MTG Arena Budget Standard Decks – July 2020
If you are new to MTG Arena, building a cheap and competitive deck can be challenging. This is especially true if you are a beginner and/or free-to-play (F2P) because the amount of cards in Magic: the Gathering can be overwhelming and Wildcards are a precious resource that you want to save up as much as possible. Fortunately, the Standard rotation system allows players to catch up when the time comes but sometimes you also just want to try a different kind of deck without having to pay up.
In this guide, you will find a curated list of our best budget Standard decks, followed by a brief explanation on the deck, an upgrade guide and sample decks for each one (and a link to the full guide if available). We also have a budget sideboard guide at the end as well if you want to hone your best-of-three game and want to see what options you have for building a sideboard! You can visit our Standard deck page for the complete collection of fully upgraded decks as a reference as well, or go straight to the Budget deck section itself.
Budget Deck Requirements and Goals
Our budget Standard decks will generally have the following requirements and aim to meet the following goals for players that play these decks:
- The base deck will aim to have no rares or mythic rares to start with but will provide pathways to upgrade into more competitive decks as well as sideboard options, taking into account the cards that may be useful elsewhere as well. This depends on an individual’s collection and Wildcard status, so we will advise accordingly.
- The rare dual shocklands (e.g. Godless Shrine) are more important than it looks. They will go every deck that can play those colors as lands that come into play tapped is a huge downside and also obviously improves the consistency of your deck’s mana requirements. Make crafting the lands a high priority as you progress in game.
- Budget decks will often revolve around aggressive tribal creature based synergies and powerful mechanics supported by flagship uncommons (for example, Edgewall Innkeeper for Adventures and Inspiring Veteran for Knights).
- These decks aim to achieve at least a 50% win rate and get you into Platinum (noting that Gold ranks will now progress two pips per win) ranking on the ladder, enough wins on the Constructed Events and good enough to use on other play queues to complete Daily Wins and Daily Quests.
- The decks are designed for best-of-one (BO1) game modes, but building a sideboard can also be very budget friendly if you wish to delve into BO3. You will find a sideboard guide below.
- The constructed format that only allows common or uncommon cards is called Artisan, and we also recommend checking out the deck page there if you want more inspirations for budget deck ideas! Do note that it is a separate format as it has its own banlist that applies to its own events.
- Standard rotation is happening with the release of Zendikar Rising on September 2020. This means cards from Guilds of Ravnica, Ravnica Allegiance, War of the Spark and Core Set 2020 will not be legal for Standard play (but can still be used in Historic). Take caution when upgrading decks, and prioritize in crafting cards from the sets not rotating:
- Throne of Eldraine
- Theros Beyond Death
- Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths
- Core Set 2021
Budget Core Set 2021 Standard Decks – June 2020
Below are all the decks updated for Core Set 2021! Many will focus on the new cards, whereas some of them have received minor updates. As per request, we have retained the old budget decklists further below.
What’s New in Core Set 2021?
Core Set 2021 is packed with quality commons and uncommons that improves the quality of existing deck archetypes as well as opening up new ones with the signpost uncommons. In this section, we will discuss the new and updated budget decks that feature some of the new cards. At the same time, right now is probably not the best time for budget decks to fare in the current Standard metagame because of the high power level. However, this will be the last set before Standard Rotation and we can hope things will improve thereafter. We have tried to tailor each deck so they are competitive enough and you can upgrade them with cards that will not be rotating, though some will require older cards to realize their full potential.
Click on the headings to go to the individual decklist, where you will also see upgrade and deck guides, if available at the time. There’s more decks to cover (such as less competitive strategies like Sanctums and ones built around specific cards such as Transmogrify) and we plan to have a more detailed breakdown as time goes, but for now these are the major decks we wanted to discuss in this edition that highlights the new budget cards.
Azorius Flyers is our favorite deck when brewing for events and especially more so as a staple budget deck. Every set it has gone from strength to strength, and with Core Set 2021 it is no different. We receive two quality spells in Lofty Denial and Angelic Ascension that will create great tempo plays while you beat down your opponents in the air. Watcher of the Spheres is the signpost uncommon, and is a decent replacement for Skycat Sovereign, or you could even use both.
This version of the deck tries to end the game as soon as possible, maximizing the number of one drops. Other cards worth looking at are Sephara, Sky’s Blade and Winged Words – both cards that have been included in the past, depending the type of metagame you are facing (e.g. if you are facing board removal spells).
Mono Red is the gold standard for budget players who enjoy aggressive strategies. It is the best color for dealing direct damage and turning your smaller sized creatures sideways. This deck translates well into the ladder especially in best-of-one (BO1) queues which makes it the most popular option. The deck has two major flavors: A creature based version and another that is built around Cavalcade of Calamity.
While this deck did not receive much in Ikoria, Core Set 2021 brings us some decent cards to try for either versions of Mono Red. Chandra’s Pyreling and Goblin Arsonist strengthens the Cavalcade deck even further, which may give it a slight edge over the other version in the budget version, at least. Bolt Hound and Heartfire Immolator are speculative cards that have performed decently in testing so far in the standard aggro version.
