • Kaldheim
    • Strixhaven: School of Mages

Budget Standard Decks – June 2021


Budget Cycling 

Companion
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Creatures (16)
4
Flourishing Fox
4
Drannith Healer
4
Drannith Stinger
4
Valiant Rescuer
Spells (22)
4
Go for Blood
4
Startling Development
2
Memory Leak
4
Zenith Flare
4
Frostveil Ambush
4
Boon of the Wish-Giver
Enchantments (4)
4
Footfall Crater
Lands (18)
5
Mountain
4
Needleverge Pathway
9
Plains
Cards (60)
Sideboard (1)
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den

Cycling has been a mainstay in Standard since Ikoria and is likely the most competitive deck on a budget. The best part about this list is that if you can afford the 5 rares, you don’t need to upgrade it anymore! You can make this into the more popular Jeskai deck by looking at lists here! If you were looking to upgrade, I would go all or nothing on Jeskai as doing it piecemeal would be worse than sticking to Boros.

Budget Dimir Rogues 

Companion
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Creatures (16)
4
Merfolk Windrobber
4
Ruin Crab
4
Thieves' Guild Enforcer
4
Soaring Thought-Thief
Spells (20)
2
Bloodchief's Thirst
4
Drown in the Loch
2
Eliminate
2
Heartless Act
2
Didn't Say Please
2
Mystical Dispute
2
Of One Mind
4
Into the Story
Lands (24)
4
Dismal Backwater
10
Island
10
Swamp
Cards (60)
Sideboard (1)
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den

Similar to Cycling, Rogues has been a mainstay in Standard for quite awhile and also has the advantage of being a very competitive option while not breaking the bank. With a total of 5 base rares to make the deck function, this will likely be the most bang for your buck in terms of competitiveness. If you want to make this the most competitive version, it’s all about the manabase. Prioritize the Pathways and Agadeem’s Awakening first as those are the 2 cards that’ll still be around post rotation. Keep swapping out lands until you need to remove 2 spells to make room for the final upgrades. Furthermore, you can look here for more inspiration.

UPGRADES

ADD

REMOVE

  • -4 Dismal Backwater
  • -4 Island
  • -7 Swamp
  • -1 Bloodchief’s Thirst
  • -1 Didn’t Say Please

Budget Izzet Spells 

Creatures (14)
4
Heartfire Immolator
4
Rimrock Knight
4
Sprite Dragon
2
Kinetic Augur
Spells (21)
4
Spikefield Hazard
4
Academic Dispute
4
Crash Through
4
Opt
4
Shock
1
Stern Dismissal
Enchantments (4)
4
Riddleform
Lands (21)
10
Island
7
Mountain
4
Swiftwater Cliffs
Cards (60)
Sideboard (7)
1
Environmental Sciences
1
Fractal Summoning
1
Mercurial Transformation
1
Expanded Anatomy
1
Spirit Summoning
1
Start from Scratch
1
Elemental Summoning

Izzet Spells has been very close to breaking into competitive Standard for awhile, and this is a great starting build to facilitate that. Utilize cheap creatures and spells to quickly rack up damage and bury your opponent in tempo!

UPGRADES

ADD

REMOVE

  • -4 Rimrock Knight
  • -2 Kinetic Augur
  • -1 Spikefield Hazard
  • -1 Stern Dismissal
  • -4 Swiftwater Cliffs

Budget Monoblack Auras 

Companion
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Creatures (16)
4
Archfiend's Vessel
4
Eyetwitch
4
Serrated Scorpion
4
Mire Triton
Spells (12)
2
Malakir Rebirth
4
Village Rites
2
Heartless Act
4
Call of the Death-Dweller
Enchantments (12)
4
Dead Weight
4
Hateful Eidolon
2
Mogis's Favor
2
Mire's Grasp
Lands (20)
20
Swamp
Cards (60)
Sideboard (7)
1
Environmental Sciences
1
Expanded Anatomy
1
Inkling Summoning
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
1
Necrotic Fumes
1
Pest Summoning
1
Introduction to Annihilation

Monoblack Auras has seen a lot of success in the Bo1 queue while being a relatively cheap option in terms of Wildcards. The base version of the deck already is pretty close to what the competitive version would look like making this a great choice for a low investment.