Red also looks good to go post-rotation. Cards like Runaway Steam-Kin, Experimental Frenzy, Legion Warboss are all cards that are not used much these days. The powerhouses of Red are Embercleave, Torbran, Thane of Red Fells and Bonecrusher Giant which you should invest in as soon as you can if you want to continue investing in Mono Red. Other cards worth looking into are Chandra’s Incinerator and Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner in the new set.
White (Mono White or Boros Houndmaster or Selesnya Counters)
Aggressive White strategies have received some powerful weapons in Core Set 2021. Selfless Savior and Seasoned Hallowblade are just generically great cards to slot into existing decks, and we also see potential with Daybreak Charger. The standard Mono White Aggro still boasts the same level of speed and consistency that we have been seeing for the past year, though its popularity fluctuates as the metagame has been pretty hostile to creature-based aggro decks in terms of board wipes and mana ramping decks.
Once we branch out to combine white with other colors, further power comes from the signpost uncommons in M21 – Conclave Mentor in Selesnya proliferate +1/+1 counter strategies, and Alpine Houndmaster in go-wide type aggressive decks. The Selesnya deck is a bit more easier to set up in terms of upgrading, but Venerated Loxodon is almost crucial to the strategy and have been included in the budget deck as the only rare, though it does rotate in September. The Boros deck is a little more resilient to rotation after upgrading, as a lot of the power comes from Embercleave and Winota, Joiner of Forces. Both are Mythic Rares but are good enough to see play in Standard for the foreseeable future.
Prowess is a returning mechanic (but new to MTG Arena) that is perfect for the Izzet color combination. We’ve previously been more restrained to the “Flash” or Arclight Phoenix strategies, but with these types of cards we can aim to deal more damage on our turn while we hold up mana to disrupt our opponents as well. Sprite Dragon from Ikoria was a step in the right direction for this deck, and Core Set 2021 adds some more goodies to the mix.
This budget version is more aggressive with pump spells such as Infuriate and Samut’s Sprint, but we can also go for a more card draw method with the new Frantic Inventory and Thrill of Possibility. Stormwing Entity is the only “must have” rare here (similar to Nightpack Ambusher in Simic Flash) to give the deck a great finisher. For further upgrades, only a few copies of Brazen Borrower is required. Other disruptive cards such as Lofty Denial and Scorching Dragonfire can be good here depending on what you are facing at the time.
The lifegain synergy, while a bit harder to assemble in draft, has some constructed potential in both Standard and Historic. Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose is the signpost rare and combos well with Revival // Revenge. We even have Tavern Swindler if you want to try your luck at creating huge life swings. Since we’re talking about budget cards though, the next best thing is Griffin Aerie. This is a great payoff card, and now we can rely on more than Ajani’s Pridemate to carry the team.
Indulging Patrician is interesting as it is somewhere in between a payoff card and an lifegain enabler, but we’re not too sure yet whether it’s better than something like Bloodthirsty Aerialist. Faith’s Fetters and Silversmote Ghoul are also nice additions to try out. While this may not necessarily be a tier 1 or even a tier 2 strategy, hopefully these cards will have their time in the spotlight after Standard rotation.
Sacrifice (Mono Black, Orzhov or Rakdos)
Even with Companions and Lurrus of the Dream-Den nerfed, Sacrifice decks are still as powerful as ever. Core Set 2021 adds Village Rites, a perfect card for any version of this deck. Archfiend’s Vessel works well with Call of the Death-Dweller and Lurros of the Dream-Den and even has lifelink for lifegain synergies. Havoc Jester is mostly just a temporary card until you can replace them, but still acts as additional copies of Mayhem Devil, the most powerful card in the deck.
There are three versions of the deck; Mono Black and Orzhov utilizes Lurrus as their only rares but they are definitely worth it if you are wanting to make use of Archfiend’s Vessel at the same time. The Rakdos version is a well-refined list at this point. All three decks use Woe Strider, Priest of the Forgotten Gods and Midnight Reaper as their stock rares, but keep in mind the latter two will be rotating soon.
Of the three, the Orzhov version offers great potential post-rotation as it can also combine well with the lifegain synergies discussed above if you want to test out Griffin Aerie or Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose in the same deck. When upgrading the deck, experimenting with Luminous Broodmoth / Mothra, Supersonic Queen will make the deck even more powerful if you have the spare Wildcards to spare.
Older Budget Decks
Budget Sideboard Options
Sideboard cards are probably not going to be as important especially to new players as most farming can be done on best-of-one games. For those that want to learn about sideboards, it will deserve a whole guide on its own! Luckily, sideboard cards do not require a huge investment if you ever wanted to try best-of-three matches out. As an example, these are some core sideboard cards that are widely used and are easily accessible:
- Glass Casket
- Lava Coil
- Mystic Repeal
- Essence Scatter
- Light of Hope
- Shredded Sails
- Dovin’s Veto
Core Set 2020 introduced some excellent sideboard cards at uncommon rarity that target the “enemy” colors. These will be used throughout their Standard cycle.
Throne of Eldraine also includes some “self” hate spells at uncommon, which are a bit more limited in nature (the white and green ones are not as good) but are still useful if you are looking for cards to fill the sideboard.
That’s all the decks we have to share so far, and remember you can view all our Standard decks here and Artisan decks here for the complete collection other than the ones listed in this guide! If you have any feedback or suggestions, let us know in our Discord community or leave a comment below. Be sure to follow us on Twitter to get all the latest decks, news and updates on MTG Arena Zone.