UPGRADES

ADD

REMOVE

  • -4 Eyetwitch
  • Lessons from the Sideboard

Budget Monoblack Devotion 

Creatures (20)
4
Eyetwitch
4
Foulmire Knight
4
Acquisitions Expert
4
Elderfang Disciple
4
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Spells (10)
3
Malakir Rebirth
3
Bloodchief's Thirst
3
Heartless Act
1
Hunt for Specimens
Enchantments (7)
3
Tymaret, Chosen from Death
4
Bastion of Remembrance
Lands (23)
23
Swamp
Cards (60)
Sideboard (7)
1
Environmental Sciences
1
Expanded Anatomy
1
Inkling Summoning
1
Introduction to Prophecy
1
Necrotic Fumes
1
Pest Summoning
1
Introduction to Annihilation

Monoblack Devotion was considered the best deck in Standard many years ago, and with Gray Merchant of Asphodel, it can still be a solid choice in Standard. Utilize annoying permanents and good removal to keep the opponent off balance until you can deliver the killing blow with Gray Merchant!

UPGRADES

ADD

REMOVE

  • -4 Eyetwitch
  • -1 Malakir Rebirth
  • -1 Hunt for Specimens
  • -2 Tymaret, Chosen from Death
  • -3 Swamp

Budget Monored Aggro 

Creatures (23)
4
Akoum Hellhound
4
Fireblade Charger
4
Hall Monitor
4
Heartfire Immolator
4
Rimrock Knight
3
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
Spells (11)
1
Song-Mad Treachery
2
Spikefield Hazard
4
Shock
4
Slaying Fire
Enchantments (4)
4
Anax, Hardened in the Forge
Lands (22)
22
Mountain
Cards (60)

Monored is always an extremely popular deck in Standard and fortunately, it’s not too terrible on the budget either. The budget version we’re working with is quite competitive, but the largest missing element is definitely Embercleave. If you’re looking to upgrade Monored past the budget version, you can take a look at lists here or use the guide below!

UPGRADES

ADD

REMOVE

  • -4 Akoum Hellhound
  • -2 Fireblade Charger
  • -2 Hall Monitor
  • -4 Heartfire Immolator
  • -1 Song-Mad Treachery
  • -2 Spikefield Hazard
  • -4 Shock
  • -4 Slaying Fire

Budget Monored Bombardment 

Creatures (19)
4
Akoum Hellhound
4
Fireblade Charger
4
Hall Monitor
4
Chandra's Pyreling
3
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
Spells (11)
1
Song-Mad Treachery
2
Spikefield Hazard
4
Shock
4
Forbidden Friendship
Enchantments (8)
4
Anax, Hardened in the Forge
4
Raid Bombardment
Lands (22)
22
Mountain
Cards (60)

An offshoot of Monored Aggro that can only be played in Best of One, this list utilizes the powerful Raid Bombardment as a means to deal additional damage and leverage the low powered creatures. If you are looking for the most competitive version of the deck, I would opt for regular Monored, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have strong results with this version as well.

UPGRADES

ADD

REMOVE

  • -1 Song-Mad Treachery
  • -2 Spikefield Hazard
  • -3 Mountain

Budget Monowhite Aggro 

Creatures (32)
4
Faerie Guidemother
4
Selfless Savior
4
Usher of the Fallen
4
Venerable Knight
4
Clarion Spirit
4
Daybreak Charger
4
Seasoned Hallowblade
4
Ardenvale Tactician
Spells (4)
4
Kabira Takedown
Enchantments (4)
4
Alseid of Life's Bounty
Lands (20)
20
Plains
Cards (60)

Although not as ubiquitous as Monored Aggro, Monowhite has also been quite popular since Kaldheim. The deck utilizes a bunch of cheap and hard to remove creatures to swarm the board and overrun the opponent before they have a chance to recover. If you’re looking to make upgrades to the deck, check out lists here or use the guide below!

UPGRADES

ADD

REMOVE

  • -4 Faerie Guidemother
  • -4 Venerable Knight
  • -4 Usher of the Fallen
  • -4 Clarion Spirit
  • -4 Daybreak Charger
  • -4 Ardenvale Tactician
  • -4 Kabira Takedown

Budget Monowhite Magecraft 

Companion
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Creatures (24)
4
Clever Lumimancer
4
Faerie Guidemother
4
Selfless Savior
4
Clarion Spirit
4
Leonin Lightscribe
4
Professor of Symbology
Spells (16)
4
Defiant Strike
4
Fight as One
4
Guiding Voice
4
Show of Confidence
Lands (20)
20
Plains
Cards (60)
Sideboard (7)
1
Environmental Sciences
2
Inkling Summoning
1
Introduction to Prophecy
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
1
Spirit Summoning
1
Introduction to Annihilation

Brand new from Strixhaven, Monowhite Magecraft utilizes cheap spells and Magecraft creatures to obliterate the opponent before they can get their game plan online. Unlike most of the other decks on the list, this does require 5 rares off the bat. Although Lurrus of the Dream-Den is a pretty popular card, Leonin Lightscribe hasn’t been too popular yet so although this is a more budget list, be mindful that the Lightscribes don’t transfer over to other archetypes.

UPGRADES

ADD

REMOVE

  • -1 Inkling Summoning
  • -1 Spirit Summoning
  • -1 Introduction to Annihilation

Budget Orzhov Auras 

Companion
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Creatures (4)
4
Kitesail Freebooter
Spells (8)
2
Malakir Rebirth
2
Sejiri Shelter
2
Karametra's Blessing
2
Call of the Death-Dweller
Artifacts (4)
4
Gingerbrute
Enchantments (25)
4
Alseid of Life's Bounty
4
Dead Weight
4
Hateful Eidolon
2
Mogis's Favor
4
Sentinel's Eyes
4
All That Glitters
3
Mire's Grasp
Lands (19)
6
Plains
4
Scoured Barrens
9
Swamp
Cards (60)
Sideboard (1)
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den

A blend between Monoblack Auras and more aggressive Auras variants, Orzhov Auras looks to utilize cheap creatures, cheap removal, and auras to stymie the opponent’s game plan while beating them down. Beyong the ubiquitous Lurrus of the Dream-Den, this list doesn’t use any rares making it a great choice for those who have very few wildcards to work with.

UPGRADES

ADD

  • +4 Brightclimb Pathway

REMOVE

  • -4 Scoured Barrens

Budget Orzhov Clerics 

Companion
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Creatures (22)
2
Skyclave Cleric
4
Archfiend's Vessel
4
Soulmender
4
Cleric of Life's Bond
4
Hallowed Priest
4
Professor of Symbology
Spells (10)
4
Bloodchief's Thirst
2
Heartless Act
4
Call of the Death-Dweller
Enchantments (8)
4
Alseid of Life's Bounty
4
Griffin Aerie
Lands (20)
8
Plains
4
Scoured Barrens
8
Swamp
Cards (60)
Sideboard (7)
1
Environmental Sciences
1
Expanded Anatomy
1
Inkling Summoning
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
1
Necrotic Fumes
1
Pest Summoning
1
Spirit Summoning

Orhov Clerics has been on the precipice of competitive player for quite awhile like Izzet Spells and similarly, the deck is reasonably powerful. Unlike most of the other decks on the list, this cares much more about building a board state and they synergy between cards rather than individually powerful cards. The budget version is very reasonable, but the best and worst thing about the deck is that there is a lot you could potentially upgrade.

UPGRADE

ADD

REMOVE

  • -4 Soulmender
  • -4 Hallowed Priest
  • -4 Professor of Symbology
  • -4 Grffin Aerie
  • -4 Scoured Barrens

Budget Rakdos Party 

Creatures (27)
4
Archfiend's Vessel
4
Fireblade Charger
4
Grotag Bug-Catcher
4
Heartfire Immolator
4
Malakir Blood-Priest
3
Ardent Electromancer
4
Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats
Spells (12)
2
Malakir Rebirth
2
Spikefield Hazard
2
Bloodchief's Thirst
2
Heartless Act
4
Call of the Death-Dweller
Lands (21)
4
Bloodfell Caves
9
Mountain
8
Swamp
Cards (60)

Rakdos Party is a cool hybrid between aggro and synergy showcasing Zendikar Rising’s party mechanic. The deck can have fast starts, but also grind reasonably well with Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats and Call of the Death-Dweller. If you want a deck that can survive rotation unscathed, this is the one for you.

UPGRADES

ADD

REMOVE

  • -4 Grotag Bug-Catcher
  • -3 Ardent Electromancer
  • -4 Bloodfell Caves

Budget Rakdos Pests 

Creatures (10)
4
Eyetwitch
4
Serrated Scorpion
2
Slaughter-Priest of Mogis
Spells (18)
1
Kazuul's Fury
3
Claim the Firstborn
4
Village Rites
2
Forbidden Friendship
4
Hunt for Specimens
4
Plumb the Forbidden
Enchantments (10)
2
Weaponize the Monsters
4
Bastion of Remembrance
4
Raid Bombardment
Lands (22)
4
Bloodfell Caves
9
Mountain
9
Swamp
Cards (60)
Sideboard (7)
1
Environmental Sciences
2
Necrotic Fumes
2
Pest Summoning
1
Start from Scratch
1
Illuminate History

A new take on an old favorite, Rakdos Pests has been recently making waves in Standard as a powerful off-beat option. Although the original list is pretty wildcard intensive, this iteration of it still packs a huge punch without the need for Rares or Mythics. If you’re looking to break into competitive Standard with this deck, check out the guide here to see what cards you would need.

Budget GW Auras 

Companion
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Creatures (10)
4
Selfless Savior
2
Quirion Dryad
4
Seasoned Hallowblade
Enchantments (28)
4
Alseid of Life's Bounty
4
Sentinel's Eyes
4
All That Glitters
4
Rune of Might
4
Rune of Sustenance
4
Transcendent Envoy
4
Warbriar Blessing
Lands (22)
4
Blossoming Sands
8
Forest
10
Plains
Cards (60)
Sideboard (1)
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den

The spiritual opposite of Monoblack Auras, Selesnya Auras nixes the interaction for aggression and staying power. Play a few creatures and start loading one up with Auras to make an unbeatable threat!

UPGRADES

ADD

REMOVE

  • -2 Quirion Dryad
  • -2 Transcendant Envoy
  • -4 Blossoming Sands

Budget Simic Scutate  

Creatures (38)
4
Tangled Florahedron
4
Essence Symbiote
4
Pollywog Symbiote
4
Scute Swarm
2
Trumpeting Gnarr
4
Migratory Greathorn
4
Parcelbeast
4
Auspicious Starrix
4
Dreamtail Heron
4
Pouncing Shoreshark
Lands (22)
4
Evolving Wilds
8
Forest
6
Island
4
Thornwood Falls
Cards (60)

A spicy take on an old archetype, Mutate never found its foothold in Standard, but is an absolute blast to play. The deck benefits from a very straight-forward gameplan of playing a cheap creature and slapping as many Mutate creatures on top of it as the opponent will allow. For a good backup plan, Scute Swarm is a great standalone threat that also has insane synergy with Mutate creatures (Scute Swarm tokens will copy all attributes of the original, including any mutations on it!)

UPGRADES

ADD

REMOVE

  • -2 Trumpeting Gnarr
  • -4 Parcelbeast
  • -2 Evolving Wilds
  • -4 Thornwood Falls

Budget Sideboard Options

Sideboard cards aren’t going to be as important to you when you’re starting out, as most of your farming can be done in best-of-one games. For those that want to learn about sideboards or are used to playing Magic in paper and wouldn’t dream of doing without them, you could write several books on the subject! Luckily, sideboard cards don’t usually require a huge investment, so do try best-of-three matches out – they have their advantages and disadvantages, which Drifter covered in this article! As an example, here are some core sideboard cards that are widely used and easily accessible:

Throne of Eldraine included some spells which hate on their own colour at uncommon, so they’re a bit more limited in nature but are still useful if you’re looking for cards to fill out your sideboard:

Here are some other Rare and Mythic options, but powerful enough that you may want them eventually:

Thank you for reading!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is a streamer and high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, GW Company in Historic, and Temur Koma in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and teaching! Twitch Discord

1 Response

  1. 5dollarmtg says:

    Very cool list. I’d also add the Experimental Overload deck, which is surprisingly competitive without any rares. Overload does rotate out in September, though.

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